2011 was a year of hope for Google. Their biggest prestige project, Google+, was to be made public in the middle of that year. It was supposed to upend the world of social networks, dethrone Facebook and, naturally, collect a plethora of user data. Whatever site users visited, they were inundated with ads for the new platform. But what could have been a record-breaking launch, was soon marred by glitches and growing disenchantment, which is why the once bleeding-edge network will now shut down permanently.
Let me start off by apologizing. As mentioned before, we're in the process of relocating to new headquarters and, consequently, a few things have fallen by the wayside, including the server who sends out nice notifications for new blog articles once a week. So in case you didn't receive any notifications for the past two weeks, please see the links at the bottom to access the previous two articles. The most recent entry also gave rise to this week's article that deals with the question of where the leaked email addresses and passwords have come from. As a case in point, I'll cover the momentous and well-documented Equifax hack that has achieved legendary status by now. Seldom has there been another case where highly sensitive information met with utter management failure!
Imagine a controversial YouTuber uploading a video. His connection is mediocre, the video is barely up, but comment and like buttons are already active. And before he knows it, the video already has 3,000 dislikes without having been watched by a single soul. This then causes the video to be downrated by YouTube and to eventually disappear from future suggestions. What didn't bother YouTube for years, has now caught their attention - because, for once, they're directly affected: They uploaded the most hated video of all time.
Usually, large (and illegal) email and password collections are an expensive commodity. Hackers, intelligence agencies and spammers tend to pay good money for extensive and detailed data sets on the dark web to support their activities. Recently, "Collection #1" was circulated and caught the eye of IT security expert Troy Hunt. It contained 773 million email addresses and 21 million passwords in clear text, much to the alarm of many users. One week later, it became apparent the data set was only the tip of the ice berg.
Forgery has been around since time immemorial. Comrades who had fallen out of grace with Stalin were removed from pictures, models are given a wasp waist and aunt Tilda suddenly loses weight via Photoshop. It's therefore fair to say digital images should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism. So far, videos have proven more resilient to manipulation, and if they were tampered with, the changes were easy to spot. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have now developed a method that may usher in a new era of forgery. Artificial intelligence now autonomously creates fakes that leave me speechless.