Demand for Airbnb Bookings Up Despite Inflation

Despite inflation and high gas prices demand for Airbnb bookings keep going up.

Airbnb stated that in three months, ending in Jun, they had 103.7 million bookings on its platform. This was a new quarterly high for the company, a 24% increase from the same quarter in 2019 before the business was devastated by the pandemic.

With this extreme increase in bookings Airbnb showed a revenue of $2.1 billion. This is up 58% compared to the prior year. Airbnb has reported a net income of $379 million, which is its most profitable June quarter to date.

The company also benefited from higher average daily rates for its vacation property listings. The $164 average daily rate for a vacation rental was down slightly compared to the first three months of this year but are up 40% when compared to the same quarter in 2019. Airbnb noted that its rates in high population density urban areas, which typically snatch higher daily rates, not only increased compared to early in the year but also in comparison to pre-pandemic levels.

Despite these increases, Airbnb stock went down by 4% in after-hours trading follow the release of these results.

 

 

 

Children, Parents and Teachers Unaware of Educational Apps Collecting Data on Children

A new report has found that millions of students had their personal data collected and online behaviors tracked by websites, applications and other educational programs. The programs did not have the student-users’ consent and in some cases allow third-party companies like advertisers access to the data.

International advocacy organization Human Rights Watch published their findings from an investigation they completed between March 2021 and August 2021. The investigation examined educational services that students, world-wide, used when learning went all online.

Human Rights Watch investigated 164 products used in 49 countries. They found 146 of them (89%) appeared to be engaging in data practices that infringed or even risked children’s rights. These practices included activity like monitoring or monitoring children without the students ‘or parents’ consent, the collected a range of personal data like identity, location, online activity and behavior and even information about family and friends.

HRW stated that children, parents and teachers were largely unaware of the risky behavior. However, they wanted to emphasize that even if anyone had been aware they likely would have had little choice but to use the apps as it was either log-on or be marked absent.

Ringo Starr Auctions NFT Collection

Beatle’s drummer Ringo Starr is auctioning some of his NFT collection for charity.

Julien’s Auctions announced the exclusive auction offering one-of-a-kind digital art works with their sibling canvas print signed by the artist. Starr is the first of the Beatles to offer such a piece to the public.

Some of the proceeds will benefit the NPO The Lotus Foundation who supports charitable projects that look to advance the social welfare of diverse areas like cancer, homelessness and animals in need among other social causes.

The auction will include five original art pieces created by Starr. These included two paintings, one-self portrait and two multimedia works. Each of the works also includes its own audio recording of Starr performing a piece of the drums inspired by the artworks.

Owing one of the NFT artworks also provides the owner access to Starr’s virtual tour and digital gallery experience called RingoLand. All winning bidders are also invited to join Starr in a online hangout created by Spatial.io.

The starting bid for each NFT is $1,000.

 

Telegram a Hotbed of Russia-Ukraine Online Action

Telegram, the encrypted messaging app, has become the digital front line of the Russia-Ukraine war cybersecurity researchers report.

Check Point Research (CPR) reported that Telegram has become a hub of misinformation—as the app allows users to participate in group conversations and send direct messages which have end-to-end encryption.

All over the world, CPR observed, people are organizing themselves and their resources to support either Russia or Ukraine. Some groups are organizing cyberattacks on Russia others are turning themselves into news hubs to report citizen journalism featuring raw experiences from the war.

Since the first day of the war Telegram activity about the Russia-Ukraine conflict has increased dramatically. CPR warns Telegram users to increase their vigilance as users from either side of the conflict may try to scam or otherwise take advantage of average users.

Some unrelated scam artists are preying on people’s emotions and asking for funds to help both sides, when in reality it is one hundred percent a scam.

How Deepfakes Might Change the World (Pt. 2)

The other concern experts have about deepfakes, AI generated videos that can look and sound very real, is the speed at which their realism is increasing as evidenced by the viral videos of a deepfaked Tom Cruise covering Dave Matthews Band songs and doing coin flips. These demonstrated the increasing realism of these generated video and audio files.

Neither the Zelensky or Putin videos came close to the quality of Tom Cruise TikTok video. However, currently, one tactic to hide flaws is to use a purposefully low-quality video resolution like that which was used in the Zelensky and Putin videos.

Even if a deepfake is of low quality each one and each increase in quality blurs the line between fact and fiction online, according to experts. Many believe that even a bad deepfake can accomplish the task of planting doubt and obscuring the truth.

