Day: September 14, 2022

Technology Business

Why Apple can hold the line on iPhone prices, as smartphones

Credit: Chart: The Conversation, CC-BY-ND Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Inflation in the U.S. is surging to near a 40-year high, with prices on food, fuel and pretty much everything seeming to rise more every month.

Smartphones may be an exception.

Apple, for example, recently announced its new versions of the iPhone and other gadgets, and turned a lot of heads when it said it wouldn’t charge more despite higher costs to make the devices.

This is puzzling because companies typically raise prices in line with inflation—or at least enough to cover the increased costs of making their products.

Consumer price data tells an even more befuddling story. The latest consumer price index data suggests smartphone prices are actually down 20.4% in August from a year ago, according to an index released on Sept. 13, 2022. That’s the biggest drop of any detailed expenditure item the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks, and contrasts with the overall 8.3% increase in prices.

What’s going on?

As an economist teaching business school students, I enjoy exploring and explaining these economic puzzles. I believe there are two basic explanations—one for the data and another for Apple.

Why consumer prices on smartphones fell

The story behind the consumer price index data is easier to explain, if a bit technical.

The 20% drop over the past year isn’t unusual for smartphones. In fact, according to the index, they almost always go down from month to month. Since the end of 2019, smartphone prices have come down a whopping 40%.

And though smartphones are showing the biggest drop in the index, tech gear more broadly—from computers to smartwatches—also tend to fall over time. In the previous 12 months, what the government calls information technology commodities are down 8.8%.

Part of the reason for their steady decline is

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Branding

How To Identify Your Brand’s Purpose

A brand can tell a powerful story by focusing on its purpose. The concept of brand purpose has become very popular in recent years but is also often;

  • Misunderstood: thinking it’s all about embracing and taking a clear stand towards social issues
  • Misused, as in a marketing stunt, for example
  • Used as an excuse to skip the strategic process, something a lot of communication agencies seem to embrace recently (your purpose will solve all your business problems, NOT!).

A research paper by Reach Solutions entitled “The Empathy Delusion” (2019) came to the conclusion that..

“The major driving force behind virtue strategies (aka Brand Purpose) is not the needs of the mainstream (consumers), it’s the assumptions and needs of the people in the advertising and marketing industry.” Which may explain why the marketing and advertising industry and trade press obsess over it so much.

A brand purpose captures the reason for the brand to exist beyond pure profits and shareholder value. It doesn’t focus on “what” the brand does, or “how” it does it. Instead it looks into “why” the brand does what it does. Brand purposes are extremely powerful when they are genuine and when they translate into actions (rather than just being claims and words). A good way to start is to look at why the brand was created in the first place. Beyond just being financially successful, what motivated the founders, what problem were they trying to solve, and what impact did they aspire to have on society in general?

For example, a category that is ripe for a brand purpose approach is the instant Ramen noodles category. In fact, the $1 dehydrated noodles you ate as a broke student (which in the meantime have become a culinary trend), was created by Japanese business man, Momofuku Ando, in

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Software

The Great Resignation linked to a great data theft

We’ve all heard of the Great Resignation, a pandemic-driven shift in people’s work preferences. But new research from Cyberhaven suggests that this has gone hand-in-hand with a huge stealing of data.

Based on anonymized details from over 1.4 million workers and spanning 360,000 data exfiltration incidents and a broad sample of companies, including 11 percent of the Fortune 100, it reveals data ranging from customer information to software source code being exfiltrated in large volumes.

The findings show that nearly one in ten employees (9.4 percent) will exfiltrate data over a six-month period, and they’re much more likely to take sensitive information in the two weeks before they resign (an 83.1 percent increase in incidents compared to the baseline).

The top one percent of most prolific employee ‘super stealers’ are responsible for 7.7 percent of incidents, and the top 10 percent are responsible for 34.9 percent. Customer data is the most commonly stolen (44.6 percent of incidents), followed by source code (13.8 percent). Personal cloud storage accounts — especially Dropbox — are the most common method used to take data (27.5 percent of incidents), followed by personal email (18.7 percent).

Cameron Coles, head of product marketing at Cyberhaven, writes on the company’s blog, “The risk of employees taking data has never been higher: 47 million Americans quit their jobs in 2021 and 40 percent say they’re considering quitting. This is a side effect of The Great Resignation that’s rarely discussed: The likelihood that workers are taking critical business IP with them. We discovered that exfiltration incidents spike in the two-week window before employees give notice. During this time, the employee knows they’re going to leave but their employer doesn’t, so they’re less likely to be monitored.”

You can read more and get the full report on the Cyberhaven blog.

