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The Realities of the Cyber Age: Computer Technologies Under the Radar

            Computers have entered human lives at such a fundamental level and with such enormous speed that it has become virtually impossible for any modern citizen of the world to imagine a life without them. Ranging from home and office computers to super fast servers, today’s machines help human beings communicate, calculate, run applications and do office work among many other features. Similarly, computer scientists became important people in the global society and new computer technologies provide excellent resources and capabilities for them as well. Whether it be programming a new software, duplicating or creating backup files using R-Drive Image or simply installing a new operating system, such professionals are always in the know and loop of novelties, updates and developments. As the markets grow to include new regions of the world within the cyber domain, computer technologies will continue to make life easier with new products and services, contributing to the creation of a more integrated word society.

            Everyone is in love with their computer and the wonderful features it provides but risks are also present in the cyber domain. With famous malware such as ‘Notpetya’, ‘Samsam’ and ‘WannaCry’ in existence, not only computer users but even computer manufacturers are in danger of being inflicted with a destructive software that might erase all the files in a system, change parameters or even cause hardware damage. Recently, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company experienced a technical issue with its central operating system as one of tits third party vendors shipped software to the company without pre-screening it, containing the WannaCry virus, which spread around the entire system. Although the virus was completely cleaned in a few days, the company lost 2% of its third-quarter revenue. Similarly, Mondelez International, one of the world’s largest snacks producers, faced an issue with its servers when the Notpetya trojan virus infected the computers, which included crucial data regarding global sales, distribution and financial networks. As a result, the company lost $103.6 million in damages and an additional $84 million for the recovery effort.   

            One of the biggest reasons why people use computers these days is social media access and Facebook has always been the leader in the sector with a network of more than 2 billion users. The company is currently investing into an artificial intelligence software to “scan people's accounts for danger signs of imminent self-harm” and help its users deal with psychological issues. The company itself is quite pleased with this new policy as according to the Facebook Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis, the system encountered 100 imminent-response cases, leading Facebook administrators to  contact local emergency responders immediately. In total, Facebook’s AI system gathered 3,500+ reports last year, averaging 10 checks on involved users a day. However, doctor and lawyer Mason Marks is rather skeptical about the procedure, claiming that the system cannot know for sure if such 3,500+ cases were indeed actual emergencies. Marks also believes that the system needs to be cautious and transparent, as otherwise, users will shy away from speaking about issues of psychological and mental sensitivity, fearing police visits and other procedures, which will inevitably reduce the chances of success for the AI system.  

            In a similar vein, Facebook’s recently acquired side project, Instagram, is also undergoing some policy changes as its developers took notice of third-party apps that enable users to receive ‘inuathentic likes’. Such apps also post content for their users or visit other users to post comment on their profiles, creating security risks both for users and the system itself. Instagram’s algorithm allows its authentic users to visit, like, share and comment on other users’ content, which has made the service quite popular among the global audience. Currently, Instagram developers are using machine learning tools to “help identify accounts that use these services and remove the inauthentic activity” as such activity harms the community and violates the company’s community guidelines and terms of service. The strategy was employed at a time when Instagram began to shift its focus towards its ‘Stories’ feature and when Facebook is undergoing significant pressures to clean up inauthentic activity for providing its user a more secure service. Recently, Facebook removed 85 Instagram accounts that were identified as inauthentic contributors after complaints were received regarding hate posts and nude content.