This Week In Tech And Telco: Hacks And Mergers

Welcome back to your weekly dose of tech and telco news. The first blog of August! Can you believe we're in the eighth month of the year already? Me neither.

Anyway, here's what you've missed this week:

Hackers target telecoms and energy

A new hacking group – named Hexane by the security firm, Dragos, that discovered it – has been targeting telecoms and oil companies across Africa and the Middle East.

“Targeting telecommunications firms can potentially enable third-party access to downstream refining or upstream production operations via cellular networks,” Casey Brooks, a senior adversary hunter at Dragos, told TechCrunch.

However, Dragos couldn't go into much detail about the hackers, but TechCrunch speculated “devices, firmware, or telecommunications networks” in the supply chain are being targeted.

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Hexane has been targeting telecoms and oil companies

T-Mobile/Sprint merger given the go-ahead by DOJ

The US Department of Justice has finally given the T-Mobile and Sprint merger the go-ahead. The companies must however spin off several assets to Dish Network, a TV provider.

But the merger needs more than the DOJ's approval, with 13 states and the District of Columbia suing the companies in the hope of blocking the move.

Attorneys General from states including California, Hawaii, Michigan, Virginia and now Texas are involved in the challenge.

Why the T-Mobile-Sprint merger has hurdles beyond DOJ approval | CNBC

Surprise surprise, humans are listening to your conversations with Siri (or each other)

Apple is the latest of big tech firms to hit the headlines for privacy concerns, following revelations that humans listen to Siri interactions.

The company, which claims “what happens on the iPhone, stays on the iPhone”, uses staffers and contractors to listen to recordings for quality control, or “grading”.

Humans are required to flag false triggers but are given no direction on what to do with what they’ve heard. There is little consideration for invasions of privacy.

While the recordings are anonymized, a whistle blower told The Guardian that they are easily identifiable.

While today we may be normalized to privacy invasions, the biggest controversy here stems from the fact Apple hasn't been transparent – even though it's a small percentage of recordings, thus customers, those affected aren't given any real choice to opt out.

This morning (January 1st, 2018) i got a sweet unusual message from Siri on my Apple Watch. It said:“Happy New Year, Fikri!” Tech and telco listening in
Humans are listening to you conversations with Siri. Photographer: Fikri Rasyid | Source: Unsplash

Huawei takes over Apple in global shipments

Despite US sanctions on the Chinese phone maker, Huawei has taken over Apple for the number two spot in mobile phone demand. Its share of the market has increased to 17.2% from 15.5%, on an 8% increase in unit sales to 58.7 million units.

Apple remains the number three player, but saw its market share slip to 11.1% from 11.8% a year ago.

Samsung, holding on to the top spot, has 22.3% of the market in the quarter, up from 20.4% a year ago. Samsung shipped 76.3 million units, up 7% from last year.

Huawei overtook Apple to second place. Photographer: Jonathan Kemper | Source: Unsplash

Preventing data misuse in politics

US Senator Dianne Feinstein has introduced a new bill focused on consumer privacy rights, hoping she can help prevent the next Cambridge Analytica scandal.

“Voter Privacy Act” would empower voters with new authority over how their data is collected and used by political campaigns. If approved, campaigns would be required to notify you if they obtained your data through a data broker and allow you to both access and delete it from their databases.

Voters would also be able to ask platforms like Facebook and Google to stop sharing their data with these campaigns.

“Voter Privacy Act” to prevent data misuse in elections. Photographer: Markus Spiske | Source: Unsplash

What else are we reading?

  • Venezuela is using a digital wallet app called Jetman Pay to convert tax revenue from one of the country’s main airports into Bitcoin to avoid US sanctions. Is crypto the answer to the country’s hyper-inflation? (The Next Web)
  • Tuesday Bytes from Telecom Ramblings is always a great way to keep up to date with telco. This week, it discusses AT&T, CoreSite, Tata, Seacom. (Telecom Ramblings)
  • Vodafone has completely moved away from New Zealand, selling its Kiwi business to a consortium of investors for €2.1 billion. (Telecoms)

And that's all for now. Let us know what you like and we should do more of, what you don't like so much, or anything that we missed out. See you next week, same time and place!

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