January 12, 2022

Snippet: Cryptomining in Antivirus Software ☍

Brian Krebs:

Many readers were surprised to learn recently that the popular Norton 360 antivirus suite now ships with a program which lets customers make money mining virtual currency. But Norton 360 isn’t alone in this dubious endeavor: Avira antivirus — which has built a base of 500 million users worldwide largely by making the product free — was recently bought by the same company that owns Norton 360 and is introducing its customers to a service called Avira Crypto.

While anti-malware software is often necessary, many programs already try to do too much and waste system resources making one wonder if the remedy is worse than the symptoms. Throwing in cryptomining seems to be pushing that even further.

November 17, 2021

News: Apple Announces Self-Service Repair

This was something I didn’t have on my 2021 Apple Things Bingo Card, but it’s a good move. Apple will allow consumers to buy parts for device repairs, starting with the iPhone 12 and 13 and expanding to the Macs with M1 chips. Unfortunately, it looks like older devices won’t be included, but this is a good step for those who feel comfortable doing repairs. This also may be Apple’s way of getting ahead of any “Right to Repair” legislation…

October 22, 2021

Snippet: Facebook is Too Big, Fail ☍

M.G. Siegler:

Facebook is not dying as a business, but they’ve died as a brand. The company needs to move on to ‘what’s next’ as quickly as possible to distance themselves from the social network. This is nothing new, of course — I wrote this over six years ago. They’ve more or less been trying to do this for years. But even in creating an umbrella company, they called it ‘Facebook’, which was dumb. It was the exact opposite of what they should have done. Because, again, Facebook, the brand, is over.

It seems pretty clear that Mark Zuckerberg both realizes this and doesn’t want to realize this. But the latter is his mistake. It’s too late and the longer he and they take to realize this, the worse off the company will be as a result. They might think that all of this will blow over, as it always does, or that all of this is “illogical”, which it also is to some extent. But again, that doesn’t matter. There’s the rationalist world and then there’s the reality of the situation. The powers that be have chosen Facebook as the poster child. The tech elites are tired of Facebook. And the younger generation has no desire to use Facebook. So…

I think when Facebook was starting out, we all liked it, but were used to a new social network taking over every few years—it replaced Friendster and MySpace and we assumed Twitter or something else would eventually pick up, except Facebook is still around. People feel anxious about leaving because they might miss out. Nonetheless, the growth isn’t there and it might be time to think about what’s next for the company.

October 9, 2021

Snippet: Japan’s Love Affair with the Fax Machine ☍

Hansun Hsiung for The Conversation:

Fast forward to 2021, and Japan’s high-tech image is peeling away. “Japan needs a software update”, the New York Times tells us. The country’s octogenarian IT minister, Naokazu Takemoto, has been mocked for his inability to maintain a functioning website. Japan, it seems, is lagging behind in the global race to digitise, despite being the home of Panasonic and Mitsubishi, of bullet trains and neon-lit urban life.

And nowhere is this better symbolised than in the country’s ongoing love affair with the fax machine. The 20th-century technology is still a fixture in many Japanese offices, where there remains an insistence on paper documents bearing personal seals. But rather than asking why Japanese businesses have patiently stood by their buzzing fax machines, perhaps we should really be asking: why do we find it so surprising? Why do representations equating Japan to high technologies persist so tenaciously, despite evidence to the contrary?

While fax machines haven’t gone away entirely here, it has always fascinated me how they were something that seemed extremely common in Japan even recently.

Snippet: A Text Message Routing Company Suffered a Five-Year-Long Breach ☍

Ian Carlos Campbell for The Verge:

Syniverse, a telecom company that helps carriers like Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T route messages between each other and other carriers abroad, disclosed last week that it was the subject of a possible five year long hack. If the name Syniverse sounds familiar, the company was also responsible for the disappearance of a swath of Valentine’s Day text messages in 2019.

The hack in question was brought to light in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Syniverse published last week. In it, Syniverse shares that in May 2021 it “became aware of unauthorized access to its operational and information technology systems by an unknown individual or organization.” The company did its due diligence notifying law enforcement and conducting an internal investigation, resulting in the discovery that the security breach first started in May 2016. That’s five years of (possibly) unfettered access.

I don’t really understand why Syniverse needs to exist in the first place and why they’re not under more scrutiny. In the US, there’s only a handful of carriers (if you count the big three and the regionals), so why can’t they handle something as basic as text message routing? At this point, with so many things outsourced, do the telecom companies do anything themselves?