Archives : September-2017

As the seasons change, we started thinking about other types of change. This month’s Talks at Google roundup delves into everything from changing habits to how two famous Jewish delis balance classic dishes amidst a changing food scene.

Author, podcaster and expert habit-former Gretchen Rubin talks about “Better Than Before,” her book that offers a new perspective on habits. She explains how to form habits, why we break them, and the four types of habit tendencies.

Bollywood star Farhan Akhtar wanted to do something about the mounting violence against women in the world. He shares how he used creative arts to create social change, and talks about his creative process along the way.

Hear from Matthew Claudel—author of “City of Tomorrow”—whose job is to imagine the future of cities, and how technology is changing that future.

Jennifer Brown, author of “Inclusion: Diversity, the New Workplace & the Will to Change,” shares her strategies for empowering employees and harnessing the power of diversity in today’s ever-changing world of business.

Disclaimer: this one might make you hungry. Jake Dell (owner of Katz’s Deli in New York) and Evan Bloom (co-owner of Wise Sons Deli in San Francisco) chat about the evolution of the Jewish deli, and how they maintain tradition while staying current (especially when it comes to pastrami sandwiches). They may not be in lox-step in their approach to food, but we think you’ll like this talk a latke.

This week people searched for free coffee, the death of a media mogul, help with IKEA tasks and new wheels from Ford. And as Puerto Rico reels from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, people want to know how they can help. Here are the top trends of the week, with data from Google News Lab.

Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico continues to grapple with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which left many without power and desperate for food, electricity and communication services. People in the U.S. continue to search for “hurricane donation” (interest went up 185% this week), as well as “How powerful was Hurricane Maria?” “How to donate to Puerto Rico” and “What is the Jones Act?” (A law that was waived to get relief to Puerto Rico quicker). The top regions searching for Puerto Rico were Florida, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Caffeine fiends

Wake up and smell the coffee—it’s National Coffee Day! And everyone is after the free java, with searches like, “Is Starbucks doing anything for National Coffee Day?” “Who gives free coffee on National Coffee Day?” and “What is National Coffee Day at Dunkin Donuts?” Cold brew coffee, butter coffee, and Irish coffee (for those starting early…) are the most searched types of coffee this week.

RIP Hef

Hugh Hefner passed away this week at the age of 91. Upon hearing the news, people searched to find out more about Hefner’s fortune and infamous love life: “How much was Hugh Hefner worth?” “Who gets Hugh Hefner’s money?” and “Who was Hugh Hefner married to?” Hefner will be buried next to Marilyn Monroe, Playboy’s first cover girl (search interest in Monroe went up 570% this week as well).

But will they assemble the meatballs, too?

This week, two of the top searched questions about IKEA were: “How to build IKEA Tarva nightstand” and “How to remove IKEA drawer front.” Well, now you can get some help with that. This week, IKEA closed a deal to buy the online errand company TaskRabbit so that the dreaded phrase “assembly required” will become slightly less scary. Those who are keen on IKEA are searching the most for dressers, desks, rugs, kitchen cabinets and beds.

Riding in style

Ford is getting revved up with its new F-450 Super Duty Limited truck, which can cost as much as $100,000 and tows 15 tons … talk about luxury. Search interest for the new truck went into overdrive—“Ford Truck” was searched 2000% more than “Ford SUV.” People are doing their due diligence on the Super Duty, searching “Where is the F-250 Super Duty made?” “What is the MPG of a Ford Super Duty Diesel?” and “What roof bars fit a Ford Super Duty?”

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Modern companies need to move quick. And to do so, they need things to be streamlined. From hosting 40,000 people at a big game, to churning out thousands of newspapers hot-off-the-press, to delivering millions of pizzas right on time. To keep up, companies need an integrated solution powering their IT that’s fast…REALLY fast. Learn how ..

