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By Ather Fawaz
Russian hackers are attacking Tokyo 2020 Olympics, says Microsoft
by Ather Fawaz
Today, Microsoft has claimed that Russian state-sponsored hacker group Strontium (Fancy Bear/APT28) has been involved in cyberattacks targeting sporting and anti-doping organizations. The Redmond giant's Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC), which is responsible for monitoring, identifying, and reporting cybercrimes, mentioned the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games being in the crosshairs.
According to the team, "at least 16 national and international sporting and anti-doping organizations across three continents were targeted in these attacks which began September 16th." Strontium's attacks, which were largely successful, were conducted using techniques like password spray, spear-phishing, exploiting devices connected to the internet, and using open-source and custom malware.
The team at Microsoft noted that the attacks were in direct correlation with the reports that Russian athletes might face a potential ban from all major sporting events following a warning by the World Anti-Doping Agency last month. This is characteristic behavior on part of Strontium, claims Microsoft, as the group of hackers tried to attack anti-doping agencies previously as well. Most notably, after the Russian team was disqualified from the 2018 Winter Olympics, Strontium was also a cog in the wheel of the Olympic Destroyer cyberattack.
To help deal with the threat posed by Strontium and considering the hype leading up to the Olympics, Microsoft believes that raising awareness and sharing significant threat activity is integral. The firm stated that "We also hope publishing this information helps raise awareness among organizations and individuals about steps they can take to protect themselves."
Additionally, Microsoft also had advice for helping users protect themselves against such attacks. The tech giant recommended using two-factor authentication for all accounts, enabling security alerts about suspicious websites, and discovering more about how to protect themselves from phishing attacks.
Google kills off its AI ethics council just a week after formation
by Paul Hill
Google has announced that it is winding down its Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) just a week after it was formed. The closure of the council comes as Heritage Foundation president Kay Coles James attracted attention over previous political comments they’d made. Additionally, the inclusion of Dyan Gibbens, CEO of Trumbull Unmanned, a drone company, was troubling to Google employees who previously spoke out against Google helping military projects.
Since the council was announced, Alessandro Acquisti announced on Twitter that he wouldn’t be participating, and Joanna Bryson, a professor at the University of Bath, initially defending her decision to stay on the board but after the closure was announced referred to herself as naive.
In a statement, Google said:
Google’s reasons for including people from all over the political spectrum was so that it could be more representative as a whole. It’ll be interesting now to see how Google plans to build an external team to ensure accountability, while also maintaining a body of people with differing views on the world.
Source: Vox via Reuters
Samsung launches the official PyeongChang 2018 app
by Paul Hill
As part of its involvement in the South Korean Winter Olympics, Samsung has announced the general availability of the official PyeongChang 2018 app. The aim of the app is to enhance the Olympic Winter Games experience “ensuring smarter communications and smoother wireless operations during the Olympic Games.”
Younghee Lee, CMO and Executive Vice President, Samsung Electronics, said:
The app will help fans keep a tab on the games by providing a trove of information; for example, you can get real-time updates, athlete and sports information, medal standings, and any records that have been set in the Olympic or Paralympic games.
For those attending the games there’s a dedicated section that contains all the important information you’ll need to know such as what transport you can take to get to the venues you’ve got tickets for and information about accommodation. Additionally, there’s an interesting exploration section to help make the most out of your visit to Korea.
The official app is available in five languages, English, Korean, French, Japanese, and Chinese. It’s available for download right now on the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store.
Samsung announces Winter Olympics Galaxy Note8
by Paul Hill
Samsung today unveiled a limited edition Winter Olympic Galaxy Note8 devices for Olympians, Paralympians, and for the staff at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as well as those in the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG).
The phone brings all the features of the Note8 including the bezel-less 6.3 inch Infinity Display, the S Pen, and Samsung’s “best-in-class” Dual Camera. The Olympic edition features a shiny white back glass to celebrate the winter theme and has five gold rings - the symbol of the Olympic games. Paralympians will also receive a phone case with the Paralympics logo.
Younghee Lee, CMO and Executive Vice President at Samsung Electronics, said:
The phone will come loaded with Winter Olympic wallpapers and will also include pre-installed apps which Samsung says recipients will find useful to get the most out of the Olympic Games. Those who may want the special edition phone but aren’t eligible to receive one from Samsung directly should perhaps keep an eye out on eBay, where some may end up inevitably, albeit with a premium price tag.
Today's Google Doodle celebrates the Olympics with fruity mini games
by Justin Luna
Today marks the start of the Rio Olympics 2016, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. And to commemorate the historic annual event, Google has unveiled a special Google Doodle, dubbed as '2016 Doodle Fruit Games', which contains a set of sweet (pun intended) mini games.
The Doodle features fruits from an "unassuming fruit stand in Rio", as Google puts it, where produce from all over the market compete for the title of the "freshest fruit."
The Doodle lets users play as anthropomorphized fruits in a series of sports events. They can run as a strawberry, play tennis as a pineapple, do some backstroke swimming as a lemon, and cycle around a track as a kiwi, among many other fun games.
To be able to activate the mini games, one has to have the Google app installed. Once done, users will see the Google logo morph into a doodle with a strawberry and a play sign upon opening it. Then, users will be led into seven games, which as said above, consists of a few Olympics-inspired sports events.
Players will then be awarded stars based on how well they performed, and can earn a maximum of three stars per game. Once a game is completed, they can share their scores to their friends on social networks. As a bonus, the games include fun facts about fruits, like how strawberries are the only fruit with seeds on the outside, and that blueberries are born with a green color.
You can have your share of fruity fun by downloading the Google app, which is available for iOS and Android.