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Main article: Computing

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OpenText buys data backup firm Carbonite for $1.42B

17:06 | 11 November

Carbonite has agreed to a $1.42 billion purchase by OpenText, an enterprise information management giant, ending weeks of speculation about the anticipated buyout.

The deal marks a 78% premium on Carbonite’s share price on September 5, when it was first rumored the company was preparing to buy the backup and data recovery company. Carbonite said the board “strongly believes” the deal will return “substantial” cash value to shareholders, said Steve Munford, chairman of Carbonite’s board.

It ends a busy couple of years for Carbonite as the company has moved away from a traditional data backup business to a more proactive, defensive security company.

In February, Carbonite bought endpoint security company Webroot for $618.5 million in an all-cash deal, as the company pushed to protect against emerging threats like ransomware. Only a year earlier, Carbonite bought Mozy for $145 million, a cloud backup service.

Carbonite said at the time of its acquisition by OpenText, the backup company had losses of $14 million on revenues of $125.6 billion, an increase by 62% year-over-year.

Wall Street was expecting average revenues of $131.5 million.

 


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A browser bug was enough to hack an Amazon Echo

20:24 | 9 November

Two security researchers have been crowned the top hackers in this year’s Pwn2Own hacking contest after developing and testing several high profile exploits, including an attack against an Amazon Echo.

Amat Cama and Richard Zhu, who make up Team Fluoroacetate, scored $60,000 in bug bounties for their integer overflow exploit against the latest Amazon Echo Show 5, an Alexa-powered smart display.

The researchers found that the device uses an older version of Chromium, Google’s open-source browser projects, which had been forked some time during its development. The bug allowed them to take “full control” of the device if connected to a malicious Wi-Fi hotspot, said Brian Gorenc, director of Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative, which put on the Pwn2Own contest.

The researchers tested their exploits in a radio-frequency shielding enclosure to prevent any outside interference.

“This patch gap was a common factor in many of the IoT devices compromised during the contest,” Gorenc told TechCrunch.

Amat Cama (left) and Richard Zhu (right), who make up Team Fluoroacetate. (Image: ZDI)

An integer overflow bug happens when a mathematical operation tries to create a number but has no space for it in its memory, causing the number to overflow outside of its allotted memory. That can have security implications for the device.

When reached, Amazon said it was “investigating this research and will be taking appropriate steps to protect our devices based on our investigation,” but did not say what measures it would take to fix the vulnerabilities — or when.

The Echo wasn’t the only internet-connected device at the show. Earlier this year the contest said hackers would have an opportunity to hack into a Facebook Portal, the social media giant’s video calling-enabled smart display. The hackers, however, could not exploit the Portal.

 


0

Capital One replaces security chief after data breach

20:36 | 7 November

Capital One has replaced its cybersecurity chief, four months after the company disclosed a massive data breach involving the theft of sensitive data on more than 100 million customers.

A spokesperson for Capital One confirmed the news in an email to TechCrunch.

“Michael Johnson is moving from his role as chief information security officer to serve as senior vice president and special advisor dedicated to cyber security,” said the spokesperson.

Mike Eason, who served as chief information officer for the company’s commercial banking division, has replaced Johnson as interim cybersecurity chief while a permanent replacement is found.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the news.

Capital One continues to assess the aftermath from its July data breach, which saw a hacker take millions of credit card application data between 2005 and 2019 from customers applying for credit cards. The data leaked also includes names, addresses, postal addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, and self-reported income, as well as credit scores, and credit limits.

Paige Thompson, a Seattle resident, was taken into custody by the FBI following the disclosure, accused of breaking into the banking giant’s cloud-based environment. Subsequent research showed that the alleged hacker and former Amazon Web Services employee, may have obtained sensitive corporate data on other companies, including Vodafone, Ford, and Ohio’s Department of Transportation.

It was reported this week that Thompson would be released from custody, pending trial.

 


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Amazon Ring doorbells exposed home Wi-Fi passwords to hackers

17:43 | 7 November

Security researchers have discovered a vulnerability in Ring doorbells that exposed the password for the Wi-Fi network it was connected to.

Bitdefender said the Amazon-owned doorbell was sending its owner’s Wi-Fi password in cleartext over the internet, allowing for nearby hackers to intercept the Wi-Fi password and gain access to the network to launch larger attacks or conduct surveillance.

Amazon fixed the vulnerability in all Ring devices in September, but the vulnerability was only disclosed today.

It’s another example of smart home technology suffering from security issues. As much as smart home devices are designed to make our lives easier and homes more secure, researchers keep finding vulnerabilities that allow them to get access to the very thing they’re trying to protect.

Earlier this year, flaws in a popular smart home hub allowed researchers to break into a person’s home by triggering a smart lock to unbolt the door.

Amazon has faced intense scrutiny in recent months for Ring’s work with law enforcement. Several news outlets, including Gizmodo, have detailed the close relationship Ring has with police departments, including their Ring-related messaging.

It was reported this week that Ring had bragged on Instagram about tracking millions of trick-or-treaters this Halloween.

