#WhatTheTech

Written by:
Leah Johnston
Date Posted:
24 January 2020

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

Microsoft data breach
Microsoft has announced in a blog post that a data breach has affected one of its customer databases, exposing 250 million records.

The tech giant admitted that between 5th-31st December 2019, a “support case analytics” database was visible from the cloud to the world. Whilst Microsoft itself didn’t disclose how large the database was, consumer website Comparitech claims to have discovered the unsecured data online, with access to 250 million records.

Microsoft’s official statement states that “the vast majority of records were cleared of personal information,” suggesting that it used automated tools to find and remove private data.

Are you a Microsoft customer worried about your data? Whilst we don’t know exactly how many people have been affected by the breach, Microsoft has promised to notify anyone whose data was exposed – so if you don’t hear from them, you can assume that your data is safe. 

Citizen scientists
Ever fancied yourself as a bit of a nutty professor? Well, English academics are looking for volunteers to have traffic sensors set up in their homes to learn more about traffic flow.

As part of Horizon 2020, a European Commission-funded research project into sustainable economic growth, homes in Madrid, Dublin, Cardiff, Leuven and Ljubljana will see 1,500 sensors fitted to count the number and speed of all cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles that pass them. 

Prof Enda Hayes, who is helping run the survey, commented, “Our data will be uploaded to the cloud so it can be seen by anyone, be that private citizens, the local council or NGOs….The evidence can be used in a number of initiatives relating to things like speed, noise, air pollution, safety and active travel. Hopefully, it will place citizens in the centre of the debates on these issues.”

Experts running the survey hope that their results will be used to improve the quality of life in European cities after air pollution was blamed for 500,000 premature deaths across the continent in 2018.

Wuhan coronavirus chaos
The annual Huawei Developer Conference (HDC) has been postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China. Originally planned to take place in Shenzhen on 11th-12th February 2020, the HDC Cloud conference has been pushed back to 27th-28th March, according to the event’s website. With the entire city of Wuhan on lockdown, including airport and train station closures, the government is aiming to contain the 11 million residents in a bid to control the spread of the virus.

The SARS-like virus is confirmed to have left 17 people dead so far, with more than 500 confirmed cases of the virus, which has now spread outside of China, to Thailand, the US, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

With the situation being treated with great urgency, it is unlikely Huawei will be the only company to have to alter its upcoming events calendar. 

Emoji reactions slide into Twitter’s DMs
Twitter has announced that direct messages will now support emoji reactions, similar to the current functionality of social network competitors such as Facebook Messenger and Instagram. 

To use the emojis, you can double-tap a message on mobile to access the emoji reactions menu, or tap the small “heart and plus icon” that appears to the right of each received message.

The feature has one more emoji than Facebook currently supports, with seven options – including a laughing face, heart, sad crying face, thumbs up, thumbs down, fire symbol and a shocked face. 

The update is live across mobile and web, but Twitter notes that anyone using an older version of the app will see the reactions displayed in text format.

We’ll be back soon with more tech news!

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