Hashtag Trending Aug.14- Microsoft to cease support for Russian users; Security agencies announce top most exploited vulnerabilities; U.S. tech companies frustrated with UK’s regulations

Microsoft says nyet to continued support for Russian users of its programs. Security agencies announce the top 12 most exploited vulnerabilities of the past year. The BBC says that tech companies are souring on the UK because of the amount of new regulation.

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These stories and more as we bring you the top tech news stories on today’s Hashtag Trending.  

I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and Tech News Day in the US. Happy Monday Morning. 

Microsoft has announced that it will cease renewing licenses for its products to Russian companies starting in October, in line with sanctions imposed against Russia due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. 

In a letter sent to Russian businesses, Microsoft stated that it will no longer process payments via wire transfer to local bank accounts for its services in Russia, giving customers two months to find alternative vendors. 

This move follows Microsoft’s suspension of product and service sales in Russia in March of last year, with plans to gradually reduce its presence in the country. 

Forbes Russia estimates that up to 90 per cent of corporate clients in Russia still use Microsoft products, and without updates, Russian services will be more vulnerable to cyberattacks. The lack of alternatives may also lead to increased use of pirated tools. 

Meanwhile, the Russian government is working on developing domestic technologies to replace popular Western products, but these alternatives are still in development and not widely adopted.

Sources include: The Record

Several major U.S. tech companies are expressing frustration with the UK’s regulatory environment, reaching what some describe as a “tipping point” that could lead them to exit the UK market. The upcoming Online Safety Bill, which imposes strict rules on social media content and includes a controversial proposal regarding encrypted messages, has particularly drawn the ire of companies like WhatsApp and Signal. 

The Digital Markets Bill and proposed amendments to the Investigatory Powers Act have also caused concern. 

While some see the UK’s regulatory efforts as necessary for accountability, others, including tech veterans and cybersecurity experts, worry that the legislation is ill-informed and risks valuable services. 

Some companies have abandoned plans to open head offices in the UK and are instead opening in Europe.

The UK government insists it has worked closely with industry experts in developing these bills, but the tension between Big Tech and regulation continues to grow.

Sources include: BBC News

The Five Eyes intelligence alliance, along with the FBI, CISA, and NSA, has published a list of the top 12 most exploited vulnerabilities in 2022. 

Surprisingly, the report highlights that hackers often prefer older, unpatched security flaws, one dating back to 2018. 

Out of the 12 listed vulnerabilities, only five were discovered in 2022. 

The list includes flaws in Microsoft, VMWare, Atlassian, Fortinet, Zoho, F5 Networks, and Apache. 

The longest exploited vulnerability on the list was Fortinet’s FortiOS and FortiProxy SSL VPN credential exposure critical vulnerability CVE-2018-13379, exploited since 2018. 

The report also included the top 30 routinely exploited software flaws in 2022. The agencies advised software vendors and developers to adopt secure practices and implement secure configurations, while end-user organizations should apply timely mitigations to improve their cybersecurity posture. Which is fancy talk for upgrade your software.

Sources include: CPO Magazine

An Australian woman, Suzie Cheiko, was fired from her position as a consultant at Insurance Australia Group (IAG) after 18 years of service, following the company’s use of keystroke technology to monitor her productivity. 

The technology revealed that Cheiko often started work late and finished early to make up for it, with an average of 54 keyboard presses per hour, leading to her dismissal. The Fair Work Commission (FWC) dismissed her unfair dismissal application, and she has since become a micro-influencer on TikTok. 

Cheiko has labeled her firing as a “premeditated attack,” but the verdict was considered fair despite the controversial monitoring methods used.

Sources include: Bored Panda

A former vice president at Salesforce, Karl Wirth, has filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging that Salesforce lied about the capabilities of its Customer Data Platform (CDP) software, Genie. 

The software was promoted as being able to process and organize customer data in “real-time,” or “milliseconds.” However, Wirth claims that this was false advertising, as many of the processes took several hours to complete. 

He also alleges that the company retaliated against him for raising concerns about the product’s claims. 

