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The biggest IT security breaches of all time

While are there so many companies out there who have sophisticated security methods, it still leaves us concerned as to the security of our own data in the hands of these large companies.

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It seems that you don’t have to look very far these days to see the impact of security breaches on our lives. We all have anxieties about our information being stolen or passed on to other resources. But while are there so many companies out there who have sophisticated security methods, it still leaves us concerned as to the security of our own data in the hands of these large companies. And while it may be an oversight to think that it’s just smaller companies who have limited protection methods, just because their finances are limited. In fact, it’s the big companies that we’ve got to keep an eye on.

There have been so many security breaches in the last few years, and here are some of the biggest.

Yahoo!

This giant of a company announced in September 2016 that a couple of years prior that they were the victim of a data breach. This was the biggest in all of history. Over three billion accounts had been hacked, including the real names, dates of birth, as well as email addresses and telephone numbers of Yahoo! users. In fact, they were subject to breaches in 2013 as well as 2014, where 500 million users were compromised.

eBay

The king of online auction sites reported in May 2014 that 145 million users (all of them) had their names, addresses, and dates of birth, as well as encrypted passwords, hacked. As a result, eBay asked its customers to change their passwords, but luckily the financial details were stored separately and weren’t subject to the hack. The biggest retail business hack of all time did result in a decline in user activity. What can we learn from this? Well, if you are a retail business, having different details stored on different devices is a common sense approach to undertake. While a lot of us feel we are doing enough to protect our data, it clearly shows that sites like eBay aren’t immune to cyberterrorism. Make the most of your resources, and companies like ATB Technologies have a resource library that we can all make use of. The scariest aspect of this hack is that the perpetrators had inside access for 229 days! They did this by using the credentials of 3 employees. If this isn’t the lesson in changing your password regularly, then who knows what it is?

Heartland Payment Systems

In March 2008, 134 million credit cards details were exposed via SQL Injection. It wasn’t discovered until January 2009, when MasterCard and Visa notified the company of questionable transactions through accounts they had processed. The vulnerability many businesses faced with regards to SQL Injection was nothing new, and in fact, security analysts had been warning retailers for many years prior to the attack. SQL injection was the most commonplace form of attack of the time.

FriendFinder

Adult content and casual hookup websites are ground feed for hackers. And the FriendFinder network was subject to a hack in the middle of October 2016, where user details were being leaked out of cybercrime forums. It transpired that the password protection algorithm was a weak one, the SHA-1 hashing algorithm resulted in 99% of the hacked passwords. Overall, 412 million accounts were hacked.

MySpace

Confined to the past now, MySpace was the giant of social media over a decade ago. This hack was partly the result of users being able to find out that they could embed their own content on their page, and instead of fixing the problem, the administrators of MySpace allowed it to happen. Overall, 316 million accounts were compromised. Email addresses, as well as usernames and poor passwords, highlighted that the breach was typical of the mid-2000s, not least because of the references to Blink 182. Those were the days, eh?

Equifax

Consumer credit reporting agency Equifax reported in September 2017 that a security breach took place from May until July! In total, 145 million users were affected by the security breach. While it’s not the largest of data breaches, the sensitive nature of information, from birth dates, social security numbers, and even driver license numbers could have resulted in many perpetrators committing fraud by posing as those users to set up agreements like mortgages, loans, or credit cards.

Target Stores

American retail giant Target had 110 million records hacked. This occurred during the post Thanksgiving shopping surge. In 2013, hackers had infected the payment card readers, resulting in them escaping with 40 million credit and debit card numbers. In addition to this, contact information had been compromised, with over 70 million customers names, addresses and telephone numbers stolen.

National Archive And Records Administration

It’s important to remember that not all data breaches are the result of criminals. In 2008, a hard drive at the NARA, containing the private information of 76 million American military veterans, was sent off to repair after it stopped working. Rather than being destroyed on site, a government contractor sent this drive out to be scrapped. However, it transpired that it was unclear as to whether the drive was destroyed or not. After an investigation, the NARA changed its policies relating to the destruction of storage devices containing sensitive information. While it’s argued that a data breach did not occur, the fact that the company changed its policies speaks volumes.

