Image captionLinkedIn has been told it must remove technical measures that prevent bots scraping the site
So you’re considering changing jobs and quietly make a couple of changes to your LinkedIn profile to ensure it is looking its best for any potential new employer.
But then a third-party service spots that change and alerts your bosses. Uh oh.
That’s the scenario LinkedIn has said it is trying to stop being possible. But a judge in San Francisco has just ruled it can do little to stop third-party companies monitoring LinkedIn’s huge trove of data.
LinkedIn must remove any technical limitations it has put in place to prevent the "scraping" of members' data, the court ruled. The BBC understands LinkedIn is considering an appeal.
"We’re disappointed in the court’s ruling," a spokeswoman said.
"This case is not over. We will continue to fight to protect our members' ability to control the information they make available on LinkedIn."
The case sets an interesting precedent over how the data you publish online can be monitored and used.
The row began in May when LinkedIn sent HiQ Labs a cease and desist letter demanding it stop trawling LinkedIn’s public profiles for data - something that takes place, according to HiQ’s website, roughly every two weeks.
Image copyrightHIQ LABS
Image captionHiQ Labs uses LinkedIn data to provide insight to companies about their employees
HiQ Labs offers what it describes as "a crystal ball that helps you determine skills gaps or turnover risks months ahead of time, and a platform that shows you how and where to focus your efforts”.
The firm does not monitor every LinkedIn user - just those working for companies that have engaged HiQ Lab’s services. The company told me it also does not offer a service that alerts bosses about an individual's profile changes.
LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft, said using its data in this way - to predict when staff might leave - was a breach of the site’s terms of service and also potentially of the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
"This is not acceptable,” Linkedin’s letter read.
But HiQ Labs, via a special section of its site set up to discuss the case, has dismissed LinkedIn’s claims of abuse. It said that as the profile information is public, and viewable without being logged in, it should not be “walled off".
"It is important to understand that HiQ doesn’t analyse private sections of LinkedIn,” a spokeswoman for HiQ Labs said via email on Monday.
“We only review public profile information. We don’t republish or sell the data we collect. We only use it as the basis for the valuable analysis we provide to employers.
"Moreover, LinkedIn doesn’t own the data contained in member profiles. It is information the members themselves have decided to display publicly, and it is available to anyone with access to a web browser."
Judge Edward Chen knocked back LinkedIn’s complaints, citing concerns about restrictions on a free and open internet.
He ruled that the CFAA did not apply as the decades-old law dealt with unauthorised access to closed systems, not publicly available data - and the law's authors could not possibly have envisioned such a scenario when drawing up the bill. (You’ll hear that often - this isn’t the first time an ancient law has been crowbarred into a modern dispute.)
Judge Chen also agreed with HiQ that LinkedIn could hinder competition by blocking the data.
The ruling leaves LinkedIn, and its users, in a tricky spot. The usefulness of LinkedIn is in part due to its data being easy to access. If you’re hunting for a job you naturally want people to be able to find you. But in doing so, you don’t want your information being used in ways you did not anticipate.
That’s what LinkedIn is arguing it is trying to protect, and this ruling makes it hard for users to have one without the other.
LinkedIn does work with third parties to share data and insights, the company told me, but the difference is that it's all within the terms of service members agreed to when they signed up to the site.
In contrast, HiQ Labs, and other third parties like it, use data in ways LinkedIn members have little control over - unless they make their LinkedIn profiles private.
The US-Norwegian company says it has already raised "several million dollars" for the project from Norwegian private investors.
However, it is still working with a US investment bank to secure the remaining necessary funds.
It is basing its record-setting claims on the amount of power it intends to draw on to run its computer servers.
Initially, Kolos' base would draw on about 70 megawatts of power.
However, within a decade, the firm intends to have added enough computer server modules to draw on more than 1,000 MW.
Amazon's data processing division is already thought to draw on about 1,000 MW of power in Ashburn, Virginia, however its servers are spread across the area rather than being clustered together into a single centre.
Facebook has operated its own large data centre about 385km (239 miles) from Ballangen at Lulea, Sweden since 2013. But it is limited to 120 MW.
Other giant single-site data centres also tend to use less than 200 MW.
When complete, the Ballangen development is set to cover 600,000 sq m (6.46m sq ft) and stretch over four storeys.
That is a bigger area than today's record-holder - a facility in Langfang, China - but slightly smaller than the final plan for a still-in-development centre in Nevada.
The Norwegian enterprise should benefit from the fact that large amounts of fibre optic cable were laid in the past alongside a railway built to transport mined iron ore to Sweden.
In more recent times, the EU and Norwegian government have invested in building large dams for hydroelectric projects. There are also several wind farms nearby.
"It's quite literally the lowest power cost in Europe - and 100% of the power is renewable on one of the most stable grids in the world," Kolos' co-chief executive Mark Robinson told the BBC.