According to the lawsuit, Wirth acted as a whistleblower, bringing up his concerns to key executives, and was fired hours after a meeting with Salesforce’s CTO during which he expressed his concerns. He is now seeking monetary damages for what the lawsuit calls Salesforce’s “whistleblower retaliation.”

Sources include: Business Insider

The pandemic era’s virtual event software bubble has burst.  Hopin, once valued at $7.8 billion, sold its virtual event software to RingCentral for a mere $15 million. The company’s focus has now shifted to video streaming, and its valuation has plummeted to around $400 million. Smaller competitors like Run the World have also sold to Toronto’s EventMobi for an undisclosed amount. 

These developments mark a stark contrast to the early days of the pandemic when virtual event platforms like Hopin boomed, and experts predicted a never-ending explosion of virtual events. Hopin alone raised over $1 billion in venture capital. However, the market has shifted, and companies like Verizon are shuttering their virtual meeting platforms, while Zoom is calling employees back to the office. 

Sources include: Axios

A new AI offering called MetaGPT is trending on GitHub with over 20,000 stars so far.  It’s being billed as a multi-agent framework designed to enhance collaboration between different programs. 

Unlike previous agents that required multiple agents to complete a task, MetaGPT takes a one-line requirement and outputs user stories, competitive analysis, requirements, data structures, APIs, and documents. 

It’s been described as like having a virtual software company with roles like product manager, project manager, software architect, and software engineer, all run by GPT-4. MetaGPT can build anything from a version of Flappy Bird to complex software, generating files, charts, and diagrams that would typically take days to produce. 

It’s seen as more complete than other agents like AutoGPT, LangChain, and AgentVerse, covering a wider range of tasks and offering a full set of tools for managing and executing projects. Though it might need adjustments and debugging, MetaGPT’s ability to rapidly generate code and documentation have certainly made it worth looking at.

Sources include: Analytics India Magazine

Google has announced a significant artificial intelligence (AI) advancement that could substantially decrease the environmental effects of air travel. 

In this clever approach, collaborating with an airline and data provider, Google has developed an AI system aimed at reducing contrails, the white lines that form behind planes. 

Contrails are created when soot from plane exhaust turns into ice, trapping heat in the atmosphere, contributing to more than a third of the global warming impact of flying, according to the UN.

Google’s researchers collected satellite imagery, weather, and flight path data, feeding it into the AI system to generate contrail-avoiding routes for pilots. 

After conducting 70 test flights over six months, the contrails produced were reduced by 54 per cent. However, the flights did burn 2 per cent more fuel, but Google sees this as a selective choice one that could be worked out.

The company is optimistic about working with the aviation industry to make contrail avoidance a reality in the coming years, calling it a “cost-effective, scalable solution to reduce the climate impact of flying.” However, since airlines are not currently charged for their climate impact, there’s no clear indication that they would choose these environmentally friendly routes.  

Are you listening out there politicians?  This should be a no-brainer.  Which, given the tech abilities of some politicians, makes it right up their alley. 

Was that inside voice or my outside voice?

Sources include: Yahoo Finance UK

Those are the top tech news stories for today.  Hashtag Trending goes to air 5 days a week with a special weekend interview show we call “the Weekend Edition.”

You can get us anywhere you get audio podcasts and there is a copy of the show notes at itworldcanada.com/podcasts 

If you want to catch up on these and other news more quickly, you can read these stories and more at TechNewsDay.com and some of them at ITWorldCanada.com on the home page.

It’s always great to hear from you.  It lets me know we are on the right track. Or possibly, on the wrong track.

So please go to the article at itworldcanada.com/podcasts –  and you’ll find a text edition there. Click on the x or the check mark but tell me what you think.  We promise we won’t count your keystrokes!

To those who have reached out – my sincere thanks. I answer each and every email that comes to me. It is so great to hear from you. 

I’m your host, Jim Love. Have a Marvelous Monday!

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Jim Love
Jim Lovehttp://www.itworldcanada.com/
I've been in IT and business for over 30 years. I worked my way up, literally from the mail room and I've done every job from mail clerk to CEO. Today I'm CIO of a great company - IT World Canada - Canada's leading ICT publisher.

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