Technews Pinboard 495 – March 25, 2017

Senate Votes To Undo Privacy Rules that Protect User Data | NewsFactor Network
The Republican-led Senate moved Thursday to undo Obama-era regulations that would have forced internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon to ask customers’ permission before they could use or sell much of their personal information.

The Robots Are Coming: 38% of U.S. Jobs Soon To Be Automated | NewsFactor Network
Up to 38 percent of jobs in the U.S. are at a high risk of being eliminated due to advances in automation, according to a new report by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The risk is highest in sectors such as transportation and storage (56 percent), manufacturing (46 percent), and wholesale and retail (44 percent) and lower in sectors such as health and social work (17 percent), according to the study.

It Begins: Bots Are Learning to Chat in Their Own Language | WIRED
Born in Ukraine and raised in Toronto, the 31-year-old is now a visiting researcher at OpenAI, the artificial intelligence lab started by Tesla founder Elon Musk and Y combinator president Sam Altman. There, Mordatch is exploring a new path to machines that can not only converse with humans, but with each other. He’s building virtual worlds where software bots learn to create their own language out of necessity.

Google Maps Already Tracks You; Now Other People Can, Too | NewsFactor Network
Google Maps users will soon be able to broadcast their movements to friends and family — the latest test of how much privacy people are willing to sacrifice in an era of rampant sharing.

Apple Disputes Hacker Group’s Claim of Massive iCloud Breach | NewsFactor Network
According to a report Tuesday in Motherboard, a group calling itself the “Turkish Crime Family” claimed it could remotely access hundreds of millions of Apple accounts and could use that access to wipe users’ devices. The hacker(s) said they would do so on April 7 unless Apple paid a ransom of $75,000 to $100,000.

WikiLeaks: CIA Hacked Apple Devices in Ways Users Can’t Fix | NewsFactor Network
New documents from WikiLeaks point to an apparent CIA program to hack Apple’s iPhones and Mac computers using techniques that users couldn’t disable by resetting their devices

Not My Laptop! New Ban Troubles Airline Passengers | NewsFactor Network
As the indignities of modern air travel go, the latest ban on laptops and tablets on some international flights falls somewhere between having to take off your ratty shoes at the security checkpoint and having your baby food and milk tested for bomb residue.
It’s yet another inconvenience in the name of security for weary travelers, especially those from or passing through the 10 mostly Middle Eastern and North African countries covered by new U.S. and British policies. While it’s not quite as disruptive as an outright ban on smartphones — much less a travel ban based on nationality — the laptop limitation loomed large for some people as they prepared to travel.

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Technews Pinboard 494 – March 22, 2017

WikiLeaks: CIA Has Targeted Everyday Gadgets for Snooping | NewsFactor Network
Maybe the CIA is spying on you through your television set after all. Documents released by WikiLeaks allege a CIA surveillance program that targets everyday gadgets ranging from smart TVs to smartphones to cars. Such snooping, WikiLeaks said, could turn some of these devices into recorders of everyday conversations — and could also circumvent data-scrambling encryption on communications apps such as Facebook’s

How Can I Stop My Laptop and TV from Spying On Me? | NewsFactor Network
The publication by WikiLeaks of documents it says are from the CIA’s secret hacking program describe tools that can turn a world of increasingly networked, camera- and microphone-equipped devices into eavesdroppers

Kurzweil Claims That the Singularity Will Happen by 2045
“By 2029, computers will have human-level intelligence,” Kurzweil said in an interview with SXSW.

New Facebook Policy Bars Use of Site Data for Surveillance | NewsFactor Network
Developers who build apps based on Facebook and Instagram user data cannot use that information to create surveillance tools, according to a policy update announced yesterday. Facebook, which also owns Instagram, made the changes after months of discussions with civil rights groups.

U.S. Charges Russian Hackers for Attacks on Yahoo | NewsFactor Network
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday announced the indictment of two officers with Russia’s FSB security agency in connection with the hacks of some 500 million Yahoo user accounts between 2014 and last year. U.S. officials also charged two other men, a Russian national and a Canadian/Kazakh national, for participating in the major Yahoo security breaches.

