Facebook, Google, Twitter Join Trust Project To Target ‘Fake News’

Over the past year, tech giants have come under increasing scrutiny for their roles in spreading viral misinformation that might have helped to decide the 2016 presidential election.

Some of them are now testing the use of "trust indicators" to highlight news sources that meet certain quality and reliability standards. Developed over the past three years by news organization representatives working with the nonpartisan Trust Project, these indicators are aimed at providing readers with more transparency about the news outlets, journalists, financial sponsorship, and methods behind the stories they read, hear, or see.

Among the tech companies that have agreed to use such indicators for their content are Bing, Facebook, Google, and Twitter. The decision is the latest sign these companies are starting to recognize the extent of the problem with misinformation, propaganda, and "fake news" online.

'Harder than Ever To Tell What's Accurate'

Sally Lehrman, a former writer and editor at the San Francisco Examiner and journalism instructor at California's Santa Clara University, began talking with news editors in 2014 about the impact that technology was having on the quality of news reporting; her work led to the launch of the Trust Project, now hosted by the university's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

"In today's digitized and socially networked world, it's harder than ever to tell what's accurate reporting, advertising, or even misinformation," Lehrman said in yesterday's announcement from the Trust Center. "An increasingly skeptical public wants to know the expertise, enterprise and ethics behind a news story. The Trust Indicators put tools into people's hands, giving them the means to assess whether news comes from a credible source they can depend on."

In addition to agreeing to use the project's trust indicators, Bing, Facebook, Google, and Twitter are looking into other ideas that can better highlight reliable news reporting....

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OnePlus 5T Launch: ‘Flagship Killer’ Goes Full Screen

The latest Android smartphone from Chinese upstart OnePlus hopes to tempt users looking for the new all-screen experience, but at less than half the price of an iPhone X.

The 5T is a revamped version of the 5 launched in June and marks the second time the company has updated its smartphone line more than once in a year. According to co-founder Carl Pei, this is because "when we've got new technology ready to go we don't want to leave our users with older devices."

Launched in New York, the 5T is essentially a OnePlus 5 on the inside, with the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, memory and storage options, fast-charging system and Oxygen OS software based on last year's Android 7.1.1, not the newer Android 8 Oreo. It even costs the same, priced at [$479], undercutting rivals.

But the 1080p AMOLED screen has been stretched to the now popular 18:9 ratio, filling the front of the display with thin bezels at the top, bottom and sides. That means the 5T has a larger 6in screen squeezed into a body that is less than 2mm bigger than the 5, with its 5.5in screen. The fingerprint scanner has been moved to the back -- a common position for many Android devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S8, which introduced the 18:9 stretch-screen concept earlier this year.

OnePlus has also introduced its own version of facial recognition using the front-facing selfie camera to make unlocking the device while on a desk a little more convenient, trading a certain level of security in the process.

"Our face-recognition system analyses 100 different points on your face and is one of the fastest on Android," said Pei. "It'll be difficult to fool with either a photo or a video, but it's only 2D not 3D [like Apple's Face ID], which means...

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Oracle Claims Unparalleled Cloud Infrastructure Performance

For cloud infrastructure, many considered Amazon Web Services (AWS) the one to beat, and Oracle says it does. Oracle claims innovations in the new Oracle Cloud Infrastructure help beat AWS with 1,214% better storage performance at 88% lower cost per I/O operation.

The claim comes as part of Oracle's announcement yesterday regarding general availability of its new Oracle Cloud Infrastructure compute options, based on its recently introduced X7 hardware. The new options are designed to help enterprise customers power through demanding workloads more quickly and more cost effectively. They are well suited for compute-intensive data centers, high-performance computing (HPC) applications, big data analytics and processing, and apps involving artificial intelligence.

The just-announced cloud infrastructure options include newly enhanced virtual machine (VM) and bare metal compute, as well as new bare metal graphical processing unit (GPU) instances.

Horsepower On-Demand

Oracle claims its Cloud Infrastructure is different that competitive offerings because it is "built to meet the unique requirements of enterprises, offering predictable performance for enterprise applications while bringing cost efficiency to HPC use cases."

Its claim of delivering 1,214% better storage performance than Amazon Web Services at a much lower cost per input/output operation is based on a comparison to AWS i3.16XL using the industry-standard CloudHarmony benchmark, a measure of storage performance across a range of workloads. Results are published on Oracle's blog.

