Technology

Nude photos, tax statements and more: Old USB drives contain highly sensitive info

A whopping two-thirds of secondhand USB drives contain recoverable data from the previous owner, including some highly sensitive and personal information, according to a new study. The study, done by the University of Hertfordshire and commissioned by Comparitech, said almost 70 percent of secondhand USB flash drives sold in the U.S. and U.K. still contain recoverable data from their previous owners. Researchers purchased 200 USB memory sticks – 100 in the US, 100 in the UK – from eBay, secondhand shops, and traditional auctions, Comparitech said. Of the 100 drives purchased in the U.S., 64 had data deleted but it could easily be recovered. The corresponding number was 47 for the U.K. “Researchers discovered a wide range of intimate, private, and sensitive files,” Paul Bischoff, a privacy advocate who writes for Comparitech.com, said. That includes nude photos, business documents, ID scans, job applications, wage slips, private memos, tax statements, receipts, and medical documents. Click here for details of some of the more notable recovered data:

US military wants $300M to start testing satellite-mounted lasers and ‘particle beams’

The U.S. military is looking to develop and test more weapons it can blast into space to fire at targets on the surface of the earth. According to Defense One, the first plan on the agenda is a space laser that could be used to blow up enemy missiles “coming off the launch pad”. A study to see if this is feasible should wrap up within six months, but only takes up $15m of the total budget. Much of the rest of the cash is going to a project to develop space-based “particle beam” weapons. While lasers fire high-energy light at targets, particle beam weapons would accelerate a stream of subatomic particles to ludicrously high speeds and direct them at the target. While each particle only has a tiny mass, enough of them moving fast enough would be able to impart a serious amount of energy in a very short space of time. The U.S. first tested particle beam weapons in the late 1980s to some success, but the designs for a functional weapon were huge, with some reportedly over 70 feet long. “We now believe we can get it down to a package that we can put on as part of a payload to be placed on orbit,” according to a senior U.S. military official quoted by Defense One. The idea is that such weapons could be used to take out missiles very shortly after they launch, when they’re blasting up from their launch pads into the atmosphere. The current plan has such weapons being ready for testing in 2023. Some worry that if the U.S. developed and deployed these sorts of weapons it would push the likes of Russia and China into developing both missiles that would be resistant to the technology and weapons to take down the satellite weapons. The development of those new weapons result in “greatly increasing the threat to U.S. assets in space,” according to Kingston Reif, of the Arms Control Association. No country currently has any official space-based weapons, but plenty have been theorized. China has upgraded its space technology recently, with U.S. analysts suggesting they already have laser-based weapons capable of crippling American defenses.

Steve Forbes: US can beat China in 5G without becoming like China

China’s aggressive push to dominate 5G wireless technology has given rise to calls for the U.S. government to take over the development of a national 5G network. In fact, there is no reason to panic. American companies are rising to the 5G challenge. Socialism and crony capitalism will only undermine U.S. progress in the race to 5G. The success of tech companies like Apple and Microsoft is emblematic of what American innovation and its competitive spirit can accomplish. The companies that have changed the world and kept America at the cutting edge have rarely if ever been the spawn of government. When politicians in Washington team up with special interests, it generally distorts competition and impedes groundbreaking innovation. Fifth generation, or 5G, wireless technology is of cosmic importance and is one of the most significant high-tech breakthroughs ever. It is elemental to what some see as the Fourth Industrial Revolution – not merely upgrading current technology, but enabling a revolution with new technology. The speed and processing power of 5G wireless technology will turn the futuristic visions of smart cities, smart agriculture, telemedicine, autonomous vehicles, and so much more into reality. Within the coming decade, businesses small and large will essentially have to have 5G access to compete and succeed. With the stakes so high, President Trump is hearing calls from aides and outside interests to push for more government control in building out our 5G network. Some Trump administration officials are counseling that beating China to the punch in 5G leadership is so crucial that the federal government should build a nationwide wholesale 5G network. In essence, they are saying that in order to beat China we have to become like China. This myopic and misbegotten advice ignores a rather crucial fact: Private sector wireless providers are already investing in and creating the national 5G network. America’s pre-eminent high-tech network construction leaders, Verizon and AT&T, already have 5G projects underway across the country. U.S. wireless providers, who won the race to 4G without government assistance, ask only that they be allowed to invest and innovate under free-market policies that minimize regulatory red tape and expense. Bringing politicians and bureaucrats into the mix is a surefire way to gum up the process of deploying 5G. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai agrees. He said: “The main lesson to draw from the wireless sector’s development over the past three decades – including American leadership in 4G – is that the market, not government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment. Any federal effort to construct a nationalized 5G network would be a costly and counterproductive distraction from the policies we need to help the United States win the 5G future.” Advocates of government keeping a huge portion of the spectrum to itself to jumpstart construction of a national 5G network naively believe this would be a limited, light-handed intervention. Their terrible proposal ignores reality. One of the scientific properties of a gas is that it expands to fill the space it’s in; government is not much different. People calling for a national wholesale network may like to believe it will be neutral and immune to interference. But once we start down that road, who knows where we’ll end up? It’s completely possible that at some point in the future, as political tides shift, we could see the government controlling the 5G network, followed by control of messages on that network. In private hands the 5G network is a liberating force. In government hands it would look more like George Orwell’s Big Brother. In the quest for 5G, government at all levels should not supplant but instead should empower the private sector. The FCC has already rewritten some regulations to begin streamlining and standardizing the permitting rules for 5G infrastructure. The FCC should continue to step up the pace for transferring commercially useful spectrum to the private sector to use to develop 5G and even stipulate it be used for that purpose. Some state legislatures and municipal governments have rid themselves of antiquated regulations that stand in the way of small cell antenna placement and taken other steps forward in the 5G process. Preventing greedy local politicians from holding 5G hostage will ensure that we have the universal network deployment necessary to make 5G work for all U.S. families, employers and public institutions. If the Trump administration is serious about winning the global race to 5G and staying ahead of China it will ignore calls for a government takeover or a nationalized 5G network and continue to support policies that allow private sector investment to lead the way. The faster the administration gives American companies the tools, the faster they will finish the job. Have faith in free markets!

