Phishing Scam With Fake Invoices Spreads Across US and UK

A malware called Emotet is spreading through the US and UK, specifically targeting banks and financial sectors according to a report published by Menlo Security. Cybercriminals have implemented a malware campaign that spreads via phishing emails, with the attachment of a malicious Microsoft Word document attachment. The email is made to look official through mention of financial topics such as invoices or banking details in the subject line, attracting victims to click on the file. 

Emotet malware use was on the decline back in December 2019, yet began to pick up momentum again early into the new year as cybercriminals use it for new malicious purposes. 

These targeted attacks are meant to disrupt multiple sectors including media/entertainment, transportation, and food/beverage in locations such as the US, UK, Philippines, Spain, and India. Emotet attacks have largely been focused on the financial services sector, with half of these campaign attacks affecting the US and a quarter affecting the UK. 

After a user clicks to download the infected Word file and presses on “enable editing”, embedded macros are deployed onto the victim’s computer, which then successfully transfers the Emotet malware. Once transferred over to the user’s device, Emotet not only steals sensitive information, but can also facilitate the spread of more malware to other computers that use a shared network.  

Emotet can’t be traced to just one source of administration, since its function as a botnet infects Windows computers globally, which then spreads further through those infected devices. 

As Emotet continues to wreak havoc, business employees should take precautionary measures in avoiding any suspicious emails that arrive in their inbox, as documents or any links attached could very well be infected with malware. Users should be cautious of those emails that ask to “enable macros”. Keeping computer operating systems up-to-date is also an important step to take in order to stay safe.

UPS Drones Began Delivering Prescription Medications in US

Image Source: UPS

A subsidiary of UPS called UPS Flight Forward began its drone delivery in North Carolina at the beginning of November. Through a partnership with CVS Pharmacy and Matternet, the company successfully delivered medication to both a home and retirement community. 

The drone delivered packages without human operation, although it was monitored remotely. During its delivery, the machine lowered the package it carried through use of a cable. This approach to delivering residents’ packages has taken the burden off those who have restricted mobility. 

Drone deliveries have been happening since earlier this year, with UPS delivering medical supplies to North Carolina’s WakeMed Hospital beginning in March. Google also launched its own drone delivery operation called Wing in October this year, transporting supplies like over-the-counter medications to residents in Virginia. UPS’s Flight Forward now allows for easy, stress-free delivery of prescription medications to residents.

In order for companies to operate drone delivery services, they must receive a Part 135 Standard certification that is administered through the Federal Aviation Administration, granting said companies the ability to carry packages weighed over 55 pounds and fly an unlimited amount of drones during day or night. UPS recently received its Part 135 certification this September. With this granted certification, companies like UPS can explore new possibilities for their drone delivery services, perhaps extending their delivery locations and even categories beyond prescription medications or medical supplies. Google’s Wing has already tested delivering a range of items from Walgreens and a gift shop called Sugar Magnolia in Virginia.

Augmented Reality Tech is Coming to Google Search

Google’s I/O developer conference had some interesting technological reveals this week, one of them including Augmented Reality technology that will be brought to Google Search.

During the conference, Google demonstrated different examples of how the new search function would operate. For instance, if a user were to search “great white shark”, an option to use your camera for a 3D model will be available for a more immersive experience. 3D objects can be viewed in your own space to give a sense of what the object would look like in detail.

Image Source: TechCrunch via Google; Image showing AR of human muscular system

Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained that the company’s “goal is to build a more helpful Google for everyone,” and to help “[get] things done.”

Brands may also be able to take advantage of the AR search experience by providing a digital view of products for consumers. The AR search result could help unsure consumers in making a decision to purchase a particular product when previewing it in better detail.

There is no word on how many 3D models will be available to users or whether other publishers can contribute to the AR search with their own models.

The new AR features are expected to roll out by the end of this month according to a twitter post by Google.

Mother’s Day Tech Gift Guide 2019

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and there’s no time to waste in finding Mom that great gift!

Don’t know what to buy her? Don’t fret. We’ve put together a list of awesome tech gadgets your mom will surely love!