Home Depot

The result of infection at the point of sale systems in this hardware supply store in April or May of 2014, this resulted in customer credit and debit cards being stolen. The malware in question pretended to be an antivirus package. This was the largest steal of payment cards resulting from a direct attack on a company. Although luckily, this didn’t deter customers.

Anthem

This healthcare company admitted that in February 2015, 80 million records were stolen by hackers. The attack was a result of phishing emails that was sent to five employees. As is the typical setup of phishing scams, these employees downloaded Trojan software, resulting in the attackers obtaining passwords. This company is a parent of healthcare providers like Blue Shield, and the theft of millions of medical records was thought to be worth 10 times the amount of the credit card information.

Uber

In October 2016, the details of 57 million drivers were hacked via Uber engineers’ credentials from a GitHub account. Uber didn’t reveal this information until November 2017. Instead, the company tried to keep it under wraps and paid the hackers $100,000 to stop them releasing the data. This doesn’t seem to have deterred the businesses dominance over the taxi market.

Sony Pictures

One of the more famous in recent years, the staff at Sony Pictures Entertainment had their computer screens hijacked by a grinning skull. This was the result of a group called Guardians of Peace, threatening to release company information if certain demands were not met. Unpublished scripts, internal passwords, as well as emails and passports belonging to actors and internal workers, showed up on file sharing sites. In addition to this, four unreleased Sony movies were released, including the Seth Rogen vehicle The Interview (51% on Rotten Tomatoes!). In total, over $100 million of monetary damages were estimated as a result of this hack.

Pizza Hut

It’s not always the most straightforward of businesses that get hacked. This pizza chain revealed that its website and app were hacked in October 2017, resulting in personal information being compromised. It’s unclear how many customers were affected, but roughly 60,000 US customers have been reported as having had their billing information, including email addresses and delivery addresses, stolen.

Bupa

This British health insurance provider suffered a data breach in July 2017, not as a direct result of an external cyber criminal, but an employee. This Bupa worker copied and removed sensitive information, but no medical information was released. Although, names, dates of birth, and some minimal contact information were removed. In total, 500,000 customers were affected.

Wonga

This payday loan company was affected by 245,000 customers having extremely sensitive information, including bank account numbers, stolen. The company has not divulged where this took place, but this was the result of the company not realizing that data could be accessed externally until April 2017.

Nationwide Building Society

It seems that not even your money is safe. An unencrypted laptop was stolen from a company employee in this UK building society, compromising the personal information of 11 million customers! The Financial Services Authority fined Nationwide Building Society £980,000, which was the record for data loss penalty at the time, but it’s nice to know that your money is being well looked after, isn’t it?

This is a concern for every person in the world, from business owners to customers. While there’s only so much we can do to take our law into our own hands, this reinforces the notion that we’ve got to be on top of our form data, from passwords and email addresses. It’s important to get clued up in what you can do to protect your data, but, unfortunately, we need to trust those that are handling sensitive data. Instead, it’s best to refuse as much personal information as you can when filling out forms online. These are the biggest breaches of all time, and it’s a sign of the modern world.

LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Weight stigma affects gay men on dating apps

A study found that Grindr, the most popular dating app for gay, bisexual, two-spirit and queer men, had a negative effect on men’s body image, especially when it came to weight. Three out of four gay men are reported to have used Grindr.

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Weight stigma is an issue for queer men using dating apps, says a new University of Waterloo study, authored by Eric Filice, Amanda Raffoul, Samantha Meyer and Elena Neiterman, all from the University of Waterloo, and which appears in Body Image.

The study found that Grindr, the most popular dating app for gay, bisexual, two-spirit and queer men, had a negative effect on men’s body image, especially when it came to weight. Three out of four gay men are reported to have used Grindr.

