Daily dose

Microsoft releases critical update to fix Windows flaw

Do you have Windows update enabled? If not, now is the best time to check for updates to your Windows operating system as Microsoft released a set of patches to address critical vulnerabilities for the Remote Desktop Services component of Windows.

The critical flaw could allow for remote code execution, hackers could use it to run programs on a vulnerable computer without knowledge or permission of the owner. In addition, the vulnerability is ‘wormable‘ futue malware could exploit it to spread from an affected computer to another un-patched computer without action from a user.

The following versions of Windows are affected:

  • Windows 7 SP1
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • all supported versions of Windows 10, including server versions

The update should be available on your Windows computer by now if Windows Update is set to automatically download and install.

If you have it on manual, you just launch Windows Update, click on the Check for Updates button to refresh, then click on Install to download and apply the fix to your Windows PC.

Windows Update
Windows Update will automatically download the right fix for your Windows version

You would need to restart the machine after to complete the installation of the critical fix. Go ahead, update your Windows PC now.

Daily dose

Facebook voice messages transcribed by contractors

Have you ever sent a voice message through Facebook Messenger? If so, there’s a great chance that someone else might have listened to it and even made a transcription. That’s right, someone else has heard and written down those words you intended only for your friend, family or special someone. Bloomberg reports that Facebook has hired contractors to transcribe voice messages sent through its Messenger app/service.

While Facebook uses AI to mine or analyze our chat conversations in Messenger for information so that it can serve ads, give suggestions like canned responses or what emoji to reply with, it’s clear that it’s not yet good enough to analyze voice messages.

Their solution is simple – outsource it to contractors and have their workers literally listen to the voice messages and transcribe it for the AI to digest. Simple yet has ‘invasion of privacy’ written all over it. In red.

Is Facebook allowed to do this? It seems we have given it our permission to do so:

The Facebook data-use policy, revised last year to make it more understandable for the public, includes no mention of audio. It does, however, say Facebook will collect “content, communications and other information you provide” when users “message or communicate with others.”
Facebook says its “systems automatically process content and communications you and others provide to analyze context and what’s in them.” It includes no mention of other human beings screening the content. In a list of “types of third parties we share information with,” Facebook doesn’t mention a transcription team, but vaguely refers to “vendors and service providers who support our business” by “analyzing how our products are used.”

Facebook Paid Contractors to Transcribe Users’ Audio Chats by Sara Frier,

Other companies like Amazon, Google and Apple have done the same in order to improve their AI services Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri respectively but has stopped the practice after they got criticized for it. Facebook has also recently stopped it as well, for now.

I’m not yet sure how this sits with privacy laws in each country around the world. In the Philippines our own Data Privacy Act is quite stringent with this regard and will be the subject of a follow up to this post. In the meantime, bear in mind that the next time you send another voice message in Messenger, someone else could listen to it at any time and most likely, without you knowing.