Technobabble is our look at the more colorful aspects of technology and the tech industry. Be sure to check out last week's edition about why technologists are pushing for universal base income.
As former FBI director James Comey noted during his hearing on the Hill Thursday, there are "all kinds of cyber intrusions going on all the time." Wise words, considering the current cybersecurity climate and assertions from Comey that Russia, without a doubt, interfered with the 2016 U.S. election.
"There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts," Comey said.
So, it's confirmed. Russian cyber efforts were all over the U.S. election. But did you know they're also on Instagram? Specifically, Britney Spears' account. A classic case of hiding in plain site.
Russian hackers are using Spears' account to post coded messages in the comments section, part of a malware scheme, according to ESET, a Slovakian anit-virus company, USA TODAY reports. When scanned by a computer infected with malware, the messages give the computer information on where to send stolen information.
Seemingly normal, and misspelled, comments can be translated into a web address for the malware to communicate with the computer in charge, according to the report.
But the comments couldn't get any unsuspecting Spears' fans in trouble, as there is no clickable or active link. Rather, the comments are used to allow hacked computers to communicate with one another on a trail that is hard to follow.
As USA TODAY summarizes, the encoded comments are a digital version of classic spy moves. Think of someone leaving a chalk mark on a mailbox to communicate a message.
What's the lesson here? Constant vigilance and always be on the lookout for encoded messages in the comments section.
One macro thing
The internet is preparing for a fight once again. The forces at sway? The case for, or against, net neutrality. While the Federal Communications Commission is set to roll back part of net neutrality regulation, major companies and public interest groups are set to take a stand on July 12, the internet-wide day of action to save net neutrality, according to Fight for the Future.
While grassroots campaigns can struggle to get off the ground, major companies and organizations like Amazon, Reddit, Etsy and the ACLU are signed up to participate and use their platforms to activate their members and customers, according to the announcement.
The goal is to mobilize public interest and encourage people to contact Congress and the FCC asking for the continuation of Net Neutrality.
One micro thing
This week Apple held its Worldwide Developers' Conference, rolling out products like the HomePod and a smarter version of Siri. But Mic noted something telling at the conference: During all the high-profile keynotes, almost all the presenters were white men.
Women spoke about nine minutes during the conference, sometimes while demonstrating products backstage while a male speaker presented on stage, according to Mic. Men, on the other hand, spoke for approximately 177 minutes during the conference.
Apple has reported how it is making headway with its gender and ethnic diversity efforts, but that wasn't illustrated on stage during the developers' conference. As of June 2016, women made up 32% of the company's global workforce. The company has reported progress in its diversity efforts for the last three years.
The gender disparity at the conference was particularly glaring as former First Lady Michelle Obama took the stage to discuss, in part, diversity in tech, according to CNN. Press was not allowed in the session, but CNN spoke with a developer in attendance.
Obama encouraged Silicon Valley to include more women and people of color in tech, according to the report.
There's something about how tech and science is being taught, which causes girls to walk away, said Obama. "You guys are smarter than that. You're better than that, let's figure it out."
One last thing
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett testing mattresses at a furniture store in Nebraska is the definition of hygge (a Scandinavian word that loosely translates to a feeling of coziness. Think soft lighting, knit blankets and an old fashioned book).
There for Berkshire Hathaway's annual shareholders weekend, "Woodstock for Capitalists," Gates got to spend some quality time with Buffett in Omaha, Nebraska, something he does every year, according to Gates' post on his blog Gates Notes. For the delight of all who like a glimpse into the lives of the richest people on the planet, Gates documented his trip with Buffett to Nebraska Furniture Mart, a mega store owned by Berskire Hathaway.
The delightful video follows the pair around, where Buffett revealed that his "real vocational goal was to be a mattress tester." Though he ended up with a slightly different career, the furniture mart did name a mattress after Buffett, which he and Gates test.
The video is absolutely worth a watch. But my chief takeaway? The richest man on the planet petting a mattress. "This is better than the mattress I sleep on," Gates said. So cozy.