Photo

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Technology Business

New customer damage function calculator estimates costs of

The CDF Calculator provides a customized breakdown of outage costs incurred by a facility for outages of various durations. Credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Power outages can incur significant costs: lost data, diminished worker productivity, spoilage of perishable food, suspension of output and sales, disruption to critical services, and more. Understanding these potential costs can help facilities justify smarter investments in resilience.

Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are helping federal facility owners and resilience planners more easily estimate electric grid outage costs at their sites using the Customer Damage Function (CDF) Calculator—a free, publicly available resource.

The CDF Calculator helps highlight facility outage vulnerabilities and estimates how costs vary with different power outage durations. It is the first step in determining the potential avoided costs associated with resilience investments. Users can calculate the monetary benefits of a redundant (backup) system, providing justifications for enhancing resilience and informing decision-making based on the cost of inaction.

NREL researcher and financial analyst Sean Ericson understands the value of resilience. “Decision-makers face many challenges and have limited resources to address them,” he said. “Resilience research informs the decision-making process by highlighting which risks are most important to address.”

NREL researcher Nicholas Gilroy sees a compelling need for an accessible planning tool such as the CDF Calculator. “Agencies are looking forward to the future. At a site-based level, facilities can face unprecedented downtime. By illustrating cost and impact via the CDF Calculator, agencies can prioritize investments to mitigate risk and improve resilience,” he said. “We developed a web-based tool that provides a responsive and modern interface to support federal decision-makers.”

FEMP director Mary Sotos said, “We look forward to working with other federal agencies to raise awareness of the CDF Calculator’s capabilities and helping agencies understand how resilience can be valued in

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Software

Interoperable open source digital wallets are on the way

Digital wallet technology is something of a minefield at the moment, but the Linux Foundation may have a solution.

The organization has announced plans to form the OpenWallet Foundation (OWF) which will help to develop open source software to increase interoperability between digital wallets. There is no intention to create new standards, and the OWF will not publish a wallet of its own. Rather, the aim is to bring together a collaborative community to build an open source software engine that can be used by just about anyone to create digital wallets.

See also:

Announcing its intentions, the Linux Foundation says the OpenWallet Foundation is being formed as “a new collaborative effort to develop open source software to support interoperability for a wide range of wallet use cases”.

The foundation says:

The initiative already benefits from strong support including leading companies across technology, public sector, and industry vertical segments, and standardization organizations.

The mission of the OWF is to develop a secure, multi-purpose open source engine anyone can use to build interoperable wallets. The OWF aims to set best practices for digital wallet technology through collaboration on open source code for use as a starting point for anyone who strives to build interoperable, secure, and privacy-protecting wallets.

The OWF does not intend to publish a wallet itself, nor offer credentials or create any new standards. The community will focus on building an open source software engine that other organizations and companies can leverage to develop their own digital wallets.  The wallets will support a wide variety of use cases from identity to payments to digital keys and aim to achieve feature parity with the best available wallets.

It is a plan that has been widely welcomed by many in the industry, including The Open Identity Exchange (OIX), Identity Woman in

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Software

Organizations falling short in addressing security risks

According to 90 percent of IT security leaders their organizations are falling short in addressing cybersecurity risks.

Research from Foundry finds that this perception comes from a number of issues including convincing all or parts of their organization of the severity of risk (27 percent), and believing their organization isn’t investing enough resources to address risks (26 percent).

Over a third (34 percent) of security decision makers are researching Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) technologies. Zero trust technology and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) are second and third on their radar at 32 percent. Although not in the top tools being actively researched, close to a quarter of organizations have cyber insurance on their radar and only 23 percent say they are not interested.

The top security solution currently in use is endpoint protection (specifically for laptops, desktops and servers) at 78 percent. Similarly, three-quarters of respondents say authentication (multifactor/strong authentication or role-based solutions are in use, followed by security education/awareness training solutions and patch management (both at 74 percent).

While the average annual security budget is $65 million, similar to last year’s level, for small businesses the security budget has jumped to $16 million, from $11 million last year and $5.5 million in 2020. On average, enterprises are seeing fairly steady security budgets — $122 million this year compared to $123 million in 2021.

“As businesses continue to grow and scale their security efforts in tandem, it’s no surprise that the proper investments and budgetary requirements follow suit,” says Bob Bragdon, SVP/worldwide managing director, CSO at Foundry. “Organizations of all sizes recognize security risks and understand the fallout that can occur due to a breach, and security leaders are preparing for the worst case scenario. It’s important for technology vendors to understand what their major challenges are and

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Technology Business

Google handed setback as EU court upholds record fine

The Android case was the third of three major cases brought against Google by the EU’s competition czar Margrethe Vestager.

The European Union’s second-highest court on Wednesday overwhelmingly upheld the EU’s record fine against Google over its Android operating system for mobile phones, slightly reducing the fee for technical reasons.

