Aarti Shahani

Aarti Shahani is a Tech Reporter on NPR's Business Desk, where she covers breaking news, and does investigative and enterprise reporting.

Since joining NPR's tech beat in May 2014, Shahani has reported from five countries and covered the world's biggest tech events, including the International Consumer Electronics Show.

In her first year, Shahani has shed light on hidden stories, such as the role of cyberstalking in domestic abuse, and the underground world of hackers. Shahani's reports have taken her to unlikely places – including a secretive Hollywood film set using drone cameras.

Before coming to NPR as a Kroc Fellow in 2011-2012, Shahani started a non-profit in her native New York City to help immigrant families facing deportation after September 11th. She notes she first met NPR as a source, pitching NPR a story about a detainee who'd died because of deliberate medical neglect. Of her unusual path to journalism, she notes, "Basically, I spent my 20s with prisoners. I'm spending my 30s with billionaires in Silicon Valley. And I've learned: People are just people."

Her reporting has been honored with a regional award from the Society of Professional Journalists for "Finding Hidden Genius"; a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for "On Immigration, High Tech and Ag Don't Meet, Literally"; and an Investigative Reporters & Editors Award for "Post Mortem: Death Investigation in America" with ProPublica, NPR, and Frontline.

Shahani received a Master in Public Policy degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, with generous support from the University and the Paul & Daisy Soros fellowship. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago.

As cyberattacks continue, analysts are seeing a new pattern: Hackers are focused on stealing personally identifiable information. That includes the security clearances of U.S. intelligence officers, with the reported theft of background information. It also includes information that's less sensitive but far-reaching — like Social Security numbers.

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Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In recent years, Twitter has become the go-to destination for news junkies. Now, Facebook is entering a deal with nine news organizations, including The New York Times, NBC News and Buzzfeed, to run some of their in-depth articles, photos and videos inside Facebook. No need to leave the app!

Passwords get hacked — a lot. In an effort to move beyond passwords, big companies are embracing biometric technology: the use of fingerprints, iris scans or voice recognition for user identification.

To heighten security, smartphones are being outfitted with biometric features. But, ditching passwords for biometrics may not make the hackers go away.

Selfie Security

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

About 2 billion people on earth have a smartphone with a decent Internet connection, but 5 billion are largely or entirely offline, according to global figures by the ITU.

That gap is (surprise, surprise) a big opportunity for Silicon Valley. Google and Facebook are already on high-profile campaigns to connect the unconnected. And they're betting they can make billions of dollars getting people without electricity or toilets to pay for the Internet.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

President Obama is calling on the government and private industry to work together to take on threats to cybersecurity. He was the headliner at a summit about the issue today at Stanford University.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

This week, in the lead up to his State of the Union address, President Obama is talking about cybersecurity — how to ensure our safety in the digital world.

As you might imagine, there are smartphones everywhere at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. Tonino Lamborghini [a company not related to the famous car brand] has a new phone out for $6,000. Samsung's Galaxy series is on display in a dazzling showroom.

When your kid's ear is throbbing at 2 a.m., you might want to grab the car keys and head to the emergency room. But now you can pick up your iPhone instead.

A startup called CellScope has built a little ear probe that you clip on top of your iPhone camera. The footage streams into an app where you can view the inside the ear.

If you visit a local strip mall or downtown shopping street, it's not hard to find a store where customers can lease-to-own. That is, you can pay over time and eventually, after some chunky fees, a flat screen TV or living room set is yours.

A lot of computer viruses hide inside your system. Hackers stealing your data go out of their way to operate quietly, stealthily, under the radar.

But there's another kind of attack that makes itself known — on purpose. It sneaks into your network and takes your files, holding them for ransom. It's called ransomware, and, according to cybersecurity experts, this kind of attack is getting more sophisticated.

Stick 'Em Up

As the holiday buying season approaches, retailers remain open to the same attack — called a "point of sale" attack — that hit Target and Home Depot, security experts say. Those analysts say that retailers have their fingers crossed, hoping they're not next.

And leading companies are keeping very tight-lipped about what, if anything, they're doing to protect customers.

Is This Store Hackerproof?

It's easy to spot a scratched face on a watch. It's much harder to tell if the checkout machine that you swipe to pay for that watch is defective.

Tech companies lobbies all the time — for tax reform, patent reform. But usually, it's in the form of big checks and quiet back room meetings.

Immigration was different — the issue where business leaders decided to ally with Latino community groups and labor unions. And now that President Obama has issued an executive action, the tech sector is sorting out its next steps.

Love Song Goes Quiet

For a while, it seemed, Silicon Valley and Washington DC were singing each other a love song.

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