October 30, 2020

Over the last week, Russian cybercriminals have launched malware attacks against hospital systems in Vermont, New York, and Oregon, and the federal government is warning all U.S. medical facilities to be prepared for a strike.

During an attack, computers are infected by ransomware, which locks up systems; in order to get control back, the victim must pay a ransom. Hospitals that are affected can no longer use electronic records and have to write everything down on paper, which disrupts patient care and is especially alarming due to the high number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

"Most threat actors, they're explicitly not looking to hit hospitals," Charles Carmakal, chief technology officer at the cybersecurity firm Mandiant, told The Wall Street Journal. "This group in particular has explicitly stated that they're going to hit hospitals and they've proven it." Mandiant and other analysts believe an Eastern European criminal hacking collective is behind the recent activity, the Journal reports, and Carmakal called it "the most significant cyber threat that I've seen in the United States in my career."

On Tuesday, the Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls, Oregon, was hit by a ransomware attack, hospital spokesman Tom Hottman told the Journal. In an attempt to stop the malware from spreading, the hospital took its medical and back-office information systems offline. Some surgical procedures have had to be postponed because of the attack, Hottman said, and cancer care like radiation oncology is also unavailable. "We're open for business, it's just not business as usual," he added. Catherine Garcia

October 27, 2020

YouTube is set to roll out new warnings in hopes of slowing the spread of misinformation about 2020 election results.

The company on Tuesday said that on Election Day, it will "prominently" display a new "information panel" both in search results related to the election and under videos about the election. This panel will "note that election results may not be final and link to Google's election results feature, which will enable you to track election results in real time," YouTube said.

Because mail-in ballots are expected to be used far more widely this year than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, experts have warned that a winner in the presidential race may not be called by news networks on the night of the election.

Outside of the warning about election results potentially not being final, YouTube also said Tuesday it will continue to remove content that violates its policies against voter suppression, such as videos that falsely claim "that mail-in ballots have been manipulated to change the results of an election," and its "recommendations systems will also keep limiting the spread of harmful election-related misinformation and borderline content," among other steps.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg previously announced that the platform would be using its voting information center to "help people understand that there is nothing illegitimate about not having a result on election night." And Twitter this week began rolling out new messages on the top of users' news feeds called "pre-bunks" to pre-emptively debunk election misinformation. On Wednesday, NBC News reports Twitter will display a "pre-bunk" addressing "misinformation about the timing of election results." Brendan Morrow

June 3, 2020

AMC, the largest theater chain in the U.S., said Wednesday it may not be able to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

AMC theaters were shut down in March, and the chain said in a regulatory filing that it has enough cash to reopen all of them in the summer, but if that can't happen, it will need more money.

The company listed several concerns, including whether customers are even going to want to return to theaters during the pandemic. Since March, some new movies have been released to streaming platforms for at-home viewing, and AMC and other theater chains are worried this practice will continue in the future. Because Hollywood has stopped production on movies, it will also take time before there are full slates of new films.

Due to all of this, AMC expressed "substantial doubt" of its "ability to continue" for an extended period of time. The company has 1,000 theaters in the U.S. and Europe. Catherine Garcia

May 11, 2020

Twitter has rolled out a plan to slap labels and warnings on certain tweets in an effort against misleading claims about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The social media platform on Monday announced it will begin adding labels to tweets "containing potentially harmful, misleading information related to COVID-19," directing users toward information on the topic from trusted sources. Additionally, some tweets will receive a warning that will "inform people that the information in the tweet conflicts with public health experts' guidance before they view it," Twitter said, with this depending on "the propensity for harm and type of misleading information."

In an example shared by Twitter, a label warns that "some or all of the content shared in this tweet conflicts with guidance from public health experts regarding COVID-19," and users have to select "view" before they see the content in question.

For misleading information, if the propensity for harm is "moderate," it will receive a label, but if the propensity for harm is "severe," it will be removed, according to a chart Twitter shared. Disputed claims will either get a label or a warning depending on if the propensity for harm is moderate or severe. Twitter was previously taking down certain harmful posts about the coronavirus, such as the false claim that social distancing doesn't slow its spread, The Associated Press notes.

Yoel Roth, Twitter's head of site integrity, says "we are not fact-checking every piece of content on Twitter," but these labels will help "provide further context," NBC News reports. Twitter previously rolled out similar labels for synthetic and manipulated media. Just recently, a misleading viral video from Jimmy Kimmel's show falsely suggesting Vice President Mike Pence carried empty boxes of personal protective equipment into a nursing home received one of these "manipulated media" labels. Brendan Morrow

December 6, 2017

President Trump failed to heed advice from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis when deciding to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, The Hill reports.

Mattis and Tillerson told Trump that the move would endanger American troops and diplomats, The Associated Press reported. But Trump forged on, and the plan to move the embassy — announced Wednesday — has already sparked outrage in the region that may result in protests. Tillerson released a statement after Trump's Wednesday announcement that said the State Department had “implemented robust security plans to protect the safety of Americans in affected regions."

Mattis and Tillerson avoided questions from reporters after the president's announcement, though The Hill reports both told the press that they had spoken with the president about the move and made their opinions known. Neither confirmed or denied opposition to the action. Elianna Spitzer

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