Hashtag Trending Apr.4th-OpenAI releases ChatGPT plugins, Western Digital suffers breach, Marty Cooper’s first phone call

OpenAI releases ChatGPT plug-ins, Western Digital suffers data breach and Marty Cooper made the first phone call using a portable phone, 50 years ago.

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These stories and more on Hashtag Trending for Tuesday, April 4th

I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and TechNewsDay in the US – here’s today’s top tech news stories.

Last week Open AI started making plug-ins available creating what some have called their ‘iPhone moment’.  Those who remember when the BlackBerry was the dominant smart phone and the iPhone hit the market. What made the iPhone so desirable?  Apps.  Apple first allowed third-party app developers to build for the iPhone, igniting the device’s explosive popularity.

Soon, apps were ubiquitous on the iPhone. A new phrase made its way into our conversations – there’s an app for that.  And for BlackBerry – they never caught up. 

ChatGPT’s plugins may have the same impact.  They will essentially allow businesses to use the too to search proprietary datasets or even carry out tasks like booking a restaurant or writing and executing code.

Will thousands of users and companies flock tp ChatGPT to use these plug-ins?

 For Klarna, payments facilitator with thousands of popular brands like Nike and Gucci, the possibilities are endless. They said, “We have a proprietary database of tons of products that ChatGPT can structure. Instead of you and I searching for products in our product database, we will have a conversation with a shopping assistant.” 

Technically, companies could have done that themselves since OpenAI made its language models available to third-parties in 2020, but the new plug-ins make it available to anyone.

Will consumers who use ChatGPT to search, also book flights or make purchases? Google has been in this market for years with its Assistant and Search pages but the question is, will ChatGPT have its iPhone moment?

Source: Data Center Knowledge

Darktrace researchers observed a whopping 135 per cent increase in novel social engineering attacks, in the first two months of 2023

This increase, researchers said, matched the rapid adoption of ChatGPT.

At the same time, there was a decrease in malicious emails sent with simple attachments or a links.

Novel social engineering attacks are using sophisticated linguistic techniques, including text volume, and other things were finding their way into our emails.

Some think that this could mean generative AI, including ChatGPT, is being used by malicious actors to construct sophisticated and targeted attacks rapidly.

And these attacks are hard to spot. Max Heinemeyer, chief product officer at Darktrace said, “In a world of increasing AI-powered attacks, we can no longer put the onus on humans to determine the veracity of communications they receive. This is now a job for artificial intelligence.”

Close to 80 per cent of employees are worried that hackers are using generative AI to create emails that are indistinguishable from genuine communication.

There are also fears of what deepfake technology, powered by AI, could do to make phishing an even bigger threat. 

Technology companies are playing catchup in a new technology arms race. Intel recently developed its FakeCatcher system, that detects deep fakes by analyzing blood flow in faces. Intel has touted its tool as having a 96 per cent success rate and that this technology could be embedded within video conferencing software to prevent deep fake phishing and social engineering attacks in the future. 

More to come on this one.

Source: IT Pro

In related news, hard drive and cloud storage provider Western Digital says it has suffered a breach of security controls and data theft.

The California company said in a release on Mar.26th that “an unauthorized third party gained access to a number of the company’s systems.”

The website for the company’s My Cloud Home backup service said it is experiencing a service outage impacting it’s My Cloud, My Cloud Home, My Cloud Home Duo and other products.

The news release also said that the company has implemented incident response efforts and it initiated an investigation.

It also said it is working to restore its impacted systems as part of remediation efforts.

Source: IT World Canada

Italy became the first company to demand that ChatGPT no longer have access to its data when it banned the tool temporarily while it is investigating what it claims may be privacy breaches.

Now Germany is threatening to do be the next country that may ban the use of ChatGPT.

The German commissioner for data protection told a local newspaper that Germany has requested further information from Italy on its ban. France and Ireland are reportedly following in its footsteps.

OpenAI maintained on Friday that it actively works to reduce  personal data in training its AI systems and said that it is looking forward to making ChatGPT available in Italy again soon. It also said it will issue refunds to all users in Italy who bought the ChatGPT Plus subscription service last month 

Italy initiated the temporary ban on ChatGPT after a cyber security breach last week led to people being shown excerpts of other users’ ChatGPT conversations and their financial information.

The Italian data-protection authority said OpenAI had 20 days to say how it would address its concerns or face a fine of $21.7 million or up to 4 per cent of annual revenues.

The regulator also accused the bot of failing to verify the age of users which is supposed to be 13 or over.

