The Sizzle

Issue 326 - Tuesday, 7th February 2017


Vizio's TVs were spying on people and selling that info to advertisers
Vizio's smart TVs, a popular budget-ish electronics brand in the USA, has been very very naughty with the personal data it collected from its customers. The FTC has slapped them with a relatively minor $2.2m fine for collecting data such as what you watch including stuff from devices connected to the TV, linked it to your IP address and sold all that to data aggregators and advertisers, all without telling anyone. They even added this stuff quietly to older TVs in updates. According to the FTC, Vizio collected "100 billion data points each day from millions of TVs". There's gotta be a decent sized market for dumb TVs that are just a big arse monitor with heaps of HDMI inputs - who wants this activity tracking monster in their home?

Jawbone ceases to make consumer products
Jawbone has called it quits on consumer devices. No more Jambox speakers. No more Up activity trackers. No more ERA Bluetooth headsets (I think they canned that years ago though). Instead of high volume, low margin gear that's knocked off by some dude in Shenzhen within 30 minutes, Jawbone will be focusing on medical uses of technology. Apparently Fitbit tried to buy Jawbone, but Jawbone hates Fitbit so much that they told them to piss off. If you've got your data stashed in any of their apps, now might be the time to export it somewhere else before they inevitably shut their online services down.

Silicon Valley tech companies unite to support suing Trump's travel ban
Just under 100 tech companies have pooled their big brains and even bigger wallets together to sign on to a court filing against El Presidente Trump's harsh new immigration executive order. Facebook, Apple, Google, Atlassian, Box, Airbnb, eBay, Intel, etc. etc. chucked their name on it. They didn't launch the court proceedings against the President, but they latched on to an "amicus brief", which is like an "oh yeah, me too, I totally agree with this" - the judge did say Trump's ban is bogus, so I guess the weight of all these mighty American corporations worked.

The UK is loving electric cars right now
4.2% of all new car sales during January 2017 in the UK, are pure electric. No surprise really, as they have loads of cars to choose from and charging stations are popping up left right and centre - even Shell is getting in on the EV love. Combined with very strict emissions rules that can practically only be met with electric cars and cash EV incentives from the government, it's almost as if they want electric cars there? I wonder how it feels to have a federal government supportive of electric cars and reducing pollution, I'm Australian, I wouldn't know.

Mandatory data breach reporting law introduced into parliament
And on the topic of our government, a data breach notification law is getting the sausage treatment over in parliament right now. The law, designed to make companies fess up in public when they know they've been hacked has bipartisan support in the lower house. The fine for not disclosing a hack is a max of $360,000 for individuals and $1.8m for organisations. It's a bit complex - with all the definitions of what exactly is a hack and how aware a company is or should have been of a hack in order to be liable, so if you think you need to give a shit about this sort of thing, read the 6 page outline of the law. Yeah it's boring, but it's good to cover your arse.


Australian Signals Directorate has new guidelines on how not to get hacked
If you want to prevent having to report a hack where you work, read the Australian Signals Directorate's latest guidelines (Feb 2017) on how to mitigate cyber attacks. The main recommendations are install the latest security patches, restrict who has admin access and whitelist allowable apps on any machines you run. I would hope a lot of this is common sense to any competent sys admin or IT worker. It's probably more useful as a thing to give to your boss to go "look mate, I have to do all this tedious shit so we don't get owned by the Chinese or Russians. The fucking Army said so, do you know more about cyber attacks than the Army? Didn't think so." Good luck defending your systems from our enemies, patriot.

The Grugq explains how Russia is gonna hack the French election and why
Someone who really needs to listen to the ASD's suggestions are anyone involved with the upcoming French presidential election. Russia has a big interest in who ends up leading France (a major player in the EU, which hates Russia and Russia hates back) and as we know from the US election, aren't afraid of hacking into anything with a pulse in order to obtain info that can be used against people. This piece from The Grugq, a fascinating guy with loads of knowledge on state surveillance, explains how technology opens up a whole new way to influence a country at the ballot box. Wikileaks is basically a Russian pawn now - oh Julian, mate, what are you doing?

Another eBay 20% off sale & cheap as 6TB HDDs
There's another 20% off sale on eBay. Here's some stuff the stingy Ozbargainers found: Samsung 960 Evo 1TB and 512GB NVMe SSDs for $604/$311. MSI GTX1070 graphics card for $583. Xiaomi Power Bank 2 10,000mAH battery (with QC2.0 in and out support) delivered from an AU store, for $26. 32GB Apple TV for $215. iPhone 7 for $943 (the 32GB model, some 256GB ones left as well for $1183). Unrelated to the eBay sale, Apple is giving students a $100 gift card for certain purchases made off the educational Apple Store. Saving the best deal for last - here's some cheap as fuck 6TB Toshiba enterprise HDDs for only $225 each. I purchased two.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Like The Sizzle? Like it on Facebook!