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Behind the Naming of ZombieLoad and Other Intel Spectre-Like Flaws

Tue, 2019-05-21 16:00
secwatcher writes: There was a lot more to the name game behind choosing titles for ZombieLoad, Spectre and Meltdown than picking cool and edgy attack titles. If you have ever wondered why they were named what they were, Threatpost tracked down one of the researchers behind the naming convention (and discovery) and found out. Much like the funky titles of advanced persistent threat groups, these speculative execution attacks, which impact Intel CPUs, are often named to reflect the impact behind the vulnerabilities, their attributes and how the attack processes work. "We always try to come up with names that somehow resemble the nature of the attack," Daniel Gruss, a security researcher from the Graz University of Technology and one of the founders of the ZombieLoad flaw, told Threatpost in a recent podcast interview. When it comes to ZombieLoad, "the nature of the attack is also something which fits the name very well," said Gruss. That's because the attack relies on the processor sending multiple load requests out to load data (instead of loading data once), as a result of the chip carrying out processes that will work in the most optimistic, opportunistic way, said Gruss. Spectre and Meltdown, for their part, have their own history behind their names. The idea for naming Spectre after a ghost -- also known by its logo, of a malevolent-looking ghost with a stick in its hand -- came from from Paul Kocher, one of the collaborating researchers who discovered the flaw. "The reasoning behind the name was that Spectre is ... it's not a nice spectre," Gruss told Threatpost. Meltdown, meanwhile, was so named because the vulnerability "melts security boundaries which are normally enforced by the hardware." But beyond that, unlike Spectre, the attack can be fixed and won't haunt users for years to come, said Gruss.

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Tim Cook Says His Era Has Failed by Over-Debating Climate Change

Tue, 2019-05-21 15:20
Tim Cook told graduates at Tulane University that his "generation has failed" them by fighting more than making change on issues including immigration, criminal justice and, pointedly, climate change. From a report: "We've been too focused on the fight and not enough on the progress," the Apple chief executive said Saturday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. "You don't need to look far to find an example of that failure." He was referring to the Superdome, which sheltered thousands from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He then criticized, without naming, politicians who raise doubts about climate change or its cause, a group that includes President Donald Trump. "I don't think we can talk about who we are as a people and what we owe to one another without talking about climate change," he said. Cook, 58, said the solution to climate change won't be found based on whose side wins or loses an election. "It's about who has won life's lottery and has the luxury of ignoring this issue and who stands to lose everything," he said. "I challenge you to look for those who have the most to lose and find the real, true empathy that comes from something shared," Cook said. "When you do that, the political noise dies down."

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Factory Workers Become Coders as Companies Automate

Tue, 2019-05-21 14:40
As automation changes the way factories operate, some U.S. companies are training workers in programming and robotics, letting machinists get a taste of coding. From a report: Competition from China was among the reasons Drew Greenblatt, chief executive of manufacturing firm Marlin Steel Wire Products, purchased $2 million worth of robots in the past 15 months. The Baltimore-based maker of wire baskets is training employees on operating the robots and using laser-cutting software. The company's machinists develop code so robots can make parts to specifications, replacing several workers who physically created parts. Other employees use collaborative software to interact with customers on real-time design changes, helping the company manufacture higher-quality steel products, charge more for them and create unique intellectual property, he said. Marlin Steel is on track to generate $8 million in revenue this year, up from about $5 million the previous year. [...] Radwell International, a manufacturing and repair firm based in Willingboro, N.J., identified workers with an aptitude for learning and decent knowledge of processes and systems and trained them in skills such as programming on Visual Basic to build software tools to handle tasks like purchasing. Radwell IT staff who learned Python, a programming language used widely in artificial intelligence and data science, built an AI system to sort incoming parts. The system helps recognize parts based on rough contours, differentiating a circuit breaker from a motor. The staff is now developing a machine-vision-based AI system to recognize parts. Employees are also being trained on manufacturing techniques like 3-D printing to make replacement parts for customers.

