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A Home Security Worker Hacked Into Surveillance Systems To Watch People Have Sex

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: A former employee of prominent home security company ADT has admitted that he hacked into the surveillance feeds of dozens of customer homes, doing so primarily to spy on naked women or to leer at unsuspecting couples while they had sex. Telesforo Aviles, 35, pleaded guilty to a count of computer fraud in federal court this week, confessing that he inappropriately accessed the accounts of customers some 9,600 times over the course of several years. He is alleged to have done this to over 200 customers. Authorities say that the IT technician "took note of which homes had attractive women, then repeatedly logged into these customers' accounts in order to view their footage for sexual gratification." He did this by adding his personal email address to customer accounts, which ultimately hooked him into "real-time access to the video feeds from their homes." Aviles, who now faces up to five years in prison, sometimes "claimed he needed to add himself temporarily in order to 'test' the system; in other instances, he added himself without their knowledge," officials said. "This defendant, entrusted with safeguarding customers' homes, instead intruded on their most intimate moments," acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah said in a statement. "We are glad to hold him accountable for this disgusting betrayal of trust." The scandal has inspired multiple lawsuits -- three of which are ongoing. ADT tried using confidentiality agreements to keep some customers silent. The company told BuzzFeed that it is "continuing to respond to the lawsuits and has resolved the concerns of most of the 220 impacted customers, including those who have retained attorneys to address the issue."

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Boston Globe Will Consider People's Requests To Have Articles About Them Anonymized

The Boston Globe is starting a new program by which people who feel an article at the newspaper is harmful to their reputation can ask that it be updated or anonymized. From a report: It's reminiscent of the E.U.'s "right to be forgotten," though potentially less controversial, since it concerns only one editorial outlet and not a content-agnostic search engine. The "Fresh Start" initiative isn't for removing bad restaurant reviews or coverage of serious crimes, but rather for more commonplace crime desk reporting: a hundred words saying so-and-so was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, perhaps with a mugshot. Such stories do serve a purpose, of course, in informing readers of crime in their area. But as the Globe's editor, Brian McGrory points out: "It was never our intent to have a short and relatively inconsequential Globe story affect the futures of the ordinary people who might be the subjects. Our sense, given the criminal justice system, is that this has had a disproportionate impact on people of color. The idea behind the program is to start addressing it."

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As Bitcoin Price Surges, DDoS Extortion Gangs Return in Force

Extortion groups that send emails threatening companies with DDoS attacks unless paid a certain fee are making a comeback, security firm Radware warned today. From a report: In a security alert sent to its customers and shared with ZDNet this week, Radware said that during the last week of 2020 and the first week of 2021, its customers received a new wave of DDoS extortion emails. Extortionists threatened companies with crippling DDoS attacks unless they got paid between 5 and 10 bitcoins ($150,000 to $300,000). Radware said that some of the emails it seen were sent by a group that was active over the 2020 summer when the extortionists targeted many financial organizations across the world. Companies that received this group's emails last summer also received new threats over the winter, Radware said. The security firm believes that the rise in the Bitcoin-to-USD price has led to some groups returning to or re-prioritizing DDoS extortion schemes.

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EU Lawmakers Want Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google CEOs at Feb. 1 Hearing

EU lawmakers have invited the chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet to a Feb. 1 hearing in Brussels as they try to crack down on the powers of U.S. tech giants. From a report: The European Parliament will in the coming months provide input into proposals by the European Commission to force the companies to play fairly with rivals and to do more to tackle online fake news and harmful content or face hefty fines. "The purpose of the planned hearing is to have an exchange with the chief executive officers of the four globally leading platform companies to learn about their current business models and future concepts as they face the challenges of altering market conditions," said an invitation sent to the companies seen by Reuters.

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No Cases£ No Chance. The Truth About North Korea and Covid-19

