Hashtag Trending Jun.13- Reddit continues protest; S&P weighs in on AI ROI; Barracuda issues urgent notice to immediately decommission compromised devices

Major Reddit forums close shop as promised, Barracuda warns that the cure for a major problem means scrapping existing devices and a couple of stories put the growth and world dominance of AI in perspective. 

Hashtag Trending on Amazon Alexa Google Podcasts badge - 200 px wide


These and more top tech news stories from Hashtag Trending and Tech News Day. I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and Tech News Day in the US.

If you tried to log in to your favourite Reddit forum today, this is what you might see – “this forum is private.”

Today the moderators showed they meant business as they closed down hundreds and maybe thousands of subreddits. 

While many of the closures are supposedly only for the the day, two of the largest subreddits r/iphone and r/gaming have gone dark along with some of our favourite technology forums and these larger forums have stated that they may stay closed until Reddit changes its API policy.

All is not lost however. If you are interested in r/bugidentification or r/yourrage or r/whitepeopletwitter there are still some subreddits operating.  There are also some more “general interest” subreddits like r/worldnews, but I have to say, if you are looking for your daily fix of news from the larger forums, you might be disappointed. In fact, I’ve never seen the replacement for technology forums look so buggy.

And what the heck is a rhino beetle? 

Source: Reddit

A new S&P report puts the growth in AI into a new perspective. It suggests that while Generative AI will  enjoy significant growth in the coming years, the revenue it generates may still not get to the levels of earnings from existing services and hardware of big tech companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft. 

The reason is that AI providers themselves often operate in less lucrative business to business markets, while consumer products companies get the savings from using AI and are able to package into more profitable AI-powered services and devices, win more revenue and profits.  To put it in perspective, five years after smartphones hit the market, their global revenue was around $330 billion but that’s nearly 10 times the forecast for generative AI. 

As far back as 2012, five years after its launch, Apple’s iPhone alone brought in $78.7 billion in revenue. That’s more than double the total predicted market for all generative AI five years from now. 

Or we can look at Google’s advertising revenue which topped $224 billion in 2022. Even if Google’s Bard chatbot ends up dominating the market, it would be only a relatively minor contributor to Google’s overall income.

Experts note, however, that the greatest impact of Generative AI is likely to be its transformation of productivity and creativity in a wide range of businesses. 

Keith Rabois, general partner at Founders Fund, is quoted saying, “No VC returns there,” indicating that despite the media attention and growth, there may actually be a challenging financial landscape emerging for AI startups.

Sources include: Axios

While tech giants, including Meta, Dell, and Google, are promoting the benefits of in-person work and are trying to engineer or even demand a return to the office,  DevOps company Atlassian, is taking a different approach. The company warns that mandating a return to the office could negatively impact worker morale, increase staff turnover, and potentially hinder innovation.

Scott Farquhar, co-CEO and co-founder of Atlassian, said recently that, “Companies tying butts in seats to performance, or guilting their employees into charitable behavior, is not only disingenuous but harmful. By making these decisions, companies are stunting innovation, limiting opportunities to the hands of the few, and degrading the one thing they care about – connection.”

Atlassian’s workforce, which exceeds 10,000, is allowed to choose where they work. Farquhar estimates that around 40 percent live more than two hours from their nearest office. He also shares that 91 percent of his staff cite the flexibility to work remotely or from an office as “important reasons” for staying with the organization, and 92 percent say it allows them to do their best work.

In contrast, Amazon has asked its 300,000 corporate workers to return to the office for “at least” three days a week. Meta and Dell have also expressed a preference for in-person work, with Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg stating that “engineers perform better in person.”

Farquhar concludes by saying, “We’re not taking attendance and it’s working for us. Employee productivity, retention, and happiness are up. And from our perspective, strict mandates miss what work should be about: good work.”

Sources include: The Register

A former Samsung executive, whose name has not been disclosed, has been charged by prosecutors in the Suwon District with allegedly stealing semiconductor plant blueprints and technology from Samsung. This data theft reportedly cost Samsung as much as $230 million.

The accused, who had been a vice president of another Korean chipmaker SK Hynix, allegedly stole the information between 2018 and 2019. His plan was to build a semiconductor plant in Xi’an, China, about a mile from an existing Samsung plant. He hired 200 employees from SK Hynix and Samsung to obtain their trade secrets.

The executive also tried to partner with an unnamed Taiwanese electronics manufacturing company who pledged $6.2 billion to build the new semiconductor plant. The partnership fell through, but the executive still managed to get about $358 million from Chinese investors, which was used to create prototypes in a plant in Chengdu, China. This plant was also reported to be built using stolen Samsung information.

The prosecutor’s office stated, “It’s a grave crime that could deal a heavy blow to our economic security by shaking the foundation of the domestic chip industry at a time of intensifying competition in chip manufacturing.” Six co-conspirators, including one Samsung sub-contractor, were also charged.

Sources include: Engadget

Barracuda Networks has sent an urgent notice to customers to immediately decommission and replace all of what they have identified as compromised devices.