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Huawei Considers Rivals To Google's Android After US Ban

Tue, 2019-05-21 14:00
Huawei said it's working on its own operating system for its mobile handsets and will consider rivals to Google's Android, after the U.S. blacklisted the company, threatening its partnerships with chip, component and software suppliers. From a report: The Chinese telecom equipment giant said Tuesday it was in talks with the Alphabet about how to proceed after Google confirmed it would cut access to some of Huawei's operating system features for the company's new devices in response to the announcement. Should Google's system no longer be available, "then the alternative option will naturally come out -- either from Huawei or someone else," Abraham Liu, Huawei's representative to the European Union institutions, said at an event in Brussels on Tuesday. Liu said Huawei had been working on its own operating system but that he didn't have the details about when this would be ready. Huawei would do everything in its power to mitigate the impact of the U.S. decisions, Liu said.

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Report Finds Some Users Can't Opt Out of Facebook's Face Recognition

Tue, 2019-05-21 13:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the Daily Dot: A consumer advocacy group has found that not all Facebook users have been given the ability to opt out of the company's facial recognition. According to Consumer Reports, despite Facebook rolling out a new privacy setting last year allowing users to choose whether the company can use such technology to detect them in photos, some users say they have never been granted the option. After analyzing the accounts of 31 users throughout the U.S., Consumer Reports discovered that 8 accounts, or roughly 25 percent, did not have the face recognition setting. Consumer Reports set up its own test accounts to determine whether the privacy setting would be available but found that around half a dozen did not have the ability to disable face recognition.

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The Underground Network of Microbes That Connects Trees Mapped For First Time

Tue, 2019-05-21 10:00
For the first time, scientists have mapped the millions of species of fungi and bacteria that swap nutrients between soil and the roots of trees, using a database of more than 28,000 tree species living in more than 70 countries. This interconnected web of organisms throughout the woods is being dubbed the "wood wide web." Science Magazine reports: Before scientists could map the forest's underground ecosystem, they needed to know something more basic: where trees live. Ecologist Thomas Crowther, now at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, gathered vast amounts of data on this starting in 2012, from government agencies and individual scientists who had identified trees and measured their sizes around the world. In 2015, he mapped trees' global distribution and reported that Earth has about 3 trillion trees. Inspired by that paper, Kabir Peay, a biologist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, emailed Crowther and suggested doing the same for the web of underground organisms that connects forest trees. Each tree in Crowther's database is closely associated with certain types of microbes. For example, oak and pine tree roots are surrounded by ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi that can build vast underground networks in their search for nutrients. Maple and cedar trees, by contrast, prefer arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM), which burrow directly into trees' root cells but form smaller soil webs. Still other trees, mainly in the legume family (related to crop plants such as soybeans and peanuts), associate with bacteria that turn nitrogen from the atmosphere into usable plant food, a process known as "fixing" nitrogen. The researchers wrote a computer algorithm to search for correlations between the EM-, AM-, and nitrogen-fixer-associated trees in Crowther's database and local environmental factors such as temperature, precipitation, soil chemistry, and topography. They then used the correlations found by the algorithm to fill in the global map and predict what kinds of fungi would live in places where they didn't have data, which included much of Africa and Asia. Local climate sets the stage for the wood wide web, the team reports today in Nature. In cool temperate and boreal forests, where wood and organic matter decay slowly, network-building EM fungi rule. About four in five trees in these regions associate with these fungi, the authors found, suggesting the webs found in local studies indeed permeate the soils of North America, Europe, and Asia. By contrast, in the warmer tropics where wood and organic matter decay quickly, AM fungi dominate. These fungi form smaller webs and do less intertree swapping, meaning the tropical wood wide web is likely more localized. About 90% of all tree species associate with AM fungi; the vast majority are clustered in the hyperdiverse tropics. Nitrogen fixers were most abundant in hot, dry places such as the desert of the U.S. Southwest. According to the data he gathered, Crowther suggests that about 10% of EM-associated trees could be replaced by AM-associated trees as the planet warms. "Microbes in forests dominated by AM fungi churn through carbon-containing organic matter faster, so they could liberate lots of heat-trapping carbon dioxide quickly, potentially accelerating a climate change process that is already happening at a frightening pace," the report says.

