Camber Bytes w/c May 10, 2021

Brice Gramm
May 10, 2021

This is the lil tech news you need to know for the week commencing May 10, 2021.

The Dark Side of SaaS

The gasoline pipeline that carries about half of the fuel consumed by the U.S. East Coast was taken offline by hackers using Ransomware as a Service by a cheery-sounding outfit called DarkSide. The cyberattack led to gas shortages in some areas.

Colonial Pipeline–the cyberattack’s target–reportedly paid the hackers nearly $5 million to unlock its computer systems and get fuel flowing again.

Our Take: DarkSide does some interesting mental gymnastics to bill itself as an above-board organization. You see, just like Uber is a Software as a Service to connect people with cars to people who need a ride, DarkSide sees itself as merely a provider of ill intentioned software for ill intentioned people to do… ill intentioned things (like hold up Colonial Pipeline’s infrastructure for ransom).

DarkSide espouses a sort of code among thieves–forbidding the targeting of certain types of institutions–and even donates some profits to charity. Yes, we all definitely believe that an outfit called DarkSide is the protagonist in this story. The simulation couldn’t have written it better. 🙃

UPDATE: Before publishing this edition of Camber Bytes, WSJ reported that DarkSide’s website is down and that the group has told hacking associates that they intend to shut down entirely. Bye, Felicia.

💼 On the Clock

TikTok is testing a job posting service to help connect employers with potential hires via the app and its ecosystem.

The pilot product that TikTok is testing links to a TikTok webpage where companies’ job posts appear. Users can submit a personal elevator pitch (via a TikTok video, of course) in lieu of a traditional job application.

Our Take: TikTok has a ton of engagement, and a non-trivial amount of career-oriented content creators already. With TikTok being the point of original discovery for many, the more in-app calls to action TikTok gives content creators to add to their videos–including “apply for a job”–the more stickiness it can create for itself.

Imagine how much ground TikTok could gain by building a variety of TikTok-native call to action functionalities, available at the tap of a button in a TikTok video. Think: book a demo, book an appointment, schedule a showing, or buy now.

🤳 You Know… For Kids

State Attorneys General (which somehow feels even less natural to write than passersby) from 44 states are calling for Facebook to scrap plans to launch a version of Instagram specifically for kids, including those under the COPPA-scope age of 13.

These Attorneys General signed on to a letter under their National Association’s letterhead, stating that, “Use of social media can be detrimental to the health and well-being of children, who are not equipped to navigate the challenges of having a social media account.”

Others have been critical of the planned app as well, calling it a potential “playground for perverts.”

Our Take: As a question which lands squarely in parenting territory, opinions here are obviously very sensitive and personal. As the individual authoring this newsletter, I will simply share what I believe, with the disclaimer that these are personal views.

There is research which largely supports the Attorneys General’s claims about the potential detrimental effects of social media on children. While I believe technology and “screen time” isn’t categorically bad, there can be psychological consequences to the use of social media in particular, with which children may not be prepared to effectively cope.

Social psychologist and NYU Professor Jonathan Haidt has spent a great deal of time with this subject, even appearing in the famous Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, to speak about it.

He’s also engaged in substantive debate about the subject, including with Nir Eyal–author of a very popular book in tech startup circles, called, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.

The two co-authored an essay in which they laid out a few parenting rules about children’s use of technology that they agree on. One of those rules is, “No social media until high school.” Our household, for one, will likely adopt this policy.

So… as far as Instagram for Kids goes? Facebook can miss me with that.

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