The real impact of Covid-19 on North Korea -- and its citizens -- remains a mystery. Faced with a global health crisis, the country has turned inwards more than ever. From a report: "North Korea, in general, is more difficult to know this year or last year than at almost any point in the last two decades," says Sokeel Park, the director of research at Liberty in North Korea, a group that works with defectors from the country to understand what happens inside its borders. "It seems clear to me that, nonetheless, the North Korean government has massively overreacted." Officially, North Korea has recorded no cases of Covid-19. Weekly reports from the World Health Organisation's South-East Asia office show that North Korean samples from PCR tests are being processed in 15 laboratories but all of these have come back negative. As of January 8, the most recent date for which figures are available, 26,244 samples from 13,259 people have come back negative. Around 700 North Koreans, out of a population of 25 million, are being tested each week. "I don't know many people in the North Korea watcher, analyst and journalist community that actually believe there are no cases," Park says. All of the North Korea experts spoken to for this article agree. Some have accused North Korea of lying, while others suggest its approach is all about keeping control and public perception. The closest officials got to admitting there may be a case was in July when state newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported a "state of emergency" had been declared in Kaesong City, in the south of the country. The newspaper reported a defector who had returned to the country from South Korea was "suspected" to have Covid-19. But the case was never confirmed. Kim Yo-jong, the sister of Kim Jong-un, has hit back at suggestions from South Korea that the country may have had cases, describing such talk as "reckless." From the outside, it is impossible to prove the scale of the Covid-19 crisis in North Korea. All official messaging is controlled by Kim Jong-un's regime and international diplomats and humanitarian groups have largely left the country. The last remaining members of the International Committee of the Red Cross left the country on December 2. The result is that little reliable information finds its way out of North Korea -- those with contacts inside the country and who work with defectors say it has been impossible to work out the reality of the health situation on the ground. Despite reporting no cases of Covid-19, North Korea has been quarantining potential suspected cases. As of December 3, 33,223 people had been released from quarantine, according to the figures reported to the WHO -- though no numbers have been reported since. Quarantine rules in North Korea are also strict, according to reports. When an outbreak occurred in China, North Korea tracked down all Chinese visitors in the town of Rason âand quarantinedâ them âon an island for a month.

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Why Do We Assume Extraterrestrials Might Want To Visit Us£

Avi Loeb, former chair of the astronomy department at Harvard University and who chairs the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies, writing at Scientific American: It is presumptuous to assume that we are worthy of special attention from advanced species in the Milky Way. We may be a phenomenon as uninteresting to them as ants are to us; after all, when we're walking down the sidewalk we rarely if ever examine every ant along our path. Our sun formed at the tail end of the star formation history [PDF] of the universe. Most stars are billions of years older than ours. So much older, in fact that many sunlike stars have already consumed their nuclear fuel and cooled off to a compact Earth-size remnant known as a white dwarf. We also learned recently that of order half [PDF] of all sunlike stars host an Earth-size planet in their habitable zone, allowing for liquid water and for the chemistry of life. Since the dice of life were rolled in billions of other locations within the Milky Way under similar conditions to those on Earth, life as we know it is likely common. If that is indeed the case, some intelligent species may well be billions of years ahead of us in their technological development. When weighing the risks involved in interactions with less-developed cultures such as ours, these advanced civilizations may choose to refrain from contact. The silence implied by Fermi's paradox ("Where is everybody£") may mean that we are not the most attention-worthy cookies in the jar.

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James Bond Film No Time To Die Delayed Again Over Covid

You know it's bad when James Bond still can't get out of the house. "No Time to Die," the 25th film in the Bond franchise, was delayed for a third time late Thursday, the surest sign yet that Hollywood does not believe the masses will be ready to return to movie theaters anytime soon. From a report: Daniel Craig's final outing as 007 will now arrive on 8 October, the official Bond Twitter account announced. It had been set to be released in April following multiple pandemic-enforced delays. No Time To Die is the latest major release to be pushed back as Hollywood studios scramble to protect their films from certain box office doom, with cinemas remaining closed in markets around the world. Earlier this month Warner Bros announced it was delaying the release of Sopranos prequel The Many Saints Of Newark. And after MGM released the Bond news, Sony said Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway was moving from April to June, Ghostbusters: Afterlife was pushed from June to November and Cinderella, which stars singer Camila Cabello, will now arrive in July.

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Samsung Considers $10 Billion Texas Chipmaking Plant

Samsung is considering spending more than $10 billion building its most advanced logic chipmaking plant in the U.S., a major investment it hopes will win more American clients and help it catch up with industry leader Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Bloomberg News: The world's largest memory chip and smartphone maker is in discussions to locate a facility in Austin, Texas, capable of fabricating chips as advanced as 3 nanometers in the future, people familiar with the matter said. Plans are preliminary and subject to change but for now the aim is to kick off construction this year, install major equipment from 2022, then begin operations as early as 2023, they said. While the investment amount could fluctuate, Samsung's plans would mean upwards of $10 billion to bankroll the project, one of the people said. Samsung is taking advantage of a concerted U.S. government effort to counter China's rising economic prowess and lure back home some of the advanced manufacturing that over the past decades has gravitated toward Asia. The hope is that such production bases in the U.S. will galvanize local businesses and support American industry and chip design. Intel's troubles ramping up on technology and its potential reliance in the future on TSMC and Samsung for at least some of its chipmaking only underscored the extent to which Asian giants have forged ahead in recent years.

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Microsoft Increases Xbox Live Gold Prices

Microsoft continues sending not-so-subtle signals that it would really, really like you to drop Xbox Live Gold in favor of Game Pass. From a report: The company has raised prices for new Xbox Live Gold memberships across the board, with the changes becoming more noticeable the longer you're ready to commit. The one- and three-month plans aren't much pricier at $11 and $30 respectively (up $1 and $5), but six months now costs you $60 -- well above the $40 you used to pay. And when there's no longer a 12-month membership, you'll be looking at $120 per year if you insist on Gold. Existing six- and 12-month members will renew at the current price, Microsoft said.