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Google's Lung Cancer Detection AI Outperforms 6 Human Radiologists

Tue, 2019-05-21 07:00
Google AI researchers working with Northwestern Medicine created an AI model capable of detecting lung cancer from screening tests better than human radiologists with an average of eight years experience. VentureBeat reports: When analyzing a single CT scan, the model detected cancer 5% more often on average than a group of six human experts and was 11% more likely to reduce false positives. Humans and AI achieved similar results when radiologists were able to view prior CT scans. When it came to predicting the risk of cancer two years after a screening, the model was able to find cancer 9.5% more often compared to estimated radiologist performance laid out in the National Lung Screening Test (NLST) study. Detailed in research published today in Nature Medicine, the end-to-end deep learning model was used to predict whether a patient has lung cancer, generating a patient lung cancer malignancy risk score and identifying the location of the malignant tissue in the lungs. The model will be made available through the Google Cloud Healthcare API as Google continues trials and additional tests with partner organizations. The model was trained using more than 42,000 chest CT screening images taken from nearly 15,000 patients, 578 of whom developed cancer within a year, during a low-dose computed tomography LDCT study the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted in 2002. Results were then validated with data sets from Northwestern Medicine.

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Generic Drugs May Not Be As Safe Or Effective As You Think

Tue, 2019-05-21 03:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: As the cost of prescription medication soars, consumers are increasingly taking generic drugs: low-cost alternatives to brand-name medicines. Often health insurance plans require patients to switch to generics as a way of controlling costs. But journalist Katherine Eban warns that some of these medications might not be as safe, or effective, as we think. Eban has covered the pharmaceutical industry for more than 10 years. She notes that most of the generic medicines being sold in the U.S. are manufactured overseas, mostly in India and China. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that it holds foreign plants to the same standards as U.S. drugmakers, but Eban's new book, Bottle of Lies, challenges that notion. She writes that the FDA often announces its overseas inspections weeks in advance, which allows plants where generic drugs are made the chance to fabricate data and results. "These plants know that [the FDA inspectors are] coming," Eban says. "I discovered [some overseas drug companies] would actually ... alter documents, shred them, invent them, in some cases even steaming them overnight to make them look old." As a result, Eban says, generic drugs sometimes go to market in the U.S. without proper vetting. She describes the FDA as "overwhelmed and underresourced" in its efforts to ensure the safety of overseas drug production. Eban advises consumers to research who manufactures their generics and look up any problems that regulators have found out about them. But some consumers may find they are not allowed by their health plan to switch to alternatives, because of cost. In a statement to NPR, the FDA said that Americans "can be confident in the quality of the products the FDA approves" and notes it has "conducted a number of unannounced inspections" at foreign plants over the past several years.

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Intel Performance Hit 5x Harder Than AMD After Spectre, Meltdown Patches

Tue, 2019-05-21 02:03
Phoronix has conducted a series of tests to show just how much the Spectre and Meltdown patches have impacted the raw performance of Intel and AMD CPUs. While the patches have resulted in performance decreases across the board, ranging from virtually nothing to significant depending on the application, it appears that Intel received the short end of the stick as its CPUs have been hit five times harder than AMD, according to ExtremeTech. From the report: The collective impact of enabling all patches is not a positive for Intel. While the impacts vary tremendously from virtually nothing to significant on an application-by-application level, the collective whack is about 15-16 percent on all Intel CPUs without Hyper-Threading disabled. Disabling increases the overall performance impact to 20 percent (for the 7980XE), 24.8 percent (8700K) and 20.5 percent (6800K). The AMD CPUs are not tested with HT disabled, because disabling SMT isn't a required fix for the situation on AMD chips, but the cumulative impact of the decline is much smaller. AMD loses ~3 percent with all fixes enabled. The impact of these changes is enough to change the relative performance weighting between the tested solutions. With no fixes applied, across its entire test suite, the CPU performance ranking is (from fastest to slowest): 7980XE (288), 8700K (271), 2990WX (245), 2700X (219), 6800K. (200). With the full suite of mitigations enabled, the CPU performance ranking is (from fastest to slowest): 2990WX (238), 7980XE (231), 2700X (213), 8700K (204), 6800K (159). In closing, ExtremeTech writes: "AMD, in other words, now leads the aggregate performance metrics, moving from 3rd and 4th to 1st and 3rd. This isn't the same as winning every test, and since the degree to which each test responds to these changes varies, you can't claim that the 2990WX is now across-the-board faster than the 7980XE in the Phoronix benchmark suite. It isn't. But the cumulative impact of these patches could result in more tests where Intel and AMD switch rankings as a result of performance impacts that only hit one vendor."

