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InfoSec News Nuggets 6/8/2020

City of Austin websites go down, hackers take credit in protest

The City of Austin’s websites went offline early Thursday morning, and a group of hackers took credit, claiming it was a protest against the Austin Police Department. The hackers known as Anonymous said they were the ones who took the city’s website, austintexas.gov, offline. This morning it appeared to just impact the user-facing web pages. The outages were intermittent throughout the morning, specifically for austintexas.gov. “We’re seeing a high volume of web traffic and the IT folks are working on it,” Green said. “It’s too early to tell an actual cause at this point.”


NYU study: Facebook’s content moderation efforts are ‘grossly inadequate’

In a scathing examination of Facebook’s content moderation strategy, a new study identifies the company’s decision to outsource such work as a key reason its efforts are failing. The NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights released a report today that calls on Facebook to end the outsourcing practice and commit to bringing the work in-house so moderation receives the resources and attention it deserves. The report also calls for a massive increase in the number of moderators, as well as improved working conditions that include better physical and mental health care for moderators who are subjected to disturbing content throughout the workday.


How these open-source software developers want to give diabetics new tools to manage their condition

Many diabetics have long complained about the inadequate user interfaces, the poor interoperability and the lack of common standards they have to put up with in the technology they have to use. Tools for managing diabetes haven’t always been as user friendly as they could be, with data from continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), for example, hard to extract and analyse using other tools. Today, Tidepool has its own iOS and Android apps, as well as a web system, where users can add data about their diabetes from their CGMs and insulin pumps, including insulin use and blood glucose levels, as well as input extra details, including information on workouts. The data can be viewed by users to gain better insight into their condition, as well as shared with their clinicians. Now, the organisation has ambitions to go even further.


Brave privacy browser ‘mistake’ added affiliate links to crypto URLs

Brave, the open-source Chromium-based browser that promises elevated privacy, has been called out by users for potentially putting revenue over user trust. The company has been redirecting certain crypto company URLs typed in search bars to affiliate links and presumably taking a commission, Decrypt has reported. For instance, he typed in “binance.us” and the company replaced the term with “binance.us/en?ref=35089877,” according to Twitter user Cryptonator. The company made its name by allowing users to choose whether they want ads or not, and paying out cryptocurrency to those who allow them. However, Brave never asked permission about the search bar autocomplete, so users were outraged when it redirected direct URL inputs to an affiliate link, even though it did serve up the correct page.


Smart fridges are cool, but after a few short years you could be stuck with a big frosty brick in the kitchen

A report from consumer advocates Which? highlights the shockingly short lifespan of “smart” appliances, with some losing software support after just a few years, despite costing vastly more than “dumb” alternatives. That lifespan varies between manufacturers: Most vendors were vague, with Beko offering “up to 10 years” and LG saying patches would be issued as required. Samsung said it would offer software support for a maximum of two years, according to the report. Only one manufacturer, Miele, promised to issue software updates for a full decade after the release of a device, but then Miele tends to make premium priced products. If a manufacturer decides to withdraw software support, or switch off central servers, users could find themselves with a big, frosty brick in their kitchen. In the wider IoT world, there’s precedent for this.

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