January 2020 Tech Roundup: The Year So Far

2020 kicked off with some newsworthy events from around the globe, and the world of technology has been no different. Here are some of the most notable tech-related news events that have occurred so far this year:

CES 2020 sees another high turnout

Tech Republic reported that this year’s Consumer Electronics Show saw more than 4,500 tech companies take part in and introduce thousands of new products and ideas. Samsung, in particular, seemed to steal the show, as it held showcases for innovative ideas in areas like 5G, the Internet of Things and eco-friendly concepts based on energy savings and cutting pollution – for example, “smart” homes and cities.

One product showcase that grabbed the attention of nearly all attendees was held by Samsung to advertise its newest AI-based product in the form of a small, spherical robot akin to those seen in recent sci-fi movies, called Ballie.

Among others, further notable presentations at the event included those by Samsung for its OLED screens designed for planes and automobiles, Blackberry and Amazon Web Services’ development of an automaker-friendly edge-to-cloud platform.

Democratic Iowa caucus results delayed due to phone app issues

The reporting of 2020 Iowa Caucus results for Democratic candidates was delayed for multiple days after the Iowa Democratic Party reported that a phone application used in the process had experienced issues. According to NBC News, the app was developed by Shadow Inc., whose CEO Gerard Niemira said that it was intended to be the “preferred” method for voters to submit results; this was complicated by the fact that only one-fourth of voters used the app and the others instead opted to call in.

Results were eventually released over the ensuing several days as a hand count was conducted. According to NBC, cybersecurity experts who analyzed the application noted that the failure – initially blamed on “coding issues” was caused due to the fact that it had significant technical and design flaws and was rushed into use.

Major Chinese smartphone companies plan Google Play Store alternative

According to Reuters, four major Chinese smartphone companies have announced they are developing an alternative to the Google Play Store aimed at developers hoping to sell their applications overseas. The platform – called the Global Developer Service Alliance – will be released in nine different countries in DATE. Reuters reported that in the fourth quarter of 2019, the four companies together comprised over 40% of global smartphone shipments. The four companies are: Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and Huawei Technologies, the latter of which has been barred from selling goods and services to the U.S. due to national security concerns.

“By forming this alliance each company will be looking to leverage the others’ advantages in different regions, with Xiaomi’s strong user base in India, Vivo and Oppo in Southeast Asia, and Huawei in Europe,” said Nicole Peng, the VP of Mobility at Canalys.

Samsung set to officially unveil newest Galaxy smartphone

According to XDA Developers, Samsung will reveal its new line of Galaxy S20 smartphones, which includes a larger-sized S20 Plus, at Samsung Unpacked 2020 on February 11. The company is also poised to show-off its new foldable smartphone option, the Galaxy Z Flip.

Leaked photos of the phones sent to the outlet and published ahead of Samsung’s official reveal date show that they notably feature a four-lens camera array, center hole-punch-sized front camera and 5G compatibility. Compared to previous Samsung S-series smartphone models, the S20s reportedly have screen edges that are more flat.

Huawei Sues Verizon

The world’s largest telecommunications producer announced in early February that it filed a lawsuit claim against Verizon for alleged patent violations pertaining to 12 network technology-related products in particular, The Verge reported. Huawei Technologies filed the lawsuit in Eastern and Western district courts in Texas, which alleges that Verizon was using the 12 patents without authorization.

In statements, Huawei argued that its patented technology has been used by Verizon for its own benefit and that it has paid to use Verizon-patented products since it was formed. According to Huawei, the company has paid more than $6 billion to “industry peers” to legally use their patented technology, with 80% going to U.S. companies.

NFL, UFC and ESPN social media accounts hacked

At the end of January, a hacker group known as OurMine reportedly hacked into the official social media account for the NFL and followed shortly afterward with breaches into those owned by the UFC and ESPN, according to The Verge.

In recent years, OurMine has claimed that it was responsible for hacking into the social media accounts of prominent figures, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey. The most recent hacks of the sporting organization’s accounts resulted in the posting of statements announcing OurMine’s return and the reminder that “everything is hackable.”

The NFL released a statement that explained that it was alerted to the breach of a league-related account, followed by “targeted breaches and additional failed attempts” into other league accounts, as well as certain teams.’ Both social media platform providers and law enforcement were alerted immediately after the discovery to secure all of the league’s related accounts, the statement said. After ESPN’s Twitter account was hacked, OurMine then reportedly moved on to the UFC’s Instagram account.

Burisma Holdings server accessed by Russians, cybersecurity firm alleges

The New York Times reported in January that the security firm Area1 had found evidence that the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings was hacked, possibly by Russians GRU agents. According to Area1, the hackers gained employee login information to access one of the company’s servers to an unknown extent using phishing emails, The Verge reported.

While Area1’s allegations have not been confirmed, the firm’s findings led members of Congress to inquire more about the nature and purpose of the hack and whether or not it reflected a threat to election security, with differing opinions, Politico reported.

“(GRU) is very good and they have been consistent, they have been very active,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), who is also the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s cybersecurity subpanel. “The expectation is, is that they are constantly probing and to find that they have been involved with a Ukranian business or something like that simply is not a surprise.”

That concludes this month’s tech round-up, so be sure to check out  Faronics’ blog to learn about important trends in the industry.

About The Author

Suzannah Hastings

Suzannah is interested in all things digital, from software security to the latest technological advances. She writes about ways in which the increasingly internet-driven landscape and windows technologies like steady state alternative that change our lives, and what we can expect in the future.

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