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Google Told Its Workers That They Can't Use Zoom On Their Laptops Anymore

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2020-04-08 23:25
BuzzFeed News has learned that Google has banned the popular videoconferencing software Zoom from its employees' devices. From the report: Zoom, a competitor to Google's own Meet app, has seen an explosion of people using it to work and socialize from home and has become a cultural touchstone during the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, Google sent an email to employees whose work laptops had the Zoom app installed that cited its "security vulnerabilities" and warned that the videoconferencing software on employee laptops would stop working starting this week. "We have long had a policy of not allowing employees to use unapproved apps for work that are outside of our corporate network," Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News. "Recently, our security team informed employees using Zoom Desktop Client that it will no longer run on corporate computers as it does not meet our security standards for apps used by our employees. Employees who have been using Zoom to stay in touch with family and friends can continue to do so through a web browser or via mobile.â Earlier this month, Elon Musk's SpaceX also banned employees from Zoom, citing "significant privacy and security concerns." And on Monday, New York City's Department of Education urged schools to abandon Zoom and switch to a service from Microsoft.

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NASA Astronaut's Estranged Wife Charged With Lying About Space Crime Allegation

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2020-04-08 09:00
Last August, Slashdot reader bobstreo tipped us off to an interesting story where an astronaut accessed the bank account of her estranged spouse from the International Space Station, in what may have been the first allegation of a crime committed in space. We have now learned that the spouse has been indicted on charges of lying to federal authorities. USA Today reports: Summer Worden, 44, made false statements to NASA's Office of the Inspector General and the Federal Trade Commission, according a statement from U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick. A federal jury in Houston returned the two-count indictment in late February, but it was unsealed Monday. Worden married Anne McClain, a decorated astronaut who was once set to be part of NASA's first all-female spacewalk, in 2014 and filed for divorce in 2018. In 2019, Worden filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission claiming McClain had stolen her identity while on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station, although she saw no signs anyone had moved or used funds in the account, The New York Times reported. Worden's parents brought a separate complaint to NASA's Office of the Inspector General that described a "highly calculated and manipulative campaign" designed to win custody of the couple's child. Through her lawyer, Rusty Hardin, McClain told The Times she had accessed the account but said she did so to ensure that the family's finances were in order and that there was enough money in the account to care for their child, who was born a year before they met. She said she was never told to stop using the account and continued to use the same password she had throughout the relationship. The indictment says Worden maintained multiple accounts at USAA Federal Savings Bank and she shared access to those accounts "with a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army on detail to NASA's Johnson Space Center." She lied about when she opened the account that had allegedly been improperly accessed and when she reset her login credentials in a complaint filed with the FTC in March 19, 2019, according to the indictment. Worden also allegedly made another false statement in an interview with NASA's Office of the Inspector General in July. If Worden is convicted, she could face up to five years in prison on each count and a maximum fine of $250,000. She is expected to make an initial court appearance April 13.

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Easy-To-Pick 'Smart' Locks Gush Personal Data, FTC Finds

