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PwnedList: search to see if your email has been hacked

PwnedList is the largest database of stolen credentials that anyone can search for free – go see if your email is on the list for having been hacked, because you can’t always tell that you’ve become a victim.

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PwnedList database reveals your vulnerabilities

In recent years, hackers have made headlines for getting into major traditional news organizations, universities, government entities and the like, and even mainstream web users have learned that they are vulnerable to their email and Facebook accounts getting hacked. There is a universal understanding that everyone is vulnerable, but how can you actually know if your email has been hacked?

Just because your account isn’t sending out fake airline promotions or pharmaceutical ads to all of your contacts doesn’t mean you haven’t been hacked, so the simple way to know is to visit PwnedList which offers the largest database of stolen credentials as they grab data leaks when they happen – in other words, if you’ve been hacked, your email address is in their database.

Massive database and data transparency

Additionally, for the hacker types who are cynical about offering up their email address in search, PwnedList offers one-way SHA-512 hash which the company says is an anonymous way to check the database.

The company uses two sources of data for their massive database, which they are very transparent about. “One is the manual collection of data from account dumps made by various hacker groups. Every week we spend a fair amount of time researching possible new security breaches and trying to collect any resulting data dumps. The other source is our automated harvesting system that is able to spider certain places on the internet, identify potential account dumps and import them into our database, all without human intervention. In fact, almost 40% of our data comes from automated harvesting.”

Individual and end user protections

The company offers individual monitoring for free, and businesses are using the end user protection to secure their end user, already in use by one of the world’s largest social networks, banks, e-commerce, oil/gas/energy (to protect vital infrastructures), and security companies to enhance their own offering. In fact, it’s already being used by password management companies like LastPass and Dashlane which is a tremendous compliment to PwnedList’s reputation in the industry.

The first iteration of PwnedList began as a side project, and Co-Founders Steve Thomas and Alen Puzic worked with the hacker community to simply create a quick list of “am I included?” email addresses. From there it snowballed. In March 2012, the company launched their business service which focused on employees and beefed up their ability to collect leaks, adding sophisticated crawlers. Later in the year, the community pushed them to release monitoring for their end users since it’s their life blood, especially in light of fraud.

The Austin-based company operates on the lean startup method, is bootstrapped, and offers a simple, straight forward design wherein the focus is on the value, making it extremely easy for the average web user to understand it as well as a well educated hacker.

Showing a company’s true culture

When asked what readers’ key takeaway should be when reading about PwnedList, Co-Founder Steve Thomas didn’t focus on businesses signing up for their service or even searching for their email address, no, he said everyone should “use different passwords at different sites – hackers aren’t having to work that hard.”

Thomas urges people to help stop the domino effect, and essentially make their database empty. It’s a lofty dream, but the company’s true culture shone through in his answer, proving that their goal is to protect the people.

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Google chrome: The anti-cookie monster in 2022

(TECH NEWS) If you are tired of third party cookies trying to grab every bit of data about you, google has heard and responded with their new updates.

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3rd party cookies

Google has announced the end of third-party tracking cookies on its Chrome browser within the next two years in an effort to grant users better means of security and privacy. With third-party cookies having been relied upon by advertising and social media networks, this move will undoubtedly have ramifications on the digital ad sector.

Google’s announcement was made in a blog post by Chrome engineering director, Justin Schuh. This follows Google’s Privacy Sandbox launch back in August, an initiative meant to brainstorm ideas concerning behavioral advertising online without using third-party cookies.

Chrome is currently the most popular browser, comprising of 64% of the global browser market. Additionally, Google has staked out its role as the world’s largest online ad company with countless partners and intermediaries. This change and any others made by Google will affect this army of partnerships.

This comes in the wake of rising popularity for anti-tracking features on web browsers across the board. Safari and Firefox have both launched updates (Intelligent Tracking Prevention for Safari and the Enhanced Tracking Prevention for Firefox) with Microsoft having recently released the new Edge browser which automatically utilizes tracking prevention. These changes have rocked share prices for ad tech companies since last year.

The two-year grace period before Chrome goes cookie-less has given the ad and media industries time to absorb the shock and develop plans of action. The transition has soften the blow, demonstrating Google’s willingness to keep positive working relations with ad partnerships. Although users can look forward to better privacy protection and choice over how their data is used, Google has made it clear it’s trying to keep balance in the web ecosystems which will likely mean compromises for everyone involved.

