Everything we have in our home seems to have a computer built into it these days, and they're networked and connected to the internet. This is called the "Internet of Things." Some devices are more secure than others, and even then, many just don't get updated with security features. Security expert Brian Krebs has an article on the best way to secure your digital "stuff" online. Check it out at krebsonsecurity.com here.
This Week in Tech News
The big story today is news that back when Twitter was launched, Facebook decided to change it's feed to include more news stories, thereby addicting its users and keeping them online longer. Leo says that Facebook discovered that they could sell more advertising and make more money if they could hook users to spend more time. Leo says that Facebook prefers to call it more "engaging." But he also says that strategy may have backfired, as engagement has been declining over the last two years.
Intel has announced that the fix for the Spectre exploit can actually cause blue screens of death (BSOD) and crash your system unless you make sure everything is updated first — especially third-party antivirus. Leo says this is why it makes more sense to use Windows Defender and not use a third party app. They really do more harm than good.
Leo did not go to CES this year, and he's glad he didn't because it's filling up with insignificant junky stuff that looks like people desperate to find something interesting. There was a Gameboy Nintendo remade by a Chinese company called "HyperKin." Samsung did not announce the Galaxy S9, but said it'll probably be announced in March. There were some leaks about the S9 that make it sound like it's mostly the same as the S8, but it'll have a new camera that will do dual apertures with a single lens. Samsung did announce a Bluetooth speaker that aims at your ears without headphones.
2018 brought about the news that every processor built in the last ten years have a flaw in them that could give hackers access to sensitive data. Initially believed to affect just Intel processors, the latest is that this affects every single processor made, regardless of platform.
The flaws utilizes a technique called "processor speculation," which enables the processor to speculate what the user will do next in order to accelerate performance. But the feature also gives hackers access to sensitive L2 cache data like passwords. It's especially true for networks.
Warby Parker, the company that sells eyeglasses by mail, has created an app that can check your prescription online. The app is called Prescription Check. It doesn't work for reading, progressive, or bifocal lenses — it only will test distance.
The latest exploit "Spectre" affects every single chip made in the last ten years. At first, security researchers thought that the exploit only affected Intel processors, but it turns out this hack also effects ARM, AMD, and any other processor that uses speculative prediction. The white hat hackers who found the flaw discovered that you can use it to access valuable data including passwords and other information. Leo says that Microsoft has already pushed out a fix, and Apple's High Sierra has patched the vulnerability with a recent fix. Apple has also patched the iPhone and iPad.
In a strict party-line vote, the FCC voted 3-2 to kill Net Neutrality rules, in spite of overwhelming support to protect it. Leo says that while the rules were in place in 2015, we've really had it since the beginning. Leo says he believes the smaller ISPs will probably still keep the spirit of Net Neutrality, but he believes the bigger companies like Time Warner, Comcast and others will probably charge Google, Facebook, and others for access to their customers. He doesn't believe at this point that customers will see a direct impact, though.
Facebook released a study on whether or not spending time on social media is bad for us. The report comes from the director of research at Facebook, David Ginsberg, and a research scientist at Facebook, Moira Burke. It's good to ask this question, and it's surprising Facebook would even ask it — until you read their conclusions. They determined it is bad for you if you're passively consuming it. They say in the study that the people who just read Facebook would feel worse, but those who interacted with others felt better. These findings seem a little self-serving, according to Leo.
Apple has released the iMac Pro, which it announced earlier this year. This computer starts at $4,999, and it's not hard at all to configure it up to $10,000. This is for professionals who are using it for business, like 3D design, photography, and video editing. Even if you did decide to spend the money on that, it still wouldn't be the fastest computer out there. This isn't even the fastest Mac. It all depends on what you do. It's using the Intel Xeon chip, which has 8, 10, 12, and 16 cores. But, when you get these multiprocessor Xeon chips, they run at a slower clock speed per process.