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2020-04-08 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A padlock -- whether it uses a combination, a key, or "smart" tech -- has exactly one job: to keep your stuff safe so other people can't get it. Tapplock, Inc., based in Canada, produces such a product. The company's locks unlock with a fingerprint or an app connected by Bluetooth to your phone. Unfortunately, the Federal Trade Commission said, the locks are full of both digital and physical vulnerabilities that leave users' stuff, and data, at risk. The FTC's complaint (PDF) against Tapplock, released Monday, basically alleges that the company misrepresented itself, because it marketed its products as secure and tested when they were neither. A product -- any product -- simply being kind of crappy doesn't necessarily fall under the FTC's purview. Saying untrue things about your product in your advertisement or privacy policy, however, will make the commission very unhappy with you indeed. The lock may be built with "7mm reinforced stainless steel shackles, strengthened by double-layered lock design with anti-shim and anti-pry technologies," as Tapplock's website promises, but according to the FTC, perhaps it should have considered anti-screwdriver technologies. As it turns out, a researcher was able to unlock the lock "within a matter of seconds" by unscrewing the back panel. Oops. The complaint also pointed to several "reasonably foreseeable" software vulnerabilities that the FTC alleges Tapplock could have avoided if the company "had implemented simple, low-cost steps." One vulnerability security researchers identified allowed a user to bypass the account authentication process entirely in order to gain full access to the account of literally any Tapplock user, including their personal information. And how could this happen? "A researcher who logged in with a valid user credential could then access another user's account without being re-directed back to the login page, thereby allowing the researcher to circumvent Respondent's authentication procedures altogether," the complaint explains. A second vulnerability allowed researchers the ability to access and unlock any lock they could get close enough to with a working Bluetooth connection. That's because Tapplock "failed to encrypt the Bluetooth communication between the lock and the app," leaving the data wide open for the researchers to discover and replicate. The third vulnerability outlined in the complaint also has to do with a failure to secure communication data. That app that allows "unlimited" connections? The primary owner can of course add and revoke authorized users from the lock. But someone whose access was revoked could still access the lock because the vulnerability allowed for sniffing out the relevant data packets. As part of the settlement, the FTC is requiring Tapplock to create a security program for its products. "That program is required to include training for employees; timely disclosure of 'covered incidents,' including both loss of personal information and also unauthorized access to systems; actual penetration testing of the network; and several other elements, including annual review," reports Ars Technica.

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Taiwan Tells Agencies Not To Use Zoom On Security Grounds

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2020-04-08 02:45
Taiwan's cabinet has told government agencies to stop using the Zoom conferencing app due to privacy and security woes. Reuters reports: Zoom's daily users ballooned to more than 200 million in March, as coronavirus-induced shutdowns forced employees to work from home and schools switched to the company's free app for conducting and coordinating online classes. However, the company is facing a backlash from users worried about the lack of end-to-end encryption of meeting sessions and "zoombombing," where uninvited guests crash into meetings. If government agencies must hold video conferencing, they "should not use products with security concerns, like Zoom," Taiwan's cabinet said in a statement on Tuesday. It did not elaborate on what the security concerns were. The island's education ministry later said it was banning the use of Zoom in schools. Taiwan would be the first government formally advising against use of Zoom, although some U.S. schools districts are looking at putting limits on its use after an FBI warning last month. Taiwan's cabinet said domestically-made conferencing apps were preferred, but if needed products from Google and Microsoft could also be considered.

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In a First, China Knocks US From Top Spot in Global Patent Race

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2020-04-07 19:23
China was the biggest source of applications for international patents in the world last year, pushing the United States out of the top spot it has held since the global system was set up more than 40 years ago, the U.N. patent agency said on Tuesday. From a report: The World Intellectual Property Organization, which oversees a system for countries to share recognition of patents, said 58,990 applications were filed from China last year, beating out the United States which filed 57,840. China's figure was a 200-fold increase in just 20 years, it said. The United States had filed the most applications in the world every year since the Patent Cooperation Treaty system was set up in 1978. More than half of patent applications -- 52.4 % -- now come from Asia, with Japan ranking third, followed by Germany and South Korea. [...] According to the WIPO data, China's Huawei, the world's biggest maker of telecoms equipment, was the top corporate patent filer for the third consecutive year.

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Trump Signs Executive Order To Support Moon Mining, Tap Asteroid Resources