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Ecuador Hands Over Julian Assange's Belongings To US

Tue, 2019-05-21 01:25
Slashdot reader Joce640k shares a report from the BBC: Ecuador has begun giving the U.S. some of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange's possessions left behind following his stay in its London embassy. The material includes manuscripts, legal papers, medical records and electronic equipment. Mr Assange's lawyer said the move was "completely unprecedented in the history of asylum." "Ecuador is committing a flagrant violation of the most basic norms of the institution of asylum by handing over all the asylee's personal belongings indiscriminately to the country that he was being protected from," added lawyer Aitor Martinez. WikiLeaks' Editor-in-Chief, Kristinn Hrafnsson, said that there was "no doubt" that Ecuador had "tampered" with the belongings it had sent to the U.S.

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Ask Slashdot: Would Rationing Air Travel Work To Cut Emissions?

Tue, 2019-05-21 00:45
united_notions writes: Last year, The Guardian ran an opinion article arguing that everyone should be allocated "an air mile allowance -- say enough for one long-haul return flight a year, or three short-haul flights. [...] If you don't want to use your allowance, you could sell it off in a government-regulated online marketplace. If you're keen to do a holiday a month, you'll have to buy your allowance from someone else." But despite continuing concerns over the environmental harm caused by air travel, this idea has not found much subsequent support. Instead, serious air time is given to meager plans like weighing passengers. Do Slashdotters think rationing would work? Could serious coordinated inter-governmental restrictions on air travel change our behavior? Might it just spur corporations into finishing up carbon-neutral passenger planes?

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3D-Printed Guns Are Back, and This Time They Are Unstoppable

Tue, 2019-05-21 00:03
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: A new network of 3D-printed gun advocates is growing in America -- and this time things are different. Unlike previous attempts to popularize 3D-printed guns, this operation is entirely decentralized. There's no headquarters, no trademarks, and no real leader. The people behind it reckon that this means they can't be stopped by governments. Known only by his online moniker, Ivan the Troll is the de facto spokesman of an underground wave of 3D-printing gunsmiths. Ivan says he knows of at least 100 people who are actively developing 3D-printed gun technology, and he claims there are thousands taking part in the network. This loose-knit community spans across the whole world. They communicate across several digital platforms, including Signal, Twitter, IRC, and Discord. They critique each other's work, exchange 3D gun CAD files, offer advice, talk theory, and collaborate on future blueprints. These 3D-printed gun enthusiasts -- who share similar ideas and political viewpoints on gun control -- mostly found each other online via gun control subreddits and forums. Ivan is just one small part of this network. He says he is from Illinois, and is of "college age," but otherwise he remains mostly anonymous, to lie low. At the same time though, he's launched bombastic PR videos demonstrating the new 3D-printed gun parts he's created in his garage, including a Glock 17 handgun frame. Ivan's group says the legal challenges around Defence Distributed and the company's founder Cody Wilson are irrelevant. According to the report, the group is uploading their files individually on services such as Spee.ch, a media-hosting site underpinned by the LBRY blockchain, "and they aren't waiting for anyone to give them permission." It adds: "They've made their own 3D-printed gun designs, modified old ones, and are keeping all the Defence Distributed ones available for free too."

