In today’s Bulldog wrapup of technology news:

  • IBM launches a new Watson ad featuring Star Wars’ Carrie Fisher
  • South Carolina unveils cybercrime fight
  • Google will back Apple vs. FBI
  • Beware of tax-related phishing

The details:

  • Watson add features Carrie Fisher, robots

IBM is launching a new ad to promote its supercomputer Watson efforts with Star Wars’ Carrie Fisher and robots. She’s elading them through a therapy session.

“I’m a sinister, world-conquering, artificially intelligent robot,” says a robot featuring the voice of Steve Buscemi.

The Verge recounts the add:

“I can hear you hurting,” offers Fisher, before introducing Watson to the group. IBM’s superbot is greeted with plenty of eye rolls and skepticism, eventually causing the session’s attendees to short-circuit over his goals of helping humankind rather than wiping it from existence. I mean, it’s not a tremendous commercial.

Watch the ad at:

Read more at:

  • S. Carolina joins cybercrime fight after massive data breach

The South CarolinaRevenue Department’s massive 2012 data breach gave Gov. Nikki Haley a firsthand lesson on the need for efforts to counter cybercrime, she said this week..

“Today, there is never a day I don’t think about cybersecurity,” Haley told academics and business, government and military officials who gathered to kick off a new, statewide program in cooperation with the University of South Carolina.

Hackers stole the Revenue Department’s electronically filed tax returns from 3.8 million adults and 700,000 businesses in 2012. The theft included the unencrypted Social Security numbers of the adults and their 1.9 million dependents.

Last week, the state’s Medicaid agency announced it had begun implementing safeguards to secure the personal health information of roughly 1 million residents, who were shown to be at risk of cybertheft due to the agency’s 4-decade-old computer system and poor safety measures.

“Those that attack are patient and those that attack never stop trying,” Haley said, adding that she hoped the consortium’s work will put South Carolina “at the forefront of cybersecurity.”

Haley joined University President Harris Pastides to unveil the formation of “SC Cyber,” the group drawn from state government, academia, the South Carolina National Guard and the state’s leading industries.

Other organizations involved in the effort are the South Carolina Department of Commerce, Clemson University, and businesses such as IBM, Boeing, and AT&T.

The initiative’s goal will be to secure the state’s critical cyber infrastructure by training government workers, business people and small business owners about security techniques to counter cybercriminals and prevent the theft of vital information, the officials said.

  • Google will back Apple in court against the FBI

Google will back Apple in its court battle with the FBI over the security of its iPhone.

Last week, a court ordered Apple to help the FBI hack into a locked iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino killers in December’s shooting spree. Apple opposes the order.

Google now plans to file a “friend of the court” brief on Apple’s behalf within the next week, a person familiar with the situation said. The person asked not to be identified because Google is still drafting the document.

Google makes the Android software that powers most smartphones in the world. Like Apple, it fears creating a precedent that authorities could use to read messages, photos and other sensitive information stored on phones.

Apple filed its formal objection in the case Thursday.

  • Watch out for phishy emails during tax season

It’s tax time, so you’d better think twice before clicking on that link in your email inbox.

What may look like a legitimate communication from your bank, human resources department or email provider may actually be part of a scheme designed to steal the confidential information stored in your computer, or to gain access to the network it’s attached to.

Experts warn that tax season is a prime time for this brand of fraud known as “phishing,” with hackers out to steal your information in hopes of using it to file a falsetax return.

Phishing emails remain one of the top causes of data breaches. While people are more aware of their danger than ever before, the lures continue to evolve and increase in sophistication, making it tough for the average person to discern which emails are legitimate and which ones aren’t.