Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., talks with reporters after the Senate Republican Policy luncheon in Russell Building on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images
Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai should hold themselves personally responsible for protecting data collected through their efforts to trace the spread of Covid-19, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., wrote in a letter to the CEOs on Tuesday.
“If you seek to assure the public, make your stake in this project personal,” wrote Hawley, a prominent tech critic. “Make a commitment that you and other executives will be personally liable if you stop protecting privacy, such as by granting advertising companies access to the interface once the pandemic is over.”
Apple and Google announced earlier this month that they have teamed up in an effort to combat the spread of the new coronavirus. The companies will release tools allowing public health authorities to create apps that will notify users who opt-in if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. The system, known as contact tracing, will use Bluetooth connections in phones.
The partnership has drawn both praise and skepticism just as lawmakers across the political spectrum had agreed that a national privacy law was urgently needed. Several proposals are on the table, but relief measures for the ongoing pandemic have been top priority in Congress over the past several weeks.
In his letter to Cook and Pichai, Hawley said that even though the companies promised to use anonymized data in the project, data can often be “reidentified” by cross-checking it with another data set.
“Pairing the data from this project with the GPS data that both your companies already collect could readily reveal individual identities,” Hawley wrote, adding that the project “could create an extraordinarily precise mechanism for surveillance.”
Hawley said Google’s record on privacy furthered his concerns. As attorney general of Missouri in 2017, Hawley had investigated Google on antitrust grounds. Since then, as a member of Congress, Hawley has frequently criticized what he sees as weak enforcement of antitrust and consumer protection laws on tech companies including Google and Facebook.
Neither company commented directly on Hawley’s letter, but highlighted the privacy protections for the contact tracing project that they had previously announced. Users have to opt-in to having their data collected for contact tracing, which is based on rotating Bluetooth identifiers, rather than users’ locations. The contact tracing is done on a users’ device with only non-identifying keys stored on Google and Apple servers. Even if a user tests positive, the system will not identify them to anyone notified.
Hawley acknowledged in his letter that his request was unusual, but said, “A project this unprecedented requires an unprecedented assurance on your part.”
2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe: Nosing Into a New Era – The Truth About Cars
BMW has dropped the curtain on its next-generation 4 Series coupe, the first member of what will become a broad family of revamped right-sized offerings.
To not mention the redesigned 4 Series’ new schnoz would be akin to staying mum on a two-ton elephant scattering canapés at a garden party, so let’s get started with that.
Spy photos, as well as a heavily foreshadowing concept coupe, told us we’d be in for a surprise when the new 4 Series debuted. Well, consider us rattled. Not since Jennifer Grey went under the knife has there been this much ink spilled about a new beak. It’s big, and it’s tall — so tall, in fact, that the lower air opening is forced to partial wrap itself around it, making for a partial grille-within-a-grille. On either side are aggressive (and large) side vents.
If BMW’s plan was to make sure the new 4 Series gets noticed, its designers certainly did their job. And it may very well be the right thing to do, given the need for any passenger car still on the market to attract the attention of buyers.
Overall, the 4 Series coupe grows in every direction. Compared to the outgoing model, the new car grows 5.2 inches in length, 1 inch in width, and boasts a 1.6-inch longer wheelbase. Front and rear tracks grow 1.4 and 1.2 inches, respectively. The roofline now reaches four-tenths of an inch closer to heaven. Beneath it all, a new CLAR platform lends the model additional stiffness.
Despite the larger footprint, the 4 Series coupe slips through the air with more ease, what with a coefficient of drag lowered from .29 to .25.
Out back, L-shaped LED taillights share fascia room with slits designed to mimic (mock?) the breathable front gills. This styling flourish was more impressive before it showed up on the Toyota Camry. Of course, choosing the M Sport Package will increase the presence of mesh both front and rear.
Regardless of whether you opt for the four-cylinder 430i or six-cylinder M440i xDrive, you’re in line for more power. The base turbocharged 2.0-liter four now makes 255 horsepower and 294 lb-ft of torque, up from 248/258. The 3.0-liter turbo inline-six now sports a 48-volt mild hybrid system and an output of 382 hp and 369 lb-ft — up from 320/330.
Offered with standard rear-drive or optional xDrive all-wheel drive in 430i form, the 4 Series coupe will be joined by a convertible and gran coupe (sedan) before long, while the upcoming i4 will ditch internal combustion altogether. All 4 Series coupe models carry an updated eight-speed automatic, with M440i xDrive variants donning an M Sport rear differential for even torque distribution to the rear wheels during quick takeoffs.
As seen on the recently revealed 5 Series, the six-cylinder’s mild hybrid system will shut the engine off at 9 mph when braking to a stop. Under hard acceleration, the starter-generator can add 11 hp to the fray. Fuel economy for either engine is TBD.
Inside the cabin, drivers will be greeted by an analog gauge cluster, assuming they haven’t sprung for the 12.3-inch digital display. Found as standard fare in all 4 Series models are a healthy list driver-assist features; among them, lane departure warning with steering correction, pedestrian warning with braking function, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, rear collision preparation, and automatic high beams.
The rear seat is still a two-person affair, now with a threesome of pass-throughs for hauling large objects in the trunk.
Hitting global markets in October, the 2021 4 Series carries a U.S. base price of $45,600 (before destination) for the 430i Coupe, $47,600 for the 430i xDrive Coupe, and $58,500 for the M440i xDrive Coupe.
[Images: BMW AG]
Cyber Security Today – A new ransomware threat, a warning for GitHub users and Apple security updates. – IT World Canada
A new ransomware threat, a warning for GitHub users and Apple security updates.
Welcome to Cyber Security Today. It’s Wednesday June 3rd. I’m Howard Solomon, contributing reporter on cybersecurity for ITWorldCanada.com.
