Top Google I/O AI & Pixel Announcements (plus FTC Sues Robocaller: XCast) | May 16th, 2023

Today In Tech News:

  1. Google Goes All-In on AI
  2. Google has New Androids
  3. FTC Goes After Robocaller
  4. Bl00dy Ransomware Gang Hits Education

Google Goes All-In on AI

Google IO happened last Wednesday, May 10th, and brought with it Google’s new initiatives, most of which revolve around the world of AI.

We will be running through them quickly, so if any of these announcements piques your interest, check out our sources in the description below.

Bard is getting a massive facelift as Google has announced PaLM 2, Google’s answer to GPT-4.

On top of better math, logic, and coding outputs, Bard is getting image processing and generation.

If you would like to play with Bard, you no longer have to wait as the waitlist has been dropped for over 180 countries and territories.

Search got an upgrade that will now pull data from multiple sources and give its generated report before showing results.

On top of that, search now has a conversational mode, much like how chat GPT works today.

Google Images also got some AI love with the new Magic Editor, an AI assistant for partial image generation and editing.

Maps revealed a new feature that gives the user an immersive route experience before they start their trip, allowing them to see what their route will look like.

Duet AI was announced for Google Workspace, the umbrella product including sheets and docs.

The AI is a generative assistant that can help with both text and image generation that will eventually be accessible from any document through the Sidekick menu.

A Google Cloud model training platform called Vertex AI was revealed allowing individuals to train their models on specialized cloud infrastructure.

A personal note-taking and organizational assistant called Project Tailwind was announced and the waitlist became available.

Finally, Google announced their Responsible AI project that will help track the origin of generated photos, attempt to find where photos originated from on the internet, and add metadata to Google-generated images for better validation and authenticity.


Google has New Androids

On top of all the AI announcements, Google revealed their new Android devices and features coming to the platform.

Highlights of the features include adding Find My Device support to devices like headphones and tablets, AI-generated original wallpapers, and, in association with Apple, defining an industry standard for unknown tracker alerts so all tracked devices can work together.

The hardware announced included a new Pixel Fold phone that unfolds into a small tablet as well as a Pixel Tablet.

The Pixel Fold is available for preorder and comes in at $1799 for the 256GB model and $1919 for the 512GB model

The Pixel Tablet is also available for preorder and comes in at $499 for the 128GB model and $599 for the 256GB model.

All links to preorder are available on our sources link in the description below.


FTC Goes After Robocaller

The Federal Trade Commission is going after a robocalling giant called Xcast Labs Inc.

Xcast allegedly violated the Federal Trade Commission Act (“FTC Act”), the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act (“Telemarketing Act”), and the Telemarketing Sales Rule, (TSR)

The violations include funneling hundreds of millions if not billions of illegal robocalls through its network, impersonating federal officials from the Social Security Administration, threatening to cut off utilities, and claiming that credit cards had been charged when it was untrue.

The FTC had given XCast Labs multiple written warnings including a letter from January 29th, 2020 that warned the voice-over IP, or VoIP, provider, that they were assisting and facilitating illegal robocalls.

Despite this warning, XCast continued to transmit calls through its network.

The court is seeking a decree to prevent future violations, monetary civil penalties of up to $50,120 per offense, and any other financial relief the court sees fit.


Bl00dy Ransomware Gang Hits Education

A hacking group called the Bl00dy Ransomware Gang has been targeting the education sector through PaperCut, a print management system.

The attackers used vulnerable versions of the PaperCut software to create an attack vector with the following attributes.

  • Bypassed authentication through a Java class with broken access control.
  • Executed remote code with root-level shell commands through the print scripting interface
  • Encrypted underlying file systems, 
  • Exfiltrated data through Tor proxies, 
  • And finally left ransom notes with payment requirement information.

There is also evidence that command and Control malware including DiceLoader, TrueBot, and Cobal Strike Beacons, was being deployed, but the placement within the attack vector is still unknown.

To mitigate your and your organization’s risk

  • Upgrade PaperCut to the latest versions
  • Ensure PaperCut servers are not internet accessible
  • Follow the 3-2-1 rule of data storage
  • Implement network segmentation
  • Finally enforce the principle of least privilege.


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