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Tech Bytes – Week of Feb 28

📰 Recent Top Tech News

  1. SolarWinds: U.S. biggest federal Cyber Hack ever – Password too simple?

  2. India goes harder still on Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp

  3. Twitter starts Paid subscriptions – the first social media to go paid?


1. SolarWinds, a $1Billion American IT company, was hacked. Its clients include NASA, US Homeland Security, over a dozen other US government agencies and 100 large companies. US Intelligence agencies point towards Russian government hackers. Former CEO of SolarWinds told the US Congress that one high-risk server password to ‘solarwinds123’ by an intern, though it is not confirmed if this was exactly how SolarWinds was hacked.

🔎 Our Take

  • Cyberwarfare between countries is only going to get more widespread. Hacking these days is also now a sophisticated mix of social engineering (where someone might get a fake email or even visited in person to get access to a system) and programming skills (with malicious code taking advantage of just discovered security holes).

🧁 Your Takeaway

  • Set Strong Passwords. Don’t keep obviously simple passwords such as your name or company name and a simple 123, or anything that can be guessed. If you are involved with any government organisation, take extra steps such as 2-Factor authentication and VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) to more security access to your systems.


2. India’s IT, Law and Justice Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, announced in a press conference this week that social media companies will be required to take down unlawful (violent, sexually explicit, etc) within 24-72 hours. The Minister also said that social media firms ‘need to … tell who was the first person who began spreading misinformation or other objectionable content’

🔎 Our Take

  • Social Media companies have been largely unregulated, which has led to misinformation (such as anti-vaccination, or posts causing lynching) spreading across Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp. Social media firms have had a history of avoiding taking anything down unless it hurt them commercially (i.e. if advertisers pull out). However, this policy may inadvertently (or intentionally) set the precedence of governments in power controlling the narrative.

🧁 Your Takeaway

  • Careful with what you post, especially if it on a controversial topic. Depending on where you live, or the present laws with social media firms and on libel, it may be injurious to your health.

3. Twitter launches ‘Super Follow’ creator subscription functionality. This allows Twitter users to subscribe to their favourite creators (e.g. $4.99 per month) for exclusive content, posts, and access to a Community (similar to Facebook Groups)

🔎 Our Take

  • Twitter is the first major social networks that has introduced a paid, exclusive zone. Every other social media platform relies on “Free to Post/Read” and an ad-supported model, where your social influence was your only currency. This has often limited creators who need to seek sponsors or switch to a different platform (e.g. Patreon, or Substack) to get paid for their content.

  • All social networks are moving towards some form of paid access (either as e-commerce for products and services, or subscriptions for content)

🧁 Your Takeaway

  • Grow your community. Focus on creating great content about your brand and company that your followers enjoy getting updates, and sharing with others. If you are a one-person influencer, consider monetizing your content and provide extra benefits for paying customers. If you are with a company, identify your super fans (you’ll know who they are) and reward them publicly to generate more buzz.

Jargon Buster

  • NFT – Non Fungible Tokens – based on the technology behind Bitcoin (i.e. Blockchain). NFTs offer a way to create an indisputable record of transactions, which is especially useful for buying and selling pure digital assets, like graphic art.

  • Think of NFTs like owning a one of a kind painting similar to the Mona Lisa, except in the virtual world. Buying an NFT of a digital artwork guarantees you to be the new owner, with the evidence of your ownership public to the entire world.

  • Nearly US$100 Million worth of digital art has been bought with NFTs in the past 3 months alone.

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