Google Fi; Facebook Tests Word & Phrase Blocking; YouTube Originals Going Ad-Supported in 2020; Phishing Warning- Pharma Industry Targeted

It’s been 3 years since Google first started experimenting with what they called Project Fi, an MVNO, or mobile virtual network operator. Now, rebranded as Google Fi, Google’s cell service is ready for prime time. As an MVNO, it rides on other carriers. Theverge.com says it will run on the majority of Android and also on iOS devices. A difference is that on Android phones from Google like the Pixel, it can hop between T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular. On iOS, as well as other Androids, it seems to be limited to T-Mobile. The big selling point is price…$20 per phone line and $10 per gig of data you use…capped at $60 under a program they call ‘Bill Protection.’ They are offering a special deal for phone purchases and signups today only, November 28th.

Facebook is testing out the ability to block certain words, phrases, and even some emoji from your wall. 9to5mac.com reports that such things as those spammy Ray Ban ads could become history if this makes it to general Facebook release, as could some political posts. A rub…the people who post the stuff and THEIR friends would still be able to see the words or items. It appears that the system is being built on a filtering feature already available in Facebook owned Instagram.

It looks like YouTube Originals will move out from behind the paywall, and become ad-supported. According to techcrunch.com, many Originals, which presently require a monthly subscription, will all become ad-supported and otherwise free. Some content will become free next year, but all should be out from paywall jail by 2020.

Be extra vigilant if you work in the pharmaceutical sector! Hackers are focusing phishing and cyber attacks on companies in the sector at a much higher rate, more than doubling since last year. Zdnet.com says last quarter, there was an average of 71 email fraud attacks per company…a 149% jump over last year. Construction firms are #2 for phishing attacks, getting 61 per company last quarter. Real estate is #3, at 54 attacks per firm last quarter, all according to Proofpoint. If you’re in doubt, don’t click or respond, and notify you’re IT department.

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Google I/O Expectations; Apple Beats the Street; Russian ‘Fancy Bear’ Hibernating in Lojack; Automakers Start Blockchain Research Group

Google’s I/O is coming up May 8th at Shoreline in Mountain View. According to 9to5google.com, expect Android P to bow…as well as some gesture navigation. What’s been rumored sounds a lot like iPhone X navigation…it’s unknown though if this will be system wide or just Pixel exclusive. We may see an Android TV dongle…there have been pictures of a new dongle from a Chinese company with the Google logo on them spotted. No details have leaked out, but expect something pretty significant about Google Photos…Photos is getting a session on day two…a first for Photos.

Apple beat both revenue and profit projections yesterday, selling 52.2 million iPhones, just a tad below the Street’s targets. Revenue was $61.1 billion…Wall Street had expected $60.8. Reuters.com reports that Apple will bring about 100 billion back to the US in its capital return program. An interesting tidbit: Apple’s wearables…Apple Watch, Air Pods, and Beats headphones…if broken out as a separate entity, would be a Fortune 300 company, without any of the rest of Apple!

With all the personal data leaks and sales, just one more thing to be unnerved about…Fancy Bear…the Russian group that US intelligence thinks did the hacking of the Democratic National Committee in 2016…appears to be using Lojack laptop tracking software to propel new hacking campaigns. Axios.com says that the technique of using Lojack to hide malware was first discovered in 2014, but this is apparently a new exploit of it by the Russians.

A number of automakers have started MOBI, the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative, to use blockchain tech to make cars safer and more affordable. According to techcrunch.com, BMW, General Motors, Ford, and Renault are spearheading the initiative. Previously, Toyota had started doing blockchain research, and Daimler is involved in the Hyperledger project at the Linux foundation. the MOBI group is focusing solely on the automotive space. They claim it may be able to redefine how consumers purchase, insure, and use vehicles.