Agreed!!!  And well said, Steve!!  Steve Forbes is Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media. His latest book, “Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code, and Reforming the Fed will Restore Hope and Prosperity”.   🙂

Newt Gingrich: Chinese companies pose serious threats to US

The recent federal indictments of Chinese telecom giant Huawei and its affiliates lay out a frightening story of a foreign company illicitly manipulating and exploiting loopholes in the American business system. The first indictment, filed in the Eastern District of New York, outlines 13 charges related to bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and obstruction of justice. During Monday’s press conference about the indictments, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker clearly described Huawei’s lies about its affiliations with an Iranian subsidiary, Skycom, which misled banks into conducting business that is illegal under U.S. law. As Whitaker pointed out, Huawei has been allegedly deceiving and conducting illicit activities against the U.S. government and global financial institutions for at least a decade. He said this behavior “goes all the way to the top of the company.” The second indictment was filed in Washington and details 10 charges related to theft of trade secrets, wire fraud, and obstruction of justice. This indictment describes how Huawei relentlessly attempted to steal the technology behind T-Mobile’s robot mobile phone testing system, Tappy. In this case, Huawei actually created an employee bonus program for those who engaged in stealing valuable and confidential information from their competitors. These allegations are serious and alarming. Circumventing U.S. sanctions against Iran – a nation ruled by a government that leads chants of “Death to America” and supports terrorist activities – undermines our national security interests. Engaging in activities that add to the estimated $225 billion to $600 billion that is lost every year to China through intellectual property theft is an attack on our economic interests. As I describe in my upcoming book, “Trump vs. China: Facing and Fighting America’s Biggest Threat,” in order to comprehend the significance of these charges – and the substantial risks that Huawei’s alleged crimes pose to America’s national security and economic interests – we must look at the bigger picture. Huawei was founded in 1987 by a former officer of the People’s Liberation Army – the Chinese Communist Party’s military arm. Since then, the company has become the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer – and the second largest smartphone maker. Huawei has benefitted greatly from China’s subjectively discriminatory business policies and has raised significant security concerns among U.S. government officials. In a hearing last February, intelligence officials, including the heads of the CIA, FBI, NSA and the director of national intelligence all agreed that they would not advise private American citizens to buy Huawei devices or services. This week, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that America’s national security and economic security are threatened by “the immense influence that the Chinese government holds over Chinese corporations like Huawei.” According to Wray, “the potential for any company beholden to a foreign government, especially one that doesn’t share our values, to burrow into the American telecommunications market” would allow “the foreign government the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information, to conduct undetected espionage or exert pressure or control.” It is also important to consider the worldwide rollout of 5G telecommunications infrastructure and Huawei’s current leading position in the development of this new revolutionary technology. A company exhibiting this type of illicit behavior and generating the level of concern that it has within the American intelligence community should not be setting the global standards for the world’s telecommunications industry. Yet Huawei is currently testing in, has memorandums of understanding with, or is a confirmed network or vendor for at least 80 countries around the world. The reality is, whoever controls 5G ultimately controls the future. The emergence of this technology will be the cornerstone of the world’s advanced operational capabilities. It will be the key to connected infrastructure, autonomous vehicles, high-tech factories, worldwide commerce, aircraft, and even our personal devices. This 5G technology facilitates the ability to control critical infrastructure on a massive scale – which poses extraordinary security risks. It is not in the United States’ interest to have this emerging industry controlled by a foreign company or government which has already raised substantial security concerns. Lastly, the emergence of 5G and these new connective capabilities will result in a massive influx of data. Already, China has a strict set of laws that force companies to cooperate with government surveillance initiatives. FBI Director Wray said China’s cybersecurity law mandates that “Chinese companies, like Huawei, are required to provide essentially access upon demand (to the Chinese government) with little to no process to challenge that.”

