Something Cool (and Wicked?) This Way Comes

Collage of renders from thispersondoesnotexist.comTake a good look at the collage of people here. Now click on the image and take a really closer look and tell me the one thing all these fine folks have in common with one another.

Give up? Okay, I’ll tell you then: none of them are real. These peoples’ photos have been computer generated using artificial intelligence and technology developed by graphics card producer, Nvidia. Don’t believe me? Head over to the website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com and give it a shot yourself. Once the image is loaded and you’ve had a chance to check it out, refresh your browser and another “person” will be generated from scratch.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “Okay, well, what’s the big deal? I’ve seen lots of computer generated ‘people’ before…” Think Audrey Hepburn in the recent chocolate commercial or Carrie Fisher or Peter Cushing in the Star Wars film. But these incarnations are very different in that there are a lot of incredibly talented people (artists, animators, programmers, etc) behind the scenes who spend tons of time and money to create this digital likeness. What’s different about the photos of the people generated on ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com here is that a computer is creating these images from scratch, on the fly each time someone refreshes the browser window. No artists, etc needed here just some powerful computing and cutting-edge clever programming utilizing AI and GAN or Generative Adversarial Network, which uses two neural networks.

Well, that’s certainly cool, right? I mean many folks might already be thinking how much more realistic this means videogames will be within just a couple of generations (videogame platform generations like Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch, not human generations). Sure, and that’ll be really cool, too!

Others might be thinking about the wider, more dramatic changes that technology like this might usher in. Think Hollywood. Specifically, think Hollywood actors. While the idea of virtual or digital actors isn’t new, this incredibly realistic technology is. The idea of virtual entertainers isn’t anything new either. Just take a look at a recent (2018) concert in Los Angeles in which a virtual Japanese “idol”, Hatsune Miku, performs for a live audience. She’s basically a hologram and her voice is synthetic. Yet, look and listen to the crowd – they know the songs, the lyrics, and they respond to Miku. Now imagine how much potential money Hollywood (or anyplace else that churns out entertainment) could make from utilizing this technology in the future. Actors who never age or die unless the role calls for it – and they’re certainly able to be resurrected at any time. It will provide an endless supply of new talent from which to choose.

Now, let’s go a step further…what else could something like this be used for? Like any technology, it could be used for good or bad and I think it’s prudent to assume this type of technology will be used for many “bad” things just as much or more than it will be used for good or innocent applications. How about something like fake news? It’s already becoming very difficult to determine fact from manufactured fiction sometimes and technology like this will make it even more difficult and challenging. Think about the implications for a minute. What if you, the viewer, are truly 100% unable to determine if something you see is real or not? Now think about the wider implications? What if people in general all over the world are truly unable to determine truth from fiction in the future…

Cool technology? Yeah, it is! Does it scare you? Even a bit? If it doesn’t, perhaps it should.

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Thieves try to steal a Tesla

Thieves steal Tesla carTake a look at a recent attempt of a couple of U.K. thieves to steal a Tesla Model S. They’re smart enough to actually gain entrance to the vehicle without the fob but they’re not smart enough to unplug the charger!

The owner of the vehicle does admit to not doing a couple of things that could have actually prevented the bad guys from gaining entrance including setting a PIN and using a Faraday pouch for the fob (while would block fob’s signal).

But it just goes to show that even “sophisticated” criminals who use technology aren’t always the brightest.

Source: electrek

 

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Custom Built Computers

Custom computer build back photo

Did you know we custom-build computers too?! While we’re very proud to say we’re an official Dell reseller and these are great, high-quality computers, we also recognize that some folks prefer something other than what a “stock” system might have to offer.

We can either build a system to your specifications or we can custom-design one specially for you based on your needs and wants and then build it! Not sure exactly what you’re looking for but you know you want something fast and awesome? Give us a shout!

Have an awesome case in mind along with a great new motherboard and graphics card that’s going to ensure you’re able to play the latest MMO or FPS at top resolutions and screen rates? Check!

Are you a video freelancer and needing to be able to edit efficiently in 4K while still dazzle your clients with an awesome-looking machine when they visit your office? Check!

Have a custom computer already but maybe it’s time to update it to give it a little more “pep”? We’ve got you covered!

Whatever your custom computer needs, contact us today to see how we can get you moving in the fast lane with the cool kids!

Custom computer build side photo

Custom computer build front photo

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CatManDu Now Offers Local Technology Concierge Service In Amarillo

We’re proud to annouce that we’re now offering our Technology Concierge service. This exciting service let’s you connect directly with a local technology expert — your very own Technology Concierge who can assist you with any technology-related question or problem you may have!

