<![CDATA[NBC New York - Tech News]]>Copyright 2017https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/tech http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York https://www.nbcnewyork.comen-usMon, 11 Dec 2017 02:41:17 -0500Mon, 11 Dec 2017 02:41:17 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Tech Companies Hire Models to Attend Holiday Parties: Report]]> Sun, 10 Dec 2017 11:57:22 -0500 https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/184*120/GettyImages-511604371.jpg

A report of Bay Area tech companies hiring models to act as guests at lavish holiday parties is raising concerns.

The Bloomberg report suggests that some Silicon Valley companies are hiring models from agencies like Cre8 Talent to act as guests. They’re paid up to $200 an hour to attend, and they'd have to sign non-disclosure agreements, the report said.

Some question if the trend is sending the wrong message, especially amid a national debate about sexual misconduct in the workplace that has brought to light the alleged abuse by men in positions of power in Hollywood, politics, businesses, news and elsewhere.

Female and male models are hired to liven up parties and help break the ice and encourage attendees out of their shells, according to a Cre8 Talent spokesperson. They aren’t paid to flirt, Cre8 told NBC Bay Area.

Cre8 Agency sent 25 women and 5 men, all good-looking, to hang out with "pretty much all men" who work for a large gaming company in San Francisco on Dec. 8, Cre8 President Farnaz Kermaani told Bloodberg.

Los Angeles-based Models in Tech, a company that allows people to hand select who they’d like to hire, usually get inquiries for hosts or presenters, CEO Olya Ischukova told NBC Bay Area.

Ischukova says her agency typically focuses on trade shows, including The International Consumer Electronics Show, where booths feature a type of brand ambassador and help with “check in, giveaways, raffles or some games.”

Models in her employ are not hired simply as guests at parties, but occasionally, Ischukova says the company receives some unusual requests.

"They required models to wear Pink Panther leather suits, so … we have to deny this request,” she said. "Because I politely explained this is not what we do."

Kym McNicholas, a journalist who has covered tech culture for 20 years, says she doesn’t think that hiring models for a party is anything new, but she believes it demonstrates impropriety.

"I know I shouldn't be shocked, but I am shocked simply because we've come a really long way this year in terms of really bringing to the forefront … the issues we have with diversity, acceptance and even sexual harassment," McNicholas said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bitcoin Tops Record $19K, Falls Back Down]]> Thu, 07 Dec 2017 16:00:09 -0500 https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_17333419571929.jpg

Bitcoin surged past $19,000 for the first time Thursday before falling sharply from its record high.

In trading on the Coinbase exchange, the digital currency hit a high of $19,340 after soaring through $12,000 on just Tuesday night. After hitting the record high Thursday, bitcoin fell more than 20 percent from that level to $15,198.63. At 12:02 p.m. New York time, the cryptocurrency traded at $16,260.01.

Despite its wild ride, bitcoin now has a market value of more than $270 billion, meaning it would rank among the 20 largest stocks in the S&P 500.

The digital currency began the year below $1,000 and its gains have accelerated as investor interest grows.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File]]>
<![CDATA['Secret Sister Gift Exchange' Is an Illegal Scam: BBB]]> Thu, 07 Dec 2017 09:26:16 -0500 https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-630083944.jpg

Two holiday schemes have made their way back to social media and people are still falling for them.

The "Secret Sister Gift Exchange" and the "Wine Exchange" programs are getting a lot of traction this time of year. The Better Business Bureau calls them a pyramid scheme.

Here's an example of how it works. One post on Facebook had a user promoting the Secret Sister Gift Exchange by asking ladies to send one gift and promising they will receive 36 gifts in return. All you have to do is message this person for more information.

At first glance the post may look harmless, but a response to the post indicated the consumer reported she hadn't received anything in the mail.

Another user said on Facebook, "Send one gift and get 6+ gifts back." Someone else responded by saying "I did this about two weeks ago, and have not gotten a thing."

