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Friday, Oct 31st

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Cryptolocker ransomware has 'infected about 250,000 PCs'

cryptolockerA virulent form of ransomware has now infected about quarter of a million Windows computers, according to a report by security researchers.

Cryptolocker scrambles users' data and then demands a fee to unencrypt it alongside a countdown clock. Dell Secureworks said that the US and UK had been worst affected.

It added that the cyber-criminals responsible were now targeting home internet users after initially focusing on professionals.

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State surveillance of personal data is theft, say world's leading authors

authors say spying is theftMore than 500 of the world's leading authors, including five Nobel prize winners, have condemned the scale of state surveillance revealed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden and warned that spy agencies are undermining democracy and must be curbed by a new international charter.

The signatories, who come from 81 different countries and include Margaret Atwood, Don DeLillo, Orham Pamuk, Günter Grass and Arundhati Roy, say the capacity of intelligence agencies to spy on millions of people's digital communications is turning everyone into potential suspects, with worrying implications for the way societies work.

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Where are the smartest 15-year-olds in the world?

smartest kidsThe academic performance of 15-year-olds in the United States has stayed relatively the same in recent years, but with other nations improving, American students are slipping behind their international counterparts, according to a study released Tuesday.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released data on the 2012 academic performance of 15-year-olds around the world in three subjects: reading, mathematics, and science.

"We are not seeing any improvement in the U.S. … our ranking is slipping because other countries are improving," said Jack Buckley, NCES commissioner.

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They're Watching You at Work

data analysis of laborAlgorithms that predict stock-price movements have transformed Wall Street. Algorithms that chomp through our Web histories have transformed marketing. Until quite recently, however, few people seemed to believe this data-driven approach might apply broadly to the labor market.

But it now does. According to John Hausknecht, a professor at Cornell’s school of industrial and labor relations, in recent years the economy has witnessed a “huge surge in demand for workforce-analytics roles.”

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NSA slapped malware on 50,000+ networks, says report

NSA malwareA new slide culled from the trove of documents leaked by Edward Snowden shows where the NSA placed malware on more than 50,000 computer networks worldwide, according to Dutch media outlet NRC.

The NSA management presentation slide from 2012 shows a world map spiderwebbed with "Computer Network Exploitation" access points.

Like all the NSA slides we've seen so far, this one is unlikely to win a Powerpoint beauty pageant anytime soon.

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Whistleblowers tell Senate panel of alleged sexual misconduct by Secret Service agents

Secret Servuce dysfunctionSecret Service agents and managers have engaged in sexual misconduct and other improprieties across a span of 17 countries in recent years, according to accounts given by whistleblowers to the Senate committee that oversees the department.

Sen. Ronald H. Johnson (Wis.), ranking Republican on a Homeland Security subcommittee, said Thursday that the accounts directly contradict repeated assertions by Secret Service leaders that the elite agency does not foster or tolerate sexually improper behavior.

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Tons of aid in Philippines, but not where needed

Philippines aidThe day after Typhoon Haiyan struck the eastern Philippine coast, a team of 15 doctors and logistics experts was ready to fly here to the worst-hit city to help. On Tuesday, five days into what could be the country's deadliest disaster, they were still waiting to leave.

Aid is coming to Tacloban: medical supplies, pallets of water and food piled on trucks, planes and ferries, sent by the Philippine government and countries around the world. But the scale of the disaster and challenges of delivering the assistance means few in this city, strewn with debris and corpses, have received any help.

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