McDonald’s Tests Mobile Ordering Before National Rollout | NewsFactor Network
The company says it will gather feedback from the test before launching the option nationally toward the end of the year. It says mobile order-and-pay is now available at 29 stores in Monterey and Salinas, California, and will expand to 51 more locations in Spokane, Washington, next week.

Google Hopes To Improve Search Quality with ‘Offensive’ Flag | NewsFactor Network
Google is trying to improve the quality of its search results by directing review teams to flag content that might come across as upsetting or offensive.

Google lets antisemitic videos stay on YouTube | News | The Times & The Sunday Times
Google is failing to remove virulent antisemitic content from its YouTube video platform in an apparent breach of its own guidelines and the law. Havas, one of the world’s biggest advertising agencies, pulled hundreds of UK clients out of Google’s advertising network yesterday after revelations in The Times that taxpayers and big brands were unwittingly funding extremists through adverts. Dozens of other brands have also withdrawn their business.

McDonald’s Puts Mobile Ordering to the Test | Customer Experience | E-Commerce Times
McDonald’s on Wednesday began testing new mobile ordering and payment functionality at 29 of its restaurants in Monterey and Salinas, California. It will expand the pilot to another 51 restaurants in Spokane, Washington, on March 20.

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Technews Pinboard 493 – March 4, 2017

Tech CEO Space Race Intensifies – MIT Technology Review
Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson have all announced new plans this week that could ultimately make them an extraterrestrial income.

AI continued its world domination at Mobile World Congress
These days, it might be more accurate to say that “AI is fueling the software that’s eating the world,” but I’ve never been very quotable. In any case, it’s not impossible to ignore the normalization of artificial intelligence at this year’s Mobile World Congress — even if a resurrected 17-year-old phone did end up stealing the show.

Microsoft’s AI is Learning to Write Code by Itself, Not Steal It –
“We’re targeting the people who can’t or don’t want to code, but can specify what their problem is,” says Marc Brockschmidt of Microsoft Research, a co-author of the paper, likening the work to Excel formulas that could take simple commands to solve for answers without being given the mathematical equation.

Amazon Web Services Was Taken Down by a Simple Typo | NewsFactor Network
A single typo was apparently responsible for taking down a chunk of the Internet on Tuesday, Feb. 28, costing companies somwhere around $150 million. The revelation came from an online statement released by Amazon after its popular Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform was taken offline Tuesday for about four hours.

Researchers Pack Movie, Computer OS and More into a Tiny Drop of DNA | NewsFactor Network
With the help of a California startup that makes synthetic DNA, researchers Yaniv Erlich and Dina Zielinski of Columbia University and the New York Genome Center, were able to transfer a complete computer operating system, a very old movie, a $50 Amazon gift card and more into a tiny speck of DNA. That achieves a data storage density of 215 petabytes per gram. In theory, that means it would be possible to store all the information humans have ever generated into the space of a single room.

It’s Time for Uber to Grow Up – MIT Technology Review
February couldn’t end soon enough for Uber—a month in which business practices at the ride-hailing behemoth spectacularly failed to keep pace with its runaway success.

Technews Pinboard 492 – Feb 27, 2017

UPS Tests Launching Delivery Drones from Its Trucks | NewsFactor Network
The drone was mounted on the top of a delivery truck. The driver loaded a package into a cage from inside the truck, which is suspended under the drone through a hatch. The roof slid back to expose the drone, the driver pressed a button on a tablet and the drone was off to fly autonomously to its destination.

Google Cracks Key Security Code, Calls for New Standard | Enterprise Security | E-Commerce Times
Google on Thursday announced that its two years of collaboration with CWI, the Netherlands’ national research institute for mathematics and computer science, resulted in the launch of a successful attack against the SHA-1 cryptographic algorithm, a widely used standard protocol used to protect sensitive data in millions of computers.

Google Launches Troll-Fighting Tool Powered by Machine Learning | NewsFactor Network
The rise of abusive remarks in online comments sections has prompted some publishers to do away with the comments feature altogether. But Google said its technology incubator has developed an alternative solution: a troll filter dubbed Perspective that’s powered by machine learning.

