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Best Buy Early Black Friday Deals: Apple Watch SE, Fitbit Charge, TCL 4K TV, & More – The New York Times



Our upcoming top pick for the best fitness tracker, the Fitbit Charge 5 is a great device for monitoring your activity and sleep cycles. Overall, Fitbits have a long-lasting battery and a comfortable band, and they are easy to use. In addition, the Charge 5 will accurately track your exercise metrics and link to a fitness community, to share your sessions and meet your goals. This deal matches the best price we’ve seen for the newest model, and it’s only the second deal we’ve posted.

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U.S. State Department phones hacked with Israeli company spyware – sources



Apple Inc iPhones of at least nine U.S. State Department employees were hacked by an unknown assailant using sophisticated spyware developed by the Israel-based NSO Group, according to four people familiar with the matter.

The hacks, which took place in the last several months, hit U.S. officials either based in Uganda or focused on matters concerning the East African country, two of the sources said.

The intrusions, first reported here, represent the widest known hacks of U.S. officials through NSO technology. Previously, a list of numbers with potential targets including some American officials surfaced in reporting on NSO, but it was not clear whether intrusions were always tried or succeeded.

Reuters could not determine who launched the latest cyberattacks.

NSO Group said in a statement on Thursday that it did not have any indication their tools were used but canceled access for the relevant customers and would investigate based on the Reuters inquiry.

“If our investigation shall show these actions indeed happened with NSO’s tools, such customer will be terminated permanently and legal actions will take place,” said an NSO spokesperson, who added that NSO will also “cooperate with any relevant government authority and present the full information we will have.”

NSO has long said it only sells its products to government law enforcement and intelligence clients, helping them to monitor security threats, and is not directly involved in surveillance operations.

Officials at the Uganda embassy in Washington did not comment. A spokesperson for Apple declined to comment.

A State Department spokesperson declined to comment on the intrusions, instead pointing to the Commerce Department’s recent decision to place the Israeli company on an entity list, making it harder for U.S. companies to do business with them.

NSO Group and another spyware firm were “added to the Entity List based on a determination that they developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments that used this tool to maliciously target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, academics, and embassy workers,” the Commerce Department said in an announcement last month.


NSO software is capable of not only capturing encrypted messages, photos and other sensitive information from infected phones, but also turning them into recording devices to monitor surroundings, based on product manuals reviewed by Reuters.

Apple’s alert to affected users did not name the creator of the spyware used in this hack.

The victims notified by Apple included American citizens and were easily identifiable as U.S. government employees because they associated email addresses ending in with their Apple IDs, two of the people said.

They and other targets notified by Apple in multiple countries were infected through the same graphics processing vulnerability that Apple did not learn about and fix until September, the sources said.

Since at least February, this software flaw allowed some NSO customers to take control of iPhones simply by sending invisible yet tainted iMessage requests to the device, researchers who investigated the espionage campaign said.

The victims would not see or need to interact with a prompt for the hack to be successful. Versions of NSO surveillance software, commonly known as Pegasus, could then be installed.

Apple’s announcement that it would notify victims came on the same day it sued NSO Group last week, accusing it of helping numerous customers break into Apple’s mobile software, iOS.

In a public response, NSO has said its technology helps stop terrorism and that they’ve installed controls to curb spying against innocent targets.

For example, NSO says its intrusion system cannot work on phones with U.S. numbers beginning with the country code +1.

But in the Uganda case, the targeted State Department employees were using iPhones registered with foreign telephone numbers, said two of the sources, without the U.S. country code.

Uganda has been roiled this year by an election with reported irregularities, protests and a government crackdown. U.S. officials have tried to meet with opposition leaders, drawing ire from the Ugandan government. Reuters has no evidence the hacks were related to current events in Uganda.

A senior Biden administration official, speaking on condition he not be identified, said the threat to U.S. personnel abroad was one of the reasons the administration was cracking down on companies such as NSO and pursuing new global discussion about spying limits.

The official added that the government has seen “systemic abuse” in multiple countries involving NSO’s Pegasus spyware.

Sen. Ron Wyden, who is on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said: “Companies that enable their customers to hack U.S. government employees are a threat to America’s national security and should be treated as such.”

Historically, some of NSO Group’s best-known past clients included Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Mexico.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense must approve export licenses for NSO, which has close ties to Israel’s defense and intelligence communities, to sell its technology internationally.

In a statement, the Israeli embassy in Washington said that targeting American officials would be a serious breach of its rules.

“Cyber products like the one mentioned are supervised and licensed to be exported to governments only for purposes related to counter-terrorism and severe crimes,” an embassy spokesperson said. “The licensing provisions are very clear and if these claims are true, it is a severe violation of these provisions.”


