Russia Poses Greater Election Threat Than Iran, Many U.S. Officials Say


Officials say Russia’s ability to change vote tallies nationwide would be difficult, given how disparate American elections are. The graver concern is the potential effect of any attack on a few key precincts in battleground states.

Russian hackers recently obtained access “in a couple limited cases, to election jurisdiction, an election-related network,” Christopher C. Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said on Thursday. But he was careful to note that the breaches had “nothing to do with the casting and counting” of votes.

The hackers, believed to be operating at the behest of Russia’s Federal Security Service, the F.S.B. — the successor agency to the Soviet-era K.G.B. — infiltrated dozens of state and local computer networks in recent weeks, according to officials and researchers. But Mr. Krebs said the attacks appeared to be “opportunistic” in nature, a scattershot break-in of vulnerable systems rather than an attempt to zero in on key battleground states.

But officials were alarmed by the combination of the targets, the timing — the attacks began less than two months ago — and the adversary, which is known for burrowing inside the supply chain of critical infrastructure that Russia may want to take down in the future.

The officials fear that Russia could change, delete or freeze voter registration or pollbook data, making it harder for voters to cast ballots, invalidating mail-in ballots or creating enough uncertainty to undermine results.

“It’s reasonable to assume any attempt at the election systems could be for the same purpose,” said John Hultquist, the director of threat analysis at FireEye, a security firm that has been tracking the Russian group’s foray into state and local systems. “This could be the reconnaissance for disruptive activity.”

Mr. Krebs said so far Russia was not as active as Iran, and its targeting was imprecise. “They’re broadly looking to scan for vulnerabilities, and they’re working opportunistically,” he said.



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Secy. of State Pompeo outlines efforts to contain threat from communist China


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm/Pool via AP)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 8:22 AM PT – Thursday, October 22, 2020

The United States has continued to stand-up to the People’s Republic of China with officials working to eradicate communist propaganda.

In a press briefing held in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed reporters on the growing threat of Chinese aggression. He announced his latest efforts to form a long-term dialogue between the U.S. and the EU in order to protect global stability against communist ideology.

“This Friday, the EU High Representative Josep Borrell and I will launch the U.S.-EU dialogue on China,” said the secretary. “I’m confident that the discussion will deepen our long-term engagement with EU friends on this important issue.”

Pompeo also announced the State Department will designate six Chinese media companies located in the U.S. as foreign missions in a bid to battle the spread of communist propaganda on the home-front more effectively.

“We’re pushing back on the Chinese communist propaganda efforts here at home, too,” he stated. “Today I’m announcing the State Department is designating the U.S. operations of six China-based media companies as foreign missions…they are all substantially owned or effectively controlled by a foreign government.”

Pompeo went on to the slam the Chinese Communist Party by accusing the regime of failing to abide by international rules and backing down on its commitments to other nations as well as global organizations.

The official stressed with the U.S. working with other “free nations” around the globe, more progress can be made to thwart threats raised by Communist China.

RELATED: Secy. Pompeo addresses first U.S.-UAE strategic dialogue





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Goulburn Police Station receives phone threat | Goulburn Post



news, local-news, Goulburn, police station, threat

Police have confirmed that a threat was made to Goulburn Police Station on Thursday morning. A police media spokesman would not confirm whether it had been a bomb threat but said it was made via phone at 8.30am. “The station was searched as a precaution but nothing was found,” she said. ALSO READ: Goulburn police officer found guilty of assault “Police operations are continuing as normal.” She added that the bomb squad had not attended the station. The unit has declined further comment including on why the threat was made. Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up here.

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Google break-up threat as antitrust action launched


The US Justice Department has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet Inc’s Google, accusing the $US1 trillion ($A1.4 trillion) company of illegally using its market power to fend off rivals and saying nothing is off the table, including a break-up of the internet search and advertising company.

The lawsuit, which was joined by 11 US states, marks the biggest antitrust case in a generation, comparable to the lawsuit against Microsoft Corp filed in 1998 and the 1974 case against AT&T which led to the break-up of the Bell System.

The lawsuit claims that Google acted unlawfully to maintain its position in search and search advertising on the internet and says that “absent a court order, Google will continue executing its anti-competitive strategy, crippling the competitive process, reducing consumer choice and stifling innovation”.

The complaint says that Google has nearly 90 per cent of all general search engine queries in the United States and almost 95 per cent of searches on mobile.

Attorney General Bill Barr said his investigators had found that Google does not compete on the quality of its search results but instead bought its success through payments to mobile phone makers and others.

“The end result is that no one can feasibly challenge Google’s dominance in search and search advertising,” Barr said.

When asked on a conference call if the department was seeking a break-up or another remedy, Justice Department official Ryan Shores said, “Nothing is off the table but a question of remedies is best addressed by the court after it’s had a chance to hear all the evidence”.

