Facebook and Instagram Take a Stand Against Controversial ‘Miracle Claims’ Content

A. DeCarlo
A. DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:

  • The social media giants have been under pressure to shield users from influencer posts that make specious claims.
  • Some questions on policy definition and enforcement remain, but Facebook and Instagram are moving in the right direction with the new rules.

Social media sites Instagram and parent Facebook are tightening their content standards to restrict advertisements and posts from influencers and other users who peddle weight loss and cosmetic procedures to teenagers. In September, the two social media giants disclosed a policy change which aims to prohibit the distribution of content to users under the age of eighteen that promotes the sale of weight-loss products or even mentions or depicts a weight-loss product or supplement. This content, which often makes bold claims about dramatic results with minimal scientific backing, has been linked to a number of negative impacts on users. Continue reading “Facebook and Instagram Take a Stand Against Controversial ‘Miracle Claims’ Content”

Cisco’s Settlement Over Video Surveillance Flap Signifies a New Era in Vendor Accountability

Amy Larsen DeCarlo – Principal Analyst, Security and Data Center Services

Summary Bullets:

• After a protracted legal battle that spanned nearly a decade, Cisco settled a lawsuit accepting accountability for a security flaw in a video surveillance system sold to Homeland Security, the Secret Service, and other U.S. government agencies.

• As part of the settlement, the partner’s employee who originally reported the vulnerability will receive $1.5 million.

Eight years after the filing of a lawsuit against Cisco on behalf of U.S. public sector customers and more than a decade after a Cisco contractor initially called attention to a serious security flaw in one of the vendor’s video surveillance solutions, the IT equipment maker reached an $8.6 million settlement with the aggrieved parties and admitted culpability. In a blog posted in late July, Cisco General Counsel Mark Chandler wrote that software developed by Broadware – a company acquired by Cisco – used an open architecture that could be vulnerable to a breach. The settlement amount equates to a partial refund to the U.S. federal government and 16 states that bought products between 2008 and 2013. And the $8.6 million settlement included a $1.6 million payment to the person who first identified the vulnerability, although ultimately, no breach ever occurred. Continue reading “Cisco’s Settlement Over Video Surveillance Flap Signifies a New Era in Vendor Accountability”

Research Finds Facebook Posts Could Help Doctors Diagnose Medical Conditions

A. DeCarlo
A. DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:

  • Newly published research shows language in Facebook posts can be a more accurate tool than demographic data for helping medical professionals make a diagnosis.
  • The Facebook data is particularly effective in shedding light on certain health issues including diabetes and mental illness.

Facebook has been under fire for years for everything from the Cambridge Analytica scandal to the platform’s part in aiding the dissemination of false information about the Rohingya Muslims that led to the deaths of thousands in Myanmar. Though it is sometimes derided as a tool that does more to isolate than connect, newly published findings by researchers from Penn Medicine and Stony Brook University show Facebook posts can provide important clues to puzzle out a number of medical conditions including diabetes, depression, and psychosis. Continue reading “Research Finds Facebook Posts Could Help Doctors Diagnose Medical Conditions”

New Research Reveals C-Level Execs Are Prime Targets for Cyber Attackers

A. DeCarlo
A. DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:

  • Due to their privileged access to high-value corporate assets, executives are in the crosshairs of cyber attackers, according to the latest Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.
  • The Verizon report found that the combination of access and the need to make quick decisions made C-level executives more vulnerable to social engineering attacks.

Enterprising cyber attackers driven by a money motive are setting their sights on objects that will deliver the highest returns. Thanks to their access to high-value systems and data, C-level executives are a prime target for social engineering hacks. This year’s Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report (DBIR) found social attacks, including business e-mail compromises (BECs) against enterprise executives, are on the rise. Speculating that the combination of proximity to high-value assets and the intensive pressure of their roles, which limits executive time to scrutinize messages, makes them more vulnerable than most employees with less critical roles, the Verizon DBIR claimed that staffers in leadership are 12 times more likely to be the victims of credential theft or other social incidents, such as being tricked into transferring money to an adversary’s bank account. Continue reading “New Research Reveals C-Level Execs Are Prime Targets for Cyber Attackers”

Amazon Catches Heat for Alexa’s Dependence on Human Intellect

A. DeCarlo
A. DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:

  • Amazon Alexa is relaying recorded consumer speech for analysis by Amazon staff and contractors for product improvements.
  • There is a simple workaround to turn off the default communications between Alexa and Amazon employees.

