Connect with us

Tech News

Did the Chinese government use Amazon to spy on Americans?

(TECH) A contentious report indicates the Chinese government hacked American citizens, which Homeland Security denies, despite rising tensions.

Published

on

A year after Amazon sold off its Chinese servers, a new report places the blame upon a Chinese government spy program.

TechCrunch alleges that last year’s move by Amazon to offload its server presence in China is not due to an exit from the Chinese marketplace as previously speculated. Rather, Bloomberg reports reveal that a vital link in the computer manufacturing supply chain has been compromised by Chinese corporate espionage, leaving Amazon — and many other American companies — vulnerable to cyber-attack.

Bloomburg asserts that the physical motherboards of the servers were compromised during construction, where malicious microchips created by a Chinese military unit were introduced into the motherboards without Amazon’s knowledge. These microchips are about the size of a pencil lead, and once activated, allow the server’s operating system to be altered.

These compromised motherboards were then sold to SuperMicro, an American startup company. SuperMicro then used these parts to construct servers for Elemental, a software company which dealt primarily with video compression.

Elemental was eventually acquired by Amazon, but not before doing direct business with the United States government.

According to Bloomberg, “Its technology had helped stream the Olympic Games online, communicate with the International Space Station, and funnel drone footage to the Central Intelligence Agency.”

If these allegations are true, it implies that Amazon knew of the compromised servers, but decided to quietly deal with the matter internally.

A public acknowledgement of victimization from cyber-attacks could hurt their public image, along with possibly leaving themselves open to public outrage or even class action from customers angry over the exposure of their personal data.

However, the alternative implies turning a blind eye to the possibility that their company may have unknowingly aided in international espionage.

Amazon denies the veracity of Bloomberg’s claims, including both the existence of and the knowledge of malicious spy hardware embedded into their servers. “As we shared with Bloomberg BusinessWeek multiple times over the last couple months, this is untrue,” reads a recent statement from Amazon. “At no time, past or present, have we ever found any issues relating to modified hardware or malicious chips in SuperMicro motherboards in any Elemental or Amazon systems. Nor have we engaged in an investigation with the government.”

The American government backs Amazon to deny the hack, but doing otherwise reveals vulnerabilities our government would not be wise to admit to. Tensions are rising as the current administration pushes the Chinese government to do business on a level playing field. We anticipate more discoveries of this nature in coming months.

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

Tech News

Facebook policy sets themselves up for yet another failure

(TECH) Facebook’s role in news consumption increases, and their new policy regarding news is raising eyebrows.

Published

on

facebook

Facebook did not get a lot of likes a when it was facing scrutiny for taking money for Russian ads, and their subsequent role in the 2016 Presidential election. In response to that, Facebook announced its Ad Archive – a public political archive to allow users more transparency in who purchased those ads like you can on television. Additionally, they changed their political ads policy.

Of course, the goal of this is to promote transparency and give the public an opportunity to scrutinize advertisers and have more control about what they do with that information. Facebook and the world at large acknowledges that still isn’t a perfect solution, and there are many problems left to work out, including how perpetrators can get around the new rules by simply setting up an LLC.

Now, Facebook says they will include news pages in their Ad Archives. While this decision was originally opposed by many news publishers, and Facebook compromised by putting them in a separate category, it has officially become part of Facebook policy.

To be a news page, there are several criteria pages and promoters must follow, including focusing on current events and news, spreading factual and true information, and publishing content that is not user generated or aggregated from other areas of the web. Also, the amount of advertising content can not exceed the amount of content related to news.

Facebook’s decision to include news publishers involved some input from The Trust Project was a decent step, but it’s almost certain that many publishers are raising their eyebrows at the decision to include them in the archive, with the indication that news organizations are as suspect as corrupt Russian players. It is particularly grating in an environment where Twitter has opted not to lump news and Russian actors together.

Certainly, how publishers spend their dollars and make platform decisions will be impacted, especially as this continues. Given the broad domains of ad archive – elections, elected officials, and issues of national importance – we are likely to see how things play out over the next few months.

The biggest concern of course, is how this sets Facebook up for another failure in regards to how it handles news, and how this will impact the people receiving that news. And hopefully, we find out before the stakes are too high.

