Tech Today: March 16, 2021

Tech Today: March 16, 2021

Here’s what you need to know about what’s happening in tech today:

Future of cybersecurity is private/public partnerships
In the wake of a massive increase in cyberattacks over the past couple weeks by unconfirmed actors, the New York Times reports on and pushes the idea of a “one-stop shopping center” for threat intelligence (quoting Glenn S. Gerstell, former general counsel for the NSA). The article cites real concerns about public pushback against the NSA expanding US operations, but then suggests that private companies partnering with another intelligence agency – DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency.
Of note in the article, it parrots Microsoft’s claim that recent attacks on Exchange email servers originate in China, but at the end mentions that the US government itself is still investigating.

Pressure forces Comcast to back off on data caps
Last year, major ISP Comcast announced that it would be charging customers in the Northeast more if they went over a bandwidth cap – if they used more than 1.2 terabytes in a month, they’d pay $10 extra on their bill for each 50 gigabytes above that. The idea of limiting or charging more for bandwidth, which is effectively free at the scale of a company like Comcast, is just a profit grab. During a pandemic when many people are learning and working from home, it’s outright criminal. Thankfully, Comcast has relented and said the changes won’t go into effect until July 2022 – which gives us another year to fight the price increase.

California bans opt-out ‘dark patterns’
“Don’t not sell my personal information” will be a thing of the past, at least if the latest addition to the California Consumer Privacy Act goes well. Dark patterns, like double-negatives in opt-out language, are meant to trick or confuse users, making it more difficult to stop companies from using or selling your data. The new updates to the CCPA “ensure that consumers will not be confused or misled when seeking to exercise their data privacy rights,” according to CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
This is all well and good, and a positive step, but enforcement will be difficult. How does one state manage to watch the entire Internet? In reality, it will mostly be reactive – with suits brought against companies after long investigations or a series of complaints.

School canceled in Buffalo, NY due to ransomware attack
As schools in Buffalo were preparing to partially reopen, the school district was hit by a ransomware attack. These attacks encrypt the data on the impacted computers, demanding money to get a special code to restore them. For a city like Buffalo, the $100,000 – $300,000 demand could have a serious impact on city finances. Meanwhile, schools were closed on Monday and Tuesday, and will continue remote learning on Wednesday.