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This week was testament to the transformative power of technology, both collectively and individually — from the thousands of business leaders gathered at Microsoft’s annual IT conference to a Philippine teenager whose blindness isn’t stopping her from pursuing a dream of creating her own software. A leader in digital transformation, Microsoft is launching a group…

The post Igniting business transformation, reinventing the data center and helping nonprofits move to the cloud — Weekend Reading: Sept. 29 edition appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blo..

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The Best of Interop 2017 award winners were announced at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. As the innovator and leader of these technologies, I was asked by several media representatives for an interview. Here is a short interview by Information Week news desk. Best of Interop Awards are like the Oscars of the Networking ..

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We’re always excited to see what #teampixel photographs next. This week’s photos capture everything from the tombs and temples in Jordan to the crestfallen leaves of autumn, proving a good photo can be taken anywhere.   

Special shout out to today’s Instagram feature, @oxykostin, for a magical photo that takes us under the sea. Don’t forget to tag your photos with #teampixel, and you might see yourself featured next!

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Posted by Shawn Willden, Software Engineer

Android’s keystore has been available for many years, providing app developers
with a way to use cryptographic keys for authentication and encryption. Keystore
keeps the key material out of the app’s process space, so that the app cannot
inadvertently reveal it to the user where it could be phished, leak it through
some other channel, or have it compromised in the event of a compromise of the
app. Many devices also provide hardware-based security for keystore keys in
secure hardware, which keeps the key material out of the Android system
entirely, so that the key material cannot be leaked even by a Linux kernel
compromise. In the vast majority of Android devices, secure hardware is a
special mode of the main CPU, with hardware-enforced isolation from the Linux
kernel and Android userspace. Alternatively, some devices use a separate secure
microprocessor.

Android provides APIs that allow the app to determine whether a given keystore
key is in secure hardware, but these APIs could be unreliable if the operating
system has been compromised. Key attestation provides a way for a device’s
secure hardware to verify that an asymmetric key is in secure hardware,
protected against compromise of the Android OS.

History of Keystore

Keystore was originally introduced in Android 4.0 and keys were encrypted with
the user’s passcode. In Android 4.1 the infrastructure to use device secure
hardware was added.

Up until Android 6.0, Keystore supported RSA and ECDSA. In Android 6.0, Keystore
was significantly enhanced, adding support for AES and HMAC. Also, other crucial
elements of cryptographic operations, such as RSA padding1 and AES block chaining2 modes were moved into secure hardware.

In Android 6.0, Keystore also gained the ability to restrict the ways in which a
particular key could be used. The most obviously useful restriction that can be
applied is user authentication binding. This allows a key’s usage to be
“bound” to the user’s passcode—their PIN, pattern, or password—or fingerprint.
For passcode authentication binding, the app developer can specify a timeout in
seconds. If more than the specified time has elapsed since the user last entered
their passcode, the secure hardware refuses any requests to use the key.
Fingerprint-bound keys require a new user authentication each time the key is
used.

Other, more technical, restrictions can be applied to Android 6.0+ keys as well.
In particular, at point of key creation or import, it is necessary to specify
the cryptographic purposes (encrypt, decrypt, sign, or verify) for which the key
may be used, as well as padding and block modes, digests, source of entropy for
initialization vectors or nonces, and other details of the cryptographic
operation. Because the specified information is permanently and
cryptographically bound to the key material, Keystore won’t allow the key to be
used in any other way. Therefore, an attacker who gains control of the app or
the system can’t misuse the key. To help prevent attacks, developers should
specify the narrowest possible range of uses for a given key.

One of the most important changes to Android Keystore was introduced in Android
7.0. New devices that launch with Android 7.0+ with a secure lock screen must
have secure hardware and support hardware-based passcode authentication and
keystore keys. Prior to Android 7.0, secure hardware support was widespread, but
over the next few years it will become universal.

In Android 8.0, key attestation was made mandatory for all new devices that ship
with Google Play installed.

Why use key attestation?

