Net Neutrality Meeting Nixed, The Hacking of Equifax, Telecom Drones, and more

Internet Telecom Cable Service News

Here is your recap of the cable and internet service industry related news from around the US and the world for the week of September 13, 2017:

Because Everyone Knows Our Internet Speeds Are Too Fast

Currently, the FCC defines acceptable broadband access as 25Mbps downloads and 3 Mbps up coupled with mobile access. Verizon Corporate lackey, I mean FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai thinks that is too fast and wants to redefine it to say that as long as you have mobile speeds of 10 Mbps you are fine. This is right in line with the major telcos wanting to focus on wireless and abandon wireline connections. So apparently as long as we can get a speed of less than half of current guidelines, on the phone no less, we are good to go. Kind of boggles the mind it does.

Mozilla: This File Will Self-Destruct in 24 Hours

Mozilla Firefox released Test Pilot last year so Firefox users could test out the new features that Firefox programmers were experimenting with. One feature they just released for testing is Send. Send allows you to send an encrypted file to someone that automatically deletes itself after one download or 24 hours. That way sensitive data won’t remain online forever. The file can be up to 1 GB in size. Only people you send to the link to will be able to download and decrypt the file. This feature could be very useful for business applications concerning trade secrets.

Congressional Net Neutrality Meeting Canceled Due to (Corporate) Lack of Interest

The US House of Representatives scheduled a meeting on Net Neutrality and invited all the big corporate Internet Content Providers and Internet Service Providers. AT&T, Charter Communications, Comcast, Facebook, Alphabet, Netflix, Amazon, and Verizon executives were all invited. None of the execs accepted the invite. This is one of the biggest if not the biggest issues facing Internet content and service providers. They couldn’t be bothered to attend so the meeting was canceled. Maybe they figured with their boy, Ajit Pai, in charge, it was a foregone conclusion.

Equifax Gets Hacked, Then Sued

Credit reporting agency Equifax reportedly was hacked and leaked personal information of up to 143 million US consumers, over 40% of the US population. They learned of the hack back in July but waited until September to release information of the breach. In the meantime, Chief Financial Officer John Gamble and two other top execs disposed of almost $1.8 million in stock and stock options. Equifax said that the CFO and other execs didn’t know about the breach when they sold their shares. Apparently, it was just a coincidence it happened three days after the breach was discovered. Company shares fell almost 15% after the breach was reported. Equifax is now also facing a class-action suit that was filed the same day the breach was divulged. Spam emails were sent out immediately by scammers trying to take advantage of people's fear to obtain their personal information by encouraging them to "check their status."

Telecoms Use Drones to Check Towers After Hurricane Harvey

AT&T and Verizon have each deployed drones in Southeast Texas to access the damage from Hurricane Harvey. With the drones, technicians can safely view cell towers and other network assets for damage from the ground in real time. They are also utilizing Cells on Wheels (COWS), Cells on Light Trucks (COLTS), and Satellite Cells on Light Trucks (SatCOLTs) to help provide service to residents and first responders in the area. AT&T is issuing credits and waiving additional charges to customers affected by the storm.

Verizon Customers Can Sue Ad Company over Un-deletable Cookies

Several Verizon customers have filed a class action suit against an online advertising company called Turn Inc. for installing cookies on their Verizon phones that were neither deletable or easily detectable. Turn claimed that they couldn’t be sued because of an arbitration agreement clause between Verizon and its customers but the judges were not fooled; Turn is not Verizon so was not subject to the clause. Verizon had already been fined $1.35 million by the FCC for its own use of tracking cookies.

Tiny Windows 10 Computer Ready to Ship in November

A tiny new Windows 10 computer not much bigger than a phone will be ready to ship in November. The Sirius A runs the full desktop version of Windows 10. It has a 6-inch touch screen or can be plugged into a mouse, monitor, and keyboard for the full desktop experience. It comes with an abundance of ports: 2 USB, 1 HDMI, 1 USB Type C, 1 DisplayPort, and an Ethernet port. WiFi and Bluetooth connection are standard as does 4 GB ram, 64 GB internal storage, camera, speakers, and microphone. The computer is made by Ockel Computers and weighs less than 12 oz. There is also a less powerful Sirius B as well as a posher Sirius A Pro available.

Big Vulnerabilities Reported in Arris Modems Supplied by AT&T

According to a blog post by cybersecurity firm Nomotion, “gaping security holes” in Arris modems supplied by AT&T to U-verse customers, left them open to hacking. “There is no way people are not exploiting this in the wild,”  Nomotion’s Joseph Hutchins told Kaspersky Lab’s Threatpost. “The vulnerabilities were so prevalent that Nomotion did not report them to Arris as is usual but went straight to the public, “we just can’t see anyone not using this in the wild.” Nomotion also posted that at least one of the vulnerabilities was “pure carelessness, if not intentional.” Arris said they would look into it.

Facebook Claims to Show Ads to More People Than Are Alive

A recent study in Australia showed that the social media giant claims to be able to show your ads to more people than exist. According to a study by Pivotal Research Group to see if the same thing would happen in the US, Facebook’s Ad Manager claims it can potentially reach 101 million 18 to 34-year-olds in the US. According to last year’s census report, there are only 76 million 18 to 34-year-olds. Somehow Facebook seems to feel they can show ads to people who don’t exist. Facebook responded, that its estimates, “are not designed to match population or census estimates.” This isn’t the first time Facebook has been called out for fake statistics. Last year Facebook issued an apology for overestimating video ad views by 60% to 80%.

Dragonfly Hacking Group Targeting Power Companies

According to reports from security company Symantec, the malicious hacking group known as Dragonfly has been working to hack energy companies in the US, Turkey, and Switzerland for the last couple of years. The hackers have been using phishing emails disguised as job applications, New Years Eve party, and other invitations. The attackers have apparently used an arsenal of tools including phishing, social engineering, trojans,  as well as infecting websites likely to be visited by those in the energy and nuclear power industry with malware. Sabotaging energy companies could wreak major havoc.

Yahoo Just Opened Up to Lawsuits by Federal Judge

As a result of the data breach of Yahoo user information from 2013 to 2016, Yahoo is open season to lawsuits. More than 1 billion users had their personal information exposed. US District Court Judge Lucy Koh ruled that Yahoo could face litigation regarding the data breach and that the victims were at a heightened risk of future identity theft as a result of the breach. Yahoo suffered a $350 million price drop in its sale to Verizon as a result of the data breach.

Chinese University Finds They Can Control Personal Assistants With Inaudible Commands

Researchers from Zhejiang University found out that many personal assistants will respond to commands given above the frequency humans can hear. Siri, Cortana, Echo and Google Home all responded to these “silent” commands. These ultrasonic frequency commands could be embedded in a website with an audio or video clip that plays automatically. The attacked device could then be ordered to access a malicious webpage, turn on a video camera, make a facetime call, switch a phone to airplane mode or turn on a cars navigation system, all without anyone being aware of the command. The researchers named the hack DolphinAttack.

- By Wayne Porter