The same scheme appears true with the "Wine Exchange" program: Send one bottle of wine and you'll get 6 to 36 bottles in return.

The BBB is urging consumers not to believe the hype.

Gift exchanges are popular this time of year, but according to the U.S. Postal Service, this type of gift chain is illegal. It falls into the "chain letter" category.

"They don't work because the promise that all participants in a chain letter will be winners is mathematically impossible," the postal service said.

So if you're looking for a fun gift exchange activity, this one isn't the way to do it.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Hawaii Tests Warning Siren in Case of North Korea Nuclear Attack]]> Fri, 01 Dec 2017 18:16:22 -0500 https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DIT+NAT+HAWAII+ATTACK+SIREN+THUMB.jpg

Hawaii tested a warning siren Friday in case of an impending nuclear missile attack. The test comes after North Korea tested a missile that experts believe has the capability to reach the United States mainland. The warning system has not been used since the Cold War.

<![CDATA[Online 'Typo Piracy' Can Dupe Consumers]]> Mon, 27 Nov 2017 12:48:49 -0500 https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/costoco-typo-piracy.jpg

A man who made a one-letter typo in a web address for Costco found out what it means to become a victim of typo piracy.

Last year, while looking to visit the Costco website, Allen Stern unknowingly mis-spelled Costco in his browser.

"C-o-s-t-o-c-o. There's an extra "o" in there," he said.

Yet, Allen said the website that loaded looked legitimate.

"It even had the Costco logo and brand, so of course I thought it was Costco and I thought I had gone to Costco.com," he explained.

The page asked Allen to do an eight-question survey. As a "thank you," Allen was offered a free bottle of face cream if he paid shipping.

Allen called the Responds team after four $97 and $98 charges appeared on his credit card for a cosmetic "membership." He returned the cream and complained to Costco in writing.

"How could you do this? How could you support this? And, Costco wrote back and said, 'This wasn't us,'" Allen said.

We shared Allen's experience with technology analyst Carolina Milanesi, and we learned a new term: "typo piracy." That's what the tech world calls the misuse of misspelled web addresses to possibly rip you off.

"These people have no limits to how they try to get you," said Milanesi.

She said some sites collect a finder's fee for redirecting poor spellers to other sites. Some masquerade as a real site and dupe you into buying something.  The worst case is a typo that leads to a scam site or malware.

"You could end up having your identity stolen," she explained.

Milanesi said "typo piracy" is too complicated to fully unravel. But, the Responds team tried with "Cost-o-co."

First, we searched public registries and found that address registered in Russia to a person named Vladimir Snezko. That name is linked to other web addresses with typos: Marriiott.com, with an extra "i," Vrizon.com, missing an "e," and Southwesr.com, one letter off from Southwest.com.

When we loaded "Southwesr" it used southwest airlines' name and had a survey, just like the Cost-o-co site.

That's not the only similarity: Several people posted glowing comments on the southwesr page. Well, those same people also endorsed the cost-o-co page in the exact same order.

The real Southwest and the real Costco told us they have no connection to these sites. They never asked for the surveys or authorized the use of their name or logo.

So, we had questions for "Vladimir Snezko." The Responds team sent messages to Moscow, but never heard back.

When we cross-referenced the e-mail addresses Snezko used to register his sites we found more than 500 other websites, each off by just a letter or two from brand names like Google, Toyota, Disney, Fidelity, Sprint and eBay, each waiting to capitalize on your careless tap on a keyboard.

After we started asking questions, Southwesr shut down the survey.

So did Cost-o-co.  But it was too late for Allen. As it turns out, he works in digital advertising and internet security is part of his job. He's speaking up because he says if he fell for "typo piracy," anyone can.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Popular YouTube Videos May Have Psychologically Harmed Kids]]> Fri, 24 Nov 2017 23:20:47 -0500 https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/youtube-logo.jpg

“Toy Freaks,” a popular YouTube channel followed by millions, was deactivated by the site last week for violating policies against child endangerment, NBC News reports.

