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A Hacker is Selling Access To the Email Accounts of Hundreds of C-Level Executives

A threat actor is currently selling passwords for the email accounts of hundreds of C-level executives at companies across the world. From a report: The data is being sold on a closed-access underground forum for Russian-speaking hackers named Exploit.in, ZDNet has learned this week. The threat actor is selling email and password combinations for Office 365 and Microsoft accounts, which he claims are owned by high-level executives occupying functions such as: CEO, COO, CFO, CMO, CTO, President, VP, Exec Assistant, Finance Manager, Accountant, and Director. Access to any of these accounts is sold for prices ranging from $100 to $1,500, depending on the company size and user's role.

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Posted on 28 November 2020 | 10:00 am

Developer Successfully Virtualizes Windows for Arm on M1 Mac

Developer Alexander Graf has successfully virtualized the Arm version of Windows on an M1 Mac, proving that the M1 chip is capable of running Microsoft's operating system. From a report: Currently, Macs with the M1 chip do not support Windows and there is no Boot Camp feature as there is on Intel Macs, but support for Windows is a feature that many users would like to see. Using the open-source QEMU virtualizer, Graf was able to virtualize the Arm version of Windows on Apple's M1 chip, with no emulation. Since the M1 chip is a custom Arm SoC, it is no longer possible to install the x86 version of Windows or x86 Windows apps using Boot Camp, as was the case with previous Intel-based Macs. However, he said in a Tweet that when virtualized on an M1 Mac, "Windows ARM64 can run x86 applications really well. It's not as fast as Rosetta 2, but close."

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Posted on 28 November 2020 | 7:30 am

Facebook's Libra Currency To Launch Next Year in Limited Format

The long-awaited Facebook-led digital currency Libra is preparing to launch as early as January, Financial Times reported Friday, citing three people involved in the initiative, but in an even more limited format than its already downgraded vision. From a report [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]: The 27-strong Libra Association said in April that it had planned to launch digital versions of several currencies, plus a "digital composite" of all of its coins. This followed concerns from regulators over its initial plan to create one synthetic coin backed by a basket of currencies. However, the association would now initially just launch a single coin backed one-for-one by the dollar, one of the people said. The other currencies and the composite would be rolled out at a later point, the person added. Libra's exact launch date would depend on when the project receives approval to operate as a payments service from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, but could come as early as January, the three people said. Finma said it would not comment on Libra's application, which was initiated in May. First launched in June 2019, the scaling down of Libra's vision comes as it has received a sceptical reception from global regulators, who have warned that it could threaten monetary stability and become a hotbed for money laundering. While the restricted scope may appease wary regulators, critics have complained that a move to single-currency coins could hit users looking to convert currencies with additional costs, undermining its ambition to enable greater financial inclusion.

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Posted on 28 November 2020 | 5:00 am

FCC Maintains Ban on Mobile Phone Voice Calls During Flights

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission killed a proposal to allow in-flight voice calls via mobile phones, ending its examination of an idea that evoked fears of air rage from passengers trapped beside jabbering seat mates. From a report: The idea drew "strong opposition" from pilots and flight attendants, the agency said Friday in a four-paragraph order. The FCC in 2013 proposed allowing mobile telephone conversations above 10,000 feet, adopting practices followed in Europe and elsewhere, where in-flight voice calling is more common. But the proposal led to strong and immediate pushback, with travelers, flight attendants, members of Congress and others saying they were troubled by the idea of passengers talking on phones in flight. One group raised "the potential for air rage if passengers are using their cell phone."

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Posted on 28 November 2020 | 2:30 am

Pushed by Pandemic, Amazon Goes on a Hiring Spree Without Equal

Amazon has embarked on an extraordinary hiring binge this year, vacuuming up an average of 1,400 new workers a day and solidifying its power as online shopping becomes more entrenched in the coronavirus pandemic. From a report: The hiring has taken place at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle, at its hundreds of warehouses in rural communities and suburbs, and in countries such as India and Italy. Amazon added 427,300 employees between January and October, pushing its work force to more than 1.2 million people globally, up more than 50 percent from a year ago. Its number of workers now approaches the entire population of Dallas. The spree has accelerated since the onset of the pandemic, which has turbocharged Amazon's business and made it a winner of the crisis. Starting in July, the company brought on about 350,000 employees, or 2,800 a day. Most have been warehouse workers, but Amazon has also hired software engineers and hardware specialists to power enterprises such as cloud computing, streaming entertainment and devices, which have boomed in the pandemic. The scale of hiring is even larger than it may seem because the numbers do not account for employee churn, nor do they include the 100,000 temporary workers who have been recruited for the holiday shopping season. They also do not include what internal documents show as roughly 500,000 delivery drivers, who are contractors and not direct Amazon employees. Such rapid growth is unrivaled in the history of corporate America. It far outstrips the 230,000 employees that Walmart, the largest private employer with more than 2.2 million workers, added in a single year two decades ago. The closest comparisons are the hiring that entire industries carried out in wartime, such as shipbuilding during the early years of World War II or home building after soldiers returned, economists and corporate historians said.