In a statement, the EU’s General court said it “largely confirms the commission’s decision that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on manufacturers of Android mobile devices” in order to benefit its search engine.

The court, however, said the fine should be slightly reduced to 4.125 billion euros ($4.1 billion), instead of the 4.3 billion euros decided by the commission in 2018, after reviewing the duration of the infringement.

The levy remains the EU’s biggest ever despite Google’s arguments that the commission’s case was unfounded and falsely relied on accusations it imposed its search engine and Chrome browser on Android phones.

The company also pushed the case that the EU was unfairly blind to the strength of Apple, which imposes or gives clear preference to its own services such as Safari on iPhones

“We are disappointed that the Court did not annul the decision in full,” a Google spokesperson said in a short statement.

“Android has created more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world,” it added.

The complainants welcomed the decision as it confirmed that Google “can no longer impose its will on phone makers”, said Thomas Vinje, a lawyer representing the industry group FairSearch, whose original complaint launched the case in 2013.

“This shows the European Commission got it right,” he added.

The commission said it “took note” of the decision and “will carefully study the judgement and decide on possible next steps”.

The decision by the General Court is

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Software

WhatsApp introduces privacy-protecting option to hide online

Like all messaging apps and services, WhatsApp has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. For many people, the end-to-end encryption the app offers is a major draw, although being owned by Meta requires some users to hold their noses while they use it.

But one of the great things about WhatsApp are the speed at which its developers work, and their willingness to listen to — and act upon — user feedback. And it is based on user demands for greater privacy options that has driven the addition of online status control for beta users.

See also:

WhatsApp has had its fair share of privacy-related controversy over the years, including annoyance at the tick icon system that indicates whether messages have been delivered and read. But there have also long been complaints from people who do not want their contacts to be able to see when they are online.

In the latest beta version of WhatsApp for Android, this concern has been addressed with the arrival of options for limiting who is able to see your online status.

News of the additional controls was shared by WABetaInfo on Twitter:

As you can see in the tweeted screenshot the new settings give you the option of limiting who is able to see when you were last online. There is also the option to limit who is able to see your online status, but the same fine-tuning is not available. While there are several options for controlling who can see your “last seen” status — Everyone, My contact, My contacts except or Nobody — when it comes to your online status you only have the choice between allowing everyone to see this information, or opt to use the same settings as for “last seen”.

It might not be perfect, but it’s

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Construction Industry

Plans to regenerate Weybridge site submitted

Proposals by Leos International to begin the £50m regeneration of St Georges Business Park have been submitted to Elmbridge Borough Council.

The St Georges Gardens proposals include the demolition of the Block A business unit and its replacement with 18 new houses and 134 high quality apartments, along with basement car parking.

The site already has permitted development which allows its use to be changed from commercial use to residential creating around 198 units.

However, Leos International’s proposal seeks to enhance the opportunity. including the delivery of 5200 sq. metres of public realm which equates to one-third of the site area and comprises a landscaped boulevard, public village square and a semi-private pocket park for residents.

Mature trees on the site will be protected and the developer will also provide a series of ecological measures including butterfly boxes and dog bins throughout the site.

The new proposals also focus on carbon reduction with initiatives such as solar panels, rain water harvesting and provision for electric car-club vehicles included.

The 18 new houses along Brooklands Road have been designed in a mix of styles and heights to reflect the existing homes opposite.

Leos International has included 134 basement car parking spaces for the apartments, each of which will come with an electric car charging socket.

“This is an important proposal for the local area which addresses concerns about the delivery of new housing and environmental sustainability,” said Chris Pittock, Leos International’s planning director. “We have worked closely with the local community to make sure the design reflects the local character.

“We also want to engage with local people about the future of the planned, community multi-use building on the site.”

Leos International has revised its original proposals as a result of an extensive community consultation which started in December 2021 and

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Software

Vulnerability backlogs are too time-consuming to address

Organizations are losing thousands of hours in time and productivity dealing with a massive backlog of vulnerabilities that they have neither the time or resources to tackle effectively, according to a new report.

The State of Vulnerability Management in DevSecOps report from vulnerability management platform Rezilion and the Ponemon Institute, shows 47 percent of security leaders report that they have a backlog of applications that have been identified as vulnerable.

More than half (66 percent) say their backlog consists of more than 100,000 vulnerabilities and the average number of vulnerabilities in backlogs overall is a mind-boggling 1.1 million, according to the data.

Perhaps more concerning is that 54 percent say they were able to patch less than 50 percent of the vulnerabilities in the backlog. Most respondents (78 percent) say high-risk vulnerabilities in their environment take longer than three weeks to patch, with the largest percentage (29 percent) noting it takes them longer than five weeks to patch.

