The quantum meltdown of encryption

The world stands at the cusp of one of the greatest breakthroughs in information technology. Huge leaps forward in all fields of computer science, from data analysis to machine learning, will result from this breakthrough. But like all of man’s technological achievements, from the combustion engine to nuclear power, harnessing quantum comes with potential dangers as well. Quantum computers have created a slew of unforeseen vulnerabilities in the very infrastructure that keeps the digital sphere safe.

The underlying assumption behind nearly all encryption ciphers used today is that their complexity precludes any attempt by hackers

Digital security key concept background with binary data code
Continue reading "The quantum meltdown of encryption"

The quantum meltdown of encryption

The world stands at the cusp of one of the greatest breakthroughs in information technology. Huge leaps forward in all fields of computer science, from data analysis to machine learning, will result from this breakthrough. But like all of man’s technological achievements, from the combustion engine to nuclear power, harnessing quantum comes with potential dangers as well. Quantum computers have created a slew of unforeseen vulnerabilities in the very infrastructure that keeps the digital sphere safe.

The underlying assumption behind nearly all encryption ciphers used today is that their complexity precludes any attempt by hackers

Digital security key concept background with binary data code
Continue reading "The quantum meltdown of encryption"

Facebook, Google and more unite to let you transfer data between apps

The Data Transfer Project is a new team-up between tech giants to let you move your content, contacts, and more across apps. Founded by Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft, the DTP today revealed its plans for an open source data portability platform any online service can join. While many companies already let you download your information, that’s not very helpful if you can’t easily upload and use it elsewhere — whether you want to evacuate a social network you hate, back up your data somewhere different, or bring your digital identity along when you try a new app. The DTP’s tool isn’t ready for use yet, but the group today laid out a white paper for how it will work. Creating an industry standard for data portability could force companies to compete on utility instead of being protected by data lock-in that traps users because it’s tough to switch services.
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One day, Google’s Fuchsia OS may become a real thing

Every few months, Google’s Project Fuchsia makes the rounds in the tech press. And for good reason, given that this is Google’s first attempt at developing a new open-source kernel and operating system. Of course, there are few secrets about it, given that it’s very much being developed in the open and that, with the right know-how, you could run it on a Pixelbook today. There’s also plenty of documentation about the project. According to the latest report by Bloomberg, about 100 engineers at Google work on Fuchsia. While the project has the blessing of Google CEO Sundar Pichai, it’s unclear what Google really wants Fuchsia to be. I don’t think it’ll replace Android, as some people seem to believe. I don’t think it’s the mythical Chrome OS/Android mashup that’ll bring Google’s two operating systems together. My guess is that we’re talking about an experimental system here that’s mostly meant to
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Trump just noticed Europe’s $5BN antitrust fine for Google

In other news bears shit in the woods. In today’s second day Trump news: President ‘The Donald’ has seized, belatedly, on the European Commission’s announcement yesterday that it had found Google guilty of three types of illegal antitrust behavior with its Android OS since 2011 and was fining the company $5 billion; a record breaking penalty the Commission’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said reflects the length and gravity of the company’s competition infringements. Trump is not! at all! convinced! though! “I told you so!” he has tweeted triumphantly just now. “The European Union just slapped a Five Billion Dollar fine on one of our great companies, Google . They truly have taken advantage of the U.S., but not for long!”

Companies, like people, don’t change

Not a month goes by when we hear about another snafu or scandal about Facebook and Uber. And each time I wonder if they will change. It seems both these companies are genetically pre-programmed to obey what their DNA tells them — unfettered growth without consequences. And which makes me wonder, can companies change? Or the culture a company starts with becomes its defining characteristic. Here are my thoughts. Continue reading "Companies, like people, don’t change"

Google’s Cloud Launcher is now the GCP Marketplace, adds container-based applications

Cloud Launcher has long been Google’s marketplace for cloud-based application from third-party vendors that lets you deploy them in Google’s cloud with just a few clicks. That name never quite highlighted that Cloud Launcher also included commercial applications and that Google cloud handle the billing for those and combine it with a user’s regular GCP bill, so the company has now decided to rebrand the services as the GCP Marketplace. That’s not all, though. With today’s update, Google is also adding both commercial and open source container-based applications to the service that users can easily deploy to the Google Kubernetes Engine (or any other Kubernetes service). Until today, the marketplace only featured traditional virtual machines, but a lot of customers were surely looking for container support, too. As Google rightly argues, Kubernetes Engine can take a lot of the hassle out of managing containers, but deploying them to a Kubernetes cluster
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Google gets slapped $5BN by EU for Android antitrust abuse

Google has been fined a record breaking €4.34 billion (~$5BN) by European antitrust regulators for abusing the dominance of its Android mobile operating system. Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has tweeted to confirm the penalty ahead of a press conference about to take place now. Stay tuned for more detail as we get it.