Some believe we could cross a line and on the other side is a world in which truth will no longer exist. These experts believe that when you can no longer believe anything you see everything becomes fake. It is not that everything will become true, but one loses confidence in everything. The truth becomes irrelevant in a sea of falsehoods.

Deepfakes Bring Psychological Warfare to the Ukraine (Pt. 1)

Amid the first weeks of Russia’s war in the Ukraine a video of Volodymyr Zelensky surfaced online. He wore a dark green shirt, spoke with purpose and was standing behind a white presidential podium adorned with the Ukraine coat of arms. His body held nearly still while his head and face were quite animated while he spoke.

Part of the speech in the video was as follows. “I ask you to lay down your weapons and go back to your families. This war is not worth dying for. I suggest you to keep on living, and I am going to do the same.”

The video was quickly identified as a “deepfake” – a realistic computer generated video.

Just five years ago deepfakes were not part of the common consciousness. The false but persuasive video and/or audio files are generated with the help of artificial intelligence. Worryingly and unsurprisingly they are now being employed to try to impact the outcome of a war. And it wasn’t just the Zelensky video, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin also went viral. In the video the faux-Putin was declaring peace with the Ukraine.

Experts in propaganda, disinformation and authentication have long worried that deepfakes would be used to sew lies and chaos throughout society. As deepfakes become more realistic the potential for influence and damage increases exponentially.

TikTok Hit With Second Lawsuit Alleging Content Moderator Neglect

Former TikTok content moderators have hit the social media platform with another lawsuit in which they are claiming damages because the job traumatized them.

Ashley Velez and Reece Young are the former contract-based content mods suing TikTok. They allege that their work required them to few unedited, unfiltered content they described as “disgusting and offensive.” They further described it as sexual and violent but used more explicit terms. The plaintiffs allege that TikTok and parent company ByteDance failed to protect moderators from harm and that they provided no support after moderators reviewed shocking content.

The complaint continued by noting that the companies required content moderators to review high volumes of disturbing content which constitutes requiring moderators to participate in unusually dangerous activities. Furthermore, the companies failed to implement widely accepted best practices to mitigate risks that are a natural part of such work.

This is the second such lawsuit in which TikTok was accused of not supporting its content moderators after viewing disturbing content.

 

 

GIF Creator Stephen Wilhite Dies at 74 Years Old

Many of your favorite animated memes, spread all over the internet and social media by millions of users every day, are a specific file type called a GIF (with some controversy over how to pronounce the now colloquial term…gif or jif) are due to the work of Stephen Wilhite, the inventor of the GIF.

The looping, animated images have become a universal language in which we can speak to one another without words. While Wilhite likely didn’t realize what his creation would become in 1987 but the GIF would be a route by which to transmit viral ideas from the days of Web 1.0 to the present day and will likely continue to transmit viral content for years to come.

Wilhite’s wife stated that he’d suffered a stroke a few years ago which weakened his right lung and he die from complications of Covid-19. Whilhite was 74 years old.

In the 1980s Wilhite was a developer for popular ISP CompuServe. His team was tasked with overcoming a tangled web of obstacles including then slow dial-up speeds, color image files that were too large to send over the fledgling internet and incompatible computer systems.

Finally in 1987 Wilhite discovered a way in which to compress images so the maintained their sharpness, would load quickly and could be displayed on any computer despite what system it was running. This was the GIF or Graphics Interchange Format.

The first ever GIF was a clip of an airplane soaring through a pixel sky.

 

 

 

 

New Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Kids on Social Media Introduced

The Kids Online Safety Act, new bipartisan legislation, introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R), its intent is to help stop the potentially dangerous impacts of social media on children. It would target how social media platforms handle content on issues like eating disorders, suicide, and substance abuse.

Sen. Blumenthal stated that “Big Teach has brazenly failed children and betrayed its trust, putting profits above safety.”

The legislation would create specific responsibilities that social media platforms must comply with to protect children from sexual exploitation and the promotion of things like alcohol or gambling in addition to “rabbit holes of dangerous material.” All of this according to a fact sheet released by lawmakers.

The new bill would require that settings for families that would help parents protect children from harmful content. It would give parents tools to control children’s online purchases and help curb app addiction. These settings would have to be enabled by default.

The new legislation would also require social media platforms to release annual third-party audits on the risk level of their platform to minors. It would also oblige platforms to release their data to independent researchers or academics so they can study the impacts of the platforms on young people.

