#WhatTheTech 14

Written by:
Lucie Sadler
Date Posted:
2 August 2019

We’ve handpicked some tech/security related news stories from the past week, in case you missed them.

Arrest made over Capital One data breach
Personal details of around 106 million people across the US and Canada were stolen in a targeted attack against credit card issuer Capital One, the company has revealed. The hack is said to have been identified on 19th July.

The alleged hacker was arrested earlier this week after reportedly boasting on Twitter about being involved in the breach. The hacker is said to be a former Seattle technology company software engineer.

Capital One said that the stolen data included names, addresses and phone numbers of people who had applied for its services online. The data also included social security numbers, bank account numbers, credit scores and payment history, but not credit card information.

Capital One has said that they would investigate the breach and have provided those affected with free credit monitoring and identity protection. The data breach is thought to be one of the largest in banking history.

It takes AI to know AI
A new tool has been developed using artificial intelligence (AI) to recognise text that has been written by AI bots.

Researchers at Havard University and the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab have created the tool to help combat fake news. The tool, called GLTR (Giant Language Model Test Room), uses AI to detect statistical text patterns that are commonly found in AI written pieces.

GLTR highlights words in the text based on the likelihood that they will appear again. The GLTR highlights words that are statistically likely to appear after the preceding word in the text, whereas genuine news articles contain less predictable words and sentences. The researchers found that the tool improved human detection rates of fake news from 50% without the tool, to 72% using GLTR.

The development of the tool will improve the ability to detect fake news and raise awareness about generated text. It could also be used for social media sites that contend with fake news created by bots on a daily basis.

Hackers scam contactless cards
A design flaw in Visa’s payments system for contactless cards could allow hackers to steal hundreds of pounds without touching the card. The £30 limit on Visa cards is meant to protect users from this type of fraud occurring.

Researchers from Positive Technology tested the attack on cards from 5 major banks in the UK and successfully withdrew more than £30 each time.

The hack itself uses a device which intercepts the communications between the card and the payment terminal, telling the card that verification is not needed and has already been provided.

Payments of up to £100 were made without being detected. The vulnerability in Visa’s systems could expose contactless cardholders to an increased risk of fraud.

Profit fall for memory chip giants
Samsung Electronics, the world’s biggest manufacturer of smartphones and memory chips, has announced that operating profit had fallen 56% from the previous year.

This is said to be due to the current US-China trade war and wider industry slowdown. Samsung also faces more potential disruption due to trade rows between South Korea (home of Samsung’s HQ) and Japan.

Japan recently enforced export curbs on industrial materials that South Korea needs to make semiconductor devices (used to make chips) and display screens. Japan has also warned that tougher trade controls could be on the way. Concerns have been raised over the risk that trade arguments present to global technology supplies.

Samsung is said to be focussing on the launch of new products in the next quarter, including its first folding smartphone. They still face growing competition from China’s Huawei.

We’ll be back next week with more tech news!

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