This story is developing… refresh for updates…  The fine is the second major penalty for the ad tech giant for breaching EU competition rules in just over a year — and the highest ever issued by the

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Google launches its first WeChat mini program as its China experiments continue

Google is continuing to test new strategies in China after the U.S. search giant released its first mini program for WeChat, the country’s hugely popular messaging app. WeChat is used by hundreds of millions of Chinese people daily for services that stretch beyond chat to include mobile payments, bill paying, food delivery and more. Tencent, the company that operates WeChat, added mini programs last year and they effectively operate like apps that are attached to the service. That means that users bypass Google Play or Apple’s App Store and install them from WeChat. Earlier this year, Tencent added support for games — “mini games” — and the Chinese firm recently said that over one million mini programs have been created to date. Engagement is high, with some 500 million WeChat users interacting with at least one each month. WeChat has become the key distribution channel in China and that’s why Google is embracing
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Nest’s CEO is stepping down

Five months ago, Google decided to rein Nest in. After 4 years as a mostly independent division of the company, Nest was rolled into Google’s hardware team. Today, more big changes: Nest CEO Marwan Fawaz is stepping down, according to a report by CNET. The reason? Employees at Nest had reportedly been pushing for a change, hoping for someone who had more leadership experience. This news comes just a little over two years after Fawaz took over the role after the departure of co-founder Tony Fadell. Fawaz is said to be staying on in an advisory role, with Nest pushing forward under Rishi Chandra, who’s been overseeing most of Google’s hardware efforts (Home, Chromecast, Google WiFi, etc) as VP of Home Products for over 3 years. So what does all this mean for Nest? Further integrations between Nest’s hardware and Google’s other offerings are likely; in the past few months
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Dems and GOP unite, slamming Facebook for allowing violent Pages

In a rare moment of agreement, members of the House Judiciary Committee from both major political parties agreed that Facebook needed to take down Pages that bullied shooting survivors or called for more violence. The hearing regarding social media filtering practices saw policy staffers from Facebook, Google, and Twitter answering questions, though Facebook absorbed the brunt of the ire. The hearing included Republican Representative Steve King ask “What about converting the large behemoth organizations that we’re talking about here into public utilities?” The meatiest part of the hearing centered on whether social media platforms should delete accounts of conspiracy theorists and those inciting violence, rather than just removing the offending posts. The issue has been a huge pain point for Facebook this week after giving vague answers for why it hasn’t deleted known faker Alex Jones’ Infowars Page, and tweeting that “We see Pages on both the left
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Google’s new ‘Grab and Go’ project helps business loan Chromebooks to their employees

At Google, the company offers a ‘Grab and Go’ program that allows employees to use self-service stations to quickly borrow and return Chromebooks without having to go through a lengthy IT approval process. Now, it’s bringing this same idea to other businesses. Chromebooks have found their place in education and a number of larger enterprise companies are also getting on board with the idea of a centrally managed device that mostly focuses on the browser. That’s maybe no surprise, given that both schools and enterprises are pretty much looking for the same thing from these devices. At Google, the system has seen more than 30,000 users that have completed more than 100,000 loans so far. While Google wants others to run similar programs (and use more Chromebooks in the process) it’s worth noting that this is a limited preview program and that Google isn’t building and selling racks or
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The Google Assistant app will walk you through your day

Google’s Assistant app mostly functions as a surrogate for its line of connected Home devices. But what about all of that information it’s aggregating? The company will start putting that to use, providing a “visual snapshot” of the day to come.

The new feature, rolling out to the app on Android and iOS today, pulls in a bunch of relevant information from across Google services, including calendar, reminders, stocks, package deliveries, flights, restaurant/movie reservations and suggested Actions. It also provides travel times to and from appointments to offer up a better idea of when to leave.

