Plex goes retro with subscription game-streaming service Arcade – CNET


Plex Arcade features classic Atari titles such as Centipede and Missile Command.


Plex is best known as a media-streaming platform for live TV and music, as well as content from an attached hard drive or host computer via the Plex server. But now the company behind the app is aiming to draw more users with the addition of a subscription game-streaming service that offers iconic old-school Atari games.

Plex said Tuesday its Plex Arcade will offer access to such retro classics as Centipede, Missile Command and Lunar Lander, as well as allow users to play and store their own ROMs in the library. Plex said its games can be played on Android (mobile and TV), iOS, tvOS and the Chrome web browser.

Plex Arcade debuts as tech giants and media companies have been more broadly experimenting with subscription services. Google has made a big push into gaming, and in 2019, it launched Stadia, a service that lets people stream games from the cloud instead of playing them on a console.

Apple followed up later that year with the launch of Apple Arcade, a game-subscription service lets Apple users play more than 145 games across iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac and Apple TV devices for $5 a month. 

Like Apple Arcade, a Plex Arcade subscription costs $5 a month after a free seven-day trial. Users with a Plex Pass account will pay $3 a month. But unlike Apple Arcade, Plex is focusing on the classic games of yester-century.

However, the game server currently works only on Windows and macOS because because cloud gaming partner Parsec doesn't yet offer its libraries on Linux or other platforms.

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TikTok vulnerability left users’ private information exposed – CNET


TikTok has patched a vulnerability that left users open to having personal information scraped.

Angela Lang/CNET

A vulnerability identified in the popular video-sharing app TikTok exposed users to having personal information scraped from their profile, including their phone number and profile settings, security researchers at cybersecurity firm Check Point said Tuesday. That information could have been used to manipulate users' account details and build a database of TikTok users for malicious activity, researchers said.

The flaw in the app's Find Friends feature also exposed users' nicknames, profile and avatar pictures, and unique user IDs, Check Point said. There's no evidence that the vulnerability was ever exploited, and the flaw has reportedly been patched.

"An attacker with that degree of sensitive information could perform a range of malicious activities, such as spear phishing or other criminal actions," Check Point spokesperson Ekram Ahmed said in a statement. "Our message to TikTok users is to share the bare minimum when it comes to your personal data."

TikTok called security and privacy in its community its highest priority and thanked Check Point for bringing the vulnerability to its attention.

"We continue to strengthen our defenses, both by constantly upgrading our internal capabilities such as investing in automation defenses, and also by working with third parties," a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement.

TikTok, which operates outside China but is owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, has run into its share of controversy when it comes to the security of user data. A California user sued the company in 2019, alleging TikTok shares user data with the Chinese government. The US Army banned service members from using the app on government phones, after initially using the service for recruitment.

It's also not the first TikTok vulnerability discovered by TikTok. Earlier this month, researchers at the firm identified a series of software flaws in the app that opened the door to a range of attacks on users, including the sending of legitimate-looking text messages with links to malicious software and manipulating videos stored on the service.

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Website features faces from Parler’s Capitol riot videos – CNET


Faces of the Riots includes links to the videos scraped from Parler.

Faces of the Riots/Screen shot by Steven Musil

A website designed to help identify individuals at the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riots quietly went live earlier this month, displaying thousands of facial images of people who allegedly participated in the deadly siege.

The website, called Faces of the Riot, includes nearly 6,000 images captured from videos uploaded to Parler, a social media site popular with conservatives. Parler, which became a haven for racist and extremist content, was recently forced offline for allowing posts about the insurrection that led to the deaths of five people.

The images come from an archive of Parler that hackers created by scraping posts and location data for images and videos before it was taken offline. The site's creators used open-source facial detection software to extract images from 827 videos that were posted on Parler from inside and outside the US Capitol building.

The intent is to help the FBI identify who participated in the siege, one of the site's two creators told CNET.