 

Uber Reveals Rating Data to Riders

Uber made an announcement that riders will now have an option so they can see ratings left by drivers—how many one-star ratings, how many five-star ratings, and all those between. Previously riders could only see their average rating.

To find these rating breakdowns requires several maneuvers within the app. First riders must navigate to the Settings menu, then to Privacy and then to the Privacy Center. Once inside the Privacy Center, riders must swipe to the right and choose “would you like to see a summary of how you use Uber?” Next riders must scroll to “browse your data” and then “view my ratings.” Alternatively, riders can access the data through the Uber website.

Not exactly immediately accessible but the feature is intended to offer riders a better understanding of their average rating and to encourage good behavior during rides.

Uber has made all identifying information is kept anonymous for the safety of drivers.

Uber has relied on this two-way rating system since its inception to hold riders and drivers accountable for their behavior. Both riders and drivers can be deactivated from the platform if their average rating drops too low. The threshold for banning is different for different cities and many factors are taken into account when calculating the point of termination.

Uber released average ratings for riders by city and found that New York had the lowest average rider rating with Seattle and D.C. right behind. San Antonio, Texas was number one for best average rider rating.

 

 

3G Shutdowns Could Cause Issues With Old Devices

The coming shutdown of 3G networks will not only affect older phones. Many older devices that rely on the 3G network will require updates to continue working. These include systems like home alarm systems, medical devices (fall detectors) and in-car systems like OnStar (GM).

Mobile carriers and other manufacturers have asked customers to update their 3G devices like Android and iOS devices and various e-readers before the shutdown happens. Other companies have asked companies to update all kinds of household devices and those in vehicles to avoid loss of service.

Millions of vehicles may go without live data updates in GPS systems or collision detection systems that will contact first responders. Some vehicles will have updates available for their devices while others will simply lose functionality for good, according to reports.

3G was revolutionary in the way it allowed early car infotainment systems and home security to function by connecting to mobile networks, but over time companies move on to 4G and recently 5G.

Now major carriers are discontinuing 3G not only in the United States but also in markets abroad. AT&T coming first 22 Feb. 2022 and others like Verizon to follow by the end of the year.

 

 

Snapchat Rolls Out New Location-Sharing Safety Feature

Snapchat is set to roll out a what some are calling a “buddy system” feature that will let users share their location with a friend for a time.

The safety feature comes as young people return to campuses, traveling, dating and perhaps going back to work in the office, according to Snapchat. The feature is not unlike Apple’s Find My app which allows users to share their phone’s location in real time with friends for varying, pre-determined amounts of time (from 15 minutes, 1 hour or even 8 hours). Snapchat found a partner in It’s On Us which is a nonprofit created in 2014 whose goal was to combat sexual assault on campuses.

Snapchat, since 2017, has let users share their location with Snap Map, however a user’s location only updates when the app is open. Snapchat claimed that 250 million people use Snap Map each month. In May 2021 Snapchat had 500 million monthly active users. An internal survey revealed that 78% of users had no problem using Snap Map to share their location with friends as a safe way to connect with other people.

Like Snap Map, the new safety feature is not turned on by default but can easily be found by users. Smartly, Snapchat has limited with whom and how long users can share their instant location to reduce the risk of the feature being used for stalking.

 

 

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Twitter Rolls Out NFT Profile Pic Feature

Twitter has started to roll out a feature that will allow some users to set NFTs the user owns as their profile picture. Some see this as Twitter signaling their interest in the new digital art investment opportunity. This makes Twitter one of the most-well-known tech companies to launch a feature focused on the current NFT trend.

The images will appear differently than a usual Twitter profile picture. The NFT avatar will show up as a hexagon shape instead of a circle. Users will also be able to click the NFT profile picture to get information about the artwork, the creator and where it is listed.

The feature is only available to those who pay for Twitter’s subscription service. However, as part of the subscription Twitter verifies a user’s ownership of the NFT.

NFTs are “nonfungible tokens.” They are a verifiable digital collectable, each of which is one of a kind. They are often artworks and are traded on the blockchain. The blockchain is the tech which is the keystone to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

NFTs aren’t terribly new, but new in popularity. Recently, the digital artworks have sold for millions of dollars in some cases as artist, celebrities and other companies get in on the trend to make, buy and sell the digital collectables.