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Posted on 27 November 2020 | 11:31 pm

Microsoft's 'Project Latte' Aims To Bring Android Apps To Windows 10

Windows Central reports: Microsoft is working on a software solution that would allow app developers to bring their Android apps to Windows 10 with little to no code changes by packaging them as an MSIX and allowing developers to submit them to the Microsoft Store. According to sources familiar with the matter, the project is codenamed 'Latte' and I'm told it could show up as soon as next year. The company has toyed with the idea of bringing Android apps to Windows 10 before via a project codenamed Astoria that never saw the light of day. Project Latte aims to deliver a similar product, and is likely powered by the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL.) Microsoft will need to provide its own Android subsystem for Android apps to actually run, however. Microsoft has announced that WSL will soon get support for GUI Linux applications, as well as GPU acceleration which should aid the performance of apps running through WSL. It's unlikely that Project Latte will include support for Play Services, as Google doesn't allow Play Services to be installed on anything other than native Android devices and Chrome OS. This means that apps which require Play Services APIs will need to be updated to remove those dependencies before they can be submitted on Windows 10.

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Posted on 27 November 2020 | 10:05 pm

Amazon and Apple 'Not Playing Their Part' in Tackling Electronic Waste

Global giants such as Amazon and Apple should be made responsible for helping to collect, recycle and repair their products to cut the 155,000 tonnes of electronic waste being thrown away each year in the UK, MPs say. From a report: An investigation by the environmental audit committee found the UK is lagging behind other countries and failing to create a circular economy in electronic waste. The UK creates the second highest levels of electronic waste in the world, after Norway. But MPs said the UK was not collecting and treating much of this waste properly. "A lot of it goes to landfill, incineration or is dumped overseas. Under current laws producers and retailers of electronics are responsible for this waste, yet they are clearly not fulfilling that responsibility," the MPs wrote. About 40% of the UK's e-waste is sent abroad, according to estimates -- something the MPs point out is often done illegally. The tsunami of electronic waste was throwing away valuable resources vital to a sustainable future, the report published on Thursday said. Globally, thrown-away computers, smartphones, tablets and other electronic waste have a potential value of $62.5bn each year from the precious metals they contain, including gold, silver, copper, platinum and other critical raw materials such as tungsten and indium. MPs accused online retailers including Amazon and eBay of freeriding as they are not considered retailers or producers, and are therefore not legally liable to contribute to the collection and recycling of e-waste. "For all their protestations of claimed sustainability, major online retailers and marketplaces such as Amazon have so far avoided playing their part in the circular economy by not collecting or recycling electronics in the way other organisations have to," MPs said. "Given the astronomical growth in sales by online vendors, particularly this year during the coronavirus pandemic, the EAC calls for online marketplaces to collect products and pay for their recycling to create a level playing field with physical retailers and producers that are not selling on their platforms."

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Posted on 27 November 2020 | 9:05 pm

WHO Says Would be 'Highly Speculative' To Say COVID Did Not Emerge in China

The World Health Organization's top emergency expert said on Friday it would be "highly speculative" for the WHO to say the coronavirus did not emerge in China, where it was first identified in a food market in December last year. From a report: China is pushing a narrative via state media that the virus existed abroad before it was discovered in the central city of Wuhan, citing the presence of coronavirus on imported frozen food packaging and scientific papers claiming it had been circulating in Europe last year. "I think it's highly speculative for us to say that the disease did not emerge in China," Mike Ryan said at a virtual briefing in Geneva after being asked if COVID-19 could have first emerged outside China. "It is clear from a public health perspective that you start your investigations where the human cases first emerged," he added, saying that evidence might then lead to other places.