Continue Reading

Tech News

Quickly delete years of your stupid Facebook updates

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Digital clutter sucks. Save time and energy with this new Chrome extension for Facebook.

Published

on

facebook desktop

When searching for a new job, it’s always a good idea to scan your social media presence to make sure you’re not setting yourself up for failure with offensive or immature posts.

In fact, you should regularly check your digital life even if you’re not on the job hunt. You never know when friends, family, or others are going to rabbit hole into reading everything you’ve ever posted.

Facebook is an especially dangerous place for this since the social media giant has been around for over fourteen years. Many accounts are old enough to be in middle school now.

If you’ve ever taken a deep dive into your own account, you may have found some unsavory posts you couldn’t delete quickly enough.

We all have at least one cringe-worthy post or picture buried in years of digital clutter. Maybe you were smart from the get-go and used privacy settings. Or maybe you periodically delete posts when Memories resurfaces that drunk college photo you swore wasn’t on the internet anymore.

But digging through years of posts is time consuming, and for those of us with accounts older than a decade, nearly impossible.

Fortunately, a new Chrome extension can take care of this monotonous task for you. Social Book Post Manager helps clean up your Facebook by bulk deleting posts at your discretion.

Instead of individually removing posts and getting sucked into the ensuing nostalgia, this extension deletes posts in batches with the click of a button.

Select a specific time range or search criteria and the tool pulls up all relevant posts. From here, you decide what to delete or make private.

Let’s say you want to destroy all evidence of your political beliefs as a youngster. Simply put in the relevant keyword, like a candidate or party’s name, and the tool pulls up all posts matching that criteria. You can pick and choose, or select all for a total purge.

You can also salt the earth and delete everything pre-whatever date you choose. I could tell Social Book to remove everything before 2014 and effectively remove any proof that I attended college.

Keep in mind, this tool only deletes posts and photos from Facebook itself. If you have any savvy enemies who saved screenshots or you cross-posted, you’re out of luck.

The extension is free to use, and new updates support unliking posts and hiding timeline items. Go to town pretending you got hired on by the Ministry of Truth to delete objectionable history for the greater good of your social media presence.

PS: If you feel like going full scorched Earth, delete everything from your Facebook past and then switch to this browser to make it harder for Facebook to track you while you’re on the web.

Continue Reading

Tech News

Why are all apps starting to look exactly the same?

(TECHNOLOGY) As apps evolve, they are beginning to look uniform – is this a good or bad thing?

Published

on

apps looking uniform

Have you noticed that all apps are beginning to look a lot alike? Many popular social media apps are utilizing minimalist designs, featuring lots of black and white with negative space and little color.

At a glance, you may not be able to differentiate what’s Airbnb and what’s Instagram. Normally, something like this could be argued to be unoriginal and boring. However, let’s look at the positives.

If every app – for the most part – is operating with the same design, they’re not trying to constantly one-up each other with the next big look. As a result, they have more time to focus on what’s important – the content found on the app and the functions of the app.

While many apps offer similar features (like Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram both having Stories), every social media app has its own flair that keeps users coming back. And, user retention is higher if they feel comfortable using the app – which is another plus of them all having similar designs.

If you have 12 different social media apps with 12 different interfaces and means of operation, it’s unlikely that a user will keep up with all 12. But, if they know exactly how to use them, the user can flip back and forth like it’s nothing.

However, “app fatigue is a real thing,” said Yaz of UX Collective. “Most people have grown tired of bouncing between too many apps or learning how to use a new interface after every new download.”

Below is Yaz’s exploration of the uniformity in apps:

Research has found that a quarter of all apps are deleted after just one use. People tend to stick with the apps that they have found made a positive impact in their lives – either for communication with others or apps that save them time.

Uniformity means developers can spend more of their time on creating the content that will aid in better communication and more time saving options.

Again, what it comes down to is the content and function. That’s where the true creativity comes in. People aren’t using Airbnb because the app or the website are ridiculously exciting; they’re using it because it offers a service that is beneficial.

What are your thoughts on app uniformity? Unoriginal, or a stepping stone for what’s really important?

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Our Great Parnters

The
American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories