Welcome to our latest round-up of news from the technology and hosting world. Here’s what we’ve discovered this week.
Scammers get hacked
This week, the BBC published a report about Jim Browning, a UK YouTuber who carries out investigative hacks of scammers and then makes his findings available online. The report reveals how he recently hacked a company of IT scammers in India and spent months gaining access to their computers, telephone calls, webcams and CCTV systems.
A video on the BBC website shows just how organised these cybercriminal teams are, with their own call centres, sophisticated software and well-prepared call scripts. It also shows how they operate and what lengths they will go to in order to take money from people. Indeed, this one outfit scammed people out of almost $450,000 in April 2019 alone.
Although Jim Browning is not his real name and the actions he takes are illegal, there are important lessons to be learnt from his investigations that can help the thousands of people who fall victim to these kinds of scams every day.
The bookworm Dalek
Technology has radically transformed our relationships with books. Today, most people buy them online and they can do so in printed, digital and audio formats. To keep customers coming through the doors, many bookstores and libraries have transformed, opening up caf©s and putting on book-related events. The latest weapon in their arsenal is a little more hi-tech, however; the Around B is a robot that not only helps you find the books you are looking for; it is also designed to carry them for you.
Looking a little like a headless Dalek, the robot will silently follow you around as you browse the shelves. Like a Dalek, however, it has one Achille’s heel it won’t be able to follow you up the stairs. When not busy, it’s most likely to be found reading Dr Who annuals in the sci-fi section.
New batteries are a glass act
The Nobel prize-winning inventor of the universally used lithium battery, John Goodenough, has invented a new form of the battery that is far safer than the incendiary prone versions many of us currently use in our devices.
This new invention is a solid-state battery in which the flammable liquid electrolyte has been replaced by a more stable glass version. At the same time, a new metal anode has been used which also reduces the potential for fire and helps extend battery life. Even better, the new lithium battery can be charged in just minutes and be recharged up to 23,000 times. Manufacturing should begin in the next two years.
IT recruits face more checks
A recent report into the vetting process for IT jobs showed agencies and employers undertaking more background checks than previously. Today, most companies want more information than provided on your CV and want proof that what you put on it is genuine.
The good news is that only one in 20 companies will delve into your social media accounts. However, over 90% will check for a criminal record and over half to see if you have a history of alcohol or substance abuse. Two thirds will also seek to verify the identity you present is authentic, including education and employment histories. Of course, if all this goes well and you get an interview, the vast majority will then ask you to undertake a skills test to prove you have what it takes.
For those that think this only happens to employees, think twice the rise of the gig economy means that 70% of businesses also undertake background checks on contractors and freelancers.
Mistaken identity takes UK business offline
A Brighton-based, creative advertising agency had its website and email services taken offline last week after the US Homeland Security mistakenly thought it was involved in illegal activities in America. Without any warning, US law enforcement took control of the website’s DNS records and then redirected all visitors to a reputational-damaging public notice from the police and blocked the sending and receiving of emails.
The ad agency received no warning that this would happen and is still yet to receive an official explanation for the action, though the circumstances were given over the phone. Once the company had persuaded Homeland Security agents that they had been mistakenly identified, its directors had to sign waivers saying they wouldn’t take legal action against the US authorities before they were given permission by a New York court to have the rights to their DNS records back. It took several more days before the company had all of its services up and running again.
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