Apple AirPods 2

Image Source: Apple

Price: $199

Give mom the gift of great audio quality with Apple’s upgraded AirPods – now faster and longer-lasting with 5 hours of listening time. The earphones come with their own charging case. If you want to make it personal, Apple offers free custom engraving online!

Fitbit Charge 3

Image Source: Fitbit

Price: $119.95

Does your mom like to stay active? Why not get her the Fitbit Charge 3 to track all her fitness activities and goals? The Fitbit Charge 3 comes with a heart rate tracker, swim tracker, GPS tracking with your phone, and guided breathing.

Apple Watch Series 4

Image Source: Apple

Price $349

The Apple Watch is the perfect, stylish gift to give Mom this Mother’s Day. Available in three colors, the Series 4 watch comes with a heart rate sensor that can track and notify its wearer of ian irregular heartbeat. This Apple Watch also comes with the “Hey Siri” feature that will allow Mom to ask for assistance by simply raising her wrist to speak.

Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker

Image Source: Ninja

Price: $199.99

This air fryer and pressure cooker in one is a great kitchen appliance to surprise Mom with! This appliance allows for quick and easy pressure cooking while also giving a crispy finish with its Crisping Lid.

Neutrogena Skin360™ Skin Scanner

Image Source: Neutrogena

Price: $59.99

Mom is always shining, no matter what she does, but why not help her stay radiant with a little help from the Neutrogena Skin Scanner? This device works by attaching to an iPhone and working with an app that will allow Mom to scan her skin in order to measure pores, fine lines/wrinkles, and skin moisture levels.

Beats Pill+ Portable Speaker

Image Source: Beats

Price: $113.99

Is Mom a music lover? Then the Beats Pill+ is the gift for her! Let pure quality sound fill the air as Mom pairs her device via Bluetooth to the Beats Pill+ .

iHome iCVA66 Vanity Mirror

Image Source: iHome

Price: $199.99

The iHome Vanity Mirror combines tech and beauty in one fabulous device. This mirror comes with built-in Alexa compatibility, bright LED light display, as well as a Bluetooth speaker to allow Mom to listen to her music while she grooms herself. It even comes with a USB port to charge a phone!

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Image Source: Amazon

Price: $89.99

Is Mom an avid reader? Why not get her the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite? This Kindle is waterproof, has a glare-resistant display, a built-in adjustable light, and can last weeks with a single battery charge.

Facebook Portal

Image Source: Amazon

Price: $99

The Facebook Portal is a great way to stay connected with your mother when you need to call her on the phone. This device works with a Smart Camera that keeps you in frame as you move around. The Facebook Portal also has Alexa built-in, allowing its user to ask a question, set a timer or reminder, and use the device for other smart-home tasks.

HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer

Image Source: HP

Price: $99.95

Printing photos in an instant has never been so easy! Give the gift of creating memories with Mom by getting her the HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer. Using Bluetooth connectivity, Mom can print her photos without hassle, customizing it with the HP app to add fun text, borders, and more.

Ember Temperature Control Ceramic Mug

Image Source: Ember

Price: $70.99

Tea and coffee drinkers rejoice. This Temperature Control mug from Ember allows Mom to remotely adjust the drink of her choice to the ideal temperature setting.

Bellabeat Leaf Urban Smart Jewelry

Image Source: Bellabeat

Price: $115.51

Mom will surely enjoy wearing this tech statement piece from Bellabeat. This necklace is a health tracker that can count the number of steps taken throughout a day, detect calories burned, track stress patterns and more. The necklace can easily be connected to Apple Health or Google Fit.

Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock

Image Source: Philips

Price: $99.95

This light therapy lamp from Philips will help Mom get the beauty rest she deserves. This alarm clock comes with a colored sunrise simulation that can improve sleep and energy levels through its gradual wake light feature.