“Dating apps have skyrocketed in popularity over the past decade or so and have radically transformed the ways individuals connect with one another,” said Eric Filice, a public health doctoral candidate and lead author. “We were surprised to find that weight stigma is perpetuated by individual users and embedded within the app’s information architecture.”

For example, because Grindr facilitates anonymity more than other apps (it doesn’t require a name or link to other social media platforms), and because its pre-set body descriptions don’t acknowledge being overweight (you can be ‘toned,’ ‘average,’ ‘large,’ ‘muscular,’ ‘slim’ or ‘stocky’), most participants in the study perceived being overweight as a stigma.

“Participants recalled their body weight or shape being scrutinized for allegedly being incompatible with their gender expression or preferred position during intercourse,” said Filice. “We think this points to the importance of locating weight stigma within and alongside other intersecting power relations.”

The study also found that apart from weight stigma, body dissatisfaction stemmed from sexual objectification and appearance comparison. “It doesn’t help that because Grindr exists to connect users for dating or sex, physical appearance bears greater cultural salience,” Filice said. “People often compare their candid, in-person appearance to the meticulously curated or digitally altered appearances of others they encounter online.

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“On the other hand, we were especially compelled by the myriad protective factors and coping strategies that participants suggested help mitigate Grindr’s deleterious effects on body image,” said Filice. These included the prioritization of positive self-esteem, strong social support, and avoiding situations that increase insecurities.

Filice said that he doesn’t think trying to curb overall dating-app use is an effective public health approach. “Health promotion strategists should focus on patterns in app use that are most harmful and orient their interventions accordingly. Many of our participants see Grindr as a necessary evil, as internet-mediated communication has served a unique historical role for gay men in circumventing social, cultural and legal barriers to making connections in public spaces.”

He added, “Much remains to be done. We still have little insight into how dating apps influence the bodily perceptions of trans and gender-nonconforming folks.”

Thirteen participants from several cities in the Greater Toronto Area, as well as surrounding municipalities, took part in the study, called “The influence of Grindr, a geosocial networking application, on body image in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men: An exploratory study.”

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Technology

Passive social network users in danger of developing depressive symptoms

It is not the use of social networks that generally and directly leads to or is related to depression, but that certain preconditions and a particular type of use increase the risk of depressive tendencies.

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Photo by NordWood Themes from Unsplash.com

Great holiday, fantastic party, adorable children, incredible food: everyone shows their life in the best light on social networks. And those who take a look around on such sites can find that their self-esteem takes a hit as it seems as though everyone is better than them.

This is because users who use social networks passively, i.e. do not post themselves, and tend to compare themselves with others are in danger of developing depressive symptoms, according to a team of psychologists at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) led by Dr. Phillip Ozimek.

The result of the study appeared in Behaviour & Information Technology.

Information on the first five people

The answers to the question of whether using social networks can trigger depressive tendencies have been contradictory so far. The researchers from Bochum carried out one experimental and two questionnaire studies. In the first study, they had two groups of test subjects spend five minutes writing information about the first five people they saw either on their Facebook wall or on the staff website of the Faculty of Catholic Theological at RUB. A third group skipped this task. All three groups then completed a questionnaire that provided information about their self-esteem.

“It was shown that being confronted by social information on the Internet – which is selective and only positive and favorable, whether on Facebook and on employee websites – leads to lower self-esteem,” reports Ozimek. As low self-esteem is closely related to depressive symptoms, researchers consider even this short-term effect to be a potential source of danger.

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Over 800 test subjects

They investigated long-term prospects using questionnaire studies. They interviewed over 800 people about their use of Facebook, their tendency to compare themselves with others, their self-esteem and the occurrence of depressive symptoms. They found that there is a positive correlation between passive Facebook use, in particular, and depressive symptoms when subjects have an increased need to make social comparisons of their abilities.

“So, when I have a strong need to compare and keep seeing in my newsfeed that other people are having great holidays, making great deals, and buying great, expensive things while everything I see out of my office window is grey and overcast, it lowers my self-esteem,” Ozimek sums up. “And if I experience this day after day, over and over again, this can promote greater depressive tendencies over the long term.”

