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AM Prep-Cyber Corner

August 23, 2018

IN THE NEWS: ALEXA-KIDS-TEST

Is Santa real? A version of Alexa skirts some kid questions

NEW YORK (AP) — A version of Alexa won’t tell kids where babies come from or spill the beans about Santa. It also won’t explain some things kids might have heard on the news — like what Stormy Daniels does for a living.

Amazon has updated its voice assistant with a feature that can make Alexa more kid-friendly. When the FreeTime feature is activated, Alexa answers certain questions differently. Asked where babies come from, for example, the kid version tells youngsters to ask a grown-up.

Amazon says it worked with child psychologists for some of Alexa’s answers, and that the voice assistant is “always getting smarter” with updated answers.

Groups including the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood have warned parents that the kid-friendly voice assistant puts children’s privacy at risk and limits interactions with people.

IN THE NEWS: DEMOCRATS-HACKING

Democratic official: DNC stopped hack attempt of voter file

CHICAGO (AP) — The Democratic National Committee says it has thwarted an attempt to hack its database that houses information on tens of millions of voters across the country.

A party official says DNC contractors notified the party Tuesday of an apparent hacking attempt. The committee notified law enforcement. The official says no information was compromised.

The party official says it’s not clear what third party was attempting the hack.

Bob Lord is the DNC’s chief security officer. He briefed the leaders of state parties on the matter at a party gathering in Chicago. The DNC distributes the voter file to state parties for Democratic candidates to use the information.

Lord said in a statement afterward that the Trump administration is not doing enough to protect American democracy.

IN THE NEWS: TECH THREATS AND COOPERATION

Can tech giants work together against their common enemies?

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook, Twitter and Google routinely squabble for users, engineers and advertising money.

But when it comes to security threats and elections meddling, it makes sense for these tech giants to work together.

Such cooperation was evident Tuesday when Facebook announced that it had removed about 650 suspicious pages, groups and accounts linked to Russia and Iran. This was followed by similar news from Twitter. On Monday, meanwhile, Microsoft reported a new Russian effort to impersonate conservative U.S. websites, potentially as part of an espionage campaign.

Cooperation makes it easier for tech companies to fight the bad guys. It also makes them look good in the eyes of their users and regulators by showing that they take the threats seriously enough to set aside competitive differences.

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