HP laptops shipped with keylogging software

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If you own a HP laptop, be careful what you type: it turns out the firm has shipped over 450 models with software that could record your keyboard tappings.

Exposed by the efforts of the dynastic-sounding Michael Myng, a computer security expert, the keylogging program lies amongst some models’ drivers.

HP has now put out a patch that’ll erase the software – and if you’re concerned that your machine is keeping what could be a very embarrassing, or worse, record of your keyboard adventures, click here to find out if your model’s affected.

According to expert Myng, the laptops in question don’t come with the keylogging software enabled, but a fiend with access could easily turn it on to keep tabs on his or her victim’s typing habits.

The news follows reports in November that hundreds of websites use ‘session replay software’ to record users’ keyboard strokes.

HP has said the offending program was added by mistake – and we all make mistakes, don’t we, so can probably forgive them on this occasion…oh no, virtually the same thing happened back in May on some other models.

Oh well, lightning can’t strike thrice. Can it?

HP laptops shipped with keylogging software

FakedIn: China’s phoney profiles targeting Germany?

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The Chinese government is mischievously using LinkedIn to keep tabs on important Germans, according to Germany’s intelligence services.

The BfV reckons that the country is using fake profiles on the social business network to target around 10,000 Germans for nefarious ends.

Despicable: imagine someone creating a fake profile on LinkedIn and lying on it to cultivate a false impression of themselves. What a disgrace!

The BfV’s head, Hans-Georg Maassen, has said that China is using a ‘broad-based attempt to infiltrate in particular parliaments, ministries and government agencies’.

Though China hasn’t responded to the accusations, Germany’s security people have exposed eight particularly active profiles that they say are often used to contact high-flying Germans, including those of ‘Lily Wu’ and ‘Allen Liu’, which combined sound suspiciously like the name of a famous middling singer – in fact, it almost feels like someone’s having a little fun at the BfV’s expense.

And what’s the point of all this bogus posturing? According to the BfV, China could be trying to get German politicians on its informant payroll – which, if true and successful, is a much more worrying issue at the German end of the duplicity spectrum, I would have said.

FakedIn: China’s phoney profiles targeting Germany?

Friday round-up: A week in tech

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World dominance firm Google has pledged to hire 10,000 new employees to weed YouTube of extremist videos – which doesn’t sound like a particularly inspiring job, but we’ve all got to make a living, haven’t we.

Demented groups such as Isis have seized upon the digital universe to spread their murderous agenda, recruit fresh dolts, and boast about how good they are at killing innocent people – and YouTube has become one of the more notorious outlets for the heinous gibberish.

And this won’t do at all, finally. Writing this week, YouTube’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki, said that the site was being exploited by those whose aim is to ‘mislead, manipulate, harass or even harm,’ and claimed that 150,000 such videos had been removed since June.

Apparently, YouTube has been using ‘computer-learning’ tech – which, I assume, means artificial intelligence (AI) – to track extremism on the network.

Whether or not the plans to sweep YouTube of its more repulsive content will include the work of groups such as Britain First, who gained world-wide fame last month after President Donald Trump retweeted three of their Muslim-demonising propaganda videos, remains to be seen.

Happy 2017, internet! What a terrific mess.

***

The not especially interesting row between Google and Amazon has taken another turn, and it’s still not that interesting – but I’ll plough on anyway because the news is the news.

From the start of 2018, Google will prevent access to YouTube through Amazon’s Fire TV devices, following its move to block the service from Echo units earlier in the year.

And now we know a bit more about the cause of the squabble: Amazon refuses to stock Google products that are similar to things it makes and sells; thus Google is retaliating.

All the way back in 2015, the online retailer withdrew Google’s Chromecast and audio dongle from its warehouse shelves – because they directly competed with its own products.

And last month, Amazon withdrew the search giant’s Nest smart home security kit from its listings, too, as it, I strongly suspect, builds a comparable product.

Many in the commentariat have voiced alarm that the tit-for-tat quarrel will only harm consumers – but, for heaven’s sake, surely there are more firms in this big wide world than Google and Amazon to choose from? There are, aren’t there? I mean, it would be senseless if those two had nearly 100% market dominance in their respective fields, wouldn’t it? We wouldn’t let that happen, would we? I mean, that would be a bit mad, wouldn’t it?

***

Jeremy Hunt pulled off something unique this week: he managed to say something lots of people agreed with and found reasonable.

The widely-admired health secretary took to Twitter to slam Facebook’s launch of a messaging service for children.

Much, no doubt, to the social media network’s chagrin, those aged under 13 are prohibited from joining Facebook, and are therefore out of the clutches of the firm’s relentless advertising strategy. The new app will help to prepare the very young for the lifetime of social media monotony that awaits them.

But Hunt wasn’t impressed, tweeting: ‘Not sure this is the right direction at all. Facebook told me they would come back with ideas to PREVENT underage use of their product, but instead they are actively targeting younger children. Stay away from my kids please Facebook and act responsibly!’