"Before this, everyone being held accountable was a famous politician" or notable figure, one of the site's creators, who asked not to be identified, told CNET through Twitter direct messages. "But there were thousands of other people there who also should be held accountable for this."

A Twitter account for the website started tweeting on Jan. 15, and the site has been archived since Jan. 16 

The violence on Capitol Hill began when lawmakers assembled to count Electoral College votes and confirm Joe Biden's victory. The violence followed a rally held by now-former President Donald Trump, who encouraged his supporters to march on the building. Lawmakers had to be evacuated, and National Guard troops were deployed to restore order.

The Faces of the Riot site, which was earlier reported by Wired, is minimalist and is laid out in a grid of images that often resemble mugshots. Each image is linked to the original video that shows what the individual was doing that day at the Capitol. The site discourages users from conducting their own investigations and encourages them to share tips with the FBI.

"We aim to make it easier to find tips to submit to the FBI, not for an average user to identify people, as that can get dangerous," said one of the site's creators, who described himself as computer science student in Virginia.

The site's creators invite users to report any image that might be in the database by mistake. The site's creators will delete errant images.

"We've spent about 5 hours manually removing pictures of children and non-rioters prior to publishing the database," the site's creator said, adding that they haven't had any contact with the FBI, though they have submitted a few tips of their own.

The FBI didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Trump pardons ex-Uber and Google engineer Anthony Levandowski – Roadshow


Former Google and Uber self-driving car engineer Anthony Levandowski was granted a pardon by President Trump after admitting to theft of trade secrets.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President Donald Trump pardoned Anthony Levandowski, a former Google and Uber engineer and a pioneer of self-driving car tech who plead guilty last year to stealing trade secrets from the internet giant.

Levandowski first worked at Google but left the company in 2016 to start his own self-driving truck company, which was quickly acquired by Uber for $680 million. That led to Google's autonomous vehicle unit, Waymo, suing Uber over alleged theft of self-driving car trade secrets. That lawsuit settled in February 2018 with Uber agreeing to pay Waymo $245 million.

Prosecutors also charged Levandowski with  33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets from Google. He plead guilty to one count of trade secret theft in an agreement in which federal prosecutors to drop the remaining charges.

"I downloaded these files with the intent to use them for my own personal benefit, and I understand that I was not authorized to take the files for this purpose," Levandowski said in a filing last Marc with the US District Court of the Northern District of California.

"Mr. Levandowski has paid a significant price for his actions and plans to devote his talents to advance the public good," Trump said in granting the pardon, adding that it was "strongly supported" by tech and entertainment figures such as Oculus cofounder Palmer Luckey, PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel and Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz,

Google sued Levandowski individually in arbitration over quitting his job and breaking his contract with the tech giant. That case concluded in 2019 with a panel agreeing to charge Levandowski with a massive $179 million fine. Hours after the multimillion-dollar award to Google was finalized, Levandowski filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Google and Uber didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Levandowski couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Trump also granted a full pardon to rapper/singer/songwriter/producer Lil Wayne, who was scheduled for a sentencing hearing later this month for carrying a gold-plated handgun in his luggage on a private flight to south Florida. Trump also pardoned singer/songwriter Bill K. Kapri, better known as Kodak Black, who was sentenced to 46 months in prison for making a false statement on a federal document when trying to procure firearms from a federally licensed firearms dealer.

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Trump signs order aimed at thwarting cyber interference – CNET


Trump has signed an executive order targeting foreign use of cloud services against the US.

Graphic by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday that aims to prevent foreign actors from using cloud computing platforms for malicious cyber interference against the US.

The order, signed on Trump's last full day in office, directs the Commerce Department to develop rules that require cloud service providers to identify and take action against foreign entities suspected using the services for malicious cyber-enabled activities.

"Foreign malicious cyber actors aim to harm the United States economy through the theft of intellectual property and sensitive data and to threaten national security by targeting United States critical infrastructure for malicious cyber-enabled activities," Trump's order says.

