Monday Tech Wrap: Microsoft, Uber, Google – Forbes

Microsoft’s chief legal officer, Brad Smith (left) said governments should treat the WannaCry ransomware attack as a “wake-up call.” (Photo credit: Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images)

Microsoft has criticized governments and intelligence agencies for “stockpiling” vulnerabilities in government computer systems, in the wake of of the WannaCry ransomware that has so far affected 150 countries and an estimated 200,000 computers since Friday.

The virus exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows XP which was originally discovered by, and then stolen from, the National Security Agency. “The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call,” Microsoft’s chief legal officer Brad Smith wrote in a blog post on Sunday. “They need to take a different approach and adhere in cyberspace to the same rules applied to weapons in the physical world. We need governments to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits.”

Smith added that governments of the world should treat the attack as a “wake-up call,” and he repeated Microsoft’s proposal for a new, Digital Geneva Convention in which governments would agree to rules around reporting vulnerabilities to vendors rather than stockpiling or exploiting them. 

Forbes cyber security writer Thomas Fox-Brewster writes that there could be a fresh wave of attacks on Monday from the ransomware, which locks up PCs and demands $300 from victims to keep their files from being deleted.

Meanwhile cyber crime costs are expected to quadruple between 2015 and 2019, says Forbes contributor Steve Morgan, pointing to a recent survey by Juniper Research that says the cost of data breaches will reach $2.1 trillion globally by 2019, as companies and governments race to digitize the personal details of consumers and employees. 

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Uber is facing a new challenge to its foray in developing autonomous vehicles, after rivals Lyft and Waymo confirmed they would collaborate on self-driving car technology, Forbes writer Alan Ohnsman reports. The two, Silicon Valley-based companies plan to work together on pilot projects that could eventually bring self-driving car technology to the mass market. Ohnsman called it a “coup” for Waymo.

Experts say the autonomous vehicle market will eventually become a multi-billion dollar industry, promoting some of its key, early players to form alliances in their battle against leaders like Uber. Waymo and Lyft each have a history with Uber: Waymo is fighting the company in a lawsuit that alleges Uber has used trade secrets that were stolen from Waymo to develop its own technology. Lyft has meanwhile waged a bitter competitive battle against Uber over pricing and drivers over the last several years,  though it has remained in distant second place behind the company in the United States.

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Google has quietly become the dominant supplier for low-cost laptops and free apps for school classrooms, beating out Apple and Microsoft over the last five years and effectively transforming public education, according to a weekend feature in The New York Times. More than half of America’s primary and secondary school students, or around 30 million students, now use Google education apps like Gmail and docs, while Chromebooks account for more than half the mobile devices shipped to schools, according to the Times, which adds that Google makes $30 per device shipped to schools, and is also cultivating “generations of future customers.”

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Apple has bought Lattice Data, a Menlo Park, Calif-based company that specializes in artificial intelligence and “dark data,” for approximately $200 million, according to a report in TechCrunch citing a single source with knowledge of the deal. Dark data refers to the zettabytes of data produced by computers today – an estimated 70 to 80% of all data in existence – that is unstructured and unable to be used for processing and analytics. “Lattice uses machine learning to essentially put that data in order and make it more usable,” says TechCrunch.

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