Report: Ransomware Attacks Are Growing, Shifting Rapidly | NewsFactor Network
Global ransomware attacks doubled during the second half of 2016. This is according to Israeli-based security solutions vendor Check Point Software Technologies in its H2 2016 Global Threat Intelligence Trends report.

Biggest Web Security Breach of the Year: Change Your Passwords Now | NewsFactor Network
Time to change your passwords again. A new security bug nicknamed ‘Cloudbleed’ may have compromised the security of user data at sites using the Cloudflare security service. At risk are logins and passwords for millions of Web sites.

Technews Pinboard 491 – Feb 18, 2017

Robotic bee could help pollinate crops as real bees decline | New Scientist
A drone that can pollinate flowers may one day work side by side with bees to
improve crop yields.

No More Resumes? Your Next Click Might Determine Your Job | NewsFactor Network
Increasingly, the traditional CV and interview are being abandoned as firms use new forms of data aggregation to find employees. This new field of recruitment, dubbed workforce science, is based on the idea that the data individuals create while doing things online can be harvested and interpreted and to provide a better idea of a person’s suitability than traditional methods.

Elon Musk Says Humans Must Become Cyborgs To Stay Relevant | NewsFactor Network
Humans must become cyborgs if they are to stay relevant in a future dominated by artificial intelligence. That was the warning from Tesla founder Elon Musk, speaking at an event in Dubai this weekend.

Facebook Gunning for LinkedIn with New Job Search Functionality | NewsFactor Network
Social media giant Facebook is aiming to go head-to-head with LinkedIn. The world’s largest social network announced today that it has launched several new features on its Web site to make it easier for employers to get in contact with job seekers.

Zuckerberg’s Goal: Remake a World Facebook Helped Create | NewsFactor Network
“Across the world there are people left behind by globalization, and movements for withdrawing from global connection,” Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook in a Harvard dorm room in 2004, wrote on Thursday. So it falls to his company to “develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us.”

Fake News Is ‘Killing People’s Minds’, Says Apple Boss Tim Cook | NewsFactor Network
Fake news is “killing people’s minds”, Tim Cook, the head of Apple, has said. The technology boss said firms such as his own needed to create tools that would help stem the spread of falsehoods, without impinging on freedom of speech.

GM and Lyft could deliver a self-driving fleet next year
GM and Lyft announced their self-driving joint venture over a year ago, and now Reuters is hearing 2018 could be a big year for the effort. While a clear set of nationwide rules on autonomous cars could probably help solidify any plans, the outlet claims their test fleet could include “thousands” of Chevy Bolt EVs, making it the largest group by far. Last May, a WSJ rumor indicated that the test could launch within a year in one city.

Snap Values Itself at Up to $22B Ahead of IPO | NewsFactor Network
Snap Inc. said in a regulatory filing Thursday that the IPO is likely to be priced between $14 and $16 per share. Had the IPO price matched the $30.72 per-share price obtained in its last round of financing, Snap would have a market value of about $30 billion, based on the quantity of outstanding stock listed in its IPO documents.

Google ‘Project Loon’ Discovery Hastens Internet-via-Balloon Reality | NewsFactor Network
The breakthrough consists of a change to the project’s navigational algorithm, which is now capable of sending small teams of balloons to form a cluster of access points over a specific geographic region, according to Teller. “This is a shift from our original model for Loon in which we planned to create rings of balloons sailing around the globe, and balloons would take turns moving through a region to provide service,” Teller said.

Up, Up and Away: Passenger-Carrying Drone To Fly in Dubai | NewsFactor Network
Up, up and away: Dubai hopes to have a passenger-carrying drone regularly buzzing through the skyline of this futuristic city-state in July.

The Bright-Eyed Talking Doll That Just Might Be a Spy – The New York Times
Cayla is a blond, bright-eyed doll that chatters about horses and hobbies. She plays games and accurately answers questions about the world at large. She could also be eavesdropping on your child.

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Technews Pinboard 490 – Feb 12, 2017

Facebook, Google, Others Launch Drive Against Fake News in France | NewsFactor Network
Social media companies Facebook, Google and a group of news organizations launched an initiative on Monday to tackle fake news stories in France, with the media in the spotlight as the country’s presidential election approaches.

