Wednesday Newsbytes: Patch Tuesday Security fixes 83+ Windows flaws; GM Wants You to Talk to Your Car; Creepy App Uses Photos of the Dead; Samsung Fakes Moon Pics; When Your Phone Spies on You… and more!

By | March 15, 2023
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Wednesday Newsbytes: Patch Tuesday Security fixes 83+ Windows flaws; GM Wants You to Talk to Your Car; Creepy App Uses Photos of the Dead; Samsung Fakes Moon Pics; When Your Phone Spies on You… and more!

Every day we scan the tech world for interesting news in the world of technology and sometimes from outside the world of technology. Every Wednesday, we feature news articles that grabbed our attention over the past week. We hope you find this week’s  ‘Wednesday Newsbytes’ informative and interesting!

Microsoft March 2023 Patch Tuesday fixes 2 zero-days, 83 flaws

Today is Microsoft’s March 2023 Patch Tuesday, and security updates fix two actively exploited zero-day vulnerabilities and a total of 83 flaws.

Nine vulnerabilities have been classified as ‘Critical’ for allowing remote code execution, denial of service, or elevation of privileges attacks.

The number of bugs in each vulnerability category is listed below:

21 Elevation of Privilege Vulnerabilities
2 Security Feature Bypass Vulnerabilities
27 Remote Code Execution Vulnerabilities
15 Information Disclosure Vulnerabilities
4 Denial of Service Vulnerabilities
10 Spoofing Vulnerabilities
1 Edge – Chromium Vulnerability

This count does not include twenty-one Microsoft Edge vulnerabilities fixed yesterday.

To learn more about the non-security updates released today, you can review our dedicated articles on the new Windows 11 KB5023706 and KB5023698 cumulative updates and Windows 10 KB5023696 and KB5023697 updates…

Read more at Bleeping Computer.

GM Plans to let you talk to your car with ChatGPT Knight Rider Style

In the 1982 TV series Knight Rider, the main character can have a full conversation with his futuristic car. Once science fiction, this type of language interface may soon be one step closer to reality because General Motors is working on bringing a ChatGPT-style AI assistant to its automobiles, according to Semafor and Reuters.

While GM won’t be adding Knight Rider-style turbojet engines or crime-fighting weaponry to its vehicles, its cars may eventually talk back to you in an intelligent-sounding way, thanks to a collaboration with Microsoft.

Microsoft has invested heavily in OpenAI, the company that created ChatGPT. Now, they’re looking for ways to apply chatbot technology to many different fields.

“ChatGPT is going to be in everything,” Reuters quotes GM Vice President Scott Miller as saying in an interview last week…

Read more at Ars Technica.

Creepy App Used Stolen Pictures of Dead People to Train Its Facial Recognition Algorithm

“My sister is dead. She can’t consent or revoke consent for being enrolled in this.”

Consider a new digital privacy fear unlocked.

As Wired reports, a facial recognition search site called PimEyes, which claims to create biometric human “faceprints,” has been using stolen photos of dead people to train its algorithms.

According to the report, Cher Scarlett, a software engineer and writer, made the discovery while searching the site for images of herself.

She found something quite shocking: photos of her mother, her long-dead great-great-great-grandmother, and perhaps most startlingly, her sister, who had died in 2018 at the young age of 30.

All of these photos, Scarlett says, seem to have been taken from images that she and her family have personally uploaded to, a site that overtly prohibits “scraping data, including photos, from Ancestry’s sites and services as well as reselling, reproducing, or publishing any content or information found on Ancestry” in its terms and conditions.

But this isn’t just a violation of Ancestry’s policy. Scarlett’s deceased family members simply couldn’t have given PimEyes their permission to train their algorithm with these photos.

“My sister is dead,” Scarlett told Wired. “She can’t consent or revoke consent for being enrolled in this.”

This kind of violation seems eerily akin to the story of Henrietta Lacks, whose cells have been used in medical research and drug development for decades — but were gathered, multiplied, and distributed for research postmortem and without her consent. While it may be a different field, the point that your privacy should be respected after your death still stands.

PimEyes didn’t have much to offer in terms of an explanation…

Read more at Futurism.

Samsung caught faking zoom photos of the Moon

A viral Reddit post has revealed just how much processing the company’s cameras apply to photos of the Moon, further blurring the line between real and fake imagery in the age of AI.

For years, Samsung “Space Zoom”-capable phones have been known for their ability to take incredibly detailed photos of the Moon. But a recent Reddit post showed in stark terms just how much computational processing the company is doing, and — given the evidence supplied — it feels like we should go ahead and say it: Samsung’s pictures of the Moon are fake.

