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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 6th Nov 2017

yuri milner portrait gettyYuri Milner. Getty

  • The "Paradise Papers" show that the Kremlin invested millions into Twitter and Facebook via two major state-owned companies.
  • The money was invested through Yuri Milner, a Russian-American billionaire tech investor who is also associated with Jared Kushner.
  • Milner sold his holdings in both companies years ago and has no apparent connection to Russia's propaganda campaign that took place during the 2016 election.
  • Still, the revelations bear significance because, as one expert put it, "Kremlin-connected institutions make investments with strategic interests in mind."


Newly-leaked documents show that the Kremlin invested hundreds of millions of dollars into Twitter and Facebook through a business associate of President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

According to the "Paradise Papers" — a trove of more than 13 million internal documents released Sunday that show how the world's wealthiest use offshore tax havens — two Russian state-owned entities with close ties to Vladimir Putin invested money into Facebook and Twitter through the Russian-American tech investor Yuri Milner. 

Milner currently holds a stake in a real-estate project that was founded and is partially owned by Kushner. When Kushner first joined the Trump administration, he failed to disclose his holdings in the project. 

Russia's state-owned VTB Bank gave Milner $191 million to invest in Twitter, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which obtained the Paradise Papers. The bank, according to The New York Times, frequently embarks on "politically strategic deals."

Documents also show that Gazprom Investholding, the financial arm of the Russian state-operated energy firm Gazprom, backed a company affiliated with Milner which owned approximately $1 billion in Facebook stock shortly before it went public in 2012. 

Gazprom is one of Russia's largest energy companies and Putin is said to wield significant influence over the firm, which is stacked with the Russian leader's allies and associates. 

When all was said and done, Milner owned roughly 8% of Facebook and 5% of Twitter, according to The Times. He sold his holdings in both social-media companies years ago, and there is no evidence that he was connected to Russia's widespread propaganda campaign on the two platforms during the 2016 election. He also told the ICIJ that he was not aware of Gazprom Investholding's involvement in his investments, and that none of his deals were related to politics. 

Commercial interests and state interest 'go hand in hand' for Russia

Vladimir PutinVladimir Putin. Mikhail Klimentyev/Pool Photo via AP, File

Despite that, revelations that two major Russian state-owned entities pursued financial interests in Facebook and Twitter do bear some significance. 

"Kremlin-connected institutions make investments with strategic interests in mind — not just commercial interests but state interests as well," Michael Carpenter, who served as Russia director on the National Security Council during the Obama administration, told The Times on Sunday. "They go hand in hand."

Carpenter added that Russian oligarchs who receive financial support from Russian banks must be above a certain "political threshold, meaning such support requires the explicit or tacit approval of those at the top of Russia's crony capitalist system."

Facebook and Twitter have taken center stage in recent weeks, particularly after it emerged in September that Russian "trolls" used the platforms to organize divisive rallies and spread misinformation to sow discord among the American public leading up to the election. Last week, lawyers representing the two companies and Google testified before the House and Senate intelligence committees about Russia's election meddling. 

As part of their investigation into Russia's interference, congressional intelligence committees and the FBI are also looking into whether the Russians had help from any members of the Trump campaign. Brad Parscale, who served as the campaign's digital director, testified before the House Intelligence Committee in a closed-door session in late October. 

Kushner, who managed the campaign's data operation along with Parscale, is also a subject of interest to the committees and to special counsel Robert Mueller. 

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 1st Nov 2017

Declan Cashin1 November 2017

Cheeky cigarette breaks are a common feature of all office environments - but non-smokers in one firm are taking a stand against colleagues who disappear for regular trips outside to light up.

The Japanese firm Piala Inc has decided to give non-smoking staff six extra paid leave days a year after they complained they were working longer hours than their cigarette-craving counterparts.

The initial complaint arose when non-smokers noticed that, because their office was located on the 29th floor of an office block, each colleague's smoking break was lasting around 15 minutes in all.

"One of our non-smoking staff put a message in the company suggestion box earlier in the year saying that smoking breaks were causing problems," said company spokesperson Hirotaka Matsushima.

CEO, Takao Asuka, added: "I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion."

The holiday-compensation policy was only introduced in September, but it's already proved popular with staff, with around 30 out of 120 employees having taken extra days off.