 

 

Meta Completes Its Own Supercomputer for AI Research

Facebook has put many of its eggs in the AI basket hoping it would help them with moderating all the posts on its social media platform. Now Meta, the Facebook parent company, is building its first supercomputer.

Meta has announced its new AI Research SuperCluster—a supercomputer meant to be used for research projects in the field of AI. The supercomputer has been in the works for two years. Meta hopes it will help them develop more powerful AI which could be useful in the difficult task of recognizing hate speech or other posts that go against their community standards.

Meta said that the RSC will help quickly train multi-modal AI that can understand context in a post, like language, tone and images, analyze this data and make or suggest a moderation decision.

Supercomputers employ many computer processors that are all connected inside what are commonly referred to as “nodes.” Supercomputers have been an essential part of much of the world’s AI research. The U.S. Department of Energy has its own supercomputer, Summit, which is the fastest in the U.S. and the second fastest in the world. Microsoft and Nvidia are two other well-known companies who keep and use their own custom supercomputer.

 

U.S. Dept. of Commerce Warns of Continuing Chip Shortages

According to a report released recently by the U.S. Commerce Department some manufacturers that rely on semiconductors are down to less than a five day supply of microchips. This is the latest indication that the extent of the computer chip shortage might be called “severe.”

The report was created by analyzing 150 responses to a Commerce Department request for information who rely on semiconductors to construct their products. The median supply held by manufactures was somewhere around 40 days-worth in 2019 to less than five days-worth last year.

The limited supply is an indication of several current and coming problems. Overseas it means that weather or Covid-19 outbreaks have slowed production. It could also mean that shutdowns with worker furloughs are coming to the U.S.

The report noted that inventories are even shorter in “key industries.”

The report noted that the supply chain for microchips remains fragile and that demand far outweighs supply.

Production shortages of microchips coming from Asia have meant higher prices in items like smart phones, cars, and even washing machines. This is also during a time when people have become even more reliant on devices that employ these computer chips.

 

BlackBerry Devices Become Abandonware

As of earlier this month your classic BlackBerry cellphone will no longer function. The company will stop offering support for its classic devices—anything running BlackBerry 10, 7.1 OS and earlier. Any device not running on Android will cease to function entirely. This means no data, no text messages, no internet access, and no phone calls—including 911.

Many, maybe most, cellphone users have gone on from BlackBerry. The latest versions of its OS was released in 2013. The company announced the news originally in 2020. They will go on as BlackBerry Limited and offer security software and services to governments and businesses.

BlackBerry’s original cellphone featuring a physical keyboard was THE cellphone to own for image concerned business people around the turn of the century. Once nicknamed “CrackBerries” they were most popular among professionals who liked the ability to work outside the office using the BlackBerry’s physical keyboard and software tools they used on a desktop computer.

They were a Wall Street status symbol as well as an accessory for famous faces like Kim Kardashian. Even former President Barack Obama was know for his love of his BlackBerry, party because of the high level of security they offered.

Blackberry phones offered many things standard cellphones didn’t do or didn’t do well or securely—email, apps, web browsing and an encrypted text message system called BBM that came well before options like WhatsApp.

However, BlackBerry never kept up with touchscreen revolution that started with Apple’s iPhone in 2007. BlackBerry has continued to find some success via enterprise and auto software. And some fans are still holding out for the Onward Mobility BlackBerry 5G device that was expected to launch this year, which seems unlikely at this late hour.

 

 

 

 

 

Very Human Robot Writes Poetry and Creates Art

Artificial intelligence has been a part of science fiction for years and has often been portrayed as anywhere from troubling to outright evil.

AI is not commonly associated with things like art and poetry, but that is the purpose of the very realistic human-like robot, Ai-Da, invented by Aidan Meller in Oxford, England. She spends her time creating poetry and visual art. She is the worlds first robot of her kind and publicly performed some of her poetry that she wrote using her AI. The poetry was in celebration of famous Italian poet Dante.

Ai-Da performed her poetry recital at the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University as part of an exhibition marking Dante’s 700th death anniversary.

Ai-Da’s poem was a response to Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” Ai-Da’s AI analyzed Dante’s writing patterns and vocabulary but also her own databank of words—between the two her AI created the final product.

Ai-Da’s creator, Meller, stated that her ability to imitate human writing is so incredible it is hard to know it wasn’t written by a human.

