Bytes: What’s new in tech
Frighte ningly effective ransomware
When hackers demand a ransom for stolen corporate data, businesses usually pay up, said Kaveh Waddell in TheAtlantic.com. A survey of 600 U.S. business executives reveals that nearly half said their company had been attacked at some point with ransomware. More strikingly: Some 70 percent of firms that had been attacked paid their attackers to unlock hijacked data. Nearly half of the companies that paid ransoms coughed up more than $20,000 to get their files back, and 20 percent paid hackers more than $40,000. Individual computer users targeted with ransomware are more likely to decline to pay. Businesses, however, stand to lose much more. “Compared with the prospect of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of data, a $20,000 payment seems pretty worthwhile.”
AT&T’s robocall blocker
AT&T is stepping up the fight against robocalls, said Nathan Olivarez-Giles in The Wall Street Journal. The wireless carrier recently launched a new mobile app for its customers that promises to block calls from scammers. If a call is from a known robocall number, the Call Protect app will automatically block it before the user’s phone even rings. In less obvious cases, customers will receive a warning on their phone’s screen if the call comes “from a suspected spam source.” The free app also lets users report spam calls so that AT&T can improve its call-blocking service. The app only works with phones compatible with AT&T’s free HD Voice service, which includes the past two generations of iPhones and Samsung Galaxy S phones.
Arizona courts self-driving cars
Uber will test its self-driving cars in Arizona after being evicted from San Francisco, said Johana Bhuiyan in Recode.net. The ridehailing company pulled its fleet of 16 semiautonomous vehicles from San Francisco last month after the state of California yanked the vehicles’ registrations for not having the necessary permits. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles said Uber didn’t properly identify the cars as “test vehicles,” but Uber argued that it didn’t need to apply for such a permit since the cars “still needed a human to maintain some degree of control and were thus not fully autonomous.” In Arizona, the company will join Ford and Waymo, which are also testing vehicles in the state. Arizona’s Republican governor, Doug Ducey, has sought to position the state as a haven for self-driving technology.