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Top 10 tech controversies during the COVID19

By: Ayush Mahapatra, The Mobile Indian, Kolkata Last updated : April 30, 2020 10:05 am

As large tech companies continue to stay somewhat active during these times, it has inevitably led to some controversies. Here’s a list of top 10 tech controversies that you might find interesting.
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The world has been taken over by the COVID-19 pandemic and has affected people and industries alike. The most active industry during the pandemic is the IT industry as its’ facilitating a myriad of services in order to ease the shock caused by this pandemic. As large tech companies continue to stay somewhat active during these times, it has inevitably led to some controversies. Here’s a list of top 10 tech controversies that you might find interesting.

 

Facebook data breach

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 Recently, a security researcher claimed that data of over 267 million users on the platform has been leaked, and is selling on the dark web for $540 (Rs 41,000 approx). The new report comes via Cyble, who have mentioned that while passwords of the users weren't breached in this leak, their email ID, date of birth, name and phone number is now part of the sale package for the highest bidder.

 

 strange that data of millions of users is available for less than $1000 (Rs 76,000 approx), but Cyble was able to confirm the presence of the data as it bought the data, downloaded them and accessed the content as well. The report doesn't tell us if Facebook users from India are also part of the list, but considering the number quoted in the report, it's likely that some of these victims reside in the country. The report adds that they still don't know the source of the leak, but their best guess is the data might have leaked through third-party APIs, something that has been reported at Facebook quite a few times now. 

 

 The researchers admit that even though passwords were not accessed by the hacker, users should change their access codes for their account, in order to make sure nobody takes control of their account. Users have also been asked to not open emails from unknown sources, as the hackers might use the available user information for phishing or scamming them.

 

Zoom Phishing scam

 The Video conferencing platform-Zoom has risen in popularity in recent times as people are using it for “work from home” however, the platform has faced some previous backlash due to its security flaws and recently, As per a report by Proofpoint, hackers are trying to gain access to users’ Zoom account and some of them are also trying to infect users’ PC with malware. As per a report, the phishing email scam comes with a subject line of “Zoom Account” and it purports to be from an admin account. The message welcomes users to their Zoom account and it says that one has to click the link to activate the account. Once clicked, users are taken to a generic webmail landing page and are asked to enter their credentials. 

 

 Another way of getting the users’ account details is by sending emails of missed Zoom Meeting. In this way, the hackers send an email that claims that the recipient missed a Zoom meeting and it embeds a fake link. When the user clicks the link, he or she is taken to a spoofed Zoom page and it asks for their Zoom account details like username and password. 

 

 The report further highlights that hackers are using mail to inject trojans.The hackers include an attachment that purports to be about the discussion and it also offers to have a call via Zoom. If the recipient opens the attachment, they are prompted to enable the macro. “Once enabled, those macros execute a ServLoader PowerShell script which in turn will install the NetSupport a legitimate remote-control application that threat actors abuse. If installed, NetSupport can access any files and information on the compromised system that the user can, including usernames, passwords, and credit card information,” the report said.

 

Aptoide data breach

 Aptoide is one of the go-to third-party app stores for android but recently, it was in the limelight for a not so good reason. Android users had been hacked, and data of over 20 million users had been leaked, according to a new report. As per the hacker, details of users who registered with the app store, as well as used apps from the platform between 21 July 2016 to 28 January 2018 has been published on one of the popular hacking forums.

 

 In terms of the details that are available to the hacker, it includes user's email address, hashed password, IP address, device data and date of birth among others. The hacker claims to have a record of up to 39 million, out of which they claim 19 million has been procured and ready to be published in the coming weeks.

 

Oneplus 8 display gate

Oneplus recently announced its flagship Oneplus 8 series but, along with stellar features, it also brought some issues. it seems that certain OnePlus 8 Pro units are suffering from green tint and black crush issue, which raises some eyebrows on the claim of it being one of the best displays out there. As per multiple users on OnePlus Community Forums, the latest OnePlus 8 Pro is showing a green tint or black crush issues at low brightness.

 

Users can fix the ‘green tint’ issue by switching off the DC dimming feature but, this will result in another issue known as a black crush which means that the display is not able to show the shades of dark accurately, which results in grainy or pixelated picture blocks of black.  OnePlus has acknowledged this problem and in a statement to Android Police, it said: “OnePlus values user feedback and is committed to delivering the best smartphone experience. Our team is currently investigating these reports to identify the best solutions for our users, and we will issue updates as soon as they are ready.”

 

Jio and Facebook privacy issue

Recently, tech giants Reliance Jio and Facebook struck a deal which led to the social networking giant buying 9.9% stake in Jio. Facebook will be targeting Jio users (biggest telco in the country) with its advertising model, something that could benefit Jio as well, which has failed to monetise all its users, except for making them pay for the data plans. 