The Ireland Data Protection Commission said it is following up with the Italian regulator to understand the basis for their action. However, the Irish DPC is not the lead regulator for OpenAI which has no offices in the EU.

ChatGPT is currently banned in China, Iran, North Korea and Russia, all countries that have strong records in censorship. Italy and Germany are the first liberal western democracies to have banned it or are considering a ban.

Source: Reuters

The TOR Project, the company behind the anonymous network and browser often associated with anonymous use of the dark web is helping launch a new privacy-focused browser designed to connect to a VPN instead of its decentralized secret onion network

It’s called Mullvad browser, named after the partner on the project, Mullvad VPN company. It’s available for Windows, Mac or Linux.

Mullvad browser wants to make it harder for advertisers to track you across the internet. It does so by reducing your browser’s fingerprint, which reveals information like what browser and operating system you’re using and more invasive stuff like what fonts and extensions you have installed, and what input / output devices your browser has access to.

Mullvad also blocks third-party cookies and trackers, and comes with few pre-installed plugins to reduce your fingerprint even further.

Isabela Fernandes, executive director of the Tor Project affirmed that “developing this browser is about providing people with more privacy options for everyday browsing and to challenge the current business model of exploiting people’s behavioral data.”

The browser will not protect you from government or law enforcement, there are other ways to track browsers, but regular users not trying to hide from the law can gain additional privacy protection.  

Experts have said that the popular Firefox browser could be modified to provide similar protection, but that it would take some knowledge to do that. 

The new Mullvad browser has this all pre-packaged. But there is a trade off.

And it’s not the most user-friendly and is reported to be painfully slow

Source: The Verge

For years we’ve seen the trend in companies to BYOD or Bring your own device.  But that might soon be described as Bring Your Own Disaster.

According to a report by cybersecurity provider SlashNext, 43 per cent of employees have been targeted with work-related phishing attacks on their personal devices. That targeting is made worse by the number of personal devices used in corporate work. 

The risk comes from the way employees merge their personal and work life on their own phones. In fact, the study revealed that over 50 per cent of respondents either use their private messaging apps for work or use their work emails for personal reasons.

But employers are on it as well. 

85 per cent require work-related apps to be installed on their employees’ personal devices.

But this blurring of personal and work devices can easily lead to security threats.

71 per cent of respondents said they store sensitive work passwords on their personal phone.

Now BYOD may get less oversight from IT teams. Worse only 63 per cent say they have the right tools to protect their personal devices.

The simple solution, according to IT professionals, is to have a separate work phone for your employees. Where you have a combined usage, a policy needs to be implemented to govern work and personal use, combined with a need for security training for all users.

Source: TechRepublic

Marty Cooper made the first cell phone call 50 years ago.

An engineer at Motorola, Cooper rang his counterpart at rival firm Bell to triumphantly share that he is calling from a portable, handheld cell phone.

Cooper said that Bell was busy developing a car-based phone instead. But Cooper wanted more than that.

“”Could you believe that?” Cooper sneered. “So we had been trapped in our homes and offices by this copper wire for over 100 years – and now they were going to trap us in our cars!”

Cooper’s dream of calling from anywhere won the day.

Apparently, however, Cooper concedes he never predicted phones “would one day be handheld “supercomputers”, with cameras and internet access.” 

“I think today’s phone is suboptimal. It’s really not a very good phone in many respects,” he says.

Not that the first cell phone was any ergonomic miracle. 

Ben Wood, who runs the Mobile Phone Museum noted in an BBC interview:  “There was no messaging, no camera. Thirty minutes of talk-time, 10 hours to charge the battery, about 12 hours of stand-by time and a 6 inch (15cm) antenna on the top.” It also weighed 790g (1.7lb) – nearly four times the weight of the iPhone 14.

And it was a little pricey, according to Ben Wood from the Mobile Phone Museum. The commercial version of Marty Cooper’s prototype, the Motorola Dynatac 8000X, was released 11 years after that first call, in 1984. If bought today, it would cost around $11,700.

Source: BBC

That’s the top tech news for today.  Hashtag Trending goes to air five days a week with the daily tech news and we have a special weekend edition where we do an in depth interview with an expert on some tech development that is making the news. 

Follow us on Apple, Google, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Links to all the stories we’ve covered can be found in the text edition of this podcast at itworldcanada.com/podcasts

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I’m your host, Jim Love, have a Terrific Tuesday!

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Jim Love
Jim Love
I've been in IT and business for over 30 years. I worked my way up, literally from the mail room and I've done every job from mail clerk to CEO. Today I'm CIO and Chief Digital Officer of IT World Canada - Canada's leader in ICT publishing and digital marketing.

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