July 4, 2017

Social media, tech updates: Big German fine, NotPetya attack, blogger jailed

Mother Mushroom - the blogger - arrested, and this time for full ten years!


Recall our mention of Mother Mushroom, a blogger in Vietnam having been arrested, some six months back? Well, she was released, made to pledge that she won't blog anymore and denied passport. She started blogging again and faced the consequences: The government has made sure that the outspoken free-speech blogger is jailed - and she is imprisoned for ten years!

VR180 videos on YouTube


This is a new virtual reality video format that has been released by YouTube and is likely to be widely adopted by other tech firms. 

YouTube has started publishing VR180 videos. It is just the beginning, but if you have a VR gear, you can enjoy them.  

As against the usual VR format, which is to be recorded in 360 degrees, VR180 records half the circle. Full VR needs very costly equipment to record, and high bandwidth to stream, and the VR180 format is lighter and can be more easily created and viewed. And, as Google explains, it makes immense sense because normally we see only about 180 degrees and not 360 degrees unless we are on a swivel chair and rotating ourselves all the while.


(You will be able to see the VR effect on this video only with a VR gear)

German fine on errant social media 


This is an update on an earlier story in which we discussed how governments the world over want to discipline social media so that it does not hurt the society by spreading crime, hatred, violence, terror.
While Germany has taken a major lead, there are fresh reports that Britain and France also want to bring strict laws against extremist content on social media soon.

Germany has finally come down heavily on social platform by bringing a law that stipulates heavy fines if platforms such as Facebook do not remove obviously illegal content within 24 hours. In case of content that is not so obvious, they have 7 days to decide.

The fine goes up to $57 million!
 
The law passed a week back comes into force in October.

Concerns about misuse of such a law remain.

Facebook crosses 2 billion monthly user mark


Facebook last week announced that it has achieved the formidable figure of 2 billion active users a month.

Competitors are far behind. The nearest social media platform, Instagram, is reported to have a third of this number and Twitter a sixth. Google Plus is nowhere in the reckoning.

A new ransomware, and deadlier: are we going to hear this often?


As the world was yet recovering from WannaCry attack, it was jolted by attack of yet another ransomware, NotPetya (or GoldenEye). Like the earlier one, the aim of the hackers does not seem making money by ransom but creating disruption or, worse, testing these malware for future attacks. This one, like WannaCry, also seems to be an offshoot of EternalBlue. (You can see here our detailed post on ransomware and WannaCry.)

If NotPetya is state action, it will burn the globe in cyberwarfare!
Ukraine and Russia have been badly hit, but Europe, US and India are also not spared.

It is reported that this is a 'wiper' software, meant to destroy files on the system. In fact, the hackers are not interested in getting payment in return for restoring files as they have closed the email they want the victim to contact.

If CNET is to be believed, this could be a state-sponsored attack to badly hurt Ukraine, and other 60 countries have suffered collateral damage. CNET says, 
But now experts believe nation-state attackers are using ransomware as a screen, tempting victims to blame faceless hackers instead of the countries allegedly behind the attacks. The real goal was to get at and destroy data.

The revelation is a surprising new aspect of an escalating cyberwar between countries that has already compromised infrastructure, elections and businesses. North Korea leaked Sony emails in a display of power, hackers shut down Ukraine's power grids during a conflict with Russia and the US is still reeling from Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Ukraine has blamed Russian state actors for the attack, which has badly hurt its power, transport and banking systems. Ukraine says, it has proof from cyber security experts that this is handiwork of the same group that stalled its power systems two years back.

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