Hashtag Trending February 3 – Big Tech Should Repay Victims of Online Scams; Is there a demand for the Metaverse? Texas prepares its power grid

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Big Tech should compensate victims of online scams advertised on their platforms, Texas is preparing its power grid for winter weather, and is there really a big demand for Metaverse features?

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending. It’s Thursday February 3rd and I’m your host, Tom Li.

Big tech companies whose platforms host scam ads should compensate victims, UK lawmakers have said. This thought is part of a broader effort to combat the growing epidemic of online fraud. Banks have committed to a voluntary code to compensate fraud victims who are doing enough to protect themselves, but there is insufficient regulation for social media platforms or sites where victims are first lured. Last week, a report by the FTC revealed that more than 95,000 US consumers have been fooled by scams posted on social media.

Big tech companies around the world are jumping into the metaverse and trying to stay competitive against each other, but is there much demand for meta-related features at all? An article from Wired claims that “the race is on to sell an amorphous concept that no one really wants them to build.” In the last few months, virtually every tech company has integrated the Metaverse into their business in some way. Facebook, renamed Meta, is working on a supercomputer to power its Metaverse while also planning to implement NFT features on its social platforms. Twitter has also taken similar steps and YouTube is in talks to join as well. However, the concept of the metaverse is generally “fuzzy,” the report says. While tech companies have announced that the Metaverse is coming, no one really knows what it means or what it looks like.

As Texas prepares for a series of winter weather, questions are raising if the state’s power grid is ready to weather the storm. A year ago, Texas suffered a power outage on its independent power grid amid one of the coldest freezes in the Arctic in decades. It was announced this week that an arctic front is moving toward Texas, bringing with it several days of cold weather. Two weeks ago, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) released its final winterization report to assess the state’s readiness for this winter. The council’s interim chief executive said Texas’ power grid is “better than ever prepared for winter operations.” However, there are still some uncertainties. During a news conference, the state admitted some residents may lose power this week or weekend, but that would not be due to grid problems but ice on power lines.

Now for something else. Over a year ago, an independent hacker named P4x was hacked by North Korean spies. P4x was a victim of a hacking campaign targeting Western security researchers with the apparent goal of stealing their hacking tools and details about software vulnerabilities. To get back at North Korea, P4x decided to take matters into their own hands, reports a Wired article. The hacker found several unpatched vulnerabilities in North Korean systems that allowed them to launch “denial-of-service” attacks on the routers and servers the country uses to connect to the Internet. According to the report, these hacking methods had an immediate impact on the country’s system. Pingdom records show that at multiple points in time during P4x’s hacking, almost every North Korean website was down.

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is part of the ITWC Podcast Network. Add us to your Alexa Flash briefings or your daily Google Home briefing. Sign up for our Daily IT Wire newsletter to get all the important news straight to your inbox each day. If you have a suggestion or tip, drop us a line in the comments or via email. Thanks for listening, I’m Tom Li.

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