Catch up on this month’s round-up of the latest hosting and tech news. Here’s what we’ve uncovered since our last edition.
The face of future payments
It doesn’t seem too long ago that contactless payments using ‘tap and go cards’ was the latest innovation. Since then, of course, we’ve had phone payments (e.g. Apple Pay and Google Pay) and even wearable payment devices, such as the K-Ring. All these, together with the prospect of forgetting, losing or having your payment method stolen, might just be about to become a thing of the past. The newest way to pay is with your face.
Facial recognition is fast becoming the trendiest and simplest way to pay for goods and is now in use in countries as diverse as the US, Denmark, China and Nigeria.
In the US, companies which offer facial recognition payments, such as PopID, are becoming increasingly popular with shoppers. Users simply upload a selfie and link this to their bank account. When they go shopping in a store that uses PopID’s facial recognition technology, all they have to do to pay is look at a screen. What’s more, the screen will even recognise hand gestures that signify if users want to pay a tip.
While there are always privacy concerns when it comes to facial recognition, it is proving to make payments quicker, more convenient and because we don’t have to carry anything with us, safer. Add to this the fact that your face is pretty much unique, you won’t, unless you have an evil twin, find someone else using your payment method.
Lockdown pupils given infected laptops
Much has been said recently about the problems some children are having accessing remote schoolwork because they don’t have a laptop at home. To help, the government has provided schools with 800,000 laptops for pupils to use for home schooling. Now, it turns out, some of these were infected with malware before being handed out.
The issue was brought to light when teachers in Bradford discovered suspicious files that appeared to contact servers in Russia. These were then found to be on devices sent to a number of different schools. The DfE is urgently investigating the matter and is working with the company that made the laptops to find the source of the infections.
The malware in question is a self-propagating worm, known as ‘Gamarue i’, which is capable of installing spyware that can steal personal information and collect browsing data.
Ransomers toughen stance against non-payers
Hackers are beginning to take a tough new stance against non-payment of ransomware demands. In a recent case, ransomware outfit, the Conti group, stole over a gigabyte of data from a publicly funded organisation in Scotland and when they refused to pay, published the data on the dark web.
In that case, around 4,000 files were released, including databases, contracts, strategy documents and information about staff and suppliers.
Security experts, Emsisoft, which had been monitoring the attack, said cybercriminals were increasingly looking for alternative ways to monetise stolen data if the victims were unwilling to pay. The easiest way to do this was to sell it on the dark web. At the same time, by releasing the data, they send a clear warning to companies that the threat is real and this leads to more victims paying up.
Digital transformation essential for survival, says Gartner
Gartner has predicted that to survive in a post-pandemic market, where remote working and digital touchpoints become the norm, businesses will need to accelerate their digital transformation by five years.
During 2021, it estimates businesses will increase IT spending by 6%, investing in cloud computing, business apps, customer experience and security. The biggest growth, 9%, will be in enterprise applications that improve and expand environments for remote working.
The driving force behind digital transformation will be to automate and optimise business processes. This is needed after the pandemic to reduce costs, quickly replenish depleted bank balances and boost ROI.
Chips are down for car manufacturers
The modern car relies on its onboard computer to function; however, a shortage of microchips has affected vehicle manufacturing across the globe with some companies having to suspend operations for days at a time until stocks are replenished.
Audi, one of the manufactures affected, estimates the lack of chips will result in it making 10,000 fewer cars in the first three months of 2021. Honda, Volkswagen, Daimler, Fiat, Ford, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota have all had similar issues.
The cause of the shortage was the pandemic slump, which caused carmakers to reduce output and cut orders for chips. When car sales began to bounce back at the end of 2020 and global demand for vehicle chips suddenly increased, chip manufacturers, of which there is a limited number, were not able to meet demand.
What compounds the crisis is that while the vehicle industry was sitting out the pandemic, demand for chips for PCs, smartphones, games consoles and servers increased dramatically, with shortages even here.
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