So what stops teams from taking remedial action? An inability to prioritize what needs to be fixed is named by 47 percent, a lack of effective tools (43 percent), a lack of resources (38 percent), and not enough information about risks that would exploit vulnerabilities (45 percent). More than a quarter (28 percent) also say remediation is too time-consuming.

The survey finds 77 percent of respondents say it takes longer than 21 minutes to detect, prioritize, and remediate just one vulnerability in production. This represents more than an hour of time spent on one vulnerability on the production side. On the development side, more than 80 percent of organizations spend longer than 16 minutes to detect one vulnerability in development. Prioritization and remediation times are long too, as 82 percent of respondents say it takes longer than 21 minutes to remediate one

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Software

Download IM-Magic Partition Resizer – MajorGeeks

IM-Magic Partition Resizer Free, the free partition magic software to help expand, move, shrink, and merge partitions without destroying data. It only requires a few clicks from you to command the program to move the fences to rearrange the disk partition territory and keep your files untouched.

C drive running out of space? IM-Magic Partition Resizer Free helps increase the boot volume to save your system from reformatting the disk, reinstalling the operating system, and moving data to other places. Resizing the system partition would be an easy job to perform, even for tech natives. You may download this freeware to redistribute free space from another volume to system volume and increase the c drive.

Shrinking drive size without losing data is possible with IM-Magic Partition Resizer Free. You may decrease a large volume that holds too much free space without formatting it. And redistribute the free space to other drives.

When your disk partitions are either running out of space or with a lot of free space, you may use this freeware to rearrange the fences for better computer performance.

You may want to merge at least two volumes into one by merging partitions. IM-Magic Partition Resizer lets you do this by merging partitions safely by shrinking, moving, and redistributing the free space.

With unique safety power, this program will never hurt your data or partition and provides 100% safety for the whole repartitioning even when your computer was shut down accidentally during the resizing.

The download for this file is a zup that includes both the installable EXE and a portable version.

Similar:

  • GPT (GUID Partition Table) or MBR (Master Boot Record) When Partitioning a Drive?
  • Windows 10 Creates an Extra Disk Partition
  • Do I Need to Format My Hard Drive When Doing a Fresh Install of Windows?
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    Software

    SMBs hardest hit by ransomware

    A new report from cyber risk insurance provider Coalition shows that while overall incidents are down, and ransomware attacks are declining as demands go unpaid, smaller businesses have become bigger targets.

    In the first half of 2022, the average cost of a claim for a small business owner increased to $139,000, 58 percent higher than levels during the first half of 2021.

    “Across industries, we continue to see high-profile attacks targeting organizations with weak or exposed infrastructure — which has become exacerbated by today’s remote working culture and companies’ dependence on third-party vendors,” says Catherine Lyle, Coalition’s head of claims. “Small businesses are especially vulnerable because they often lack resources. For these businesses, avoiding downtime and disruption is essential, and they must understand that Active Insurance is accessible.”

    Overall ransomware demands decreased from $1.37M in H2 2021 to $896,000 in H1 2022. Of the incidents involving its clients that resulted in a payment, Coalition negotiated the sum down to roughly 20 percent of the initial demand.

    “Organizations are increasingly aware of the threat ransomware poses. They have started to implement controls such as offline data backups that allow them to refuse to pay the ransom and restore operations through other means,” says Chris Hendricks, Coalition’s head of incident response. “As ransomware is on the decline, attackers are turning to reliable methods. Phishing, for example, has skyrocketed — and only continues to grow.”

    Among other findings, the report shows that phishing triggers the majority of cyber incidents, accounting for 57.9 percent of reported claims. Funds transfer fraud (FTF) claims have held steady thanks to phishing. Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange have become a persistent issue, with smaller organizations using on-premise Microsoft Exchange 119 percent more likely to incur a claim.

    The full report is available from the Coalition site.

    Photo credit: Ton

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    Construction Industry

    Brett Martin to cut buildings’ carbon footprint with ISCC

    Brett Martin is set to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings around the world with a remarkable new Polycarbonate glazing product largely based on bio-circular attributed material such as used cooking oil, produced in a ISCC Plus certified mass balanced approach.

    Called Marlon BioPlus, the new sheet offers a major carbon footprint reduction by cutting the use of fossil-based material by 70%. This raw material delivers an 84% decrease in carbon emissions and in addition Brett Martin achieves further reductions in carbon by producing the sheet using 100% renewable energy, generated at its own site.

    Marlon BioPlus has already achieved International Sustainability & Carbon accreditation with ISCC Plus certification. ISCC PLUS is a globally recognised sustainability certification program for bio-based and bio-circular (recycled) raw materials with a focus on the traceability of raw materials within the supply chain.