Ai-Da doesn’t only write poetry, she also is very capable of creating works of art. She made one of the Dante exhibition. It was inspired by her own experience in Egypt when security forces detained Ai-Da and Meller over security concerns over the cameras in her eyes, which they wanted to remove. The piece is titled “Eyes Wide Shut.”

Popular Personal Care Brand, Lush, To Go Dark on Social Media This Black Friday

In a somewhat surprising move trendy personal care brand Lush Cosmetics is quitting TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat to draw attention to how these social media platforms can be damaging to people’s mental health, especially young people.

The accounts will be deactivated on Black Friday (6 Nov. 2021) when other retail brands will weaponize their marketing to win those holiday dollars from shoppers.

Lush, which has more than 900 locations worldwide and 240 in the United States and Canada stated that their social media channels will go dark until the platforms are make changes to protect users.

Lush is well known already as both supporting social causes like Black Lives Matter and environmental causes like sustainability and deforestation while initially gaining popularity among Millennials and Gen-Z for being a cruelty free and organic personal care company.

They will be giving up access to 659,000 Instagram followers, 275,000 Twitter followers and over 1 million Facebook followers.

Yet, this isn’t he first time they’ve tried quitting social media. In 2019 went dark on their UK accounts saying they no longer wished to fight social media algorithms and would rather speak directly to their customers.

Of course this new and worldwide black out of most of their social media accounts comes at a time when all social media has come under fire for contributing to both physical and mental health issues.

The company hopes their efforts will convince these platforms to enact better practices. Lush will continue to use its Twitter and YouTube account.

 

 

New Tech Extends Range of Deep Sea Exploration Robots

For much of human history we have explored and lived in some of the most extreme environments on the planet—mountains, jungles, deserts. However, the largest environment on Earth composing 70% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean largely remains a mystery to us.

Only about 20% of the ocean bed has been mapped.

A fuller picture of the ocean would bring many benefits including safer navigating ships, creating more accurate climate models, laying new telecommunication cables, the building of offshore windfarms and of course protecting marine species.

Many refer to this as the “blue economy” and it could be worth an astonishing $3 trillion by 2030.

While underwater robotic vehicles equipped with various equipment have been in service for quite a while and have increased the amount of data we collect and at a lower cost, many of these robots rely on batteries and have to return to the shore or a boat to recharge making it impossible for them to ever map the most remote parts of the ocean.

Yi Chao’s Seatrec startup is working on solving this challenge by channeling the natural temperature differences in ocean waters.

The technology can be attached to existing robots or Seatrec’s own ocean explorers. The device is a float that moves between warm and cold parts of the ocean. The materials inside the module the either solidifies or melts. This causes pressure that turns to thermal energy that power’s the robot’s generator.

 

Google Creates New System to Help Parents and Minors Remove Pictures of Children

Google has put in place a system to help parents and minors to have photos of the minors deleted from public search results.

In a blog post the company said the tool will let parents and children under 18 to request photos be removed from an “image search” result list and from search thumbnails.

Google had previously offered people a method for requesting the removal of any image or information that were considered: financial, non-consensual explicit, national or medical ID. It is now simply extending that system to images of minors.

The company stated in the blog post that they understand that children face unique challenges navigating the online world when a picture of them becomes available on the internet. The company said they wanted to give young people more control their digital footprint.

Users will be able to flag URLs that lead to pictures they want removed. A team of human reviewers will go over each submission and contact the user they need additional information. The company did state very specifically they won’t remove an image from the internet entirely. The administrator of the website hosting the photo will have to be contacted to have the image removed entirely. The system only stops users from finding the photos directly through Google.

 

 

 

Facebook Changes Corporate Name and Logo

Facebook is changing its company name to “Meta” as it shifts its sights to focus on the so-called “metaverse.” This also comes on the heels of yet more intense scrutiny of the real-world harms that come from its various platforms after a whistleblower released hundreds of damaging internal documents.

Facebook, the app, is basically being “demoted” by the change, and will sit equally among the company’s other apps like Instagram and WhatsApp. This rebranding is clearly in response to a number of public relations explosions on its platforms such as revelations about the negative effects of the products have on some users’ (especially children), the spreading of misinformation on its platforms and the failure to moderate inappropriate content.

The press release from Facebook/Meta stated they will begin trading under the stock ticker MVRS on December 1.

The company has also iniated a logo change and already replaced their corporate sign. Outside their California headquarters their once ubiquitous thumbs-up sign as been replaced with a blue infinity symbol.