Suppose you’re developing an app to provide a bank’s customers with access to
their bank balance, transaction history, and bill pay system. Security is
important; you don’t want anyone who picks up the user’s phone to have access to
their the bank account. One approach would be to use the user’s web site
password. But that’s often inconvenient for the user because web sites often
demand long, complex passwords, which are inconvenient on a small touchscreen.

With Android Keystore, you can generate an asymmetric authentication key, such
as a 256-bit ECDSA key, and have each user sign in with their complex web
password once, then register the public key in the bank’s customer account
database. Each time they open the app, you can execute a challenge-response
authentication protocol using that ECDSA key. Further, if you make the key
authentication-bound, the user can authenticate with their lock screen passcode
or fingerprint each time they open the app. That allows them to use the simpler
and more convenient authentication mechanism on their phone.

If an attacker compromises Android and attempts to extract the key, they
shouldn’t be able to because the key is in secure hardware.

As an app developer, key attestation allows you to verify on your server that
the ECDSA key your app requested actually lives in secure hardware. Note that
there’s little point in using the attestation in your app itself; if the Android
OS is uncompromised and trustworthy, then you can just use the KeyInfo
class introduced in 6.0 to discover whether the key is in secure hardware. If it
is compromised, then that API and any attempt you make to validate the
attestation on device are both unreliable.

Note that key attestation is distinct from SafetyNet
attestation
. They’re the same concept, but attest to different things and
come from different places. Keystore key attestation affirms that a crypto key
lives in secure hardware and has specific characteristics. SafetyNet attestation
affirms that a device is real (not an emulator) and that it’s running known
software. SafetyNet uses Keystore key attestation under the covers, so if you
want to know about device integrity use that. If you want to confirm that your
key is in secure hardware, use key attestation.

For details and sample code, see the key
attestation training article
on developer.android.com.

Notes


  1. Keystore supports the recommended OAEP and PSS padding modes for RSA encryption and
    signing, respectively, as well as the older PKCS#1 v1.5 modes. 

  2. Keystore supports GCM, CBC and ECB block chaining modes. 

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For the European Union, the U.S., and many countries around the world, October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, a time to broaden awareness and expand the conversation on staying safe and secure online. This time of year presents an opportunity to reflect on the state of cybersecurity – how we’re dealing with today’s challenges and ..

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We spend a lot of time thinking about how to make Android work for everyone. Whether it’s giving people their choice of device, or helping app developers make their apps more accessible, we think Android is at its best when more people have access to the power of mobile technology. And that includes kids. Kids are the most curious among us, and technology can be an avenue for them to express their creativity and to help them learn—whether they’re doing research for a school report, learning to string together a few chords on a guitar, or just playing their favorite games. At the same time, we want parents and kids to navigate technology together in a way that makes sense for their family.

Today, we’re happy to announce that Family Link, our solution for bringing kids and their parents into the Android ecosystem, is now available to parents in the United States without an invitation. Parents can also create a Google Account for their kid right from Android setup, and then manage their kid’s account and device with Family Link.

This is the next step in our journey, but we’re far from done. We’ve been humbled by the response from those who have already been using Family Link, and want to say thank you. We appreciate the positive pieces of feedback, as well as the many feature requests, and will continue to listen to your feedback as the product evolves.

Unicorn2

Getting started with Family Link

When you’re setting up your kid’s Android device (see available devices), Google asks you to create an account. Enter your kid’s birthday, and if they’re under 13, you’ll be asked to provide consent to create the account. Once that’s done, Family Link will automatically be downloaded to your kid’s device, and you can choose the apps and settings that you want for your child. Once your kid’s device is setup, download Family Link on your own device, and you can use it to do things like:

  • Manage the apps your kid can use: Approve or block the apps your kid wants to download from the Google Play Store.

  • Keep an eye on screen time: See how much time your kid spends on their favorite apps with weekly or monthly activity reports, and set daily screen time limits for their device.