In its complaint, the Justice Department said that people in the US were hurt by Google’s actions.

In its “request for relief,” it said it was seeking “structural relief as needed to cure any anti-competitive harm”.

“Structural relief” in antitrust matters generally means the sale of an asset.

“Ultimately it is consumers and advertisers that suffer from less choice, less innovation and less competitive advertising prices,” the lawsuit states.

“So we are asking the court to break Google’s grip on search distribution so the competition and innovation can take hold.”

Google, whose search engine is so ubiquitous that its name has become a verb, called the lawsuit “deeply flawed,” adding that people “use Google because they choose to – not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives”.

Republican Senator Josh Hawley, a vociferous Google critic, accused the company of keeping power through “illegal means” and called the lawsuit “the most important antitrust case in a generation”.

The Microsoft lawsuit was credited with clearing the way for the explosive growth of the internet since the antitrust scrutiny prevented the company from attempting to thwart competitors.

Tuesday’s federal lawsuit marks a rare moment of agreement between US President Donald Trump’s administration and Democrats.

US Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted on September 10, using the hash tag #BreakUpBigTech, that she wanted “swift, aggressive action”.

Coming just days before the US presidential election, the filing’s timing could be seen as a political gesture since it fulfils a promise made by Trump to his supporters to hold certain companies to account for allegedly stifling conservative voices.

The complaint pointed to the billions of dollars that Google pays to smartphone makers such as Apple, Samsung and others to make Google’s search engine the default on their devices.

This means that rival search engines never get the scale they need to improve their algorithms and grow, the complaint said.

“General search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising require complex algorithms that are constantly learning which organic results and ads best respond to user queries,” the government said in its complaint.

“By using distribution agreements to lock up scale for itself and deny it to others, Google unlawfully maintains its monopolies.”

Google has faced similar legal challenges overseas.

The European Union fined Google $US1.7 billion in 2019 for stopping websites from using Google’s rivals to find advertisers, $US2.6 billion in 2017 for favouring its own shopping business in search and $US4.9 billion in 2018 for blocking rivals on its wireless Android operating system.

-AAP

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Lockdown over but not coronavirus threat


In his seventh address to the nation amid the nationwide lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday urged Indians to remain alert against the threat of coronavirus during the ongoing festive season.

“We must keep in mind that lockdown may have ended but virus is still there,” he said in a pre-recorded video messaged that was beamed across media at 6 pm.

 

Modi said that any negligence on the part of the citizens during the festival season can bring grief to families.

India is currently celebrating Navaratri and Durga Puja festivals, while it will also mark Diwali in the coming weeks.

While suggesting that the COVID-19 fatality rate in India is 83 for one million population, while figure is more than 600 in countries like USA, Brazil, Spain, he added that people must not be careless or believe that COVID-19 has ended.

The prime minister also took cognisance of the repeated violations of safety protocols, referring to various recent videos that show many people failing to take precautions against the virus.

 

If you are careless and moving around without mask, you are putting yourself, children, elderly at risk, he said.

The prime minister also asked media personnel and social media users to campaign to spread public awareness on COVID-19 guidelines.

On the question of the much anticipated COVID-19 vaccine, Modi said that the government is making all efforts to ensure that vaccine, whenever it is launched, reaches every Indian.



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The ‘cancel culture’ is a dangerous threat to our freedom – Long Island Business News


Photo by dole777 on Unsplash



Opinion: The cancel culture is weaponizing a shift in our country that has the potential to be more profound, more insidious, and far more harmful than any campaign rhetoric.







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French ski season begins under threat of COVID-19


The 2020-2021 ski season is officially underway in France, with select high altitude slopes open for business despite surging COVID-19 cases across the country.

Ski lifts going up the Grande Motte glacier at Tignes carried their first passengers of the season on Saturday, with new rules in place to help prevent a virus outbreak.

Face masks are mandatory on lifts and shuttle busses, as well as inside equipment rental shops. After the 2019-2020 season was cut short by the pandemic in March, resort managers are banking on those health protocols to keep skiers and snowboarders out on the slopes all winter long.

“We tested all the health protocols that we’ve put in place, including masks on ski lifts,” said Tignes Marketing Director, Stephie Dijkman.“There’s social distancing of course, there’s sanitizer everywhere, and the lifts are being cleaned regularly. We do recommend people to test themselves before coming out just to make sure that there are no outbreaks whilst here.”

Winter sport enthusiasts are likely to find these types of measures at any of France’s 250 ski resorts this season. But keeping the virus off of the mountain could prove difficult if case numbers continue to surge at lower altitudes. Daily infection numbers in France smashed records this week, with authorities confirming 30,621 new cases in a 24-hour period on Thursday.

