Android, ‘billions’ of more secure devices within a few months: here’s how Google will do it

Google has announced a very important change regarding the privacy protection of users who are still using devices that are no longer supported by Nino Grasso published on 20 September 2021, at 11:31 am in the Telephony channel GoogleAndroid Google recently announced that it will implement a new privacy protection feature not only on the latest terminals, but also on older devices that are no longer supported. The feature, which will be integrated on “billions of devices” by the end of the year, allows you to automatically restore the permissions of apps that have not been used for months. In this way, the apps installed on smartphones and tablets will no longer have permission to access sensitive device functions (microphones, storage units, geolocation and much more) unless the user chooses to reactivate the permissions following the request. of the same app. The novelty will be implemented on all devices with Android 6.0 (API level 23) or later, and which have Google Play Services installed, up to devices with Android 10 (API level 29). Google explained that “starting from December 2021 the feature will be expanded to billions of devices”, and that it will be “automatically enabled” on all eligible models based on the specifications we have reported above. On these devices, users will be able to access the new settings on automatic permissions reset and enable or disable the feature on the basis of each individual app: “The system will automatically begin to reset the permissions of apps that are no longer used a few weeks after the feature is launched on the device “, explains Big G. Automatic reset of permissions on Android apps, what you need to know The automatic restoration of permissions on Android will be enabled automatically starting in December, with the distribution of the news that will go on until the first quarter of 2022 and should be completed by the second quarter. The new APIs of the “auto-reset” function have already been released to developers in Beta for a few days, and will be proposed – according to current plans – in a “stable” version starting from October. The automatic restoration of permissions on older devices is certainly a welcome change to improve the security of an obsolete device that could contain sensitive data in a minimally invasive way. Google is increasingly trying to tackle the problem – one of the oldest – of its mobile operating system, and in July it had begun to warn users of devices with Gingerbread and below (2.3.7) that they would no longer have access to their own. Google account. Android is now installed on over 3 billion devices around the world, at least based on data released by Google itself during the last Google I / O conference. Securing all Android 6 smartphones, which was released in late 2015, and later, may seem like an impossible task to complete, especially considering that older models are probably no longer supported by their respective manufacturers for some time. Google’s latest move is to eliminate security problems with these devices, or at least reduce them as much as possible.

WhatsApp under indictment, chats are not as secret as Facebook says

Conversations on WhatsApp are protected by end-to-end encryption, as are most of the shared items. However, according to a new long article written by ProPublica, not all messages exchanged on the client, now owned by Facebook, are safe from prying eyes. Facebook or third-party consultants hired by the company, in fact, can read some extracts of the conversations that take place on the platform.

The heavy accusation is brought by the source through a long article that reads how Facebook has been sponsoring for years the use of end-to-end encryption on WhatsApp as a fundamental tool to keep any data exchange that takes place on the service safe. Despite this, the company can gain access to certain parts of the conversation, and ProPublica can say this based on observations made of about a thousand firm’s contract consultants who have reviewed millions of data.
WhatsApp, the accusation: contractors paid to read parts of conversations

These contractors have access to a dedicated Facebook software that is used to monitor private messages on WhatsApp, images and videos, which have been reported by other users: “These contractors have the task of analyzing everything that is displayed on their screen – statements about anything like fraud, spam or child pornography, or even potential terrorist plots – in less than a minute, “an excerpt from the report reads.

It should be noted that the contractors do not have the possibility to read the conversations of the users in full, but only the last five lines of a one-to-one conversation that has been reported by one of the two participants. This modus operandi is also indicated on the client itself when trying to report a conversation as inappropriate. The workers contracted by Facebook to monitor WhatsApp conversations operate in Austin, Dublin, Singapore and Texas, and carry out the monitoring activity as the sole task for the giant of Menlo Park.

If on the one hand it is true that consultants paid by Facebook can access parts of the conversations, on the other hand it is also true that these are sensitive chats reported as inappropriate and potentially dangerous by users. This could clash with the “pro-privacy” narrative spread by Facebook regarding the fact that the company cannot in any way access the contents of the chats due to end-to-end encryption, but in this case the purpose is to make secure conversations for all users.