In a third study, the researchers used questionnaires to find out whether their findings could also be transferred to other networks. As professional networks work somewhat differently, they chose Xing.

“Although people’s profiles on there have still been candy-coated, they keep themselves grounded in order to appear as genuine, yet positive, as possible,” explains Ozimek. The results of the evaluation were very similar to those of the Facebook study.

The type of use is significant

“Overall, we were able to show that it is not the use of social networks that generally and directly leads to or is related to depression, but that certain preconditions and a particular type of use increase the risk of depressive tendencies,” says Ozimek.

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Private and professional social networks can promote higher levels of depression if users mainly use them passively, compare themselves with others socially and these comparisons have a negative impact on self-esteem.

“It is important that this impression that everyone else is better off can be an absolute fallacy,” says the psychologist. “In fact, very few people post on social media about negative experiences. However, the fact that we are flooded with these positive experiences on the Internet gives us a completely different impression.”

Ozimek worked with Hans-Werner Bierhoff for “All my online-friends are better than me – three studies about ability-based comparative social media use, self-esteem, and depressive tendencies”.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Easy access to modern tech has changed the face of multiplayer gaming

The main way in which the multiplayer gaming world has changed as a result of easy access to modern technology is the way in which it’s now possible to play against each other no matter where each participant is physically located.

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Anyone who took a stroll around a gaming arcade in decades gone by, such as the 1980s, would have found people playing against each other on everything from an ice hockey table to a pinball machine. But one thing that has changed in recent years is that it’s now much simpler to play against each other in a game battle – and that goes for gamblers looking for a global poker promo code, quiz fans using mobile apps, and wargamers battling it out over the web.

This article will explore the role of tech in the changing gaming scene.

Geographical distribution

The main way in which the multiplayer gaming world has changed as a result of easy access to modern technology is the way in which it’s now possible to play against each other no matter where each participant is physically located. The other player could be someone you know, and it could even be the case that you are playing against someone in the next room or you could play against a random person you’ve never met who is based anywhere in the world.

These exciting opportunities have come about largely as a result of the availability of superfast Internet connections, and the rise in access to broadband. It’s also partly down to changes in screen size, too: larger screen surfaces mean that it’s now possible to split a screen and see what your single competitor is, or your multiple competitors are, doing with total ease.

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Speed of games

The speed with which multiplayer games can take place is also a very important development. It’s now also possible for players to send messages internally which are instantaneous, and which allow the gamers involved to make informed and fast reaction decisions. This is especially important for those who are gambling online: in a game such as poker where every second of response counts for your strategy and your interaction with others, fast in-game turnaround times can be critical.

Communication and collaboration

Multiplayer games have always emphasized the role of collaboration. But now, the communication choices are maximized. You can still recreate that feeling of sitting next to each other and participating in a game if you wish, perhaps by using headsets and webcams. If you prefer to speak by text, however, that’s fine, too. This extended level of choice is a key hallmark of the technological age of gaming – and one that many who operate in multiplayer contests are grateful to have, especially if the culture around multiplayer gaming is one that doesn’t initially appeal.

Multiplayer games have always emphasized the role of collaboration. But now, the communication choices are maximized.

Save and restart

The routine involved in multiplayer gaming has also changed as a direct result of changes in technology. Previously, you would have had to save your game and follow a cumbersome process to restart it – and if the progress was saved on a game disc, you’d need one designated participant to look after it. But modern technology means that each participant can auto-save progress. With game data now stored in the cloud, meanwhile, all participants can pick up where they left off, and enjoy customized and personal performance data even if they’ve been playing together.

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Types of game

And finally, it’s worth exploring how technology has delivered new types of the multiplayer game. Take the example of quiz or word game apps: while playing a multiplayer game like this was once something that could only be done using board games or quiz sheets at a planned, designated event, it’s now the case they can be played on the go no matter where you are. This, in turn, means that leisure habits have changed, with games now being played on commutes, during lunch breaks, and even while other leisure activities – such as watching television or going to the cinema – are happening concurrently.

