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Microsoft is trying to kill passwords. It can’t happen soon enough.

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Microsoft is trying to kill the password, and it’s about time. This week, the company said the next test version of its stripped-down Windows 10 S operating system will strip out passwords as well, by default. If you go through setup as suggested, you’ll never get a password option. But killing the password altogether will take more work and time — and the issue may get worse before it gets better. Which is a shame? Passwords, we can certainly agree, are the bane of modern digital existence. On a big-picture level, insecure passwords cause an estimated 80 % of breaches, according to a 2017 report from Verizon. On a human level, they’re paralyzing; right when you need to access your utility bill, you can’t remember if you replaced the “a” with a 4 or an @ symbol. Or when, say, a missile alert has gone out to your whole state and you can’t find your password to give an all-clear. Passwords have amassed their share of enemies. Microsoft’s latest move follows pushes from Apple, Google and others to shake up the old passcode and password system with fingerprint scans, face scans or temporary codes. There’s no question passwords aren’t adapting
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Why Twitter is now beneficial for the first time ever

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Twitter posted a surprise benefit in its Thursday earnings report — marking the first time it’s ever made money as a public company. The company attributed its improved finances to a focus on its strongest selling point: connecting advertisers and the people they want to sell things to in real-time. “Twitter continues to assist our partners be relevant in the moment at scale,” chief executive Jack Dorsey said in the quarter’s shareholders letter. Stronger ad sales in the crucial holiday quarter made up the difference for Twitter, even as the number of new people joining the site continued to fester. Twitter reported not only profit but also a return to profit growth, posting $732 million vs. analyst expectations of $686 million. Shares jumped as much as 22 % from Wednesday’s closing price of $26.91 following the earnings report; as of midday trading, they were sitting around $31.27 per share. The improved performance appears even though Twitter missed predictions about the number of people utilizing the site by about 2 million. According to Twitter, 330 million people utilized the network in its latest quarter; about a 4 % increase from the same time last year. U.S. users fell slightly, to 68 million from 69 million. Yet even
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Russian cyberspies stole conscious US defense technology

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Russian cyberspies pursuing the secrets of military drones and other conscious US defense technology tricked key contract workers into exposing their email to theft, an Associated Press investigation has found. What ultimately may have been stolen is uncertain, but the hackers clearly exploited a national vulnerability in cybersecurity: poorly protected email and barely any direct notification to victims. The hackers known as Fancy Bear, who also intruded in the US election, went after at least 87 people working on militarized drones, missiles, rockets, stealth fighter jets, cloud-computing platforms or other sensitive activities, the AP found. Employees at both little companies and defense giants like Lockheed Martin Corp., Raytheon Co., Boeing Co., Airbus Group and General Atomics were targeted by the hackers. A handful of people in Fancy Bear’s sights also worked for trade groups, contractors in US-allied countries or on corporate boards. “The programs that they come to target and the people who work on those programs are some of the most forward-leaning, advanced technologies,” said Charles Sowell, a former senior adviser to the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence, who reviewed the list of names for the AP. “And if those programs are compromised in any way, then
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Google and Nest reconcile in push to add AI to every device

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Google is bringing device maker Nest back under its control as the search giant battles rivals Amazon and Apple in the quickly expanding smart home market. A huge part of the change: Making it simpler to add Google’s artificial intelligence technology and Assistant — a digital helper that competes against Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri — into new Nest products. The world’s biggest search engine has staked its future on building Google smarts into devices beyond smartphones. On Wednesday, Google said Nest was component of its plans and would no longer operate as a separate division that lived in the outer orbit of parent company Alphabet’s “Other Bets” group of projects. Instead, Nest rejoins the Google mothership — the component of Alphabet that houses search, YouTube, Android mobile software and other moneymakers. Nest, acquired by Google in 2014, had been operating outside of Google, the only economical division of Alphabet, for the past three years. Under the new org structure, Nest CEO Marwan Fawaz reports to Google’s hardware chief, Rick Osterloh, a former Motorola executive who took charge of all Google’s consumer devices in 2016. That includes Google Home smart speakers, Pixel smartphones and Chromecast streaming devices. “All of Google’s investments
Tech World Breaking News| Future Information Technology News

In Washington, British officials to encounter Facebook, Google and Twitter over misinformation

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In a rare move, some members of the British Parliament are traveling to Washington this week to quarry Facebook, Google and Twitter about fake news and the spread of misinformation on their platforms. Experts say that by arriving to the United States, U.K. officials are signaling how seriously they’re treating the problem. The House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee will hold a hearing Thursday as part of an evidence-gathering mission to understand how disinformation campaigns and false news reports affect British elections and society. This is the first time a House of Commons committee will broadcast a public hearing live from outside the United Kingdom. Representatives from the tech companies, media researchers and news industry executives will collect before the 11-person, cross-party committee at George Washington University. “The committee understands that the businesses that created this moral panic originated here. And they recognize that we are ahead of them in confronting it from a policy perspective and a national conversation aspect,” said David Carroll, a professor of media design at Parsons School for Design, who will speak as an expert witness at the hearing. The committee’s trip to Washington arrives as British officials have continued to raise alarms over
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Facebook, Google Vets Form Coalition to Fight Tech Addiction

