'ShadowBrokers' Hacker Group Releases NSA Exploits After Auction Fails

Read more about the stories in today's news:Hacker Group 'ShadowBrokers' Release NSA Exploits After Auction FailsGoogle Simplifying Distribution of Custom Android Apps in Play StoreMicrosoft's New StaffHub Office 365 App Helps Workers Schedule ShiftsMicrosoft Acquires Maluuba for AI-Enabled 'Literate Machines'

Today's topics include the release of 61 files by the hacking group ShadowBrokers that it claims contain exploit tools used by the National Security Agency, new Google Play Store's features that make it easier to distribute in-house and custom Android apps, Microsoft’s launch of its new StaffHub scheduling app on Office 365 and Microsoft’s acquisition of Canadian artificial intelligence firm Maluuba.

The ShadowBrokers, a hacking group, pledged to shut down their operation and go dark on Jan. 12. But as a final act of spite the group released 61 files from a cache of hundreds of programs allegedly belonging to an exploitation framework used by the U.S. National Security Agency.

The files reportedly include programs for compromising systems and circumventing defensive software, including antivirus programs.

The group released the files because many—44, according to security experts—could be detected by at least one antivirus program, the group said in a statement posted online.

Google is updating some features on its Google Play Store so enterprises can more easily use the app to distribute in-house and custom developed Android applications to their employees.

Google Play offers a so-called Private Channel feature that lets Google apps administrators host internal Android applications and control access to specific users or groups of users.

Organizations that set up a Private Channel on Google Play get additional benefits such as user authentication along with malware and virus detection.

The updates announced this week will become available Jan. 31 and are designed to make enterprise applications distributed through Play Store more easily discoverable and accessible to end users.

Microsoft officially launched a new Office 365 app this week called StaffHub that helps businesses with so-called deskless workers manage schedules on the fly and without having to scramble to update an Excel worksheet or whiteboard when an employee requests a shift change.

Not everyone who punches a clock at the start of the workday settles into an office or cubicle. Microsoft estimates that there are more than 500 million workers toiling away at hotels, retailers, restaurants and other service-oriented businesses around the globe.

By and large, they rarely log into a PC at work to access, update and share company information, meaning they often rely on paper-based processes to fill out and revise work schedules.

StaffHub is designed for these workers. It is available to customers with Office 365 K1, E1, E3 or E5 plans. It allows managers to publish and manage shift schedules on the web.

Microsoft today announced it had acquired Maluuba, a Canadian artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing technology firm. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Citing the company's progress in speech and image recognition, Microsoft is now setting its sights on "literate machines," according to Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft's Artificial Intelligence and Research Group.

"Maluuba's expertise in deep learning and reinforcement learning for question-answering and decision-making systems will help us advance our strategy to democratize AI and to make it accessible and valuable to everyone—consumers, businesses and developers," said Shum in a Jan. 13 announcement.

Microsoft envisions creating AI-enabled systems that can absorb information and communicate their findings in ways people share information with one another.