content, news, Insights

This Week in Tech - September 24, 2021

Nicholas Fearn

24 September, 2021

From the launch of a new Slack video clips feature to the appointment of a new chief technology officer at Facebook, we’ve rounded up the biggest technology news stories of the last week.

Lithuania warns people against using Chinese phones

Lithuania’s defense ministry has warned people to stop using Chinese smartphones over security concerns, as reported by the BBC.

After testing a range of 5G-capable smartphones developed by Chinese tech firms, Lithuania’s National Cyber Security Centre identified a number of privacy issues.

The centre claims to have discovered a serious security flaw in the Huawei P40 5G that exposes users to malware and viruses.

It also conducted tests on the Xiaomi Mi 10T 5G, which led to the discovery of software capable of detecting and blocking terms opposed by the Chinese government. These include “democracy movement”, “Free Tibet” and “Long live Taiwan independence”. 

Margiris Abukevicius, the Lithuanian deputy defence minister, said: "Our recommendation is to not buy new Chinese phones, and to get rid of those already purchased as fast as reasonably possible.”

Slack unveils clips feature

Business communication app Slack has unveiled a new clips feature that aims to reduce the need for time-consuming meetings, as reported by The Verge.

With the new feature, users can create and share short clips containing audio, video and screen recordings. It works across Slack channels and direct messages. 

To record a Slack Clip, users just need to click on a video icon in the messaging field. And they can make clips of up to three minutes long. 

Recipients of a Slack Clips message can respond using video, audio, text and emojis. 

Slack Clips is available to users with a premium account and is currently being rolled out. 

London is the world’s second best startup location 

London has been named the world’s second best place to run a startup business, as reported by IT Pro. The “Global Startup Ecomsystem Report 2021” has been compiled by Startup Genome.

Silicon Valley is the leading global location for startups, which isn’t a huge surprise. But London comes in joint second for the best place for startups, in joint position with New York.

Interestingly, London was the top European tech startup hub on the list, with Paris trailing behind in twelfth position. According to the research, London’s startup scene is worth $142 billion.

The rest of the top ten comprises Beijing, Boston, Los Angeles, Tel Aviv, Shanghai, Tokyo and Seattle. 

DDoS attacks on the rise

The number of distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks has reached an all-time high in 2021, according to a new report from Netscout.

In the first few months of 2021, cybercriminals conducted around 5.4 million DDoS attacks. This cyber attack vector grew by 11% compared to the first half of 2020.

Netscout expects DDoS activity to continue in the coming months, reaching a record-shattering 11 million attacks before 2021 draws to a close.

But cybercriminals aren’t just launching more DDoS attacks. They’re also increasingly applying complex techniques and exploring new attack vectors.

Richard Hummel, threat intelligence lead at Netscout, explained: “Ransomware gangs added triple-extortion DDoS tactics to their repertoire. Simultaneously, the Fancy Lazarus DDoS extortion campaign kicked into high gear threatening organizations in multiple industries with a focus on ISPs and specifically their authoritative DNS servers."

Facebook appoints new CTO

Social networking giant Facebook is to appoint Andrew Bosworth as its next chief technology officer, as reported by The Verge.

The appointment is particularly notable because Bosworth currently leads Facebook’s hardware department, suggesting the firm plans to ramp up its hardware efforts over the coming years.

Its hardware business, named Facebook Reality Labs, is best known for developing the Oculus virtual reality headsets.

As the new CTO of Facebook, Bosworth will head up Facebook’s hardware efforts in addition to its software engineering and artificial intelligence projects. 

Bosworth will succeed current CTO Mike Schroepfer, who’s spent 13 years working for Facebook. In 2021, Schroepfer will become a Facebook senior fellow.