#WhatTheTech 15

Written by:
Amelia Craig
Date Posted:
9 August 2019

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

Solar-powered cars
Hyundai has recently released a hybrid car equipped with solar panels that it claims could provide the battery with up to 60% of its power.

If kept in the sunlight for six hours a day, even while being driven, Hyundai is confident that the solar panels would generate enough energy for the vehicle to travel up to 800 miles a year. 

The senior vice-president of Hyundai, Heui Won Yang, says this represents Hyundai’s move towards becoming a clean mobility provider, allowing customers to actively tackle the emissions issue. Hyundai plans to roll out the solar panels to other vehicles across its range in the coming years, offering it as an optional extra. Currently, the panels only play a supporting role in powering the car, however, it opens up the possibility that one-day vehicles will no longer need fossil fuels to run. 

The solar-powered Sonata is currently on sale in South Korea, and will soon be available in the United States.

Fake reviews 
In June, Facebook was urged by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to shut down groups where fake Amazon reviews were sold. Unfortunately, according to consumer group Which?, Facebook is failing to do this. 

Which? carried out an investigation where it joined 10 separate Facebook groups recruiting people to write fake reviews. In just 30 days, over 55,000 posts were shared within these groups, offering free products to people who wrote highly-rated reviews on Amazon. 

Natalie Hitchens, head of products at Which? explains fake reviews are concerning because they leave customers exposed to poor quality or unsafe products boosted by fake and dishonest reviews. Hitchens says Facebook must do more to take down groups selling fake Amazon reviews, and that the CMA should consider “enforcement action” to make Facebook act. 

Facebook says they do not allow people to use the social network to encourage fake reviews and that they are in the process of removing all such groups.

Wrongly billed
Three Ireland has apologised after wrongly billing customers for data roaming fees of up to 160 (£147).

Many customers received text messages from Three alerting them to the charges and shortly after found their accounts had been suspended as a consequence. This meant they could not access mobile data, place calls or send texts. Three apologised for the issue via social media, adding that it was caused by a “system upgrade error.” They also said that refunds would be issued “in due course.”

Customers took to Twitter to complain about the issue with some saying they had been told they must wait several days before they would be refunded. Others explained that they had spent hours on hold to Three’s customer service team because there were hundreds of customers in the queue before them.

A spokesperson for Three has said that the problem has now been rectified, but customers will have to wait for their refunds.  

WhatsApp flaw ‘puts words in your mouth’
A vulnerability in WhatsApp has been found that allows hackers to manipulate quotes. 

A cybersecurity team from Checkpoint have demonstrated how the flaw can be exploited to alter text within quoted messages, making it look as if a person has said something they did not. This vulnerability could be used by malicious actors to perpetuate fake news, which can have severe consequences.

The flaw also allows hackers to change how the sender of the message is identified, making it possible to attribute a comment to a different source. A third issue highlighted could trick users into thinking they were sending a private message to a single person, when in fact their message was sent to a more public group. 

Although WhatsApp has since rectified the last issue, they have failed to fix the two prior flaws. These issues apparently cannot be resolved due to “infrastructure limitations” within WhatsApp. 

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

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