Hashtag Trending Jan.17- Microsoft opens copilot to companies of size; Increased visits to piracy sites; Open source and online hacking tools fueling supply chain attacks

Microsoft drops the requirement for having 300 users or more and opens co-pilot to companies of any size, there’s a huge increase in visits to “piracy sites”, Open source code and online hacking tools are fueling growth in supply chain attacks and  Apple is now number 1 in smartphone sales.

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All this and more in this edition of Hashtag Trending.

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

Microsoft has unveiled Copilot Pro, a premium subscription service for its AI tool, priced at $20 per month. One writer described it as “if Clippy went to get his MBA.” 

Copilot Pro is targeted at power users and creators, offering an advanced version of the free tier. It provides a unified AI experience across devices, including priority access to OpenAI’s GPT-4 Turbo during peak times. A standout feature is the enhanced AI image creation with Image Creator, boasting faster performance and more detailed images.

Additionally, Microsoft announced the Copilot GPT Builder, allowing users to create their own Copilot GPT with simple instructions, although the launch date remains unspecified. For mobile users, a Copilot app is now available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store, aiming to streamline services across devices. 

In a significant move for small businesses, Microsoft 365 will integrate Copilot without the previous 300-seat purchase minimum, and the Microsoft 365 mobile app will include Copilot, facilitating direct exports to Word or PDF documents.

Sources include: Gizmodo 

Online piracy, a long-standing issue since the dawn of the internet, has seen a notable increase in recent years. A new analysis by MUSO, a U.K.-based anti-piracy analyst, and Kearney, a consultancy, reveals a 12 per cent rise in visits to piracy websites since 2019. In 2023, these sites attracted a staggering 141 billion visits, averaging 386 million daily.

The United States and India lead in piracy numbers, but per-capita rates are higher in Europe and the Asia Pacific. The analysis shows an average of 34 visits per person in Asia in 2023, compared to 26 in North America. Christophe Firth of Kearney views this rise as both a concern and an opportunity for media companies to commercialize pirate users and reduce revenue loss.

Andy Chatterley, CEO of MUSO, attributes this increase to the proliferation of platforms and subscription fatigue. Users, overwhelmed by multiple subscriptions across various platforms, find piracy services offering a more seamless viewing experience. This trend is particularly evident in the growing normalization of piracy among new internet users, with movie piracy in India increasing by 80 per cent between 2022 and 2023.

Anime content, representing 25 per cent of pirated content globally last year, highlights the demand-driven nature of piracy. Chatterley suggests that understanding the audience’s content preferences can be valuable for streaming services. He emphasizes that many who access pirated content are not doing so for financial gain but out of a desire to access specific content.

The potential for the industry to recover revenue lost to piracy is significant. Firth suggests that reclaiming even a quarter of this lost revenue could boost the video-on-demand market by 4 per cent, or $24 billion. Addressing factors like cost, availability, and viewer experience could steer users away from piracy sites.

Sources include: Fast Company

A new report highlights a concerning trend in cybersecurity: the increasing use of open-source code and legitimate hacking tools in software supply chain attacks. These attacks, once rare and complex, have become more popular among various malicious actors, from nation-state groups to lower-level cybercriminals.

In 2023, there was a notable rise in the sharing of open-source tools and resources among attackers, making it easier to execute these sophisticated attacks. This collaboration has effectively lowered the barrier to entry for software supply chain attacks, as reported by cybersecurity company ReversingLabs. The company found a 28 per cent increase in malicious packages across major open-source repositories in the first nine months of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.

These malicious packages often contain code that helps hackers create backdoors, spread malware, and facilitate trojan horse attacks, while evading basic network monitoring tools. One notable campaign, “Operation Brainleeches,” involved phishing schemes based on packages hosted on the npm platform, complete with tools for email phishing campaigns.

The rise in supply chain attacks underscores the need for continuous auditing of technologies, scanning code for security flaws during development, and developing new software supply chain guidance. As malicious actors continue to evolve their tactics, these types of attacks are expected to remain a significant threat in 2024.

Sources include: Axios, Reversing Labs

In a remarkable shift in the smartphone market, Apple has clinched the top spot for the first time ever in 2023, according to market research firm IDC. Apple’s market share hit an all-time high of 20.1 per cent, marking a 3.7 per cent increase from 2022. This achievement is particularly notable given the higher price point of Apple products compared to its Android counterparts.

Samsung, previously leading the market, now trails at second place with a 19.4 per cent share, experiencing a 13.6 per cent decline in 2023. Other Android manufacturers like Xiaomi and Oppo also saw declines, with Xiaomi at 12.5 per cent and Oppo at 8.8 per cent. Interestingly, Transsion, a lesser-known brand dominant in emerging markets like Africa, emerged as a big winner, growing by 30 per cent and securing an 8.1 per cent market share.

Apple’s success is attributed to its strategy of selling premium devices, with its top-selling models being the high-priced iPhone 14 Pro Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14. 

In contrast, Android manufacturers typically lead market share by selling more affordable and mid-range phones. The average selling price (ASP) for Android phones was $250, while iPhones averaged $949 in Q2 2023. Apple’s dominance, despite its premium pricing strategy, underscores a growing trend towards high-end devices, propelled by aggressive trade-in offers and interest-free financing plans.

Sources include: Ars Technica 

Hashtag Trending goes to air 5 days a week with a special weekend interview show we call “the Weekend Edition.” 

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I’m your host Jim Love.  Have a Wonderful Wednesday.

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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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