Google to pay security researchers who find Android apps and Chrome extensions misusing user data – gpgmail


Google said it will pay security researchers who find “verifiably and unambiguous evidence” of data abuse using its platforms.

It’s part of the company’s efforts to catch those who misuse user data collected through Android apps or Chrome extensions — and to avoid its own version of a scandal like Cambridge Analytica, which saw millions of Facebook profiles scraped and used to identify undecided voters during the U.S. presidential election in 2016.

Google said anyone who identifies “situations where user data is being used or sold unexpectedly, or repurposed in an illegitimate way without user consent” is eligible for its expanded data abuse bug bounty.

“If data abuse is identified related to an app or Chrome extension, that app or extension will accordingly be removed from Google Play or Google Chrome Web Store,” read a blog post. “In the case of an app developer abusing access to Gmail restricted scopes, their API access will be removed.” The company said abuse of its developer APIs would also fall under the scope of the bug bounty.

Google said it isn’t providing a reward table yet but a single report of data misuse could net $50,000 in bounties.

News of the expanded bounty comes in the wake of the DataSpii scandal, which saw browser extensions scrape and share data from millions of users. These Chrome extensions uploaded web addresses and webpage titles of every site a user visited, exposing sensitive data like tax returns, patient data, and travel itineraries.

Google was forced to step in and suspend the offending Chrome extensions.

Instagram recently expanded its own bug bounty to include misused user data following a spate of data incidents,


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Microsoft’s new Chromium-based Edge browser is now in beta – gpgmail


Microsoft today launched the first beta builds of its new Chromium-based Edge browser for Windows and Mac. The new beta channel, which will see a new update roughly every six weeks, will join the existing dev and canary channels, which will continue to see daily and weekly updates, respectively.

Over the course of the last few months of preview releases in the existing channels, Microsoft gathered about 140,000 pieces of feedback. With this — and a sufficient amount of telemetry it also received from early adopters — the company now feels that it knows enough about how well Edge works on a wide range of machines and that it is stable enough for enthusiasts, web developers and business users to give it a try before its wider release.

“Beta represents the most stable preview channel, as features are added to Beta only after they have cleared quality testing in first the Canary channel and then the Dev channel,” Microsoft explains in today’s announcement. “Major version updates can be expected roughly every six weeks, alongside periodic minor updates for bug fixes and security.”

At this point, Microsoft has also put all of the infrastructure in place to update the browser and tested it thoroughly through the early preview phase. If need be, that means the team can release an unscheduled beta when it discovers a bug and know that its update systems will work just fine.

Just like Chrome, Firefox and most other browsers, Microsoft will continue to test new features in the canary and developer builds before enabling them in the beta builds. The current canary build, for example, features a very useful global media control button that lets you control YouTube, Spotify and other video and music services without having to switch tabs. Features like this will come to the beta channel in the coming months.

Also available in the beta, but currently behind a flag, are Microsoft’s tracking-prevention features. Soon, the beta build will also get support for collections, Microsoft’s modern take on bookmarks, though as far as I can tell, that feature isn’t currently enabled in the canary and developer releases yet either (Correction: it went live in the canary release with this update). Other new features that’ll soon make their way to the beta are Internet Explorer mode for those companies that still use legacy applications that rely on Microsoft’s old, pre-Edge browser.

With this release, Microsoft is also launching a security bounty program for Edge. Security researchers who find and disclose any high-impact vulnerabilities in the beta and dev channel releases are eligible for rewards of up to $15,000.

As a Microsoft spokesperson stressed in an interview ahead of today’s release, the team is also quite happy about the fact that it has now contributed more than 1,000 commits to the Chromium project. That project is mostly led by Google engineers, but it’s good to see that Microsoft’s plans for ramping up its contributions are paying off. By moving to Chromium, Microsoft gave up developing its own engine. At the time, the company argued that continuing to invest in an engine that only had a few users wasn’t exactly useful in keeping the overall web ecosystem healthy, and that it could have more impact by working on Chromium instead. That work, it seems, is starting to pay off now.

As the team told me, a lot of the work so far has gone into bringing Edge to beta status and making sure that all of the core features are working. That means you won’t see a lot of features in the browser that really set Edge apart from the competition (Collections are a good example here). As those core features become ever more stable, though, we’ll see the team focus more on tools and features that will differentiate Edge from the likes of Chrome.

Personally, I switched to the new Edge shortly after the first developer and canary releases and have been on the daily update channel ever since. Despite its preview status, the browser has been very stable on both Windows 10 and the Mac. Some versions were better than others, but I didn’t experience and major blocking bugs in the process, and Edge has proven to be a fast and stable browser. That bodes well for the beta program.


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Google Cloud’s run rate is now over $8B – gpgmail


It’s been a while since Google last shared any fundamental financial data about its cloud business. In today’s earnings call, though, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who recently installed former Oracle exec Thomas Kurian as the new head of Google Cloud, announced that this business unit now has an $8 billion annual revenue run rate. That’s up from the $4 billion the company reported in early 2018.

While Google often felt like an also-ran in the cloud wars, it’s clearly starting to make up some ground. “Other cloud providers would have you believe that no one is using Google, which is not true,” Kurian told me when I talked to him earlier this year. Now he can put some numbers behind this claim.

To put that into perspective, AWS’s run rate topped $30 billion last quarter while Microsoft Azure is somewhere around $11 billion, though concrete numbers are hard to come by.

“Q2 was another strong quarter for Google Cloud, which reached an annual revenue run rate of over $8 billion and continues to grow at a significant pace,” Pichai said. “Customers are choosing Google Cloud for a variety of reasons: reliability and uptime are critical. Retailers like Lowe’s are leveraging the cloud as one of the important tools to transform their customer experience and supply chain.”

Pichai also noted that customers want the flexibility to move to the cloud in their own way, something that some of Google’s competitors — and especially Microsoft — focused on before Google got to this point. With Anthos and other initiatives, the company is now catching up, though.

Unsurprisingly, Pichai also stressed Google’s role in pushing AI forward at a time when enterprises are starting to look at how they can make use of this technology.



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