 


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Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 starts shipping

16:00 | 7 November

Earlier this year, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft announced the second generation of its HoloLens augmented reality visor. Today, the $3,500 HoloLens 2 is going on sale in the United States, Japan, China, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Australia and New Zealand, the same countries where it was previously available for pre-order.

Ahead of the launch, I got to spend some time with the latest model, after a brief demo in Barcelona earlier this year. Users will immediately notice the larger field of view, which still doesn’t cover your full field of view, but offers a far better experience compared to the first version (where you often felt like you were looking at the virtual objects through a stamp-sized window).

The team also greatly enhanced the overall feel of wearing the device. It’s not light, at 1.3 pounds, but with the front visor that flips up and the new mounting system that is far more comfortable.

In regular use, existing users will also immediately notice the new gestures for opening up the Start menu (this is Windows 10, after all). Instead of a ‘bloom’ gesture, which often resulted in false positives, you now simply tap on the palm of your hand, where a Microsoft logo now appears when you look at it.

Eye tracking, too, has been greatly improved and works well, even over large distances, and the new machine learning model also does a far better job at tracking all of your fingers. All of this is powered by a lot of custom hardware, including Microsoft’s second-generation ‘holographic processing unit.’

Microsoft has also enhanced some of the cloud tools it built for HoloLens, including Azure Spatial Anchors that allow for persistent holograms in a given space that anybody else who is using a holographic app can then see in the same spot.

Taken together, all of the changes result in a more comfortable and smarter device, with reduced latencies when you look at the various objects around you and interact with them.

 


0

California accuses Facebook of ignoring subpoenas in state’s Cambridge Analytica investigation

21:54 | 6 November

California’s attorney general Xavier Becerra has accused Facebook of “continuing to drag its feet” by failing to provide documents to the state’s investigation into Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

The attorney general said in a court filing Wednesday that Facebook had provided a “patently deficient” response to two sets of subpoenas for the previously undisclosed investigation started more than a year ago. “Facebook has provided no answers for nineteen interrogatories and produced no documents in response to six document requests,” the filing said.

Among the documents sought are communications by executives, including chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, and documentation relating to the company’s privacy changes.

The filing said the social media giant was “failing to comply with lawfully issued subpoenas and interrogatories” for what the attorney general says involves “serious allegations of unlawful business practices by one of the richest companies in the world,” referring to Facebook.

Becerra is now asking a court to compel Facebook to produce the documents.

The now-defunct Cambridge Analytica scraped tens of millions of Facebook profiles as part of an effort to help the Trump presidential campaign decide which swing voters to target with election-related advertising. Facebook banned the analytics and voter data firm following the unauthorized scraping. Facebook was later fined $5 billion by the Federal Trade Commission for violating a privacy decree in 2012, which demanded that the company engaged in better privacy protections of its users’ data.

A Facebook spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Developing… more soon.

 


0

Google enlists mobile security firms to help rid Google Play of bad Android apps

20:25 | 6 November

Google has partnered with mobile security firms ESET, Lookout and Zimperium to combat the scourge of malicious Android apps that have snuck into the Google Play app store.

The announcement came Wednesday, with each company confirming their part in the newly created App Defense Alliance. Google said it’s working with the companies to “stop bad apps before they reach users’ devices.”

The search giant has struggled to fight against malicious apps in recent years. Although apps are screened for malware and other malicious components before apps are allowed into Google Play, the search and mobile giant has been accused of not doing enough to weed out malicious apps before they make it to users’ devices.

Google said earlier this year that just 0.04% of all Android apps downloaded from Google Play were considered potentially harmful apps — or about 30 million potentially malicious apps.

Yet, it remains an ongoing problem.

ESET, Lookout, and Zimperium have all contributed to the discovery — and eventual takedown — of hundreds of malicious apps on Google Play in recent years.

But each time Google takes down a suspicious or malicious app from Google Play, the thousands or millions of users with the app installed on their phone remain vulnerable. The apps are not removed from devices, continuing to put users at risk.

By integrating its Google Play Protect technology, which serves as Android’s built-in antimalware engine, with each of its partners’ scanning engines, the collective effort will help to better screen apps before they are approved for users to download.

Google said that knowledge sharing and industry collaboration are “important” to combat rising mobile app threats.

 


0

Apple refreshes its privacy site with new technical whitepapers

17:00 | 6 November

For the fourth year in a row, Apple has updated its privacy pages.

Every year the tech giant’s refreshes the privacy portion of its website — usually a month or so after its product launches — to keep customers up to date with its latest features and technologies. Since its fight with the FBI, which saw federal agents try to force Apple to create an iPhone backdoor to get the contents of a terrorist’s phone, Apple ditched its historically secretive ways and went full-disclosure on its security and privacy practices.

Its privacy pages have evolved to house the tech giant’s various commitments to privacy, but also user tips and tricks and its twice-yearly transparency report detailing the number of government demands for data it receives.

