Welcome to our latest round-up of news from the technology and hosting world. Here’s what we’ve discovered this week.
Human error security issues – even the big guns do it
Human error is one of the major causes of security problems and this can happen to any organisation. Even those at the top of the technology ladder are not immune, as Amazon Web Services recently discovered when one of their unfortunate engineers mistakenly published a chunk of sensitive data to a public GitHub repository.
Although less than 1GB in size, the data contained hostnames, recent log files, confidential Amazon training resources and documents containing cloud service access key pairs. In addition, there were files listing auth tokens and third-party API keys. It’s obviously been taken seriously by Amazon, but it should be a warning to all companies about the need to ensure employees are fully trained in security and comply with protocols.
The gentleman’s club – for cybercriminals
Russian cybercriminal, Aleksei Burkov, who is currently facing prison for running Cardplanet, an online market for fraudsters said to have grossed over $20 million, is also being tried for setting up a ‘gentleman’s club’ for some of his most elite conspirators. Membership of this exclusive club was only granted through invite and invitees had to be vouched for by existing members. Newcomers also had to pay a sizeable deposit as insurance against not honouring deals and to prevent them whistleblowing to authorities. In return, members had the ability to buy and sell a range of services, including money laundering and hacking-as-a-service. While Burkov’s career is set to take a 15 year hiatus as he serves time in a US jail, the trial has highlighted the sophisticated ways today’s cybercriminals now operate.
Schools out – for good
Artificial intelligence and machine learning could be about to solve two of the biggest problems faced by schools: how to deliver personalised education and how to overcome the crisis in teacher recruitment. In doing so, it could totally transform the education landscape, removing the need for some teachers and even that of traditional schools.
The trailblazer in this move is Samsung, which has created an artificial human called Neon, named after the Neon AI project which carried out the development. Neon can appear as various realistic CGI avatars and will use AI and ML to continually learn and adapt. The technology offers the opportunity to deliver personalised curricula to individual children, letting them learn the subjects they want at their own pace. Instead of having one teacher to 30 students, Neon enables one to one teaching from humanly realistic avatars, potentially removing the need for real teachers or for children to go to school. Neon can also be useful in various other environments where public-facing workers are currently employed.
It’s a funny old game
Call of Duty fans may be used to taking out the enemy but online players who use the US internet service provider, Windstream, this week took down their own broadband. Such is the popularity of Call of Duty, that when the developers released a new patch on 22nd January, the volume of automatic downloads to games consoles and PCs meant that Windstream’s southern US service couldn’t cope with demand. With hundreds of thousands of simultaneous downloads of up to 48GB per device, it was certainly a case of ‘man down’ for many players.
Best of CES Tech Expo
January saw the CES Technology Expo take place in Las Vegas and, as usual, it was the first outing for quite a few new tech products. Among this year’s weird and wonderful was the robot, launched by toilet paper manufacturer Charmin, whose sole aim is to spare you the embarrassment of running out of loo roll. Connected to an app on your phone, you can summon the said robot to deliver the much-needed tissue in times of need.
Staying in the bathroom, designers at Kohler have now made singing in the shower an even better experience by building a speaker into the showerhead of its Moxie showers. Of course, it’s Alexa enabled, so you can ask it to play your favourite tracks or add bodywash to your shopping list while you get clean.
With tattoos continuing to be popular, a new company, Prinker, has launched the Prinker S, a handheld printer that uses cosmetic grade ink to print temporary tattoos directly onto your skin. Probably much less painful than a real tattoo and much quicker to do, it gives you the added reassurance that, should the love of your life change, you won’t be left with a permanent reminder. Like all printers, however, the cartridges will cost an arm and a leg.
Finally, the first prize for this year’s wearable technology goes to the Guardian XO, a wearable exoskeleton that gives people the bionic strength to lift and carry over 90kg (200lbs) in weight. The battery-powered robot has been designed by Delta Airways to enable ramp agents to handle luggage and freight more easily.
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