Facebook Removed Inauthentic Behavior from Russia



Facebook announced that it has removed coordinated inauthentic behavior, this time, coming from Russia. This follows the October 2018 removal of coordinated inauthentic behavior that originated in Iran.

Facebook’s Nathaniel Gletcher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy, wrote: Today we removed 364 Facebook pages and accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior as part of a network that originated in Russia and operated in the Baltics, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Central and Eastern European countries.

Facebook found:

  • Presence on Facebook: 289 Pages and 75 Facebook accounts. They did not find any associated accounts on Instagram.
  • Followers: About 790,000 accounts followed one or more of these Pages.
  • Advertising: Around $135,000 in spending for ads on Facebook paid for in euros, rubles, and US dollars. The first ad ran in October 2013, and the most recent ad ran in January 2019. Facebook has not completed a review of the organic content coming from those accounts.
  • Events: Around 190 events were hosted by these Pages. The first was scheduled for August 2015, and the most recent was scheduled for January 2019. Up to 1,200 people expressed interest in at least one of these events. Facebook cannot confirm whether any of those events actually occurred.

Facebook shared information about their investigation with US law enforcement, the US Congress, other technology companies, and policymakers in other countries.

Facebook also removed 107 Facebook Pages, Groups, and accounts, as well as 41 Instagram accounts, for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior as part of a network that originated in Russia and operated in the Ukraine.

Facebook found:

  • Presence on Facebook and Instagram: 26 Pages, 77 Facebook accounts, and 4 Groups, as well as 41 Instagram accounts.
  • Followers: About 180,000 Facebook accounts followed one or more of these Pages, and more than 55,000 accounts followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.
  • Advertising: Around $25,000 in spending for ads on Facebook and Instagram paid for in rubles. The first ad ran in January of 2018, and the most recent ad ran in December of 2018. Facebook has not completed a review of the organic content coming from these accounts.

What troubles me the most about this is how long those Pages and accounts were on Facebook before they were removed. It is clear that people should not trust that everything they see on Facebook is true. People also shouldn’t assume the accounts and Pages they interact with are actually who they are presenting themselves as.


Microsoft Commits to Help Affordable Housing in Puget Sound Region



Microsoft announced that is committed to addressing the problem of a lack of affordable housing in the region of Puget Sound, Washington. Microsoft made that area its home in 1979.

But the Puget Sound area’s growth has also created new challenges. In recent years, our region hasn’t built enough housing for the people who live here. Since 2011, jobs in the region have grown 21 percent, while growth in housing construction has lagged at 13 percent. This gap in affordable housing has caused housing prices to surge 96 percent in the past eight years, making the Greater Seattle area the sixth most expensive region in the United States.

Microsoft will invest:

  • $225 million at lower than market rate returns to inject capital to subsidize the preservation and construction of middle-income housing. These investments initially will be made in six cities east of Seattle and Lake Washington: Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, Renton and Sammamish.
  • $250 million at market rate returns to support low-income housing across the entire King County region. Microsoft believes that additional capitol at market lending rates can help accelerate the construction of low-income housing across the region.
  • $25 million in philanthropic grants to address homelessness in the greater Seattle region. Microsoft announced the first $10 million of these grants. This will include a $5 million philanthropic grant to the newly announced Home Base program created by the Seattle Marines, the United Way of King County, and the King County Bar Association. The program helps keep people facing eviction in their homes through legal aid, access to flexible funds and case management.
  • Microsoft will also grant $5 million to support a new joint agency on homelessness being formed by the city of Seattle and King County.

Personally, I think this is a wonderful idea! I think that more big companies should follow in Microsoft’s footsteps and enact similar plans in other areas. I’d like to see a world where big companies, who have tons of money, use some of it to actually help people who are struggling.


Indemnis Nexus Parachute for DJI Drones Meets Stringent Safety Standard



The Indemnis Nexus parachute system for the DJI Inspire 2 drone has been validated as compliant with the new international standard for drone parachutes, following a strenuous testing procedure at the New York UAS Test Site in Rome, N.Y., managed by NUAIR.

This breakthrough in reliable parachute technology for small drones opens a wide range of new possibilities for professional drone operators intending to demonstrate that they can safely and reliably fly over people as well as sensitive locations.

