Monday, December 16, 2019

Hacker says, ‘pay bitcoin ransom or get terminated,’ through couple’s Ring security cameras

A Grand Prairie, Texas couple became the newest victims to hackers via their Ring security system this week after total strangers told them to pay a ransom or “get terminated.” In just the last week, a number of disturbing Ring hack videos have surfaced online and the company is now investigating further to protect its devices and customers. The company has a lot of ground to cover before it regains the trust of a couple who lives in Grand Prairie that was rudely awakened by hackers who had taken over their security cameras. They pay Ring an annual fee of $100 to monitor their home and to notify police if anything suspicious is captured on camera. The voice could be heard laughing and then saying, “Ring support! Ring support!” It continued saying, “We would like to notify you that your account has been terminated by a hacker.” The voice then says, “Pay this 50 bitcoin ransom or you will get terminated yourself.” The hacker then accessed their doorbell camera and said, “I’m outside your front door.” At the moment, they didn’t know what was going on and just took the batteries out of her cameras that were malfunctioning, but when they both went back to watch the videos and listen to what was being said, it became very real that their privacy was hijacked. The service, Ring, is facing some tough headlines this week after a number of families reported their cameras being hacked. (WFAA)


FCC Unanimously Approves Proposal For New 3-Digit Number As Suicide Prevention Hotline

The Federal Communications Commission is moving ahead with plans to designate a three-digit number to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 988. The five-member commission unanimously voted on to approve the proposal, which is now open for public comment, and start the rule making process. The proposal requires carriers to implement 988 as a national suicide prevention hotline within an 18-month time-frame. The FCC is asking for input on “all aspects of implementation,” including whether less or more time is needed. Last year, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act, which called for a study to determine the hotline’s effectiveness and the best three-digit dialing code for the hotline. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. America’s suicide rates are at the highest level since World War II, with an increase of 33% from 1999 to 2017 alone, according to the CDC. The hotline is currently accessible by the 10-digit number, 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). (CNN)


After wrong number, NM attorney’s office buys woman needed walker

An elderly New Mexico woman in need of a walker mistakenly called the wrong number, but the people on the other end of the line decided to help out anyway. After four unanswered calls, the woman trying to get a walker, decided to leave a voicemail. She thought she was calling a medical supply store, but she had gotten the last digit wrong and actually called a special agent at the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office. “I put it on speaker phone and played it for everybody. It was a different kind of missed call, and it was kind of cute and humorous at the same time,” the agent said. When he called back to sort things out, she told him she was trying to get a hold of a walker. Instead of telling her she had the wrong number, he, other special agents, and analysts decided to find a walker for her. Eight employees with the district attorney’s office showed up at her door to surprise her with the walker. They had all pitched in to pay for it themselves. The lady told everyone she wanted the walker for her grandson’s wedding. Until they showed up, she had considered not going. The employees say they’re already planning their next visit. (WLBT)


A debt-free alternative to college

Apprenticeship programs are changing the way people reach white-collar professions, leveling the playing field for careers that once required a bachelor’s degree or more. In two years, more than 700 apprenticeship programs have sprung up in the U.S., opening job opportunities in fields such as cybersecurity, financial services, information technology and health care. The model, long popular in Europe, combines classroom learning with paid-on-the-job experience. This year, an estimated 1 million Americans have participated in some type of apprenticeship program. (The New York Times)


Demand for AI workers on upswing

The demand for artificial intelligence labor in the U.S. is growing fastest in high-tech services and the manufacturing sector. This according to Stanford University’s Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence Institute. The share of AI jobs grew from 0.3% in 2012 to 0.8% of total jobs posted in 2019. Washington has seen the highest relative AI labor demand. Almost 1.4% of total jobs posted in the state are AI jobs, the AI index shows. California and Massachusetts AI job listings represent 1.3% of jobs posted, while New York is at 1.2%. (Stanford University)


What we get wrong about burnout

Burnout exacts a painful toll on society. In the U.S. alone, work-related stress results in $190 billion in health costs and close to 120,000 deaths a year. Yet when it comes to addressing these issues, some social psychologists argue that we have it backwards. Many approach the problem by recommending individual workers change their behavior: take a yoga class, meditate, etc. Instead, business leaders may need to change how their organizations operate. One great way to start? Ask employees what small changes will help them most. (Harvard Business Review)


Scientists Found the Deepest Land on Earth Hiding Beneath Antarctica’s Ice

A new map of the mountains, valleys and canyons hidden under Antarctica’s ice has revealed the deepest land on Earth, and will help forecast future ice loss. The frozen southern continent can look pretty flat and featureless from above, but beneath the ice pack that’s accumulated over the eons, there’s an ancient continent, as textured as any other. That texture turns out to be very important for predicting how and when ice will flow and which regions of ice are most vulnerable in a warming world. The new NASA map, called BedMachine Antarctica, mixes ice movement measurements, seismic measurements, radar and other data points to create the most detailed picture yet of Antarctica’s hidden features. (Live Science)


New Orleans mayor declares state of emergency in wake of city cyberattack

New Orleans Mayor recently declared a state of emergency after the city was hit by a cyberattack. Phishing attempts and suspicious activity were detected on the city’s network around 5am this past Friday (12/13), New Orleans chief information officer said during a press conference. By 11am, technician investigators detected “a cybersecurity incident” and the city’s information technology department began powering down servers and city computers as a precaution. While ransomware was detected, no ransom has been demanded in the cyberattack. At this time, the city does not believe any employee information was compromised during the phishing attempts that occurred. The incident is being investigated by the city with assistance from the Louisiana State Police, Louisiana National Guard, the FBI and Secret Service. (CNN)


Federal judge rules American Samoans are US citizens by birth

A federal judge in Utah says that American Samoans are U.S. citizens and should be issued new passports reflecting that. “The action is required by the mandate of the Fourteenth Amendment as construed and applied by Supreme Court precedent,” the Judge in the US District Court for the District of Utah wrote in a statement. “Further, Plaintiffs are American Samoans. They brought this action seeking to realize their rights to citizenship under the Fourteenth Amendment,” he added. It is unclear whether his order applies to American Samoans beyond Utah. In 2016, the Supreme Court declined to reconsider a ruling in a similar case from the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that the Constitution does not confer citizenship on those born in American Samoa. American Samoa has been a US territory since 1900. Those born in the other US territories, such as Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Marianas, all get citizenship at birth, but that was determined by statute in Congress. No such law exists for American Samoa. American Samoans living in Utah sued in 2018, arguing that being “non-citizen nationals,” instead of US citizens closed the door to some employment opportunities and did not allow them to vote, among other rights afforded to US citizens. Their passports also include a disclaimer that read: “The bearer is a United States national and not a United States citizen.” (Courthouse News Service)


Today Is Special Because It Is:

  • Barbie and Barney Backlash Day
  • National Chocolate-covered Anything Day
  • Zionism Day

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