TechSummit Rewind 181

This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

Tech giants rally in support of net neutrality

internet1

Technology giants like Amazon, Spotify, Reddit, Facebook, Google, and Twitter rallied in a “day of action” in support of net neutrality, ahead of the first deadline on the Federal Communications Commission’s planned rules roll back.

Sites across the web displayed alerts on their homepages showing “blocked,” “upgrade,” and “spinning wheel of death” pop-ups to demonstrate what an internet without net neutrality would look like, according to advocacy group Battle for the Net.

Twitter posted in a blog post that internet service providers are obligated to treat and transmit all bits equally, regardless of origin, content, or destination. It’s encouraging users to tweet with #NetNeutrality.

“Net Neutrality is foundational to competitive, free enterprise, entrepreneurial market entry… anyone with a great idea, a unique perspective to share, and a compelling vision can get in the game.”

-Lauren Culbertson, Twitter public policy manager

Google also has a blog post up, saying that the “net neutrality rules that protect the open internet are in danger of being dismantled.”

Reddit had a rather creative approach to its protest. A pixelated logo loads in the upper left corner before begging users to upgrade their monthly bandwidth allowance. Meanwhile, a pop-up blocks the page with a message typed out at an extremely slow pace:

“The internet’s less fun when your favorite sites load slowly isn’t it?”

-Reddit, in a message posted on its website

Meanwhile, trying to access the /r/technology subreddit triggers a prompt telling you that it’s “not included in your internet service package.”

Twitch had a banner announcement on its channel page, while global emotes were also replaced with a spinning wheel for the day.

Netflix, Spotify, and Airbnb placed banners at the top of their homepages, while Vimeo has an explainer video and graphics available to download.

Apple giving students free Beats headphones with MacBook, iPad purchase

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Source: iMore

Apple’s annual back to school promotion was announced today with the company offering free Beats wireless headphones to students that purchase a Mac or iPad Pro this summer. You can choose between the Beats Solo3 Wireless, BeatsX, or Powerbeats 3.

However, these devices will still set you back a pretty penny. MacBooks and MacBook Pros currently go from $1,249 ($50 off standard retail) while iPad Pros start from $629 ($20 off).

Security lapse leaves millions of Verizon customer records exposed

new_verizon_logo

According to ZDNet, as many as 14 million records of subscriptions who called Verizon’s customer services in the past six months were found on an unprotected Amazon S3 storage server controlled by an employee of Ra’anana, Israel-based company Nice Systems.

The data was downloadable by anyone with the web address.

Verizon was told of the vulnerability privately soon after it was discovered in late June by Chris Vickery, the director of cyber risk research at security firm UpGuard, but waited over a week to secure the data.

The records were contained in log files generated when Verizon customers called customer support. These interactions were recorded, obtained, and analyzed by Nice, which claims to be able to “realize intent, and extract and leverage insights to deliver impact in real time.” Verizon uses that data to verify account holders and to improve customer service.

Each record included the customer’s name, cell phone number, and account PIN – which would grant anyone access to a subscriber’s account, according to a Verizon call center representative.

Six folders for each month from January through June contained several daily log files, apparently recording customer calls from different regions of the country based on the location of the company’s data centers. Each record also contained hundreds of fields of additional data, including a customer’s home address, email addresses, additional Verizon services a subscriber has, their current account balance, and if they have a Verizon federal government account, to name a few.

However, no audio files were found on the server.

Verizon says that they are investigating how this happened as part of an “authorized and ongoing project” to include its customer service.

“Verizon provided the vendor with certain data to perform the work and authorized the vendor to set up AWS storage as part of this project. Unfortunately, the vendor’s employee incorrectly set their AWS storage to allow external access.”

-A Verizon spokesperson

According to Verizon, the “overwhelming majority of information in the data set has no external value.”

However, a spokesperson confirmed that there is “some personal information in the data set” but there is “no indication that the information has been compromised.”

Nice is also investigating, with a spokesperson saying that none of its systems were breached and “no other Nice customer data was involved.”

Verizon has requested information on who had access to the storage, with a spokesperson claiming that “no other external party accessed the data.”

Outlook mobile redesign includes smarter search powered by Microsoft Graph

Outlook mobile redeisgn

Microsoft unveiled a redesigned version of its Outlook mobile app for iOS and Android, which most notably includes a more intelligent search feature powered by Microsoft Graph, along with other navigation and conversation changes.

Microsoft Graph, the company’s technology for making productivity apps smarter, is turning Outlook’s search feature into a tool that can augment things like contacts, attachments, flight and travel itineraries, and package deliveries.

Search is also becoming a more central part of the Outlook experience. When you tap into search, it will include proactive suggestions of your top contacts and recent files, as well as showcase things happening “today,” like your travel plans before you kick off your search.

When you start typing, the autocomplete suggestions will display names from your most frequently contacted recipients first.

The upgrade will roll out “soon” to mobile users, according to Microsoft, though an exact date wasn’t given.

However, a few more changes are rolling out today.

The conversation experience has been redesigned with a clear separation between individual emails. Also, Outlook will now automatically open conversations to the first unread message to save time on scrolling.

Instead of having to tap an arrow to reply to the group, there’s a Quick Reply box at the bottom that you can type your message into, then hit Send when you’re done. This lets you have an easier time viewing previous emails on the screen when typing your response.

You can still forward emails or edit the recipient list, but these features are tucked away.

Outlook’s navigation has also been improved, with a focus on making it easier to switch between multiple email accounts and browse their associated folders. This is done by moving the account list further off to the left side and using round icons for the various services to represent your different accounts.

This could get tricky for those with multiple accounts from the same provider. However, as soon as you tap on the account you want, the folder structure immediately appears in the navigation with other key folders like Inbox, Drafts, and Groups.

The changes to conversations and the navigation are rolling out now to Outlook for iOS users with Outlook.com and Gmail accounts, with Office 365 support coming in the days ahead. iOS will also have access to the smart search feature “soon,” according to Microsoft.

Android users will meanwhile have to wait a couple of months to receive the updates.

 

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