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Google and Mobile Operating Systems present privacy concerns

Vigliarolo[1] quoted Kaspersky as having identified Google and mobile operating systems for visitors seeking to improve their privacy arrangements online. Using data gathered over nearly two years, the firm confirmed that its Privacy Checker indicated that most visitors are most concerned about these two elements. The data used by Kaspersky for its report on user privacy concerns is the data the author fed into their system to get his recommendations. The Privacy Checker gathered that data (anonymized to prevent user identification) from December 2019 to August 2021. The specific data included in the survey is for clicks by visitors for advice related to a particular service. In this way the highest concern was for mobile operating systems with 21.2% of visitors accessing the system for more information related to their use. Of these Privacy Checker users, Android (11.1%), and security rules for Android OS (7.3%) were the most frequently clicked items.

The Kaspersky report also included findings on privacy concerns for Social networks. The most often read privacy instructions by Privacy Check Users were for Facebook (15.7%), Instagram (9.9%) and TikTok (8.1%).

As users store more data on the web and increase their use of web-based services, they will be including considerable amounts of sensitive data. This will include elements such as IP addresses, comments, photos, geotags. Kaspersky also mentions that even biometric data may be inferred from photos that are uploaded. Kaspersky promotes Privacy Checker as a basic tool for users to protect themselves while using popular online services.

And then there were less chips …

Its no secret that most white goods, brown goods and vehicles, office equipment, etc all rely on computer chips, also known as semiconductors. The problem is that currently there is a global shortage which has impacted manufacturers and in turn the markets that are now in short supply of such products.

Baraniuk[2] addresses this challenge in his feature on bbc.com. He confirms shortages of products as diverse as smartphones, games consoles, vehicles made by Toyota, Ford and Volvo which have had to either slow or temporarily halt production at their factories. He contends that the shortages are becoming more obvious to these shortages and are adjusting their purchasing patterns.

The current problem is primarily due to the increasing rate of use of chips in modern products. The chips that are in short supply are those which can be programmed to a wide variety of functions, increasingly there are more than one of this chips in a single device.

Baraniuk cites Piotr Esden-Tempski, the founder and owner of 1bitsquared, a US-based firm that specialises in electronics hardware, who confirms orders on his books for several thousand electronics interface boards which allow for various appliances to be connected to computers. Esden-Tempski contends that his suppliers of the required components containing semiconductors, confirm that these “will not be available for 12 months or more”. Needless to say he cannot assemble his product unless he has all the parts!

This situation did not just develop overnight. Baraniuk contends that it has been developing for years. He cites Koray Köse, an analyst at Gartner, who confirms that  “among the pressures facing the chip industry prior to the pandemic were the rise of 5G, which increased demand, and the decision by the US to prevent the sale of semiconductors and other technology to Huawei”. The latter decision having the effect of encouraging non-US chip makers to direct more production to the Chinese firm.

Another reason for the current supply shortages is provided by the author. He confirms that there are two main approaches to chip production: using 200mm or 300mm wafers that are then split into lots of tiny chips. He confirms that the larger wafers are more expensive and are often used for more advanced devices. At the same time, Baraniuk reports “a boom in demand for lower cost chips, which are embedded in an ever-wider variety of consumer products, meaning the older, 200mm technology is more sought after than ever”.

He cites industry reports of forthcoming chip shortages to February 2020 when the industry news site Semiconductor Engineering highlighted the risk of a chip shortage, partly due to a lack of 200mm manufacturing equipment. The COVID-19 pandemic and the demand for home offices and all the paraphernalia that go with remote working further increased the demand for chip driven products. The situation was complicated even further by bad weather in the US and Japan which forced shutdowns in various semi-conductor factories. In addition the author reports that logistics challenges have compounded the situation, with a ten-fold increase in the cost of freight over the past twelve months.

Increasing supply of semi-conductors is not a short-term solution since such factories cost billions and take years to complete and get on-stream. The author cites industry specialists from Intel and IBM who expect the current shortage to last up to two years. That is bad news for all consumers who will most likely face delivery delays and price increases for such products.

Upgraded brain for drones

Drones are becoming more popular within industry, and this growing demand continually requires more powerful systems. A compact new integrated electronics package developed by the semiconductor giant, Qualcomm, will be the brains for the next generation of advanced smart drones. Hambling[3] provides an insight to the capabilities of this new development

[1] Vigliarolo, Brandon; 2021 “Google and mobile operating systems top list of privacy concerns, says Kaspersky”, Security, Aug 26, Google and mobile operating systems top list of privacy concerns, says Kaspersky – TechRepublic

[2] Baraniuk, Chris, 2021. “Why is there a chip shortage?”, Aug 26, bbc.com https://www.bbc.com/news/business-58230388

[3] Hambling, David, 2021 “A new ‘brain’ for Drones from Qualcomm promises a step change in their capabilities”, Aug 19, Forbes.com https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidhambling/2021/08/19/new-qualcomm-release-to-drive-next-gen-smart-drones/