"It's in a region of the planet that is naturally cool and has ideal humidity, so we can keep servers cool without having to artificially chill them," he added.
"It has unlimited access to fresh, clean cool water as a secondary chilling source.
"And there's a university nearby, which produces about 200 technology students a year - and the idea is to employ some of these."
When questioned about local sickness rates, Mr Robinson acknowledged that he had not been aware of the municipality's poor standing.
But he noted that the benefits to the local economy of hosting the centre could improve the situation.
Kolos says it already has the support of five local mayors, and Norway's climate and environment minister Vidar Helgesen will take part in a public meeting the firm has organised later this week.
"We want to see many projects come to fruition and I am supportive of this just as I am supportive of any other," Mr Helgesen told the BBC ahead of the event.
"We are not picking individual winners, but we have reduced our tariffs in order to welcome the establishment of data centres in Norway - and we welcome this initiative very much."
The major cloud infrastructure service providers - including Amazon, Microsoft and Google - have repeatedly cut their prices over recent years, putting pressure on other data centre operators.
Tech consultancy Gartner says this has meant private endeavours have needed to seek scale of their own in order to keep their prices competitive.
Image captionWater from nearby fjords will be used to keep the temperature inside the centre cool
"There's always a danger with this kind of thing that providers rush to build capacity that outstrips what the market requires," added David Groombridge, research director at tech consultancy Gartner.
"But in terms of data centres, it's hard to see consumer-driven demands dropping off and there's the promise of the internet-of-things, with millions of sensors generating information that will need to be processed.
"So, unless there are radical new technologies that come along very quickly to help compress data, we will need the resources that these kind of facilities provide."
Image captionSnap's disappointing earnings report contrasted with strong figures from Facebook last month
On Friday, another one bit the dust. As Snap's shares plunged following disappointing results, it became clear that the myth that a feisty young challenger to Facebook could topple the social media giant from its perch was just that - a myth.
Of course, the company behind Snapchat is still a very impressive young business, building an audience of 173 million mostly young daily users in just five years and changing the way they communicate, in fun and inventive ways.
But its future as an independent company looks uncertain, with talk of it being swallowed up by Google or another web giant.
The deep pockets of Facebook, which bought Instagram and WhatsApp, and has relentlessly copied any challenger it couldn't buy, meant that Snap was always going to struggle to deliver on the vision of rapid growth it outlined when marketing its shares earlier this year.
And that just adds to the growing sense that the days of creative destruction in the technology industry may be over, and that we are looking at a world where the big winners of the past decade - Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, or "Gafa" as this four-headed beast is sometimes described - will rule unchallenged.
Image captionInstagram introduced its Snapchat-like Stories feature a year ago
In its young life, Facebook has constantly been seen as under threat - and indeed it has fostered that view whenever there has been talk of curbing its power.
Just as it had left Bebo, MySpace and Friends Reunited in the dust, the story went, it too could soon be heading for obsolescence as fickle users turned to the new, new thing.
But the truth is the social media war is over and Facebook is the winner.
A few smaller players such as LinkedIn and Twitter and, yes, Snapchat will have substantial audiences but struggle to make much money.
But, apart from in China, the company that is now worth nearly $500bn (£385bn) will continue to be the biggest force in the way we communicate for the foreseeable future.
The other members of the Gafa quadrumvirate also look secure in their dominance.
Google won the battle for search on the desktop long ago, and has now become equally powerful on the mobile internet.
Amazon is the undisputed champion of online retailing and logistics and has built a lead in cloud computing.
And while Apple has a relatively small share of the global smartphone market, it has gobbled up most of the industry's profits for the past seven years.
Now, key trends in technology mean the giants are poised to grow immeasurably richer.
As advertising spending is aimed increasingly at phones, Google and Facebook already have most of the mobile ad revenue.
But it is in the use of artificial intelligence that the technology giants aim to cement their technological lead.
I was told recently that an AI researcher emerging from a top US university can command a salary of $500,000 a year in a first job.
It is not start-ups paying that kind of money but Facebook and Amazon.
Of course. you can find lots of brilliant artificial intelligence researchers in the UK - but many of them now work for American companies, with start-ups such as DeepMind and Swiftkey snapped up by Google and Microsoft respectively.
So, should we worry about the huge and growing power of these businesses?
Unsurprisingly, the companies still insist that at any moment they could be disrupted out of existence by a smart new start-up.
But, so far, American competition regulators have also been pretty relaxed, because they tend to focus mainly on whether consumers are paying excessive prices because of a lack of competition.
With social media and search giants offering excellent services for nothing, they see few causes for concern right now.
In Europe, regulators tend to be somewhat more sceptical about whether companies with monopoly powers deliver for consumers in the long run.
