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InfoSec News Nuggets 09/08/2020

Apple delays privacy feature to opt out of online ad tracking until 2021

Apple is delaying the rollout of a proposed privacy tweak in iOS 14 that allows users to opt out of ad tracking until early next year. In a statement shared with TechCrunch and The Information, the iPhone maker said it’s doing so “to give developers the time they need to make the necessary changes.” The exact date when the policy would be enforced is expected to be announced later. iOS 14, which is due in a couple of weeks, is all set to make device identifiers (called IDFA or “Identifier for Advertisers”) — a distinct, randomly generated code assigned to every iPhone and iPad — obsolete by requiring that third-party apps seek explicit consent from users before using the unique IDs for tracking their activities across other apps and websites. But the privacy-centric feature has drawn criticism from advertising companies who say the move would make it harder to deliver targeted ads to users.


When classes are online, how do you get out of school? Florida teen cuffed, charged after crashing cyber-lessons

A teenager in America has apparently admitted knocking virtual learning classes offline with a string of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. The unnamed 16-year-old was arrested and charged with “computer use in an attempt to defraud,” a third-degree felony, and “interference with an educational institution,” a second-degree misdemeanor. The teen is a junior at South Miami Senior High School in the Miami-Dade Public Schools system in Florida. Due to being a minor, their name and case file is not public. The school district said the kid admitted carrying out eight DDoS attacks since the school year began on August 31.


Facebook curbs political ads – for 7 days before US election

Bracing for a contentious election with no immediate results and possible “civil unrest,” Facebook is enacting a host of measures to ensure its platform is not used to sow chaos and spread misinformation before, during and after the U.S. presidential election. But it’s not clear the changes are enough. The company said Thursday it will restrict new political ads in the week before the election and remove posts that convey misinformation about COVID-19 and voting. It will also attach links with official results to posts by candidates and campaigns that prematurely declare victory. “This election is not going to be business as usual. We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on Thursday. “That means helping people register and vote, clearing up confusion about how this election will work, and taking steps to reduce the chances of violence and unrest.”


Apple’s ‘Fortnite’ takedown will cause incalculable harm to users, says Epic

Epic has petitioned courts once more in its antitrust battle with Apple over the App Store, arguing “Fortnite” should be reinstated to the digital storefront and protected from further retaliation, with the game already seeing 60% of its iOS users departing since the store takedown. The ongoing legal tussle between Apple and Epic Games over whether Apple should allow third-party payment processing and to grant Epic its own digital storefront has moved on to a new phase. Late on Friday, Epic’s latest filing with the US District Court for the Northern District of California, Oakland Division spells out its arguments against Apple’s activity, as well as formally filing a motion for an injunction limiting Apple’s actions against the company.


With a Simple Piece of Paper, Engineers Create Self-Powered, Wireless Keyboard

Engineers at Purdue University have developed a printing process that can turn an ordinary sheet of paper into a Bluetooth-connected, self-powered, wireless, interactive keyboard or keypad. First, the team takes a plain old sheet of paper with a typical alphabetical keyboard, numeric keypad or even piano keys printed on it and places coats it with a neon-green, omniphobic solution, which repels just about everything, including dust, water and oil, reports Gizmodo’s Victoria Song. The solution dries clear, and then the engineers can “print” circuit layers over the page without smearing the ink, according to a press release. The layers are constructed to be triboelectric, meaning friction generates its electricity. Essentially, each time a “key” is pressed, energy is produced, so the paper-based tablet is totally self-powered.


These students figured out their tests were graded by AI — and the easy way to cheat

On Monday, Dana Simmons came downstairs to find her 12-year-old son, Lazare, in tears. He’d completed the first assignment for his seventh-grade history class on Edgenuity, an online platform for virtual learning. He’d received a 50 out of 100. That wasn’t on a practice test — it was his real grade. “He was like, I’m gonna have to get a 100 on all the rest of this to make up for this,” said Simmons in a phone interview with The Verge. “He was totally dejected.” At first, Simmons tried to console her son. “I was like well, you know, some teachers grade really harshly at the beginning,” said Simmons, who is a history professor herself. Then, Lazare clarified that he’d received his grade less than a second after submitting his answers. A teacher couldn’t have read his response in that time, Simmons knew — her son was being graded by an algorithm.


Researchers create ‘unhackable’ quantum network

An international research team, led by the scientists at University of Bristol, claims to have developed a prototype city-wide quantum network, which could be used to send completely secure and unhackable messages over the internet. The researchers say their prototype is the largest-ever quantum network of its kind, with the potential to serve millions of people by enabling them to share encryption keys for their messages. Quantum communication systems are considered to be more secure than conventional networks as they rely on the quantum properties of photons, rather than computer code that can be cracked by hackers. However, such systems are very complex and expensive to make.

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