Week 16 2017 - Google AutoDraw; Hacked routers; Oracle buys Wercker

Google AutoDraw helps those who can’t draw, and there’s another new case of hacked home appliances (routers in this case) attacking sites. Also, right before I finished writing I found out that Wercker’s was bought by Oracle.

Between Easter and the fact that I’m currently on a holiday to the other side of the world, this week is pretty short. Because of this same holiday I can’t guarantee I’ll be posting an update every week until I’m back, or at least they’ll be shorter.

Google AutoDraw

In an attempt to help all of those who are as artistically disadvantaged as myself, Google has released AutoDraw. AutoDraw is created to translate my scribbles into something that actually looks like what I had in my mind. So if I draw a square with a triangle on top, I can press a button to make it look like a proper house.

According to the introductory blogpost, this is yet another application of Google’s work on Machine Learning. I suspect it builds on their Vision API (or Google’s internal equivalent) to detect what something might be, and then match it against an internal database of artist drawings.

This is of course1 mostly a gimmick for people using it, while it helps if you want to quickly draw something for illustration on a mobile device, there isn’t a lot of practical use for having the exact same images every time. On the other hand, from Google’s perspective I can see this as a great training tool for their image recognition models. If it can recognize my drawings correctly, it’s doing very well.

Hacked Home Routers

Wordfence, a site about Wordpress security, found a spike in attacks from Algeria and investigated what went on there. The article itself concerning their investigation is worth a read, as it shows how they went from this to figuring out that it’s a bigger issue that’s not limited to Algeria.

So, what’s going on here then? As it turns out, there’s a botnets around that abuses router flaws (there’s a tool in the article that allows you to check if yours is vulnerable). This in itself isn’t an uncommon occurrence, but unlike most other bots this one only does a handful of attempts on a site per hacked router. The advantage of this is obviously that it won’t be picked up by most security systems as volume wise it’s regular traffic2, while due to the size of the botnet still being able to be effective.

Wercker bought by Oracle

So, while writing this post I noticed that Wercker, my favorite CI/CD tool has been bought by Oracle. I’ll probably come back to this next week, once I’ve had time to see what this means, but wanted to give an initial reaction.

Where with Workflow being purchased by Apple I could find some good things about it3, I find it very hard to do so here. The last CI tool that Oracle got their hands on was Hudson, which was then immediately forked into Jenkins because nobody was happy with Oracle’s rules about it.

Im sure this is great for the people at Wercker who have a payday for their hard work, but for me there’s the usual feeling I have when any company whose products I like is acquired: that I should start looking into alternatives.

  1. At least for now. [return]
  2. Obviously the attacks themselves aren’t regular, but even there a couple of attempts from a single IP don’t usually raise any flags. [return]
  3. Although I’ve been hearing rumors that no more updates will be forthcoming, meaning my hope will have to lie in integration with iOS. Which is unlikely to happen for the next release. [return]
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