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2020-04-07 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Space.com: President Donald Trump signed an executive order today (April 6) establishing U.S. policy on the exploitation of off-Earth resources. That policy stresses that the current regulatory regime -- notably, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty -- allows the use of such resources. This view has long held sway in U.S. government circles. For example, the United States, like the other major spacefaring nations, has not signed the 1979 Moon Treaty, which stipulates that non-scientific use of space resources be governed by an international regulatory framework. And in 2015, Congress passed a law explicitly allowing American companies and citizens to use moon and asteroid resources. The new executive order makes things even more official, stressing that the United States does not view space as a "global commons" and sees a clear path to off-Earth mining, without the need for further international treaty-level agreements. The executive order, called "Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources," has been in the works for about a year, a senior administration official said during a teleconference with reporters today. The order was prompted, at least in part, by a desire to clarify the United States' position as it negotiates with international partners to help advance NASA's Artemis program for crewed lunar exploration, the official added. (Engagement with international partners remains important, the official said.) "As America prepares to return humans to the moon and journey on to Mars, this executive order establishes U.S. policy toward the recovery and use of space resources, such as water and certain minerals, in order to encourage the commercial development of space," Scott Pace, deputy assistant to the president and executive secretary of the U.S. National Space Council, said in a statement today.

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US Schools Are Banning Zoom and Switching To Microsoft Teams

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2020-04-06 23:40
After many schools adopted Zoom to conduct online lessons during the coronavirus lockdown, concerns about security and privacy have led to a ban on the video conferencing software across the U.S. BetaNews reports: The chancellor of New York City's Department of Education Richard A Carranza sent an email to school principals telling them to "cease using Zoom as soon as possible." And he is not alone; schools in other parts of the country have taken similar action, and educators are now being trained to use Microsoft Teams as this has been suggested as a suitable alternative, partly because it is compliant with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). Documents seen by Chalkbeat show that principals in NYC have been told: "Based on the DOE's review of those documented concerns, the DOE will no longer permit the use of Zoom at this time." The Washington Post quotes Danielle Filson, spokesperson for the NYC Education Department, as saying: "Providing a safe and secure remote learning experience for our students is essential, and upon further review of security concerns, schools should move away from using Zoom as soon as possible. There are many new components to remote learning, and we are making real-time decisions in the best interest of our staff and student. We will support staff and students in transitioning to different platforms such as Microsoft Teams that have the same capabilities with appropriate security measures in place." Clark County Public Schools in Nevada, as well as schools in Utah, Washington State and beyond are looking into Zoom alternatives.

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UK Government Encourages Social Distancing With In-Game Health Messages

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2020-04-06 22:20
To help slow the spread of the coronavirus, the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is using advertisements in mobile games to encourage social distancing. CNET reports: The message "Stay Home. Save Lives" has begun to appear in popular games like Candy Crush Saga, Sniper Elite 4, Dirt Rally 2.0 and Farm Heroes. The DCMS teamed up with leading gaming companies in the UK like King Games, Rebellion and Codemasters to include the messages, with the help of geotargeting technology. "It is absolutely vital that we all follow the simple government advice to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. I'm delighted to see the UK's brilliant video games industry stepping up to strongly reinforce this message to gamers across the UK," Cultural Secretary Oliver Dowden said in a release Monday.

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PayPal and Venmo Are Letting SIM Swappers Hijack Accounts

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2020-04-06 20:55
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Several major apps and websites, such as Paypal and Venmo have a flaw that lets hackers easily take over users' accounts once they have taken control of the victim's phone number. Earlier this year, researchers at Princeton University found 17 major companies, among them Amazon, Paypal, Venmo, Blizzard, Adobe, eBay, Snapchat, and Yahoo, allowed users to reset their passwords via text message sent to a phone number associated with their accounts. This means that if a hacker takes control of a victim's cellphone number via a common and tragically easy to perform hack known as SIM swapping, they can then hack into the victim's online accounts with these apps and websites. Last week, two months after their initial outreach to the companies to report this flaw in their authentication mechanisms, the Princeton researchers checked again to see if the companies had fixed the problem. Some, including Adobe, Blizzard, Ebay, Microsoft, and Snapchat, have plugged the hole. Others have yet to do it. Paypal and Venmo, given that they are apps that allow users to exchange money and are linked to bank accounts or credit cards, may be the most glaring examples. Motherboard verified this week that it's possible to reset passwords on Paypal and Venmo via text message. Fear not, there is a solution. "The easiest way to make it impossible for SIM swappers to take over your accounts after they hijack your number is to unlink your phone number with those accounts, and use a VoIP number -- such as Google Voice, Skype, or another -- instead," reports Motherboard. "Google Voice numbers, given that they're not actually linked to a real SIM card, are much harder to hijack."