    What makes Marlon BioPlus unique is the combination of this certification and Brett Martin’s 100% onsite renewable energy which together represents a huge step towards a zero-carbon polycarbonate sheet.

    As the UK’s largest producer of polycarbonate roofing and facades Brett Martin supplies high profile projects as diverse as London’s Royal College of Art or Manchester’s Old Trafford stadium as well as a wide range of commercial and industrial buildings.

    This new low carbon alternative retains all the physical and performance properties of the company’s other Polycarbonate ranges and will be available to be specified in any Brett Martin’s Marlon polycarbonate multiwall, corrugated or flat sheets for use in roofs and walls.

    Employing over 1,000 people in total and with sales of £220m, Brett Martin is already one of Europe’s largest plastic sheet producers for the construction industry, and the new range is expected to create strong demand from a construction market eager to reduce its environmental impact.

    Brett Martin Director, Paul

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    Technology Business

    California 1st to make firms disclose social media policies

    Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

    California will impose first-of-its-kind requirements on social media companies to publish their policies for removing disturbing content including hate speech, with details on how and when they remove that content, under a bill signed into law by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

    “California will not stand by as social media is weaponized to spread hate and disinformation that threaten our communities and foundational values as a country,” Newsom said in a statement Tuesday announcing the signing.

    A coalition of the bill’s opponents have said companies already have to make their content moderation policies public, and objected to the bill’s requirement that these companies to disclose sensitive information to the state attorney general. Opponents include the California Chamber of Commerce, Computer and Communications Industry Association, Consumer Technology Association, Internet Coalition, Netchoice and TechNet.

    But the bill had bipartisan support from lawmakers despite some concerns, and advanced after stalling last year over free speech issues.

    The bill’s author, Democratic Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, said the measure includes the world’s most stringent transparency requirements for companies like Facebook and Instagram to disclose in detail how they remove content including hate speech, disinformation, extremism, harassment, and foreign political interference.

    “Social media has created incredible opportunities, but also real and proximate threats to our kids, to vulnerable communities, and to American democracy as we know it,” Gabriel said in a statement. He said the law will “pull back the curtain” on how these companies address problem content.

    The bill was sought by the Anti-Defamation League and other groups, which said the measure is key to combatting online hate speech.


    California may make social media firms report enforcement


    © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

    Citation:
    California 1st to make

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    Technology Business

    South Korea fines Google, Meta over privacy violations

    Yang Cheongsam, an investigation and coordination bureau director-general of the Personal Information Protection Commission speaks at the Government Complex in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. South Korea’s privacy watchdog has fined Google and Meta a combined 100 billion won ($72 million) for tracking consumers’ online behavior without their consent and using their data for targeted advertisements. Credit: Shin Hyun-woo/Yonhap via AP

    South Korea’s privacy watchdog has fined Google and Meta a combined 100 billion won ($72 million) for tracking consumers’ online behavior without their consent and using their data for targeted advertisements.

    South Korea’s Personal Information and Protection Commission said it fined Google 69.2 billion won ($50 million) and Meta 30.8 billion won ($22 million) after a meeting where officials agreed that the companies’ business practices might cause serious” privacy infringements.

    The fines were the biggest ever penalties imposed by South Korea for privacy law violations, the commission said in a press release.

    According to the commission, Google and Meta, which operates Facebook and Instagram, didn’t clearly inform users or obtain their consent as they collected and analyzed information about their online usage patterns and used the data they gathered to create individually customized advertisements.

    The commission ordered the companies to provide an “easy and clear” process of consent giving people more control over whether to share information about what they do online.

    Google and Meta didn’t immediately comment on the fines. The companies can appeal the fines through administrative lawsuits, which must be filed within 90 days after they formally receive the commission’s decision.


    Irish watchdog fines Instagram 405M euros in teen data case


    © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

    Citation:
    South Korea fines Google, Meta over privacy violations (2022, September 14)

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    Software

    DDoS attacks on financial firms increase during Ukraine war

    DDoS attacks made up 25 percent of the cyber incidents submitted to the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority in the first half of 2022, compared to just four percent in 2021.

    Analysis by attack simulation specialist Picus Security of information obtained from the FCA under a freedom of information request shows the rise also coincides with a reported increase in DDoS for hire websites and ransomware operators using DDoS as a tactic to pressure and extort money from targets.

    Picus believes the primary reason for the significant increase in DDoS attacks is UK finance firms being targeted by nation-state attackers and hacktivists during the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. DDoS attacks, including sophisticated ‘carpet-bombing’, are often used against providers of critical infrastructure to try to disrupt operations and deny access to vital services.

