TikTok May Announce US Sale in Days; Amazon’s Halo Fitness Band; Apple Newsroom Makeover; FBI Helped Block Tesla Ransomware Attack

TikTok may be announcing sale of its US assets in the next few days. According to cnbc.com, the most likely buyers are still Microsoft and Oracle. Walmart has also apparently expressed interest, but since they don’t have their own cloud tech, they are probably a non-starter with the US government. Twitter had also expressed interest, but like Walmart, doesn’t really have the powerful cloud and back end tech to support TikTok free of its Chinese owner. It is believed that TikTok is valuing its US, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand operations at between $20 and $30 billion.

Amazon has jumped into the health market, with Halo, a fitness band and app…joining Fitbit, Apple, Google, and others. Theverge.com reports that…unlike the Apple Watch or even the entry level Fitbit, the Amazon Halo band has NO screen! The companion app has the usual set of fitness tracking features, along with a couple of innovative ones…that may be a bit unsettling. First is using your camera to create 3D scans for body fat…and on top of that, listening for the emotion in your voice! The Halo band is $99.99, and the service (which is required for advanced features) will set you back $3.99 a month. Amazon has launched an invite-only early access program today with an introductory price of $64.99 and free service for a few months. Halo is NOT part of Amazon Prime.

Apple has freshened its Newsroom, putting more weight on featured stories. Macrumors.com says the also did a feature profile on a teacher from Alabama. The profile is a nice touch, but also touts the use of Apple ed tools like Everyone Can Code and the Clips app to assist in remote learning. The teacher featured, Portice Warren, took part in Apple’s virtual coding academy earlier this summer, along with 500 other educators. Many teachers are finding that they are doing basically triple work right now…planning 100% virtual, planning mixed virtual and in person, and planning 100% in-class at the same time.

Ransomware has been a pretty lucrative scam, hitting businesses and cities, and locking down their systems until they pay up…or refuse and start from scratch (or hopefully, uncontaminated backups.) This week, the FBI arrested a Russian national who had traveled to the US after connecting with a Russian speaking non-citizen working at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada. Engadget.com reports that the employee ratted the guy out to Tesla that the Russian national wanted him to deliver malware to the company’s computers. The FBI was called, and they were able to nail the Russian in a sting. Egor Kriuchkov was busted in LA as he attempted to leave the US. Apparently, the FBI found that thee have been previous attacks in the US by associates of the Russian. One that hit CWT Group in July cost that firm $4.5 million.


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