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Tech and Hosting News Round-Up

Tech and Hosting News Round-Up

Welcome to our latest round-up of news from the technology and hosting world. Here’s what we’ve discovered this week.

African mobiles preinstalled with malware

Africa’s most popular smartphone brand, the Chinese manufactured, Tecno Mobile, has been selling millions of Android mobiles with preinstalled malware. The malware, known as Triada, installs the malicious xHelper code, which then submits fraudulent requests to subscription services without the owner knowing about it.

The malware is seen as deliberately targeting low-income households in less developed nations. Another issue is that, when the subscriptions become active, they consume the user’s pre-paid data, which is often the only means they have to connect to the internet in areas with poor broadband infrastructure.

Tecno insists this is an old issue that was patched in 2018 with a fix that users can download from their phones. However, it seems like millions of users are not aware of the problem or the need to fix it.

Chrome gets 10% faster

It looks like the newly released Chrome 85 will be good news for owners of slow loading websites. According to Google, the newest version of its browser uses page guidance optimisation which, in tests, has been shown to improve loading times by an average of 10% and even more when device settings are optimised to run programs.  

At the same time, Chrome will also feature a new tab throttling process which has been introduced to address complaints about its high resource usage. Essentially, this enables the browser to shift resources from tabs that users have left idle for a while and make them available for active tabs. This, too, will help speed up loading times as well as improving device performance. It will also cut down battery drain.

MS Word to feature free transcription service

Typing out notes from meetings will be a little easier and perhaps less expensive thanks to the latest feature to be added to Microsoft Word. The company has just announced the rollout of a new audio transcription service which will be free to subscribers of Office 365.

Customers will receive five hours per month free transcription where they can either import existing audio files or record speech directly into Word before they are automatically transcribed. This means users can capture audio from their devices, including MP3 recordings, phone calls or even videos. Alternatively, they can speak directly into the device’s microphone for real-time dictation. Word will support MP3, WAV, M4A and MP4 files up to a size of 200Mb.

What’s more, Microsoft will use AI to separate the input of different speakers and break up the text into easily readable sections that will be timestamped for easier playback. These can then be edited and inserted into Word documents to create minutes, reports and other types of literature.

Huge AI growth predicted

According to the International Data Corporation’s ‘Worldwide Artificial Intelligence Spending Guide’,  global spending on AI is predicted to grow from £38 billion in 2020 to £83 billion in 2024.

Underpinning the rise is the increased reliance on AI by companies undergoing digital transformation. Businesses are adopting AI to provide better customer experiences and to improve employee work performance. The major case uses for AI, the IDC says, are automated customer services, sales process automation, product recommendation, automated threat intelligence and prevention and IT automation. Together, these represent 30% of all current AI spending.

The banking and retail sectors are predicted to be the biggest spenders, with banks focusing on fraud analysis, automated financial advisors and recommendation systems. Retailers are expected to invest in improving customer experiences, particularly through the deployment of AI-enabled chatbots and product recommendation engines.

Keeping schtum lands Uber exec in court

While data breaches can be bad for a company’s reputation, that damage is considerably worse when it is found out that the company tried to keep the data breach quiet. Unfortunately, this is what allegedly happened at Uber, following revelations that its former chief security officer, Joseph O’Sullivan, has been charged with obstruction of justice after paying hackers $100,000 to keep news of the breach getting out.

According to the file submitted to the US Federal Court, the 2016 breach involved the theft of over 57 million Uber customer and driver details. The former CSO is being charged for both failing to report the data breach and for taking actions to conceal it – crimes for which, if convicted, he could be imprisoned for up to five years.

This is a high profile case in the USA, not just because it involves Uber but also because of the profile of O’Sullivan. Widely seen as one of the country’s leading security specialists, his CV includes working for PayPal, eBay, Facebook and for the US government where he was an assistant US attorney under Barack Obama. Ironically, he was also previously employed by the justice department that has now charged him with these offences.

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