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Russia Accused of Spreading Coronavirus Disinformation

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2020-04-05 21:34
Two associate professors studying foreign trolls online have penned an op-ed in the Washington Post arguing that Russian efforts to stir up antagonisms online "continues to be true with coronavirus disinformation." In our research, we have found multiple networks of fake accounts — one of which we can attribute to Russia — that use conversations about coronavirus as a tool for political attacks. To right-leaning Americans, these trolls criticize the response from liberals, suggest the coronavirus is being used to take away their freedoms, and point the finger of blame at China. To left-wing Americans, they suggest the administration's response is immoral and inadequate and point the finger of blame at Trump. On both sides, these are arguments that real Americans are also making, typically with honest intentions. The attacks play to the trolls' goals, however, and so they repeat them, making the loudest and ugliest versions more mainstream. In doing so, they dangerously widen existing divisions in a time of crisis, making critical compromise more difficult. As before, these networks rely on hashtags from organic American conversations, such as #TrumpLiedPeopleDied and #ReopenAmerica. They aren't creating the divisions, but they are working hard to make them wider.... Many commentators have discussed various ways in which the United States has acted to make the coronavirus crisis worse than it could or should be. The public's own role in spreading global disinformation needs to be added to that list. We have to address our own culpability in the problems that are fomented by disinformation. At a time when most news and information people digest is socially mediated, we need to create citizens and platforms that are more resilient to lies and more accepting of facts. Above all, however, we need to stop doing the trolls' jobs for them. The article also cites "websites peddling conspiracy theories" (including what it calls the "Chinese lab origin theory, among other fearmongering stories related to the virus.") "Among those accounts circulating the stories are pro-Russian and Russian state media-affiliated social media influencers."

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IBM is Deploying Its Watson AI to Help Governments Answer People's Covid-19 Questions

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2020-04-05 03:34
Digital Trends reports: IBM's question-answering Watson A.I. is most famous for whooping the butt of human champions on quiz show Jeopardy. Now, IBM has repurposed its famous creation to help government agencies, health care organizations, and academic institutions around the world cope with the massive overload of questions that citizens have about the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first time that Watson has been used to help in a pandemic scenario. A coronavirus-focused version of the Watson A.I. has been called into service as a virtual agent in places including Arkansas, California, Georgia, New York, and Texas in the United States, as well as the Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Spain and U.K. It is capable of answering locally relevant questions, ranging from those about coronavirus symptoms and testing specifics to queries on things like social distancing. These consistent and accurate responses can be provided to citizens via voice calls or text chat... Watson Assistant for Citizens pulls data from a range of external sources — local, national, and international. Digital Trends got an interesting response from one consultant at IBM Watson Health who's an expert on digital health for the World Health Organization. "Our team is currently adding responses to psychological questions, by which a virtual nurse can help people to deal with their fears and emotional problems and provide comfort to them in these times."

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The Story of The Doctor Who Ordered America's First Covid-19 Lockdown

