Mark Wycislik-Wilson

Warning issued: Russia tried to hack election systems in at least 21 US states and was successful in some

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Russian hackers successfully compromised election systems in some states during the 2016 election. There have long been suggestions that Russia tried to influence the outcome of the Trump vs Clinton election, and now the Department of Homeland Security has informed 21 states that their systems were targeted.

This means that the DHS has concerns about almost half of the states of America, but so far only Illinois has been confirmed as having been successfully compromised.

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Apple now lets you rent movies from iTunes for 48 hours in the US

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Apple has -- at long last -- given the US what people in other parts of the world have enjoyed for a while: the ability to rent movies for 48 hours.

Previously, renters in the US had a mere 24 hours to work their way through a movie after starting it, but Apple has now doubled this timeframe. It means that interruptions are now far less likely to mean that you need to re-rent a movie.

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Android's 'Check For Update' button now works and actually checks for OTA updates!

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Updating Android can be a painful experience depending on the handset you have and the carrier you're with. You might hear that an update is available, but find nothing shows up when you hit the Check For Update button. Now this should be changing... and not just for Oreo users.

Many Android users will have experienced the frustration of knowing full well that there is an update available for their device, but it's not offered up automatically. Even more annoyingly, it's often the case that even when performing a manual check, updates remain unavailable for download. Google has announced that: "the button in Settings to check for an update actually works now," so there should be no need for sideloading OTA updates.

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Experimental Twitter Lite app is now available for Android

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All of the major players have been busy creating "lite" versions of their apps and online experiences. Microsoft has LinkedIn Lite, Facebook has both Facebook Lite and Facebook Messenger Lite, and google has its Search Lite app.

Back in April, Twitter decided to get in on the lite action by launching Twitter Lite, a cut-down, data-friendly version of its mobile website. Now the micro-blogging service has gone further and released a Twitter Lite app.

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Facebook ads can target you based on your real-world store visits

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That your online activities influence the ads you see on Facebook and other websites is well known. But now Facebook has developed tools that makes it possible to track your location in the real world to determine which stores you visit and then use this information to hit you with targeted ads.

The new tools work for users who allow the Facebook app to access their location. The social network and advertisers are making profitable use of this valuable information.

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Canonical builds a custom Ubuntu kernel for Microsoft Azure

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Microsoft's relationship with Ubuntu-maker Canonical has been getting increasingly cosy over the past couple of years, and the two companies are now working even more closely with each other. The latest fruit of this partnership is a custom Azure-tailored Ubuntu kernel.

The updated kernel introduces new features including NAPI and Receive Segment Coalescing, Hyper-V socket capability, and support for Accelerated Networking in Azure. Any Ubuntu 16.04 LTS image brought up from the Azure portal after September 2 will be running on this Azure tailored Ubuntu kernel.

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Uber loses its license to operate in London

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Transport for London (TfL) has said that Uber is not "fit and proper" to operate in the capital, and has rejected the company's application for a new license.

Following the rejection, Uber has 21 days to appeal against the decision. The company's current license expires on September 30, but it will be able to continue to operate until the end of the appeal process.

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Facebook overhauls rules governing political ads

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As well as handing over Russian ads to Congress to allow for investigation into election interference, Facebook is also overhauling its rules for political ads. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, claims that: "We do not know how to place an advert on Facebook. We have never done this, and the Russian side has never been involved in it" -- but there is still a firm belief that Russia tried to influence the outcome of the election.

In a bid to prevent this from happening in the future, Facebook has announced a series of updates to its policies governing political advertising. Part of the changes are increases in transparency, making it possible for people to see what ads are being run by advertisers, and how they are being targeted.

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Facebook to share Russian election-era ads with Congress -- but won't make them public

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Facebook is to provide Congress with 3,000 advertisements taken out by Russians in the run-up to the 2016 US election. The social media giant says that it is "actively working" with the government in its investigation into Russian interference into the election.

Earlier in the month it was revealed that a group operating out of Russia had taken out $100,000 worth of advertising with a "focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum." But while Facebook is willing to share the ads with Congress, they are not going to be made public.

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Adblock Plus releases cryptocurrency miner hijack protection filter

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Cryptocurrencies have been in the news a lot recently as the price of Bitcoin and Ethereum bounces up and down. But cryptocurrency miners have also been in the headlines after it was discovered that the Pirate Bay had secretly embedded a miner in its code, and then that the SafeBrowse extension for Chrome was also mining in the background.

To help protect users who do not want their computers to be used for such things without their permission and who don't want to give up CPU cycles to generate profit for others, Adblock Plus has released a filter that will block hijacks by cryptocurrency miners. It works with Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Android.

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Security researchers warn that GO Keyboard is spying on millions of Android users

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Security researchers from Adguard have issued a warning that the popular GO Keyboard app is spying on users. Produced by Chinese developers GOMO Dev Team, GO Keyboard was found to be transmitting personal information about users back to remote servers, as well as "using a prohibited technique to download dangerous executable code."

Adguard made the discovery while conducting research into the traffic consumption and unwanted behavior of various Android keyboards. The AdGuard for Android app makes it possible to see exactly what traffic an app is generating, and it showed that GO Keyboard was making worrying connections, making use of trackers, and sharing personal information.

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WhatsApp refused to add a backdoor for the UK government

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The UK government has made no secret of its dislike of encrypted messaging tools, and it has made frequent reference to the problems WhatsApp causes it with regard to investigations into terrorism. Calls have been made by the government to force companies to allow access to encrypted content when asked.

In the wake of Theresa May's "more needs to be done about extremist content" speech, it has emerged that WhatsApp refused to add a backdoor that would allow the government and law enforcement agencies to access private conversations.

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Microsoft joins the Coalition for Better Ads

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Microsoft has become the latest member of the Coalition for Better Ads (CBA). The group works with technology companies and trade organizations to help develop an ad ecosystem that works for advertisers without compromising the experience of internet users.

In taking up membership of the CBA, Microsoft is joining Google who has already worked with the organization to develop a selective ad blocker for Chrome due for release next year. Microsoft is also looking to introduce ad blocking into Edge, but the blocker would only discriminate against ads deemed unacceptable by the CBA.

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SafeBrowse Chrome extension found to be secretly mining for cryptocurrency

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Recently it was discovered that the Pirate Bay had embedded a JavaScript cryptocurrency miner into the footer of its homepage, and now a popular Chrome extension has been found engaging in similar activity.

The SafeBrowse extension purports to block popup ads and skip ad pages that appear before downloads, but in fact it was secretly running a Coin Hive mining tool in the background. With over 140,000 users, SafeBrowse -- which has now been removed from the Chrome Web Store -- was quietly making an income for its developers through clandestine use of CPU time.

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iOS 11 could let you secretly record Snapchat snaps

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If you're a Snapchat user, you'll know that it's possible to save someone's snaps forever by grabbing a screenshot of it. The problem is, this goes against the idea of Snapchat which is supposed to be about temporary, transient posts; that said, it's not against the rules.

One of the new features of iOS 11 is a screen recording tool that makes it possible to save a video of what's going on on-screen. This can be used to make a recording of snaps, and it seems that a warning notification is not always sent out to the other party.

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