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Chicago Becomes First City To Collect 'Netflix Tax'

Mon, 2019-05-20 23:20
Four years after announcing a 9% tax on streaming entertainment services, the city has collected $2 million in sales tax from Sony and two online ticketing services, making it the first major city to collect such a tax successfully. CBS News reports: The city collected $1.2 million from Sony in January, on services including PlayStation Video live events and purchases of music and video, according to Bloomberg. It also collected nearly $800,000 from Eventbrite and $70,000 from Fandango, the outlet said. The levy has been dubbed the "Netflix tax" because it targets streaming video services in addition to gaming and other digital entertainment. While Chicago seems to be the first city to successfully tax streaming services, it probably won't be the last. Rhode Island's governor proposed a budget this year that includes new sales taxes on digital videos, books and music. Pennsylvania enacted a similar tax in 2016 and is set to start enforcing it this summer. Chicago's expanded digital entertainment and services tax could raise up to $12 million per year, according to estimates issued at the time it passed in 2015. A lawsuit filed by a libertarian group on behalf of Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Prime customers is currently in the appeal stage.

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Microsoft Launches First Edge Preview Builds For Mac Users

Mon, 2019-05-20 22:40
Microsoft today announced the launch of a preview or canary build of its Microsoft Edge browser designed for the macOS operating system. Microsoft Edge for macOS can be installed from the Microsoft Edge Insider site on compatible Macs. MacRumors reports: Microsoft says that the initial build available today includes several interface changes to meld the Microsoft design language with the design language of macOS: "Examples of this include a number of tweaks to match macOS conventions for fonts, menus, keyboard shortcuts, title casing, and other areas. You will continue to see the look and feel of the browser evolve in future releases as we continue to experiment, iterate and listen to customer feedback. We encourage you to share your feedback with us using the 'Send feedback' smiley." Exclusive user experiences for macOS are also coming in the future, such as "useful and contextual actions" for the Touch Bar on Touch Bar-compatible Macs. Trackpad gestures will also be supported. To use the new macOS version of Microsoft Edge, a Mac running macOS 10.12 or later is required.

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UN Chief Warns Nuclear Waste Could Be Leaking Into the Pacific

Mon, 2019-05-20 22:03
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: A UN chief is concerned that a Cold War-era nuclear 'coffin' could be leaking radioactive material into the Pacific. According to Phys.org, the structure in question is on Enewetak atoll in the Marshall Islands -- where the U.S. conducted 67 nuclear weapons tests between 1946 and 1958. The tests included the Castle Bravo hydrogen bomb, which was reportedly about 1,000 times bigger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In the late 70s, waste from those tests was dumped into a crater and capped with a concrete dome 18 inches thick. That was intended to be a temporary solution, so the bottom of the crater was never lined. Now, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine fear nuclear waste could be leaking from the pit. They're also concerned about cracks in the concrete, which they worry could break apart if hit by a tropical cyclone. Guterres says the Pacific's nuclear history needs to be addressed. Further reading: The Washington Post

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Microsoft Wants To Apply AI 'To the Entire Application Developer Lifecycle'

Mon, 2019-05-20 21:25
An anonymous reader writes: At its Build 2018 developer conference a year ago, Microsoft previewed Visual Studio IntelliCode, which uses AI to offer intelligent suggestions that improve code quality and productivity. In April, Microsoft launched Visual Studio 2019 for Windows and Mac. At that point, IntelliCode was still an optional extension that Microsoft was openly offering as a preview. But at Build 2019 earlier this month, Microsoft shared that IntelliCode's capabilities are now generally available for C# and XAML in Visual Studio 2019 and for Java, JavaScript, TypeScript, and Python in Visual Studio Code. Microsoft also now includes IntelliCode by default in Visual Studio 2019. IntelliCode has come a long way since May 2018, but Microsoft is only getting started. When it comes to using AI to aid developers, the company wants to help at every step of the way, according to Amanda Silver, a director of Microsoft's developer division. "If you look at the entire application developer lifecycle, from code review to testing to continuous integration, and so on, there are opportunities at every single stage for machine learning to help," Silver told VentureBeat. "IntelliCode is, very broadly, the notion that we want to take artificial intelligence -- and really machine learning techniques -- and allow that to make developers and development teams more productive. "IntelliCode is really only at the early stages -- authoring and helping to focus code reviews. But over time, we really think that we can apply it to the entire application developer lifecycle."

