Plus, new legislation scares Big Tech and users can plant a tree through Alexa.
Some researchers, business specialists, and forecasters believe the metaverse – the virtual reality platform accessed by devices like Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 – will reach the same popularity and generate the same revenue as the internet. Bloomberg ran an article at the end of 2021 claiming the metaverse is the next tech platform and that it would generate $800 billion over the next two years in social media ads, hardware, software, and live entertainment opportunities. In his 2021 Founder’s Letter, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote, “In the metaverse, you’ll be able to do almost anything you can imagine – get together with friends and family, work, learn, play, shop, create – as well as completely new experiences that don’t really fit how we think about computers or phones today.”
The price of devices to access the metaverse and the bulky wearable tech, however, are two factors that have so far kept the platform from going wide. Avast Security Evangelist Luis Corrons believes the next two years may be a little soon for wide adoption. “I think technology still needs to evolve,” he commented. “It needs to get more advanced and more affordable. So far what we have seen is more like Second Life revisited, and that won’t gain much traction.” For more on the metaverse, see VentureBeat.
On last Sunday’s episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver expounded data brokers, data collection, and third party cookies. Breaking down what data brokers do, Oliver explained, “What all these companies have in common is they collect your personal information and then resell or share it with others. As one expert puts it, they’re the middlemen of surveillance capitalism.” The host talked about the lack of regulation in the industry and the evolution of third party cookies that track your internet activity. He also listed privacy-preserving browsers and gave instructions on how to protect privacy on personal devices. To read more and see the segment, check out 9to5Google.
Amy Klobuchar and Chuck Grassley, respectively the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, legislation that would prevent dominant online platforms like Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon from giving themselves an advantage over other businesses that must go through them to reach customers. In backlash against the bill, the Big Tech companies have claimed that if it became law, it would be a disaster for consumers, effectively ruining Google search results, barring Apple from offering useful features on iPhones, forcing Facebook to stop moderating content, and outlawing Amazon Prime. For more on this story, see Ars Technica.
For one dollar through their Amazon pay account, Alexa owners can say “Alexa, grow a tree” to donate to One Tree Planted, a charity planning to plant one million trees between April and December. The trees will be part of reforestation projects in Pennsylvania’s defunct mining region, California’s land ravaged by the 2018 forest fires, and alongside the rivers and streams of the Pacific Northwest. Fruit trees will also be planted in communities across India. Customers can keep track of how many trees they help plant through their Amazon Pay account. See ZDNet for more.
A new Traffic Direction System (TDS) detected by Avast researchers and dubbed Parrot TDS has infected various web servers hosting more than 16,500 websites, including adult content sites, personal websites, university sites, and local government sites. The sites were altered by a campaign called FakeUpdate (also known as SocGhoulish) which displays fake notices for users to update their browser, offering a file to download. Avast identified the file as a remote access trojan labeled “ctfmon.exe,” which gives attackers full access to the host. For more, see The Hacker News.
Today, most risks facing consumers from cyber criminals can be tied back to credential or data theft in some form. What if there was a future in which technology stopped this from happening?
The promise of a free movie download led thousands of people into unintended malware.
Avast recently discovered a series of malicious browser extensions on the Chrome Web Store that are spreading adware and hijacked search results.