This week’s tech news has been a mixed bag of software development and cyber security blunders. Adobe and Microsoft situating themselves deeper into artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, and we see thousands of users have data leaked from the data.gov.uk website. Adobe announced that they will be launching a new AI voice analytics solution that will track how users interact with popular virtual assistants and collect data to be processed through the Sensei machine learning service. We’ve seen many artificial intelligence programs so far, but the field remains largely rudimentary. It’s interesting to see an ongoing commitment to developing the field and future applications of AI. The use of such programs will undoubtedly help organizations to optimize their systems and better empathize with customers.
With regards to cybersecurity, Microsoft has announced that new security features will be available in Windows 10 through the Fall Creator update later this year. The new programs, including Windows Defender Exploiter Guard, will help to keep users safe from increasingly common cyber threats. Given the unprecedented scale of the international ransomware attack earlier this year, many will be reassured that companies like Microsoft are taking the lead in arming users against future threats.
Unfortunately, it appears the UK’s Government Digital Service hasn’t got the cybersecurity memo, leaving the details of British voters on an unsecured and openly accessible public server. Data leaked included names, email addresses and hashed passwords of users on the Data.gov.uk website. In response to the attack, Data.gov.uk users have been advised to change their passwords as a precautionary measure. The episode suggests that the British government needs to mandate much more elaborate cybersecurity protocols to protect the data held on its citizens.
Adobe Announces the Launch of Voice Analytics
Earlier this week, Adobe announced the addition of voice analytics to the Adobe Analytics Cloud. The service will track how users interact with popular tools like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. The analytics cloud will be able to track the performance of intelligent assistants and collect data about their usage, which will be processed through the machine learning service Sensei.
The move marks the next step in Adobe’s foray into data analytics, as it attempts to ride the wave of interest into machine learning and artificial intelligence. Adobe Analytics cloud director of product management, Colin Morris, suggested that what sets Adobe Analytics Cloud apart, is its ability to track usage and compile datasets across multiple services, offering “customer journey analytics”.
Analytics will enable Adobe to better empathize with their customers and to see how they interact with intelligent assistants. The decision to launch AI-powered voice analytics reveals a commitment to developing the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence programs in the company. It will be interesting to see how far Adobe intends to take this software, and whether it will remain a useful side program or a full-blown offering.
Microsoft Announces Cyber Security Updates for Windows 10
Following the spate of cyber security attacks this year, Microsoft announced new security features for Windows 10 that will be implemented during the Windows Fall Creator update later this year. In a blog post, the industry giants said that they will be introducing a wave of new tools to help users to prevent and stop future attacks. The update will be using AI to aid in the detection of malware and threat resolution.
More specifically, Microsoft will be launching Windows Defender Exploit Guard, which will enable users to decide how to restrict code on computer networks. This is launched in an effort to address cybersecurity threats and hackers. Attack surface reduction smart rules will help to minimize the potential for unwanted invasion. Speaking on the new update, Rob Lefferts, the director of program management for Windows Enterprise and Security recognized the need to develop to address the next era of cyber threats.
By using cloud intelligence, AI and machine learning, Lefferts believes that Microsoft will be able to deal with widespread malicious attacks while keeping data uncompromised. The use of both cloud intelligence and AI is also a formidable combination according to Windows ATP Principal Program Manager, Avi Sagiv, who suggested that the new system will be ‘more intelligent, simple to manage, and ever-evolving”. The capacity to remain flexible will be invaluable in dealing with the diverse range of threats users face online.
AI has the capacity to fix problems and make necessary system alterations on the fly. So if implemented correctly, the combination of cloud analytics and AI will both prevent breaches whilst recording data about the attacks. This data can then be used to provide further insights into the type of threats modern users face and how to address them. It is encouraging that companies like Microsoft have reaffirmed their commitment to staying on top of cybersecurity demands, especially in the wake of the widespread ransomware attacks earlier this year.
UK Government Digital Service Data Leak
Finally, this week it was announced that the government is making users of the data.gov.uk website change their passwords in response to a data leak. A database full of usernames and email addresses was discovered on a public system, left unencrypted and freely accessible. According to a spokeswoman of the Government Digital Service, the leak only featured email addresses, usernames and hashed passwords rather than personal information such as names and addresses.
Similarly, one email verified by The Register, stated, “A recent routing security review discovered a file containing some users’ names, emails and hashed passwords was publicly accessible on a third-party system”. The amount of user information leaked was shocking, containing information on all users who registered prior to 20th June 2015. At this stage resetting user passwords has been suggested merely as a precaution rather than a response to any live malicious attacks.
However, the entire episode raises yet more concerns over the sanctity of user data. It is deeply concerning that the private data of so many citizens have been left unsecured on a public server. A leak on such a scale suggests that the GDS and the data.gov.uk website did not have cohesive cybersecurity protocols in place to keep data safe. In today’s integrated society, both private and government organizations need to take responsibility and protect the data they keep. In order to minimize future breaches, we need to start scrutinizing organizations that fail to protect our data.