The channel, run by single father Gregory Chism, was known for its videos featuring Chism playing pranks on his two daughters, both under 10 years old. But some of the videos seemed less like pranks and more unsettling, like ones featuring the children pretending to act like infants, spitting baby food on one another and pretending to urinate on themselves.

In one video, preserved by BuzzFeed News, the father drops a live frog into a bathtub where his daughters, dressed in swimsuits, are bathing, leaving one girl visibly distraught. In another, the older daughter feeds her sister baby food, which is then shown in close up being spit out into a bowl.

The channel was removed from the site after complaints the videos were disturbing, according to BuzzFeed News.

In a statement emailed to NBC News, Chism said that YouTube updated its community guidelines on Nov. 16, and later that day the channel was terminated after users flagged the videos on the site’s “YouTube Kids" App. Chism said he was unaware his videos were being shown on the app.

Photo Credit: Danny Moloshok/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bezos Worth Over $100B After Amazon's Black Friday Rally]]> Fri, 24 Nov 2017 23:25:28 -0500 https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Beff-Jezos-file.jpg

Amazon CEO and world’s richest person Jeff Bezos is now even richer, according to an estimate Friday by Bloomberg.

As CNBC reports, Bezos’ net worth surpassed $100 billion on Friday. Amazon shares hit a record on one of the year’s busiest shopping days, joining a broader Black Friday market rally.

Bezos, who founded Amazon, owns about 78.9 million shares of the company, according to a Nov. 14 filing. That stake alone is worth more than $93.5 billion as of Friday’s closing price of $1,186 a share.

In addition to Amazon, Bezos also invests in start-ups, owns The Washington Post and space company Blue Origin.

Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Net Neutrality: What It Is and Why It Matters]]> Wed, 22 Nov 2017 16:18:03 -0500 https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SAMPLE+TIMELINE.00_00_16_23.Still003.jpg

The FCC is set to dismantle rules requiring internet service providers to ensure consumers have equal access to all online content.

<![CDATA[Uber Hid Hack That Exposed 57M Users, Drivers]]> Tue, 21 Nov 2017 20:17:58 -0500 https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SAMPLE+TIMELINE.00_00_05_11.Still002.jpg

The cyberattack included 50 million Uber riders globally and 7 million drivers in the U.S.

<![CDATA[White Nationalist Spencer, Others Lose Twitter Verification]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 08:56:37 -0500 https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Richard-Spencer-supremacista-blanco.jpg

Richard Spencer and other prominent white nationalists have lost their official blue check marks on Twitter after the social media platform announced changes to its verification practices.

Twitter said Wednesday that its official verification of public figures' accounts had "long been perceived as an endorsement." The platform added that it is working on a new verification process and removing blue badges from "accounts whose behavior does not fall within these new guidelines."

After the series of tweets, Spencer said on his account, which has more than 79,000 followers, that he is "verified no more! Is it not okay to be proudly white?"

Far-right activist Laura Loomer also lost her verification, saying it is "a form of censorship." Jason Kessler, organizer of the far-right Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, lost his badge as well.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Sean Parker: Facebook Exploits Human 'Vulnerability']]> Thu, 09 Nov 2017 18:47:41 -0500 https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sn-prkr.jpg

Napster founder and former president of Facebook Sean Parker on Wednesday shared that he believes the social media giant was designed with potentially addictive features that he believes exploit "a vulnerability in human psychology."

While speaking with Axios, Parker said that the "thought process" held during the creation of Facebook was as follows: "How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?"

"And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever," Parker told Axios. "And that's going to get you to contribute more content, and that's going to get you, you know, more likes and comments."

Parker called that process a "social-validation feedlack loop."

"It's exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with because you're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology," he told Axios.

Parker said he and other founders of the now-ubiquitous social media platform knew what they doing and "did it anyway."

NBC Bay Area has reached out to Facebook for comment.

