Tech Beat by Namecheap – 17 February 2023
Google’s AI Music Generator, MusicLM, may revolutionize the music industry by allowing producers and songwriters to experiment with sounds and styles that were previously difficult to achieve. However, due to copyright concerns, Google is not yet releasing the music-generating technology to the public. With other generative AI options such as ChatGPT and Midjourney becoming more popular, are we ready for AI music? Cue the music industry outcry and prepare for a world where audio-generating AI is all around us. Read more in this week’s article, Is Google’s music AI generating the sounds of the future?
In other news
- Reddit hit by phishing attack. On February 5th, following a highly targeted phishing attack, hackers gained access to Reddit’s documents, code, and some internal business systems. According to ZDNet, the phishing campaign targeted employees, leading them to a very convincing website that cloned the behavior of Reddit’s intranet gateway. Here, the attackers stole one employee’s credentials and second-factor tokens. It’s still unknown whether usernames and passwords were accessed, but Reddit has advised users to implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) for their accounts.
- Telescope on Hawaii’s tallest mountain captures something eerie. A telescope camera on Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s tallest mountain, was treated to a light show on January 28th that was described as like the green code from The Matrix. As noted in Vice, the camera, which is managed by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), captured a wall of green lasers that seemingly shot across the sky. Although initially NAOJ said the lasers were a result of NASA’s ICESat-2 satellite, the mystery quickly deepened when on February 6th, NASA confirmed its satellite wasn’t the source after all.
- Mary Stuart’s secret letters deciphered after 436 years. A good four-and-a-bit centuries after Mary, Queen of Scots was executed by her cousin, Elizabeth I, codebreakers have finally cracked her private letters, according to The Register. Three codebreaking specialists came across the 57 letters written in cyphertext, most of which were addressed to the French ambassador to England. The letters contained more than 150,000 symbols, and they were transcribed by a bespoke program built by CrypTool 2. The team used a codebreaking graphic user interface to first attempt to decipher the letters in Italian, then in French, which was more successful. One member of the team has also worked with the DECRYPT Project, which maps, digitizes, and deciphers other historical ciphers.
- AI to help in making new smells. Wired reports that a new startup is using AI software to predict scents based on their molecular structure. Osmo is a Massachusetts-based Google Research spinout looking to create new aromas for everyday products like shampoo, lotions, and perfume. Some flowers and plants commonly used for scents are becoming harder to find due to overharvesting and extreme weather resulting from climate change. While some fragrance companies have found ways to replicate natural aromas, the process is, for the most part, still manual. Osmo is trying to design molecular fragrances so they will not be dependent on sourcing plants or animals. They also intend to make fragrances allergen-free and environmentally friendly.
- Assassin’s Creed creators Ubisoft aspire to protect players with a unique police alert system. Online gaming is enjoyed by millions every day. But in a place where friendships are forged and memories created, a darker side exists. Abusive behavior and death threats are among the types of unacceptable behavior ruining the experience for many looking for a place to connect and unwind. BBC News reports that a 200-strong team working at the center in Newcastle, England, is being advised by specially trained officers on harmful online communications. While it’s been a challenging few months for Ubisoft with gaming cancellations and financial forecasts scaled back, they remain committed to keeping their customers safe.
Tip of the week: Protecting yourself from phishing attacks
Phishing attempts are becoming ever more sophisticated, from creating realistic login pages to convincing fake social media profiles, and it can be scary when even big tech companies are successfully targeted. Fortunately, you can still take many steps to avoid falling victim. Here are some tips from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre.
- Exercise caution before taking any action. If you receive an email requesting you follow a link and share sensitive data, triple-check its legitimacy and look out for red flags. Is this the sender’s usual email address? Are you receiving a work email at your personal email? Remember that companies don’t typically ask customers to provide sensitive data via an email link.
- Turn on spam protection. Most email providers have automated scanning features that filter out suspicious emails from your primary inbox.
- Use MFA on all your online accounts. If your credentials do become compromised, MFA (multi-factor authentication) will give you an extra layer of protection against hackers.
- Protect your device with an antivirus and malware scanner. This will detect if you inadvertently download malware from a shady email. Also, ensure to keep all your software up-to-date.
Namecheap offers even more tips on protecting yourself from phishing scams.