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News in brief: fake news move; ‘massive’ data breach; spook welcomes Snooper’s charter

Your daily round-up of some of the other security stories in the news

Your daily round-up of some of the other security stories in the news

Google moves on fake news

Amid the concerns about “fake news”, Google is rolling out a change to desktop search to remove its “In the news” section and replace it with a “Top stories” carousel with links to news sites.

The aim is to distinguish between the Google News product, which is curated by actual human beings, and the now renamed “Top stories”, which are pulled together by the search algorithm.

Google’s move is a response to the rising concern that deliberately inaccurate stories designed to influence voting behaviour had an impact on the US election. Google caught some flak after its algorithm highlighted a blog post falsely claiming that Donald Trump had won the popular vote by a margin of nearly three quarters of a million votes.

Secrets stolen in ‘massive’ breach

Another day, another breach, this time a “massive” attack on the German group ThyssenKrupp AG, where technical trade secrets from the steel production and manufacturing plant design divisions have been stolen.

ThyssenKrupp, which has been the victim of hacking before, said “organized, highly professional” cyberattackers based in south-east Asia had earlier this year stolen project data.

The steelmaker added that it had decided to deal with infected systems before going public with the attack, which had happened in February. It was “not clear yet” exactly what had been stolen, and said that it couldn’t put a reliable estimate on the damage caused.

Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security said cyberattacks were costing the country between €45m and €50m per year.


Chief spook welcomes ‘Snooper’s charter’

Britain’s chief spook, Alex Younger, the head of MI6, has defended the controversial “Snooper’s charter“, warning of the “existential” threat posed by data and the internet and welcoming the widely criticised legislation by saying “we need to have the legal basis and capabilities now provided by the IP Act”.

Privacy campaigners have condemned the extensive powers as the most intrusive piece of legislation ever passed in the UK. However, Younger insisted in a rare public speech that “the scale of the threat is unprecedented”, adding that hostile agents use “means as varied as cyberattacks, propaganda or subversion of the democratic process”. He added: “We need to be as fleet of foot on the highways and byways of cyberspace as we are on the streets of Raqqa.”



Catch up with all of today’s stories on Naked Security


In the US fake news has been the hallmark of one side of the political forum for years. It has increasingly influenced real world events. There seems to be a disconnect in the minds of those creating fake news that words lead to actions. (See the work of SI Hayakawa for how language and action relate.) If those who do create fake news are aware of the consequences of the words, then they should probably prosecuted, though in the current environment that is highly unlikely.


This problem has existed (to a degree) for a very long time. As far back as I can remember (1970s or so), all presidential polls have been off by 3-4%, and always they are skewed to the political left. I can’t pin down why, because the algorithms for methodology are trade secrets.

But, my guess is that it’s a combination of where polls are done (geographically – focusing on cities and “key precincts”) and how they are done (phone calls, which are screened more as the targets’ income rises).

What I don’t understand is why the polling organizations haven’t corrected for it.


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