"This order provides authority to impose record-keeping obligations with respect to foreign transactions," it says.

Trump's order comes two weeks after several US intelligence agencies attributed a sophisticated malware campaign to Russia. The massive breach reportedly compromised an email system used by senior leadership at the Treasury Department and systems at several other federal agencies.

Trump has been reluctant to blame Russia as the source of cyber interference in the US, suggesting instead that China is to blame for the hack.

In 2020, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a reported highlighting multiple instances in which  the Trump campaign promoted stolen material provided by Russian hackers during the 2016 presidential campaign, even after the US intelligence community warned that the data came from the Kremlin.

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Google Doodle offers historical parallel for Martin Luther King Day – CNET


The fight for racial equality transcends generations.


The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired us to rise up against injustice 60 years ago and he's still inspiring hope for generations born decades later that racial equality is possible.

It's a goal that transcends generations and that's the message of this year's Martin Luther King Day Google Doodle honoring the civil rights pioneer. Monday's Doodle depicts parallel scenes from the 1960s and today, showing not only scenes of marches and protests for equality but also efforts to improve communities for everyone.

Born Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta, King began preaching as a Baptist minister in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1954. His message of nonviolent civil disobedience and love, delivered through powerful speeches and writings, shaped the character of the movement.

He led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott against the policy of racial segregation in the Alabama city's public transit system. In 1963, he delivered his iconic I Have a Dream speech, calling for an end to racism, during the March on Washington.

Perhaps the side-by-side scenes of Monday's invite reflection of how much progress we've made toward achieving King's dreams in the five decades since his assassination in 1968. Thankfully, we have time on Monday to invest serious effort into educating ourselves on understanding systemic racism and how to fight it.

The real anniversary of King's birthday was Friday, but a federal holiday signed into law in 1983 sets aside the third Monday of each January to observe his birthday. The holiday is typically marked each year in communities across the US by marches, speeches, lectures and musical programs highlighting King's brave leadership.

While this year's observance is expected to be dampened a bit due to COVID-19 restrictions against large gatherings, his message isn't muted. It's as loud and clear and as important as ever.

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Joe Biden launches new Twitter account — meet @PresElectBiden – CNET


President-elect Joe Biden has a new Twitter account.


President-elect Joe Biden has launched a new account on Twitter for those interested in keeping tabs on what the incoming president has on his mind. You can follow the new account at @PresElectBiden.

It wasn't immediately clear when Biden created the new verified account, although as f this writing it had a little more than 7,000 followers, suggesting it hadn't been live for long. 

His first tweet appeared at 7:15 p.m. PT, introducing the account.

"Folks -- This will be the account for my official duties as President," Biden wrote. "At 12:01 PM on January 20th, it will become @POTUS. Until then, I'll be using @JoeBiden."

The Biden campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The official presidential account @POTUS, which Biden will inherit on Jan. 20, currently has 33 million followers. But that number is likely to change as Biden won't automatically inherit the followers of the previous administration when he officially takes control of the account on Inauguration Day.

Twitter said last month that the account won't automatically retain its existing followers. Instead, Twitter will give the account followers the option to follow accounts under the Biden administration.

Social media helps people, including the president, to instantly disseminate a message to a large number of people online. Twitter's decision to not automatically transfer followers could limit the number of people the upcoming administration will be able to reach online. Biden's team isn't happy with Twitter's choice.

Rob Flaherty, the digital director for Biden's presidential campaign, said in a tweet in December that Twitter told Biden's transition team that "as of right now the Biden administration will have to start from zero" when the @POTUS and @WhiteHouse accounts are transferred.

Twitter company will also transfer the @WhiteHouse, @VP, @FLOTUS, @PressSec, @Cabinet, and @LaCasaBlanca to the Biden administration on Inauguration Day.

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YouTube suspends Trump’s ability to upload new videos – CNET


YouTube has suspended President Donald Trump.

