We're almost halfway through the Blind Bargains annual look at the top 10 biggest and most influential stories of 2015. This year's panel included Jeff Bishop, Shelly Brisbin, Ricky Enger, Chancey Fleet, J.J. Meddaugh, Jamie Pauls, and Joe Steinkamp. You can go here for our previous stories
You can go here for our previous stories Number 7 involves an unexpected screen reader surprise.
On the morning of January 16, some Window-Eyes users were surprised to find an unwelcome message on their screen
Greetings on behalf of the Islamic state The time of repentence is here Please contact GW Micro for further information.
The message was the result of a security breach which used one of the Window-Eyes default apps to automatically send an update with the offending message. Because most users have automatic app updates turned on, the hacked script quickly spread itself to affected users.
Security breaches have become all too common in recent years, but this was one of the first major breaches to hit assistive technology users. In simple terms, the hacker needed to gain passwords or other information for AI Squared staff and then upload the offending script as if it was an official company update.
To AI Squared's credit, action was swiftly taken to mitigate the results of the breach and hopefully prevent future attacks. But the events of that day served as a stark reminder to assistive technology companies and users that security is serious business, and not just something that major corporations need to worry about. One bad apple with confidential information can, with the right tools, wreak havoc on an entire user base if precautions are not taken.
It should be said here that AI Squared is likely not the only company susceptible to an attack, and many assistive technology companies likely, or hopefully, upped their security game after the incident. Thankfully the code did not do more to compromise user data or render machines unusable.
These days, security is the word, whether you're Apple or AI Squared, and you can never be too safe when it comes to protecting your users.
Stay tuned for number 6 tomorrow, and watch out for our This Year in AT podcast coming very soon. Let us know what you think by commenting below.
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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.