Tech Friday


  • 90% of all eCommerce login attempts are hackers:
    • Personal information that is leaked or stolen is most often sold the Dark Web
    • 51 breaches were reported last year, compromising 2.3 billion user credentials
    • Hackers buy this information and use it to try access your accounts
    • If they get lucky, they can steal something from your account(s). You use a strong, unique password on each site, right? 
    • Hackers use automated programs to launch "credential stuffing" attacks 
    • A new report from cybersecurity firm Shape Security says eCommerce sites are the most frequent target of these attacks
    • "Criminals harvest usernames and passwords from data breaches and test them on every website and mobile app imaginable" Shape said in its report
    • Upwards of 90% of e-commerce sites' logins come from these attacks
    • Other industries that could lead to a big score for a hacker such as airlines and banking are targeted as well
    • Unfortunately, up to 3% of credential stuff attacks succeed, making big money for the bad guys
    • This leads to massive losses, about $6 billion per year in the eCommerce sector
    • Consumer banking loses about $1.7 billion annually
  • Congressional hearing on anti-conservative bias in tech gets heated:
    • Google, Facebook and Twitter have been accused of liberal bias for some time
    • Undercover videos from Project Veritas appear to show Twitter employees discussing techniques to censor conservative content
    • Facebook has faced many accusations of conservative censorship, most recently were claims by conservative bloggers Diamond and Silk that their videos were being squelched
    • In 2015, Harvard psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein revealed evidence that Google is manipulating search results related to Hillary Clinton. Read more here: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-09-12/google-bias
    • Matt Lieberman of Sourcefed published a video claiming Google’s autocomplete suggestions were biased in favor of Clinton. The video went viral and was viewed 25 million times on Facebook. Read more here: http://thefederalist.com/2016/06/10/is-google-manipulating-search-results-to-help-hillary-clinton/
    • Online search marketer CanIRank.com found that 50 searches for political terms produced more liberal leaning results than conservative results
    • Google’s ties to top Democrats are well known, starting with Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt, an active Clinton backer who ran a Clinton campaign data-analysis contracting firm. Learn more here: http://dailycaller.com/2016/10/19/ceo-of-googles-parent-company-works-directly-with-clinton-camp/
    • The allegations have surfaced again after the death of Roger Ailes. Ian Miles Cheong wrote an article for HeatStreet which pointed out that most of the top results on a search for Ailes were left leaning sites that attack his character. Read it here: https://heatst.com/tech/does-google-have-a-liberal-bias-search-results-for-roger-ailes-speak-volumes/
    • There are several Google alternatives:
      • Bing: Microsoft's search engine is the 2nd most popular with roughly a 16% share of searches. https://www.bing.com/ Bing also powers Yahoo
      • DuckDuckGo: Known as the search engine that doesn't track you. Gaining in popularity for those who want to avoid the all seeing eye go Google: https://duckduckgo.com/
      • Ask: Famous for it's Ask Jeeves character: http://www.ask.com/
      • DogPile: Curates content from other search engines and removes all the ads: https://www.dogpile.com 
    • The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing this past week to explore anti-conservative bias tech
    • Three Silicon Valley executives were interviewed including Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy, Nick Pickles, Twitter’s senior policy strategist and Juniper Downs, YouTube’s head of policy
    • Rep Darrell Issa (R-CA) asked if major tech companies should now be held to the same standards as media outlets
    • Tech executives stressed that social media platforms are not publishers and shouldn't be held to the same standards claiming they don't edit users' copy or make editorial judgments 
    • Facebook has said "We see Pages on both the left and the right pumping out what they consider opinion or analysis — but others call fake news" and "We believe banning these Pages would be contrary to the basic principles of free speech"
    • Representatives from both parties bickered and disagreed in predictable ways, yet both sides indicated that they planned to keep a sharp eye on tech
    • "Your actions around these issues are essential to making sure that your platforms aren’t misused to the detriment of democracy" said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)
  • Spot the social media bot:
    • Twitter has roughly 330 million users, but millions of these accounts are fake
    • A New York Times investigation found that these fake accounts, also known as "bots", are following, tweeting, retweeting and liking tweets to give "influencers" more influence and drive trends
    • In this context, "bot" is short for an automated computer program
    • For example, a Twitter account with 100 followers will have exponentially less influence and reach than an account with 100,000 followers
    • Jennifer Grygiel, a Syracuse University social media professor said "It's kind of like inflating your resume. They were buying status so they can have influence."
    • While Twitter has fueled breaking news and social movements such as #MeToo, it's also provided a place for thousands of anonymous accounts to attack topics or people they dislike, making those items "trend" and get more attention
    • In many cases, "bots" are behind these movements
    • The report in the Times alleged that Devumi sold millions of fake likes, retweets and followers to high-profile Twitter users 
    • Many of the accounts in question appear to be the stolen identities of real people
    • Thus far, Devumi has not responded to questions and Twitter has said it's taking action against the company
    • Attorneys general from New York and Florida plan to investigate Devumi's practices. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has tweeted that "impersonation and deception" are illegal
    • Accusing someone of being a bot has now become an insult
    • Since these revelations, millions of followers have disappeared from some popular accounts
    • University of Southern California professor Emilio Ferrara released a study last year that reported that bots are behind as much as 15% of active Twitter accounts
    • Twitter recently shut down more than two million bots, in this case, the most egregious offenders
    • Look for these flags to determine if you're following a bot:
      • A profile that lacks information
      • Posting language and syntax
      • Highly repetitive behavior
      • Behavior over time
      • Size and composition of the bot's network
    • Don't waste your time following or arguing with bots
    • Thanks to Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning, bots will likely get harder to spot