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Google, Capital One, and Vulnerable Voting Machines in This Week's Headlines

"What’s keeping Stanford professor Zakir Durumeric up at night? It’s the risk that your smart appliances, connected TV, Wi-Fi printer, and ISP-provided router are being co-opted by diabolical botnets seeking to stage their next global DDoS attack. Top researchers from Stanford University and Avast Software have taken a look at the growing risks posed by lax consumer IoT security and are presenting their findings at the USENIX Security Symposium in Silicon Valley, August 14-16."

"A new Google study this week confirmed the obvious: internet users need to stop using the same password for multiple websites unless they’re keen on having their data hijacked, their identity stolen, or worse. It seems like not a day goes by without a major company being hacked or leaving user email addresses and passwords exposed to the public internet. These login credentials are then routinely used by hackers to hijack your accounts, a threat that’s largely mitigated by using a password manager and unique password for each site you visit."

By: Jordan Novet "Cloudflare, a company whose technology helps companies distribute their content and keep it available online, has filed to go public. On Thursday the company’s filing kicking off the process of its initial public offering became publicly available. In the first half of 2019, Cloudflare had a $36.8 million net loss on $129.2 million in revenue, according to the IPO prospectus. That revenue figure was up 48% from the first half of 2018, and the loss was up 13%."

By: AnnaMaria Andriotis and Rachel Louise Ensign "Before a giant data breach at Capital One Financial Corp., employees raised concerns within the company about what they saw as high turnover in its cybersecurity unit and a failure to promptly install some software to help spot and defend against hacks, according to people familiar with the matter."

"On a bright Monday in January 2017, at 2:30 in the afternoon, about a thousand Google employees—horrified, alarmed, and a little giddy—began pouring out of the company's offices in Mountain View, California. They packed themselves into a cheerful courtyard outside the main campus café, a parklike area dotted with picnic tables and a shade structure that resembles a giant game of pickup sticks. Many of them held up handmade signs: 'Proud Iranian-American Googler,' 'Even Introverts Are Here,' and of course, 'Don't Be Evil!' written in the same kindergarten colors as the Google logo."

"Despite the obvious risk and years of warnings, at least eight American states and 16 million American voters will use completely paperless machines in the 2020 US elections, a new report by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice found.

Paperless voting machines persist despite a strong consensus among US cybersecurity and national security experts that paper ballots and vote audits are necessary to ensure the security of the next election. The Brennan Center report points to the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 section, which also recommends paper ballots for security and verification."

"The US Navy has had enough of touchscreens and is going back to physical controls for its destroyers, according to a report last week in USNI News. Starting next summer the Navy will refit its DDG-51 destroyer fleet with a physical throttle and helm control system. The effort is a response to feedback the Navy solicited in the wake of a pair of fatal crashes involving that class of ship during 2017. In June of that year, seven sailors were killed when the USS Fitzgerald collided with the MV ACX Crystal, a container ship. In August, 10 US sailors were killed when the USS John S McCain hit another container ship, the Alnic MC."

"The White House is contemplating issuing an executive order that would widen its attack on the operations of social media companies. The White House has prepared an executive order called “Protecting Americans from Online Censorship” that would give the Federal Communications Commission oversight of how Facebook, Twitter and other tech companies monitor and manage their social networks, according to a CNN report."

"Facebook Inc. is taking the first major step in a plan to merge its systems and let users exchange messages among all its different mobile apps -- and is chipping away at the independence of Instagram’s direct-messaging product in the process. Engineers are working to rebuild Instagram’s chat feature using Facebook Messenger’s technology, according to people familiar with the matter. That will make it possible for Instagram users to communicate with those using Messenger, something they can’t do now. To make that technically easier, Instagram’s direct-messaging staff now reports to the Facebook Messenger team, said the people. The look of the photo-sharing app’s messaging product, called Instagram Direct, won’t change much, but the underlying technology powering the service will, the people said."

"Rishi Chandra has a vision for what a smart home should look like in five years. As the lead for Google Nest products, it's his job to think ahead. He doesn't have all the answers, he admits, but he has an idea of what he'd like to see. Given his role at one of the most influential companies in the world, his ideas about how to push the smart home forward could affect the rest of the industry. Based on what Chandra shared with me at a recent interview in New York, the future of the smart home involves a lot of playing nice, even with would-be rivals."


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