Modern technology has touched almost every aspect of life, and multiplayer gaming is certainly no exception to the rule. Activities which were once essential for a multiplayer game to function, such as all participants gathering in the same room or heading down to a physical arcade to play games together, are now seen as retro rather than a required part of the process.

Thanks to the rise in superfast Internet connections, the changes in physical dimensions of screens and the arrival of webcams and microphones, everything from how gamers play the games, to how they communicate and where they save their work has progressed to improve the game playing experience for everyone.

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NEWSMAKERS

Loneliness and social anxiety a bad combination for people using dating apps

Loneliness and social anxiety is a bad combination for single people who use dating apps on their phones, a new study suggests.

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Loneliness and social anxiety is a bad combination for single people who use dating apps on their phones, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that people who fit that profile were more likely than others to say they’ve experienced negative outcomes because of their dating app use.

“It’s not just that they’re using their phone a lot,” said Kathryn Coduto, lead author of the study and doctoral student in communication at The Ohio State University. “We had participants who said they were missing school or work, or getting in trouble in classes or at work because they kept checking the dating apps on their phones.”

Coduto said it is a problem she has seen firsthand.

“I’ve seen people who use dating apps compulsively. They take their phones out when they’re at dinner with friends or when they’re in groups. They really can’t stop swiping,” she said.

The study was published recently online in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Participants were 269 undergraduate students with experience using one or more dating apps. All answered questions designed to measure their loneliness and social anxiety (for example, they were asked if they were constantly nervous around other people).

Compulsive use was measured by asking participants how much they agreed with statements like “I am unable to reduce the amount of time I spend on dating apps.”

Participants also reported negative outcomes from using dating apps, such as missing class or work or getting in trouble because they were on their phones.

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Results showed, not surprisingly, that socially anxious participants preferred to meet and talk to potential dating partners online rather than in person. They tended to agree with statements like “I am more confident socializing on dating apps than offline.”

But that alone didn’t lead them to compulsively use dating apps, Coduto said.

“If they were also lonely, that’s what made the problem significant,” she said. “That combination led to compulsive use and then negative outcomes.”

Coduto said people need to be aware of their dating app use and consider whether they have a problem. If they have trouble setting limits for themselves, they can use apps that restrict dating app use to certain times of day or to a set amount of time each day.

“Especially if you’re lonely, be careful in your choices. Regulate and be selective in your use,” she said.

Coduto’s co-authors on the study were Roselyn Lee-Won, associate professor of communication at Ohio State and Young Min Baek of Yonsei University in Korea.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

‘Sexting’ not at epidemic levels, but has not decreased despite preventive efforts

Non-heterosexual students were approximately twice as likely to have shared an image with others and to believe their image had been shared with others without permission.

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Photo by Jack Sharp from Unsplash.com

A study on teen ‘sexting’ has good news, and – yes – bad news. The good news is that adolescent “sexting” is not at epidemic levels as reported in some media headlines. The bad news is that it also has not decreased despite preventive efforts by educators and others.

Most commonly, the term sexting has been used to describe incidents where teenagers take nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves and exchange that content via text or private social media messages. While intended to be shared with trusted romantic partners, these images also can find their way into the hands of others.

While various studies have contributed to the understanding of sexting behavior among minors, the prevalence estimates are dated (prior to January 2011), and therefore, little is known about its frequency and scope on a national level in recent years.

A new study by researchers at Florida Atlantic University and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is providing a much-needed update to what is currently known about the nature and extent of sexting among youth today.

The study, published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, examined prevalence rates for sending and receiving sexually explicit images or video among a nationally-representative sample of 5,593 middle and high school students (ages 12 to 17) in the US. Researchers focused only on explicit images and videos (as some previous studies have conflated the picture by also including explicit texts) in order to isolate those experiences that have the greatest potential for problematic outcomes.