Carl Woog, communications director for WhatsApp, admitted that the different contractors also have the ability to identify and remove the “worst” abusers. The same monitoring is also done on Facebook and Instagram, since Artificial Intelligence alone cannot be 100% effective to protect the most defenseless users from inappropriate, dangerous or even annoying content.

Facebook promptly responded to the accusations made by ProPublica, and below is an excerpt from the note released:

"We have developed WhatsApp to limit the data we collect to obtain spam and threat prevention tools, thus being able to remove abusive users, even based on the reports we receive from users. This work requires extraordinary effort. from our security experts and the trusted teams we employ, who work tirelessly to help us provide the world with secure private communication. "

The company also specified that “based on the feedback received from users, we are sure that people understand that when a conversation is reported to us, we receive an extract from it to be able to analyze it”.

WhatsApp, encrypted backups are coming: here’s how they work

WhatsApp is ready to release an important update that will allow users to encrypt chat backups: anticipated a few months ago, the news will be made available over the next few weeks to iOS and Android users. The solution, which is described in a whitepaper released by Facebook, aims to protect message backups that are stored in the cloud, be it Google Drive or iCloud, from prying and malicious eyes.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, said: “WhatsApp is the first global messaging service on this scale to offer end-to-end encrypted messages and backups and getting there was a really tough technical challenge that required an entirely new framework for key archiving and cloud archiving between operating systems “.

When the user chooses to encrypt their backups, they will need to save a 64-digit encryption key or create a password linked to the key. When the password is created, WhatsApp stores the associated key in a physical hardware security module (HSM), which is managed by Facebook and unlocked only when the correct password is entered on WhatsApp. At this point, the correctly unlocked HSM provides the encryption key that decrypts the backup stored on Google or Apple’s servers.

The HSM is located in Facebook’s datacenters around the world to ensure continuity of service. If repeated, incorrect, password entry attempts occur, the HSM will become permanently inaccessible. Likewise, if you opt to manually save the 64-digit encryption key and lose it, the backup will no longer be accessible. However, it is still possible to reset the password if you have forgotten it. The basic idea is that it is guaranteed that only the account owner and no one else can access a backup.

The ability to use encrypted backup will only be for the user’s primary device, despite recent multi-device support.

NASA is testing a flying taxi: the future of mobility is taking shape.

NASA has started flight tests on an electric eVTOL built by Aviation and intended for the rapid transport of people. The air taxi allows NASA to collect data on performance and acoustics to help the sector evolve, but not only: what has been learned will serve to fill any gaps in the regulations written by the FAA. by Manolo De Agostini published on 03 September 2021, at 15:01 in the Science and technology channel NASA NASA “studies” the so-called “flying cars”. The US Space Agency has started flight tests with Joby Aviation’s eVTOL (acronym Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing), a flight powered entirely by electricity and capable of getting up and landing vertically. The initiative, part of the National Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) campaign, will run until Friday 10 September at the Joby Electric Flight Base located near Big Sur, California. It is the first time that NASA has tested an eVTOL, an aircraft that many could act as an air taxi for those in the cities and surrounding areas, adding another way of moving people and goods than traditional ones. NASA’s goal is to collect vehicle performance and acoustics data (via more than 50 microphones to monitor different flight phases) for use in modeling and simulating future concepts. The test will help identify gaps in FAA (Feal Aviation Administration) regulations and policies so that eVTOLs can become an integral part of future mobility. One of their strengths, in addition to reducing pollution, should in fact be the acoustic profile: being ideally less noisy than helicopters, they could be more suitable for flights in densely populated areas. NASA’s experiments will serve as a preamble to a test phase, known as NC-1, scheduled for 2022, with more complex flight scenarios and also carried out with other aircraft. In short, NASA’s job is to act as a consultant to the FAA to arrive at clear and safe regulations. According to some experts it will take five years or more to see an eVTOL fly in the American skies, while Joby is more optimistic and is aiming to launch an air taxi service in 2024. Joby Aviation went public a few weeks ago on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), after ten years of activity and a business that has yet to go live but which, as soon as it starts, could soon become a multi-billionaire again.