    Dr. Suleyman Ozarslan, Picus Security co-founder and VP of Picus Labs, says:

    DDoS attacks are a concern for financial institutions, with their ability to disrupt operations and even bring them down entirely. UK financial institutions are in the crossfire of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine and have become a direct target for nation-state attackers and hacktivists seeking to disrupt Ukraine’s allies.

    While it’s encouraging that financial firms reported fewer cyber incidents in the first half of 2022 than they did during the equivalent period in 2021 there is no time for complacency. As threats evolve, financial institutions must continue to proactively harden their defenses. This includes validating that security controls and processes provide protection against the latest risks.

    Among other findings, overall incident levels are down, the FCA receiving 55 reports of ‘material’ cyber incidents in the first half of 2022, down 25 percent from 73 in H1 2021. The number of cyber incidents in H1 2022 involving malware and phishing also decreased by 75 percent and 50

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    Technology Business

    EU court decides record antitrust fine against Google

    The Android case was the third of three major cases brought against Google by the EU’s competition czar Margrethe Vestager.

    The European Union’s second-highest court will rule Wednesday whether Brussels went too far in handing Google a 4.3-billion-euro fine over its Android operating system for mobile phones.

    The decision by the Luxembourg-based General Court could undo or demand modifications to the landmark decision, taken by the European Commission in 2018, which remains the EU’s biggest-ever antitrust fine.

    Google urged a panel of EU judges last year to throw out the decision it argued was unfounded and falsely relied on accusations it imposed its search engine and Chrome browser on Android phones.

    The company also said that the EU was unfairly blind to the strength of Apple, which imposes or gives clear preference to its own services such as Safari on iPhones.

    Google insisted that downloading rival apps was only a click away and that customers were in no way tied to Google products on Android.

    The EU and complainants responded that Google used contracts with phone makers in the early days of Android to stifle rivals.

    This was done “at a critical time in the development of mobile computing, when the market was still contestable”, said Thomas Vinje, a lawyer representing FairSearch, whose original complaint launched the case in 2013.

    The decision by the General Court is unlikely to be the end of the story. Both sides can turn to the EU’s highest court, the European Court of Justice, for a final say on the 4.3-billion-euro fine, which was the equivalent of $5 billion when levied.

    Global action

    The Android case was the third of three major cases brought against Google by the EU’s competition czar Margrethe Vestager, whose legal challenges were the first worldwide to directly take on the

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    Technology Business

    Twitter ex-security chief in Congress as shareholders back

    Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, former head of security at Twitter, says executives at the company ignored alarms he raised about the safety of user data.

    Twitter whistleblower Peiter Zatko told the US Congress Tuesday that the platform ignored his security concerns, in testimony that came as company shareholders greenlit Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover deal.

    Nearly 99 percent of the votes cast by stock owners endorsed the agreement with Musk to sell him the tech firm for $54.20 per share, Twitter said in a release.

    Twitter added that it was ready to consummate the merger agreement immediately, and no later than September 15 as per a timeline mandated by the agreement.

    The shareholder decision clears the way for the contract to close, even as billionaire Musk tries to exit it. Twitter has sued him to force it through.

    “I’m here today because Twitter leadership is misleading the public, lawmakers, regulators and even its own board of directors,” Zatko, a hacker widely known as “Mudge”, told the hearing.

    He said that, during his time as head of security for the platform from late 2020 until his dismissal in January this year, he tried alerting management to grave vulnerabilities to hacking or data theft—but to no avail.

    “They don’t know what data they have, where it lives, or where it came from. And so, unsurprisingly, they can’t protect it,” Zatko said during his opening remarks to the Judiciary Committee.

    He contended that employees across the company had too much access to user data.

    Zatko testified that he brought evidence of problems to the executive team and “repeatedly sounded the alarm”.

    “To put it bluntly, Twitter leadership ignored its engineers because key parts of leadership lacked competency to understand the scope of the problem,” he said.

    “But more importantly, their executive incentives led them

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    Technology Business

    billions in fines and tough laws

    Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

    The European Union is on a mission to rein in US tech giants, which have been accused of tax avoidance, stifling competition, raking in billions from news without paying for it and spreading misinformation.

    In the past few years, the EU has slapped eye-watering fines on Apple and Google in tax and competition cases, and drawn up a landmark law to curb the market dominance of Big Tech. Brussels has also toughened its code of conduct on disinformation and hate speech.

    As a European court prepares Wednesday to rule on Google’s appeal of a massive 4.3-billion-euro antitrust fine ($5 billion at the time it was levied), we look at the battle between Brussels and Silicon Valley:

    Stifling competition

    The digital giants are regularly criticised for dominating markets by elbowing out rivals.

    In July, the European Parliament adopted a landmark law, the Digital Markets Act, to curb the market dominance of Big Tech, with violations punishable with fines of up to 10 percent of a company’s annual global sales.

