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Today’s cache | Crypto-jacking, and more

File photo of a cryptocurrency mining computer. Picture used for representational purposes.

File photo of a cryptocurrency mining computer. Picture used for representational purposes.  

Today's cache is your daily download of the top 5 updates from the world of technology.

Personal computers are illegally hacked by cryptocurrency miners to collect Monero cryptos.

Microsoft is replacing humans with AI to select and curate news stories on the company’s Edge browsers and MSN site. That move will lead to over 20 people losing their jobs.

Google’s Pixel Buds 2 has a connectivity issue, according to a growing number of user reports on the company’s support forum and Reddit.

Facebook is making some updates to its user verification policy. With this change, page owners with large audiences need to confirm their identity with the social network.

Lastly, India’s Department of Telecom (DoT) has issued a notice to internet service providers (ISP) to block a file-sharing platform.

Crypto-jacking

Crypto-jacking is the process of illegally using someone else’s computer to mine or collect Bitcoin or other types of cryptocurrencies.

In the UK, an 18-year-old’s computer was crypto-jacked by miners to collect Monero cryptocurrency, the BBC reported.

Abdelrhman Badr did not know he was crypto-jacked until he noticed unusual activities in his computer. Even after turning his PC to sleep mode, the fans kept running.

And when he opened the laptop, the main login page would open up without the usual login page.

"My computer wasn't actually going to sleep at all," he told the BBC.

Badr serendipitously found about the mining when he was going through the computer’s program. The device has been sending information to a website he never heard of.

That website was collecting Monero cryptocurrency. In retrospect, Badr thought that an accidental download might have installed a malware in his pc.

Badr’s computer falling prey to cryptocurrency mining is not on-off. A few weeks earlier, a pan-European group claimed to have attempted mining cryptocurrencies using multiple machines.

The practice of illegally collecting crpytocurrencies is currently on rise as the price of the asset is falling, according to Palo Alto Networks.

So, to reduce costs associated with mining, hackers resort to crypto-jacking.

AI to replace humans at Microsoft’s news curation division

Microsoft has decided to replace humans with AI to select, edit and curate news stories on the company’s news webpage and Edge browser, the Guardian reported.

The move resulted in over 27 individuals losing their jobs at PA Media, a company contracted by Microsoft to manage its news page. The employees were told that the software company’s decision to terminate its contract is a result of Microsoft’s global shift to use AI for news.

The PA Media team managing Microsoft’s MSN site does not file own stories. They only select articles from other news organisations and post them on Microsoft’s website. For hosting these articles, both Microsoft and the news organisation share advertising revenue.

“We are in the process of winding down the Microsoft team working at PA, and we are doing everything we can to support the individuals concerned,” a spokesperson at PA Media said in a statement.

“We are proud of the work we have done with Microsoft and know we delivered a high-quality service.”

Microsoft said that the company decision to use AI is not a result of the current pandemic. It has been evaluating its businesses on a regular basis to increase investment in some functions, and reducing in others.

Facebook to verify identity of users with large audiences

Facebook said it will verify identity of users with large audiences in the US in an effort to improve user experience in its apps.

The move will be the social network’s extension of its page verification process started in 2018. Back then, Facebook verified users who manage Pages with a large group of followers.

The extension in the attestation policy comes at a time when the US is warming up for 2020 Presidential election. And the addition to the ID confirmation process may limit the spread of viral posts if the social network spots inauthentic behaviour.

The social media company wants to ensure that real people, and not bots, use its network. The move will also help users to know who is the actual person behind the content they see on Facebook. The messenger’s identity is important given their message reaches a large number of people.

If someone does not verify their identity or provides an ID that does not match a linked Facebook account, the speed of the viral post will be reduce so fewer users will see it.

And if the person posting the content is a Page admin, that person will need to complete a Page Publishing Authorization. Without completing it, their account won’t be verified, and they can’t post any content on the page.

The ID shared for verification will be stored securely and will not be shared on a person’s profile.

Internet service providers in India asked to block WeTransfer

WeTransfer, a Netherlands-based file sharing platform, has been blocked in India on instruction from Department of Telecom (DoT) to internet service providers (ISP), Reuters reported.

The DoT had issued an order on May 18 to ISPs without giving a reason for blocking the site. The order invokes a clause from conditions laid out for granting licences to ISPs, Reuters said on reviewing the note.

Per the clause invoked by DoT, all ISPs must block websites in the “interest of national security or public interest.”

“At this moment in time, WeTransfer seems to be blocked and unavailable in India,” WeTransfer said in a blog post.

“We are working hard to understand the reasoning behind this block, as well as how to get it reverted as soon as possible.”

WeTransfer allows users to share and upload files of up to 2GB for free in one transfer. Paid users can transfer 20GB per upload.

Pixel Buds 2 users report issues

A growing number of Pixel Buds 2 report Bluetooth connectivity issues, 9to5 Google reported.

Several threads on Google support forums and some on Reddit show many users facing issues related to random audio cutouts, leading to brief pauses while connected to the buds.

The issues have been coming up since the first pieces were shipped, and Google’s updates aren’t solving the connection problem.

Unfortunately, even with the latest version 295 update, the problem is not fixed, based on reports by users.

In one of the cases, even a replacement pair did not solve the issue.

A review on Reddit said: “I was really excited to get these in today, but have had nothing but issues with them. While sitting at my computer they seemed to work fine, but I noticed that if I touched the left ear bud or moved my head too much, it would cut out.”

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Printable version | Jul 16, 2020 7:45:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/todays-cache-crypto-jacking-and-more/article31728143.ece

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