  • Set device bedtime: Remotely lock your kid’s device when it’s time to play, study, or sleep.

Family Link can help you set certain digital ground rules that work for your family, whether you’re occasionally checking in on your kid’s device activity, or locking their device every day before dinner time.

If you have questions about setting up an account for your kid or using Family Link, check out our Help Center.

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The move to mobile changed UX design at its core, and the move to portable devices of all sizes (and now, shapes) continues to keep designers on their toes, providing key challenges and opportunities. Yet UX designers across the industry are keeping up, and reacting to hardware changes in their own creative ways. Here’s some of their advice to keep up with an ever-changing screen size ..

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Today, we are releasing the latest version of our Transparency Report concerning government requests for user data. This includes government requests for user data in criminal cases, as well as national security matters under U.S. law. Google fought for the right to publish this information in court and before Congress, and we continue to believe that this type of transparency can inform the broader debate about the nature and scope of government surveillance laws and programs.

In the first half of 2017, worldwide, we received 48,941 government requests that relate to 83,345 accounts. You can see more detailed figures, including a country-by-country breakdown of requests, here. We’ve also posted updated figures for the number of users/accounts impacted by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests for content in previous reporting periods. While the total number of FISA content requests was reported accurately, we inadvertently under-reported the user/account figures in some reporting periods and over-reported the user/account figures in the second half of 2010. The corrected figures are in the latest report and reflected on our visible changes page.

Updating Electronic Privacy Laws

We are publishing the latest update to our Transparency Report as the U.S. Congress embarks upon an important debate concerning the nature and scope of key FISA provisions. Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 expires at the end of 2017. This is the section of FISA that authorizes the U.S. government to compel service providers like Google to disclose user data (including communications content) about non-U.S. persons in order to acquire “foreign intelligence information.”

Earlier this year, we expressed support for specific reforms to Section 702. We continue to believe that Congress can enact reforms to Section 702 in a way that enhances privacy protection for internet users while protecting national security. Independent bodies have concluded that Section 702 is valuable and effective in protecting national security and producing useful foreign intelligence. These assessments, however, do not preclude reforms that improve privacy protections for U.S. and non-U.S. persons and that do not disturb the core purposes of Section 702.

Government access laws are due for a fundamental realignment and update in light of the proliferation of technology, the very real security threats to people, and the expectations of privacy that Internet users have in their communications. Our General Counsel, Kent Walker, delivered a speech earlier this year calling for a new framework to address cross-border law enforcement requests. Updates to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) will be necessary to create a legal framework that addresses both law enforcement and civil liberties concerns.

The recent introduction of the International Communications Privacy Act (ICPA) in the Senate and the House is a significant step in the right direction, and we applaud Senators Hatch, Coons, and Heller and Representatives Collins, Jeffries, Issa, and DeBene for their leadership on this important bill. ECPA should also be updated to enable countries that commit to baseline privacy, due process, and human rights principles to make direct requests to U.S. providers. Providing a pathway for such countries to obtain electronic evidence directly from service providers in other jurisdictions will remove incentives for the unilateral, extraterritorial assertion of a country’s laws, data localization proposals, aggressive expansion of government access authorities, and dangerous investigative techniques. These measures ultimately weaken privacy, due process, and human rights standards.

We look forward to continuing in the constructive discussion about these issues.

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It’s a long blog title, but there’s a lot of information packed into this show! We pulled it off, our second ever live TechWiseTV show and we’re back in the data center talking about all the new announcements surrounding Cisco Intersight and ACI 3.0. This show is packed with guests, customers, and technical demos. If ..

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Since the launch of Blocks, people have been enthusiastically creating and sharing their amazing models with the community. So we asked ourselves: what would it be like to use Blocks objects to create an entire interactive scene?

Turns out it’s possible. In an experiment our team built recently, we created a system that lets people make their own “Escape the Room” experience in VR. Every object in the game is made from Blocks objects, including typical stuff like a flashlight, desk, bookcase, and the obligatory keypad, but also even the room itself.

