Issue 1240 - Friday 30th October, 2020

In Today's Issue

The News

Productivity Commission to tackle Right of Repair laws for Australia

The Australian Productivity Commission has been asked by the Treasurer to "to look at the barriers and enablers of competition in repair markets and the costs and benefits of a regulated 'right to repair', including facilitating access to embedded software in consumer and other goods. We have also been asked to look at arrangements for preventing premature or planned product obsolescence and the proliferation of e‑waste, and means of reducing e‑waste through improved access to repairs". If nothing else, I really hope it becomes a law that service manuals/repair guides from manufacturers of appliances being made public becomes a thing and spare parts are sold for a certain number of years after the product stops being sold in shops. You can check out the full terms of reference and make submissions (highly recommended if you're in the computer repair business, I know a few of you are) on the Productivity Commission's website.

DTA tries to defend COVIDSafe in Senate estimates again

Once again the Digital Transformation Agency has gone to a Senate estimates hearing and tried to spin COVIDSafe as being effective. They revealed that despite being out for months and having millions of users, "the app has identified 17 new close contacts in New South Wales and is yet to identify any in any other state or territory, despite the second wave of COVID-19 in Victoria". Labor senators asked why COVIDSafe isn't using the Appple & Google framework and got the response that "there is no plan to adopt the framework on offer from the tech giants as this would switch from a centralised sovereign model to a decentralised approach to digital contact tracing". The senators were also told that QR code based check-ins to assist with contact tracing won't be added to COVIDSafe because the "implementation of QR codes in COVIDSafe would actually go against the design of the application in that we are prevented from knowing where people are". Come on Victoria/NSW, make your own app, you know you want to.

Crooks are specifically targeting US hospitals with ransomware

A joint advisory from Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the FBI, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has warned that "malicious cyber actors are targeting the Healthcare and Public Health Sector with TrickBot and BazarLoader malware, often leading to ransomware attacks, data theft, and the disruption of healthcare services", then installing "ransomware, notably Ryuk and Conti, for financial gain". All of this whilst the USA is getting absolutely slammed with huge COVID-19 patient loads. According to Mandiant's Senior VP and CTO, this is "the most significant cyber security threat we've ever seen in the United States" and called it "one of the most brazen, heartless, and disruptive threat actors I've observed over my career". Looks like many hospitals have already been hit. I'm all for taking advantage of crappily secured networks for financial gain, but for fucks sake leave hospitals alone.

Something I Saw On The Internet

Google operated VPN service to be made available for Google One subscribers

Google is launching an Android VPN that'll be included in a Google One subscription in the USA. Usually Google's big data vacuum cleaner is the reason people turn on a VPN, but I guess it's handy for using public wi-fi or other untrusted networks if you are cool with Google in the first place. To play devil's advocate here, a Google VPN is good because it'll be properly integrated into the Android system (less chance of leaks), has a huge network of endpoints thanks to Google's massive infrastructure, so it'll be fast and we probably know more about Google and can get more transparency out of them than some rando VPN provider. Maybe a Google VPN isn't as bad as it sounds, but I'll keep connecting to a Wireguard docker container at home for when I'm using a network I don't trust and a cheap VPS running Algo over in the USA if I need to pretend to be American.


The End

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