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Results show that across all sociodemographic variables explored, the vast majority of students were not participating in sexting. Approximately 14 percent of middle and high school students had received a sexually explicit image from a boyfriend or girlfriend, while 13.6 percent said they received such an image from someone who was not a current romantic partner. About 11 percent of students reported sending a sext to a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Males were significantly more likely to have sent and received a sext from a current romantic partner. However, males and females were equally likely to receive them from someone who was not a current boyfriend or girlfriend.
Photo by Cristofer Jeschke from Unsplash.com

Interestingly, most of the students who were asked by a current boyfriend or girlfriend to send a sext complied (63.9 percent). Among those students who were asked to send a sext by someone who was not a current romantic partner, only 43 percent complied.

Males were significantly more likely to have sent and received a sext from a current romantic partner. However, males and females were equally likely to receive them from someone who was not a current boyfriend or girlfriend. Female students were more likely to have been asked to send a sext by someone who was not a current romantic partner (14.3 percent), but only 34.1 percent complied.

Among the different racial groups examined, no statistically significant differences emerged with regard to sexting participation. As expected, older youth were more likely to both send and receive sexts. Students who identified as non-heterosexual were significantly more likely to be involved in sexting in all its forms.

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With regard to frequency, about one-third of the students who sent or received explicit messages did so only once. Most commonly, students engaged in these behaviors “a few times.” Fewer than 2 percent of all students said they had sent a sext “many times,” while 2.6 percent said they had received sexts “many times.”

Overall, about 4 percent of students said they shared an explicit image sent to them with another person without their permission, and the about same number believed an image of them was shared with others without permission. This, of course, can lead to instances of “sextortion,” which the authors also have studied. Males were more likely to have shared an image and were more likely to believe an image they sent had been shared with others without permission.

Non-heterosexual students were approximately twice as likely to have shared an image with others and to believe their image had been shared with others without permission. It also appears that 15-year-olds were the most likely to have shared a sext and to believe a sext of them was shared without permission.

“Findings from our study provide a very important message for youth who may believe media headlines that suggest sexting is more widespread than it actually is,” said Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice within FAU’s College for Design and Social Inquiry and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, who co-authored the study with Justin Patchin, Ph.D., a professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. “Showing adolescents clear evidence that a relatively small proportion of teens engage in sexting could actually result in decreased overall participation since it underscores that it is not as normal, commonplace, or widespread as they might believe.”

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NEWSMAKERS

Apple updates Holding Hands emoji to represent more LGBTQIA relationships

In a major update to the Holding Hands emoji typically used to represent couples and relationships, users will now be able to select any combination of skin tone, in addition to gender, to personalize the people holding hands, opening up more than 75 possible combinations.

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Apple is previewing a selection of new emoji coming, revealing the newest designs that bring even more diversity to the keyboard, alongside fun and exciting additions to popular categories of food, animals, activities and smiley faces.

In a major update to the Holding Hands emoji typically used to represent couples and relationships, users will now be able to select any combination of skin tone, in addition to gender, to personalize the people holding hands, opening up more than 75 possible combinations.

Following Apple’s proposal to the Unicode Consortium last year to introduce more disability-themed emoji, a new guide dog, an ear with a hearing aid, wheelchairs, a prosthetic arm and a prosthetic leg will be available in the emoji keyboard. Celebrating diversity in all its many forms is integral to Apple’s values and these new options help fill a significant gap in the emoji keyboard.

Many additional emoji categories are getting exciting updates with a new smiley face for yawning, a one-piece swimsuit, new food items including a waffle, falafel, butter and garlic, and new animals like the sloth, flamingo, orangutan and skunk.

Fifty-nine new emoji designs will be available this fall with a free software update for iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch. Thousands of emoji are currently available, including emotive smiley faces, gender-neutral characters, more professions, various clothing options, food types, animals, mythical creatures and more. New emoji are created based on the approved characters in Unicode 12.0.

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