Weekly output: Google Authenticator, smartphone-to-satellite call, social-media age-verification bill, climate optimism, “juice jacking” debunked

RIO DE JANEIRO–A year ago, Brazil and the entire Southern Hemisphere did not figure in my near-term travel plans, but then Web Summit announced plans to add a second edition of its flagship conference here. I asked the organizers to keep me in mind, they did, and now I have two panels to moderate Wednesday.

4/24/2023: Google Authenticator Now Syncs Your One-Time Codes Across Devices, PCMag

Writing this allowed me to recycle some choice quotes I got from Google’s security head seven years ago. And then a day later, researchers found that Google doesn’t apply end-to-end encryption to the underlying data. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Authenticator app on my Pixel 5a has yet to get this update.

4/25/2023: AT&T, AST SpaceMobile Claim First Smartphone-to-Satellite Phone Call, PCMag

I got a heads-up about this news from AT&T, which in turn let me engage in further story-notes recycling by using some quotes I’d gathered at the Satellite 2022 show in D.C. in March. And then a post that was supposed to be simple took far more time than I’d expected because AST needed prodding to provide the date when this groundbreaking call happened.

4/27/2023: Senate Bill Would Require Social Media Age Verification for Everyone, PCMag

The buried lede in this bill to require age verification to use a social-media service is its provision for a federal pilot program through which people could get a “secure digital identification credential” to present to social platforms instead of uploading a photo ID or providing a video selfie.

Screenshot of story as seen in Safari for iPadOS; the illustration is a stylized image of wind turbines marching into the distance.4/28/2023: Why some climate experts are optimistic about the future of cleantech, Fast Company

The idea for this story started with watching a SXSW talk–yes, I believe this is the longest I’ve taken to write up anything from that mid-March event. Now that it’s finally written, edited and published, I dearly hope that its optimistic tone will not require a correction later on.

(Patreon readers got a bonus post from leftover SXSW notes about my visit to a nuclear reactor then.)

4/28/2023: The FBI Is Warning About ‘Juice Jacking.’ Are Public Charging Stations Safe?, AARP

Asking the FBI’s public-affairs office about the unsubstantiated warning circulated by the bureau’s Denver field office reminded me of the first time the FBI figured in my copy: the December 1995 cover story I wrote for the Washington Post’s Weekend section about “X-Files” fan culture. This piece also features quotes from two of the people I’ve gotten to know through security conferences, and I’d like to think that it’s the first time a founding member of the L0pht hacker collective has been quoted in a story for AARP.