Tech news: Airbnb to block some Halloween bookings

Airbnb wants no tricksters this Halloween. The online marketplace for short-term home rentals will block some users from booking one- or two-night weekend stays during Halloween, which falls on a Sunday this year. Airbnb says the ban will help “prevent and deter unauthorized and large parties.” Airbnb says renters “without a history of positive reviews” will be blocked from making one-night reservations and “stringent restrictions” will be placed on those looking for two-night rentals. Renters with a history of positive reviews will not be affected. Airbnb has been criticized for allowing rentals to guests who use the homes to hold large noisy parties, especially during holidays.

‘Alexa, I need a new baby name’

Americans have more Alexas in their homes but fewer in their cribs. Amazon Alexa, the company’s voice assistant that launched in late 2014, powers about 100 million home speaker devices. But as Alexa devices proliferated, fewer parents named their babies Alexa, perhaps scared away by the device’s ubiquity. Alexa plummeted from 32nd most popular girl’s name in 2015 to 139th in 2019, according to the Social Security Administration.

Microsoft 365 price increases announced

Microsoft is raising prices on Microsoft 365, its cloud-based suite of productivity apps that includes Word, Excel and Microsoft Teams. Microsoft 365 became hugely popular during the pandemic because businesses could set up employees at home with the suite without the need for physical software. The increases, which affect only business users, are between 9% and 25%, depending on the Microsoft 365 package. They take effect March 1.

This new hire can hack it

A hacker who stole $610 million has been offered a job — by the company that he or she hacked. Poly Network, which lets users swap cryptocurrency across multiple blockchains, said it was the victim of an “ethical” hacker who finds vulnerabilities and alerts companies. In an act of gratitude or perhaps exasperation, Poly Network offered the unidentified hacker, who returned the money, a job as “chief security adviser.” — BLOOMBERG NEWS