France’s ski industry took a significant hit when the pandemic’s first wave of infections brought a premature end to the 2019-2020 season. That led to a 16% drop in total lift ticket sales compared to 2018-2019. Resorts are expecting the financial struggle to continue, with fewer foreign tourists expected to travel for skiing this winter.

“Currently we’re looking at 30% less business this season,” said Dijkman. “But we hope that the second wave of covid slows down and that borders will reopen soon.”

Businesses such as restaurants, bars and hotels are also preparing to feel the pinch, with virus restrictions set to change France’s après-ski traditions.

“After-ski bars and partying are over for sure, that’s clear,” said restauranteur Jean-Michel Bouvier, the owner of Panoramic on the Grand Motte Glacier. “People just need to respect the rules for everybody’s sake. Only six people at each table, we have to be careful in the evenings, that’s it.”

Those restrictions will be vital for any resort looking to avoid the reputation damage that a virus outbreak can inflict on a ski destination. One of Europe’s first “super-spreader” events of the pandemic broke out at Austria’s Ischgl ski resort in March. The resort was blamed for failing to contain the outbreak, and is now being sued over its handling of the incident. France’s ski industry and its 18,000 workers are hoping the health protocols in place this season will be enough to avoid any similar incident.

In addition to Tignes, one other French resort has opened its doors. Glacier skiing is available at Les Deux Alpes over the French Toussaint holidays until November 1. The country’s other resorts are scheduled to open for the season in late November and early December.



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Tens of Thousands March in Belarus Despite Police Threat to Open Fire


Belarusian police on Sunday detained more than 200 people as tens of thousands marched against strongman Alexander Lukashenko in defiance of police threats to open fire after weeks of demonstrations.

Crowds of demonstrators waving red-and-white opposition flags descended on a gritty industrial neighbourhood in southeast Minsk for a march along Partisan Prospect, a key transport artery and home to a number of factories.

Protesters took to the streets despite threats by police this week to use lethal force from now on “if necessary.”

Some protesters chanted “Strike!” and “You and your riot police get out!”

Belarusian authorities deployed military trucks and water cannon but police largely refrained from using riot control equipment on Sunday.

Belarusian interior ministry spokeswoman Olga Chemodanova told AFP that members of law enforcement fired off rubber bullets as a warning to protesters who threw stones at police.

Chemodanova said that more than 200 people were arrested, most of them in Minsk. 

The ex-Soviet nation has been gripped by historic protests after Lukashenko claimed victory in August 9 elections over Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a popular opposition candidate.

Protester Anzhela Krasovskaya said she was not afraid of authorities’ threats to use live ammunition.

“There’s no way back for us,” Krasovskaya told AFP. “If they start shooting then there would be even more people in the streets.” 

‘Unprecedented violence’

Pensioner Maria Petrovich said demonstrations would continue until Lukashenko quits.

“The level of violence perpetrated by the authorities is unprecedented,” she told AFP.

Phone networks were heavily disrupted, and mobile operator MTS Belarus said it had been ordered to limit access to “ensure national security”.

Tikhanovskaya, who was granted shelter in EU member Lithuania after the vote, has called on Lukashenko to quit power before October 25, warning he would otherwise face a crippling general strike.

Ahead of Sunday’s protest, the 38-year-old urged Belarusians to press ahead with their demands.

“We will stop only when every political prisoner walks free, when members of law enforcement begin to defend the people, and rule of law and honest elections return to Belarus,” Tikhanovskaya said.

‘Descendants of glorious warriors’

The Nexta Live channel on social-media platform Telegram, which has coordinated protesters, urged Belarusians to express solidarity with workers during the protest, dubbed the “March of Partisans.”

“We, descendants of glorious warriors and partisans, are worthy of our forefathers who already defeated fascism once,” the channel said in a message to its more than two million subscribers.

During World War II, Nazi-occupied Belarus had Europe’s largest partisan movement.

The protest movement has kept up a series of large-scale demonstrations for the past two months, with 100,000 people or more taking to the streets every Sunday.

Tikhanovskaya, who maintains she won the August polls, says Lukashenko must release political prisoners and halt “state terror.”

Several people have died and thousands have been arrested in a post-election crackdown, with harrowing accounts emerging of abuse in jails. Many said they had been tortured, beaten and humiliated in detention.

Ahead of Sunday’s march Ivan Tertel, head of the KGB security service, said provocations were being prepared to “destabilise the situation in our country.”

Many said they supported Tikhanovskaya’s call for a general strike, expressing hope that it could help end the current impasse.

“We have to push the situation forward,” said student Oleg Demyanenko. “Many of my friends are ready.”

Lukashenko, who has been in power for 26 years, has refused to step down and has secured backing from Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

The European Union has refused to recognize the results of the disputed vote. Last week EU foreign ministers agreed to impose sanctions on Lukashenko as the bloc seeks to step up pressure over the crackdown on protesters.