Need a new router but don’t even know what a router is?! Contact your Technology Concierge — they can help with that!

Looking for a new Internet Service Provider because you’re tired of Netflix “buffering” while you’re trying to binge watch your favorite series? Don’t keep suffering! Contact us today to how a Technology Concierge can assist you.

Is your computer running slowly but you don’t want to take it to that “big box” store? Sign up today and let your Technology Concierge help you!

These are just a very few examples of how our Technology Concierges can help you with your technology-related questions or problems. Please check out our Technology Concierge website at cat-man-du.com, give us a call at 806-350-8324, or stop by us and see us in person at our physical location (that’s right: we’re “real” people and we’re local — we’re your friends and neighbors!) at:

8501 SW 34 Ave.
Amarillo, TX

We look forward to serving you!

 

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New Ransomware Variant – Bad Rabbit – Spreading Worldwide

The new ransomware is a variant of Petya and is spread via a fake Flash update. So far, several antivirus companies are claiming that their updated security products protect users from bad rabbit.

According to the US-CERT warning, “US-CERT discourages individuals and organizations from paying the ransom, as this does not guarantee that access will be restored. Using unpatched and unsupported software may increase the risk of proliferation of cybersecurity threats, such as ransomware.”

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ATM Hacking Malware Being Sold On The Dark Web – Cheap!

The website is called ATMjackpot and sells the malware title Cutlet Maker. The name comes from Russian slang “Cutlet” which means a “roll of money.”

The malware coders claim that it works on any Wincor Nixdorf ATM. Most ATMs are vulnerable to hackers because the machines have a computer inside that run an operating system just like a desktop PC.  Many ATM computers still use old operating systems like Windows XP which is no longer supported or updated to fight the latest threats. This fact, coupled with open and available USB ports makes the machines the perfect targets for hackers.

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“OK Google. Is My Virtual Assistant Secure?”

For years, people have cringed over the idea of the government or the FBI wire tapping phones or browsing internet history and other basic invasion of privacy. The idea of cybercriminals stealing your personal data from your computer or mobile device is an ongoing threat. But how many people are considering the danger & security of a personal assistant such as Alexa?

To give you a good example of how fragile these things are, Burger King created a commercial in which one of the employees says at the end “Ok Google. What’s a Whopper burger?” Triggering the Google home assistant to then read off a very descriptive Wikipedia ad that would hopefully persuade the listener to go buy a Whopper. A little invasive, right? People were not excited about this ad, and Google had to block that certain command, yet people are gladly putting these devices in their homes everyday.

We feel that you should keep in mind a few things about Alexa and Google home before you install into your house, such as, the fact that virtual assistants lack security. What happens when hackers figure out how to subliminally hack the airwaves and tell your device to deposit your money into someone else’s account? How low of an audio level will the device accept and is there a way to test this? There seems to be no real test or standard as to how these devices work and that seems to open the door to a lot of security issues.

These personal assistants know everything. They know what you’re watching, what you’re listening to, what you’re searching, photographing and buying. We are really just adding to Google’s empire of data collection and who is keeping track of what is being sold or used of that information?

Considering personal assistants fit into the category of smart home devices linked to a server, its important to consider they may be at risk for IoT (Internet of Things) attacks as well. We’ve seen these types of attacks being used to target companies & not necessarily for spying on home users, but the main goal is the same. Hackers want to see and hear your private data so they can use that information against you to benefit themselves.

A few tips to those who chose to install a Siri, Alexa, Google Home device:

+ If you are not currently using your personal assistant, it’s wise to mute it or put it to sleep so that it’s not ‘always listening’.
+ Don’t ever connect sensitive accounts to your home assistant, or connect multiple accounts.
+ Clear out old recordings and search history regularly.
+ Be sure you know all your settings and permissions you are granting your home assistant and consider tightening those.

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Samsung Galaxy Smartphones Vulnerable To Hack

