Week Ending: 10th September - A Roundup in I.T. & Tech News

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What a week this has been, with an unexpected heatwave hitting the UK, we’re sure you’ll have been soaking up the sun rather than keeping on top of the headlines. Don’t worry, we’ll get you all caught up on the I.T. and Technology news this week.

This week’s round-up covers everything from a device that could stop USB cyberattacks for good, scientists developing an app that uses AI to diagnose illness by listening to coughs, and iPhones and Androids could soon be safer to use for longer.

Let’s get you up to speed.

This device could stop USB cyberattacks for good

Scientists from Liverpool Hope University have created a new device capable of countering the threats posed by malicious USB devices.

USB devices such as flash drives are convenient and make moving data between devices easier, they can also be abused by cybercriminals to infect computers with malware and other viruses.

Dr Shishir Kumar Shandilya, Professor Atulya Nagar and a team of experts and professors at Liverpool Hope University have developed a cutting-edge device that can counteract the dangers posed by hostile USB devices.

Dr Shandilya commented:

“If the OS is not configured to restrict and promote the user’s permission on an inserted USB device, then as soon as the USB drive is inserted it can execute default auto run script that can deliver the intended payload to the computing devices and deliver multiple kinds of malicious programs such as viruses, Trojans, Keyloggers, Spyware, Remote Access Trojans (RATs), and so forth to the computing devices.”

Due to this, a new type of ‘intermediate’ gadget was created. The device sits between a flash drive and the USB ports and serves as a doorway or barrier, scanning each USB drive for dangerous malware ensuring it stops any attacks before they begin.

According to Dr Shadilya, the team’s new invention adds another layer of computer security, which can also hide the host’s operating system data.

Unfortunately, this technology is only in the prototype testing phase but there is hope to bring this device to market as soon as possible.

Discover more here.

Scientists developing app to diagnose by listening to cough

An app that uses artificial intelligence to identify a patients cough is currently being developed by scientists. The app will quickly help diagnose what disease or condition a person has including Covid-19, all by the sound of their cough.

Researchers with the Embedded Systems Laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne are developing a diagnostic test on a smartphone app that works by ‘listening’ to the sound of the user’s cough.

Scientists have used cough sounds to diagnose whooping cough, asthma and pneumonia in the past, however this new diagnostic test uses machine learning algorithms to determine what kind of frequencies the cough is made up of. They have been recording millions of coughs on smartphone apps and are training AI to identify what disease or condition the patient has.

AI may be able to pick up patterns in the cough that humans are unable to detect by simply listening. The app would therefore be faster than a doctor’s visit because it could screen hundreds of patients, saving the NHS money in the long term.

Dr Paul Porter commented:

“We have developed a method that agrees with expert diagnosis of community acquired pneumonia while not requiring auscultation or radiology. Diagnosing respiratory diseases can be challenging, particularly in circumstances where an examination is not possible such as in telehealth. This technology solves a major obstacle in the provision of respiratory healthcare during telehealth and digital consultations.”

Those behind the project believe such technology is vital to carrying out remote consultations with GPs, particularly during the pandemic.

Read more here.

iPhones and Androids could soon keep working for much longer

Smartphones such as iPhones and Androids could be safer to use for a lot longer. This week it was announced that the German Federal Government was attempting to get the European Union to require smartphone makers to provide seven years of safety updates and spare parts.

According to Heise Online, a German technology news website, Android phones only come with around three years of security updates, regardless of the price of the handsets. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S21 range now comes with four years of security updates but a move to seven years will become a huge improvement. Apple on the other hand usually has five or six years of software support.

Why are long-term security updates needed? Once a smartphone stops getting security updates it becomes more vulnerable to hackers and other issues such as slow uploading or downloading speeds.

But from a consumer and environmental perspective this extended support would be hugely beneficial, and while this proposal would only affect EU countries, there’s a fair chance that manufacturers might roll these updates out globally once they’ve gone to the trouble of preparing them.

Find out 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.