But what exactly does “fake” mean in this scenario? It’s a tricky question to answer, and one that’s going to become increasingly important and complex as computational techniques are integrated further into the photographic process. We can say for certain that our understanding of what makes a photo fake will soon change, just as it has in the past to accommodate digital cameras, Photoshop, Instagram filters, and more. But for now, let’s stick with the case of Samsung and the Moon.

The test of Samsung’s phones conducted by Reddit user u/ibreakphotos was ingenious in its simplicity. They created an intentionally blurry photo of the Moon, displayed it on a computer screen, and then photographed this image using a Samsung S23 Ultra. As you can see below, the first image on the screen showed no detail at all, but the resulting picture showed a crisp and clear “photograph” of the Moon. The S23 Ultra added details that simply weren’t present before. There was no upscaling of blurry pixels and no retrieval of seemingly lost data. There was just a new Moon — a fake one…

Read more at The Verge.

This is What Happens When Your Phone is Spying on You

Study reveals smartphone spyware apps are hard to detect and remove

Smartphone spyware apps that allow people to spy on each other are not only hard to notice and detect, they also will easily leak the sensitive personal information they collect, says a team of computer scientists from New York and San Diego.

While publicly marketed as tools to monitor underage children and employees using their employer’s equipment, spyware apps are also frequently used by abusers to covertly spy on a spouse or a partner. These apps require little to no technical expertise from the abusers; offer detailed installation instructions; and only need temporary access to a victim’s device. After installation, they covertly record the victim’s device activities — including any text messages, emails, photos, or voice calls — and allow abusers to remotely review this information through a web portal.

Spyware has become an increasingly serious problem. In one recent study from Norton Labs, the number of devices with spyware apps in the United States increased by 63% between September 2020 and May 2021. A similar report from Avast in the United Kingdom recorded a stunning 93% increase in the use of spyware apps over a similar period.

If you want to know if your device has been infected by one of these apps, you should check your privacy dashboard and the listing of all apps in settings, the research team says…

Read more at UC San Diego Today.

5 Warning Signs Your SSD Is About to Break Down and Fail

Worried your SSD will malfunction and break down and take all of your data with it? Look for these warning signs.

Solid-state drives (SSDs) are faster, more stable, and consume less power than traditional hard disk drives (HDDs). But SSDs aren’t flawless and can fail before their expected life span of seven to ten years.

It’s best to be prepared for eventual failure. However, if you know how to tell if an SSD is failing and how to protect yourself, you won’t be a victim of SSD problems.

How Do SSDs Fail?

Unlike in HDDs, there are no physical moving platters in SSDs, so they’re immune to old hard disk issues. However, while SSDs aren’t susceptible to mechanical failure, other components are.

SSDs require a capacitor and power supplies, which are vulnerable to malfunctions—especially in the case of a power surge or power failure. In fact, in the case of a power failure, SSDs have also been known to corrupt existing data, even if the drive itself hasn’t failed completely.

The other possible problem with SSDs is that they have limited read/write cycles, an issue that exists with all kinds of flash memory. The question that emerges in this situation is, “How long do SSDs last?”

Typically, SSDs should last many years, likely far longer than you’ll need them, so you shouldn’t worry or be paranoid. In fact, if you bought an SSD in the last couple of years, research from Backblaze shows that SSDs have lower failure rates than hard disk drives and can be expected to perform for longer…

Read more at MakeUseOf.

Google shows off what ChatGPT would be like in Gmail and Google Docs

Google will bring generative AI to Workspace, but a public launch sounds far off.

The “put generative AI in everything” era is kicking off at Google. In addition to the ChatGPT-style features that are eventually coming to Google Search, today Google announced a round of generative AI features for Google Docs and Gmail. Basically, Google plans to eventually, someday, release a text bot that will do all the writing for you. It can reply to emails and make presentations with just a text prompt. As usual for Google and AI, this is not out yet, and the company says it is only “sharing our broader vision” with this blog post.

Just like the rise of Facebook and Google’s hyper-aggressive response with Google+, Google is in a total panic over the rise of ChatGPT and AI-powered text. Just like how Google put social features into every product back in the G+ days, the plan going forward is to build ChatGPT-style generative text into every Google product. Google’s blog post backs this up by framing this announcement as part of a larger plan, saying, “To start, we’re introducing a first set of AI-powered writing features in Docs and Gmail.” So far, the company has also promised to put AI into its health care offerings and opened up API access to a language model, but we’ve yet to see a real consumer product launch.

The company says it’s building a “collaborative AI partner”…

Read more at Ars Technica.

Thanks for reading this week’s Wednesday Newbytes. We hope you found these articles informative, interesting, fun, and helpful. Darcy & TC.

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