Throw in some lighting, and the result is a scene with exactly the cartoonishly spooky vibe we were going for. Not a room you’d want to be trapped in for too long!

BlockScene

To get everything to work, we had to define how objects interact. We could’ve just written that directly in our code, but our goal was to allow anybody to create these experiences—no programming knowledge required. So we created a simple system of triggers and actions that allows the creator to indicate what happens next in response to certain events.

The system can express concepts such as “when the battery object collides with the flashlight object, activate the light object.” The light happens to be a spotlight located at the tip of the flashlight object, so when the player places the battery in the right place, a cone of light will shine forward and move with the flashlight.

Using this simple trigger/action system, we built a number of other puzzles in the room, like opening a locked chest with a key, placing a book in a sliding bookcase and figuring out the combination to enter on a keypad.

Blockscenegif

Combining Blocks objects to create interactive scenes was a lot of fun. Because Blocks has a consistent low-poly visual style, the result of our efforts was an engaging environment where everything fit well together, even though objects were made by many different people on our team.

We learned a few other things along the way. First, the ability to add interactivity to a scene is super important, and a wide range of interactive scenes can be built from the simple primitives we had set up with our trigger and action system. Most of the interactions could be expressed as collisions (key and lock, battery and flashlight, book and bookcase) and simple actions like showing/hiding or animating particular objects.

Next, setting up the rendering was almost no work at all, because Blocks objects are low-poly and work well with simple materials. We just used the standard diffuse shaders for the opaque surfaces and a simple translucent one for the glass surfaces. Combining that with an ambient light and a spotlight achieved the rendering effect that we wanted.

Last, we set up a simple animation system where we pre-recorded the motions of certain objects and expressed them as a sequence of transformations (position, rotation, scale). This rudimentary animation system worked well when moving solid objects like a bookcase or the lid of a chest, but we’d need something more elaborate if we were to do character animation, perhaps using what we learned from our experiments on animating Blocks models. What’s more, adjusting the colliders for the objects to ensure they interacted correctly required some manual tweaks. In order to scale this, it might be worth looking into automatically generating simple colliders for objects.

Scene building and interactivity with Blocks objects are exciting areas for experimentation, and we’re looking forward to seeing what other applications developers will come up with in this space.

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Earlier this month, I was involved in a webinar in partnership with CSIA and Panduit that focused on system integrators and expanding their business. The system integrator role is evolving from being project-centric into a long-term solutions partner who can help manufacturing clients in critical areas such as: Security considerations on the factory floor IT/OT ..

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Every year, over 44,500 students attend Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH) Aachen, Germany. With over 150 courses of study, that cover a large swath of educational disciplines, the university is among the leading scientific and research institutions in Europe. In addition to the large student population, 540 Professors, 5,373 other academic staff and 2,679 non-faculty staff, ..

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With Google Maps, we’re committed to creating a rich, deep, and detailed understanding of the world. By digitizing and providing access to a wealth of information about the real world, we allow people to easily explore the world around them, provide tools for businesses to attract and connect with customers, power map and location experiences for third party apps and websites, and enable NGOs and governments to leverage our map and resources to tackle real-world challenges like urban planning or emergency response.

Google is continually looking for ways to add value––for our users, for local businesses, and for our partners across many industries. We want to stretch people’s perceptions of what a map can do for them, of the types of questions we can answer about the world, and the tasks we can help with. And to do that, we need to understand maps today and the impact they have on people’s lives.

With this in mind, we commissioned a detailed study to look at the impact of the geospatial industry—the ecosystem of industries that rely on geospatial technology (both online and offline)—and the direct benefit it provides to people, businesses and society. We worked with AlphaBeta, a strategy advisory business, to analyze the global impact of the geospatial industry in 2016. We asked AlphaBeta to highlight some of their findings and the methodology behind them. — Jen Fitzpatrick, VP Google Maps


At AlphaBeta, we’re passionate about identifying the forces shaping global markets and developing practical plans to create prosperity and well-being. We believe that geospatial technology is one of these forces, which is why we recently undertook research, commissioned by Google, to evaluate the impact of digital maps and their underlying technologies.