Driving home the competitive advantage, Oracle VP of product management Kash Iftikhar said, "Only Oracle Cloud Infrastructure provides the compute, storage, networking, and edge services necessary to deliver the end-to-end performance required of today's modern enterprise."

The new enhancements are intended to help customers leverage cloud computing and avoid the costs of additional on-premises hardware, providing, as Iftikhar calls it, "horsepower on-demand."

Under the Hood

All of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure's new compute instances leverage Intel's latest Xeon processors based on the Skylake architecture. Oracle?EU?s accelerated bare metal...

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Surprise! Tesla Announces New Roadster Amid Electric Truck Reveal

Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Thursday night sprung a surprise on the world, using the launch of a new electric semi-truck to announce what he said will be the fastest production car in the world, a new Tesla Roadster.

"I won't say what the actual speed is, but it's above 250 miles per hour," Musk told a crowd assembled at the company's design studio just southwest of Los Angeles in Hawthorne. "The point of this is to give a hard-core smack down to gasoline cars."

Musk showed off a prototype of the new vehicle [seen here], a convertible which he said will go from zero to 60 in 1.9 seconds and from zero to 100 in 4.2 seconds, as well as covering a quarter mile in 8.9 seconds.

"These are all world records," Musk said.

The battery pack will allow the three-motor, four-seat car to travel 620 miles on one charge, enough to drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles and back, Musk said. That will make the vehicle the first production electric car to cover 1,000 kilometers on a single charge, he said.

The Roadster, a new edition of the Palo Alto electric car maker's first vehicle, will be available in 2020, Musk said. He boasted of roomy luggage storage, but warned that "you can't put giant people in the rear seat."

Tesla had kept quiet about the Roadster, with Musk reappearing after announcing the new electric semi-truck.

Musk touted the sleek, slope-nosed semi -- guaranteed to go a million miles without breaking down -- as better than diesel in every way.

With the launch, Tesla goes after a market for traditional and mostly diesel-powered trucks estimated to be approaching $34 billion a year.

"From day one having a Tesla semi will beat a diesel truck on economics," Musk claimed. "It's got a better drag coefficient than a...

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Cybersecurity Researchers Find Amazon Key Hack

A Seattle-based group of cybersecurity researchers has demonstrated a way to knock Amazon's new security camera offline, a capability that could enable malicious delivery drivers for the online retailer's new in-home delivery service to snoop around a house undetected.

Amazon Key, which became available to customers last week, gives Amazon delivery drivers one-time access to a residence to drop off a package. The program, designed to eliminate the theft of packages left outside a home and to open up the potential for remote authorization of other home services, is a test of whether consumers trust Amazon enough to give the online retailer access to the front door.

It relies on two pieces of hardware: a smart lock, and Cloud Cam, which communicates with Amazon's servers to authorize the driver to unlock the door, and then records the delivery, beaming live or recorded video to a smartphone app to give the homeowner peace of mind.

Rhino Security Labs, a security research outfit based in Capitol Hill, showed that it could exploit a weakness in the Wi-Fi protocol that Cloud Cam and many other devices use to communicate with their router. A savvy hacker within Wi-Fi range can send a series of "deauthorization" commands to a specific device, temporarily severing its link to the internet.

In the case of Amazon's Cloud Cam, that means the camera would stop recording and sending images to Amazon's servers. A delivery driver who had already received approval to unlock the front door could, before exiting and locking the door, roam inside without being recorded. Or, as demonstrated in a video posted by Rhino, leave the home and re-enter undetected.

Part of the problem, Rhino Chief Executive Benjamin Caudill said, is that during such internet interruptions, Cloud Cam doesn't immediately go dark or tell the user it is offline. The company's test...

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FCC Gives Phone Companies New Tools To Block Spam Calls

Phone companies will have greater authority to block unwanted calls from reaching customers as regulators adopted new rules to combat automated messages known as robocalls.

Rules adopted Thursday by the Federal Communications Commission represent the latest tools against robocalls, which pester consumers, sometimes multiple times each day, and often push scams. The agency, which regulates the country's phone, broadcast TV and internet services, also hopes that recent big fines will help deter scammers.

