The anonymous hackers this week crippled the computer systems of high-profile celebrity law firm Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks claiming to have stolen 756GB of highly-confidential documents including contracts and personal emails from the firm’s client list, which includes Madonna, Drake, Lady Gaga, Elton John, Robert De Niro, U2 and Bruce Springsteen. The hackers initially demanded $21 million from the law firm to stop the documents becoming public, posting a screenshot of a contract for Madonna’s World Tour 2019-20 complete with signatures from an employee and concert company Live Nation. But on Thursday, they doubled their ransom demand claiming that they also had information on the U.S. president.
While some of the impacts of the current global pandemic could be predicted, such as the move to work from home, cloud computing, and other technological change, one of the changes that one might not consider until in the thick of the pandemic would be biometrics. I first noticed my potential aversion to biometrics, well, aversion to touching anything highly trafficked, when shopping at a pharmacy in early March, just as coronavirus infections began registering in my area. While checking out, I asked to input my phone number for a rewards card. I didn’t. I paid with my phone and moved on. My reaction would have been the same if I was asked to swipe my fingerprint. I’ve not handed anyone any cash or a physical credit card since all in-person transactions.
A bipartisan group of 32 U.S. senators on Friday urged the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider a decision to allow Ligado Networks to deploy a low-power nationwide mobile broadband network, saying it could pose severe risks to global positioning systems crucial to military operations. The letter, led by Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Jim Inhofe, a Republican, and ranking Democrat Jack Reed, follows a hearing in which Pentagon leaders argued the decision may result in businesses turning to Russian- or Chinese-based space navigation systems to replace GPS. The letter to all five FCC commissioners called on them to halt and reconsider the decision and “more fully consider the technical concerns raised by numerous federal agencies and private sector stakeholders.”
In my Twitter career, I’ve posted cute photos of my cat and messaged back and forth with most members of Spinal Tap. In her Twitter career, biologist Ana Sofia Reboleira discovered a new species of parasitic fungus. I need to step up my Twitter game. Reboleira is with the University of Copenhagen’s Natural History Museum of Denmark. She spotted a photo of a millipede posted on Twitter by Derek Hennen, a doctoral student at Virginia Tech. Hennen runs a Twitter feed full of millipede images. The millipede might look like a mini version of the alien from Alien to a casual viewer, but Reboleira saw beyond the obvious and noticed some intriguing dots on the arthropod.
A bipartisan group of senators are sounding the antitrust enforcement alarm Friday over Facebook’s newly announced acquisition of Giphy, a GIF-making and sharing website. On Friday, Facebook announced that it would acquire Giphy for the reported price of $400 million. Giphy is one of the largest GIF sites on the internet and social media and messaging services like Twitter, Tinder, Slack and iMessage already have Giphy integrated into their apps. In a Friday blog post, Facebook said that half of Giphy’s traffic comes from Facebook apps and that the gif website would be rolled into Instagram, a Facebook-owned product. In that same post, Facebook suggested that Giphy’s core function as a GIF-sharing app across social media would not change and that developers would “continue to have the same access” to its services.