The company announced no executive changes. Zuckerberg’s personal Facebook page now lists his job as “Founder and CEO at Meta.”

The Verge asked Zuckerberg thought he’d still be the CEO at Facebook/Meta in the next five years. He replied “Probably. I don’t have a specific date how long I want to be doing this for. I guess what I could say is I’m very excited about the next chapter of what we’re doing.”

 

 

 

 

Man Charged in MLB Streaming Service Hacking Incident

According to the US Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York, a Minnesota man has been charged with hacking Major League Baseball’s computer systems and trying to extort $150,000 from them.

According to court documents, 30 year old Joshua Streit sent emails to an MLB executive threatening to publicize the vulnerability he discovered and used to access the website the MLB uses from streaming live games before asking for the $150,000.

Allegedly Streit renewed his extortion attempt in September, when the MLB was under increased stress building up to upcoming playoff season.

Many news outlets contacted a Twitter accounted listed in the criminal complaint as being Streit’s, but the account has not yet responded to any requests for comments. James Beckcer, the attorney listed as Streit’s in court documents as also not responded to requests for comments.

The charges listed against Streit, aka Josh Brody, include illegally hacking a computer to commit fraud, wire fraud and sending threats over state lines with the intent to extort. Streit/Brody could face anywhere from 2-20 years in prison for each charge.

 

 

Instagram Puts Brakes on Instagram for Kids

Facebook’s Instagram social media platform is pausing development of a new version of Instagram for children under 13 amidst pressure from lawmakers as they had questions about the impact such photo sharing platforms have on teen girls.

Instagram stated that they stand by the development of the app but will pause development. Their reasoning being it will give them a chance to work with parents, policymakers, and experts to listen to their concerns and to demonstrate the importance of developing the app.

This decision comes on the heels of a US Senate hearing titled “Protecting Kids Online: Facebook, Instagram and Mental Health Harms.” This hearing was inspired by a investigation by the Wall Street Journal investigation that delved into what Facebook knows about how Instagram affects teen users and their mental health.

Instagram acknowledged the investigation by the WSJ and admitted that people sometimes have “negative experiences,” but that the app also gives a voice to marginalized people and helps friends and family stay connected.

Instagram says they are working on some tools to address mental health issues. One includes a “Take a Break” feature that allows users to temporarily leave the platform and other users won’t be able to message them or comment on their posts. They also claimed they were working on parental controls for teens users over 13.

 

 

TikTok Reports 1 Billion Active Monthly Users

TikTok, a short video based social media platform, has reached the tech world milestone of one billion monthly active users—what is, perhaps, more impressive is they are a rare platform to achieve the one billion user status that is not owned by Google or Facebook.

This growth came from both social media consumers spending more time online during the pandemic and more consumers becoming creators looking to make a living from content creation over social media.

The growth happened despite many hurdles. Among those was former president Donald Trump’s failed attempt to ban the Chinese-owned app in the U.S. Others include the app being banned in India and facing enquiry from European regulators over children’s safety as well as their data protection practices.

Furthermore, the TikTok has flourished despite competitors releasing rival products like Snapchat’s Spotlight, YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels.

Sensor Tower, app store intelligence firm, noted that TikTok’s active user base was up 25% this August over its numbers from August 2020.

 

 

iOS 14.8: Critical Security Update

iOS users take note: while updates are often not critical, the newest update to iOS 14.8 is one of those critical updates.

Independent experts believe that all iPhone users are facing a software issue that was employed to spy on Saudi activists.

Apple recently released an “urgent” update to fix the issue. Apple Head of Security Engineering stated the vulnerability can be exploited to target specific individuals, however, is “not a threat to the overwhelming majority of our users.”

While typically for a phone to be attacked the user has to click on a corrupt link, this is not the case with this latest security workaround. The vulnerability can affect anyone who uses iMessage, according to Apple.

iPhone users can immediately update their phones to iOS 14.8 to be protected against potential, personal attacks. Users need only go into settings, click on “General” and check for a “Software Update.”

Recent months have seen an uptick in “zero click attacks. It is believe this has been enabled by spyware from Israeli firm NSO group who claims they only sell their services to government agencies to assist in combating crime and terrorism.

NOS Group didn’t address any allegations and stated only that it would continue to do business with government intelligence and law enforcement.

Despite this, researchers have demonstrated that the spyware was used in multiple cases on the phones of so-called dissidents and even journalists.