Tech Bites #5
Number 5. This week we take a look at Google’s internal development policies, the recent Twitter hack and also Microsoft’s potential acquisition of TikTok.
Android Lockbox – Google going too far?
One of the biggest news stories to come out of the last week was the revelation that Google has been collecting data on user habits from non-Google apps to inform their own app development.
So called ‘Android Lockbox’, Google collects sensitive data from apps developed by third parties. Internal documents have since revealed that Google has been using this information in development of apps such as ‘Shorts’, their competitor to TikTok.
The accusations levelled at Google aren’t in the name of user privacy, the information is anonymised. Rather, there are strong arguments that Google is leveraging its unique position and access to Android data in a way that is deemed anti-competitive. Mashable reports that this data gathering has been going on since 2013.
Face ID for Mac OS
9to5mac.com has been doing some investigation of Big Sur, Apple’s next major update for MacOS. Amongst their findings is an extension with code to support ‘PearlCamera’, Apple’s codename for TrueDepth camera and Face ID. Upon further inspection, 9to5mac is confident that this code was developed specifically for MacOS, but is still in its early stages.
The added security of Face ID could change the way we browse on a Mac, with biometric authentication becoming the new norm not only for unlocking the Mac, but also assumed integration with Safari and web browsing.
Twitter has revealed that the recent hack which took control of some of the world’s most prominent figures accounts was part of a considered social engineering and spear phishing attack. Amongst those targeted was former US President Barack Obama, billionaire Elon Musk and Microsoft founder, Bill Gates.
The attack was reliant on the hackers gaining access to both Twitter’s internal systems as well as employee credentials. Twitter has been refreshingly transparent about the hack, stating that ‘the attackers targeted 130 Twitter accounts, ultimately Tweeting from 45, accessing the DM inbox of 36, and downloading the Twitter Data of 7. ‘
Three men have since been arrested in connection with the hack. One from Bognor Regis in the UK. Two men from the USA were also arrested, one remaining unnamed as he is 17 years old. The charges include organised fraud and fraudulent use of personal information.
Microsoft X TikTok
Microsoft has confirmed in a blog post that it is currently in talks to acquire the TikTok service in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Furthermore, it was also announced that Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, has already held a meeting with President Trump about the potential acquisition. This comes off the back of news that Trump has been threatening to ban TikTok from operating in the USA. Trump cited privacy concerns as the reason behind the potential ban.
In a statement released in a blog post, Microsoft said that it ‘fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns.‘ and that it would allow ‘appropriate security oversight by governments in these countries.‘ The only thing missing from this was what Microsoft deems ‘appropriate’.