This year — and for the first time — Apple has published several technical whitepapers detailing how some of its most popular technologies work. So far, the company has released whitepapers on Safari, Photos, Location Services, and Sign In With Apple — which all saw privacy enhancements this year.

Last year the company debuted a “download your data” page, allowing users to obtain all of the data that Apple stores on them, a legal requirement under Europe’s GDPR.

Apple says its privacy pages are the most visited part of its entire site.

As with previous years, the updated privacy pages now includes all of the new privacy and security features in iOS 13 and macOS Catalina, which Apple released earlier this year, including Safari anti-tracking, location awareness, and contact notes protections.

Apple’s new privacy website. (Screenshot: TechCrunch)

 


0

Cyber-skills platform Immersive Labs raises $40M in North America expansion

17:00 | 6 November

Immersive Labs, a cybersecurity skills platform, has raised $40 million in its Series B, the company’s second round of funding this year following an $8 million Series A in January.

Summit Partners led the fundraise with Goldman Sachs participating, the Bristol, U.K.-based company confirmed.

Immersive, led by former GCHQ cybersecurity instructor James Hadley, helps corporate employees learn new security skills by using real, up-to-date threat intelligence in a “gamified” way. Its cybersecurity learning platform uses a variety of techniques and psychology to build up immersive and engaging cyber war games to help IT and security teams learn. The platform aims to help users better understand cybersecurity threats, like detecting and understanding phishing and malware reverse-engineering.

It’s a new take on cybersecurity education, which the company’s founder and chief executive Hadley said the ever-evolving threat landscape has made traditional classroom training “obsolete.”

“It creates knowledge gaps that increase risk, offer vulnerabilities and present opportunities for attackers,” said Hadley.

The company said it will use the round to expand further into the U.S. and Canadian markets from its North American headquarters in Boston, MA.

Since its founding in 2017, Immersive already has big customers to its name, including Bank of Montreal and Citigroup, on top of its U.K. customers, including BT, the National Health Service, and London’s Metropolitan Police.

Goldman Sachs, an investor and customer, said it was “impressed” by Immersive’s achievements so far.

“The platform is continually evolving as new features are developed to help address the gap in cyber skills that is impacting companies and governments across the globe,” said James Hayward, the bank’s executive director.

Immersive said it has 750% year-over-year growth in annual recurring revenues and over 100 employees across its offices.

 


0

As developers embrace Kubernetes, Replicated launches tools to manage its deployments

16:30 | 6 November

Five years ago, when the Los Angeles-based enterprise software startup Replicated first launched, it was one of a number of contenders looking to bring containerized software development tools to businesses.

The company initially hitched its star to containerized software development toolkit, Docker, but over time developers began to migrate to another containerized software development platform — Kubernetes .

Over time, as Kubernetes has emerged as the dominant toolkit for developers, Replicated’s co-founder, Grant Miller realized that his company needed to adjust to the new reality.

“Realistically when we saw Kubernetes becoming the default platform we wondered what would the next generation of Replicated’s tooling look like,” Miller told me recently.

The solution that the company hit upon was to launch a suite of services — which are available now — that could “operationalize and scale the Kubernetes applications,” Miller said.

Replicated had been focused on third party software written by someone else and delivered to run internally within a company’s on-premise hardware. Now the company is launching what it calls KOTS (Kubernetes Off The Shelf), which is a play on commercial off-the-shelf software, Miller says.

“The future of enterprise software is going to be these Kubernetes applications delivered to enterprises so that they can run privately, securely, in their own environments,”  says Miller.

Replicated has already sold its toolkit to a number of vendors, including: HashiCorp, CircleCI, Gradle, Snyk, GitPrime, Sysdig, Wickr, SignalSciences and many others and has distributed those applications into 1,500 enterprises, including 50 of the Fortune 100.

Now, Replicated KOTS enables vendors to easily package an upstream, and fully-supported distribution of Kubernetes with their application for enterprises who have yet to fully embrace Kubernetes.

Once deployed, KOTS gives administrators the ability to get an application configured and deployed using step-through configuration, automated preflight checks and 1-click updates. 

For more advanced cluster operators, the KOTS tools provide integrations that set up an application for automated day-2 operations. Cluster operators can make last-mile configuration changes as overlays that will persist throughout application updates, the company said.

The tools also integrate with internal enterprise image registries to piggy-back on the image scanning that enterprises conduct. Additionally, administrators can consolidate application updates to be automatically versioned through internal version control systems like GitHub Enterprise or GitLab, enabling GitOps for 3rd-party applications. 

Already, Replicated has four customers who are using its KOTS suite of tools. The idea is to give businesses a way to operationalize and support software developers for alerts and provide tools to manage deployments on premises.

“We’re administrative tooling so you can configure and update and troubleshoot to manage this third party app,” Miller says.

The KOTS tools automate the process of delivering and controlling the delivery of software into a system and help to manage the last-mile configuration.

“There’s a whole level of super neediness that it goes to,” says Miller. “This integrates with enterprises existing first party deployment software management system.”

 


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