Google says it’s pausing the ability for its Gemini AI to generate images of people, after the tool was found to be generating inaccurate historical images. Gemini has been creating diverse images of the US Founding Fathers and Nazi-era German soldiers, in what looked like an attempt to subvert the gender and racial stereotypes found in generative AI.
A California court has partially dismissed a copyright case against OpenAI brought by several authors, including comedian Sarah Silverman, who allege OpenAI’s ChatGPT is pirating their work.
The case against OpenAI combines complaints filed by Silverman, Christopher Golden, Richard Kadrey, Paul Tremblay, and Mona Awad. (Awad left the suit in August.) It made six claims: direct copyright infringement; vicarious infringement; violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by removing copyright management information; unfair competition; negligence; and unjust enrichment. OpenAI asked to dismiss all counts but the first and main complaint: direct copyright infringement.
The court ruled yesterday on OpenAI’s request to dismiss all but the direct infringement claim. In the ruling, Judge Araceli Martínez-Olguín threw out claims on vicarious copyright infringement, DMCA violations, negligence, and unjust enrichment. The court did not believe the plaintiffs’ allegations of unlawful business practices and fraudulent conduct related to unfair competition. It upheld the unfair competition claim that OpenAI did not seek their permission to use their work for commercial profit.
Judge Martínez-Olguín expressed skepticism of several of the authors’ claims. She wasn’t convinced of the allegation that OpenAI was intentionally removing copyright management information like the title and registration number, for instance, or that the authors had proven economic injury — since “nowhere in plaintiffs’ complaint do they allege that defendants reproduced and distributed copies of their books.” According to the court, the claim of “risk of future damage to intellectual property” was too speculative to consider. Martínez-Olguín also emphasized that the plaintiffs “have not alleged that the ChatGPT outputs contain direct copies of the copyrighted books” and “must show a substantial similarity between the outputs and the copyrighted materials.” The authors can file changes to their original complaint by March 13th.
While OpenAI won some concessions from the court, the main complaint that ChatGPT directly violated the authors’ copyrights remains on the table. Many of the other claims in the lawsuit hinge on proving direct infringement.
Tremblay first filed the suit in June, as reported by Reuters. Silverman’s complaint also listed Meta — through its large language model Llama 2 — as a defendant. The lawsuits alleged that OpenAI illegally copied their copyrighted work to train the large language model powering ChatGPT. If prompted to summarize the books written by the plaintiffs, they said ChatGPT generated accurate summaries, which they claim shows an intention to violate copyright.
OpenAI is facing several copyright infringement lawsuits from authors, including a proposed class action lawsuit from the Authors Guild and well-known authors like George R.R. Martin and John Grisham.
Google pauses Gemini’s ability to generate AI images of people after diversity errors
“We’re already working to address recent issues with Gemini’s image generation feature,” says Google in a statement posted on X. “While we do this, we’re going to pause the image generation of people and will re-release an improved version soon.”
Google’s decision to pause image generation of people in Gemini comes less than 24 hours after the company apologized for the inaccuracies in some historical images its AI model generated. Some Gemini users have been requesting images of historical groups or figures like the Founding Fathers and found non-white AI-generated people in the results. That’s led to conspiracy theories online that Google is intentionally avoiding depicting white people.
Google started offering image generation through Gemini (formerly Bard) earlier this month, in a bid to compete with OpenAI and Microsoft’s Copilot.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 series will get AI features in late March
Right now, you need a Galaxy S24 phone to use the very latest AI features from Samsung, but that’s changing next month. In late March, Samsung will extend Galaxy AI features to the S23 series — including the S23 FE — as well as recent foldables and tablets as part of the One UI 6.1 update. It’s all free for now, but after 2025 you might have to pay up.
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Z Flip 5 are slated to get the update, as well as the Galaxy Tab S9, S9 Plus, and S9 Ultra. If Samsung wants to ship Galaxy AI to 100 million phones this year like it says it will, that’s a solid start. The One UI 6.1 update will include the much-touted AI features on the S24 series, including live translation capabilities, generative photo and video editing, and Google’s Circle to Search feature. This suite of features includes a mix of on- and off-device processing, just like it does on the S24 series.
An older phone learning new tricks is unequivocally a good thing, even if Galaxy AI is a little bit of a mixed bag right now. But my overall impression is that these features do occasionally come in handy, and when they go sideways they’re mostly harmless. One UI 6.1 will also include a handful of useful non-AI updates, such as lockscreen widgets and the new, unified Quick Share.
Stealthy backdoor Mac malware that can wipe out your files
MacOS is generally perceived to be more effective at keeping malware out compared to PCs and other operating systems. However, that’s not the reality; MacOS is just as vulnerable to malware threats as any other operating system, and this misconception can lead you to not be as vigilant regarding malware threats.
As evidence, there’s a new one you need to be aware of called SpectralBlur, which is a sophisticated backdoor malware threat targeting Macs that’s capable of wiping out your files without you even knowing how and when it got there in the first place.
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What is SpectralBlur?
SpectralBlur is a backdoor malware that was created by Lazarus, a hacking group from North Korea. Lazarus has been behind several hacks, including KandyKorn, which targeted blockchain engineers in cryptocurrency.
For quite some time, SpectralBlur went undetected because antivirus software on Mac wasn’t able to pick up on it. It wasn’t until August 2023 that it was uploaded to VirusTotal — a virus detection software — published this new malware threat, and it gathered attention in the cybersecurity community. It’s even being called “The First Malware of 2024” and was dissected originally by Greg Lesnewich.