Unsurprisingly, non-smokers appear to be in favour of the holiday-for-smoking-breaks scheme.

magdalena osumi @jt_mag_os

Yay. I think it’s fair. I used to work with people who spent more time on breaks. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/10/31/national/jaoanese-firms-introducing-anti-smoking-measures-including-incentives/ …

14:25 - 31 Oct 2017

More Japanese firms introducing anti-smoking measures, including incentives | The Japan Times

An increasing number of companies are stepping up efforts to protect employees from the health hazard of cigarettes as the central and local governments st

japantimes.co.jp

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TWITTER

JoshBOOa Zitser 🎃 ✔@mrjoshz

This is actually a real smart idea http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/10/30/non-smokers-get-six-days-extra-paid-leave-make-smokers-cigarette/ …

09:44 - 30 Oct 2017 · London, England

Non-smokers get six days extra paid leave to make up for smokers' cigarette breaks at Japanese firm

A Japanese company is granting non-smoking employees an extra six days of paid holidays a year after they complained that they were working more than staff who took time off for cigarette breaks.

telegraph.co.uk

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TWITTER

It turns out smoking breaks are a serious business. One 2014 report from the British Heart Foundation found that lost productivity from people taking four 10-minute smoking breaks a day cost UK businesses £8.4 billion annually - that's an average of £1,815 a year per employee who smokes during the working day.

So maybe the Japanese firm is onto something?

 

That said, missing out on the daily smoking break might mean you're missing out on vital office intel. Remember the episode of Friends where Rachel takes up cigarettes just to get ahead at work?...

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Rachelle Harper @___Rachelle___

That episode in Friends where Rachel takes up smoking just so tht she doesn't alienate herself from the team... 

12:20 - 31 Mar 2014

Twitter Ads information and privacy

TWITTER

As for the legal small print about breaks in the UK, if employees work longer than six hours a day, they're entitled to one uninterrupted 20 minute rest break. That could be a tea break or lunch break, and whether or not it's paid depends on your contract.

On top of that, managers can say when you take rest breaks during work time as long as"the break is taken in one go somewhere in the middle of the day (not at the beginning or end). Workers are allowed to spend it away from their desk or workstation (i.e. away from where they actually work)."

But what about the odd smoking break?

The government's official rulings on rest breaks is pretty clear... "Unless a worker’s employment contract says so, they don’t have the right to take smoking breaks [or] get paid for rest breaks."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 31st Oct 2017

Facebook and WhatsApp iconsImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

WhatsApp and Facebook will be scrutinised by a data protection taskforce, after they were accused of "non-compliance" with EU laws.

The regulators took issue with the messaging app's plan to share user data with parent company Facebook.

A group of watchdogs and regulators from EU nations, known as the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, said WhatsApp had not fixed issues raised.

WhatsApp and Facebook have yet to reply to the BBC's request for comment.

Facebook bought the messaging app in 2014 and pledged to keep it independent from its social network.

However, in August 2016, it announced plans to share user data with its parent company to offer up "friend suggestions" and "more relevant ads".

At the time, the move was criticised by the UK's Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, who said she did not believe the firm had obtained valid consent from its users.

In its newest letter to WhatsApp chief executive Jan Koum, the Working Party said "the information presented to users was seriously deficient as a means to inform their consent".

It said:

  • the pop-up notice on WhatsApp did not make it clear that users' personal data would be shared with Facebook
  • WhatApp gave a "misleading impression" to users by saying the privacy policy had been updated to "reflect new features"
  • that using a pre-ticked check box to accept the new terms did not indicate "unambiguous consent"
  • the company failed to offer "sufficiently granular user controls" to let people opt out of data sharing

Both Facebook and WhatsApp have been invited to meet with the taskforce, which will be led by the UK's information commissioner.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 31st Oct 2017

HMRC have updated their list of examples of websites, emails, letters, text messages and phone calls used by scammers and fraudsters to obtain individual's personal information.

The guidance can be used to help you decide if a contact from HMRC is genuine, this guidance provides examples of the different methods that fraudsters use to get individuals to disclose personal information.

You can also read about how to recognise genuine contact from HMRC, and how to tell when an email is phishing/bogus.

Internet link: GOV.UK phishing-and-bogus-emails-HMRC

Source: burrows-scarborough.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 31st Oct 2017

October 31, 2017 from Liz  Mobile Phone & Tablet

The malicious Android malware LokiBot has been spotted by security researchers and is particularly unpleasant. LokiBot is the first Hybrid Android Malware and it is actually a lot more than just malware.

