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Advanced Facial Recognition, VPN Security Flaws & More News

This week in tech news: China won't let you hide with advanced facial recognition surveillance, Chrome wants to protect your private data and time to check your VPN security settings. Here's the news you need to know, in two minutes or less.



How facial recognition works: how good is the tech at identifying people under different conditions?


Facial recognition is increasingly being deployed around the world. The latest surveillance systems can be capable of making a correct match, according to interviews with several researchers who work at Chinese AI companies. Their view is based on recent studies made on surveillance techniques beyond existing facial recognition systems, the researchers said. Those include methods to identify partially exposed faces, gait patterns and various distinguishing body features.

Use of deep learning – a subset of AI – speeds up a system’s face-scanning capability, as it learns more about the data it is processing. These systems generate a so-called “unique face print” for each subject by reading and measuring dozens to thousands of “nodal points”, including the distance between eyes, the width of a person’s nose and depth of the eye socket. With a network of surveillance cameras, recognition systems process a wider range of features, including height, age and colour of clothes.


Chrome extension privacy crackdown begins Oct. 15 with Project Strobe


Google's Project Strobe, an attempt to keep Chrome browser extensions from slurping up your personal data, will take effect Oct. 15. The change is part of a broader tech industry move to protect private information that can be gathered for creepy business purposes or leaked through data breaches. Moving forward, developers of third-party add-ons in Chrome and Drive must take a more conservative approach with user permissions. Extensions should only request the least amount of user data they need to function. Additionally, any app that handles user-provided content or personal communications must post a privacy policy.


VPN security flaws could open up your network to attacks

New security flaws discovered in three popular corporate VPN tools by researchers at Devcore could allow attackers to steal confidential information directly from companies' networks. The firm's Orange Tsai and Meh Chang first discovered the security flaws which affect corporate VPNs from Palo Alto Networks, Fortinet and Pulse Secure. Typically companies provide their staff with a corporate username and password along with a two-factor authentication code to access their networks using a VPN. However, according to Chang and Tsai, the flaws they discovered could allow an attacker to gain access to a company's network without the need for a username or password.


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