More features will be rolling out soon, including notes from Google Keep,  Any.do, Bring and Todoist, along with parking reminders, nearby activities and recommendations for music and podcasts. In other words, the Google Assistant app is angling to become your one stop shop for — well, basically ever single thing you do

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Google builds its own subsea cable from the US to France

Google, like all major internet companies, often participates in building new subsea cables because it wants to own the connectivity between its data centers around the world. Those cables are typically built and owned by a consortium of companies (and sometimes shared by competitors). Now, however, Google is building its own cable that will span from Virginia Beach in the U.S. to the Atlantic coast of France. This marks Google’s fourth private cable. Its first two efforts spanned significantly shorter distances, though its ‘Curie’ cable connects Los Angeles and Chile. Over the course of the last few years, Google has also made significant investments in consortium-driven cables that span the Atlantic and the Pacific, and quite a few of these will go online in 2019. The new so-called ‘Dunant’ cable (named after the first Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Red Cross) will likely go online in
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Apple’s App Store revenue nearly double that of Google Play in first half of 2018

Apple’s App Store continues to outpace Google Play on revenue. In the first half of the year, the App Store generated nearly double the revenue of Google Play on half the downloads, according to a new report from Sensor Tower out today. In terms of dollars and cents, that’s $22.6 billion in worldwide gross app revenue on the App Store versus $11.8 billion for Google Play – or, 1.9 times more spent on the App Store compared with what was spent on Google Play. This trend is not new. Apple’s iOS store has consistently generated more revenue than its Android counterpart for years due to a number of factors – including the fact that Android users historically have spent less on apps than iOS users, as well as the fact that there are other Android app stores consumer can shop – like the Amazon Appstore or Samsung
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ACLU calls for a moratorium on government use of facial recognition technologies

Technology executives are pleading with the government to give them guidance on how to use facial recognition technologies, and now the American Civil Liberties Union is weighing in. On the heels of a Microsoft statement asking for the federal government to weigh in on the technology, the ACLU has called for a moratorium on the use of the technology by government agencies. “Congress should take immediate action to put the brakes on this technology with a moratorium on its use, given that it has not been fully debated and its use has never been explicitly authorized,” said Neema Singh Guliani, ACLU legislative counsel, in a statement. “And companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and others should be heeding the calls from the public, employees, and shareholders to stop selling face surveillance technology to governments.” In May the ACLU released a report on Amazon’s sale of facial recognition technology to different law enforcement
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Does Silicon Valley have a conscience?

Silicon Valley’s recruiting pitch has long been: Work with us to change the world. Employees are encouraged to make their work life synonymous with their social identity, and many internalize those utopian ideals. “People who signed up to be tech heroes don’t want to be implicated in human rights abuses,” says a senior Google employee.

A close look at the emergence of employee dissent at big tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft over issues that matter to them. One notable omission: Facebook. Perhaps they think that their company is pristine, flawless.

Television content creation in China

Content creation has seen immense growth in recent years, with a shift in focus from mainstream content providers such as traditional television studious to internet-era startups either seeking to expand their portfolios or seeking to increase premium user memberships through exclusive content introduction. In America, this scene has been predominately owned by Amazon, Netflix and Hulu, introducing critically acclaimed titles such as The Man in the High Castle, Orange Is the New Black and The Handmaid’s Tale, respectively, with many other industry giants scrambling to catch up (with Apple already signing a deal with Steven Spielberg to produce an Amazing Stories-reboot, Facebook spending as much as $1 billion on original content, Google announcing plans to potentially spend up to $3 million per drama episode and even Disney with their purported streaming service, among many others). Similarly, in China’s growing television industry, a select few, namely Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, continue to
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Study calls out ‘dark patterns’ in Facebook and Google that push users towards less privacy

More scrutiny than ever is in place on the tech industry, and while high-profile cases like Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance in front of lawmakers garner headlines, there are subtler forces at work. This study from a Norway watchdog group eloquently and painstakingly describes the ways that companies like Facebook and Google push their users towards making choices that negatively affect their own privacy. It was spurred, like many other new inquiries, by Europe’s GDPR, which has caused no small amount of consternation among companies for whom collecting and leveraging user data is their main source of income.

The report (PDF) goes into detail on exactly how these companies create an illusion of control over your data while simultaneously nudging you towards making choices that limit that control. Although the companies and their products will be quick to point out that they are in compliance with the requirements

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Google Calendar gets an ‘Out of Office’ mode

Google Calendar is the latest Google app to get an update focused on improving users’ “digital wellbeing.” The company announced today it’s rolling out a new “Out of Office” feature in Google Calendar, alongside a setting for customizable working hours. The working hours signal to others when you’re unavailable, and allows Google Calendar to automatically decline meetings on your behalf outside those hours. For starters, you’ll find there’s a new “Out of Office” calendar entry type you can select when you’re creating an event via Google Calendar on the web. For example, if you’re scheduling the dates of your vacation, you could mark that event as “Out of Office.” If others send you meeting invites during this period, Google Calendar will decline them without your involvement. It’s a feature users have requested for years to complement Gmail’s Vacation Responder. Google also says it will attempt to automatically detect
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