Phone companies can already block some calls that trick consumers by showing up on Caller ID with fake numbers. The new rules make clear that they can block additional calls that are likely scams, such as numbers that start with a 911 area code, or one that isn't currently assigned to anyone.

The changes won't stop robocalls completely, though experts say these steps are a good start.

Why Is This Happening?

The federal and state "Do Not Call" lists are supposed to protect people from unwanted calls from telemarketers. But scammers don't care about breaking the law.

Scammers reach people cheaply and easily using autodialers, which spew out a large number of calls automatically. It's estimated that Americans receive tens of millions of robocalls every day. Not all of them are fraudsters, of course. Pharmacies send automated messages about prescriptions being filled. But too often, it's this: you owe the IRS money; it's Microsoft calling to fix your computer; free cruises!

Spam callers have tricky technology that alters what pops up on a phone's caller ID to a local number, or one from an official organization, so you're more likely to pick up.

Help From the Government

The steps the FCC took Thursday lets carriers crack down on these spoofed numbers. If successful, that would make running a scam more difficult and save U.S. consumers millions of dollars, a group of state attorneys general said in...

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Facebook Launches App Just for Video Creators

Facebook has launched a new video app called Creators aimed at building a community of closely-followed producers like YouTubers, the company announced Thursday.

The app, which was announced in June, comes as the social network is investing heavily in original programming, livestreaming and video messaging.

The company opened a new office in Playa Vista last year in part to strengthen its relationship with the entertainment industry and video creators who have flocked to YouTube.

Video -- particularly the kind generated by social media stars -- is seen as key to driving up engagement on Facebook, leading to more advertising revenue.

The Creators app [pictured above] gives video producers a centralized platform to post content, add video effects, keep tabs on metrics and read comments on Facebook and Instagram, and messages on Messenger.

The company is also launching a website called Facebook for Creators, which will coach users on refining their videos.

"To help creators grow on Facebook, it's important that we continue building tools for them to be successful," Fidji Simo, Facebook's vice president of product, said in a blog post.

At a time when Facebook is under fire for enabling societal divisiveness, the company has touted video as an antidote -- arguing that engaging with comments, likes and shares around video is more rewarding than merely watching as a bystander.

"As video grows, it's important to remember that Facebook is about bringing people closer together and enabling meaningful social interactions; it's not primarily about consuming content passively," Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this month. "Research shows that interacting with friends and family on social media tends to be more meaningful and can be good for our well-being."

That's also important to Facebook's bottom line as advertisers covet the content that has the greatest chance of going viral. And if Facebook succeeds in building a stable of...

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Vulnerabilities in Formidable Forms, Duplicator and Yoast SEO Plugins

Vulnerabilities have been reported in the Formidable Forms, Duplicator and Yoast SEO WordPress plugins. The Premium version of Wordfence protects against all of these vulnerabilities, even if you have not updated your plugins yet. We do recommend that you update immediately, whether or not you are using the Premium version of Wordfence.

The details of the vulnerabilities are as follows:

Formidable Forms 2.05.02 and older has multiple severe vulnerabilities

Jouko Pynnönen disclosed multiple vulnerabilities in Formidable Forms version 2.05.02 and older. The report included multiple serious problems:

  • A preview function allowed unauthenticated users to execute an arbitrary shortcode. Normally, the use of shortcodes is restricted to site authors or administrators, as many of them could be used to exploit a site.
  • One of the plugin’s shortcodes included a SQL injection vulnerability.
  • Another shortcode allowed an unauthenticated user to view form responses.
  • Form previews were vulnerable to reflected cross site scripting.
  • Form input was not sufficiently sanitized to prevent stored cross site scripting, which could have been used to target administrators when they viewed form responses.

Formidable Forms is used by over 200,000 active sites according to WordPress.org. The Formidable Forms team has released multiple updates addressing these issues, starting at 2.05.02. We released a firewall rule today, protecting Wordfence Premium customers from attempts to exploit this vulnerability. Free users should upgrade to version 2.05.05 immediately.

Duplicator 1.2.28 and older vulnerable to stored XSS

WPVulnDB also reports that the Duplicator, running on over 1 million active sites, fixed a stored cross site scripting vulnerability affecting versions 1.2.28 and older. This report also included the code changes.