Indemnis, based in Anchorage, Alaska, joined DJI in a safety partnership in 2017 to develop industry parachute standards as well as a parachute system that can deploy instantly if a drone encounters flight anomalies, reducing the potential energy of any impact on the ground.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits most drone operations directly over people as a safety precaution. Professional drone operators can apply for a waiver from that restriction if they can demonstrate they have robust safety mitigations in place.

The Indemnis system is intended to be the core of a parachute-based safety migration plan for a waiver, and can also help provide one path forward for advanced operations as the FAA considers how to allow routine flights directly over people.

Nexus is a ballistic parachute launcher, triggered automatically if the drone suddenly begins tilting abnormally or falling. It deploys the parachute within 30 milliseconds at 90 mph, through a tube that rapidly inflates to keep the parachute lines away form the drone body and propellers.

Indemnis offers the Nexus package for the Inspire 2, and tends to offer it for Matrice 200 series and Matrice 600 series drones by late 2019.

NUAIR Alliance, which manages one of the FAA-designated test sites for drone technologies at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York, put the Indemnis Nexus through 45 functionality tests across five different failure scenarios last month during four days of testing. Those tests validated that the Nexus on the Inspire 2 complies with the ASTM International F3322-18 Standard Specification For Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) Parachutes. DJI, Indemnis, the FAA and other industry stakeholders collaborated on developing the ASTM consensus standard, which was finalized late last year after more than a year of work.


Alarm.com Awarded Security Product of the Year at CES 2019



Alarm.com, the leading platform for the intelligently connected property, won Security Product of the Year at Consumer Technology Association’s Mark of Excellence Awards for its new Smart Signal feature.

Smart Signal enables Alarm.com subscribers to signal their monitoring station directly from their Alarm.com mobile app, enabling faster response and reducing false alarms.

The award recognizes the best product designed to secure or enhance the security of residential properties, and was presented at CES 2019 – the largest and most influential tech event in the world.

“We are honored to have our latest innovation in smart home security recognized by the CTA Mark of Excellence Award as the Security Product of the Year,” said Anne Ferguson, Alarm.com Vice President of Marketing. “Consumers expect smart home technology to keep them safe and protected above all else. Smart Signal enhances the professional monitoring service and best-in-class mobile features that our service partner providers offer, delivering unmatched security and peace of mind.”

Smart Signal is an in-app emergency signaling feature that enables a property owner to communicate critical information directly to their property’s monitoring station from their smartphone.

Using their Alarm.com mobile app, property owners can trigger a panic alert notifying security professionals that they need help at their home or business, verify an alarm event to expedite emergency response, or cancel a false alarm from anywhere.

Monitoring stations can use real-time information from Smart Signal to dispatch police, fire, or emergency medical services to properties faster, respond to a wider range of emergencies, and reduce false alarms.

Smart Signal gives Alarm.com’s service provider partners another innovative and differentiated feature that enhances the overall value of professional monitoring services and allows them to address consumer concerns about false alarms.

Smart Signal is available now. Subscribers should contact their service provider to request Smart Signal.


One61 Ignites Pop Culture Fandom with New Wearable Tech Products at CES 2019



One61 Studio, known for its fully-licensed, pop-culture inspired and tech-driven products, connects users with the brands they are truly passionate about with reimagined wearable technology. Backed by licensing giant, Bioworld Merchandising, One61 debuted new smartwatches, smart wallets and powerful backpacks in new licensed designes with Harry Potter, Rick & Morty, Fallout and DC Comic Heroes at CES 2019.

Compatible with all iOS and most Android devices, One61 expands their cult favorite smartwatch line with three new styles: Fallout, Rick & Morty, and Harry Potter, debuting early 2019. Each unique design offers fans an immersive experience within each storyline.

Join Rick & Morty on their infamous adventures through the Smartwatch Dimension with integrated features and functions to get Schwifty. Bring Pip Boy into the 21st century with the all new Pip-OS V1.0.1, and explore the magic and mystery of Harry Potter.

Each device is crafted using premium, splash-resistant materials and includes a charging base, micro USB cord, downloadable App, and quick start guide.

The next evolution of One61 introduces a refresh in the brand’s tracker technology: FoundMi. Synced via Bluetooth and the Foundmi app, attach your Foundmi character on commonly misplaced items like phones, keys and tablets to reverse track their last known location.

Launching with an exclusive 8-piece Harry Potter collection featuring iconic characters like Harry, Ron, Hermione, and more, Foundmi expands their tracking technology to its new line of Smart Wallets equipped with card detection, drop alert, and wallet location functions.