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It’s time to talk about tech addiction. Several tech execs and social media pioneers have arrive out of the woodwork in recent months to decry the dangers and harmful effects of our internet-addled society. Now a group of former Apple, Facebook, and Google employees are joining the charge with an anti-tech addiction coalition called the Center for Humane Technology. The center has been organizing leaders and raising alertness “since 2014,” according to its website, but this week announced several new high-profile initiatives. As the New York Times reports, the center will kick off its efforts with a tech addiction ad campaign targeted at 55,000 US public schools. Called “The Truth About Tech,” the campaign is designed to inform parents, teachers, and students about the possibly harmful effects of technology. In particular, the coalition is concerned about how time spent with a face buried in your smartphone with virtual interactions such as likes and shares can contribute to concern, depression, shortened attention spans, sleep deprivation, and affect the healthy social development of young minds. The center’s executive director and co-founder is Tristan Harris, formerly a design ethicist at Google, but its leadership, advisors, and supporters also include early Facebook investor Roger McNamee, former Apple
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Google parent Alphabet reports incomes miss, shares fall

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Alphabet shares drive after the Google parent company’s fourth-quarter incomes missed Wall Street estimates, prompting concern about incrementing expenses. Analysts expected Alphabet (GOOGL, GOOG) to report incomes per share of $9.98, up from $7.56 a year ago. Instead, excluding a one-time $9.9 billion charge from the new tax law, it reported incomes per share of $9.70. Alphabet said the one-time tax hit caused a net loss of $3.02 billion in the fourth quarter. Shares fell as much as 5% when Alphabet reported financial results after the market closed Thursday. Personally, Alphabet also named John Hennessy, a board member since 2004, as the Internet giant’s new chairman, replacing Eric Schmidt, who said in December he would step down from that role. The board also authorized $8.6 billion in share repurchases. “We have been making significant investments in our three largest bets — cloud, YouTube and hardware,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai told analysts Thursday. “These bets have excessive potential, and already they are displaying real momentum and gaining traction.” Profit rose 24% to $32.32 billion from a year ago, higher than analyst expectations of $31.86 billion. Net revenue — Alphabet’s sales minus traffic purchase costs — was $25.9 billion. Analysts had expected profit excluding those payments to partners of $25.57 billion, up from $21.22 billion a year ago. Traffic acquisition
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Mark Zuckerberg is now boasting about people spending less time on Facebook — and he’s got the number to show it

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It’s not every day that companies use their quarterly earnings reports to tout negative statistics. On Wednesday, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg did just that. He said Facebook users in the fourth quarter spent 50 million hours less per day on the social network than the previous quarter, in component by reducing the number of viral videos people see — the consequence of Facebook’s new push to compute the quality of interactions on its platform over the popularity of content. Those changes have also contributed to stalled growth in some places, including a slight drop in the number of U.S. users. Facebook is still in an enviable position compared to most other companies. In the fourth quarter, the company’s operating profits grew by 61 %, or $7.35 billion, and 14 % more people log on each day than they did the previous year, the company said. Revenue jumped to $13 billion from $8.8 billion a year earlier. It beat analyst estimates for the 12th straight quarter. Facebook’s stock initially dipped in after hours trading, but later recovered. The company also reported a important tax charge of $2.27 billion stemming from the congressional tax overhaul. But Zuckerberg utilized the earnings call with Wall Street
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Tech Giants Brace for Europe’s New Data Privacy Rules

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Over the past two months, Google has started letting people around the world choose what data they want to share with its various products, including Gmail and Google Docs. Amazon recently began improving the data encryption on its cloud storage service and simplified an agreement with customers over how it processes their information. And on Sunday, Facebook rolled out new universal data privacy center — a single page that permits users to organize who sees their posts and what kinds of ads they are served. While these changes are rippling out worldwide, a major reason for these shifts comes from Europe: The tech giants are preparing for a stringent new set of data privacy rules in the region, called the General Data Protection Regulation. Set to take effect on May 25, the regulations restrict what kinds of personal data the tech companies can collect, store and use across the 28-member European Union. Among their provisions, the rules enshrine the so-called right to be forgotten into European law so people can ask companies to remove convinced online data about them. The rules also need anyone under 16 to obtain parental consent before utilizing popular digital services. If companies do not comply, they could face
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Flurry of Lawsuits Filed to Fight Repeal of Net Neutrality

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The lawful fight against the Federal Communications Commission’s recent abrogation of so-called net neutrality regulations started on Tuesday, with a flurry of lawsuits filed to block the agency’s action. One suit, filed by 21 state attorneys general, said the agency’s actions broke federal law. The commission’s rollback of net neutrality rules were “arbitrary and capricious,” the attorneys general said, and a switch of the agency’s longstanding policy to prevent internet service providers from blocking or charging websites for faster delivery of content to customers. Mozilla, the nonprofit organization behind the Firefox web browser, said the new F.C.C. rules would harm internet entrepreneurs who could be forced to pay fees for faster delivery of their content and services to customers. A similar argument was made by another group that filed a suit, the Open Technology Institute, a component of a liberal think tank, the New America Foundation. Suits were also filed on Tuesday by Free Press and Public Knowledge, two public interest groups. Four of the suits were filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The Free Press suit was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. “The repeal