Image courtesy of JanitorsCreative Commons License.
If you own a Samsung Galaxy smartphone you are more than likely vulnerable to the prying eyes and ears of hackers. A security flaw in the Galaxy allows hackers to install malware on your phone and listen in on your phone calls.
Security Firm NowSecure discovered that a bug in the Swift keyboard, which comes pre-installed on 600 million Samsung Galaxy phones, is responsible for the vulnerability. According to ZDNet.com, hackers can gain access to GPS, camera, microphone, photos, and text messages. They can also install malicious apps on the phone, change how the phone works, and eavesdrop on calls.
Little can be done about the flaw because the Swift keyboard cannot be uninstalled. Samsung learned about the flaw in December of 2014 and released a patch in March of 2015 to network operators, according to Mashable. However, it is not known how many of the network operators provided the patch to their users. Even if carriers provide the update, many users don’t bother to install it. NowSecure has yet to find a Samsung Galaxy that has been patched.
NowSecure CEO Andrew Hoog said that his company “had some heartburn” about the delay in releasing a patch, according to The Wall Street Journal. He worried that if his researchers found the bug, hackers would too. Right now, it doesn’t appear as if the vulnerability has been exploited in the wild but it is only a matter of time before hackers take advantage of this.
Any Samsung Galaxy that contains the Swift keyboard is affected including the S6, S5, S4, and S4 mini. Users should install the update if it is available. If not, users should avoid unsecured Wi-Fi connections or use a different phone temporarily.
Update: On Thursday, June 18th, Samsung announced that it would supply an update to fix the vulnerability. The update will roll out over the next few days and will be available to Samsung Galaxy S4’s and later models, according to PC World. These models have the Knox security platform and can receive automatic updates so be sure to turn automatic updating on if it isn’t already. For earlier models, such as the S3, a fix is in the works and will be available soon,
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How To Stay Secure Online While Traveling

This summer, many of us will take planes, trains, and automobiles to new destinations and to get a break from the daily grind. Traveling makes us particularly vulnerable to cyber criminals and hackers who want to steal your identity and your money. Don’t let your summer vacation turn into a nightmare. Know what you need to do to protect your mobile device from the prying eyes of thieves and prevent a vacation disaster.

Always enable a passcode lock on your phone and a password on your laptop. This is a no-brainer and this is something you should be doing daily anyway. If you should lose your device, this prevents someone from immediately getting in and stealing data or your credit card information or from logging into your accounts. They might be able to get in eventually if they are skilled enough but this will give you a little bit of time. If you should misplace your device, you can remotely log out of email, Facebook, online banking, and other accounts. You should also change your passwords at this time.

Log out of apps you don’t use often and delete browsing history. If someone gets ahold of your device, they could learn a lot about you based on your browsing history. Take the time to delete this trail of information before your trip. Also be sure that apps and websites aren’t automatically filling in login credentials.

Get a Virtual Private Network, or VPN. A VPN is basically a private network within a public network. It ensures that everything you’re sending over the internet is encrypted and hidden from people trying to spy on you. Connecting to a public Wi-Fi network is risky and a VPN gives you the benefits of free Wi-Fi without the risk. Also, only turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you need to because it’s possible for your phone to automatically connect to an unsecure network.

Don’t overshare on social media. Many of us will announce to the world on social media that we are going on vacation but this is a baaaad idea. This tells anyone who sees your post (and anyone they tell) that your home is empty and available for robbing. There’s also a new threat called social engineering. According to Travel and Leisure, this is when a criminal sees what hotel you are at while on vacation. They then pose as an employee of that hotel asking for your credit card information and you give it to them. So watch what you post to Facebook or Instagram.

Update software and use an antivirus. This is also a tip that should be followed even when you’re not road-tripping. Software updates often come with patches to fix security flaws. Using an antivirus is absolutely vital to any device that connects to the internet. Not using an antivirus leaves devices wide open to anything criminals want to throw at it.

Don’t use a shared computer and don’t use a storage device (USB, disc, etc.) that you find. Shared computers like those in libraries, internet cafes, hotels, and business centers should be avoided at all costs. They are usually infected with malware. While using them, you could log into your accounts while someone is watching your keystrokes or you may forget to logout of your accounts when you’re done. And using a found USB is extremely dangerous. Some bad guys plant them for people to find and plug into their devices. The USBs contain malware that can take over an entire system and steal information.

These tips will help you enjoy your vacations and trips this summer without bringing home any unwanted souvenirs.

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Google Play Apps Infected With Adware

Security firm Avast released this report earlier today stating that certain games on Google Play, once downloaded, infect your device with adware, a type of malware that causes unwanted ads to constantly pop up on your screen. “Durak,” one of the infected games, has had 5 to 10 million downloads in both English speaking countries and foreign nations.

Avast researcher Filip Chytry found adware in over a dozen apps including an IQ Test and a history app.

Once downloaded, the apps don’t start showing ads right away, often taking up to 30 days to start serving ads. According to TechCrunch, your phone has to be rebooted at least once before the adware begins but once it does, an ad will appear each time the user unlocks their phone. A warning will be shown stating that the phone is infected, in need of updating, or full of porn. The ad will ask users to be redirected to a site to fix the problem, but that site will simply collect information and personal data.

Some of the ads were from legitimate companies. Even more surprising, some were from real online security apps, such as Quihoo 360. To be sure you’re not installing dangerous apps, read descriptions carefully. Many of the descriptions of the adware-laden apps are written in broken English.

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