March 1 2021
Welcome to Monday’s news overview – a place where we keep you up to date on the latest technology updates, cybersecurity news, and more. Here’s what’s going on in the tech world today:
An Oxford University research lab has fallen victim to a cyberattack
The lab in question was partially dedicated to studying the COVID-19 virus, as well as other clinical research. A Forbes investigation resulted in the revelation, which was recently confirmed by the lab itself.
The lab in question is part of Oxford’s Division of Structural Biology, and while there’s no indication the lab was involved in any vaccine development specifically – which was conducted by the Oxford Vaccine Group and the Jenner Institute – their data on the study of COVID-19 is still precious.
The hackers had access to the lab’s systems as early as February 14th, but data was compromised is currently unclear. The hackers’ identities and intentions are also unknown right now; were they looking to steal valuable info, or was this an attempt to sabotage the lab’s ongoing research?
An Oxford University spokesperson released this statement: “We have identified and contained the problem and are now investigating further. There has been no impact on any clinical research, as this is not conducted in the affected area.”
Oxford has reported the issue to the National Cyber Security Centre, which is currently conducting an investigation into these events. Read more about this story here.
TikTok has agreed to pay £66m to settle a data privacy lawsuit
What happens when facial recognition goes too far? Privacy advocates launched a challenge against TikTok, alleging that the social media giant is misusing artificial intelligence to track and store its users’ data.
The group accused TikTok of using biometric software to scan videos uploaded to the platform, recognising facial features and using algorithms to identify a user’s age, gender, and ethnicity. They state that this information was then used to target users with ads and track their whereabouts. The lawsuit also alleges that user data was sent to China.
Despite settling the lawsuit, TikTok stated: “While we disagree with the assertions, rather than go through lengthy litigation, we’d like to focus our efforts on building a safe and joyful experience for the TikTok community.” Read more about this story here.
A software update has apparently caused Roomba vacuums to act “drunk”
Roomba owners are wishing they had just stuck with their old fashioned Henry, after a recent update left their vacuum spinning around like Kylie Minogue in June 2000. Other issues included being unable to charge, constantly recharging, and jolting around in odd patterns.
At approximately £600 a pop, Roomba customers are understandably frustrated at this situation, and have taken to social media to voice their concerns.
iRobot – not the Will Smith film, the company behind the Roomba vacuum – has acknowledged that the update has caused some problems, but a fix will take up to several weeks to roll out worldwide. Because of this, iRobot is working with individual customers who are suffering with this issue, to fix it directly – one vacuum cleaner at a time. Read more about this story here.
MyHeritage has introduced a tool that can “bring beloved ancestors back to life”
Thankfully, this process doesn’t involve candles and a Ouija board – MyHeritage’s DeepNostalgia tool utilises deepfake technology to reanimate faces in photographs. In other words, this tech can make it appear that relatives that have long passed are moving, blinking, and smiling from within the screen.
Deepfakes rely on artificial intelligence to create convincing videos using existing pictures or video footage. So far, they’ve been used for entertainment purposes like comedy sketches, or political propaganda. This latest use of deepfake tech is certainly a unique one. Some have labelled this tool creepy, others have found it magical and moving. While the jury’s currently out on how ethical the use of this technology is, it certainly highlights how powerful AI has become. Read more about this story here.
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