Volkswagen: from 2030 there will be no more cars with manual trasmission

Some car manufacturers are considering removing the clutch pedal from their cars in advance of the transition to electric mobility. It appears that Volkswagen is one of the first automakers to abandon manual transmission, according to a report by the German website Auto Motor und Sport. Upcoming Volkswagen cars with automatic transmission only After the disbursements that the Wolfsburg company had to support in the aftermath of the Dieselgate and to finance the electrification process, it is also necessary to simplify the current cars in order to reduce costs. For these reasons, Volkswagen is giving priority to the manual gearbox and should give up the clutch pedal starting with the cars that will enter the market in 2023. Volkswagen In particular, it seems to be the new Tiguan compact crossover arriving in 2023 and the new Passat, vehicles with traditional endothermic power but which will be launched exclusively in versions with automatic transmission. Auto Motor und Sport believes manual transmission in a VW will no longer exist by the end of the decade, when the company’s range could be entirely electric vehicles. In all likelihood, these VW decisions will also impact brands related to the group, such as Skoda, SEAT and Audi. Among other things, the latter had already announced its intention to launch only electric vehicles starting in 2026. Another news that confirms how the car market is going through a process of profound transformation, where investments by car manufacturers are focused on different aspects than those on which we focused more in the past.

A super laser will protect us from lightning: tests at the top of the Swiss Alps

Installed on top of the Säntis a laser capable of capturing lightning strikes and directing them in a controlled manner to the ground. This modern lightning rod system was created to protect sensitive installations, things and people over an area much larger than the Franklin lightning rod.

Lightning strikes are as fascinating as they are dangerous, both for the environment (they can trigger accidents) and for the safety of people and things. The climate change that we are sadly already experiencing leads to increasingly devastating and violent storms and already today, on average, lightning strikes between 6,000 and 24,000 people a year. There are techniques to protect yourself from lightning, but for now the best solution is still based on the concept of lightning rod, invented by Benjamin Franklin almost 300 years ago.

The Laser Lightning Rod (LLR) project of the European consortium EIC FET-Open wants to go further, and for this reason a new type of lightning protection based on the use of a powerful laser fired upwards has been developing for some years. capable of capturing and discharging lightning strikes. It is a technique that aims to transfer the charge present in the clouds to the ground in a controlled way.

As reported by CNN, the technology is now ready for field testing at the weather station in Säntis (Switzerland), at an altitude of 2500 meters. Getting the laser up to that height wasn’t easy when you think that 29 tons of material were transported to the top of the mountain, including 18 tons of concrete blocks to anchor everything securely in the face of strong winds.

University of Geneva researchers led by Professor Jean-Pierre Wolf lead the European Union-funded consortium that includes universities in Paris and Lausanne, rocket manufacturer ArianeGroup and German laser manufacturer Trumpf Scientific Lasers, tasked with developing a compact laser source with an unprecedented combination of energy and speed.

“This is one of the places in Europe most affected by lightning,” Wolf explained. “There is a radio transmission tower that is hit 100 to 400 times a year. So it’s a great place to do our experiments.”

Lightning strikes form when turbulent air inside a thundercloud swirls violently around ice crystals and water droplets, stripping electrons from their atoms and creating separate zones with opposite electrical charges. These electric fields can become very strong and because opposite charges attract each other, they can connect through a discharge of electricity, namely lightning.

The laser mimics and enhances this natural scenario by generating an electric field so strong that it directly strikes electrons from their atoms, creating the opposite charges necessary for lightning to form. The idea is to make the clouds discharge lightning in a controlled way. “That’s why we call it laser lightning rods,” Wolf told CNN. The beam will run along the existing transmission tower, which is over 120 meters high.

Traditional lightning rods only protect a limited area of ​​the ground, while the laser will cover a larger area, although exactly how much cannot yet be said. Furthermore, according to the theory, the laser could not only capture lightning generated by thunderstorm activity, but also trigger extra ones by discharging the clouds.

