This Week in Tech 627: Do You Inkwell?

Leo, Ashley Esqueda, Michael Nunez, and Dylan Tweney debunk the “Google Memo.” Mark Zuckerberg still refuses to admit he is running for president. If you use Instagram’s “Inkwell” filter, you are probably depressed. Google is taking over the open internet. An MIT Algorithm can tell if you are sarcastic on Twitter. HBO hack fallout. Phishing the White House. Podcast patent troll loses to EFF. Email Patent Troll vs Techdirt. Snap stock down after Facebook/Instagram copies all their best features. Forget everything you know about passwords. Hacking computers with DNA.

–Ashley Esqueda knows about the secret island where we are raising Leo Laporte clones.
–Dylan Tweney would prefer that you not use a Valley Girl accent when talking about his company.
–Michael Nunez is feeling kind of sweaty right now.


This Week in Tech 625: Walking to the Bodega

Apple pays $506 million and €1.7 billion for patent infringements. Trump says that Apple will build 3 big plants in the US; Apple declines to comment. Apple kills the iPod Nano and Shuffle. Coders aren’t happy about the new spaceship campus. Amazon, Alphabet, and Twitter stocks slide after earning reports, but Facebook is flying high. Your Roomba is NOT spying on you. Sweden leaks private info of all its citizens. Hackers crack safes, pwn voting machines, and inject code into mice at DEF CON. Flash is finally dying – in 2020. Everything you ever wanted to know about the upcoming Bitcoin split but were afraid to ask.

–Alex “Will” Wilhelm sleeps in Leo’s parents’ bedroom.
–Mike Murphy was NOT bought by Steve Job’s widow this week.
–Steve Kovach can see the Empire State Building right now.

This Week in Tech 619: Honey, I Shrunk the Panel

Amazon buys Whole Foods, and has its eyes on Slack. Apple’s HomePod – Sonos killer? Facebook’s Safety Check causes stress. Twitter’s redesign. Voter fraud conspiracies. E3 announcements.

–Jason’s Pick: Zero Fasting Tracker
–Brian’s Pick: React Native
–Peter’s Pick: Star Trek Bridge Crew
–Dave’s Pick: Boosted Board, EZ Robot

This Week in Tech 608: Supercanoe

US Congress votes to kill ISP privacy rules. Fixing fake news is harder than anyone imagined. Apple AR might not be good for gamers. Twitter changes default profile picture. The best 2017 April Fools jokes.

–Brianna Wu wants to fix the government from within.
–Erin Griffith’s husband learned to solve a Rubik’s Cube during this show.
–Larry Magid remembers when facts mattered in news.

Google, Microsoft, Salesforce and Verizon are all reportedly interested in buying Twitter

By Shawn Knight | TechSpot

Twitter last October brought back former CEO Jack Dorsey to once again helm the company he helped create. More importantly, they needed him to help steer the ship back on course following multiple miscues.

Twitter has been taking on water for a while but you’d never know it at first glance. The social network is seemingly preferred by every major celebrity and Internet influencer and hashtags have invaded our daily lives. You can’t even watch the evening news without hearing about what ordinary people think about a given story courtesy of Twitter.

Dig a bit deeper, however, and you’ll find a myriad of problems plaguing the microblogging platform.

The company has failed to curb the rampant bullying and abuse that takes place each and every day on its platform. User growth has remained flat for several quarters. Revenue is tough to come by as larger companies are getting the lion’s share of advertising dollars.

It’s no surprise, then, that Twitter may soon find itself under new ownership.

CNBC on Friday said that Google and Salesforce are both interested in making an offer for Twitter. What’s more, TechCrunch notes that Microsoft and Verizon are also interested although the latter may have too much on its plate right now given its recent acquisition of Yahoo (and AOL before that) as well as its interest in Vessel.

Share value in Twitter is up more than 20 percent on the buyout chatter.

In the meantime, Twitter is attempting to reinvigorate itself as a video streaming platform as evident by recent deals with organizations such as the NFL.

Microsoft, global law enforcement agencies disrupt Dorkbot botnet

By | Techspot

Microsoft, in cooperation with a number of law enforcement agencies around the world, managed to disrupt a botnet that’s infected over a million PCs across more than 190 countries.

First discovered in April 2011, Dorkbot is an IRC-based botnet that has been commercialized by its creator and is readily available for purchase on underground online forums as NgrBot. The malware relies on USB drives, social networks, IM clients, spam and drive-by downloads for distribution.

It’s most often used to steal login credentials for many of today’s top sites and services including AOL, eBay, Facebook, Gmail, Godaddy, Netflix, PayPal, Steam, Twitter, Yahoo and YouTube.

Over the past six months, Microsoft said it detected Dorkbot on roughly 100,000 systems each month with the majority of infections spotted internationally.