Flashing back to when Facebook was just getting going, Parker also said that even if people were against signing up at the beginning because they valued genuine and in-person human interaction, they would eventually cave.

The shift to digital human interaction has most likely changed the way people operate, Parker believes.

"It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways," Parker told Axios. "God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains."

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter Stops Verification Requests After Kessler Backlash]]> Thu, 09 Nov 2017 14:05:44 -0500 https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/KesslerCharlotte.jpg

Twitter said Thursday that it will "pause" its verified account system in the wake of criticism over an organizer of the Charlottesville rally having received a coveted blue check mark on his profile. 

Jason Kessler, a white nationalist who has taken credit for organizing the "United the Right" rally that led to the death of a counterprotester, promoted his new Twitter verification on Tuesday. His profile features a confederate flag and notes that he has written for far-right websites. 

Kessler was charged with a felony perjury charge just last month for allegedly lying to a judge that he was not the aggressor when a man was assaulted earlier this year. 

Back in August, Kessler used Twitter to insult Heather Heyer, the women who was killed while protesting at the Charlottesville rally. He had called her “fat” and a “disgusting communist,” and said that her death was “payback time.” He later claimed he was hacked, then blamed prescription drugs and alcohol as the reason behind the tweet. He briefly deleted his account.

The move to verify Kessler’s account comes after Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, had recently said the service was planning to toughen rules on hate speech then take on its verification policy.

“Not as high a priority as enforcement, but it’s up there,” he said last month, Bloomberg reported.

Twitter explains on its website that verification is for accounts in the "public interest" and "a verified badge does not imply an endorsement."

But the verified account of a white supremacist caused an outburst from Twitter users against Kessler.

Some users claimed Dorsey was a “Nazi” supporter for allowing Kessler’s account to be verified.

"Verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance," Twitter's support account said in response. "We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon."

Dorsey retweeted the message and assured he was working to fix the problem. 

"We should’ve communicated faster on this," he said, acknowledging that the "system is broken."

Twitter also faced criticism over its policies last month when actress Rose McGowan was briefly unable to post on the service after a tweet about sexual harassment included a private phone number.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Wants Nude Selfies to Combat 'Revenge Porn']]> Thu, 09 Nov 2017 09:11:35 -0500 https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-512015586.jpg

Facebook is asking some users to send nude photos of themselves in an effort to combat social media "revenge porn."

People in Australia who are concerned that a former partner may distribute intimate photos of them on Facebook can use Messenger to send the photos to be "hashed," according to the office of Australia's e-safety commissioner.

Users would fill out a form before sending the message to themselves using the Messenger app. Facebook said the process involves storing image-matching data, and the photos themselves would not be saved, though they would be reviewed by a trained Facebook team.

Australian e-safety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said it is one of four countries — the others being the U.S., U.K. and Canada — participating in the test program, but Facebook told "Today" that it is still in talks with the other three nations about expanding there.

"This pilot has the potential to disable the control and power perpetrators hold over victims, particularly in cases of ex-partner retribution and sextortion, and the subsequent harm that could come to them," Inman Grant said in a statement.

One in 25 Americans who use the internet have had sensitive images posted without their permission or have had someone threaten to do so, according to a study from the Data & Society Research Institute last year. The U.S. Marines were hit by a non-consensual image-sharing scandal this year, prompting Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller to ask the men in his Corps this March, "How much more do the females of our Corps have to do to be accepted?"

In the digital world today, deleting something never really deletes it, Adam Levin, founder of cybersecurity firm CyberScout, told "Today."

"The reality is that we're living in a world where breaches have become the third certainty in life, where hackers are sophisticated, they're determined, they're persistent, they're very creative and there is no right to be forgotten," Levin said.