 

Airport in France Uses Robot Valets to Park Cars for Travelers

Image Source: Stanley Robotics via The Verge

France’s Lyon-Saint-Exupéry airport has rolled out its robot valet service for travelers. French firm Stanley Robotics has created a much more convenient means of parking for travelers that takes the hassle out of self-parking when short on time to catch a flight. The robot valet has been tested through trials for a few years and has recently been established full-time in France’s fourth busiest airport.

The robots – dubbed “Stan” – are said to work more efficiently, as each bot is precise in its parking space use, fitting 50 percent more cars than what a human would accomplish. Customers interested in using the robot valet would first park their cars in designated hangar units. From there, the car is scanned for its model type. After a customer checks in, Stan uses its forklift properties to lift a vehicle from the ground to park it in the most suitable location.

What makes Stan efficient is the way in which the robot also keeps track of the vehicle owner’s trip information (i.e. when the someone will return), parking the car at a convenient spot to be easily accessed when needed.

Stanley Robotics Co-founder and COO, Stéphane Evanno, told Airport Technology how “[Stan uses] the same technology as self-driving cars; is able to scan its environment at any time, and react to anything that would be in the way.”

The Stanley Robot has only been implemented in one of six lots at the airport, which includes 500 parking spots for Stan to operate at. According to an informational interview between the company and The Verge, a representative had explained how humans would have to supervise the machines for now (to check for any malfunctions). The goal, however, is to be able to do so remotely.

NatWest Launches Fingerprint Scanning Debit Card Trial in UK

Image Source: NatWest

NatWest – a bank located in the UK – is making debit card payment safer and simpler through use of a fingerprint scanner on their new NFC payment cards. The trial run allows 200 customers to begin utilizing the cards in order to make “contactless” payments, in which no signature or pin is required – just a tap on the card reading terminal.

While consumers in the UK can already make purchases using this method (with a £30 minimum), expensive purchases still require one to input their PIN after the card has been inserted into the card reading machine.

What makes the card safe to use is how user information is not stored within a bank database that could potentially be breached. Rather, the biometric data from one’s fingerprint is kept on the card itself which acts as a better defense against thieves potentially stealing financial assets through PIN access.

In order to activate the card, customers must visit a NatWest branch. NatWest’s new cards use Gemalto’s biometric technology that has been tested in the past in both 2017 and 2018. Such trials done in the past year also required customers to activate the card through visiting their local bank – a process that can slow down use of the card when consumers can’t activate it from the comfort of their home. In the future, Gemalto hopes to make this process easier.

With the implementation of Apple Pay or Google Pay and Face ID to make purchases, it seems redundant that fingerprint scanning cards are made available for use. However, with this technology, consumers without modern smartphones can engage in making quicker and safer purchases as well.

Foldable iPhones Could Be Apple’s Next Project

Apple’s recently published patent application has sparked some interest from iPhone enthusiasts. The patent images reveal blueprint images of an iPhone drawn with a folding mechanism concept. Apple’s patented design was filed last October, and while there is no official announcement of a foldable iPhone in the making, the patent’s images reveal that the company has also been thinking of its own take on the folding phone trend.

Image Source: Apple

Foldable phones have been a project many companies have been undertaking, such as Royole and their Flexpai phone, Xiaomi with their double folding prototype, and the recently released Samsung Galaxy Fold that’ll cost consumers a hefty price of $1980.

In a series of images provided within the published patent, Apple’s folding design relies upon use of hinge mechanisms either allowing the depicted device to fold in half or in thirds. Apple’s patent states how “[i]t would be desirable to be able to use [the] flexible display technology to provide improved electronic devices.”

This released patent information indicates that perhaps foldable iPhones may indeed be a device in development, although Apple has yet to confirm this. Back in March of 2018, CNBC had released a report that revealed how Apple was planning on releasing its own foldable phone in 2020.

Robot Arm Created by MIT Researchers Learns How to Play Jenga

Image Source: MIT

Researchers at MIT are experimenting with their ABB IRB 120 robot arm to push the limits on what technology can accomplish – this time using their complex machine to play the fun yet challenging Jenga block game.