    Brussels has slapped over eight billion euros in fines on Google alone for abusing its dominant market position.

    In 2018, the company was fined 4.3 billion euros—the biggest ever antitrust penalty imposed by the EU—for abusing the dominant position of its Android mobile operating system to promote Google’s search engine.

    Google has appealed the verdict. The firm is also challenging a 2.4-billion-euro fine it was slapped with in 2017 for abusing its power in online shopping and a separate 1.49-billion-euro fine from 2019 for “abusive practices” in online advertising.

    The EU has also gone after Apple, accusing it of blocking rivals from its contactless iPhone payment system and fined Microsoft 561 million euros in 2013 for imposing its search engine Internet Explorer on users of Windows 7.

    Italy

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    Software

    Download TweakPower – MajorGeeks

    TweakPower is an all-in-one tool to clean, backup, optimize your computer, and fix common problems. Available as an installer or portable app. Video tutorial available.

    TweakPower starts with the main interface or dashboard. You can look at your PC mode, security settings, drive health, bootup and shutdown, system information, etc. A button to create a System Restore Point is prominently featured, as it should be.

    You will find quick access to other areas at the top, including Cleaning, Optimize, and All functions.

    Cleaning includes a registry cleaner, browser cleaner, system cleaner, and plug-in cleaner. You are notified if any problems are found, and you can scan all four areas or deactivate anything you’d instead not run. After analyzing, you can look at the found problems’ details or click “Optimize Now” to clean up.

    Optimize will shut down Windows faster, shorten wait times for crashed programs, optimize Windows Appearance, speed up disks, and speed up the system and SSD acceleration. Each of these comes with a brief description of what they do. Once again, clicking on “Optimize Now” will begin the optimization process. The gear icon allows you to choose what you want to optimize. It runs very quickly.

    All functions combine a few tools you may have already used but adds dozens more and expand upon the already run scans. For example, there’s a registry defrag, remove duplicate files, other windows customization, system information, internet optimization, process explorer, share or encrypt files, and more. This is the geek tab for those who want to delve in further.

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    Technology Business

    China grants gaming license to NetEase, 1st since crackdown

    Visitors wearing face masks prepare to put on a virtual reality headset in front of a digital map of China at a booth at the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in Beijing on Sept. 3, 2022. China’s second largest gaming firm NetEase has received its first game license in over a year in a possible sign Beijing is gradually easing a crackdown on the industry. Credit: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File

    China’s second largest gaming firm NetEase has received its first online game license in over a year in a possible sign Beijing is gradually easing a crackdown on the industry.

    The National Press and Publication Administration, which issues licenses for video games, on Tuesday published a list of approvals for 73 games, including a mobile game by NetEase called “All-Star Street Ball Party.”

    In August 2021, regulators stopped issuing gaming licenses as they tightened restrictions on the tech industry. They resumed approvals in April. Tencent, the country’s biggest gaming company, has not gotten any games approved since then.

    However, Nanjing Wangdian Technology, a subsidiary of Tencent, got a license for a health-education mobile game called “Defense of Health.” Tencent first unveiled plans to launch this game in May 2021. But such educational games typically are less lucrative than commercial mobile games.

    In cracking down on the technology industry, Beijing implemented a raft of new regulations for online education, e-commerce, online gaming and financial technology.

    Online gaming time for minors was limited to just 3 hours a week on most weeks. Officials also said they would supervise and inspect online games more often to ensure that they comply with regulations.


    Tencent buys stake in Japanese gaming firm behind Elden Ring


    © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

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    Technology Business

    Reaching national electric vehicle goal is unlikely by 2030

    A breakdown of U.S. GHG emissions shares by industry sector, 2020. Credit: John D. Graham & Eva Bungard, Frontiers in Environmental Science (2022). DOI: 10.3389/fenvs.2022.962942

    The United States government has set an ambitious national goal of reaching 50 percent penetration of plug-in electric vehicles by 2030, but a new study from researchers at Indiana University’s Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs shows that the U.S. is unlikely to meet this goal unless electric vehicles become more affordable for consumers.

    The study, “Affordable Electric Vehicles: Their Role in Meeting the U.S. Contribution to the Paris Climate Goals,” was recently published in the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science. The research was conducted by Professor John D. Graham and Eva Brungard, who is a research assistant at IU and has held internships at both an electric vehicle manufacturer and trade association.

    “We need to focus policymakers, automakers, and electric utilities on how to stimulate consumer demand for—and automaker offerings of—affordable electric vehicles,” said Graham, who also authored the 2021 book “The Global Rise of the Modern Plug-In Electric Vehicle: Public Policy, Innovation, and Strategy.”

