ExtraBITS for 13 June 2016
In ExtraBITS this week, Microsoft is buying the professional network LinkedIn for a whopping $26.2 billion, Glenn Fleishman exposes two-factor authentication’s weakness, we learn why you shouldn’t share Web links via Facebook Messenger, Apple shares some big changes coming to the App Store, AgileBits launches 1Password Teams, and we find out where people are embarrassed to use Siri.
Microsoft Buying LinkedIn for $26.2 Billion — Microsoft has announced that it is buying the professional networking service LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. The acquisition brings with it the training Web site Lynda.com, which LinkedIn bought last year. Microsoft said that LinkedIn, which boasts over 400 million users, will retain its current leadership and independence. What’s less clear is how Microsoft will connect LinkedIn with Office 365 and its other services, or if LinkedIn will remain largely separate.
Two-Factor Authentication’s Weak Point — Two-factor authentication makes your accounts more secure by requiring something else in addition to a password to log in. However, its weak point was recently exposed, as attackers gained access to Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson’s Twitter account despite his use of two-factor authentication. Many two-factor systems rely on codes sent via SMS text messaging, but unfortunately, cellular carriers turn out to be easy targets for social engineering. Glenn Fleishman,
writing for Macworld, explains the vulnerability and how to better secure your cellular accounts against troublemakers.
Why You Shouldn’t Share Links via Facebook Messenger — In a post on Medium, security researcher Inti De Ceukelaire explains how any developer could see the URLs you share in private Facebook messages. Even if you’re only linking to cat pictures, URLs sometimes contain sensitive information that you’re unaware of, such as names, locations, and even hidden keys. When De Ceukelaire reached out to Facebook, the company said that this was “publicly documented and intentional behavior.” Long story short: be cautious about using Facebook Messenger,
particularly for any sensitive communications!
Big Changes Coming to the App Store — Apple has informed select journalists of major changes coming to the App Store. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber summarized the changes as shorter app review times, subscription-based pricing for all apps, and better app discovery. To make apps easier to find, Apple is promising a smarter Featured tab that omits installed apps, the return of the Categories tab, and paid search ads. Some of these changes may prove controversial, but it’s good to see Apple making an effort to improve the App Store experience. No mention was made of demo versions or paid upgrades for
non-subscription apps, but since the new app subscriptions will have trial periods, it’s possible that Apple thinks the upcoming changes will suffice.
AgileBits Launches 1Password Teams — AgileBits has officially launched the 1Password Teams service, which had been in beta since November 2015; it enables professional teams to sync and share passwords easily. Two plans are available: Standard for $3.99 per user per month and Pro for $11.99 per user per month. The Pro plan adds additional storage per user, priority email support, unlimited item history, custom groups, and more. From now through 31 July 2016, if you sign up for a Pro account, you’ll lock it in at the Standard price forever, even for additional teammates you add in the
Does Siri Embarrass You in Public? — Since Siri debuted on the iPhone 4S, voice assistants have become all the rage, with Amazon, Google, and Microsoft all following suit. Apple put Siri on the Apple Watch and the fourth-generation Apple TV, and it will come to the Mac in macOS 10.12 Sierra. A survey of 500 consumers by research firm Creative Strategies shows that most people have at least tried Siri, with only 2 percent of iPhone users having never used Apple’s digital assistant.
How heavily is Siri actually used, and in what contexts? According to the study, 70 percent of iPhone owners use Siri only infrequently, which is a little sad to hear, but the more interesting statistic to emerge is that many iPhone users are too embarrassed to talk to Siri in public, with a vanishingly small 3 percent of iPhone users saying they do so. This might account in part for why the living-room–based Amazon Echo is doing so well — 39 percent of smartphone consumers say they use voice assistants at home. The primary place people are happy to talk to their technology? 51 percent of respondents used voice assistants in the car, where hands-free control is essential. And where no one can hear you.