Read on to find out why LokiBot is so dangerous. 

According to information from the security company Sfylab, LokiBot is currently available on the dark web for market for around £1500 worth of bitcoin – including updates. Experts are not sure on how the malware is getting onto Android phones.

Malware Lokibot

Malware LokiBot retaliates when you try to remove it.

Android malware LokiBot fights back

No one likes malware or other malicious software on their smartphone or computer. If you have been infected, you need to try to get rid of the intruder. It is quite difficult to do with this particular malware, as it defends itself against any attempts to remove it.

The malware begins as a new banking trojan but can turn into ransomware if the user tries to remove its admin privileges.  So it is no longer just a malware, it then encrypts data and locks the device.

Android malware Lokibot is scam software

Basically, LokiBot is a scam software that uses overlays for banking apps and some other software to try to get money out of users. It tries to do this, by collecting personal information. In all, the attackers have targeted around 100 banking apps.

The apps affected by the overlays include Lloyds Bank Mobile Banking, Halifax, HSBC and TSB Mobile Banking. A full list can be found here.  In addition, the malware steals contact information, sends SMS messages and fakes notifications from other apps for phishing attacks.All Android devices from version 4.0 upwards are affected. LokiBot gets admin rights and begins its “work”. How and to what extent LokiBot has spread, is still unclear.

Android malware LokiBot with alarm

The Android Malware LokiBot also has an alarm function. It gets set off when you try to uninstall the malware with antivirus software. But it also is tripped if you want to withdraw the admin rights. Then LokiBot transforms from malware to a blackmail Trojan.

LokiBot starts encrypting the data on the SD card and asks for a ransom payment for decryption. This is currently between £60 and £80. Until this is paid, access to the device is blocked. However LokiBot is not fully functioning yet. It fails to encrypt data correctly and the files are merely renamed. However the device lock does work fully. So although it fails at encrypting files, it succeeds at getting a ransom from users.

For more information about LokiBot , see Criminals are selling LokiBotTurns into RansomwareLokiBot Malware and LokiBot Android. In general, you will be well equipped with the latest anti-virus software against viruses, worms and malware. Be sure to come to your TrustATec partner . Our security check finds vulnerabilities on your computer and with our virus software for Android smartphones and / or tablets, we will prevent malicious attacks.

 

Source: blog.trustatec.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 31st Oct 2017

 

Facebook

Zuckerberg himself famously taped over his camera, but should you also watch what you say around your mic?

Spend enough time on the internet and you’ll eventually see ads targeted specifically to you. Facebook is no different. Watch a trailer for Justice League and you’ll start seeing ads for comic books or other superhero movies. Many of you likely didn’t realize it was happening for some time after it started. It’s a system we’ve basically accepted as part of our daily lives, but some people are now theorizing that Facebook might be using a computer’s microphone to mine your conversations for ads.

The BBC reports that PJ Vogt, who presents a tech podcast called Reply All, sent out a tweet calling for people’s stories regarding why they believe Facebook may be listening in on their conversations for the purposes of ad targeting.

Rob Goldman, Facebook’s VP of ads, chimed in to reassure people that Facebook does not use people’s mics as a way of spying on them.

26 Oct

PJ Vogt  ✔@PJVogt

Reply All is taking phone calls today. Call us if you believe that Facebook uses your mic to spy on you for ad reasons. 3PM ET. 917-267-5180

 Follow

Rob Goldman @robjective

I run ads product at Facebook. We don't - and have never - used your microphone for ads. Just not true.

6:39 PM - Oct 26, 2017

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Despite Goldman’s comments, Vogt got hundreds of replies to his tweet.

26 Oct

PJ Vogt  ✔@PJVogt

Reply All is taking phone calls today. Call us if you believe that Facebook uses your mic to spy on you for ad reasons. 3PM ET. 917-267-5180

 Follow

kelley @kelleyblythe_

I have been talking about getting a cat. I didn't post about it anywhere but I DID start seeing ads for cat food.

6:17 PM - Oct 26, 2017

Twitter Ads info and privacy

26 Oct

PJ Vogt  ✔@PJVogt

Reply All is taking phone calls today. Call us if you believe that Facebook uses your mic to spy on you for ad reasons. 3PM ET. 917-267-5180

 Follow

Jeff @tiger187126

i wish i would have been more scientific about it, but when i was using facebook we would get ads we didn't search for, but talked about.

