Week Ending: 12th March - A Roundup in I.T. & Tech News

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If, like many of us this week, you’ve waved the kids back off to school and are now busy counting down the days to the end of lockdown, you may have missed what’s been happening in the I.T. and tech world.

From Bitcoin carbon footprint fears to an AI-powered cough monitoring app and dangerous malware found on Google’s play store, let’s bring you up to date.

Bitcoin rise could leave carbon footprint the size of London’s

Research released this week estimates that Bitcoin could consume as much energy as all datacentres globally, leaving a substantial carbon footprint.

The research lead by Dutch economist, Alex de Vries, states that the cryptocurrency could leave a carbon footprint as big as London’s.

De Vries, who created the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, conducted research back in 2017 which estimated that the cryptocurrency network used 30 terawatt hours (TWh) a year, the equivalent to the whole of the Republic of Ireland. This week he released new research that estimates the network is currently using more than twice as much energy, between 78TWh and 101TWh, the same amount as Norway!

You may be questioning how an online currency is creating a carbon footprint. It’s all related to the creation process and how you ‘mine’ the coins. This process is done by computers carrying out complex calculations, the more bitcoins there are the longer this process takes which uses more electricity.

According to de Vries, 60% of the costs of bitcoin mining is the price of electricity used. He predicts that it is likely to increase substantially because of the currency’s recent price rises and new miners investing in more hardware to acquire these bitcoins.

Alex de Vries commented:

“Although bitcoin might be a decentralised currency, many aspects of the ecosystem surrounding it are not. Large-scale miners can easily be targeted with higher electricity rates, moratoria or, in the most extreme case, confiscation of the equipment used. Moreover, the supply chain of specialised bitcoin mining devices is concentrated among only a handful of companies. Manufacturers like Bitmain can be burdened with additional taxes like tobacco companies or be limited in their access to chip production.”

Explore more here.

AI-powered cough monitoring app now available

Artificial intelligence has been developing rapidly, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The most recent development is an app called Hyfe, an AI-powered cough-monitoring app that provides health insights and can potentially detect COVID-19.

Hyfe, which is available on both Android and iOS, uses specialised acoustic artificial intelligence algorithms which can analyse users’ coughs. It uses individual markers including volume and regularity which can help people identify any underlying illnesses.

The app has been developed by an international team of collaborators with a background in public health. It allows users to understand their symptoms as well as articulate them to healthcare professionals.

During the current pandemic telehealth has seen significant growth, providing health practitioners with patient information remotely and asynchronously to aid with diagnoses.

According to Science Soft, the global market for telehealth is predicted to grow to £40.8 billion by 2025. This significant growth is due to the increase in population and the advancements in technology, alongside individuals becoming more aware of their own health.

Visit our blog on Telehealth and cybersecurity to learn more:

Joe Brew, Co-founder of Hyfe commented

“We are delighted to launch Hyfe to the UK and Ireland and look forward to assisting individuals in monitoring and tracking their own health through cough patterns. One of the earliest uses of telehealth was around 140 years ago, when a doctor used a telephone to diagnose a child’s croup cough. Generations later, the potential for remote cough diagnosis and monitoring has still not been effectively scaled. While Hyfe is primarily focused on detecting the frequency of coughs, our ambition is to evolve the technology to eventually provide a digital diagnostic tool that can differentiate coughs based on different types of illnesses”

The development of technology such as Hyfe is of high importance during the pandemic but also will improve the way health practitioners work in the future.

Read more here.

Dangerous malware dropper found in 9 utility apps on Google’s Play Store

Research conducted by Check Point Research (CPR) has recently discovered a new malware dropper dubbed Clast82 that is spreading via the Google Play store. With the ability to avoid detection by Google Play Protect the attacker can obtain access to victims’ financial accounts and more.

The malware used in this incident is known as the AlienBot malware - Malware-as-a-Service (MaaS) for Android devices that allows a remote attacker to inject malicious code into legitimate financial applications. It can lead to the attacker having access to the accounts and eventually completely controlling the device.

The malware’s ability to remain undetected highlights why mobile security is so important, especially when sharing financial details through apps which can be easily intercepted and abused. Just scanning the app during the evaluation period is not enough, as a malicious actor can and will change the apps behaviour using third-party tools.

After Check Point Research reported their findings to the Android Security team, it has been confirmed by Google that all Clast82 apps were removed from the Google Play Store.

Discover more here.

Those were some of this week’s biggest stories in I.T. and tech, but if you want more content, follow us across our four social media channels.