London, Oct 5 (AP/UNB) — Prince Harry is suing The Sun and the Daily Mirror, two of Britain's most popular tabloid newspapers, over alleged phone hacking.
Buckingham Palace confirmed Saturday that claims regarding "illegal interception of voicemail messages" were filed on Harry's behalf. The palace declined to say more or provide details "given the particulars of the claims are not yet public."
News Group Newspapers, which owns The Sun and the now defunct News of the World, acknowledged the prince's High Court action while Reach, which owns the Mirror, said it was "aware that proceedings have been issued" but hasn't yet received notice of them.
The cases escalate Harry's fight with the British tabloids. It comes days after his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, sued the Mail on Sunday for alleged copyright infringement, misuse of private information and violating the U.K.'s data protection law after the paper published a letter she wrote to her father.
Harry then lambasted British tabloids after Meghan filed her lawsuit on Tuesday, saying in a statement that his wife's lawsuit, which was months in the making, was a response to a "ruthless campaign" to smear her by creating "lie after lie at her expense" during her maternity leave.
British tabloid newspapers have paid millions of dollars to settle claims that their employees had hacked the phone voicemails of celebrities, politicians and others in the public eye. The News of the World was shut down in 2011, at the height of the hacking scandal.
New York, Oct 5 (AP/UNB) — PayPal has pulled out of Facebook's digital currency project, known as Libra, a blow to the social media company that has faced stronger-than-expected scrutiny over its proposed creation of an alternative payments system.
The digital payments company said Friday it is withdrawing from the Libra Association so it can focus on its existing businesses.
"Facebook has been a longstanding and valued strategic partner to PayPal, and we will continue to partner with and support Facebook in various capacities," PayPal said.
Facebook has presented Libra as a currency that could be used for digital payments, particularly outside the U.S. It would be backed by real currency, unlike other digital currencies like Bitcoin or Etherium.
The Libra Association, based in Switzerland, was supposed to give the currency project a comfortable arm's length distance from Facebook, which wouldn't own Libra.
Despite Facebook's efforts, financial regulators as well as members of Congress have questioned the company's motives for creating a new digital currency, particularly in light of criticisms that Facebook's business model is too invasive of its users' privacy.
Rep. Maxine Waters, the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, has demanded Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg testify in front of her committee before Libra is rolled out. Along with privacy concerns, Waters' has cited the potential for Libra to be used in money laundering and other financial crimes.
Republicans and Democrats and even President Donald Trump have called for in various degrees for Facebook to be subject to U.S. banking laws — an arduous, complicated prospect — if the social media company does move forward with the Libra project. In response, Facebook has reportedly hired several prominent Washington lobbyists to convince politicians to give their approval to Libra.
PayPal Holdings Inc., which is based in San Jose, California, is the first company to publicly end its partnership with Libra, but other companies have been reportedly having second thoughts. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Mastercard and Visa, the world's largest payment providers, were considering ending their Libra relationships.
The Libra Association said it plans to continue to move forward with the project without PayPal.
"Building (Libra) is a journey, not a destination ... each organization that started this journey will have to make its own assessment of risks and rewards of being committed to seeing through the change that Libra promises," said Dante Disparte, head of policy and communications for the Libra Association.
Washington, Oct 5 (AP/UNB) — Microsoft said Friday that hackers linked to the Iranian government targeted a U.S. presidential campaign, as well as government officials, media targets and prominent expatriate Iranians.
Overall, the hackers attempted to penetrate 241 accounts — four successfully — though none of those penetrated was associated with presidential campaigns or current or past U.S. officials, Microsoft said. A company spokeswoman declined to identify those targeted, citing customer privacy.
Reuters and The New York Times reported that the attack targeted President Donald Trump's reelection campaign, but this could not be independently confirmed. But a review of publicly available internet records by AP showed that the Trump campaign's official website is linked to Microsoft's email service.
Tim Murtaugh, spokesman for Trump's 2020 reelection campaign, said there was "no indication that any of our campaign infrastructure was targeted."
Microsoft's announcement is the latest sign that foreign governments are looking for ways to potentially disrupt the 2020 presidential election. U.S. intelligence officials have sounded the alarm about the risks for months.
Russia's hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign, as well as the subsequent leaks of emails during the 2016 election roiled the DNC, hurt the Clinton campaign and was a focal point in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe.
Foreign hackers have long targeted U.S. government and politicians, generally with little notice. But the disruption caused by Russia's attack has heightened awareness and prompted fears that other nations will try to follow Russia's example. Iran in particular could have a stake in the outcome of the U.S. election after Trump withdrew the United States from a nuclear agreement and stepped up sanctions against the country.
"The Russians came after us and our election system in 2016 and they paid virtually no price for that activity," said Jamil N. Jaffer, director of the national security law and policy program at George Mason University, and former chief counsel of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "It's not surprising that China now more aggressively and maybe the Iranians are getting in that game. Why not?"
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it was working with Microsoft to "assess and mitigate impacts." Chris Krebs, director of the department's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said much of the activity is likely "run-of-the-mill" foreign intelligence service work.
But, "Microsoft's claims that a presidential campaign was targeted is yet more evidence that our adversaries are looking to undermine our democratic institutions," Krebs said.