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Sony Reportedly Launches Marvel-Inspired Studio To Turn Games Into Movies, Shows

Mon, 2019-05-20 20:45
Taking a page from the Marvel playbook, Sony Interactive Entertainment is reportedly launching its own studio to take its video games to the movie and TV screen. From a report: PlayStation Productions is a new division of Sony Interactive Entertainment with the task of adapting PlayStation games into films and TV shows, The Hollywood Reporter reported Monday. Heading up the new studio will be Asad Qizilbash, who was vice president of marketing for Sony Interactive Entertainment of America, according to the report. Overseeing the studio will be Shawn Layden, chairman of SIE Worldwide Studios, The Hollywood Reporter said. [...] The new PlayStation Productions will reportedly work with Sony Pictures for distribution of the new batch of movies and TV shows.

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Millennials and Gen Z Are Increasingly Pessimistic About Their Lives, Survey Finds

Mon, 2019-05-20 20:05
Uneasiness and pessimism abound among the majority of the world's population. From a report: Deloitte has released its Global Millennial Survey of 13,416 Millennials (born between 1983 and 1994) spread across 42 countries and 3,009 Gen Z respondents (born between 1995 and 2002) from 10 countries. The firm has conducted the survey for the past eight years. The percentage of respondents who think that businesses are making a positive impact dropped six points from 61% in 2018 to 55%. "I would say that for businesses, the most important takeaway is the continuously diminishing trust of Millennials and Gen Zs," says Deloitte Global Chief Talent Officer Michele Parmelee. While the two generations have strikingly similar views of the world, Parmelee said survey data shows that their points of view differ in a few significant areas, such as life priorities and their perception of society and work. Generally, only about half of both groups aspire to purchase a home, and even fewer desire to start a family. "Instead, travel and seeing the world was at the top of the list (57%) of aspirations," the report said. Only 52% of the Millennials surveyed responded that earning a high salary was a top priority while 56% of their Gen Z peers did so. And 39% of the Millennials saw starting a family as very important, while 45% of the younger cohort agreed.

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Linux Distros Without Systemd (2019)

Mon, 2019-05-20 19:25
New submitter Nico Schottelius writes: It's 2019 -- who has switched to systemd, who hasn't and what can I use if I don't like systemd? Here's the answer in short.From the blog post: If you are reading this post you're very much likely not a fan of systemd already. So we won't preach on why systemd is bad, but today we'll focus more on what are the alternatives out there. Our approach is obviously not for settling for less but for changing things for the better. We have started the world after systemd project some time ago and the search isn't over. So what are the non-systemd distros out there? The author makes a case for why you should consider the suggested distros, but here's the list: Devuan, Alpine Linux, Artixlinux, Void, Slackware, Gentoo, and GNU GUIX.

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Millions of Instagram Influencers Had Their Private Contact Data Scraped and Exposed

Mon, 2019-05-20 18:45
A massive database containing contact information of millions of Instagram influencers, celebrities and brand accounts has been found online. From a report: The database, hosted by Amazon Web Services, was left exposed and without a password allowing anyone to look inside. At the time of writing, the database had over 49 million records -- but was growing by the hour. From a brief review of the data, each record contained public data scraped from influencer Instagram accounts, including their bio, profile picture, the number of followers they have, if they're verified and their location by city and country, but also contained their private contact information, such as the Instagram account owner's email address and phone number. Security researcher Anurag Sen discovered the database and alerted TechCrunch in an effort to find the owner and get the database secured. We traced the database back to Mumbai-based social media marketing firm Chtrbox, which pays influencers to post sponsored content on their accounts. Each record in the database contained a record that calculated the worth of each account, based off the number of followers, engagement, reach, likes and shares they had. This was used as a metric to determine how much the company could pay an Instagram celebrity or influencer to post an ad.

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