Top Italian official says Facebook must do more against hate speech | Reuters
Facebook must do much more to stamp out hate speech on its site, the president of Italy’s lower house of parliament said, warning that rising abuse on various social media was being fueled by fake news.

Fighting Fake News Isn’t Just Up to Facebook and Google | NewsFactor Network
You, too, can join the battle against misleading and other “fake” news online. But your options are somewhat limited unless you’re already an academic or data scientist who’s been studying the subject since way before Donald Trump started running for president.

Twitter Moves Again To Clamp Down on Abuse, Hate Speech | NewsFactor Network
Announced today, Twitter’s latest effort includes a change designed to prevent suspended users from repeatedly returning under new account names. Twitter will also give users new abilities to filter out potentially offensive content via “safe search,” and will work to hide — though not delete — conversations that might be abusive.

Why Twitter’s new anti-harassment tools will fail | Computerworld
Twitter’s new policies won’t solve the harassment problem, and they’ll ruin engagement, too

Facebook Stops Advertisers Illegally Discriminating by Race | NewsFactor Network
Enforcing the rules may be tricky, but Facebook plans to use new technology “that leverages machine learning” to identify the most egregious offenders — those that “offer housing, employment or credit opportunities” in a discriminatory manner.

NBC: Russia ‘considers’ sending Snowden back to US
A report by NBC News cites unnamed US intelligence sources claiming that Russian officials are deliberating a handover of Edward Snowden as a “gift” to the Trump administration. Since leaking information on the NSA’s “PRISM” surveillance, the former government contractor has been living in Russia since 2013 on a permit and is a year away from being able to apply for citizenship. He still faces federal charges, and previously, Donald Trump has called Snowden a “traitor,” and a “spy who should be executed.”

Chinese Firms Racing to the Front of the AI Revolution | TOP500 Supercomputer Sites
While US-based firms such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft still dominate the artificial intelligence space, Chinese counterparts like Baidu, Tencent, and Alibaba are quickly catching up, and in some cases, surpassing their US competition. As a consequence, China appears to be on a path to reproduce its success in supercomputing in AI.

Anonymous Hacker Takes Down More than 10,000 Dark Web Sites | NewsFactor Network
More than 10,000 Web sites were taken down in an attack launched over the weekend that was aimed at sites hosting child pornography, according to reports. The scale of the hack is massive, accounting for about 20 percent of the so-called Dark Web, and appears to have been the work of a single hacker.

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Technews Pinboard 489 – Feb 4, 2017

Trending Technologies News

The merging of humans and machines is happening now | WIRED UK
Her organisation invented the internet. It gave us the self-driving car. And now DARPA’s former boss sees us crossing a new technological boundary

Is a master algorithm the solution to our machine learning problems? | TechCrunch
Machine learning is not new. We have witnessed it since the 1990s, when Amazon introduced a new “recommended for you” section for its users to display more personalized results. When we search for something on Google, machine learning is behind those search results. The “Friends” recommendations or the suggested pages on Facebook or a product recommendation on any e-commerce site all depend on machine learning.

Autonomous Vehicles Makers Report Disengagement Numbers in California | WIRED
The reports, which cover December 2015 to November 2016, leave a lot to be desired—more on that in a moment—but do offer interesting insights. Google’s program, now called Waymo and gearing up for commercial applications, continues outpacing the competition. The company’s cars drove 636,000 miles with just 124 disengagements, a 19 percent drop from 2015. Its fleet logged nearly all those miles on the quiet, suburban streets of Mountain View and its environs, and most of the interventions followed hardware or software discrepancies, when, say, the car’s lidar and camera reported slightly different data.

AT&T Launching Ultra-Fast 5G Networks in 2 US Cities | NewsFactor Network
During its Innovation Summit in San Francisco yesterday, AT&T unveiled plans to begin moving toward 5G wireless Internet services with launches in Austin and Indianapolis in the coming months.

Information Security News

How Florida is helping train the next generation of cybersecurity professionals
There aren’t enough people with the skills and experience to protect us. An analysis of federal data found that more than 209,000 cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. went unfilled in 2015. Major cybersecurity companies like Cisco and Symantec have projected that global demand for cyber professionals could grow to 6 million by 2019 – with as many as 1.5 million of those positions going unfilled for lack of qualified candidates

5 shocking new threats to your personal data | Computerworld
These five new trends reveal that your security and privacy could be compromised in ways you probably never imagined.

