Microsoft Shows Off Secure Media Services to Breach-Wary Hollywood

Today’s topics include Microsoft courting Hollywood with secure media cloud services; lessons the IT industry can learn from Facebook’s artificial intelligence shut down; a privacy rights group that wants the FTC to probe Google’s tracking algorithm; and Microsoft's new keyboard that scans fingerprints for secure logins.

Retailers, banks and health care organizations aren't the only ones targeted by cyber-attackers. Movie studios, production companies and the entertainment industry at large are also increasingly at risk.

Microsoft hopes to relieve some of the pressure with its slate of secure, cloud-based media services. During the SIGGRAPH 2017 computer graphics conference in Los Angeles this week, Microsoft demonstrated how its security-enhancing Azure cloud services can make it tougher for attackers to gain authorized access to movie-making assets.

In April, a hacker group called The Dark Overlord leaked episodes of Netflix's hit show “Orange Is the New Black” after Netflix declined to pay the attackers a ransom.

On July 31, there were news reports of a major cyber-attack resulting in a data breach at HBO. This all follows the high-profile attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014 that caused $35 million in losses.

If you saw the first reports about Facebook’s artificial intelligence chatbots, you might believe that the robot revolution was about to overthrow human civilization.

The reports said that the bots were talking among themselves using a language that humans could not understand.

However, this wasn’t a surprise. In a recent blog post, Facebook discusses how researchers have been teaching an AI program how to negotiate. While the bots started out talking to each other in English, that quickly changed to a series of words that reflected meaning to the bots, but not to the humans doing the research.

The reason for this language development isn’t that the AI software is taking over, but rather that its priorities are set for it to perform with maximum efficiency. The study found that when the agents were communicating with humans in an actual negotiation session, the humans couldn’t tell that they were talking to a robot.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to investigate a Google advertising program that it says links individuals' in-store purchases with their online activity.

In a complaint filed with the FTC, the Washington, D.C.-based EPIC accused Google of collecting personal information from billions of credit and debit card transactions and then tying that data to the product and location searches conducted by internet users.

In an emailed statement to eWEEK, a Google representative expressed disappointment over what it claimed were several inaccuracies in EPIC's portrayal of Google's Store Sales Measurement program.

All payment card data that Google collects is encrypted and aggregated, and the company does not receive or share any identifiable card information, the company claims.

Microsoft has incorporated a fingerprint reader into its latest premium keyboard, a move the company hopes will help users improve security and log into their favorite accounts faster.

Descriptively named the Microsoft Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID, the recently released input device features a "hidden" biometric scanner, according to the company. Microsoft packed the fingerprint reader into a seemingly conventional key, meaning there is no telltale sensor strip to give away its presence or otherwise mar the keyboard's sleek aesthetics.

But upon closer inspection, a fingerprint icon gives the sensor's position away, next to the right Alt key. The scanner works with Windows Hello, the biometrics security technology included in Windows 10.