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News, Tech Roundup

Tech Beat by Namecheap – 14 Oct 2022

Welcome to the first edition of Tech Beat by Namecheap, our new and improved version of our weekly tech news roundup.

This week in The Decline of the Social Media Button, we explored how logging into third-party sites via social media login buttons (particularly Facebook’s) could soon become a thing of the past. Why are high-profile companies and users starting to turn away from what used to be a popular login option? We encourage you to check it out and leave a comment.

In other news

  • Facebook warns users of password-stealing apps. Speaking of social logins, there is good reason to discontinue the practice. We learned that Meta notified a million Facebook users about malicious apps that may have stolen their usernames and passwords. ZDNET reports that the apps were found in both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store over the last year. The majority of the apps posed as photo editors, while others pretended to be games, VPNs, health trackers, and more. The apps asked users to log in with their Facebook accounts before they could use them. Once “logged in,” victims discovered many apps were useless. Meanwhile, the attackers behind the scheme gained a wealth of login credentials.
  • Robotic companies promise not to weaponize products. Boston Dynamics, Agility Robotics, and several other robotics companies signed an open letter to the robotics industry and community pledging they would not add violent capabilities to their robots and urged other manufacturers to do the same. The letter, which was shared with Axios, highlights the ethical issues and risk of harm posed by adding weapons to robots, especially autonomously operated ones available to the public for purchase. The companies behind the letter believe there should be policies aimed at robot misuse to encourage wider society to accept and trust robots.
  • EU to make USB-C the new charging standard. The European Parliament has voted in favor of standardizing charging ports for electronic equipment sold in the European Economic Community. According to The Register, all new phones, tablets, and cameras will be required to have USB-C by the end of 2024, while laptops will need to adopt the standard by early 2026. MEPs describe the new rule as a win for consumers and the environment, as the numerous electronic chargers of today will be streamlined to just one. Many electronics manufacturers have already adopted USB-C ports, but Apple has refused to use USB-C on its iPhones; with this ruling, Apple will have to comply by 2024.
  • Hackers bring down US airport websites. On Monday a pro-Russia hacker group calling itself ‘KillNet’ launched denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against several US airport websites, with the goal of taking the websites offline. Infosecurity Magazine reports The airports targeted included three of the largest in the country: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD). Hackers also targeted airports in several other states. As a result of the attack, some airports’ websites were offline for a few hours while others were slower than usual. Although inconvenient, security researchers were quick to note that this was a minor attack by a young group of hackers and was not likely sponsored by the Russian Federation. 
  • Clean up your space junk. The US Federal Communications Commission adopted new rules stating that organizations launching satellites will need to ‘deorbit’ decommissioned and broken sky tech within five years, rather than the previous 25-year standard. According to Wired, while this isn’t a new law, the FCC can withhold new licenses for companies —including international ones— that wish to use the electromagnetic spectrum for communication over the US. The FCC ruling is controversial, however, including some members of Congress, and new regulations may be forthcoming. 

Tip of the week: Boost login security with email aliases

Many of us have social media profiles, where we share personal information, images, and personal details. And many of us log into our social accounts and everything else using our primary email addresses. While using a single personal email address helps us stay organized, if a hacker snags your one address during a data breach, it potentially gives them a virtual key to every associated account. 

To help boost login security, it’s wise to create email aliases. An email alias is an additional email address often using the same domain and mailbox as your primary address. For example, when your primary email is rodney@emailexample.com, your aliases might be rodney.shopping@emailexample.com, or even 8675309@emailexample.com

An alias adds variety to your username credentials while keeping your communications under one roof. You might give your primary address to your friends and family while using an alias address for online shopping. Use a second alias for banking and investment accounts and another for newsletter signups and social media logins. 

Alias email addresses reduce the likelihood that a hacker who gains access to one set of your credentials can easily guess another. For example, say there’s a data breach at a major online retailer, and hackers gain access to your email, password, and American Express card number you had saved. If you use a different address for shopping vs. banking, the hacker cannot simply request a password reset from Amex using your email because, surprise! There’s no account associated with that email.

To stay safe online, it is essential to use different passwords for each account you log in to. Still, you can also boost security by creating email aliases. Many webmail providers offer at least one alias for free, and there’s always the option of creating as many aliases as you want with a custom domain and professional email hosting. 

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