Israel and Iran Broaden Cyberwar To Attack Civilian Targets

Iranians couldn’t buy gas. Israelis found their intimate dating details posted online. The Iran-Israel shadow war is now hitting ordinary citizens. From a report: Millions of ordinary people in Iran and Israel recently found themselves caught in the crossfire of a cyberwar between their countries. In Tehran, a dentist drove around for hours in search of gasoline, waiting in long lines at four gas stations only to come away empty. In Tel Aviv, a well-known broadcaster panicked as the intimate details of his sex life, and those of hundreds of thousands of others stolen from an L.G.B.T.Q. dating site, were uploaded on social media. For years, Israel and Iran have engaged in a covert war, by land, sea, air and computer, but the targets have usually been military or government related. Now, the cyberwar has widened to target civilians on a large scale. In recent weeks, a cyberattack on Iran’s nationwide fuel distribution system paralyzed the country’s 4,300 gas stations, which took 12 days to have service fully restored.

That attack was attributed to Israel by two U.S. defense officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential intelligence assessments. It was followed days later by cyberattacks in Israel against a major medical facility and a popular L.G.B.T.Q. dating site, attacks Israeli officials have attributed to Iran. The escalation comes as American authorities have warned of Iranian attempts to hack the computer networks of hospitals and other critical infrastructure in the United States. As hopes fade for a diplomatic resurrection of the Iranian nuclear agreement, such attacks are only likely to proliferate. Hacks have been seeping into civilian arenas for months. Iran’s national railroad was attacked in July, but that relatively unsophisticated hack may not have been Israeli. And Iran is accused of making a failed attack on Israel’s water system last year. The latest attacks are thought to be the first to do widespread harm to large numbers of civilians. Nondefense computer networks are generally less secure than those tied to state security assets.

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Notifications Are Driving Us Crazy.

We’re on alert overload. Stray comments and offhand requests once shouted across the office now blink and buzz at us from Microsoft Teams and Slack. Our communication has grown fragmented, spread across myriad apps we have to learn, conform to, remember to check. From a report: Meanwhile, personal texts and social-media mentions have bled into the workday after all this time at home, adding another layer of distraction to our time on the clock. Why put your phone on silent if the boss isn’t hovering over you? Our culture has evolved to accommodate rapid communication, says Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, and it can be mentally taxing. Many of us struggle to conjure up that brilliant thought that hit right before the notification burst in. “Your memory is just overflowing with information,” she says.

It doesn’t make for great circumstances for getting work done, but there are ways individuals, managers and organizations can contend with the onslaught. Dr. Mark’s research finds people switch screens an average of 566 times a day. Half the time we’re interrupted; the other half we pull ourselves away. Breaks — even mindless ones like scrolling Facebook — can be positive, replenishing our cognitive resources, Dr. Mark says. But when something external diverts our focus, it takes us an average of 25 minutes and 26 seconds to get back to our original task, she has found. (Folks often switch to different projects in between.) And it stresses us out. Research using heart monitors shows that the interval between people’s heart beats becomes more regular when they’re interrupted, a sign they’re in fight-or-flight mode. The onus is on teams and organizations to create new norms, Dr. Mark says. If individuals just up and turn off their notifications they’ll likely be penalized for missing information. Instead, managers should create quiet hours where people aren’t expected to respond. “It’s a matter of relearning how to work,” she says.

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EU Complaint Accuses Microsoft of Anticompetitive Bundling of OneDrive, Teams in Windows

“Remember how Microsoft spent years in hot water in the late ’90s and early ’00s by forcing Internet Explorer on its customers?” asks ZDNet.

“European open-source cloud company Nextcloud does.”

Now, with a coalition of other European Union (EU) software and cloud organizations and companies called the “Coalition for a Level Playing Field,” Nextcloud has formally complained to the European Commission about Microsoft’s anti-competitive behavior by aggressively bundling its OneDrive cloud, Teams, and other services with Windows 10 and 11.

Nextcloud claims that by pushing consumers to sign up and hand over their data to Microsoft, the Windows giant is limiting consumer choice and creating an unfair barrier for other companies offering competing services. Specifically, Microsoft has grown its EU market share to 66%, while local providers’ market share declined from 26% to 16%. Microsoft has done this not by any technical advantage or sales benefits, but by heavily favoring its own products and services, self-preferencing over other services. While self-preferencing is not illegal per se under EU competition laws, if a company abuses its dominant market position, it can break the law. Nextcloud states that Microsoft has outright blocked other cloud service vendors by leveraging its position as gatekeeper to extend its reach in neighboring markets, pushing users deeper into its ecosystems. Thus, more specialized EU companies can’t compete on merit, as the key to success is not a good product but the ability to distort competition and block market access….

So, Nextcloud is asking the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition to prevent this kind of abusive behavior and keep the market competitive and fair for all players. Nextcloud is doing this by filing an official complaint with this body. In addition, Nextcloud has also filed a request with the German antitrust authorities, the Bundeskartellamt, for an investigation against Microsoft. With its partners, it’s also discussing filing a similar complaint in France.

Nextcloud is being joined in its complaint by several open-source, non-profit organizations. These include the European DIGITAL SME Alliance; the Document Foundation, LibreOffice’s backing organization; and the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE)… Numerous businesses are also supporting Nextcloud’s legal action. This includes Abilian, an open-source software publisher; DAASI, an open-source identity management company; and Mailfence.

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