BlackBerry Sues Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApps Over Messaging Tech

Today’s topics include BlackBerry suing Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp for patent infringement; the SEC regulating crypto-currency exchanges and coin offerings; Google using artificial intelligence to evaluate drone images for the Department of Defense; and a Kaspersky Lab report finding mobile malware attacks grew in 2017.

BlackBerry is suing Facebook and its Instagram and WhatsApp subsidiaries, claiming these companies are infringing on messaging patents. The seven-count, 117-page lawsuit filed March 6 alleges that Facebook and its subsidiaries "[infringe on] a number of the innovative security, user interface, and functionality enhancing features” that BlackBerry uses in its products.

These features include “improved cryptographic techniques that establish and maintain security over user messages and provide the requisite trust necessary for user adoption of a messaging platform for their communication needs," as well as user interface improvements for mobile devices. That would include the use of timestamps in messages and the ability to tag friends and family in social media photographs.

BlackBerry also claims infringement on patents for features "allowing users to more easily interact while playing electronic games," while also enabling status updates and reducing power consumption and improving battery life in mobile devices.

On March 7, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton announced that the agency’s enforcement branch will begin looking at crypto-currency exchanges as well as at initial coin offerings of crypto-currencies. The statement singled out trading platforms that treat those currencies as digital assets that are then traded in a manner similar to securities.

The SEC is not banning trading in crypto-currencies or the purchase of individual currencies. They are, rather, providing a warning to platforms that package and sell crypto-currencies in a manner similar to securities.

The warning also applies to the packaging of initial coin offerings in which crypto-currencies are used as a way to raise investment funds.

This week Gizmodo reported that Google is quietly partnering with Defense Department group Project Maven to help the Pentagon develop artificial intelligence technology for analyzing footage gathered by aerial drones. A primary mission for the group is to speed up the evaluation of the massive number of photos and videos that U.S. military drones are gathering daily in support of the Defeat-ISIS campaign.

The Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team—as Project Maven is also known—has been tasked with providing the military with computer vision algorithms for better detecting and classifying objects in drone footage. The goal is to reduce human involvement in full-motion video analysis, to increase actionable intelligence and enhance decision-making capabilities.

A Google spokesman on March 7 confirmed the company's work on the project, but downplayed its significance, saying the technology that Google is helping with "flags images for human review, and is for non-offensive uses only."

Security firm Kaspersky Lab released its annual Mobile Malware Evolution report on March 7, revealing that there was a decline in the volume of multiple types of mobile malware threats in 2017, though the overall number of mobile malware attacks grew.

Kaspersky Lab mobile security products reported 42.7 million attempted mobile malware attacks in 2017, up from 40 million in 2016. However, mobile banking Trojans and mobile advertising Trojans were among the attack types that declined in 2017. Kaspersky Lab security analysts were not surprised by the decline in mobile advertising Trojans.

"We were expecting it because of growth of share devices running newer Android versions," Roman Unuchek, senior malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab, told eWEEK.