Technology is constantly evolving, with new threats being introduced and new solutions proposed. The recent past is full of both challenges and opportunities, from near-constant data breaches that exposed millions of emails, to the changing nature of social media.
Tech giants certainly faced their fair share of challenges. From Microsoft retooling its troubled Edge product with a Chrome-based engine, to their proposed regulation of facial recognition, here are four of the hottest topics in tech, and what they have to teach us.
1) Amazon Exposes Customer Names and Emails
Data breaches have long been a problem in the retail world, with companies of all sizes being impacted. The best known online retailer in the world has just recently faced this challenge in a big way. As shoppers hunted for bargains at Amazon.com, they got more than they bargained for.
The retail giant inadvertently exposed customer names and emails, leaving those accounts exposed and raising the risk of identity theft and other serious repercussions.
Amazon.com blamed the exposure on a technical glitch, and the company claims that the underlying problem has been fixed. They also claimed that no credit card or financial information was involved in the breach, offering shoppers a bit of good news along with the bad. The company declined to say how many online shoppers had been affected, and it said the impacted customers have been contacted directly.
2) Will Facebook Make a Cyber security Acquisition?
It was another challenging year social media giant Facebook. The company continues to struggle with a loss of consumer confidence, in addition to a slowing of growth.
Security concerns continue to be top of mind, and now Facebook seems poised to make a new acquisition, one that could reassure users and help keep their data safe. Stories recently surfaced that Facebook was ready to make a cyber security acquisition, a move many in the tech industry claimed was long overdue.
Anonymous sources state that Facebook has approached a number of cyber security firms – yet another indication that the leading social media company is taking user privacy and protection more seriously than ever before. But the question remains, will the acquisition actually take place? While this strategic move could address one of their most pressing problems, there’s no telling to what degree it could help restore the confidence of its users.
3) Microsoft Plans to Rebuild Edge with Chrome-Based Browser
Microsoft may be the undisputed leader with its flagship Windows operating system, but the tech giant has faced enormous challenges with its browser products. After many years of struggling with their Internet Explorer browser, Microsoft created Edge, a product it claimed would revolutionize the industry.
The reality turned out to be far less impressive than the hype, and Microsoft appeared to throw in the towel. Edge will soon be reborn under the same branding, but under-the-hood, Edge will be running Chromium, the popular open-source solution that powers Google’s Chrome product.
Many in the tech industry see the adoption of Chromium as the final indication that open-source has finally won the browser wars. After years of proprietary products, Microsoft has officially joined the open-source crowd, joining the likes of Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome.
4) Microsoft President Calls for Regulation over Facial Recognition
Facial recognition is a fast-growing trend in tech. It can lock our smartphones and unlock office doors, but so far, regulation has lagged far behind the technology. That may be changing however, and facial recognition may soon get the regulatory scrutiny many have called for.
Microsoft recently joined the discussion, with president Brad Smith expressing concern about the fast spread of facial recognition technology and the scarcity of regulatory control. Even as he acknowledged the profit potential of facial recognition technology, Mr. Smith urged a go-slow approach.
The president of Microsoft also pointed out the deep societal implications of this fast-growing technology, including the potential for abuse. From concerns about repressive governments, to issues of personal privacy, facial recognition has the potential to disrupt people’s lives like never before.
By proposing regulation of the technology, Microsoft is attempting to get ahead of the situation, putting the brakes on facial recognition while still allowing responsible use of the technology.
While concerns surrounding the tech industry have never been greater, neither has the promise. Only time will tell where current tech trends will lead, but understanding what has happened in the past could be the best way to understand our technological future.