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Alphabet Shuts Down Loon Internet Balloon Company

Google's parent firm, Alphabet, is done exploring the idea of using a fleet of balloons to beam high-speed internet in remote parts of the world. From a report: The firm said on Thursday evening that it was winding down Loon, a nine-year-old project and a two-and-a-half-year-old spin off firm, after failing to find a sustainable business model and partners for one of its most prominent moonshot projects. The demise of Loon, which assumed spotlight after the project helped restore cell services knocked out by a hurricane in Puerto Rico, comes a year after the Android-maker ended Google Station, its other major connectivity effort to bring internet to the next billion users.

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Intel Says Hacker Obtained Financially Sensitive Information

Intel said it was the victim of a hacker who stole financially sensitive information from its corporate website on Thursday, prompting the company to release its earnings statement ahead of schedule.ÂFrom a report: The US computer chipmaker believed an attacker had obtained advanced details about a strong earnings report it was due to publish after the stock market closed, said George Davis, chief financial officer. It published its formal earnings announcement upon discovering the problem, six minutes before the market closed. Intel's shares rose more than 6 per cent on Thursday, including almost 2 per cent in the final 15 minutes of trading. "An infographic was hacked off of our PR newsroom site," Mr Davis said. "We put [our earnings] out as soon as we were aware." He did not provide more details, but said that the leak was the result of an illicit action that had not involved any unintentional disclosure by the company itself. An Intel spokesperson added: "We were notified that our infographic was circulating outside the company. I do not believe it was published. We are continuing to investigate this matter."

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Federal Judge Blocks Parler's Bid To Be Restored on Amazon Web Services

A federal judge has denied Parler's request for a court order blocking Amazon from kicking the social media app off its platform, marking yet another setback in Parler's efforts to get back online. From a report: Judge Barbara Rothstein issued a ruling on Thursday saying that Parler had not met the legal requirements for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction. That decision does not end the litigation, but it does mean that the court will not force Amazon Web Services to allow Parler back onto its cloud hosting platform. Amazon's move effectively kicked Parler off the public internet. Parler, the alternative social media platform favored by the far-right, had sued AWS earlier this month after AWS claimed Parler did not do enough to remove instances of incitement from its website.

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Google Threatens To Remove Search in Australia as Spat Escalates

Google has threatened to disable its search engine in Australia if it's forced to pay local publishers for news, a dramatic escalation of a months-long standoff with the government. From a report: The proposed law, intended to compensate publishers for the value their stories generate for the company, is "unworkable," Mel Silva, managing director for Australia and New Zealand, told a parliamentary hearing Friday. She specifically opposed the requirement that Google pay media companies for displaying snippets of articles in search results. The threat is Google's most potent yet as the digital giant tries to stem a flow of regulatory action worldwide. At least 94% of online searches in Australia go through the Alphabet unit, according to the local competition regulator. "We don't respond to threats," Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday. "Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That's done in our parliament. It's done by our government. And that's how things work here in Australia."

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DDoS-Guard To Forfeit Internet Space Occupied By Parler

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Krebs On Security: Parler, the beleaguered social network advertised as a "free speech" alternative to Facebook and Twitter, has had a tough month. Apple and Google removed the Parler app from their stores, and Amazon blocked the platform from using its hosting services. Parler has since found a home in DDoS-Guard, a Russian digital infrastructure company. But now it appears DDoS-Guard is about to be relieved of more than two-thirds of the Internet address space the company leases to clients -- including the Internet addresses currently occupied by Parler. The pending disruption for DDoS-Guard and Parler comes compliments of Ron Guilmette, a researcher who has made it something of a personal mission to de-platform conspiracy theorist and far-right groups.

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Microsoft Patent Shows Plans To Revive Dead Loved Ones As Chatbots

Microsoft has been granted a patent that would allow the company to make a chatbot using the personal information of deceased people. The Independent reports: The patent describes creating a bot based on the "images, voice data, social media posts, electronic messages," and more personal information. "The specific person [who the chat bot represents] may correspond to a past or present entity (or a version thereof), such as a friend, a relative, an acquaintance, a celebrity, a fictional character, a historical figure, a random entity etc," it goes on to say. "The specific person may also correspond to oneself (e.g., the user creating/training the chat bot)," Microsoft also describes -- implying that living users could train a digital replacement in the event of their death. Microsoft has even included the notion of 2D or 3D models of specific people being generated via images and depth information, or video data. The idea that you would be able, in the future, to speak to a simulation of someone who has passed on is not new. It is famously the plot of the Black Mirror episode "Be Right Back," where a young woman uses a service to scrape data from her deceased partner to create a chatbot -- and eventually a robot.

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