FOXTROT/ALFA: Tesla Autopilots into Cop Car, TikTok CEO Quits, Google Wants to Spy on Your Hotel Room

Good evening! This is issue 139 of FOXTROT/ALFA for Thursday, 27 August 2020. I’m just back from a run to clear my head after finishing my Wasteland 3 review for heise online. It isn’t online yet an will be in German, but in case you are wondering the TL;DR is: It’s a great game if you like oldschool CRPGs. A must play if you loved the previous Wasteland games and much improved from its predecessor. I can’t wait to play more than the 12 hours I scrounged together for the review during the last three days. But enough of that, here’s what’s been going on in tech…

Tesla Driver Watches Movie While Slamming into Cop Car

The lastest from Tesla on why autopilots in cars are a bad idea:

Police in North Carolina have filed charges against a driver whose Tesla crashed into a police car early Wednesday morning, Raleigh’s CBS 17 television reports. The driver admitted to officers that he had activated the Autopilot technology on his Model S and was watching a movie on his phone at the time of the crash.

“A Nash County deputy and a trooper with the Highway Patrol were on the side of the road while responding to a previous crash when the Tesla slammed into the deputy’s cruiser,” CBS 17 reports. “The impact sent the deputy’s cruiser into the trooper’s vehicle—which pushed the trooper and deputy to the ground.” Thankfully, no one was seriously injured by the crash.

Cisco Vulnerabilities

If you have Cisco gear, you should probably get patching again.

Cisco Systems disclosed eight high-severity bugs impacting a range of its networking gear, including its switches and fiber storage solutions. Cisco’s NX-OS was hardest hit, with six security alerts tied to the network operating system that underpins the networking giant’s Nexus-series Ethernet switches and MDS-series Fibre Channel storage area network switches.

Patches are available for all vulnerabilities, according to a Cisco Security Advisory posted on Wednesday. In addition to the eight patched high-severity bugs, Cisco also fixed a flaw (CVE-2020-3504) listed as medium severity that impacts the Cisco Unified Computing System management software. High-severity vulnerabilities impacting Cisco’s NX-OS software include CVEs tracked as CVE-2020-3397, CVE-2020-3398, CVE-2020-3338, CVE-2020-3415, CVE-2020-3517 and CVE-2020-3454.

TikTok CEO Quits Amid Trump Pressure

ORANGE MAN BAD!!! TikTok’s new CEO is already quitting again.

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer, who took the top job on June 1, has told staff he will quit the company.In a mail to staff that has reached multiple outlets, Mayer wrote that he signed up to be a global CEO but that: “In recent weeks, as the political environment has sharply changed, I have done significant reflection on what the corporate structural changes will require, and what it means for the global role I signed up for. I understand that the role that I signed up for – including running TikTok globally – will look very different as a result of the US Administration’s action to push for a sell off of the US business,” he added.

“Against this backdrop, and as we expect to reach a resolution very soon, it is with a heavy heart that I wanted to let you all know that I have decided to leave the company.” President Donald Trump has ordered TikTok to quit the States unless it can offload its US operations to preferably an American outfit. While Microsoft has said it is in negotiations to buy that part of the business, The New York Times reports that the Windows giant’s intention was to take a stake and that execs now feel the situation has become unpleasantly complex. Further complicating matters is a reported bid from Oracle, and TikTok challenging the Trump administration’s sell-or-leave order in the courts.

Google Extends its Spy Tendrils into Hotels

Google has once again decided that it does not yet know enough about you. It’s inconvenient to them that you don’t take your Google Home spy devices with you when you travel.

Google wants its Nest Hub to become a fixture in hotel rooms so that guests can enjoy their stay without having to actually touch any of the amenities they are paying for. The device, which is being piloted in several hotels across the US and the UK, offers guests the chance to replace calls to hotel staff with a Hub device that listens in on requests for more towels or information about pool closing times.

Google’s sell for the new “hospitality solution” is that it allows guests can use the hotel’s amenities without having to speak to another actual human being or touch the room’s potentially plague-ridden telephone. “Whatever reason is driving you to consider staying in a hotel room, you know you want to take as many precautions as possible,” wrote Tom Franklin, product manager for Google Assistant, in a blog post.

Oh my god. What could drive anybody to do such a silly thing as to actually stay in a hotel room? Oh dear. Yes, of course I would rather be spied on by Google than to to a actually touch anything. Gross!

For those worried about Google Assistant listening in on whatever it is they get up to in hotel rooms, Google says the device has no camera and its mic can be switched off. “No audio is ever stored, and any activities will be wiped from the device when it’s reset for the next guest,” Franklin promised.

Yeah. Right. Like you previously said no humans listen to this stuff and then it turned out that your AI was mostly poor college students listening to this shit to figure out what was happening? Right.

Russians Tried to Bribe an US Employee to Install Malware at His Company

The damn Russians are at it again. I swear, it’s always the damn Russians, man.

A Russian citizen is accused of flying to America in a bid to bribe a Nevada company employee to infect their bosses' IT network with malware. It is claimed Kriuchkov, 27, was the point man of a plot to get data-stealing malware onto the network of an unspecified US company in Nevada and then use the lifted data to extort millions of dollars.

To do this, Kriuchkov and his associates back in Russia had recruited a worker at the business, it is claimed, and promised to pay $500,000 for placing the malware onto its network. The bribe was later increased to $1m to persuade the employee, yet instead he went to his bosses, and the FBI was brought in, we’re told.

According special agent Michael Hughes, in late July Kriuchkov traveled from Russia to Reno, Nevada, where the employee worked, and over the early weeks of August tried to win over the employee to join the conspiracy. This included a night out for the worker and friends at a Lake Tahoe resort, followed by Kriuchkov pulling the worker aside and convincing them to play a key role in the operation, it is claimed.

Prosecutors won’t say just how many people were part of the plot or whether they might be part of a larger campaign, but the gang definitely looks to be an organized operation with members of various levels of expertise and skillsets. Kriuchkov claimed the group had been operating for over three years, it is said. The alleged plan was for Kriuchkov’s crew back in Russia to hit the company with a distributed denial-of-service attack at a specific time in order to distract IT staff. While this was going on, the employee would install the data-harvesting malware on the company’s network, it is claimed. From there, the lifted data would be used to extort “a substantial payment” from the company, a $1m portion of which would go back to the employee, it is alleged.

Also Noteworthy

Other things I’ve been reading today:

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