(Reporting by Christopher Bing and Joseph Menn; editing by Chris Sanders and Edward Tobin)

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City of Ottawa fraud line is being flooded with calls in 2021 –



Complaints to the City of Ottawa’s fraud and waste hotline have already more than doubled the total in 2020, and the auditor general wonders if it is due to more tipsters being at home during the pandemic.

Residents will have to wait until April 2022 to learn what questionable activity is being reported anonymously to the fraud line when Nathalie Gougeon compiles and presents her annual report.

Past complaints have led to investigations where employees have been disciplined or fired. They’ve been found to have stolen patient medication, worked for other organizations while on sick leave, or leaked confidential information to friends and colleagues to help them pass provincial tests.

The number of complaints received by Gougeon’s office recently surpassed 500 for 2021, and the year’s not over. In 2020, a more typical 204 complaints came in and the auditor had topped 300 only once in the past decade.

The tips cover a variety of concerns, Gougeon said, when councillors asked her to explain the increase.

“It’s also my understanding this is consistent with the trends members of council are experiencing with their own offices and receiving complaints,” she said. “People might have more time on their hands during the pandemic, but that would be pure speculation.”

It takes work and time to review all those reports, triage them, and determine what to investigate, Gougeon noted.

To help with the workload, the auditor’s office will add two full-time positions next year for a total of 11 and a budget of $2.9 million. 

Even with that increase in staff, Gougeon notes she has a smaller proportion of a municipal operating budget than her counterparts in other Canadian cities.

The City of Ottawa’s auditor general, Nathalie Gougeon, says she thinks people might be calling the hotline more because they are spending more time at home. (CBC)

Complicated audits ahead

The costs of an upcoming high-profile audit of Stage 1 of light rail don’t figure into the auditor’s 2022 budget. Council had agreed the light rail audit would be covered by using transit operating reserves — an unusual, but necessary arrangement, the city treasurer explained, because Gougeon’s budget couldn’t absorb it.

Gougeon said she has not yet received details from the Ontario government about what it intends to cover with its public inquiry. She is waiting to know its scope so her office’s audit will not duplicate work.

That’s not the only big file in the works. Auditors are already working on investigations into Ottawa Community Housing, the city’s pandemic response, and the electric bus technology chosen by the city.

Gougeon launched the audit into electric buses once the city announced plans for a big purchase of a 450-vehicle fleet. In her first year on the job, the auditor has made it clear she will select audits based on the risk posed to the city, and will try to be nimble to deal with emerging concerns. 

Her team said Friday it might also readjust its plans if it becomes clear OC Transpo route planning or the Stage 2 light rail project require extra scrutiny.

As it stands, the auditor’s office has formally identified a list of areas to review in 2022 and in 2023: 

  • Cybersecurity.
  • Affordable housing.
  • Controls and safeguards in the revenue branch.
  • Procedures and processes for preventing workplace violence and harassment.
  • Achieving the goals of the corporate diversity and inclusion plan.
  • Managing risks when making decisions.
  • Achieving the goals of the climate change master plan.
  • Managing roadways.

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Apple's AirTag used in theft of luxury cars in Toronto – MobileSyrup



Toronto York Region Police say that thieves are using Apple’s Bluetooth tracking AirTag to aid in the theft of high-end vehicles.

In a recent press release, York Regional Police state that there have been at least five incidents where suspects have attached an AirTag to a car when it’s in a public area like a mall or parking lot. Rather than sitting in the open, the tiny AirTag is placed by the thieves inside the car’s fuel cap or tow hitch.

The thieves then use Apple’s ‘Find My’ app to locate the vehicle at its owner’s home.

Once the theives find the car, they gain access to the inside of the vehicle through the use of tools. Next, they utilize a tool typically used by mechanics to reset the vehicle to its factory default settings through a diagnostic port and reprogram the vehicle to work with a key they have.

York Regional Police said over 2,000 cars have been stolen in the area over the past year. That said, the police force claims that 100 people have been arrested and 350 vehicles have been returned to their owners.

York Police provided this photo as an example of where thieves are hiding an AirTag on vehicles. Image credit: York Regional Police

While car thieves could use similar tracking devices from a company like Tile, Apple’s AirTag has made the concept of a Bluetooth tracker far more popular. The tech giant’s network of billions of Apple devices is also far more robust than Tile’s crowdsourced offering.

Though Apple added a feature to the AirTag that notifies iPhone users when an unwanted tracker not attached to their iCloud account is nearby, users need to watch for this message. Further, you also need to own an iPhone, though Apple is working on an Android app that will replicate this anti-tracking functionality on Google’s mobile OS.

Source: York Regional Police Via: CTV

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