Chrome’s SameSite cookie update will launch in February, requiring publishers and ad tech vendors to label third-party cookies that can be used elsewhere on the web.

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Computer vision helps AI create a recipe from just a photo

(TECH NEWS) It’s so hard to find the right recipe for that beautiful meal you saw on tv or online. Well computer vision helps AI recreate it from a picture!

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Ever seen at a photo of a delicious looking meal on Instagram and wondered how the heck to make that? Now there’s an AI for that, kind of.

Facebook’s AI research lab has been developing a system that can analyze a photo of food and then create a recipe. So, is Facebook trying to take on all the food bloggers of the world now too?

Well, not exactly, the AI is part of an ongoing effort to teach AI how to see and then understand the visual world. Food is just a fun and challenging training exercise. They have been referring to it as “inverse cooking.”

According to Facebook, “The “inverse cooking” system uses computer vision, technology that extracts information from digital images and videos to give computers a high level of understanding of the visual world,”

The concept of computer vision isn’t new. Computer vision is the guiding force behind mobile apps that can identify something just by snapping a picture. If you’ve ever taken a photo of your credit card on an app instead of typing out all the numbers, then you’ve seen computer vision in action.

Facebook researchers insist that this is no ordinary computer vision because their system uses two networks to arrive at the solution, therefore increasing accuracy. According to Facebook research scientist Michal Drozdzal, the system works by dividing the problem into two parts. A neutral network works to identify ingredients that are visible in the image, while the second network pulls a recipe from a kind of database.

These two networks have been the key to researcher’s success with more complicated dishes where you can’t necessarily see every ingredient. Of course, the tech team hasn’t stepped foot in the kitchen yet, so the jury is still out.

This sounds neat and all, but why should you care if the computer is learning how to cook?

Research projects like this one carry AI technology a long way. As the AI gets smarter and expands its limits, researchers are able to conceptualize new ways to put the technology to use in our everyday lives. For now, AI like this is saving you the trouble of typing out your entire credit card number, but someday it could analyze images on a much grander scale.

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Xiaomi accidentally sent security video from one home to another

(TECH NEWS) Xiaomi finds out that while modern smart and security devices have helped us all, but there are still plenty of flaws and openings for security breeches.

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Xiaomi home device

The reason for setting up security cameras around your home is so the photos can get streamed to your neighbor’s device, right?

Okay, that’s obviously not why most (if any) of us get security cameras, but unfortunately, that scenario of the leaked images isn’t a hypothetical. Xiaomi cameras have been streaming photos to the wrong Google Home devices. This was first reported on Reddit, with user Dio-V posting a video of it happening on their device.

Xiaomi is a Chinese electronics company that has only recently started to gain traction in the U.S. markets. While their smartphones still remain abroad, two of Xiaomi’s security cameras are sold through mainstream companies like Wal-Mart and Amazon for as low as $40. Their affordable prices have made the products even more popular and Xiaomi’s presence has grown, both nationally and abroad.

To be fair, when the leaked photos surfaced, both Google and Xiaomi responded quickly. Google cut off access to Xiaomi devices until the problem was resolved to ensure it wouldn’t happen again. Meanwhile, Xiaomi worked to identify and fix the issue, which was caused by a cache update, and has since been fixed.

But the incident still raises questions about smart security devices in the first place.

Any smart device is going to be inherently vulnerable due to the internet connection. Whether it’s hackers, governments, or the tech companies themselves, there are plenty of people who can fairly easily gain access to the very things that are supposed to keep your home secure.

Of course, unlike these risks, which involve people actively trying to access your data, this most recent incident with Xiaomi and Google shows that your intimate details might even be shared to strangers who aren’t even trying to break into your system. Unfortunately, bugs are inevitable when it comes to keeping technology up to date, so it’s fairly likely something like this could happen again in the future.

That’s right, your child’s room might be streamed to a total stranger by complete accident.

Granted, Xiaomi’s integration mistake only affected a fraction of their users and many risks are likely to decrease as time goes on. Still, as it stands now, your smart security devices might provide a facade of safety, but there are plenty of risks involved.

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