A recent study has found that the greatest threat to our critical infrastructure is squirrels. Not hackers, not enemy states, not organizations, but squirrels. Small animals have been responsible for more than 1,700 power cuts affecting 5 million people.
This Week in Tech News
The FTC filed complaints against two separate robocall groups. Many of the calls, according to the FTC, were to numbers on the "Do Not Call" registry. These robocall groups were calling hundreds of millions of people in 2012 and 2013 selling home security systems or generating leads for home security installation companies. They were also doing auto warranties.
Pwn2Own is an annual competition held at CanSacWest in Canada. Prizes are awarded to the hackers who can most quickly hack various operating systems and programs. This year a million dollars in prizes will be awarded, meaning it attracts the best hackers in the world. The money awarded is directly related to the difficulty in hacking the target. The most money goes to anyone who can hack an Apache web server.
Now that President Donald Trump has taken office, the question is whether he will continue to tweet, and what phone will he use? Leo says that he used an iPhone until halfway through the campaign, and then shifted to what Leo thinks is a Samsung Galaxy S. Now that he's president, he has to use a massively modified and far more secure mobile device. But can he tweet with it? The Secret Service has also urged the President to stop tweeting from his @realdonaldtrump account. Although Leo says he did tweet from it earlier today. Like Obama, Trump uses his phone for news and social outreach.
Telegram is an encryption system that many use to keep messages secure. The news is that Russians have cracked it, though. That could impact other apps like WhatsApp, but Open Whisper Systems says that WhatsApp, Signal, and even Facebook are still secure in encrypted mode. Leo also says that if you want to encrypt your email, PGP and GPG are still solid.
Read more at Mashable.com.
At CES Mercedes Benz says that they will have a self driving car by next year and are working with NVidia to develop it. Leo says that CES often announces things that don't happen for years, if at all. He thinks that it'll be 5 to 10 years before we see self driving cars on the roads as common place.
Leo says that for the first time in decades, driving fatalities are on the rise and the reason points to distracted driving as users of smartphones have their attentions divided. As such, California and other states are ratcheting up the fines for anyone who uses their smartphone while driving.
A local TV news segment told the story of a girl who talked to Amazon Echo and accidentally ordered hundreds of dollars in toys and cookies through the automatic ordering feature. In doing so, the radio station triggered homes all over San Diego that have Amazon Echo to do the same thing. Leo says it's important to make sure you have parental controls on to avoid this, and to train yourself to not use the "A" word when talking about things it may mistakenly use to order for you.
The Federal Trade Commission is taking router manufacturer D-Link to court over product security and privacy issues. This all relates to the lack of security for Internet of Things devices. The FTC alleged that the company “failed to take reasonable steps to protect their routers and cameras from widely known and reasonably foreseeable risks of unauthorized access.”
Read more at theverge.com.