In a blogpost released Friday, Microsoft's Tom Burt, corporate vice president for customer security and trust, said that owners of four accounts that were compromised by the hackers have been notified. The company would not identify those accounts.
The attacks by a group Microsoft calls Phosphorous occurred during a 30-day period between August and September.
Burt said the Iranian hackers used password reset and account recovery features to try to take over accounts. For example, they gathered phone numbers belonging to targets to help with a password reset. In other cases, they tried to get into secondary email accounts that might be linked to the Microsoft account to gain access via a verification email.
The hackers researched their targets, making more than 2,700 attempts to identify emails belonging to a specific Microsoft customer. A spokeswoman declined to provide more details.
The company has previously taken legal steps to combat Iran-linked hackers, suing them in federal court in Washington D.C., so Microsoft could take control of websites Phosphorous used to conduct hacking operations and to stop attacks.
The campaigns of Sen. Kamala Harris, Michael Bennet, Pete Buttigieg, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock also said they had not been targeted. A campaign aide for Sen. Bernie Sanders said the campaign doesn't comment on matters of technical security.
Republican National Committee spokeswoman Blair Ellis said the RNC is "constantly working to stay ahead of emerging threats."
Meanwhile, the DNC sent an alert out to campaigns Friday, warning them about the Iran-linked hacking group's targeting of Microsoft accounts belonging to "journalists, politicians and at least one presidential campaign."
The DNC has taken several steps to improve the party's cybersecurity since 2016. The most public move was the hiring of Bob Lord, a veteran of Silicon Valley cybersecurity with stints at Yahoo, Twitter, AOL and Netscape, to serve as its cybersecurity chief.
Lord on Friday declined to provide details on the hacking efforts, deferring to Microsoft. He has worked to improve security protocols for DNC staff, state parties and campaigns with access to the central voter file that DNC maintains.
In July, Microsoft announced that it had detected more than 740 infiltration attempts by nation-state actors in the past year targeting U.S.-based political parties, campaigns and other democracy-focused organizations including think tanks and other nonprofits.
The company declined to name or further characterize the targets or the actors. It said at the time that such targeting had similarly occurred in the early stages of the 2016 and 2018 elections.
A memo prepared by DHS and the FBI was sent to state election officials this week outlining possible ways Russia could seek to interfere in the 2020 elections by discouraging voters or utilizing voter suppression tactics.
The document, which was dated Thursday and reviewed by The Associated Press, outlines a few possible scenarios for state and local election officials to be aware of. Those include the use of social media to exacerbate divisions within political parties during state primaries and the hacking of election websites to spread misinformation on voting processes or to alter voter registration data.
Cape Canaveral, Oct 5 (AP/UNB) — The first all-female spacewalk is back on, six months after a suit-sizing flap led to an embarrassing cancellation.
NASA announced Friday that the International Space Station's two women will pair up for a spacewalk later this month. Astronauts Christina Koch and the newly arrived Jessica Meir will venture out Oct. 21 to plug in new, upgraded batteries for the solar power system.
It will be the fourth of five spacewalks for battery work. The first is Sunday; Koch will go out with Andrew Morgan.
Koch was supposed to do a spacewalk with another female crewmate in March. But NASA had to scrap the plan just a few days in advance because there wasn't enough time to get a second medium-size spacesuit ready. The second medium was put together on board in June.
NASA's deputy chief astronaut Megan McArthur told reporters the all-female spacewalk will be a milestone. But she noted that women are so integrated at all levels at NASA now that they don't tend to dwell on gender.
"I'm sure that they'll sit back and reflect on it, as we all will. We will all celebrate that," McArthur said.
Koch and Meir, a marine biologist who arrived at the orbiting lab last week, are both members of NASA's Astronaut Class of 2013, the first and only one with an even split between men and women. They're also both making their first spaceflights.
Koch, an electrical engineer, is more than 200 days into an approximately 300-day mission, which will set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman.
"In the past, women haven't always been at the table," Koch said during a televised interview earlier this week. "And it's wonderful to be contributing to the human spaceflight program at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everyone has a role, and that can lead, in turn, to increased chance for success."
Since the world's first spacewalk in 1965, only 14 women have done them, versus 213 men, according to NASA.
Expect more women spacewalking together on the horizon.
"It turns out that over the next couple years, we're having a lot of medium suit people fly," said NASA's space station program manager, Kirk Shireman.
Koch will serve as the lead spacewalker for Sunday's excursion with Morgan, her U.S. male crewmate. There are 11 spacewalks coming up in the next few months — 10 U.S. and one Russian. Only one is two women.
New Delhi, Oct. 4 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Chinese telecom company Huawei's products have a "leading edge" over its competitors, an Indian telecom industry leader said here Thursday.
"Huawei has actually surprised me on how fast they have been able to take the technology curve to the level where it is leading-edge," Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of one of India's largest telecom companies Bharti Airtel Limited, was quoted by media reports as saying.
Speaking at the India Economic Summit held in the Indian capital city of New Delhi, Mittal said Huawei's technology is "far superior" to other brands such as Ericsson and Nokia.
"I have tracked this industry for 24 years. Huawei have become extremely good with their products in the last 10-12 years to a point that I can safely say today that, at least in 3G/4G that we have experienced, they are significantly superior to Ericsson and Nokia," he said.