The next step for autonomous driving…

A bold move from Waymo just caught my eye…

As we have discussed before, Waymo is Google’s autonomous driving division. A few days ago, it petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Its request?

It wants the NHTSA to “promptly” remove the regulations that require cars to have a steering wheel and floor pedals.

That’s right… Waymo wants to get rid of steering wheels and brake pedals. This may seem like an odd request. But it makes perfect sense for cars that drive themselves.

Fully autonomous cars don’t need a human in the driver’s seat. Thus, getting rid of the steering wheel and floor pedals frees up space for both passengers and screens for productivity and entertainment.

To me, this is a clear indication of how advanced self-driving tech has become. If Waymo is petitioning regulators, that indicates that the company believes the technology is ready, or near ready, for commercial deployment. And it realizes we need to get the regulatory framework in place for these commercial deployments to happen at scale.

Rather than a theoretical discussion, this has become a pragmatic one.

This is a great sign of what’s to come. Considering the state of current autonomous driving technology now, I think 2020 will be the breakout year for autonomous driving tech.

Waymo’s initiatives here will help the rest of the autonomous driving industry. It has a lot of cash to spend on lobbying to get regulations updated. Everybody else in this space will benefit, including Tesla.

Of course, Waymo does have ulterior motives.

We have talked before about how Google wants in our cars. It sees our daily commute as a major untapped market for digital advertising. And by removing the steering wheel and floor pedals, there will be more room for screens… on which Google can serve ads to us.

A simple way to reverse aging in the brain…

Fascinating research out of Cambridge University has revealed how to theoretically reverse aging in the brain. Scientists discovered that by removing a certain protein in the stem cells of a rat’s brain, it reversed the aging process. This is a fairly simple procedure that yielded amazing results.

Obviously, this research hasn’t been conducted on humans yet. But imagine if we could remove a protein in the human brain to reverse aging in our brains. That has the potential to treat devastating diseases like multiple sclerosis and even Alzheimer’s disease. That’s where this is going.

The quest for longevity is nothing new. It’s been taking place since humans set off in search of the Fountain of Youth, which first appeared in the writings of Herodotus in the fifth century B.C.

But we are just now seeing some radical advancements in this quest. We are discovering ways to deal with the physiological changes that occur as we age. That’s an exciting prospect.

More on this tomorrow…

Beware of this sophisticated internet scam…

We talked about how to spot phishing attacks back in July. Today, we need to talk about a botnet called TrickBot. It is similar to a standard phishing attack… just more sophisticated. TrickBot targets Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, and Sprint customers. Here’s how it works…

TrickBot intercepts internet traffic when consumers go to sign in to their Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint account. Instead of getting to the actual login page, TrickBot reroutes victims to a fake page.

A TrickBot Page Resembles the Real Thing

Left side is the TrickBot page. Right side is Verizon’s real login page.
Source: Secureworks

As you can see from the image above, the pages are nearly identical. The only difference is TrickBot wants the PIN number.

And the reason is that the PIN – in addition to the User ID and password – gives cybercriminals everything they need to take over the wireless account. With the PIN, they can “port” the telephone number to a new phone. That gives them access to all text messages, voice communications, and email services tied to the account.

From there, cybercriminals can reset the consumer’s password on other accounts, such as bank and credit card accounts. As a security measure, these accounts typically require users to verify password requests via email or text message. That’s why TrickBot was designed to take over the entire phone… to give cybercriminals full access to these emails and text messages.

And, of course, once cybercriminals have access to bank accounts and credit cards… Well, there’s no limit to the havoc they can cause.

So this is a sophisticated scam. Fortunately, it’s not hard to detect.

To thwart TrickBot, we just need to check the URL bar at the top of our web browser before entering any sensitive information. We should get in the habit of doing this for all of our accounts, not just our wireless phone service.

The key is to make sure the URL bar displays the proper web address. For example, we can see what Verizon’s URL looks like when we sign into an account: The s in https stands for “secure.” This is a quick way to ensure that we have a secure connection to the real login screen of Verizon. AT&T’s login URL is similar: That’s how we can confirm that we are in the right place… or if we were redirected. Here’s an example I used for Facebook back in July:

A Fake Login Page

Source: Hacker’s Place

Looking at the URL (highlighted in yellow), this clearly isn’t Facebook’s page. The proper course of action here is to close the web browser immediately. As long as you don’t type in your information, you won’t be a victim.

Of course, the same holds true for any other site, including the wireless companies that TrickBot targets. The URL will tell us if we landed on a fake page.

Checking the URL is becoming critical. These bots are now driven by artificial intelligence (AI)… making them much more deceptive.


Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge