Facial recognition market to surpass $12 billion by 2026


To enhance tracking and security in public spaces, the facial recognition technologies market is expected to surge in the years ahead.


IMAGE: iStock/primipil

In the era of digital transformation, more organizations are utilizing facial recognition technologies for a host of applications in public spaces. These systems have also been implemented to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus pandemic as the technologies can be plugged into larger surveillance networks to monitor mask compliance and more. Studies have shown that facial recognition systems are prone to false-positive identifications. In recent weeks, major players in the tech industry including IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon recently made waves by pulling their facial recognition systems from the market altogether or banning law enforcement agencies from using the technologies. Despite these moves by titans in tech, the future of facial recognition systems seems bright according to a new report from Global Market Insights.

By 2026, the organization estimates that the facial recognition market valuation will top $12 billion. For comparison, Market Research Future valued the global facial recognition market at $3 billion in 2016. Security concerns related to public safety in public spaces are expected to cause a surge in demand for these technologies in the years ahead. Across North America, the facial recognition market will be spurred by investments in retail, healthcare, defense, and homeland security.

SEE: Guide to Becoming a Digital Transformation Champion (TechRepublic Premium)

Major investments in security and surveillance are driving this particular market, according to the report. Currently, many organizations ranging from airports to large sporting venues are investing in surveillance systems leveraging these facial recognition systems alongside artificial intelligence, IoT sensors, thermal imaging cameras, and more. Companies are creating new software capable of fastidious integration with an organization’s existing technology suite to assist with identification and “attendance monitoring,” per the report.

Global Market Insights also predicts that facial recognition systems will revolutionize advertising and retail in coming years. The use of interactive “intelligent signage” will allow advertisers to better understand the demographics of their customers to more aptly deliver personalized advertisements to these individuals. The overall success rate of these advertising and targeted campaigns can also be measured using facial recognition systems.

SEE: Inside UPS: The logistics company’s never-ending digital transformation (free PDF)

The report notes that facial recognition market growth will mainly be driven by 3D systems rather than more limited 2D systems. Comparatively, 3D systems offer more accurate information in lower light environments “as they use facial parameters, such as the depth of the eyes or the shape of the nose & chin of the captured image, for comparison with the available database of images,” per the report. More advanced 3D systems can also identify variables such as minute changes in the texture of skin and aging.

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How tech helps with the spike of online retail


Between supply issues and surge pricing, many pitfalls have surfaced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but Popcart can assist.

Image: Popcart

The coronavirus pandemic sent shock waves through the enterprise and economy, affecting all industries, but especially retail. With brick and mortar stores forced to close their doors or reduce accessibility, shoppers opted for online orders and curbside pickups to get necessary items. 

SEE: The new normal: What work will look like post-pandemic (TechRepublic Premium)

“The impact of COVID-19 on the retail industry has been profound. Even as essential retail businesses such as food/grocery/consumables that remained open through the crisis saw a topline boost in demand, the sector incurred huge escalations in operating costs that dented their profitability,” said Sandeep Unni, senior research director at Gartner. 

“For other discretionary segments, the impact has been pretty devastating due to continued closures of physical stores and decrease in consumer spending,” Unni said. “For many of the first casualties of the crisis such as Neiman Marcus, JCPenney, J Crew or Lord & Taylor, the pandemic proved to be the last straw for businesses that were already struggling pre-crisis.” 

As a result, online shopping took off, especially in the US, said Omri Traub, founder and CEO of Popcart, an e-commerce browser extension. 

“[Coronavirus] has transformed the way we shop,” Traub said. “Some people believe that the whole e-commerce adoption in the US has been accelerated by five to 10 years.”

The major items consumers turned to online were associated with essential goods, such as household cleaners or toilet paper. 

“One of the main changes we have seen in consumer shopping behavior is the shift of spending towards more essential categories,” Unni said. “There has been a spike in digital activity even in historically underpenetrated segments like grocery.” 

“For example, pre-crisis online penetration in grocery was only 2-4% of total sales in the US market, and has lagged behind other markets such as China or even the UK. The sudden rise in demand driven by the crisis has further amplified pain points in last mile execution and delivery,” Unni noted. “Anyone that has ordered grocery online would have likely experienced logistical challenges such as availability of/delays in delivery windows, item availability and substitutions. We’ve also seen price inflation particularly in online channels.”

However, developing technology, like Popcart, is stepping up to the plate to help with these issues. 

Tech and online retail issues 

Traub echoed the same problems with retail that Unni mentioned, particularly the supply issues and surge pricing. 

These problems were what inspired his creation of Popcart, an online internet extension that compares prices of items across online retailers and locates the lowest one. 

Popcart is similar to the other popular browser extension, Honey, however, Popcart doesn’t only search for coupon codes, but rather the overall lowest price, Traub said. 

Surge pricing often happens on Amazon, Traub said, and people looking for an item for the first time may not realize that the offered price is really high. 

“If you’re just shopping on Amazon, $29, $89, $87, or whatever it is, could look like a good price,” Traub said. It’s only through comparing prices that you’re really benchmarking what is a fair price for this? And it turns out that at Walmart [the item] is available for less than half the price.” 

Popcart does all the work, tracking price fluctuations at different stores, comparing them, and then presenting the options to the user. 

Prices also fluctuate when third-party sellers swoop in. Many large online retailers offer sales by third party sellers, and these sellers sometimes ratchet up the price of items to make a bigger profit. Popcart helps avoid users falling into that pitfall by also comparing those third-party sellers with other stores, Traub said.

The online extension tool can even help users when e-commerce platforms run out of supply. 

“We call it the Supply Finder by Popcart, which looked specifically at the hard to find items, like masks and disinfecting wipes and toilet paper, during the period where there was the most severe shortage. And there’s still a significant shortage of many of these,” Traub said.

“We tailored the way our system worked to offer you a real-time feed of when these products come back into stock,” he added.

While the pandemic has made getting important, and desired, items difficult, technology is helping to mitigate those problems. 

For more, check out COVID-19: Five business continuity challenges coming to the retail industry on TechRepublic. 

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Insider’s guide to defending against ransomware


According to CyberSecurity Ventures, global damage costs from ransomware are estimated to be more than $20 billion in 2021, up from $11.5 billion in 2019.1 By the end of 2021, they expect there to be a ransomware attack every 11 seconds, up from every 14 seconds in 2019.

No industry is immune to ransomware attacks. For instance, Cyber Risk Management (CyRiM), a Lloyds of London partner, projected potential healthcare industry losses of $25B2 in the event of a major attack such as NotPetya. NotPetya affected a number of companies worldwide, with Merck estimating over $670M and FedEx over $400M in losses.3 Yet these weren’t even “criminal” attacks — according to the U.S. White House, the attack was launched by the Russian military against the Ukraine.4 Merck and FedEx losses were simply collateral damage, and many corporate insurance policies exclude losses caused by acts of war.

CompTIA joins the battle to recruit high school and college students into cybersecurity


The certification company will host prep sessions for the National Cyber League’s cybersecurity competitions for individuals and teams.

CompTIA is partnering with the National Cyber League to train high school and college students to compete in a cybersecurity challenge.

Image: National Cyber League

The National Cyber League (NCL) has a new partner in its work to promote careers in cybersecurity: CompTIA. The certification company is helping the NCL with the twice-a-year cybersecurity competitions designed for students interested in the field. 

CompTIA will host educational sessions on the CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway and offer prep sessions to help NCL players get ready for the 2020-21 competition schedule.

SEE: Zero trust security: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

NCL’s chief Player Ambassador Kaitlyn Bestenheider (aka “CryptoKait”) will work with CompTIA to ensure that all industry domains are incorporated into the NCL competition.

More than 10,000 students from 300 colleges and universities across the US compete in these games. Here are the dates for the NCL 2020 Fall Season:

  • Registration opens Aug. 23
  • Practice sessions go from Sept. 14 – Dec. 8
  • Preseason to get bracketed for the individual games is Oct. 12 – Oct. 19 
  • Individual games are Oct. 23 – Oct. 25
  • Team games are Nov. 8 – Nov. 8 

The competitions are open to US high school and college students and will test competitors on the ability to identify hackers from forensic data, pentest and audit websites, and recover from ransomware attacks. It costs $35 to participate.

Players who place at the top of each bracket during the NCL’s Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 individual competitions will receive a free CompTIA student membership.

Students on the championship teams will receive a free CompTIA certification exam voucher,  self-study test preparation materials, and full CompTIA membership.

CompTIA has three security tracks: Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+),  CASP+, and PenTest+. The CySA+ applies behavioral analytics to the IT security field. The CASP+ validates critical thinking and judgment across multiple security disciplines in complex environments. PenTest+ is for midcareer professionals who use penetration testing to manage vulnerabilities on a network. 

The NCL is a nonprofit founded by public agencies dedicated to developing the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. The training company Cyber Skyline sponsors the NCL.

There are free resources available for students and people new to the cybersecurity field, including:

  • Trail of Bits CTF Guide: This resource explains how capture the flag competitions work and includes a list of competitions and ideas on how to prepare.
  • Awesome CTF: Github put together this list of tutorials, software, resources, frameworks and libraries to help people new to CTF competitions as well as veterans.
  • Reddit’s SecurityCTF: This forum hosts real-time questions and answers to questions about competitions and strategies.
  • Vulnhub: This practice zone includes labs built for beginners to test cybersecurity skills.

There are several collegiate-level competitions as well, including the CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, and the Global Cyberlympics. Cyber Quests are online challenges that also test participants’ security skills.

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How to become a cybersecurity pro: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

Social engineering: A cheat sheet for business professionals (free PDF) (TechRepublic download)

Comparison chart: VPN service providers (TechRepublic Premium)

Online security 101: Tips for protecting your privacy from hackers and spies (ZDNet)

All the VPN terms you need to know (CNET)

Cybersecurity and cyberwar: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

Credit card skimmers target e-commerce websites running Microsoft IIS and ASP.NET


Attackers are looking for credit card numbers on Microsoft IIS servers running an older and vulnerable version of ASP.NET, says Malwarebytes.