6:06 PM - Oct 26, 2017

Twitter Ads info and privacy

A coworker got an ad saying “so you popped the question!” minutes after he proposed, before he told anyone it had happened

— Tori Hoover (@torihoover) October 27, 2017

Despite the many responses that Vogt received, there isn’t much, if any, concrete proof that Facebook uses people’s mics to spy on them.

As for why Vogt’s Tweet got so much attention, one explanation is that it is simply a matter of coincidence. The ads might have been there the entire time and people simply didn’t notice them at first.

Facebook isn’t the only company to come under fire for this issue. Many people believe that smartphones are being used by companies as a means of collecting information on consumers.

Source: digitaltrends.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 31st Oct 2017

Boring Company's first photo

The Boring Company

It's impossible to say if Musk's ambitious plan will ever become a fully fledged system, but the Boring Company is certainly making progress.

Yes, it’s definitely a tunnel. Elon Musk has just posted the very first photo of a tunnel dug by his Boring Companybeneath the streets of Los Angeles as the billionaire entrepreneur goes after his dream of building a subterranean — and speedy — transportation system to help reduce traffic congestion on the busy streets above.

Snapped over the weekend, the image shows something far beyond a simple muddy hole that some of you may have been expecting to see. Rather, it’s clear the team has been doing some serious work on its debut tunnel, fully building out the section with all the necessary bells and whistles.

Musk, a man who certainly isn’t shy about championing grand ideas, first mentioned his futuristic boring plan last year, one that apparently came to him while stuck in his car on a gridlocked freeway.

“Traffic is driving me nuts,” he tweetedin December, 2016. “Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…” At the time, no one knew what on earth he was talking about. They do now.

The project, if it’s carried through to completion, will involve building a sprawling network of tunnels criss-crossing the city. Vehicles would be carried through the tunnels aboard track-based electric sleds at speeds of up to 150 mph. A vehicle and its occupants would be lowered from street level onto the sled, while cyclists and pedestrians would use the system by stepping into large pods available for public use. The sleds would switch from the main tunnel to side tunnels to exit and enter the main artery in order to keep the system moving. “This is a big difference compared to subways that stop at every stop, whether you’re getting off or not,” Musk said.

On his Instagram page where he posted the tunnel photo, Musk said the Boring Company‘s first route will go “roughly parallel” to Interstate 405 from Los Angeles international airport to Route 101, “with on/off ramps every mile or so.” Right now the tunnel is 500 feet long (152 meters), though it should reach around two miles (3.2 km) within about four months.

Musk’s partly completed tunnel confirms his determination to make the project happen, though those stuck in gridlock on a daily basis in L.A. will have to wait years for a usable network to evolve, if it ever does. Indeed, to build a truly effective system is going to require not only huge sums of money, but also years of disruptive construction work across the city, leaving Musk having to persuade the authorities that the project really is worth pursuing. This initial tunnel is seen as a test bed for the grander plan.

Source: digitaltrends.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 31st Oct 2017

exoskeletons military

 

The term “exoskeleton” conjures up sci-fi scenes – think Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, or Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt battling aliens on repeat in Edge of TomorrowSoldiers will surely man these mechanical machines someday, but many of the first exosuits will be developed for civilian use, from first responders pulling through rubble to laborers who could use a little extra support for their heavy lifting.

By 2020, robotics company Sarcos hopes to see workers climb into its line of fully-powered exoskeletons, designed to give people superhuman strength and endurance, while allowing them to repetitively lift large objects and minimize risk of injury. The company demoed some of its machines at its headquarters in Salt Lake City last week.

“We’re focused developing robots to augment human safety and productivity,” Ben Wolff, CEO of Sarcos, told Digital Trends. “This idea that we’ve got the ability to have a human either wearing or remotely operating a machine so that there’s always a human mind engaged in the decision-making process that is then instructing a robot that is stronger, with more stamina and greater precision, doing the real work.”

exoskeletons arm detail

exoskeletons snake stairs

 

exoskeletons snake rocks

exoskeletons detail

 

Sarcos plans to offer three exoskeletons over the next few years, each giving wearers a different degree of strength and endurance support. The Guardian XO will let wearers lift 80 pounds, the Guardian XO Max will max out at 200 pounds, and the Guardian GT — a monster of a machine with seven-foot arms — will handle upwards of 1,000 pounds. Both the GT and XO Max can be controlled by an operator who is either remote or riding in the machine.