Alexa apparently needs a little help from human sources to better decipher user requests. Amazon acknowledged that individual staff and contractors in a number of countries including Romania, India, Costa Rica, and the U.S. each evaluate as many as 1,000 recorded requests to Alexa during their nine-hour shift. The staffers feed notes into software that provides better context to requests, which Amazon said will ultimately produce a better user experience. Continue reading “Amazon Catches Heat for Alexa’s Dependence on Human Intellect”

Google in Hot Water Over Latest Privacy Misstep

A. DeCarlo
A. DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:

  • Google is under fire for failing to disclose that its Nest Secure home alarm system has an embedded microphone.
  • Privacy advocates are calling for significant change in light of the digital giant’s checkered data handling history.

When Google announced in early February that the company had added a feature to its Google Nest Secure system that allows it to work with Google Assistant to become a smart speaker, some consumers were surprised to learn the home security and alarm system has an embedded microphone. Google copped to failing to disclose the integrated microphone, admitting that detail should have been included in product information. Continue reading “Google in Hot Water Over Latest Privacy Misstep”

Social Media Roasts Apple over Its Subpar Response to the FacePalm Bug

A. DeCarlo
A. DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:

  • Reports surfaced that Apple ignored multiple efforts from an Arizona lawyer to alert the company that her teenage son had uncovered a bug which allows one FaceTime user to spy on another.
  • Twitter users blasted Apple for ignoring the lawyer’s attempts and then being slow to disable the affected feature and issue a fix.

News that Apple seemingly ignored repeated reports for a week that its popular FaceTime video app had an alarming privacy-invading bug is going viral on social media. Twitter users questioned whether Apple was ignoring calls to investigate a FaceTime group chat bug that allows the initial caller to listen on the call recipient even if the person on the receiving end didn’t pick up, or if the company might have been surreptitiously working on a fix before notifying users about the embarrassing flaw. Continue reading “Social Media Roasts Apple over Its Subpar Response to the FacePalm Bug”

CEO Diane Greene Prepares to Exit Google with Its Enterprise Cloud Play Still Incomplete

A. DeCarlo
A. DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:

  • Diane Greene led the Google Cloud enterprise charge, helping the provider make up lost ground with an ambitious agenda that included significant acquisitions, investments in AI, and new strategic partnerships.
  • But, for all of Google’s forward momentum, the provider still hasn’t closed the gap with IaaS leaders AWS and Microsoft Azure.

As Google Cloud chief Diane Green gets ready to hand over the reins to her successor, former Oracle exec Thomas Kurian, the industry is taking a moment to reflect on the progress and conflicts that marked her term. When Greene joined Google in 2015, despite the company’s status as an Internet titan, the organization was an underwhelming performer in the enterprise cloud. Continue reading “CEO Diane Greene Prepares to Exit Google with Its Enterprise Cloud Play Still Incomplete”

Web Pioneer Lays Out Ambitious Plan to Disrupt Digital World Order

A. DeCarlo
A. DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:

  • Consumers’ unease with the misinformation, disinformation, and mishandling of personal digital data is driving new regulations and investment in developing new ways to protect content.
  • Inrupt, a startup founded by Tim Berners-Lee, wants to shake up the status quo with technology that will effectively decentralize the web and put more control in the hands of end users.

Twenty-nine years after the first successful Internet transmission using Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), the protocol’s developer, Tim Berners-Lee, wants to disrupt the web status quo. In an effort to address mounting concerns about privacy on the web, Berners-Lee is forging a path to return control over data access and storage to end users. Berners-Lee’s new startup, Inrupt, is pushing for adoption of an open source platform which could, if widely implemented, effectively decentralize the web. The platform, known as ‘Solid,’ takes aim at the current digital data model in which a relatively small number of dominant web players maintain significant access and storage control over the majority of end-user information. Continue reading “Web Pioneer Lays Out Ambitious Plan to Disrupt Digital World Order”

Privacy and Data Integrity in the Disinformation Era

Amy Larsen DeCarlo – Principal Analyst, Security and Data Center Services

Summary Bullets:

  • Facebook executives have been on a summer apology tour after the Cambridge Analytica fiasco came to light but new information surfaced that shows the company is still not adequately protecting consumer personal data.
  • Lawmakers aren’t waiting for tech to self-regulate with California’s legislature passing a sweeping consumer privacy bill and federal regulators looking to follow suit.

 

Digital advertising, an $88 billion industry in 2017, is driving notable revenue expansion for some of the top social media platforms.  However, this growth has brought with it some questionable practices in how user information is mined and shared.  Facebook became a focus of intense scrutiny when it came to light that during the 2016 U.S. presidential election U.K.-based political consulting house Cambridge Analytical tapped data from tens of millions of Facebook users to build out voter profiles without express permission.  Facebook executives conducted something of an apology tour, testifying in front of a U.S. Congressional Committee and promising more transparency about how user data is handled and applied. Continue reading “Privacy and Data Integrity in the Disinformation Era”