 

The partnership, however, comes with big Asterix at the top, something that will alert the privacy authorities. Facebook and Jio will have access to millions of users, and their data. Facebook's recent history with user privacy puts them in a precarious position with the country's regime, and they would have to engage with more representatives now that their entry into India's other markets has been smoothened courtesy its minority stake in Jio.

 

Twitter to share personal data

 Recently, the social networking site took a hit due to its decision on sharing personal data of its users with advertisers. Twitter updated its privacy settings and now allows sharing of some of your data with advertisers. This privacy feature was an option previously and you could opt-out but now, that option has been removed.

 

The option in Twitter’s privacy settings is called “Share your data with Twitter’s business partners” used to let you disable sharing of this information. According to Twitter “Twitter shares certain non-public personal information with certain digital advertising platforms to help measure and optimize the effectiveness of our efforts to market Twitter on those platforms. This information can include IP address and mobile device advertising identifiers for devices that open or log in to Twitter’s mobile apps”.The data essentially helps in identifying the efficiency of the ads displayed.

 

This also financially helps twitter and allowing it to exist as a free service. The data share is indeed non-public and might pose some privacy-related concerns, however, the data if twitter is to be believed, does not contain any specifics regarding your identity but that again must be taken with a grain of salt as big companies like Facebook have also faced privacy and user data-related issues.

 

Microsoft Windows 10 update stability issues

Windows is notoriously infamous for its Windows update. They are either slow, finicky or bring along more issues than patching them. Windows has again this month released a new update and it too has brought along a slew of new problems. The KB4549951 update is supposedly breaking the computers of users according to the reports online including Microsoft’s own Community forum.

 

Users are reporting errors with the installation, some report serious performance hit, some say critical apps are no longer working while some still report Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are broken. Users are also reporting audio interface devices such as microphones on Windows PCs are no longer functioning KB4549951 update. Some users are also reporting that since the new update, their Windows 10 PCs won’t restart.

 

Last month to the KB4554364 update caused serious Wi-Fi issues for many users, particularly for those who used VPNs and also broke the ability to reset the PC in case the errors rendered the PC unusable. These updates are from stable and are something that Microsoft should consider seriously. All these issues come at a time when most of the office goers are working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. These updates rendering their PCs unstable and unusable creates a huge problem.

 

Apple’s Mail app

 Recently a new zero-day vulnerability had been discovered this week by researchers, who claim the issue could have allowed hackers to access the data on your device by sending you a blank mail through Apple's mailing client. The report from ZecOps, explains the issue might have existed for over 8 years on iOS, which leaves most of the iPhone and iPad users in danger.

 

The issue was discovered by the research firm on iPhone and iPad Mail app, while they were doing routine security checks of consumer devices. ZecOps says the vulnerability would allow the hacker to run remote code using the Mail app, and if they succeed, the user of the device wouldn't even come to know their device has been breached. Apple in a recent statement, however, denied the existence of any such vulnerability. The Cupertino tech giant in its research has apparently found no evidence of any such flaw.

 

Apple iPhone SE underclocking

 Recently, Apple released its budget iPhone- The iPhone SE with a very lucrative price tag and some very interesting features. The most prominent aspect of this phone is its internals. It is powered by the same breed of  Apple A13 Bionic and has 3GB of RAM. However, recent benchmark scores suggest that the A13 Bionic chipset present in the iPhone SE is actually weaker than the ones present on the iPhone 11 series.

 AnTuTu benchmark of the new iPhone SE shows a score way lower than the likes of the iPhone 11 series. The iPhone SE scored 492166 while the iPhone 11 and the iPhone 11 pro scored 517400, 521010 respectively. This seems like a case of underclocking of the SoC on the iPhone SE. The reason for this step is still unknown but we suspect battery conservation to be the reason.

 

TikTok’s Security flaw

 

TikTok, the popular short video sharing application, is once again under the limelight for all the wrong reasons. A new flaw has exposed that allows hackers to post fake videos on user’s account. The latest vulnerability is present on TikTok's iOS version 15.5.6 and Android version 15.7.4. According to two developers, Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy  Mysk, TikTok uses insecure HTTP to download media content.

 

This puts user privacy at risk as the HTTP traffic can be easily tracked and hackers can easily alter it by malicious actors. The developers say that TikTok relies on Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to distribute their data geographically over HTTP. Although it improves the performance of data transfer, it puts user privacy at risk. The developers showed a demo of the same by planting a fake COVID-19 related content on WHO’s TikTok account. This causes a huge risk of spreading misinformation especially during these times of panic.

 

 

 

 

 


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