For an organization being infected with ransomware is scary. Ransomware scrambles corporate data, with the criminals demanding money to get the decryption key. But a hacking group has found a new weapon to add to it: The threat of auctioning off stolen data to other criminals. So pay up to get the decryption key or not only won’t you get access to your data, any data we also copied will be sold to others. Then you’ll look really bad to customers. One of the first victims is a Canadian agriculture services company. To convince the company the crooks really have stolen data they released a couple of documents. One is a loan application with the customer’s name, address, social insurance number and date of birth. That information can easily be used for impersonation. Organizations used to be able to protect themselves with data backups. No more. With this evolution there’s more pressure on victim firms to pay up. Ransomware has emerged as one of the biggest threats to companies and governments. The best way to fight it is by regularly training employees to slow down and think before clicking on attachments. Malicious attachments can carry ransomware. Another defence for firms to make sure employees use multifactor authentication on top of usernames and passwords for logging into systems and applications.
Bad news for software developers who use the GitHub website for open source projects: Some have been infected with malware. For those who don’t know GitHub is a place where developers can use open source tools for honing software code. Some developers also allow others to collaborate on projects in an open source process. But this week GitHub’s security team issued a warning that 26 open source projects using a development environment called Netbeans had been compromised. The malware that had been installed is called a backdoor. It would have allowed hackers to secretly get into whatever company had installed the final version of each software application and copy data. The application developers didn’t know their projects had been hacked. One problem with GitHub is some developers allow all or parts of their projects to be copied by others. If their code is infected, that spreads to other projects. So GitHub — which is now owned by Microsoft — scans code to warn of vulnerabilities. But GitHub developers also have to use security scanning tools of their own to make sure their code hasn’t been tampered with.
Police in New York City have charged a man with conspiracy to engage in computer hacking, trafficking in stolen payment card numbers and money laundering. This comes after his arrest in March after flying into the city from Ukraine carrying computers and other digital media with hundreds of thousands of stolen credit and debit card numbers. It is alleged the man was part of a gang that hacked into systems to steal data and sell it on criminal websites.
Finally, Apple device owners including those with iPads, iPhones, Mac computers, Apple TVs and Apple Watches should make sure they’re receiving security patches. A big one was released this week that plugs a big hole that can be created if users jailbreak their operating system. Jailbreaking allows users to install custom tweaks and apps not sold in the Apple store. However, they can also create security vulnerabilities. This patch also erases any jail breaking that has been done. Also recently fixed is a problem with the ‘Sign in with Apple’ capability that allows users to sign into websites with their Apple devices. Skilled owners of Android devices can also jailbreak their smart phones and tablets. It’s a dangerous activity on any platform that should be avoided.
That’s it for Cyber Security Today. Links to details about these stories can be found in the text version of each podcast at ITWorldCanada.com. That’s where you’ll also find my news stories aimed at businesses and cybersecurity professionals. Cyber Security Today can be heard on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or add us to your Flash Briefing on your smart speaker.
Lawsuit accuses Google have tracking people in Chrome's Incognito mode – MobileSyrup
A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against Google for tracking users while they browse in Chrome’s Incognito mode.
Specifically, the lawsuit accuses Google of violating U.S. federal wiretapping laws by tracking users’ online activity, even in Incognito mode. Further, the complaint cites Google tools like Analytics, Ad Manager, smartphone and PC applications and website plugins, saying Google leverages them to monitor uses, even if they don’t click on any Google ads.
The lawsuit also says that “millions” of users who went online using Incognito mode since June 1st, 2016 have likely been affected.
The plaintiffs say that Google tracks and collects browsing data “no matter what safeguards” people use to protect themselves. Additionally, they argue that by tracking users in Incognito mode, Google intentionally deceives users into thinking they have control over the information they share with the company.
The lawsuit seeks $5 billion USD (roughly $6.76 billion CAD) in damages or at least $5,000 USD (about $6,758 CAD) per affected user for violations of the U.S. wiretap and California privacy laws.
In a statement to The New York Times, Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesperson, disputed the claims. You can read the statement in full below:
“Incognito mode in Chrome gives you the choice to browse the internet without your activity being saved to your browser or device. As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity during your session.”
Is Incognito really that private?
It’s worth noting that Chrome does, in fact, warn users when they open an Incognito session in Chrome. When you open an Incognito tab, Chrome lists what it won’t save while you’re using Incognito and what websites can still see. That includes:
Chrome won’t save the following:
- Your browsing history
- Cookies and site data
- Information entered in forms
Your activity might still be visible to:
- Websites that you visit
- Your employer or school
- Your internet service provider
You can also read more about how Incognito mode works on Google’s support site.
Further, Chrome’s Incognito mode has long been the subject of privacy concern. In 2018, a report detailed how Google could de-anonymize collected data from Incognito browsing if users signed into their Google accounts after visiting a site with a Google tool like DoubleClick.
At the time, a Google spokesperson said that the company doesn’t de-anonymize data like that. However, the possibility for Google to do so remains a concern, even if it doesn’t.
More recently, Google had to fix a loophole in Chrome’s Incognito mode that allowed websites to determine if a user was browsing in Incognito mode. Web pages that use a paywall feature, such as a free article limit, tended to use it to prevent Incognito users from bypassing the cap.
However, in fixing the loophole, Google created more ways for websites to determine if someone was in Incognito.
Ultimately, this lawsuit is something to keep an eye on, but I’m not sure it has merit. It’s hard to claim that Google intentionally misled users when it clearly states the limits of the Incognito feature. However, that’s not to say that Google and Chrome’s privacy issues shouldn’t be investigated. The search giant has long used its apps, ad systems and more to track users’ browsing data. However, specifically targeting Incognito mode may not be the best way to go about it.
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