#WhatTheTech 21

Written by:
Leah Johnston
Date Posted:
20 September 2019

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

Password panic over LastPass bug
We use password managers to keep our credentials secure – but what if they get hit with a malicious security bug?

LastPass reported a bug, where a limited set of circumstances on specific browser extensions could have potentially allowed a hacker to create a UI redress attack scenario. This is where the user can be tricked into clicking on something different to what they perceive, which could lead to them revealing confidential information, or someone else taking control of their computer. 

The issue was discovered by Tavis Ormandy, a security researcher from Google’s Project Zero, who disclosed the issue to LastPass upon his alarming findings. In a blog post, LastPass commented, “We have now resolved this bug; no user action is required and your LastPass browser extension will update automatically.”

If you currently use LastPass, although LastPass propose that your extension will automatically update, we would recommend making sure you are running the most up-to-date version.

Facebook ‘Supreme Court’
Facebook has not been short of data scandals in the past year, so it seems an appropriate time for the social network to announce the introduction of an independent “oversight” board.

Nicknamed the Facebook Supreme Court, the panel is set to be in action by 2020, whereby it’s members will have the power to hold Facebook to account by overriding decisions and impact new policy. The aims of the board, as laid out by Facebook, are to:

  • Reverse Facebook’s decisions when necessary
  • Be an independent authority outside of Facebook
  • Provide oversight of Facebook’s content decisions

This governmental-style committee aims to eventually be made up of 40 people from all around the world, but will first launch with around 11 part-time members, of which their names will be made public, along with the results of their debates. Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg wrote, “We are responsible for enforcing our policies every day, and we make millions of content decisions every week, but ultimately I don’t believe private companies like ours should be making so many important decisions about speech on our own.”

It seems Facebook has now realised having so much power over the largest online network of people ever created, attracts a lot of unwanted scrutiny. Perhaps this new panel will bring some accountability by checking and balancing the social network.

Face to fly 
Gatwick Airport has confirmed it will now permanently use facial-recognition cameras, rather than humans, to check the ID of passengers before boarding planes.

Following a self-boarding trial in partnership with EasyJet last year, the London airport has become the first in the UK to use the face-scanning technology. A Gatwick spokeswoman said that the decision has been made after reviewing the feedback from passengers that took part in the trial.

“More than 90% of those interviewed said they found the technology extremely easy to use and the trial demonstrated faster boarding of the aircraft for the airline and a significant reduction in queue time for passengers,” she said.

However, passengers will still need to undergo a bag check where they will present a boarding pass. They will then have to scan their passport at the departure gate so that the system can match their face to the image. Gatwick plans to use the technology on a further eight departure gates in 2022, and with executives in high talks after a £50m trial this summer, Heathrow is expected to follow suit with similar implementation very soon.

Subscription app algorithm 
Have you ever signed up to a free trial, but forgotten to cancel the subscription? There is now an app that can remember for you, and save you (and your bank) from being caught out.

The app, Free Trial Surfing, has been launched in the UK and automatically cancels subscriptions for you at the end of your free trial period. Josh Browder, the app developer, has confirmed that the app is not linked to a customer’s bank account, but it is supported by a major bank. He refused to reveal which one.

“The idea for this product came when I realised I was being charged for a $21.99 (£18) gym membership from over a year ago that I was never using. In fact, I had completely forgotten that I had signed up for a free trial in the first place. Constantly trying to keep track of when a ‘free trial’ period ends is annoying and time-consuming.” he commented.

The app has already been a huge success with 10,000 people signed up already. It is currently only available on the Apple Store, but Browder is currently developing a web version.

Watch our tech news roundup here!

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

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