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Tech News Today for November 7, 2016

Tech News for Monday November 7, 2016

A total of 40,000 bank accounts held with Tesco Bank in the UK were targeted over the weekend by a “systematic sophisticated attack”, according to CEO Benny Higgens, that saw money withdrawn from 20,000 customer accounts. On Sunday, Tesco put a hold on all related accounts, temporarily limited any form of online payments using those accounts. Higgins insisted that Tesco’s customers wouldn’t be accountable for the financial loss, and that money would be compensated by Tuesday. Tesco says it knows exactly how the breach happened but isn’t willing to share more than that as it's under a criminal investigation. The scale of the theft and targeting of the bank’s central system could make this one of the largest attacks of its type on a UK bank. Read more at bbc.com.

China just passed a new cybersecurity law that strengthens censorship and makes it even more difficult for Internet companies to operate there. Chinese officials say the law was necessary to stop growing hacking and terrorism threats and will take effect in June 2017. Human rights groups and businesses are criticising the law as restrictive and draconian. Many of the requirements of the new law will not be new to Chinese citizens, but they've largely been informal up to this point, and the new law makes them more official and enforceable. Among the many rules outlined, internet service proviers will now be required to collect personal information and prevent data collected in China from leaving the country. Read more at wsj.com.

Back in 2014, Facebook acquired WhatsApp and insisted that the privacy of users would be protected by not sharing data between the two services. Then this September, Facebook reneged on that promise with a new privacy policy that allows for that sharing to take place. The Information Commissioner’s Office, UK’s privacy watchdog, isn’t satisfied with that arrangement, and Facebook has agreed to put that data sharing on hold. In question is whether Facebook obtained proper consent from its users. The ICO is hoping to get Facebook and WhatsApp to sign their commitment to ensuring customers understand how their data is being used and to give them control over that information, but neither company has committed to do so. Read more at ft.com.

Quartz reports that people are going crazy of so-called “USB condoms” that allow them to protect their devices when they plug them into unknown USB ports. The devices have been around for a while, but after a tweet over the weekend from technology lawyer Neil Brown received 6 thousand retweets, they've increased in popular. Even sci-fi writer William Gibson tweeted about them. Officially called data block USB chargers, this product from SyncStop cuts off data pins and only lets the power through. And by all accounts, they appear to be legit. Read more at qz.com.

Google is one of many tech companies heavily involved in getting people to vote in the US election that takes place tomorrow, November 8. In its pursuit to organize the world’s information, Google announced that search queries for Election Results will be presented with a highly organized view of those results within search that’s updated every 30 seconds once the polls close. The tool will track all major races all the way down to state-level referenda and ballot propositions. Google also plans to live strea election news on YouTube thanks to a host of channels offering coverage like NBC, PBS, Bloomberg, and others. Read more at techcrunch.com.

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