To keep wearers safe, the Salt Lake City company has developed a patented system it calls “get out of the way control,” which will make sure the suit doesn’t accidentally squish a person inside.

“The suit and your body interact like two opposing magnets.”

“Imagine the suit and your body interacting with one another in the way that two opposing magnets would,” Wolff explained. “Through its sensor system, the suit is programmed to maintain a very small but very specific amount of distance from contact with your body. As a result, as you begin to move, swing your leg forward, it immediately moves to keep the front of the machine leg away from the front of your leg.”

Automation is bound to impact every worker in every industry. But rather than going fully automated, many tasks — particularly those that are performed in unstructured environments — may instead be performed by human workers augmented by machines. The goal here is to maintain a human’s cognitive flexibility with a machine’s strength and resilience.

“As soon as you move into a more unstructured environment where … you’re on a construction site and have to lift heavy items from one floor to the next in a one-off activity, not a lot of high repetition, that’s where it becomes far more challenging to find how automation to take control,” Wolff said. “The number of algorithms, sensors, awareness that a machine has to have to deal with the thousands of different variables…is simply far too advanced to rely on a computer and algorithm to help a robot decide what it needs to do.”

sarcos unveils exoskeletons exosuit controller

“For now,” he added, “let’s take the best of what a human being can offer, such as wisdom, judgement, intelligence, and instincts, and combine that with the best of what a robot can offer, in terms of strength, endurance, and precision.”

Like all companies that specialize in building the future, Sarcos is looking to stand out from competitors and thinks its full-body, fully-powered, and untethered machines will be a game changer. Hyundai, for example, is developing a full-body suit that needs to be tethered for full power, while companies like Panasonic and SuitX are developing smaller and untethered suits, which help give a wearer physical support and added strength, but don’t restrict the wearer’s freedom to roam.

Sarcos hasn’t offered an exact price for its exoskeletons yet, but Wolff says, “The cost to the user would be roughly equivalent to the cost of a fully-loaded salary employee in the $50,000 per year range … The one human operator plus our robot would cost roughly that of two human employees, but will allow for far fewer injuries and enhanced productivity.”

The company hopes to have the XO suits ready for commercial sale in 2019 and is currently taking preorders for custom-built GTs.

Source: digitaltrends.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 24th Oct 2017

Discus Insight

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www.discus.co.uk
0800 880 3360 

Source: discus.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 24th Oct 2017

google offers rewards to white hat hackers hacker  hacking symbol

WHY IT MATTERS TO YOU

These programs offer a way for hackers to earn legitimate money while helping to keep your devices secure.

Need some extra cash? Then good news! Google is offering $1,000 to people who can hack popular Android apps. In a partnership with HackerOne and several popular Android developers, Google has launched the Google Play Security Program. The tech giant has offered similar bounty programs before, but this is the first time that it has partnered with individual developers. Currently, 13 of the most popular app developers are part of the program. The program includes Tinder, Duolingo, DropBox, Snapchat, Head Space, MyMail, and several others.

The rules for the program are fairly simple. Once you discover a bug or vulnerability in one of the participating apps, you simply report it to the developers and work with them to fix the issue. Once the issue has been resolved, the app developers will pay you, and then Google will chip in a $1,000 bonus on top of whatever you were already paid.

In addition, Gooogle will be collecting data and sharing it with other app developers in order to help them address similar issues. This does mean that the rewards will be handled on a first-come-first-serve basis. If multiple people discover a problem, Google will only reward the first person to submit the issue.

Currently, this program is only available to 13 app developers, but if it proves successful, Google may expand it to others.

Bug bounties such as this are nothing new and so-called “white hat” hackers can make a decent living working with tech companies to resolve security issues. Both tech and video games companies are offering rewards to those who are able to hack their services and hardware. Such programs provide a way for hackers to make a living while helping to keep people’s personal data safe.

One of the largest bug bounties was offered by Microsoft. In 2015, the company increased its bug bounty reward from $50,00 to $100,000. If you want to make similar money while still helping out Google, then you’ll be glad to know the company is offering $100,000 to those who can pull off a major Chromebook hack. The stipulation that the hacker pull off a “persistent compromise” of a Chromebook in guest mode.

Source: digitaltrends.com
 
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