Displaying items by tag: Tech

Facebook stores millions of user passwords

Written on Tuesday, 26 March 2019 09:17

Facebook revealed that it has kept a record of hundreds of millions of user passwords in plain text.

The social media giant’s Vice President of Engineering, Security and Privacy, Pedro Canahuati, wrote in  a blog post that hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users will be notified about this and so will the millions of Facebook and Instagram users.

Facebook Lite is a version of Facebook which is used in areas with weak connectivity.

According to Canahuati the mistake they made was noticed in January but did failed to comment on why an announcement wasn’t made about the issue at the time. Instead, the announcement came over two months later.

“As part of a routine security review in January, we found that some user passwords were being stored in a readable format within our internal data storage systems,” said Canahuati.

He also stated that the passwords which were stored were never visible to anyone outside Facebook and that they were not abused or improperly used by any of the staff.

“This caught our attention because our login systems are designed to mask passwords using techniques that make them unreadable.

We have fixed these issues and as a precaution we will be notifying everyone whose passwords we have found were stored in this way.”

Published in Apps

China’s internet regulator has issued a report in which it has outlined plans to formalize a new cybersecurity review which would represent a new challenge for foreign tech firms in what has become an increasingly volatile market for the tech sector. It has been an exceptionally difficult year for US technology companies in China - Uber sold off its operations, Apple services were discontinued in some parts - while Microsoft faced a new inquiry.

However, the latest proposal by the Cyberspace Administration of China looks set to create a new standoff - and further increase tensions between the US and China over internet policy. In the report submitted by the Cyberspace Administration it didn’t elaborate on what the government checks would entail, but it has been speculated that it is likely to consist of security checks targeting encryption and data storage.

Over the last number of years, a number of US and other foreign tech firms were subject to a series of secretive Chinese security reviews. The reviews involved employees of tech companies being asked to disclose specific information about certain products in person. This naturally set alarms bells ringing off among many US tech companies – and now the latest news regarding the proposed cybersecurity reviews being formalized by China has increased fears.

US companies fear that once subject to secretive reviews, Chinese authorities may use the checks to extract trade secrets, or find weaknesses in the products for state hackers. The reviews are run by a committee of engineers and experts with ties to China’s military and security agencies. It’s a further indication of China’s efforts to enhance the already unprecedented internet controls it has in place in the country.

China broadened their efforts to streamline cybersecurity management in the country – and seem intent on continuing this trend with the latest review. Only last month, it passed a new cybersecurity law which drew criticism from human rights groups and foreign companies. However, authorities seem undeterred by the scrutiny its policies in relation to cybersecurity have come under.

Beijing has struggled to balance its goal of fostering innovation with its desire to keep control over a communication medium it believes could be destabilizing. While it includes boilerplate references to opening up, the report makes clear that the government will continue to err on the side of control for now.

In a section subtitled “Peace,” the report said that Beijing would work to get ahead of a global cybersecurity arms race threatening international peace. In another part, the regulator said that China would use military means if necessary to protect its internet sovereignty. China has said in the past that the internet represents a new realm, akin to space, in which it must assert its rulership rights.

The new report is the clearest signal yet of the government’s intent to crystallize those checks into a formal policy.

Still, if China were to be more public about the checks, it could lead to copycat policies from other countries, analysts have said.

Drafts of proposed Chinese laws are typically released to domestic and foreign companies for comment. In this case, the reviews were carried out without formal legislative process, meaning that companies had little room to push back.

Published in Government

A number of major US technology companies suffered a drastic decline in its stocks following the presidential election of Donald Trump – and are now quite fearful for the future under his administration. During the election campaign close to 150 tech leaders including founders of worldwide brands such as Apple, Reddit and Wikipedia penned an open letter in July - in which it warned that his nomination would be a ‘disaster for innovation.’

However, the controversial Republican candidate and New York based billionaire secured the nomination on November 8th and will now subsequently become the 45th President of the United States. His success has left the technology sector pondering its future under Trump – and already stocks have taken a huge decline since his nomination.

Trumps pre-election rhetoric sent shivers through Silicon Valley as he announced that he intended to squeeze trade on China, clamp down on immigration which is critical to many tech firms - and he also issued a warning to online giants Amazon suggesting they could have ‘a huge antitrust problem’ if he were to be successful in his candidacy.

Gene Munster, an analyst on the technology sector at US investment bank and asset management company Piper Jaffray has moved to dispel some of the fears surrounding immigration and Amazon.

Munster said: “The tech sector is in more control of its own destiny than Donald Trump and will work through these problems.”

“I think the ‘antitrust’ probe of Amazon is unlikely, and I don’t think there will be major change on skilled immigration under Trump, and there could be an increase on tariffs for electronics components and that could potentially impact companies such as Apple, but it would be equally spread over manufacturers because they all rely on imports.”

However, many tech companies could boost significantly from Trump’s pledge to lower taxes on capital repatriated from overseas, which could well benefit companies such as Apple and Google. The tech sector holds the lion’s share of an estimated $2.5 trillion (Dh9.18 trillion) held by US firms overseas.

Bob O’Donnell, a consultant at Tech-analysis Research in Silicon Valley believes there could be a lot of money repatriated by tech companies. O’Donnell said: “Tech firms could use the repatriated money for job creation, and that would be very interesting - the tech sector may get a fresh look at the kinds of services and technologies that people want to invest in under Trump.”

“For example, a major push on infrastructure investment could be a big opportunity to integrate ‘smart’ technology for services such as transportation.”

While Trump has said very little in relation to the tech sector thus far, analysts and consultants have noted that the tech industry is such a huge part of the economy that you simply can’t ignore it. However, it has also been noted and taken into account that things that were viewed as special privileges may be taken away.

Some within the tech sector are gravely concerned that a Republican administration may seek to roll back so-called ‘net neutrality’ which ultimately prohibits broadband firms from playing favorites – which could spell trouble for online video operators like Netflix and Amazon.

Many tech leaders have simply had to put the disappointment of Trump’s election result behind them and move forward. According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple CEO, Tim Cook sent a memo to staff in which he said that the only way to move forward is to do so together. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg brushed off the election result by stating that it would not be right to say the election of Donald Trump changes the fundamental arc of technology over time.

Published in Government