    In 2021, President Joe Biden pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions economy-wide by 2050, a commitment that is now a formal U.S. submission under the 2015 Paris Accords of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. As it stands, transportation is the largest contributor to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and 58 percent of transportation emissions come from light-duty passenger vehicles, such as cars and light trucks.

    Reaching Biden’s goal to cut emissions requires a transition from internal combustion engines to zero emission vehicles, such as plug-in electric vehicles, but a number of factors are slowing that transition, among them the price of PEVs. PEVs tend to cost $10,000–$20,000 more than their internal combustion

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    Software

    create help files and online documentation

    I love this program! Sometimes you come across help file or documentation written a while ago in .CHM format but this only works on Windows. But with this HelpNDoc I can convert them to the now standardized .PDF format which has been a life saver. It is amazing how many documents, book, and how-tos were written in .CHM format. Now I can just convert it, easy as that! The software has tons of features to create or modify existing file format like: HTML, CHM, PDF, DOC and PDF. It is easy to use, has an up-to-date look and feel utility ribbon, and give you options to work on multiple project at the same time. New features and export formats have been added. Overall pretty amazing software. Review details
    I know that this software is aimed to write manuals, but I use the free version (from many years) to write personal abstracts (study,…) and the final document (having a clear and visual separation among sections) it’s MUCH more clean & easy to create, maintain and use as reference than a wordlibreoffice document with index page. Formatting is not advanced as a word processor, but it’s more than enough for normal use; it’s possible to insert images and has many other options (icon sections,…) with a good overall speed. The ONLY LIMIT of the free (non commercial) version are light banner on exporting document in other format (html, doc, PDF…). NOTE: now I have the latest version (4.8) and IT’S POSSIBLE (since earlier versions) TO EXPORT IN PDF (description in this site IMHO it’s wrong) having also index created basing on sections. In summary, for me it’s: – very good to write abstract for personal
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    Software

    RogueKiller – malware removal helper

    It found 9 rogues in my computer however, when I tried to select one to read it’s full file path it make it impossible to go back to the list, as there isn’t any back button. Doh! The scan took almost two hours, I’m NOT going through that again! forget it I’ll find another way to find them and get my comp cleaned out. Review details
    I’ve got a fleet of anti-virus, anti-malware, and anti-spyware tools and yet STILL something seriously bad got through and was creating havoc on my computer! Running scans for hours with these other well known tools didn’t reveal much. After talking to a friend who is a professional computer tech, I ran Rogue Killer. RogueKiller pegged the offender on my drive and anything associated with it – in just minutes! The RogueKiller interface is quite efficient and intuitive to use. The scans are usually quite quick. RogueKiller will stop processes, fix shortcuts and more – but it won’t make any changes until you tell it to. This is an extremely powerful tool and works with surprising speed. As such I would recommend the use of this software mainly to people who have a very good understanding of the registry, host file, processes and how things work. To sum it up, RogueKiller means business. It’s the go-to app when even the well known “big boys” don’t get the job done! Review details
    First of all, to clear things up… This is not associated with MBAM, nor does it come from Malwarebytes. This is it’s own application. This does not remove malware for
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    Software

    Fedora Linux 37 Beta now available with GNOME 43 and

    Fedora and GNOME go together like peanut butter and jelly. It is the best Linux distribution combined with the greatest desktop environment. Not to mention, Fedora focuses on truly free and open source software. Sure, that may make the operating system a bit less inviting to Linux beginners, but many seasoned Linux experts know Fedora is the cream of the crop.

    Today, Fedora 37 finally becomes available in Beta form, and the developers are hoping you will test it and provide some useful feedback. The most exciting aspect of Fedora 37 Beta is its use of GNOME 43, which is also in Beta. Also titillating is official Raspberry Pi 4 support, and yes, accelerated graphics are working. ARM fans will surely be happy about that, but sad to know the ARMv7 architecture will no longer be supported.

    ALSO READ: YouTube TV let me watch New York Mets games from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean while on a Royal Caribbean cruise

    “Fedora 37 Workstation Beta includes a beta release of GNOME 43. (We expect the final GNOME 43 release in a few weeks.) GNOME 43 includes a new device security panel in Settings, providing the user with information about the security of hardware and firmware on the system. Building on the previous release, more core GNOME apps have been ported to the latest version of the GTK toolkit, providing improved performance and a modern look,” explains Matthew Miller, Fedora project leader.

    ALSO READ: USB4 Version 2.0 offers up to 80Gbps of data transfer speeds

    Are you wanting to try Fedora 37 Beta workstation on your PC or Raspberry Pi 4? I am happy to say you can download the operating system here now. Remember, folks, this is pre-release software intended for testing, and it may have serious bugs — proceed

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