Credit card phishing

Image: iStockphoto/weerapatkiatdumrong

Online credit card skimming is a common attack method whereby cybercriminals hack into websites and servers to scan for credit card numbers used in e-commerce transactions. In targeting e-commerce sites, attackers typically hit LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) environments due mostly to their ubiquity and popularity. However, a new card skimming campaign analyzed by the security firm Malwarebytes is aimed at sites running Microsoft’s Internet Information Services (IIS) and ASP.NET.

SEE: Brute force and dictionary attacks: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic) 

Most of the card skimming activities observed by Malwarebytes have been against e-commerce content management systems (CMS) such as Adobe Magento and plugins such as WooCommerce, the company said in a blog post published Monday.

Further, such attacks often are directed against the open-source LAMP platforms, which are favored by many individuals and organizations. But this attack, which surfaced in mid-April, is aimed at the more unusual target of ASP.NET-based sites running Microsoft IIS.

The attack has already compromised at least a dozen websites, including sports organizations, health and community associations, and even a credit union. The attackers gain the necessary access to scan for credit card numbers by directly or remotely injecting malicious code into existing JavaScript libraries. The skimmer is designed to look not just for credit card numbers but for passwords, though the password functionality in the source code didn’t appear to be working correctly, according to Malwarebytes.

A snapshot of victim sites with compromised JavaScript libraries.

Image: Malwarebytes

Though ASP.NET isn’t as popular a web server environment as PHP, it’s still prevalent among many websites that run a shopping cart feature. All of the compromised sites had a shopping portal set up, which is why they were hit by the attackers.

“Attackers do not need to limit themselves to the most popular e-commerce platforms,” Malwarebytes said in its blog post. “In fact, any website or technology is fair game, as long as it can be subverted without too much effort. In some cases, we notice ‘accidental’ compromises, where some sites get hacked and injected even though they weren’t really the intended victims.”

Another common thread of the compromised sites is that they were all running ASP.NET 4.0.30319, a version no longer supported by Microsoft and one that’s beset with multiple vulnerabilities. Some of the affected sites have since resolved the compromise. Malwarebytes said that it contacted the remaining sites to alert them to the breach with the hope that they would secure their environment.

“Digital skimming is a growing threat which no longer only targets a specific type of e-commerce software,” said Jerome Segura, director of threat intelligence for Malwarebytes Labs. “As a result, it is important for organizations to go beyond PCI compliance and harden their infrastructure. Regular reviews of server logs can also provide a wealth of information about the types of attacks a company is under and how to best respond to them.”

What should you do if your organization may have been compromised by this attack or is still running an unsupported version of ASP.NET?

“Affected organizations should start the remediation process by identifying their assets, making full backups (if they haven’t), and then proceeding to remove any malware artifacts,” Segura said. “As far as updating the software, this can be a more delicate process and where a web application firewall may be useful to help them buy some time to plan for the upgrade process.”

Microsoft also offers several guides on how to upgrade different versions of ASP.NET at its .NET Framework documentation page.


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How to change the resolution in Google Meet


If you prefer your video conference meetings to look good, Google Meet has you covered. With a couple of clicks, you can improve the send and receive resolution. Jack Wallen shows you how.

By now, you’ve realized that video conferencing has become the new norm. In fact, you’re probably holding various types of remote meetings daily. You might also be using different platforms for those meetings. Many default to Zoom, as it has become the de facto standard for video conferencing. However, you might have noticed that Google released a new platform for this purpose. 

That new platform is Google Meet. This free service offers unlimited meetings, live captioning, cross-platform compatibility, video and audio preview screen, adjustable layouts, host controls, screen sharing, and messaging. If you’ve opted to give Google Meet a try, you might have noticed that, out of the box, it defaults to the lower resolution of 360p for both send and receive. 

SEE: Windows 10 Start menu hacks (TechRepublic Premium)

For anyone with a slower connection, that resolution is fine. However, if you (and those you are conferencing with) have the bandwidth, why not pump up the volume of that resolution to the max 720p? No, it’s not high resolution, but it’s significantly better than 360p. When you want your video conferencing to look as good as possible, you definitely want to make this change. 

Let me show you how. 

How to change the resolution in Google Meet

  1. Open a Google Meet and click the menu button at the bottom-right corner. 
  2. From the popup menu, select Settings. In the resulting window, change the Send resolution from 360p to 720p and then change the Receive resolution to 720p as well. 
  3. Click Done and you’re set. 

What you and your participants will see should be quite the improvement. 

Note: The one caveat to this is that Meet will always default to 360p, so you have to set these options for every meeting. Fortunately, the higher definition settings are but a couple of clicks away. 


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How Linux makes data recovery easy



How Linux makes data recovery easy

Length: 2: 13 |
Jul 7, 2020

Recovering data isn’t something any IT pro wants to face. But when the occasion arises, you’ll be glad Linux is around to give you a hand.