A Norwegian MP said Sunday he had nominated Tikhanovskaya and her two opposition coalition partners for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for organizing the peaceful protests.

Geir Toskedal, of the Christian Democratic Party, told the Vart Land daily he had nominated Tikhanovskaya, Maria Kolesnikova and Veronika Tsepkalo “for their struggle for fair elections and for inspiring peaceful opposition against the illegitimate regime in Belarus.”

Kolesnikova is in jail, while Tsepkalo, like Tikhanovskaya, has left the country.



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The $1 billion threat facing SMEs


At the start of the pandemic, it seemed like technology had an answer for every business challenge. Necessity led business leaders to accelerate the use of technology in the workplace and realise the advantages it yields.

However, it’s the very thing that has left many organisations facing a new type of business threat; a cyber-attack. Between January and June 2020 the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner announced a 153 per cent increase in ransomware attacks and impersonation (phishing) was up 47 per cent; SMEs account for 43 per cent of all cybercrime attacks.

Despite this, research reveals that CEOs of small to medium businesses still view cybersecurity in tactical terms and are failing to incorporate the protection of essential assets and data into their strategic planning.

The
threat: ransomware

It’s estimated that ransomware crimes have demanded almost US$160 million from Australian organisations so far in 2020.

Ransomware is often unleashed as a result of phishing; a fraudulent communication disguised as being from a trustworthy entity that tricks the victim into clicking on a link or providing sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details. The hacker will proceed to lock and encrypt a victim’s computer or device data, then demand a ransom to restore access.

When it comes to cyberattacks, employees’ actions are often the first line of defence. And with flexible working arrangements becoming the norm, these types of attacks are more likely to occur as organisations have less visibility over employee online activity.

An attack-based approach

How do you beat a hacker? Think like one! Understanding the stages of a ransomware attack will ensure that an organisation can respond at each stage.  

Predict

It’s crucial to have systems, tools, policies and procedures that detect vulnerabilities in systems and predict potential avenues of attack. For example, at Unisys, we conduct regular “tests” with our employees by sending fake phishing emails to see how employees respond and how many report it to the IT department.

Each
test is an opportunity to educate and remind staff to remain vigilant.

Prevent

If there is a threat to internal systems,
ensure there are means to fight them and processes in place that prevent damage,
such as a corporate firewall.

Alternatively, a software-defined perimeter (SDP) solution protects sensitive data by ensuring the network is protected by microsegmentation, implementing dynamic isolation and employing industrial-grade encryption.

Detect

Ever
watched a crime show where a criminal attempts to escape from jail, only to be
caught by blaring lights and sirens while trying to jump the fence? SMEs must
apply the same principle to the threat of a cyber-attack, except by ringing the
alarms while the hacker is on their way in, not out.

A Security Incident and Event Management system (SIEM) will do just that. As a software application or hardware appliance, a SIEM monitors traffic to search for suspicious activity and known threats and sends alerts when it finds such items.

Respond

If a hacker does gain access into IT systems, SMEs need to be able to respond, contain and eradicate the threat as quickly as possible. By implementing a dynamic isolation strategy, any infected user logins, equipment or systems are isolated but are able to be configured and accessed by the operations team in a rapid manner. 

For
example, with dynamic isolation, organisations can automatically remove a
device (or 10,000 devices, if needed) from the network at the same speed as the
ransomware spread.

Following
these steps can give a well-rounded perspective to risks and threats affecting
organisations. Don’t be a victim. Instead, take the time now to reap the
benefits later: predict, prevent, detect, respond and stay productive.

Ashwin Pal, Director of Cyber Security, Unisys





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Turkey reportedly tests Russian air defence system despite US sanctions threat


Turkey reportedly tested its Russian-made air defence system on Wednesday despite being urged by its NATO allies against the move.

Footage shared on social media that was purportedly filmed in the northern coastal town showed a white vapour trail rising into the blue sky.

The Turkish purchase of the S-400 anti-aircraft system — delivered by Russia last year at a reported cost of €2.1 billion — caused a standoff with the United States, which says the equipment could never be integrated into NATO’s air and missile defence capabilities.

Amateur video of the vapour trails over the northern town of Sinop was first shared by Turkish Minute, an opposition news outlet.

A similar report was later carried by A Haber, a broadcaster close to the Turkish government.

Turkish military and defence officials refused to comment on the reports, although a test was expected after ships and aircraft were warned to avoid the area in the Black Sea.

US officials have suspended Turkey from its F-35 fighter jet programme and previously said that Turkey risked sanctions if it ever activated the missile system.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government has said it was force to purchase the S-400 after being denied access to US-made Patriot missiles.



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