The Sizzle

Issue 496 - Tuesday, 10th October 2017


Aussie defence contractor was hacked, loads of info stolen & nobody knew for ages
Uh-oh spaghetti-o, someone hacked into the network of a "national security contractor" last year and was in there for a "long period of time" before they got noticed. According to Cyber Minister, we dunno who did the hacking, and they aren't giving the company's name and what was stolen exactly, but Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) are "not ruling out a foreign government" - so it was probably Chinese hackers then yeah? This was announced as part of the ACSC's 2017 annual report on the types of cyber threats Australian businesses face - it's interesting reading if you want to know more about info sec kinda stuff and how businesses get hacked.
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Our "cyber reserve" is lowering fitness requirements so more talent can join
A few months ago, the government launched the "Cyber Reserve", an infosec equivalent of the Army Reserve. When the full-time infosec staff in the defence force are swamped, this group can be called in to assist. Unfortunately, it isn't that well staffed, so the government wants to be able to call on people from the telco and banking sectors to help when the time comes. But then there's another issue - to join the defence force, you gotta be fit, even as a reservist. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so the force is looking at lowering the physical recruitment requirements to join up.
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Zuck's grinning cartoon avatar shows us a devastated Puerto Rico in VR
Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook's head of social virtual reality (yes, it's a thing), Rachel Franklin did a live stream of themselves using Spaces - that weird cartoon virtual reality version of Facebook that uses an Oculus Rift. One of the examples they used to demo Spaces was being placed in a 360-degree video from NPR of Puerto Rico, "enjoying" an immersive view of a disaster zone. It was weird and awkward, seeing these grinning cartoon characters romping around a flooded street full of destroyed homes and wowing themselves at how awesome it is to be there in virtual reality. Check the video out on Zuck's Facebook page.
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Bing and Google Adsense were also used by Russians to influence US politics
It's not just Facebook being used as a propaganda tool by the Russians to destroy the fabric of American democracy - Google and Microsoft were weaponised too. Google announced they "discovered Russian operatives spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads on its YouTube, Gmail and Google Search products in an effort to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election" - not the same group as Facebook's ad buyers, but similar and with the same motive. Ditto Microsoft and Bing, who really, are just happy to be included in the same breath as Facebook and Google when it comes to online ads. The bosses of these companies will be testifying about the subversion of their platforms in front of Congress on November 1st and I can't wait to watch em squirm.
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GM buys promising lidar startup, Strobe
You know those weird spinning dome things on top of some robocars? That's a lidar sensor. Despite Elon Musk's claims, you kinda need one if you want a car to drive itself. Thing is though, they're super expensive, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars each. A start-up called Strobe has been working on a "solid-state" lidar sensor for a few years now, that would be more reliable and heaps cheaper. General Motors bought Strobe for an undisclosed amount today. This, together with the purchase of Cruise a little while ago, makes them one of the few car makers to have practically all its autonmoy development in-house.
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A 12W USB charger is the sweet spot for charging an iPhone
Dan Loewenherz has done the lord's work, posting a nice chart on how fast an iPhone 8 Plus fills its battery depending on the charger being used. Apple include a pissweak 5W charger in the box with all iPhones, but the iPhone will charge much faster with a 10W/12W (the one that comes with the iPad) charger - like 2hrs vs 3hrs to go from 0% to 100%. But a 29W or higher charger (like the ones that come with the MacBooks) don't make much difference, almost none at all really - less than 5 minutes between the 12W and the 87W charger.
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Shipster, Australia Post trying to be Amazon Prime
Australia Post has launched Shipster - the Netflix of parcel delivery. Give Shipster $10 up front, then $6.95/m and you get free shipping from ~40 participating retailers like Myer, Target and Kogan. Sounds.. okay, I guess, but there's so many strings attached, I don't know if it's really worth it. You gotta spend more than $25 to qualify, shipping costs are capped at only $20 (so bigger items will cost ya), it's only in SYD, MEL and BNE, you can only get a max of 5 deliveries per 3 months if you live outside those metro areas and if you are in those metro areas, no more than 60 deliveries in a 3 month period. Ugh, this is stupid. Why not just make it $100/yr get free shipping from any store in the program. No caveats ya jerks.
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Some decent stuff in The Good Guy's latest sale
The Good Guys eBay store has a 20% off sale until the 16th of Oct - use the code PULL20. I've listed pricing here without delivery, as most people would just collect it from the store versus paying to have it delivered. Some highlights:

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Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Join us on Slack and chat with other Sizzle subscribers.