Crazy..  For more on this excellent op/ed by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R), click on the text above.

Apple to patch FaceTime privacy bug

Apple Opens a New Window. said on Monday it will issue a fix for a bug that lets iPhone Opens a New Window. users hear audio from users who have not yet accepted a FaceTime video call. The software patch will be issued by the end of the week. The bug allows an iPhone user placing a call using Apple’s FaceTime video-calling feature to hear audio from the recipient’s phone even if the recipient has not yet picked up the call, according to Reuters. In certain situations, the bug also broadcast both video and audio from the recipient’s phone, the technology news website the Verge noted. Apple’s group FaceTime was temporarily made unavailable due to an ongoing issue, according to Apple’s system status webpage. The Cupertino, California-based company was not immediately available to comment on the update on its system status page. Apple announced the feature last summer, but then removed it from early test versions of its iOS 12 operating system. The company launched the feature in October. Apple will report its fiscal first quarter results after the markets close on Tuesday.

Survey: Americans Spend Nearly Half Their Waking Hours Looking At Screens

For all the studies that tell us how important it is to limit screen time, does it sometimes feel that no matter where we are or what we do, there’s a screen in front of us one way or another? Perhaps it’s no surprise then that Americans spend nearly half of their waking hours looking at screens, according to a survey of 2,000 adults. More specifically, the survey found that 42% of the time Americans are awake, their eyes are fixated on a television, smartphone, computer, tablet, or other device. Supposing the average American slept eight hours a night (not even close to the case for most adults), the researchers calculated that people spend about six hours and 43 minutes a day staring at a screen. Over a typical lifespan, that’s 7,956 days. And the problem is only getting worse. Of those surveyed, 79% said their screen time has increased over the past five years, with four in ten admitting it’s grown “a lot.” Three in four participants believe they simply spend too much time in front of screens. In fact, 53% take breaks from the computer — by checking their phone. Another 27% admits to watching TV and looking at their phone at the same time. “We live in a digitally-connected world and these survey results show how digital devices have completely transformed our lives, no matter our age,” said Dr. Michele Andrews, an optometrist with contact lens manufacturer CooperVision, the company that commissioned the survey. “Digital eye fatigue is faced by millions of Americans every day because of this non-stop screen time.” Researchers found that the respondents were generally able to last about four hours before dealing with eye discomfort and requiring a break, but the average person still takes three breaks a day for relief. Of course, many people don’t have a choice, with three-quarters of respondents required to use a computer at the office. Yet despite the growing problem, only half of those surveyed felt that society as a whole has become more digitized and screen-focused over the past five years. The survey also found, likely to no one’s surprise, that millennials were most attached to their digital devices. Age plays a substantial role in the amount of time people spend on digital devices, with millennials being more screen-oriented than other generations. A whopping 92% of the 18 to 35 age group checks their phone immediately after waking up, compared to just 51% of those over 55. About three in five millennials also admit feeling “anxious and irritated” if they can’t check their phone, while only one in five baby boomers feel the same way. Meanwhile, as a whole, 73% say that all the screen time they log makes them feel lethargic, and 64% feel happier after getting a significant break from a screen. The survey was conducted by market research firm OnePoll.

A sign of the times…

Ford, Nissan, GM Put Tesla Under Pressure with Electric Vehicle Announcements

Ford, Nissan, and GM announced new moves into the world of electric vehicles, creating further competition for Elon Musk’s Tesla. CNBC reports that Tesla shares fell by 3.7 percent this week as auto manufacturers across the world revealed a new interest in electric car manufacturing. Ford chairman Bill Ford stated that the company plans to invest $11 billion in electric vehicles by 2022, hoping to add 40 different hybrid and electric vehicles to their current vehicle lineup. Ford CEO Jim Hackett discussed this with CNBC’s Phil LeBeau at the Detroit auto show on Sunday, saying: “We talked about a huge investment in electric vehicles. We have 16 models that are in design and development. We have a pretty big surprise coming next year.” Similarly, the CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra, told investors before the auto show that the company was working on a fully electric version of their popular Cadillac car, which is reportedly expected to be an SUV model. Nissan revealed that all future models from their “Infiniti” luxury brand will be “electrified,” meaning that they will either be entirely electric or a plug-in hybrid model. At CES in Las Vegas last week, Nissan also debuted their new electric car called the “Leaf Plus” which is set to be available for purchase in early spring and will drive approximately 226 miles per charge of its lithium-ion battery. Over the course of the Detroit auto show, Ford shares rose by 1.9 percent while GM’s rose 1.3 percent, Nissan faced technical difficulties when debuting one of their new cars on stage – their share price remained flat. Tesla recently announced that the company will no longer be taking orders for the popular 75 kWh battery version of their Model S and Model X vehicles, with the 100 kWh battery version becoming the standard model. At the same time, CEO Elon Musk promised that future models of their Roadster vehicle would be able to literally fly.