It’s Illegal to Share Your Passwords, Beware of Pokemon GO Malware… [Tech News Digest]
It’s technically illegal to share your passwords, Pokemon GO catches malware, the state of PC sales, Warner Bros feel the wrath of the FTC, and how Google predicted Pokemon GO.
Sharing Passwords Is a Federal Crime
Sharing your passwords is now technically a crime, and a federal one at that. This is thanks to judges of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal issuing an opinion that sharing passwords without authorization is a crime prosecutable under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). This is a federal law dealing with computer-related fraud.
This opinion formed part of the decision to uphold the case against David Nosal [PDF link], a former employee at Korn/Ferry International. He left the firm after being denied a promotion, but continued to access company databases using the login credentials of his assistant. The case hinged on the clause stating that a defendant “knowingly and with intent to defraud, accesses a protected computer without authorization”.
By opining that this is the case, the appeals court judges have technically turned millions of Americans into federal criminals. For example, signing into someone else’s Netflix or HBO GO account is now technically speaking a federal crime. As is logging into a relative’s Facebook account without their express permission.
We have used the word “technically” throughout because such innocent activities are highly unlikely to get you into any real trouble. For starters, the service in question would have to actively prosecute its users. Then, a judge and/or jury would have to convict you of this clearly terrible crime. So, it’s not going to happen, it’s just that it could if the letter of the law was followed without question.
Pokemon GO Malware Rears Its Ugly Head
As we discovered yesterday, Pokemon GO is a phenomenon at this juncture. It’s gained a foothold in the cultural psyche like no mobile game has since Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga. And yet the news stories surrounding Pokemon GO aren’t all positive. As with this one, all about Pokemon GO malware.
According to TechCrunch, security researchers at Proofpoint discovered the malicious Pokemon GO app uploaded as an APK file to an online storage locker. This malicious version of Pokemon GO mirrors the legitimate version in every way, except it also contains a remote access tool called Droidjack. If installed, this would give the malware authors control over a victim’s smartphone.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Pokemon GO malware has been found in the wild, because anything popular is almost immediately latched on by cybercriminals. However, the speed with which this has been developed and released online is both impressive and scary.
It should be noted that this hasn’t been uploaded to the Google Play Store, which is where most people would look for Pokemon GO. However, Nintendo hasn’t yet released Pokemon GO in Europe or Asia, so lots of people are looking for ways to get hold of the game through less official channels, hence the danger.
PC Sales Stabilize In the U.S.
The latest PC sales figures for Q2 2016 show a mix of good and bad news. Overall, in terms of worldwide shipments, the PC market has experienced another decline, with Gartner estimating a 5.2% drop, and IDC estimating a 4.5% drop. However, shipments in the U.S. have actually increased for the first time in over a year; by 1.4% or 4.9%, depending on who you believe.
Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, stated:
“The second and third quarter are typically PC buying season for the US public sectors. Positive second-quarter results could suggest healthy PC sales activities among the public sectors. There is an opportunity for a Windows 10 refresh among businesses, which we expect to see more toward the end of 2016 to the beginning of 2017.”
In terms of individual vendors, Lenovo retains the top spot, with HP in second and Dell in third. However, there’s a change in fourth place, with ASUS beating out Apple thanks to an impressive increase in sales. Apple is now in fifth place according to both Gartner and IDC. A new and improved MacBook Pro clearly cannot come soon enough for Apple and its fans.
Warner Bros Paid for Positive Reviews
The Federal Trade Commission has hauled Warner Bros. over the coals after finding that the publisher failed to disclose paid promotions. The publisher stands accused of paying prominent YouTubers to give Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor positive coverage without disclosing the nature of these deals.
Sponsored content is pretty standard across the web these days, but it must always be labeled as such. The FTC found that Warner Bros. failed to properly advertise these paid promotions, which is tantamount to deceiving customers. Warner Bros. has been warned not to pull similar stunts in the future, and the FTC will be watching.
Jessica Rich, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said:
“Consumers have the right to know if reviewers are providing their own opinions or paid sales pitches. Companies like Warner Brothers need to be straight with consumers in their online ad campaigns.”
Among those prominent YouTube celebrities caught up in this mess is PewDiePie, who has millions of subscribers and therefore the power to generate colossal interest in particular titles. No wonder he’s one of the lucky YouTubers earning millions of dollars every year.
Google Predicted Pokemon GO In 2014
And finally, on April 1 every year the internet is awash with April Fools’ Day jokes, some good, many bad. Google is the absolute master of April Fools’ Day, putting more effort into some of its jokes than other companies put into real press releases. And one particular Google April Fool has now been shown to be nothing less than genius.
One of Google’s April Fools’ Day jokes in 2014 was the Google Maps Pokemon Challenge. This challenged gamers to locate and capture Pokemon located around the world, which sounds an awful lot like Pokemon GO, which Nintendo launched two years later .
OK, so Pokemon GO isn’t quite as ambitious as Google’s effort, but the core idea is pretty much identical. So, does Nintendo owe Google a massive debt of gratitude? Or even some cold, hard cash? Please give your verdict in the comments below.
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
Do you share your passwords with anyone? If so, to what end? Have you downloaded Pokemon GO yet? Have you bought a new PC in the past 12 months? If so, which brand did you choose and why? How do you feel about sponsored content? Did Google give Nintendo the idea for Pokemon GO?
Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.
Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.
Image Credit: Christiaan Colen via Flickr