Providing a cohesive integration of all products, One61 launched their Powered Backpacks to keep users connected and charged on the go. Each backpack is equipped with a charging station, USB ports, and roomy compartments for organization.

Designed with the tech-savvy user in mind, each Powered Backpack lights up with the touch of a button at three different speed settings. Choose from Batman, Wonder Woman, or The Flash, to sport a Backpack of the future.

The One61 Smartwatches retail for a starting cost of $150, Smart Wallets for $59.99, Foundmis for $24.99 and Powered Backpacs for $150.


Sunday Smart Object Enables Photo and Video Sharing at CES 2019



Sunday, the Smart Object that fights social isolation by sharing photos and videos with the offline generation, was on display at CES 2019. It is a smart object capable of sending photos instantly to any TV from anywhere in the world.

This solution bridges the technological and generational gap while connecting grandparents to their families without using social media or complicated to connect devices.

The concept is simple: Plug Sunday into any TV’s HDMI port. Start sharing photos and videos to the TV using the web or mobile app. Make your grandparents smile!

The offline generation will not only love the painless installation process, but also the easy to grip Sunday Remote with only eight buttons and icons made with aging eyes in mind.

Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need – crucial to both well-being and survival. Social isolation and separation is growing epidemic – one with physical, mental and emotional consequences.

Since the 1980s the percentages of American adults who say they’re lonely has doubled from 20% to 40%. Approximately 42.6 million adults over age 45 in the U.S. are estimated to be suffering from chronic loneliness, according AARP’s Loneliness Study. About 1/3 of adults older than 65 now live alone, and ½ those over 85 do.

It’s Sunday’s mission to help people maintain bonds where they’re fading and create ones where they haven’t existed!

Each Sunday purchase includes: 1 Sunday App, 1 Sunday Box, and 1 Sunday Remote. It is now available in the U.S. at Sunday’s website for $149.00 MSRP.


Pindrop Launched Voice Identity Platform at CES 2019



Pindrop, the pioneer in voice security and authentication announced at CES 2019 the launch of its Voice Identity Platform to extend its proven enterprise-grade technology beyond the call center and into the Internet of Things (IoT), voice assistants, smart homes and offices, and connected cars.

The company is bringing its proven proprietary Deep Voice biometric technology, trusted by eight of the ten largest banks and five of the seven largest insurance companies, to several new key market sectors.

Pindrop won the IHS Markit Innovation Award for Smart Homes & Appliances at the Showstoppers event at CES 2019.

Voice Identity for Smart Homes
Smart home security vendors rely on with pincodes and companion mobile apps for for sensitive transactions. This results in high friction and poor user experience especially for accessibility related use cases. These issues and concerns have resulted in a slow adoption of voice technology in the smart home industry.

Having secured more than one billion voice transactions a year for global Fortune 500 enterprises in some of the most at-risk environments, Pindrop’s relationships with international IoT leaders and manufacturers, such as Allegion, put it in a good position bring secure, voice-based access to IoT devices like smart locks. Pindrop will provide a new level of peace of mind, security and access to the millions of customers using connected devices.

Voice Identity for Personal Assistants and Enterprise Skills
Pindrop’s Voice Identity platform exposes developer friendly APIs to voice application builders who are looking to add strong, frictionless security to any voice platform such as Alexa Skills, Google Actions, Cortana Skills, Bixby and more.

Today, consumers who interact with their bank, brokerage, or their smart home through voice-enabled devices are forced to remember and speak 4-digit confirmation codes before proceeding with sensitive transactions. With Pindrop, developers can now deliver feature rich, frictionless, high-value transactions for their voice applications with multi-factor identification technology.

Voice Identity for Connected Cars
Speech recognition is becoming increasingly common in connected cars; however, existing technologies lack enterprise grade security and authentication capabilities, which hampers and erodes consumer confidence regarding sensitive voice interactions in vehicle. To address this, Pindrop is partnering with several of the largest global automotive manufacturers, to provide a personalized and secure voice-enabled experience for drivers.

Voice Identity for the Smart Office
Smart office communication technology providers such as Zoom, Plantronics, Cisco and Polycom are quickly developing the workplace of the future, enabling a workforce that can connect, share and collaborate from anywhere all with the power of their voice.

Leveraging the world’s first end-to-end deep neural network-based speaker recognition technology, Pindrop now provides security for shared devices, making it possible for enterprises to deploy smart office capabilities that are truly secure.