Mastercard, goodbye to the magnetic stripe on cards from 2024

Over the course of about 10 years, Mastercard will definitely say goodbye to the magnetic stripe on credit and debit cards. It starts in 2024, but the process will be completed definitively in 2033. Space for contacless payments with different security and authentication technologies. Mastercard claims it will be the first payment network to eliminate a technology that has accompanied us since the 1960s and was invented by IBM. “Magnetic stripe will begin disappearing in 2024 from Mastercard payment cards in regions, such as Europe, where chip cards are already widely used. Banks in the United States will no longer be forced to issue chip and magnetic stripe cards at starting from 2027. […] No new magnetic stripe Mastercard credit or debit cards will be issued by 2029. Prepaid cards in the US and Canada are currently exempt from this change. By 2033, no credit and debit cards Mastercard will have magnetic strips. “

No, Fluent Design won’t make Windows11 slower

Materiale Mica Windows 11

Windows 11 is undoubtedly the character of the moment at Microsoft: the final version is expected in October of this year, but 99% of the doubts about it seem to have already been resolved. One among all, the concern of some users that the new design introduced by the operating system could, in some way, have a negative impact on the performance of the PC. Thought that would arise from the fact that Microsoft is trying a totally different approach regarding Fluent Design on Windows 11, implementing it on all pages and apps. The renewal of this design leads to the introduction of “Mica”, a design element that, unlike the Aero themes of Windows 7 & co., Does not focus on the transparency of the elements but makes sure to color the background of the app you are using, creating a sort of “visual hierarchy”. In currently available trial versions, Mica is viewable in apps such as Windows Explorer, Settings, or Microsoft Teams. Photo credit: Newer Windows Windows 11 Mica material How does this relate to the discourse of impact on performance? Someone thought that using this design, the desktop background is “saved” for each frame, in order to blur. In reality this is not the case, since the blur is performed only once, precisely to avoid overloading the CPU too much with a substantially useless workload. On the other hand, we are not surprised by the fact that Microsoft aims to make its new operating system slimmer, especially after the statements in which the company stated that performance is one of the most important priorities, so we are constantly making sure that any new features are introduced. in this case we refer to the Mica material and the rounded corners of the windows, which replace the classic pointed corners) does not have negative effects on the operating system.

Intel’s next US factory will in fact be a small town

A structure that will integrate 6 to 8 blocks for the production of chips, with 10,000 employees and 100,000 people involved with the related industries. In fact, Intel will build a small town dedicated to silicon

Intel’s development plans for the next few years are strongly linked to the IDM 2.0 strategy, a name that identifies Intel’s project linked to the production of semiconductors on behalf of customers. The company’s goal for the next few years is to sustain growth not only by producing its own solutions but also by dedicating itself to building chips developed by other companies. Hence the desire to build a new campus which, in terms of size and number of people involved in the production, directly and indirectly, will take on the size and scope of a small town. On campus there will be space from 6 to 8 units dedicated to the production and packaging of the chips, using the proprietary technologies that the company has announced over the past few weeks. Each module dedicated to the production of chips is expected to cost between 10 and 15 billion US dollars, a figure that could lead to an overall cost of the entire structure in excess of 100 million dollars.

In the 10 years since the start of construction, this new campus will see the employment of approximately 10,000 employees, with a total of 100,000 new jobs created through the related industries. Given the size and the number of people involved, it is easy to imagine that Intel could build the new campus near a big city, also taking advantage of the university structure to find new qualified personnel to hire. Pat Gelsinger anticipated that by the end of the year it will be indicated where in the United States this new production complex will be built. The production should take place in the course of 2024, so it will take a few more years for this initiative to see the light. This development move by Intel confirms how strongly the company is interested in expanding its business by increasingly turning to customers who will delegate the production of their solutions to it. What was anticipated by the company during the Intel Accelerated event of the past weeks leaves no room for doubt: a strategy made up of increasingly sophisticated production processes, flanked by technologies for packaging and interconnections that will allow the production of chips that at the moment they do not exist and will be the future of technological development in the coming years.