Social Impact News

A ban on immigration is an attack on Silicon Valley
Almost immediately after President Trump signed an executive order banning immigrants from seven muslim majority countries from entering the US, tech companies have come out in force against it. The ban left hundreds of people detained in airports, even those with green cards. Some were even deported.

What Happens If Net Neutrality Goes Away?
We’ll likely see new business models and video streaming products from the big ISPs if Trump removes net neutrality rules, and upstart content providers could struggle to compete.

Prof: “Can you sue the President based on his tweets? We’re about to find out” | Ars Technica
“It’s quite extraordinary to have the president of the United States staying publicly, repeatedly, that what we are going to try to do is to single out a constitutionally-protected group,” he told Ars. “It’s quite strong evidence and it would be remarkable if the plaintiffs didn’t rely on it.”

Tech Industry News

Snap Is Going Public—Offering Ideas, Not Profits
The company hopes that its disappearing messages, first-person video, and AR will make it seem like an exciting visionary—rather than a loss-maker.

Tech Firms Fear Guest-Worker Programs Are Next Trump Target | NewsFactor Network
The U.S. technology industry spent the weekend pushing back against President Trump’s executive order banning citizens of several Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. Tech companies may have a tougher fight coming, with high stakes for thousands of Puget Sound-area workers: reform of guest-worker visa programs that the likes of Microsoft,, Google and a host of Indian outsourcing firms rely on.

Amazon Increasingly Wants To Be Its Own Deliveryman | NewsFactor Network
Its Monday announcement of a new air cargo hub in Kentucky is merely Amazon’s latest foray into building out its own shipping and logistics unit. If successful, the move could ultimately mean lower costs for Amazon — and possibly faster delivery and low prices for consumers. But it could also pit Amazon against package deliverers like FedEx and UPS.

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Technews Pinboard 488 – Jan 27, 2017

Ajit Pai

Trump FCC Chair Pick Puts Net Neutrality in Crosshairs | NewsFactor Network
Ajit Pai, named the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission by President Donald Trump yesterday, is likely to seek changes to the organization’s stance on Net Neutrality. Pai was one of two commissioners to vote against the FCC’s 3-2 approval of the Open Internet Order in early 2015.

Google reacts to Trump immigration order by recalling staff
According to Bloomberg, the employees in question work in the US but are abroad either on business or for a vacation. A lot of them tried to get back into the country before the President signed on the dotted line, but not everyone made it back in time.

Google Gets Rid of 1.7 Billion Bad Ads | Online Advertising | E-Commerce Times
Google on Wednesday said it removed 1.7 billion bad advertisements from its various sites in 2016, more than double the prior year’s totals. Google took several steps to crack down on the deceptive advertising, including updating its policies to protect users from “misleading and predatory offers.” It also beefed up its technology to help identify misleading ads and remove them, according to Scott Spencer, Google’s director of product management, sustainable ads.

Saudi Arabia Warns Destructive Computer Virus Has Returned | NewsFactor Network
Saudi Arabia is warning that a computer virus that destroyed systems of its state-run oil company in 2012 has returned to the kingdom, with at least one major petrochemical company apparently affected by its spread.
Suspicion for the initial dispersal of the Shamoon virus in 2012 fell on Iran as it came after the Stuxnet cyberattack targeting Tehran’s contested nuclear enrichment program.

Apple Joining Google, Amazon, Facebook on Artificial Intelligence | NewsFactor Network
Appe is reportedly planning to join the Partnership on AI, an industry group aimed at studying and formulating best practices for artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
Apple would be joining other technology companies in the group, including Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft. Although an announcement is expected as soon as this week, neither Apple nor the partnership has issued any official comment on the move.

Facebook Takes Aim at Fake News with New ‘Trending’ Formula | NewsFactor Network
Facebook is updating its “trending” feature that highlights hot topics on its social networking site, part of its effort to root out the kind of fake news stories that critics contend helped Donald Trump become president.
With the changes announced Wednesday, Facebook’s trending list will consist of topics being covered by several publishers. Before, it focused on subjects drawing the biggest crowds of people sharing or commenting on posts.