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Posted on 27 November 2020 | 8:06 pm

Huge Reservoir of Fresh Water Found Beneath the Sea Off Hawaii

A huge cache of fresh water found beneath the sea floor off the western coast of Hawaii's Big Island could lift the threat of drought for people living there. From a report, submitted by reader schwit1: Eric Attias at the University of Hawaii and his colleagues discovered the reservoir, which is contained in porous rock reaching at least 500 metres beneath the sea floor, using an imaging technique similar to an MRI scan. They used a boat towing a 40-metre-long antenna behind it to generate an electromagnetic field, sending an electric current through the sea and below the sea floor. As seawater is a better conductor than fresh water, the team could distinguish between the two. They found that the reservoir extends at least 4 kilometres from the coast and contains 3.5 cubic kilometres of fresh water. Most of Hawaii's fresh water comes from onshore aquifers, which are layers of rock and soil underground that collect water after rainfall. The team believes that this newfound reservoir is replenished by water flowing out of these aquifers.

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Posted on 27 November 2020 | 7:02 pm

China Rises as World's Data Superpower as Internet Fractures

Back in 2001, the U.S. was the dominant country when it came to cross-border data flows. It was the early days of the internet boom, and America was where tech companies and tech-savvy consumers were. But the global data order is changing rapidly. From a report: China now accounts for 23% of cross-border data flows, nearly twice the share of the U.S., which ranks a distant second with 12%. And the Chinese lead could turn into a dominant advantage as the formerly world-spanning internet shatters into the "splinternet": a balkanized mosaic of information networks marked off by national borders. A Nikkei survey of information on cross-border data flows from the International Telecommunication Union and U.S. research firm TeleGeography showed that cross-border data flows of China, including Hong Kong, in 2019 far outstripped any of the other 10 countries and regions examined, including the U.S. (Click here for a graphic-rich version of this article.) The source of Beijing's power lies in its connections with the rest of Asia. While the U.S. accounted for 45% of data flows in and out of China in 2001, that figure dropped to just 25% last year. Asian countries now make up more than half the total, particularly Vietnam at 17% and Singapore at 15%. Beijing has used its Belt and Road infrastructure initiative to encourage private-sector tech companies like Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings to expand abroad. Alibaba spinoff Ant Group's Alipay mobile payment platform is available in more than 55 countries and used by 1.3 billion people. China surged past the U.S. in 2014, and its influence outside its borders has only grown in the ensuing years. What does that mean? As China becomes a global data superpower, it will control huge quantities of a resource that will be invaluable to its future economic competitiveness. Data from foreign sources can provide an edge in developing artificial intelligence and information technologies.

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Posted on 27 November 2020 | 6:05 pm

'Tokenized': Inside Black Workers' Struggles at the King of Crypto Start-Ups

Nathaniel Popper, reporting for The New York Times: One by one, they left. Some quit. Others were fired. All were Black. The 15 people worked at Coinbase, the most valuable U.S. cryptocurrency start-up, where they represented roughly three-quarters of the Black employees at the 600-person company. Before leaving in late 2018 and early 2019, at least 11 of them informed the human resources department or their managers about what they said was racist or discriminatory treatment, five people with knowledge of the situation said. One of the employees was Alysa Butler, 25, who worked in recruiting. During her time at Coinbase, she said, she told her manager several times about how he and others excluded her from meetings and conversations, making her feel invisible. "Most people of color working in tech know that there's a diversity problem," said Ms. Butler, who resigned in April 2019. "But I've never experienced anything like Coinbase." In Silicon Valley, where entrepreneurs and investors often preach high-minded missions and style themselves as management gurus, Coinbase has held itself up as a model. Since the start-up was founded in 2012, Brian Armstrong, the chief executive, has assembled memos and blog posts about how he built the $8 billion company's culture with distinct hiring and training practices. That has won him acclaim among influential venture capitalists and executives. But according to 23 current and former Coinbase employees, five of whom spoke on the record, as well as internal documents and recordings of conversations, the start-up has long struggled with its management of Black employees. One Black employee said her manager suggested in front of colleagues that she was dealing drugs and carrying a gun, trading on racist stereotypes. Another said a co-worker at a recruiting meeting broadly described Black employees as less capable. Still another said managers spoke down to her and her Black colleagues, adding that they were passed over for promotions in favor of less experienced white employees. The accumulation of incidents, they said, led to the wave of departures. On Wednesday, before publication of this article, Emilie Choi, Coinbase's chief operating officer, wrote an email to employees to preemptively question the article's accuracy and said, "We know the story will recount episodes that will be difficult for employees to read." The company posted the email to its public blog. "As Brian shared with the ColorBlock ERG this morning, we don't care what The New York Times thinks. "

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Posted on 27 November 2020 | 5:00 pm