The ABB IRB 120 utilizes a soft gripping mechanism to grab each block and place it accordingly, with the goal of keeping the tower in place and stable. The machine also includes a camera and force-sensing wrist joint to help calculate and maneuver each block to its correct position.

As Jennifer Chu from the MIT News Office explains, “the robot carefully pushes against a block, a computer takes in visual and tactile feedback from its camera and cuff, and compares these measurements to moves that the robot previously made. It also considers the outcomes of those moves — specifically, whether a block, in a certain configuration and pushed with a certain amount of force, was successfully extracted or not. In real-time, the robot then ‘learns’ whether to keep pushing or move to a new block, in order to keep the tower from falling.”

The robot arm was trained with 300 attempts that were clustered together based on identified measurements and possible outcomes of how the block was to react to the machine’s movement on each piece. This cluster training technique proved more efficient as it mimics the way humans also utilize this learning behavior.

Assistant Professor of MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering elaborates how “playing the game of Jenga…requires interactive perception and manipulation, where you have to go and touch the tower to learn how and when to move blocks,” essentially leaving the robot to learn through game piece interaction.

The researchers’ “tactile learning system” is not only useful in a game of Jenga, but can ultimately be used for the purposes of product assembly, as machines must use the right amount of force to carefully place product pieces together.

Microsoft Creates “Code Jumper” Programming Tool for Visually Impaired Children

Image Source: Microsoft

Microsoft is helping to redefine how coding and programming language is taught to kids, specifically assisting children with visual impairments through the creation of a physical programming tool.

Microsoft researchers at Cambridge, UK first put together a physical programming tool called Code Jumper–originally termed Project Torino–that started two years ago. Code Jumper seeks to bridge the gap between children with visual disabilities and coding participation. The gadget works by a learner physically connecting color coded pods in order to build code. One researcher Cecily Morrison had commented on potentially having this technology be used by all learners, explaining how “one of [the] key design principles was inclusion [for the project].” She continues, “[t]he idea was to create something that a whole mainstream class could use, and they could use together.”

Code Jumper is specifically tailored towards children who are aged 7 to 11. Through this programming tool, kids can make songs, create noises, and poetry, such programming concepts and skills ultimately useful and transferable to computer science careers down the line.

As Microsoft reporter Allison Linn writes in a blog, “The system…is designed to grow with kids. Once they have mastered the physical programming language, [Microsoft researchers] also have created an app that allows kids to transfer the coding…into text-based code…”

Senior researcher Nicolas Villar demonstrated Code Jumper to the leaders at the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), a non-profit organization that provides services for those who are visually impaired. From there, the APH and Microsoft have been working together to bring Code Jumper to students in Australia, Canada, India, the UK, and the US. As Tom Warren from The Verge reports, Code Jumper is expected to be available worldwide by 2023.

Wi-Fi 6 is Here, But It May Take a While Before You Can Actually Use It

Wireless connectivity is going through a big change as the time has come for an upgrade. This year’s CES Convention held in Las Vegas showcased routers with the newly implemented Wi-Fi 6 generation; however, devices including our laptops and smartphones have yet to support the new upgrade.

As of now, Wi-Fi 6 can only be used by a few devices, as other gadgets cannot yet reap the benefits of its faster speeds. The new generation of Wi-Fi has promised an improved connectivity to multiple devices that occupy one household, as well as better battery performance and endurance for routers under strenuous conditions.

It’s been a couple years since Wi-Fi 6 was announced, and the upgraded version is set to take off this year. The Wi-Fi Alliance is to certify devices in 2019, making sure the “technology meets industry agreed standards for interoperability and security.”

The CES Convention allowed for HP and Dell to announce their new laptops that will support Wi-Fi 6 in the coming year. Intel also spoke about its redesigned Thunderbolt 3 Wi-Fi 6 DL Boost chips to be used in laptops and PCs in 2019. Assuming all goes according to scheduled plan, the move to Wi-Fi 6 is expected to follow through in 2019 and 2020 when devices have incorporated upgraded chips to support the next generation Wi-Fi; however, the release of such devices could still take a while before you can take advantage of Wi-Fi 6’s benefits.