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2020-04-05 01:34
Long-time Slashdot reader bsharma shared the story of doctor/public health officer who "went first," ordering America's very first coronavirus lockdown in six counties on March 16th after the identification of only the 7th known case of Covid-19 in the United States. The Bay Area Newsgroup reports that on January 31st, Cody's cellphone rang at 6:49 a.m. "You've got your first positive," the voice said. Right then, Cody — Santa Clara County's Public Health Officer since 2013 — was positive that even by Silicon Valley standards, life as we know it here was about to change.... Back in the early 2000s, with the country on edge after 9/11, Cody, Karen Smith and Marty Fenstersheib led the health department's effort to build Santa Clara County's model for a massive, coordinated emergency response to a bioterrorism attack or pandemic that included social distancing, shutting schools and the most extreme, mandating that people stay home. It's the one they would turn to this month to slow the untraceable path of this new disease known as COVID-19. "None of us really believed we would do it," Smith, 63, said in a recent interview. "I was slightly terrified to think we were putting in place stay-at-home orders, tools that we think work but don't really know...." Through the years, Cody has learned that public health officers never have all the information they need and are always operating with uncertainty. But the stakes are so much higher now. The second confirmed case of coronavirus in the county came 48 hours after the first; both were travelers from China. But the criteria for sending swabs for testing to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta was so stringent and the bottleneck for test results so long, that the county was left hamstrung trying to figure out how big of a problem it really had. Not until nearly a month later, on Feb. 28, two days after the county was finally given authorization to use its own lab and judgment for testing, was the third "positive" confirmed. It would be a "sentinel case" — a turning point for the virus' spread across the Bay Area — a woman in her 60s with other health conditions. Unlike the first two, this was a clear case of "community transmission," meaning the woman had become infected somewhere in our community, with no clear connection to a traveler. "In very short order," Cody said, "it became apparent we needed to start scaling up fast...." By March 9, the sick woman in her 60s — the sentinel case — had died, and 43 cases had been confirmed, the highest of any county in California. Santa Clara County would now be branded across the country as a coronavirus "hot zone...." "It was clear to me already how quickly it was moving, and that's what gave me a sense of urgency," Cody said. "We just needed to embrace the risk and do it." "I recognize that this is unprecedented," Cody said in announcing the lockdown. "But we must come together to do this and we know we need a regional response... We must all do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19." A professor of epidemiology at the University of California San Francisco has told the same newspaper "That's going to turn out to be — if all goes well and I'm reading the tea leaves right — one of the major public health triumphs of modern times." That article reports that while California had roughly the same number of cases as New York in the first week of March, "by the end of the month, New York had 75,795 cases while California had a tenth of that — 7,482." An infectious disease doctor (and associate executive director with Permanente Medical Group) also told Politico Tuesday that at Kaiser Permanente hospitals across Northern California, they're "seeing a leveling off of Covid-19 cases in our hospitals." And one writer even quoted an emergency room doctor at the UCSF hospital who said last weekend they'd seen less than half the normal number of emergency room patients, and "My colleagues at Stanford, as well as at other facilities in San Francisco report much of the same conditions in their hospitals... "It seems very likely, that the 'shelter in place' policy has had a significant, positive effect on containing the spread of COVID-19 in the Bay Area."

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Pandemic Shutdowns Will Help the Economy, Too

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-04-04 18:34
nut (Slashdot reader #19,435) writes: A study by economists Sergio Correia, Stephan Luck and Emil Verner suggests that the best way to save your economy is to save your people. The authors looked at the economic impact of the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918 on different U.S. cities. They concluded that the earlier, more forcefully and longer cities responded, the better their economic recovery. A faculty affiliate from the Harvard Department of Economics writes in Bloomberg: [C]ities that implemented aggressive social distancing and shutdowns to contain the virus came out looking better. Implementing these policies eight days earlier, or maintaining them for 46 days longer were associated with 4% and 6% higher post-pandemic manufacturing employment, respectively. The gains for output were similar. Likewise, faster and longer-lasting distancing measures were associated with higher post-pandemic banking activity... [T]his is at least consistent with the arguments my Bloomberg Opinion colleagues Noah Smith and Michael Strain have already put forward for why easing distancing measures too early would be potentially devastating for the economy... [I]t looks like the things we should be doing to save lives are also what we should be doing to save the economy.

