Is Amazon Stealing Your Internet?

illustrationHere’s how to check.

By Rick Richardson

Remember when Amazon (quietly) announced its expansion to Sidewalk, back in September? Well, the feature is live for some in a new update for the Amazon Alexa app, and you might want to go turn it off.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK: Will Fast Charging Become Tomorrow’s Gas Station? | What You Need to Know About Amazon Sidewalk | AI Is Open to Anyone with Passion | Creative New Business Models and Strategies for the Virus Era
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Sidewalk is a feature that extends the network coverage of your devices, particularly Ring surveillance tech (like its cameras, smart lights, and pet trackers) and Echo smart speakers. But it’ll also share a small chunk of that internet bandwidth to provide the same services to your neighbors – so your privately owned devices won’t be so private anymore.
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Will Fast Charging Become Tomorrow’s Gas Station?

Car driving on road on pillars through Swiss mountainsMaybe, but there are tradeoffs.

By Rick Richardson

The electric vehicle (EV) market’s demand for ultrafast charging has never been higher, as automotive batteries aim to replicate the convenience of filling up a tank at a gas station in minutes.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK: What You Need to Know About Amazon Sidewalk | Microsoft: Stop Using Phone-Based Multifactor Authentication | Unlock Your Flash Drive with Your Phone | Go from Work-from-Home to Work-Anywhere | Global Tokenization Standards in the Works
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According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), more than 80 percent of EV charging takes place at the driver’s residence via basic wall outlets (100V/120V) or dryer outlets (220/240V). This makes sense as residential charging is convenient and inexpensive.
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What You Need to Know About Amazon Sidewalk

illustrationIt’s enabled by default, for one.

By Rick Richardson

Amazon is now starting to roll out its Amazon Sidewalk local networking system to customers in the U.S. Here’s what you should know about it.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK: Microsoft: Stop Using Phone-Based Multifactor Authentication | Add Live Captions to Your Zoom Meeting | The 2020s Will Demand More from Your Tech | 5G Timeline for Vehicle Automation | Three COVID-19 Opportunities for Robots | FBI Warns of Back Doors in Chinese Tax Software
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First announced in September 2019, Sidewalk is a new idea and long-term effort for extending the smart home to entire smart neighborhoods by using various local networking options.
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Microsoft: Stop Using Phone-Based Multifactor Authentication

Smiling woman using smartphoneThe best option? Hardware security keys.

By Rick Richardson

Microsoft is urging users to abandon telephone-based multifactor authentication (MFA) solutions like one-time codes sent via Short Message Service (SMS) and voice calls and instead replace them with newer MFA technologies, such as app-based authenticators and security keys.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK: Add Live Captions to Your Zoom Meeting | AI Is Open to Anyone with Passion | Microsoft Takes Down Malware Network | Alexa’s Moving into Your Next Apartment | Can Google Kill the Business Card?
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The warning comes from Alex Weinert, director of identity security at Microsoft. For the past year, Weinert has been advocating on Microsoft’s behalf, urging users to embrace and enable MFA for their online accounts.
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Add Live Captions to Your Zoom Meeting

screenshot of captioned Zoom meetingIt’s arguably the most consumer-facing such technology out there.

By Rick Richardson

Zoom calls will now come with the option of live captions, in a move that’s likely to make life easier for remote workers whose attention spans suffer steep declines during online meetings.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK: AI Is Open to Anyone with Passion | Unlock Your Flash Drive with Your Phone | Go from Work-from-Home to Work-Anywhere | Global Tokenization Standards in the Works | One ‘Mega’ Data Breach Can Cost a Company $392 Million | How Your New Car Could Double as a Doctor
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Otter.ai, a Los Altos, CA startup, is expanding its technology to enable speakers on a Zoom call to see their words turned into accurate captions in real time. This should put an end to the unfortunate miscommunications frequently caused by remote collaboration tools.
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AI Is Open to Anyone with Passion

Learning must shift as skills become obsolete.

By Rick Richardson

Students will have to “learn how to learn” instead of focusing on skills and specific tools. Most content will become obsolete within two years, says Dr. Simon See, head of computing giant NVIDIA’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology center.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK: Unlock Your Flash Drive with Your Phone | The 2020s Will Demand More from Your Tech | 5G Timeline for Vehicle Automation | Three COVID-19 Opportunities for Robots | FBI Warns of Back Doors in Chinese Tax Software | Zoom Will Offer End-to-End Encryption to All Users | castAway Gives Your Smartphone an Extra Screen
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“Technology is moving so fast, and you have to keep adopting new skills. What you have to learn is the methodology of learning new things. You must learn how to learn new things,” he said.
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Unlock Your Flash Drive with Your Phone

flash drive and smartphonesNew gadgets for the work-from-anywhere accountant.

By Rick Richardson

There are a lot of encrypted USB flash drives out there. You plug them in, and either there’s an on-screen popup that asks for your passcode, or some sort of physical keypad that is used to gain access.

MORE: The 2020s Will Demand More from Your Tech | Microsoft Takes Down Malware Network | Alexa’s Moving into Your Next Apartment | Can Google Kill the Business Card? | Creative New Business Models and Strategies for the Virus Era | Free Service Makes Better Passwords | What Wi-Fi 6E Means for You
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But what about transferring the unlocking mechanism to a mobile device – such as a smartphone or your Apple Watch?
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The 2020s Will Demand More from Your Tech

person looking at skyline through telescopePrepare now for the future.

By Rick Richardson

If ever there was a decade that announced itself so defiantly in the first year, it’s the 2020s. With so much change and volatility already, 2020 has proven this decade will be dramatically different than the one before it. IT and business leaders must prepare for 10 years unlike any others.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK: Microsoft Takes Down Malware Network | Go from Work-from-Home to Work-Anywhere | Global Tokenization Standards in the Works | One ‘Mega’ Data Breach Can Cost a Company $392 Million | How Your New Car Could Double as a Doctor | AI Called Upon to Fight Pandemic | Texas Court Holds First U.S. Jury Trial Via Videoconferencing | Thunderbolt Flaw Lets Hackers Steal Your Data
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For IT and business leaders, success in the 2010s meant capitalizing on innovative commercial IT (think cloud and mobile). As the decade went on, many of those firms began leveraging the same commercial platforms, looking and feeling very similar to their customers. Forward-thinking organizations began examining how digital differentiation could give them a leg up and then – wham! – 2020 came in with a bang.
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Microsoft Takes Down Malware Network

Microsoft Malware LabIt took a federal court order and worldwide cooperation.

By Rick Richardson

Microsoft has disrupted a massive hacking operation that it said could have indirectly affected election infrastructure if allowed to continue.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK: Go from Work-from-Home to Work-Anywhere | 5G Timeline for Vehicle Automation | Three COVID-19 Opportunities for Robots | FBI Warns of Back Doors in Chinese Tax Software | Zoom Will Offer End-to-End Encryption to All Users | castAway Gives Your Smartphone an Extra Screen | An Aging Satellite Returns to Service
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The company said recently that it took down the servers behind Trickbot, a massive malware network that criminals were using to launch other cyberattacks, including a strain of highly potent ransomware.
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