Opinion | Technology vs. Covid-19: Assessing the Threats


He proposed “guardrails around technology” to limit surveillance and political advertising on social media, promote a healthy free press, and introduce new international norms — “the equivalent of a Geneva convention,” whereby “governments are not permitted to attack the civilian infrastructure of other countries just as they are not allowed to attack civilians in a time of war.”

Facebook’s director of public policy, Katie Harbath, addressed some of the election-related concerns in a parallel session. She said that Facebook was “a fundamentally different company” than it was at the time of the 2016 presidential vote in the United States, and that there was “a lot that we did miss in that election.”

To make sure voters get the right information, she said, Facebook is now monitoring political ads, hiring fact checkers and combating foreign interference. “There will be no finish line in this work,” she said. “Bad actors and adversaries will continue to try to find different ways to disrupt or hurt the integrity of elections.”

The conference also highlighted the many assaults on democracy beyond the Western world — from Hong Kong and Ukraine to Togo and Venezuela. Speaking live from Caracas, Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, denied that his support base had diminished, and once again refused to run in planned December elections as long as there were political prisoners, torture and an absence of electoral supervision in Venezuela.

“What we want is real elections to take place, and not a legitimization of a dictatorship,” he said.

The forum hosted a number of young activists who have taken the cause of democracy into their own hands and are bringing grass-roots solutions to national or global problems. One was the Palestinian-Canadian author and speaker Chaker Khazaal, who grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon, and is

How Rapid COVID-19 Testing Could Immediately Nip Emerging Threats


(TNS) – New COVID-19 tests that can produce results in as little as 15 minutes are expected to become available in the United States as soon as this month, a development that would help could help companies bring workers back to the office and schools bring students into the classroom safely, doctors said.


The rapid tests manufactured by medical device companies such as Abbott Labs show promise for accurate, widespread testing, according to researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas A&M. The federal government, which bought the first 150 million tests produced by Abbott, plan to distribute it to states in hope of reopening schools, allowing visitors back to nursing home and making it safer for employees in the workplace.


Houston’s medical offices and labs would be able to process the rapid tests, which cost as little as $5.


“Where this is going to be extremely helpful are congregant settings where we can test people very often,” said Chris Amos, director of the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at Baylor College of Medicine. “Then we could nip any emerging outbreak immediately.”


How it works


It’s unclear when the tests might become available in Texas. Neither the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services nor Texas Department of Emergency Management responded to requests for comment.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Abbott Labs’ BinaxNOW COVID-19 test for emergency use in late August. It consists of a nasal swab that does not need to touch the upper throat.


Abbott Labs will also offer a mobile app to check results. If a person tests negative, Abbott will create a digital “pass” as a clean bill of health. Workplaces and schools can set an expiration date for each pass and require people to get retested.


If a person tests positive, they’re

Study finds 57% drop in reproduction when exposed to both threats — ScienceDaily


The loss of flowering plants and the widespread use of pesticides could be a double punch to wild bee populations. In a new study, researchers at the University of California, Davis, found that the combined threats reduced blue orchard bee reproduction by 57 percent and resulted in fewer female offspring. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“Just like humans, bees don’t face one single stress or threat,” said lead author Clara Stuligross, a Ph.D. candidate in ecology at UC Davis. “Understanding how multiple stressors interplay is really important, especially for bee populations in agricultural systems, where wild bees are commonly exposed to pesticides and food can be scarce.”

The study found that pesticide exposure had the greatest impact on nesting activity and the number of offspring the bees produced. Pesticide exposure reduced bee reproduction 1.75 times more than limiting their food.


The team conducted their research by exposing the blue orchard bee to the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid, the most widely used neonicotinoid in the United States. It’s also among the most frequently applied insecticides in California.

Nesting female bees were set up in large flight cages containing wildflowers at high or low densities treated with and without the insecticide. The insecticide was applied based on label instructions. Bees can be exposed to insecticides by consuming pollen and nectar from the treated flowers. Similar research has been conducted on honeybees in labs, but there has been no comparable research on wild bees in field or semi-field conditions.


The two main factors that affect bee reproduction are the probability that females will nest and the total number of offspring they have. The research found that pesticide-exposed and resource-deprived female bees delayed the onset of

Microsoft Security Report Highlights New Sophisticated Threats From Nation State Actors


If it wasn’t clear that cybersecurity is the new frontier in our evermore-connected world, a recent report from Microsoft, entitled the “Digital Defense Report,” details how rapidly escalating security threats are growing in sophistication and pervasiveness from nation state actors in China, Iran, North Korea, South Korea and Russia. Specifically, ransomware attacks enabled by widespread phishing campaigns that steal credentials are on the rise, along with a myriad of other high profile targets and the IoT.

“This report makes it clear that threat actors have rapidly increased in sophistication over the past year, using techniques that make them harder to spot and that threaten even the savviest targets. For example, nation-state actors are engaging in new reconnaissance techniques that increase their chances of compromising high-value targets, criminal groups targeting businesses have moved their infrastructure to the cloud to hide among legitimate services, and attackers have developed new ways to scour the internet for systems vulnerable to ransomware,” notes Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Customer Security And Trust, Tom Burt. This particular observation Microsoft’s Digital Defense Report makes is both troubling and obvious at the same time. Cybercriminals hiding the vast resources of cloud infrastructure are the new normal. Malicious bots powered by mainstream cloud resources have random IPs that aren’t easy to trace back to nefarious individuals and organizations.

Meanwhile, botnets fueled by compromised IoT devices with weak credentials harness hundreds of thousands of machine resources to wage DDoS attacks at a very large scale. In fact, in the first 6 months of 2020, there was 35% increase in IoT attack volume, versus the same period in 2019. To say that things are getting a bit out of hand would be

5 top vulnerability management tools and how they help prioritize threats


The science and technology behind vulnerability management has changed a lot in a short time. When originally deployed, vulnerability management companies acted almost like antivirus vendors in that they tried to get their scanners to uncover as many potential threats as possible. They would even brag about being able to detect more vulnerabilities hiding in testbeds than their competitors.

The trouble with that logic is that unlike viruses and other types of malware, vulnerabilities are only potentially a problem. For a vulnerability to be truly dangerous, it must be accessible to an attacker and relatively easy to exploit. So, a vulnerability sitting on an internal resource isn’t much of a potential threat, nor is one that requires additional components like secure access to other network services. Knowing what is truly dangerous is important so that you can plan what to fix now, and what to put off until later or even ignore.

It’s also helpful to categorize vulnerabilities based on their potential impacts should they be exploited. This includes the potential severity of the exploit like wiping out an entire database versus locking out a single user and the value of the resources affected. Having your public-facing website defaced is embarrassing, but having confidential data stolen can be critical.

The best vulnerability management programs should add context to scans. Some even offer automatic fixes, training or preventative assistance using artificial intelligence (AI). Understanding compliance standards, legal mandates and best practices that apply to the organization launching the scan is also important. With potentially thousands of vulnerabilities hiding in any large enterprise network, it’s the only way that fixes can be reliably prioritized.

The following five products push the envelope for at least one aspect of vulnerability management.

Kenna Security Vulnerability Management

The Kenna Security Vulnerability Management platform was one of