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Not Just 'The Death of IT'. Cringely Also Predicts Layoffs For Many IT Contractors

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-04-04 17:34
Last week long-time tech pundit Robert Cringely predicted "the death of IT" in 2020 due to the widespread adoption of SD-WAN and SASE. Now he's predicting "an even bigger bloodbath as IT employees at all levels are let go forever," including IT consultants and contractors. My IT labor death scenario now extends to process experts (generally consultants) being replaced with automation. In a software-defined network, whether that's SD-WAN or SASE, so much of what used to be getting discreet boxes to talk with one another over the network becomes a simple database adjustment. The objective, in case anyone forgets (as IT, itself, often does) is the improvement of the end-user experience, in this case through an automated process. With SD-WAN, for example, there are over 3,000 available Quality of Service metrics. You can say that Office 365 is a critical metric as just one example. Write a script to that effect into the SD-WAN database, deploy it globally with a keyclick and you are done... It's slowly dawning on IBM [and its competitors] that they have to get rid of all those process experts and replace them with a few subject matter experts. Here's the big lesson: with SD-WAN and SASE the process no longer matters, so knowing the process (beyond a few silverbacks kept on just in case the world really does end) isn't good for business. Cringely predicts the downgrading of corporate bonds will also put pressure on IBM and its competitors, perhaps ultimately leading to a sale or spin-off at IBM. "Either they sell the parts that don't make money, which is to say everything except Red Hat and mainframes, or they sell the whole darned thing, which is what I expect to happen." With that he predicts thousands of layoffs or furloughs — and while the bond market puts IBM in a bigger bind, "this could apply in varying degrees to any IBM competitors."

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A Hacker Found a Way To Take Over Any Apple Webcam

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-04-04 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: Apple has a well-earned reputation for security, but in recent years its Safari browser has had its share of missteps. This week, a security researcher publicly shared new findings about vulnerabilities that would have allowed an attacker to exploit three Safari bugs in succession and take over a target's webcam and microphone on iOS and macOS devices. Apple patched the vulnerabilities in January and March updates. But before the fixes, all a victim would have needed to do is click one malicious link and an attacker would have been able to spy on them remotely. The bugs Pickren found all stem from seemingly minor oversights. For example, he discovered that Safari's list of the permissions a user has granted to websites treated all sorts of URL variations as being part of the same site, like https://www.example.com, http://example.com and fake://example.com. By "wiggling around," as Pickren puts it, he was able to generate specially crafted URLs that could work with scripts embedded in a malicious site to launch the bait-and-switch that would trick Safari. A hacker who tricked a victim into clicking their malicious link would be able to quietly launch the target's webcam and microphone to capture video, take photos, or record audio. And the attack would work on iPhones, iPads, and Macs alike. None of the flaws are in Apple's microphone and webcam protections themselves, or even in Safari's defenses that keep malicious sites from accessing the sensors. Instead, the attack surmounts all of these barriers just by generating a convincing disguise.

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Zoom Will Enable Waiting Rooms By Default To Stop Zoombombing

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-04-04 12:00
Zoom is making some much-needed changes to prevent "Zoombombing," a term used to describe when someone successfully invades a public or private meeting over the videoconferencing platform to broadcast shock videos, pornography, or other disruptive content. The act was recently mentioned on the Department of Justice's website, warning that users who engage in this sort of video hacking could face fines and possible imprisonment. TechCrunch reports: Starting April 5th, it will require passwords to enter calls via Meeting ID, as these may be guessed or reused. Meanwhile, it will change virtual waiting rooms to be on by default so hosts have to manually admit attendees. [...] Zoom CEO Eric Yuan apologized for the security failures this week and vowed changes. But at the time, the company merely said it would default to making screensharing host-only and keeping waiting rooms on for its K-12 education users. Clearly it determined that wasn't sufficient, so now waiting rooms are on by default for everyone. Zoom communicated the changes to users via an email sent this afternoon that explains "we've chosen to enable passwords on your meetings and turn on Waiting Rooms by default as additional security enhancements to protect your privacy." The company also explained that "For meetings scheduled moving forward, the meeting password can be found in the invitation. For instant meetings, the password will be displayed in the Zoom client. The password can also be found in the meeting join URL." Some other precautions users can take include disabling file transfer, screensharing or rejoining by removed attendees.