Duplicator version 1.2.29 fixed this issue, but their changelog does not mention a vulnerability (there is no currently entry at all for version 1.2.29). Wordfence includes built-in protection against attacks of this nature, so both Premium and free users should be safe.

Yoast SEO 5.7.1 and older vulnerable to unauthenticated XSS

Ryan Dewhurst’s WPVulnDB is reporting that Yoast SEO fixed an unauthenticated cross site scripting vulnerability that affected versions 5.7.1 and older. The code change showing the fix is linked to from the WPVulnDB report.

Wordfence also protects against this exploit (both free and Premium).

Conclusion

We encourage you to share these vulnerabilities with the larger WordPress community to help keep site owners safe from exploitation.

The post Vulnerabilities in Formidable Forms, Duplicator and Yoast SEO Plugins appeared first on Wordfence.

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AmEx Intros Blockchain-Enabled Cross-Border B2B Payments

American Express is the latest industry giant to jump aboard the fast-moving Blockchain Express, as we like to call it. Today, AmEx announced its new service and collaboration with two partners to provide blockchain-enabled, business-to-business, international cross-border payments.

For those unfamiliar with blockchain technology, it can be described in simple terms as a secure method for electronically transferring money or files using decentralized, distributed computers that record the path of each transaction as it moves along, block-to-block, until it reaches its intended destination. Blockchain technology first came to use as a secure way to move financial assets like Bitcoin, because the chain provides a record that cannot cannot be altered after the fact.

Evolving the Way We Move Money

Under this new initiative to make blockchain payments commercially available, the American Express FX International Payments (FXIP) division is working with Ripple, a proven provider of enterprise global blockchain solutions. The joint payment-transfer solution will help reduce the time and cost for transfer payments to settle, and provide other benefits for business-to-business (B2B) buyers and sellers.

The initial service will focus on payments between US and UK businesses, with Santander UK managing the transaction channel. Further expansions are expected soon.

AmEx Executive VP and CIO Marc Gordon said the collaboration with Ripple and Santander represents the next step forward on the blockchain journey for American Express, "evolving the way we move money around the world."

Speed Is Key

By integrating Ripple into the American Express FXIP platform, non-card payments can be routed through Ripple's real-time payment network, known as RippleNet. Compared with traditional payment processes, blockchain-enabled payments improve international transactions by simplifying connections with intermediaries, and by providing immediate, end-to-end visibility into transaction status and cost.

When it comes to moving money, speed is obviously a key factor.

"We've already seen evidence that blockchain technology is playing a transformational...

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Hero or Zero? Microsoft Surface Book 2 Reviews Roll In

Microsoft is touting its Surface Book 2, on sale today, as a powerful 2-in-1 laptop that's built for all-around performance, whether you're a business user, gamer, designer, developer, or researcher.

Reviewers, however, say the device is clearly intended as Microsoft's answer to Apple's MacBook Pro, even down to its premium-level price. They note the Surface Book 2 outperforms its Apple counterpart in many areas, including its flexible capabilities as a laptop, tablet, or hybrid.

Available online from Microsoft.com, as well as from Microsoft and Best Buy retail stores, the Surface Book 2 is priced starting at $1,499 for the 13.5-inch, 8 GB model and $2,499 for the 15-inch, 16 GB model.

A Serious MacBook Pro Contender

Tech writer Paul Thurrott praised the new device in his review today, saying it "takes everything that was wonderful about the original model and cranks it up to 11." He added that one of the few points that might bother some users is the lack of a Thunderbolt 3 connector, as the Surface Book 2 instead sports a USB-C port.

With its touchscreen display, high-level performance, and premium hardware, the Surface Book 2 offers a serious challenge to Apple's MacBook Pro, said SlashGear's Chris Davies. While the device's cons include the single USB-C port and lack of a Thunderbolt 3 connector, he added its price is "competitive against Apple."

Over at The Verge, Tom Warren said the Surface Laptop remains Microsoft's best to date, while the Surface Book 2 is clearly designed as an Apple MacBook Pro rival. While the 15-inch model with 1 TB of memory costs $3,299, it beats Apple's alternative "in many areas that matter," including display, processor, graphics card, and touch/stylus support, he added.

Business Insider's Matt Weinberger had few caveats for the Surface Book 2, calling it "probably the best computer...

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