Microsoft said it worked with CERT Polska, ESET, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the Department of Homeland Security’s United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, Europol, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Interpol and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to disrupt the botnet.

Details on exactly what actions were taken to disrupt Dorkbot weren’t mentioned.

The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) advises those that have been infected to use and maintain anti-virus software, change passwords, keep operating system and application software up-to-date, use anti-malware tools and disable Windows Autorun.

Hacking Team spyware company allegedly breached, 400GB of data dumped online

An Italian developer of surveillance software, Hacking Team, which has previously been sharply criticized by digital activists, has apparently suffered a large data breach.

Hacking Team develops surveillance tools that it has maintained are legally sold to governments for law-abiding investigations. But critics contend the company’s software has been used to spy on dissidents, human rights activists and journalists.

On Sunday, it appeared that Hacking Team’s Twitter feed was taken over. The banner on the page had been changed to “Hacked Team.” Several posts contained screenshots that are purportedly of the stolen data, which included emails sent by Hacking Team’s founder and CEO, Vincent Vincenzetti.

Hacking Team officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

The data stolen amounts to some 400GB, according to Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist for the Speech, Privacy and Technology project of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Soghoian, who has frequently criticized Hacking Team, wrote in another Twitter post that the data “dump includes an .xls spreadsheet listing every government client, when they first bought HT and revenue to date.”

That kind of data, if accurate, could be immensely damaging to Hacking Team, which has sought to defend its operations amid a variety of accusations from critics over who buys its software and how it’s used.

Hacking Team has been under consistent fire from organizations such as the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab. One of Hacking Team’s main products is the Remote Control System, which is a suite of tools that enables secret remote access of a computer.

In a February 2014 study, Citizen Lab said RCS appears to have been used by 21 countries such as Azerbaijan, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Panama, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE and Uzbekistan.

Some of those countries, Citizen Lab noted, have questionable human rights records, and it’s believed that some governments may have used RCS to monitor the activities of civil rights activists.

via Hacking Team spyware company allegedly breached, 400GB of data dumped online | PCWorld.

Sony vows to sue Twitter if tweets containing hacked e-mails aren’t removed

If nothing else, Sony Pictures is determined to mitigate the damage stemming from the attack on its computer systems last month. After reportedly launching a DDoS attack to slow the spread of stolen data shared on certain websites, we’re now hearing that Sony is going direct after Twitter.

Motherboard recently obtained an e-mail that suggests Sony lawyers will bring legal action against the microblogging platform if they fail to shut down accounts that are sharing stolen information.

The e-mail in question reportedly came from Sony lawyer David Boies and was sent to Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s general counsel. Sony specifically asked Twitter to share the e-mail with Val Broeksmit, a musician that has been posting screenshots of hacked Sony e-mails to his Twitter account @bikinirobotarmy.

Twitter complied, forwarding the message to Broeksmit, adding that they can’t provide legal advice and that he may want to contact his own personal attorney regarding the matter. Broeksmit then forwarded the message to Motherboard.

Twitter has confirmed the authenticity of the e-mail exchange but declined to say whether or not they would be removing Broeksmit’s tweets, highlighting the fact that they are still live as of now.

Broeksmit told Motherboard that he’s not with a newspaper and thinks he can get away with it. He said it’s important because it’s so new and different from anything we’ve seen before. This is a billion dollar company being made bare to the public and it’s fascinating to learn how these companies work.

via Sony vows to sue Twitter if tweets containing hacked e-mails aren’t removed – TechSpot.

Bot or Not will tell you if a Twitter account is run by a social bot

Twitter is closing in on a billion user accounts but as we looked at last month, nearly half of those accounts have never published a single tweet. And even if an account is active, that doesn’t mean it’s legit as a large number of these accounts are operated by social bots.

Plenty of automated accounts are easy to spot as they simply regurgitate news from a particular website or publish stock information. Others, however, are a bit more manipulative in nature and post questionable content such as fake news, rumors, spam, slander and the like. That said, how can you tell if a particular account is operated by a human or a computer?

Up to this point, the best solution was to simply use good judgment. Naturally, that doesn’t always work which is why a tool like the new Bot or Not app could be infinitely useful. Developed by researchers at Indiana University, the app takes a Twitter user handle and analyzes it against more than a thousand different criteria to determine the likelihood of it being run by a bot.

The app then gives a ranking on a 100-point scale based on patterns such as length of time between posts, the structure of the accounts’ networks and the content it posts.

Bot or Not is described as a work in progress. The team says they will continue to work to refine its algorithm as spammers will no doubt adjust their methods accordingly to circumvent the app’s analysis.

via Bot or Not will tell you if a Twitter account is run by a social bot – TechSpot.