MORE: HOW TO PROTECT YOUR MAC FROM THE NEW METASTEALER MALWARE
What is SpectralBlur capable of?
Because SpectralBlur is a backdoor malware, it means that instead of having to go through normal authentication procedures — where most malware would get detected — the malware gets into your system in several ways. It could be vulnerabilities in your system, a phishing attack, malicious links/downloads or other tactics.
Objective-See’s security researcher Patrick Wardle also analyzed SpectralBlur and came to similar conclusions as Lesnewich. Once it’s installed, the hacker can grant themselves remote access to your macOS. This gives the hacker the ability to access files and databases on your server. With this access, they can remotely tell it to do whatever they want, for however long they go unnoticed.
From uploading files from your computer into their server, downloading files from the hacker’s server to yours, or deleting files on your computer, they can steal your sensitive information, documents, images, etc., and use them for all sorts of purposes. They can also deploy additional malware (again, without you necessarily realizing it).
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How does SpectralBlur get onto my system and how does it work?
Once SpectralBlur gets initial access, it uses a pseudo-terminal to execute shell commands, which essentially means it can run any command on the macOS system as if the attacker were physically using the computer. It does this via a remote command-and-control (C&C) server, using RC4-encrypted socket communication.
Because this communication is encrypted, it makes it difficult for security systems to detect and analyze the malware’s network activity. This encryption helps it stay hidden by masking the data being sent and received as harmless to your system. Of course, that’s not the case; it’s potentially wreaking havoc without you knowing.
Why does North Korea want access to my computer?
Good question. This isn’t something we’ll cover in depth here, but essentially the idea is because North Korea has so many sanctions on it, hackers are motivated to execute their hacks by money and information. When they can steal funds in cryptocurrency, they can use that money to fund the regime.
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How did SpectralBlur go undetected for so long?
There are a few ways that SpectralBlur goes undetected, especially once it’s gotten access to your system:
To start, it utilizes Mac’s sleep and hibernate commands, which allow it to lay dormant within a system. This capability not only helps it avoid suspicions but also makes it difficult for users and antivirus programs to recognize it’s there. It’s also able to avoid detection by wiping your files and overwriting them with zeros. This method ensures that once it has accessed or created files, they can be completely erased without a trace. So, not only is it deleting your files, it’s getting away with it.
Last but not least, SpectralBlur can update its configuration as it goes. In layman’s terms, it’s quite agile and quick on its feet. By being able to adjust its tactics on the fly, SpectralBlur can stay hidden.
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How can I catch it?
Because SpectralBlur is so sneaky and smart, you might be wondering how Mac users recognize that SpectralBlur is on their system. After all, it evaded virus detectors and cybersecurity experts for quite some time, so the average person shouldn’t be expected to figure it out.
Ultimately, there are a few ways to know if SpectralBlur — or other backdoor malware — may be on your computer:
Unusual system behavior: If you notice your system is acting slower than usual, apps crashing frequently, your system’s settings have changed without you doing it yourself, or just the feeling that something isn’t right, there could be malware on your computer.
Increased CPU or network usage: An unexplained increase in CPU or network usage can also be a red flag. SpectralBlur might be using resources for malicious activities, which means more work on your system than usual.
Suspicious files or applications: Those of you who regularly check your system might find unfamiliar files or applications. While SpectralBlur tries to clean up after itself, certain actions or additional malware installations might leave some traces (albeit not on purpose).
Identity theft: Unfortunately, some users might only realize they’ve been a victim of SpectralBlur or a similar malware attack when their data has been breached. Hopefully, though, it won’t get to this point.
How to protect your macOS from SpectralBlur malware
SpectralBlur is an advanced piece of malware, but there are ways you can protect yourself.
1) To begin with, be sure to update your operating system regularly. Check to see whether or not you’re running the latest version of macOS. If you aren’t, do an update.
2) Install a reliable antivirus software for an additional layer of protection. The absolute best way to protect yourself from having your data breached is to have antivirus protection installed on all your devices. Having good antivirus software actively running on your devices will alert you of any malware in your system, warn you against clicking on any malicious links in phishing emails, and ultimately protect you from being hacked. Get my picks for the best 2024 antivirus protection winners for your Windows, Mac, Android & iOS devices.
3) Always be cautious when opening email attachments or downloading files, especially from untrusted sources.
4) Use identity theft protection. Identity Theft protection companies can monitor personal information like your home title, Social Security Number, phone number and email address and alert you if it is being used to open an account. They can also assist you in freezing your bank and credit card accounts to prevent further unauthorized use by criminals. Read more of my review of the best identity theft protection services here.
5) Although having malware in your system is a cause for concern for bigger things like identity theft, one of the most upsetting results of a SpectralBlur infection for most users is the fact it can delete files on your macOS. No one wants to wake up one morning to find out that their docs, photos, notes, videos and whatever else you have saved to your computer are gone.
Despite the fact you can’t prevent this 100%, you can make sure to hold on to your files. Do this by initiating regular backups of important data. In the event of a malware infection, having up-to-date backups can save all of your important data.
Kurt’s key takeaways
The whole reason that backdoor malware like SpectralBlur is so damaging is that it can exist on your system for a long time without getting noticed, deleting all your files and data in the process. Unfortunately, by the time it is detected, it may be too late. So, please do yourself a favor and protect your Mac as best as possible using the security tips we mention, like installing antivirus protection and backing up your information.
Have you — or has anyone you know — detected SpectralBlur or other backdoor malware on their macOS? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.
For more of my tech tips & security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter.
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