Barracuda had previously said that users could patch the vulnerable Email Security Gateway (ESG) appliances. However, an update issued this week stated that the hardware “must be immediately replaced regardless of patch version level.” It said, “If you have not replaced your appliance after receiving notice in your UI, contact support now.”

The incident has affected “approximately 5 per cent of active ESG appliances worldwide” which  “have shown any evidence of known indicators of compromise due to the vulnerability,” according to a company representative.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency had first reported that a vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2023-2868, was being exploited by hackers to remotely execute system commands on Barracuda hardware. Then in May, Barracuda reported that it issued two separate patches to fix the flaw.

Rapid7, a cybersecurity firm, reported that its incident response teams are currently investigating the exploitation of ESG appliances dating back to at least November 2022. They have identified malicious activity “with the most recent communication with threat actor infrastructure observed in May 2023.”

Mike Parkin from a firm called Vulcan Cyber suggested that the switch from patching to entirely replacing devices was likely made because investigations uncovered that hackers were able to make deeper changes to the firmware on the device that a patch might not easily or fully correct.

Sources include: The Record

In a recent article by Daryna Antoniuk for The Record, a group of pro-Ukrainian hacktivists known as the Cyber Anarchy Squad has claimed responsibility for a “massive” cyberattack on Infotel, a Russian internet and telecommunications company used mostly by banks and online stores.

Infotel confirmed the cyber operation on its website, stating, “We inform you that as a result of a massive hacker attack on the Infotel network, part of the network equipment was damaged. Restoration work is currently underway.” At the time of writing, some of the services listed on its website are still unavailable.

The Moscow-based company provides services to Russia’s Central Bank and connects it to local banks, financial companies, and online stores. The attack may cause issues for Russian businesses in accessing banking systems and making payments, according to the hackers.

The hackers claimed, “We have completely destroyed their infrastructure. There is nothing left alive. Let them try to restore it now, but their chances are as slim as finding an easy life in Russia.” They also claim to have accessed certain intelligence, including a list of customers and their email correspondences.

This attack stands out from the many small-scale campaigns launched by Ukrainian hackers due to the apparent damages inflicted on both the company’s operations and its clients. The ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia has seen a cyber tit-for-tat, with the most common types of cyberattacks involving distributed denial-of-service, defacements, and data leaks.

But this recent attack takes this to a new level and although it’s part of the war between Russia and Ukraine, these attack methods find their way into use by others not involved in this conflict. 

Sources include: The Record

The concept of the technological singularity, a point at which AI becomes self-aware and more powerful than humankind, has garnered attention in Silicon Valley as AI continues to transform business and society.

The idea of a singularity, when AI not only vastly exceeds human intelligence but also becomes aware and to some sentient, is seen by some as an irreversible technological shift. Some even envision it as a path to an AI extinction event, while others imagine a merging of humans and machines, leading to a form of immortality that transcends time and biology.

These predictions are certainly alarming and are coming from some somewhat credible sources.

But there is another school of thought that says  the threat level is exaggerated. 

Ryan Heath, writing in Axios Login, takes a contrarian view. He notes that innovators, researchers, and policymakers may marvel at advances in generative AI, but experts are uncertain about where we’ll be next month, let alone credibly mapping a timeline for reaching singularity and immortality.

Ryan takes the position that any God-like AI would also likely face a global backlash. Practical barriers such as computing and energy capacity are limiters. He notes that we’re years away from having the quantum computing or nuclear fusion energy that might be needed to power a singularity-style AI entity.

The concept of the singularity still captures the imagination. It has been part of science fiction writing for years. The out-of-control AI was popularized by Arthur C. Clarke in his book 2001, but he was not alone. Author Vernor Vinge first wrote about a singularity in 1993. The idea was later popularized by inventor and entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil in his 2005 book, “The Singularity is Near.”

But Heath cautions that Silicon Valley’s loudest voices often make extreme predictions, and it’s worth treating any extreme claims skeptically. 

Oh, come on, when did any technological development get so over-hyped that we should start becoming skeptical?

We have a link to the full article in the text version of this podcast at itworldcanada.com/podcasts. Read it and decide for yourself.

Sources include: Axios

And that’s the top tech news stories for today. 

Links to all of the stories can be found in the text version of this podcast at itworldcanada.com/podcasts 

Hashtag Trending goes to air five days a week with a special weekend interview episode called Hashtag Trending, the Weekend Edition.  You can find us on Google, Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. We’re also on YouTube five days a week with a video newscast only there we are called Tech News Day.

We love to hear your comments.  Find me on Linked In, Twitter or on our new Mastodon site technews.social where I’m @therealjimlove.

Or if that’s too much to remember, just go to the article at itworldcanada.com/podcasts and you’ll find a text version with additional links and references.  Click on the x or the check under the article and we promise that the only sentient being who will read it will be a human being. We read it all and use it to try to serve you better.

Have a Terrific Tuesday!

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

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.

Follow this Podcast

More #Hashtag Trending