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMark Zuckerberg's social network is facing regulator scrutiny into its terms and conditions, but the investigation is at an early stage
That is why we have seen the EU take action against first Microsoft and now Google, where American regulators have mostly left them alone.
And while Europe's competition authorities insist that any action they take is based on law, not politics, there is undoubted concern among the continent's politicians about so much power over our lives being concentrated in the hands of a handful of companies based on America's West Coast.
So far, however, Facebook has been relatively untouched by this tougher regulatory approach, even if politicians complain about issues such as fake news and the presence of extremist content.
In the past year, we have seen it, arguably, play a key role in electing an American president, its global audience has risen above two billion, and it has now moved into video content, taking on YouTube and Netflix.
In an interview this weekend with the New York Times, the former Downing Street strategist turned Silicon Valley guru Steve Hilton said: "A lot of the foundational philosophical approaches of tech leaders are actually all about decentralisation of power."
Mark Zuckerberg may tell us that Facebook - where, incidentally, Mr Hilton's wife is now a senior executive - is all about giving power back to communities.
But increasingly it seems that wealth, influence and control of the key technology of our age, artificial intelligence, are being centralised at addresses in Menlo Park, Mountain View, Cupertino and Seattle.
Marcus Hutchins, the British researcher famous for halting the spread of the devastating WannaCry malware, has pleaded "not guilty" to accusations he created another notorious piece of malware: Kronos, Motherboard reported on Monday.
Hutchins, who normally lives in the UK, has been detained in the US since early August after the Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas. He was accused by the US government of creating and distributing Kronos, sending shockwaves through the online security industry.
According to Motherboard, he was released on bail, and entered his plea at a hearing in Milwaukee.
Hutchins' new lawyer, Brian Klein, said his client was not guilty of all six charges of creating and distributing Kronos.
Up until now, Hutchins was prevented from accessing the internet, had to surrender his passport, and needed to be monitored by GPS. Now he's permitted to leave the state, though not the country, and live elsewhere until his trial.
Motherboard reporter Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai tweeted the first photograph of Hutchins since his arrest:
Current guidelines no longer suggest passwords should be frequently changed, because people tend to respond by making only small alterations to their existing passwords - for example, changing "monkey1" into "monkey2"- which are relatively easy to deduce.
Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that it takes longer for computers to crack a random mix of words - such as "pig coffee wandered black" - than it does for them to guess a word with easy-to-remember substitutions - such as "br0k3n!".
Mr Burr's original advice was distributed by the US government's National Institute of Standards and Technology.
It recommended that organisations abandoned a policy of pushing their users into regular password resets, and that they should support the use of password managers - programs that securely store hundreds of different logins, avoiding the need to memorise each one.
"It's good that password advice is now being updated to be based on evidence," said Dr Steven Murdoch, from University College London.
"But there is still traditional advice in other areas of computer security being perpetuated despite us knowing it won't work.
"We need research to tell us what security advice will actually improve the situation, and for the government and companies to pay attention to results."
Fluent Design is the company's new design system that Microsoftcreated to take over all of Microsoft's products, from Windows 10, to Skype, to Xbox.
The idea behind it is to look at everything that's visual through five lenses: "Light," "Depth," "Motion," "Material," and "Scale," most of which have been applied to the redesigned Xbox interface.
Elements now make use of translucency and motion, and are more reminiscent of Windows 10 on PCs, in an effort to bring consistency across Microsoft's various products. But the Fluent redesign goes beyond just aesthetics, which is why Microsoft refers to it as Xbox's "next major system update."
"The look, feel, and movement of the dashboard has been updated to focus on speed, customization and expression — for you," reads the company's blog post. The focus is on making the Xbox dashboard's main page more customisable and uniquely tailored to the user, who can now chooses to pin everything from a game (or app) to a friend.
This new "Home" page will also dynamically evolve over time, based on the player's activity: "For example, adding a game to your Home screen may pull in an Activity Feed post from the developer, show when your friends are playing that game online, suggest your next Achievement, and provide a quick shortcut to the Game Hub for that title."
The Community section is getting a visual update, too, with a new full screen view layout for comments, clubs, game hubs, and profiles. The Xbox Guide is also being improved, with a new flyover window that lets you quickly jump between tabs and apps with either the left thumbstick, the D-pad, or the controller's bumpers.
Fluent Design will more broadly rollout to Xbox and other Windows products in the coming weeks and months; for now, only Xbox Insiders in the Alpha Ring will see the changes. "This is just the beginning of some major updates arriving for Xbox gamers later this year," Microsoftsays.
"We’ll be introducing plenty of new features in the coming months across Xbox One, Windows 10 PC, Mixer, and mobile devices designed to make your gaming experiences all about you. [...] We’ll be sharing more when the update releases to more fans later this year."
