Tech Friday with Dave Hatter - August 14th 2020 - SPONSORED BY INTRUST IT


  • Privacy related comments from four of the tech titans in recent Congressional testimony were interesting:
    • Four of the most recognizable tech CEO's recently testified to Congress on how they have become so powerful
    • The landmark antitrust hearing unfolded over the six and a half hours of grilling
    • Investigations into potential antitrust enforcement against Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple began over a year ago. Announced by David N. Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat and head of the House’s Antitrust Subcommittee, on June 3, 2019
    • The purpose of this hearing was to determine if these four companies, worth a combined total of some $5 trillion, have gotten too big at the expense of rivals and consumers
    • Interestingly enough, Microsoft and Twitter were not included
    • It was the first time Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos’s was personally interviewed by Congress
    • Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Tim Cook (Apple), and Sundar Pichai (Alphabet/Google) have all previously testified before a variety of governmental bodies
    • Some of the previous hearings have been political theater; others have led to large punitive fines
    • Many questions were raised about privacy
    • Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked about long-running accusations of the company using its App store dominance to spy on—and squash—competing apps
    • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was asked how Amazon employees used data siphoned from third-party sellers to create their own competing private labels
    • Some of the most interesting comments came from Google and Facebook:
      • "We’ve long been working to comply with GDPR, and we’re in full compliance." - Sundar Pichai, Google 
        • Since GDPR became the law in 2018 in the EU, Google has faced two serious legal challenges that are still active
        • French authorities fined Google a hefty $57 million dollars claiming that Google deliberately makes the onboarding process for new Android devices less than consensual
        • Google was also fined another $670 thousand dollars by Belgian authorities for violating the “right to be forgotten” rules under the EU’s statute
        • Both of these cases are ongoing
      • "We don’t use Gmail data for ads." - Sundar Pichai
        • Congressman Armstrong asked Google if data from Gmail accounts is used for targeting ads as it was in the past
        • Pichai said "we don’t use data from Gmail for ads [...] on the services where we do provide ads, and if users have consented to ads personalization, yes, we do have data"
        • Google tracks the ads you see, the ads you click on, and the ads you don’t across their ecosystem
      • "We don’t use cookies." - Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
        • Towards the six and a half hour mark Congresswoman McBath pointed out that their privacy policy has stated they "would not" use cookies
        • She asked if they use cookies to track users and Zuckerberg said "[his] understanding is no. We’re not using cookies to collect private information about people who use our services, and I believe we’ve upheld that commitment."
        • They don't need cookies, they have the Facebook pixel and browser fingerprinting
        • Zuckerberg eventually backpedaled and said "Yes, we do use cookies" when McBath pressed him harder
      • You can watch the video of the testimony here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0gJYFX8WVc
  • Fawkes cloaks your identity from facial recognition systems:
    • Facial recognition software is everywhere and it's controversial
    • Some US states and the EU are considering the ban of facial recognition cameras in public spaces
    • IBM has left the business, and Amazon and Microsoft have stopped providing facial recognition tools to law enforcement
    • A new tool may help hide our identity from these systems
    • Known as Fawkes, the tool makes changes to photos that are undetectable to the naked eye, but can throw off facial recognition systems (FRS)
    • Some FRS scrape images from the web and may lead to "highly accurate facial recognition models of individuals without their knowledge" says University of Chicago researchers who proposed the Fawkes tool
    • Fawkes modify the photos at the pixel level before they are uploaded to the Internet. This is enough to fool the deep learning systems without noticeably changing how an image looks to a human
    • During experiments, Fawkes provided high levels of protection against facial recognition models. Additionally, even when "clean" images were available for scrapers, Fawkes processing can results in misidentification up to 80% of the time
    • In real-world tests against the Microsoft Azure Face API, Amazon Rekognition, and Face++, the system appears to be successful in preventing users from being identified.
    • "Fawkes is most effective when used in conjunction with other privacy-enhancing steps that minimize the online availability of a user's uncloaked images" researchers said
    • Learn more here:https://sandlab.cs.uchicago.edu/fawkes/
  • Patches, patches and more patches:
    • For the August 2020PatchTuesday, Microsoft fixed 120 vulnerabilities in Microsoft products,17 classified Critical and 97 classified Important
    • This is another of the largestPatchTuesday updates ever and corrects two zero-day exploits
    • The patches cover 13 products
    • Microsoft indicated that users should install these security updates as soon as possible
    • View the full list here:https://portal.msrc.microsoft.com/en-us/security-guidance/releasenotedetail/2020-Aug
    • Other recent updates include:
      • Adobe
      • Google Chrome
      • Google Android
    • Install the patches now

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