Angela Lang/CNET

YouTube placed a temporary ban on President Donald Trump posting new videos to the platform on Tuesday, joining a chorus of social media companies curbing the president's presence on their platforms in the wake of the deadly riot that engulfed the Capitol last week.

"After review, and in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to Donald J. Trump's channel for violating our policies," YouTube said in a tweet. "It now has its 1st strike & is temporarily prevented from uploading new content for a *minimum* of 7 days."

YouTube said it would also indefinitely disable comments on the president's channel, citing "ongoing concerns about violence."

YouTube parent company Google says on a support page that "content encouraging others to commit violent acts are not allowed on YouTube."

Social media companies have been trying to avoid a repeat of the violence that erupted last when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol during the vote to confirm President-elect Joe Biden's election victory. Twitter and Facebook each suspended Trump's accounts for incendiary comments following the riots.

The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

This is a developing story …

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Stripe reportedly quits processing payments for Trump campaign website – CNET


Online payment processor Strip is cutting off the president's campaign website.

Angela Lang/CNET

Online payments processor Stripe has stopped processing payments for President Donald Trump's campaign website in the wake of last week's deadly pro-Trump riot at the US Capitol, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

The company, which handles online payments for millions of online businesses, is cutting off the Trump campaign due to violations of its policies against encouraging violence, sources told the newspaper. Stripe's terms of service prohibit its service to be used by any "high risk" business that "engages in, encourages, promotes or celebrates unlawful violence or physical harm to persons or property."

Violence that erupted Wednesday afternoon when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol during the vote to confirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory. Twitter and Facebook each suspended Trump's accounts for incendiary comments following the riots.

Trump released a video statement that night telling the rioters to go home but referred to them as "special people" and told them "we love you." 

Neither Stripe no the Trump campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Zuckerberg and Cook roundly condemn mob violence at Capitol – CNET


Trump supporters entered the US Capitol building On Wednesday after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump.

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The leaders of tech's biggest companies on Wednesday denounced the riot that occurred at the Capitol earlier in the day when a mob of President Donald Trump supporters stormed a joint session of Congress. The violence began while lawmakers were assembled to count of Electoral College vote, confirming Vice President-elect Joe Biden's victory.

The violence that followed included multiple reports of shots fired and broken windows, the building being locked down and lawmakers evacuated, and troops from neighboring states and the National Guard being deployed on the complex to restore order. One woman died of gunshot wounds.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said the violence marked "a sad and shameful chapter" in US history.

"Those responsible for this insurrection should be held to account, and we must complete the transition to President-elect Biden's administration," Cook tweeted Wednesday evening. "It's especially when they are challenged that our ideals matter most."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees in a memo that he was "saddened by this mob violence."

"The peaceful transition of power is critical to the functioning of our democracy, and we need our political leaders to lead by example and put the nation first," Zuckerberg said in his memo, seen by the New York Times.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai called "lawlessness and violence" at the Capitol "antithesis of democracy."

"Holding free and safe elections and resolving our differences peacefully are foundational to the functioning of democracy," he wrote in a note to employees. "The lawlessness and violence occurring on Capitol Hill today is the antithesis of democracy and we strongly condemn it."

Several executives retweeted Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs for major US companies, that blamed the violence on "unlawful efforts to overturn the legitimate results of a democratic election."

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella retweeted Microsoft Chief Counsel Brad Smith's comments on the statement. Smith said called Wednesday "a day to speak up for our Constitution and its values."

Intel CEO Bon Swan also retweeted the Business Rountable's statement, adding that the chip giant "condemn[s] all acts of violence and attempts to unlawfully disrupt a democratic process that has long been a model for the world."

ICM CEO Arvind Krishna endorsed the statement, saying in a tweet the company condemned "today's unprecedented lawlessness and we call for it to end immediately. These actions have no place in our society, and they must stop so our system of democracy can work."

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