India Enters Recession as Virus Pummels No. 3 Asian Economy

India entered an unprecedented recession with the economy contracting in the three months through September due to the lingering effects of lockdowns to contain the Covid-19 outbreak. From a report: Gross domestic product declined 7.5% last quarter from a year ago, the Statistics Ministry said Friday. That was milder than an 8.2% drop forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey, and and a marked improvement from a record 24% contraction the previous quarter. Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed one of the world's strictest lockdowns in March, sapping demand for non-essential goods and services. Despite the measures to stem the pandemic, the country is now home to the second-highest Covid-19 infections after the U.S. at 9.3 million cases. The second straight quarterly decline in GDP, pushes Asia's third-largest economy into its first technical recession in records going back to 1996. Financial and real estate services -- among the biggest component of India's dominant services sector -- shrank 8.1% last quarter from a year ago, while trade, hotels, transport and communication declined 15.6%. Manufacturing gained 0.6%, electricity and gas expanded 4.4% and agriculture grew 3.4%.

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Posted on 27 November 2020 | 4:02 pm

Leaf-Cutter Ants Have Rocky Crystal Armor, Never Before Seen in Insects

Leaf-cutter ants are named for their Herculean feats: they chomp foliage and carry unwieldy pieces, like green flags many times their size, long distances to their colonies. There they chew up the leaves to feed underground fungus farms. Along the way, the insects brave all manner of predators -- and regularly engage in wars with other ants. But these insects are even tougher than previously thought. From a report: A new study shows that one Central American leaf-cutter ant species has natural armor that covers its exoskeleton. This shield-like coating is made of calcite with high levels of magnesium, a type found only in one other biological structure: sea urchin teeth, which can grind limestone. Bones and teeth of many animals contain calciferous minerals, and crustaceans, such as crabs and lobsters, have mineralized shells and other body parts. But before this finding, no type of calcite had been found in any adult insect. In leaf-cutter ants, this coating is made of thousands of tiny, plate-like crystals that harden their exoskeleton. This "armor" helps prevent the insects from losing limbs in battles with other ants and staves off fungal infections, according to a paper published November 24 in the journal Nature Communications. The discovery is especially surprising because the ants are well known. "There are thousands of papers on leaf-cutter ants," says study co-author Cameron Currie, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "We were really excited to find [this in] one of the most well-studied insects in nature," he says. Though this paper looked only at one species, Acromyrmex echinatior, Currie and colleagues suspect other related ants have the biomineral too.

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Posted on 27 November 2020 | 3:09 pm

Dyson Pledges New Investment Into AI, Robotics and Batteries

Dyson will invest an additional 2.75bn pound ($3.67 billion) on developing technologies and products over the next five years [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source], as the appliances brand pushes deeper into areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics and energy storage. From a report: The company founded by billionaire James Dyson and famous for its vacuum cleaners said it intended to double its portfolio of products by 2025 and enter new fields, taking it "beyond the home" for the first time. Although it did not provide any breakdown of the investments, they will be focused in Singapore, where the group controversially decided to move its headquarters last year, as well as the UK and the Philippines. The announcement comes more than a year after Dyson abandoned its ambitious plans to manufacture an electric vehicle from scratch in the Asian city-state. Sir James had hoped that the EV project would redefine his business but, after spending hundreds of millions of pounds, concluded that it was too expensive to compete against established carmakers.

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Posted on 27 November 2020 | 2:07 pm

UK To Set Up 'Pro-Competition' Regulator To Put Limits on Big Tech

The UK is moving ahead with a plan to regulate big tech, responding to competition concerns over a 'winner takes all' dynamic in digital markets. From a report: It will set up a new Digital Market Unit (DMU) to oversee a "pro-competition" regime for Internet platforms -- including those funded by online advertising, such as Facebook and Google -- the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced today. It's moving at a clip -- with the new Unit slated to begin work in April. Although the necessary law to empower the new regulator to make interventions will take longer. The government said it will consult on the Unit's form and function in early 2021 -- and legislate "as soon as parliamentary time allows." A core part of the plan is a new statutory Code of Conduct aimed at giving platform users more choice and third party businesses more power over the intermediaries that host and monetize them. The government suggests the code could require tech giants to allow users to opt out of behavioral advertising entirely -- something Facebook's platform, for example, does not currently allow. It also wants the code to support the sustainability of the news industry by "rebalancing" the relationship between publishers and platform giants, as it puts it.

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Posted on 27 November 2020 | 12:45 pm