Hackers who claim to have a trove of information from HBO have threatened to continue to leak content from the network's shows and other sensitive information unless they are paid a large ransom.
The anonymous group demanded HBO pay millions of dollars in bitcoin to stop it from posting the information publicly.
The threat was posted alongside a 3.4 GB cache of other data the group says it stole from HBO. According to a report by The Associated Press, the cache contains:
A draft script of an upcoming "Game of Thrones" episode.
One month's worth of emails from the inbox of an HBO executive.
A screenshot of folders with labels like "Budgets," "Legal," and "Licensing & Retail."
Documents containing the personal phone numbers and email addresses of "Game of Thrones" cast members, including Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, and Lena Headey.
The demands came in the form of a five-minute video addressed to the network's CEO, Richard Plepler, from a "Mr. Smith." According to Wired, the video was set to the "Game of Thrones" theme music.
According to the AP, the video text was in English "peppered with misspellings and pop-culture references."
The hackers said it took them six months to penetrate HBO's network. They demanded their "6-month salary in bitcoin" and claimed they usually made $12 million to $15 million (£9 million to £12 million) a year from blackmail such as this, according to the AP, implying a ransom demand of between $6 million and $7.5 million.
The hackers gave HBO three days to pay, although their letter was not dated, the BBC noted.
Firms could face fines of up to £17m or 4% of global turnover if they fail to protect themselves from cyber-attacks, the government has warned.
The crackdown is aimed at making sure essential services such as water, energy, transport and health firms are safeguarded against hacking attempts.
Firms will also be required to show they have a strategy to cover power failures and environmental disasters.
Digital Minister Matt Hancock said any fines would be a last resort.
They would not apply to firms which had put safeguards in place but still suffered an attack, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said.
'Safest place in the world'
Mr Hancock, who is launching a consultation on the plans, said: "We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to live and be online, with our essential services and infrastructure prepared for the increasing risk of cyber-attack."
The DCMS said firms that take cyber-security seriously should already have measures in place to prevent attacks or systems failures.
It said the consultation was aimed at determining how to implement the Network and Information Systems (NIS) directive which becomes law across the EU next May.
LONDON — Companies that expose their customers information in data breaches could face far harsher penalties — including fines of up to 4% of their global annual turnover.
On Monday, the British government announced plans to strengthen UK data protection law with the a new Data Protection Bill.
Among the plans laid out in the bill is to give the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office) regulator the power to fine companies up to £17 million, or 4% of global turnover, in the "most serious data breaches."
It's a significant increase — the maximum fine that the ICO can currently levy is for £500,000.
The Data Protection Bill will also make it easier for people to withdraw consent for the use of their personal data, and expand the definition of "personal data" so that it includes DNA, internet cookies, and IP addresses, among other changes.
In a statement, secretary for digital Matt Hancock said: "Our measures are designed to support businesses in their use of data, and give consumers the confidence that their data is protected and those who misuse it will be held to account.
"The new Data Protection Bill will give us one of the most robust, yet dynamic, set of data laws in the world. It will give people more control over their data, require more consent for its use, and prepare Britain for Brexit. We have some of the best data science in the world and this new law will help it to thrive."
Once could be considered an accident, but twice???
A Blu smartphone - style on a budget, potentially with a nasty surprise in the firmware
Amazon has suspended sales of smartphones from budget maker Blu for over claims that it was selling devices with data-harvesting malware built-in.
Last week, Kryptowire showed that the silent background data harvest was terminating at a company called Shanghai Adups Technology which, according to our information, offers Firmware Over The Air (FOTA). This means that the whole thing may be perfectly legit, but it's not necessarily entirely transparent.
However, Adups has been repeatedly accused of planting spyware on devices, along with back doors, to make getting more data in and out of devices even easier.
Moreover, Blu isn't a first time offender either. The former partner of Amazon's Prime Exclusive Phones in the US was first suspended last October when its Blu R1 HD was found to be sporting exactly the same tracking software. ZTE and Huawei were also fingered by Kryptowire for the same offence.
At the time, Blu said it was a "mistake" and took the spyware out. Along with the same spyware from the Life One X2 model it was also hidden in. Sometimes the system was even sending SMS messages back to base.
This time, however, the same security company found the same firm using the same company's spyware in more expensive models of phone stocked by the same retailer.
This time, though, they're collecting cell-tower data and even more personal ID.
A statement to CNET last week from Amazon stated: "Because security and privacy of our customers is of the utmost importance, all Blu phone models have been made unavailable for purchase on Amazon.com until the issue is resolved."
According to The Verge, Blu said that it "has several policies in place which take customer privacy and security seriously".
All that aside, the company's smartphones have been well reviewed for their general stylishness, but the mainstream Android smartphone market - like the market for cheap laptops - is fiercely competitive.