Wise words. Anyway, Messenger Kids is a simplified version of the already pretty simple Messenger that will allow children to send each other texts and pictures, take part in video chats, and everything else that can prevent the terror of going outside and learning essential social skills in face-to-face situations.

Friday round-up: A week in tech

Digital justice: MoJ awards £45m contract

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Justice is getting even more digital, everybody, which is probably a good idea as that’s where most of the crime seems to be heading, too.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has given Atos a £45 million contract to increase the England and Wales court system’s IT services.

It’s hoped that the move with deliver justice quicker and free up time in our busy courts, though time will be the judge (sorry).

Atos won’t get all the money: around 50% is expected to be earmarked for third-party subcontracts. However, Atos must have the lion’s share because, according to the MoJ, technical constraints mean ‘services can be provided only by a particular economic operator. This is the incumbent supplier (Atos IT Services UK Limited) who has been providing the services that form the subject matter of this contract under a contract with the contracting authority for the last 11 years.’

 

Digital justice: MoJ awards £45m contract

BBC to take on fake news

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Though things like sexual harassment and cybercrime might feature higher on their list of online priorities, young people are going to be offered advice on how to identify the growing menace of fake news, curtesy of the BBC.

Early next year, the broadcaster will set forth into around 1,000 sixth forms and schools and help to educate students on deciphering what’s true and what’s absolute twaddle on the internet.

(Angry online reactionary conspiracy types, this is your cue to rush down to the comments section and bash out ‘THE BBC IS FAKE NEWWWWWWS ETC’.)

Some of the Beeb’s top journalists will be taking part in the exercise, including the softly spoken Huw Edwards.

According to James Harding, the BBC’s director of news: ‘This is an attempt to go into schools to speak to young people and give them the equipment they need to distinguish between what’s true and what’s false.’

And we wish them all the best with that.

Responding to a survey last month, 57% of Brits named the BBC as the one source they’re most likely to trust for news, massively thrashing all other outlets in the faith stakes (ITV came in second place with a measly 11%). Meanwhile, only 1% of those polled said they trust the ‘news’ in the poor old Daily Mail, a frequent, fevered critic of the BBC – which certainly cheered me up at the time.

 

BBC to take on fake news

Teenagers hit with online sexual harrassment

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The UK’s teenagers are suffering from a storm of online sexual harassment, newly published research has revealed.

According to charity Childnet’s study, 31% of British teenage girls have received unwanted sexual messages from their peers, while 11% of boys reported similar experiences.

Even more disturbing, 10% of the 1,559 teens surveyed said they had been sent rape threats over the internet.

Launching at the Children’s Global Media Summit in Manchester, the report – ‘Project deShame’ – also reveals that 51% of those aged 13-17 have witnessed people their age circulating nude or nearly nude images of someone they know – the abysmal phenomenon known as ‘revenge porn’. And 6% told the survey they themselves have been the target of such behaviour.

Meanwhile, 23% said they have witnessed young people secretly taking sexual images of someone and sharing them online – also known as ‘creep shots’ or ‘upskirting’ – while 8% actually admitted doing it themselves in the last year.

Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet, and coordinator of Project deSHAME said: ‘Digital technology plays a central role in young people’s lives but it has opened the door for a range of new forms of sexual harassment, making societal discussions about these issues more pertinent than ever. It is evidently something that as a society we can no longer ignore.

‘We believe that all young people have a right to be safe and free to express themselves in digital spaces. This report underlines how essential it is that we all work together to ensure that online sexual harassment is not an inevitable part of growing up.’

Isn’t it fortunate that our young people have so many film stars, producers, celebrities and world leaders to look to for good moral guidance in what constitutes respectful, safe and healthy sexual behaviour?

The report is available for download here.

Teenagers hit with online sexual harrassment

Ireland horrified as Apple gives it billions of euros

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Imagine if somebody tried to give you €13 billion – you’d be shocked and appalled, and quite right too.

And that’s exactly the put-upon position the Irish government presently finds itself in, as the mighty Apple Inc tries to force the gargantuan payment down its unwilling throat.

The tech firm has been ordered to pay back vast sums in unpaid taxes to the Irish state by the European Commission, which ruled last year that Apple’s deal with the country was illegal.

Speaking in Brussels, a deeply unenthusiastic finance minister Pascal Donohoe droned unhappily: ‘We have now reached agreement with Apple in relation to the principles and operation of the escrow fund. We expect the money will begin to be transmitted into the account from Apple across the first quarter of next year.’

The Irish government’s apparent distaste for mass amounts of cash being thrust at it is simple: for years it offered Apple a cosy tax environment, on the understanding that the American firm would base its operations in the country. Sadly, the EU has spoilt things with its insistence on large firms paying their fair share.

Apple has recently found a new base for its tax-phobic operations – the island paradise of Jersey, with its kindly 0% corporate tax rate for foreign firms. It currently has about $252bn stashed there, so €13bn shouldn’t be too hard to find. Still gotta hurt, though.

Anyhow, Ireland has now been ordered to put Apple’s money into a blocked bank account (hope someone remembers the login details) while the firm attempts to appeal the European Commission’s decision.

Ireland horrified as Apple gives it billions of euros