We asked ourselves: what is the full value of digital maps for users? How is this technology affecting the broader economic environment? How can societies make the most out of it?

We used consumer surveys across 22 countries spanning six regions, and other estimation approaches (such as big data analysis of online job postings), and found that geospatial services make an impact in three key ways:

Geospatial1

Consumer benefits
Maps help people move and shop in a faster and more efficient way. For example, not only do digital maps reduce travel time, they also help people save time on purchases by providing information like directions and product availability. By helping people plan routes in areas they aren’t familiar with, maps also improve public safety.

Geospatial2
Business benefits

Maps help make small and large businesses more visible, productive and profitable. By providing useful facts such as store hours, contact information and reviews, maps help drive sales—particularly important for small businesses that may find potential new customers without incurring additional advertising costs. Geospatial services also play a strategic role in helping companies in sectors covering approximately three quarters of the world’s GDP raise revenues and/or diminish costs. For example, retail companies use digital maps for market research and to identify the most profitable locations for their network of stores.

Geospatial3
Societal benefits

Finally, maps have positive spillover effects on the environment and societies around the world—for example, by creating jobs and reducing CO2 emissions through more efficient vehicle trips and easier identification of alternative transportation options. Geospatial technology can also play a role in emergencies—such as helping people prepare for a natural disaster by highlighting flood-risk areas.

The impact of geospatial services also varies from country to country—showing that there’s still room in many places to maximize the benefits of geospatial services for everyone. To do so, the geospatial industry, businesses, NGOs and governments in these areas will need to work together to promote, adopt and implement existing and new applications of geospatial technology.

To find out more, visit www.valueoftheweb.com.

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Your Google Assistant is now available on Android TV, starting with NVIDIA SHIELD TV today and Sony Bravia TVs in the coming months.

With your Assistant on Android TV, you can jump right into your favorite show, find the latest blockbuster, check the score of the big game, dim the lights and more— all with just your voice. To get started, accept the Google Assistant system update on your SHIELD and press your remote’s mic button after the device restarts. From there, you’re ready to sit back and relax with the help of your Assistant.

Here are some ways your Assistant can help you on the big screen:

  • “Play Game of Thrones”— your Assistant can play a wide variety of content, from movies and TV shows to YouTube clips and music. With HBO NOW, Netflix and YouTube, you can instantly watch something by asking for it by name or, if you aren’t sure what to watch, try “show me movies about climbing Mount Everest.” You can also ask your Assistant to “play some music” or listen to a specific song on YouTube Music, Google Play Music, Spotify or Pandora.
  • “Play business news”— catch up on what’s going on in the news, from business to tech to entertainment. And once you’re caught up, prepare for your own day by asking “what’s on my agenda for today?”
  • “Talk to Fitstar”— apps for the Google Assistant are also now available on Android TV, so you can talk to Fitstar for a quick home workout, Tender for a cocktail recommendation, Wall Street Journal for a market update and more.
  • “Order more popcorn”— stock up on binge-watching snacks right from the comfort of your couch. With Google Express, you can shop and reorder from Walgreens, Walmart and many other stores.
  • “Turn off”— it’s as simple as that. With your Assistant on Android TV you can turn up the volume, pause, control your smart home devices and more, just with your voice.

Also, to celebrate the arrival of the Google Assistant on Android TV,  we’re offering a free three month YouTube Red trial on SHIELD, so you can watch ad-free videos and listen to uninterrupted music with your Assistant (try saying “play 4K videos on YouTube”).

Starting today, SHIELD users in the U.S. can upgrade their TV experience with the Google Assistant. So dim the lights, order some popcorn and dive into your favorite shows.

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