Outside of the Facebook Messenger pilot project, anyone who thinks they have been a victim of revenge porn can report the photos through Facebook's dedicated reporting process, revamped in April.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[Humans Must Leave Earth Within 600 Years, Hawking Says]]> Thu, 09 Nov 2017 11:41:48 -0500 https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/172*120/stephenhawkings_1200x675.jpg

Professor Stephen Hawking, the former professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge and author of best-selling "A Brief History of Time," said Sunday during a summit in China that the human species had 600 years to survive on planet Earth, NBC News reported. 

Hawking has publicly expressed additional fears about the future of artificial intelligence (AI), the need for a new Space Age and the serious realities of global warming in the past.  

Hawking said the hypothetical day when humans will supposedly have to leave Earth has been likened to a “Doomsday,” NBC News reported. 

Hawking has also helped to launch the Breakthrough Initiatives, a series of projects seeking to probe “the big questions of life in the Universe,” including finding and communicating with extraterrestrial life. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images/ Justin Sullivan]]>
<![CDATA['Well Designed' Email Scam Targets Netflix Users]]> Tue, 07 Nov 2017 15:02:05 -0500 https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/netflix_1200x675.jpg

An Australian cyber security firm is warning Netflix subscribers about a scam email aiming to steal users personal information by tricking them into thinking that accounts are in danger of being suspended, "Today" reported.

MailGuard posted an image of the email in a blog post Friday, calling it "relatively well-designed" because of its ability to generate "individualized messages with specific recipient data." 

Users of the streaming service reported receiving suspicious emails that tell recipients their Netflix billing information needs updating and that they must "restart their membership."

The email contains a link that takes subscribers to a fake Netflix website where they are asked to log in and enter information including credit card numbers.

"Of course, this website is completely bogus and is just a mechanism for the scammers to steal the victim’s identity and credit card information,” MailGuard said.

It was not immediately clear how many of Netflix's more than 109 million worldwide subscribers have received the email.

Photo Credit: AP/File
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<![CDATA[New Razer Phone Offers Gaming With Powerful Display: Review]]> Mon, 06 Nov 2017 20:17:13 -0500 https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/razor+phone.jpg

A new smartphone wants to raise the level of mobile gaming with a bolder display and more power. The Razer Phone, an Android smartphone, boasts a 120Hz display and a large battery to keep users energized for hours of use and gaming.

The new device has a UltraMotion display with a refresh rate that is double most other smartphones. The 5.72-inch LCD screen is designed for no lag or stuttering while producing clear and colorful images.

The phone has an aluminum body and is powered by Android Nougat with 8GB of RAM. While it contains a 4,000 mAh battery, it also remains cool to the touch, thanks to internal thermal diffusers.

But the Razer Phone is designed to be a video and gaming device. Dual rear 12 megapixel cameras provide amazing images at nearly any distance. Dolby Atmos brings cinematic audio through two front speakers with dedicated amplifiers.

But what about the games?

Razer is partnering with Square Enix, Tencent and others to provide exciting and competitive gaming to smartphones. “Arena of Valor,” a multiplayer online battle arena, will let players battle each other in team fights.

"The future of gaming is rapidly expanding to mobile devices, and both Razer and Tencent are at the forefront of fast-tracking development," said Vincent Gao, global marketing director at Tencent Games. "Arena of Valor brings gamers a fast-paced, competitive experience, and the Razer phone was built to handle the visuals, sound and quick-reflex mechanics of the game."

Other popular titles include “Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition,” “Tekken,” “World of Tanks Blitz,” and “Titanfall: Assault.” The games are being optimized for the Razer Phone to run from 60 frames per second up to 120 frames per second, keeping the action clean and responsive.

The phone will be priced at $699.99 in the United States, and preorders begin on Nov. 1. The phone will go on sale at Razerzone.com, select Microsoft Stores, and Amazon.com on Nov. 17.

Photo Credit: Razer]]>
<![CDATA[Russian-Bought Facebook Ads Released]]> Wed, 01 Nov 2017 16:41:02 -0500 https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DIT+RUSSIAN+ADS+THUMB.jpg

The U.S. House Intelligence Committee released some of the Facebook ads purchased by Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.