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Tech

WhatsApp launches privacy campaign following backlash

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WhatsApp has launched its first privacy-focused advertising campaign, following major backlash

Millions in the UK stopped using WhatsApp, thanks to new privacy changes that were implemented at the start of the year.

The messaging platform is standing firm against pressure from governments that want to compromise the way that it encrypts messages.

WhatsApp’s boss says governments shouldn’t be out there trying to encourage tech companies to offer weak security.

Authorities should “demand more security” rather than less, WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart told the media.

“The first step of keeping people safe is, you have to have strong security, and we think governments shouldn’t be out there trying to encourage tech companies to offer weak security,”

“They should be out there trying to encourage or even mandate that companies offer the strongest security possible.”

WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption, which means messages can only be read on the device which sends one and the device which receives it. WhatsApp itself – and by default its parent company Facebook – cannot view or intercept them, and neither can law enforcement.

The marketing campaign is set to run internationally, beginning in the UK and Germany today.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has described the use of end-to-end encryption as “not acceptable” in the fight against the sharing of illegal content.

Anthony Lucas is reporter, presenter and social media producer with ticker News. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication, with a major in Journalism from RMIT University as well as a Diploma of Arts and Entertainment journalism from Collarts. He’s previously worked for 9 News, ONE FM Radio and Southern Cross Austerio’s Hit Radio Network. 

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Tech

IKEA launches AI-powered home design creative

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IKEA Australia has introduced IKEA Kreativ, a groundbreaking AI-powered mixed-reality experience aimed at revolutionizing home furnishing design for its customers.

The free application offers a seamless and intuitive platform for individuals to envision and recreate their living spaces like never before.

IKEA Kreativ empowers users to scan their living spaces and effortlessly experiment with different furniture arrangements and décor options.

With the ability to erase existing items and seamlessly integrate IKEA products, customers can explore various styling ideas or start fresh using interactive pre-loaded showrooms, numbering over 50.

Inspiration to design

The immersive design experience provided by IKEA Kreativ enables customers to confidently transition from inspiration to design to purchase, offering a realistic preview of how IKEA furniture and accessories will look, fit, and function within their homes.

Accessed via the IKEA app or online at ikea.com.au, IKEA Kreativ utilizes state-of-the-art visual AI technology, akin to that employed in self-driving cars, to generate lifelike 3D models of real home spaces.

This innovation represents a significant investment by IKEA in digital technologies, further exemplified by its recent acquisition of Geomagical Labs, a Silicon Valley AI company specializing in photorealistic virtual and mixed reality.

Seamless experience

Giovanni Rutigliano, IKEA Australia Digital Manager, emphasized the company’s commitment to providing a seamless omnichannel experience for customers. He stated, “With the addition of Kreativ to the IKEA app, we’re offering our customers the opportunity to confidently design and shop the products straight from their mobile device.”

Christine Gough, IKEA Australia Interior Design Leader, highlighted the democratizing potential of IKEA Kreativ in home design. She expressed, “IKEA Kreativ can really break down barriers to having new ideas, designing, decorating and shopping for home furnishings, where people can feel the magic of the IKEA physical stores, through a virtual space.”

Key features of IKEA Kreativ include the ability to quickly explore design ideas from existing showrooms, scan and replicate one’s own space using the IKEA Kreativ Scene Scanner™, and seamlessly save, share, and purchase design concepts.

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Tech

Lockbit cybercrime gang faces global takedown and arrests

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In a major operation led by Britain’s National Crime Agency and the FBI, members of the notorious Lockbit ransomware gang have been arrested and indicted.

The United States has charged two Russian nationals for deploying Lockbit ransomware against numerous companies and groups worldwide, while police in Poland and Ukraine have made two additional arrests.

The joint efforts of the NCA, U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, and Europol culminated in the disruption of the Lockbit gang, which has targeted over 2,000 victims globally, amassing over $120 million in ransom payments and demanding hundreds of millions more, according to the DOJ.

The NCA Cyber Division, in collaboration with U.S. authorities, seized control of Lockbit’s websites and infrastructure, even utilizing the gang’s own website to release internal data about the group.

Read more – Global focus to curb crypto crime

Graeme Biggar, director general of the NCA, declared, “We have hacked the hackers… Lockbit is effectively redundant. Lockbit has been locked out.”

The unsealed indictment, obtained in New Jersey, charges Artur Sungatov and Ivan Kondratyev with deploying Lockbit ransomware against victims across various industries globally.

International coalition

Operation Cronos, as the takedown was named, involved an international coalition of 10 countries.

It resulted in arrests, indictments, and sanctions against perpetrators, as well as unprecedented access to Lockbit’s systems, the NCA revealed.

Ransomware, like that employed by Lockbit, encrypts data and extorts payment from victims for decryption.

Lockbit’s affiliates, recruited by the gang, conduct attacks and share ransom proceeds, usually in cryptocurrency.

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SpaceX strengthens ties with U.S. spy agencies

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Elon Musk’s aerospace company, SpaceX, has deepened its involvement with U.S. spy and military agencies, transitioning from a commercial rocket launcher to a significant player in national security operations.

The company’s recent $1.8 billion classified contract with the U.S. government underscores this shift, according to documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal, though the identity of the government client remains undisclosed.

The expanding collaboration between SpaceX and national security entities reflects the increasing reliance of the latter on SpaceX’s capabilities.

SpaceX has a history of launching classified and military satellites, with recent contracts including providing broadband services to the Pentagon, notably during the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

Starshield unit

One aspect of SpaceX’s operations that has received less public attention is its Starshield unit, tailored for government clients and led by former Air Force personnel.

Starshield secured a $70 million military contract last August for providing communication services to numerous Pentagon partners, operating largely under the radar.

Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president, emphasised the close collaboration between the company and the intelligence community, albeit without disclosing specific details, during an event last May.

While specific details of Starshield’s activities remain guarded, SpaceX has described its offerings as encompassing secure communications satellites, Earth observation capabilities, and sensor deployment for government use while in orbit.

Job postings for Starshield have sought individuals with top-secret clearances and experience within the Defense Department and intelligence community.

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