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Twitter Removes 9,000 Accounts Pushing Coronavirus Propaganda Praising the United Arab Emirates

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-04-04 02:03
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BuzzFeed News: On April 2, Twitter took down a pro-United Arab Emirates network of accounts that was pushing propaganda about the coronavirus pandemic and criticizing Turkey's military intervention in Libya. Previously tied to marketing firms in the region, parts of this network were removed by Facebook and Twitter last year. The network was made up of roughly 9,000 accounts, according to disinformation research firm DFRLab and independent researcher Josh Russell. Although it promoted narratives in line with the political stances of the governments of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, its origins were unclear. Many Twitter handles contained alphanumeric characters instead of names, and many did not post photos. Accounts that did have profile pictures often used images of Indian models. One video pushed by the fake accounts voiced support for the Chinese government during the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in China in February. The video remains online, but lost over 4,000 retweets and likes after the takedown. The video now has four retweets. The bot network also amplified a video of a woman thanking the government of the UAE for transporting Yemeni students out of Wuhan, China. Today, that video, which is also still online, went from having nearly 4,500 retweets to having 70. Spreading propaganda about the coronavirus didn't seem to have been the network's focus. The accounts, some of which posed as journalists and news outlets, amplified an article about the UAE government's disapproval of the Libyan prime minister and boosted criticism of Turkey's support of militias in Libya.

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'Zoombombing' Is a Federal Offense That Could Result In Imprisonment, Prosecutors Warn

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-04-04 01:00
"Zoomboming," where someone successfully invades a public or private meeting over the videoconferencing platform to broadcast shock videos, pornography, or other disruptive content, could result in fines and possible imprisonment, according to federal prosecutors. The Verge reports: The warning was posted as a press release to the Department of Justice's website under the U.S. Attorney's office for the state's Eastern district with support from the state attorney general and the FBI. Now, prosecutors say they'll pursue charges for Zoombombing, including "disrupting a public meeting, computer intrusion, using a computer to commit a crime, hate crimes, fraud, or transmitting threatening communications." Some of the charges include fines and possible imprisonment. The press release says that if you or anyone you know becomes a victim of teleconference hacking, they can report it to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center. "Do not make the meetings or classroom public. In Zoom, there are two options to make a meeting private: require a meeting password or use the waiting room feature and control the admittance of guest," the guidance reads. "Do not share a link to a teleconference or classroom on an unrestricted publicly available social media post. Provide the link directly to specific people." The Verge adds: "The guidance also advises against allowing anyone but the host to screenshare and asks that users of Zoom and other apps install the latest updates."

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EU Rules Rental Car Companies Don't Need To Pay A License To Rent Cars With Radios That Might Play Music

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-04-04 00:10
Mike Masnick, reporting at TechDirt: Five years ago, we wrote about another such crazy demand -- a PRO (Performance Rights Organizations (PROs), sometimes known as "Collection Societies," that have a long history of demanding licensing for just about every damn thing) in Sweden demanding that rental car companies pay a performance license because their cars had radios, and since "the public" could rent their cards and listen to the radio, that constituted "a communication to the public" that required a separate license. The case has bounced around the courts, and finally up to the Court of Justice for the EU which has now, finally, ruled that merely renting cars does not constitute "communication to the public."

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Trump: CDC Recommends Cloth Face Covering To Protect Against Coronavirus

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-04-03 23:52
President Trump says the CDC now recommends using a cloth face covering to protect against coronavirus, but said he does not plan to do so himself. CNBC reports: Trump stressed that the recommendations were merely voluntary, not required. "I don't think I'm going to be doing it" he said as he announced the new guidance. The CDC's website explained that the recommendations were updated following new studies that some infected people can transmit the coronavirus even without displaying symptoms of the disease. "In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain," such as in grocery stores or pharmacies, "especially in areas of significant community-based transmission," the CDC says. Developing...

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