Facebook Is Testing News Feed-Style Ads Inside Messenger | NewsFactor Network
Facebook said last summer that it was running out of places to show users ads in News Feed, its moneymaking machine, meaning it would need to sell ads elsewhere to keep growing. On Wednesday, Facebook announced that it has found a new place: Inside Messenger, its standalone messaging app.

Rogue Tweeters in Government Could Be Prosecuted as Hackers | NewsFactor Network
The online campaign began with unauthorized tweets — on subjects such as climate change inconsistent with Trump’s campaign statements and policies — that have been mostly deleted from official agency accounts. It shifted tactics Thursday as at least 40 new but unofficial “alternative” accounts for federal agencies began spreading across Twitter. It wasn’t clear how many unofficial accounts were run by government employees, but there were early indications that at least some were created by federal workers using their work email addresses — and that may have exposed their identities.

AI System as Good as Experts at Recognizing Skin Cancers | NewsFactor Network
The US-based researchers say the new system, which is based on image recognition, could be developed for smartphones, increasing access to screening and providing a low-cost way to check whether skin lesions are cause for concern.

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Technews Pinboard 487 – Jan 20, 2017

Gadget Mountain Rising in Asia Threatens Health, Environment | NewsFactor Network
The waste from discarded electronic gadgets and electrical appliances has reached severe levels in East Asia, posing a growing threat to health and the environment unless safe disposal becomes the norm.

Hacking Group Releases Trove of Malware Tools | NewsFactor Network
Network security is about to get a lot more complicated for enterprise IT departments. Numerous hacking tools believed to be designed by the National Security Agency (NSA) just hit the Internet, available at no charge to anyone who wants to download the files. The tools include 61 files that appear to target Windows machines. The release of the hacking tools comes courtesy of the hacking collective calling itself the Shadow Brokers. The group previously announced that it planned to sell the tools to the highest bidders, but appeared to have backed off that plan after the sale failed to attract enough interest. The group had originally requested at least 10,000 bitcoins — the equivalent of about $8.2 million — in exchange for access to the files.

Mississippi Sues Google, Saying It Violates Student Privacy | NewsFactor Network
In a news conference Tuesday, Hood said Google is breaking Mississippi consumer protection law by selling ads using data from services it provides to schools.

Tesla Allows Self-Driving Cars To Break Speed Limit, Again | NewsFactor Network
Now, that update has been reversed, allowing Tesla Motors owners to return to breaking the speed limit. The car is still capped at five miles per hour faster than the limit on non-divided roads, however.

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Technews Pinboard 486 – Jan 13

Researchers warn peace sign photos could expose fingerprints
As if the constant data breaches that threaten to expose the one password you use for absolutely everything weren’t enough, apparently you now need to start worrying about posting that cute selfie. The peace sign is many people’s go-to picture pose, and it’s particularly popular in East Asia, but according to researchers it’s also the perfect way to expose your fingerprints online. In a study conducted at Japan’s National Institute of Informatics (NII), investigators found that, if the focus and lighting was right, they could recreate fingerprints from images shot up to 3 meters (nearly 10 feet) from the subject.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler defends net neutrality in final address
FCC Chairman and net neutrality champion Tom Wheeler will be stepping down next week when the Trump administration takes office. Wheeler’s Open Internet Order, which passed in 2015, was instrumental in keeping the internet a level playing field, but the Republicans have already indicated that rolling back the legislation will be a top priority for them once the GOP regains control of the agency. On Friday, Wheeler used his last public address as FCC chair to give one final defense of net neutrality and a look at the legal battles to come.

Who Hacked? Trump Challenges Intelligence Agencies He’ll Oversee | NewsFactor Network
President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday escalated his blunt public challenge to the U.S. intelligence agencies he will soon oversee, appearing to embrace WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s contention that Russia did not provide his group with the hacked Democratic emails that roiled the 2016 election.

Oops: Anti-Hacking Company Gets Hacked Big Time | NewsFactor Network
The Israeli firm Cellebrite, known for hacking mobile phones for police agencies around the world, confirmed that it suffered a 900GB data breach.