South African Tech Firm Creates App to Tackle Gender-Based Violence

In the shadows of the coronavirus pandemic, violence against women has been on the rise around the world, including in South Africa, where half of the country’s women report at least one incident of violence in their lifetime. Now, a local tech company has developed an alarm system to help stop the abuse. For VOA, Linda Givetash reports from Johannesburg. Camera – Zaheer Cassim.


Amnesty International закликає підписати петицію для звільнення фрілансера Крим.Реалії Єсипенка

Amnesty International Ukraine закликає підписати петицію з вимогою звільнення фрілансера Крим.Реалії (проєкт Радіо Свобода) Владислава Єсипенка


India Tests Drone Deliveries for COVID-19 Vaccines in Remote Jammu

As the world races to vaccinate billions more people against COVID-19 while the virus’ new omicron variant spreads, India is testing using drones to deliver vaccines to people in mountainous Jammu and Kashmir, where more than 70% of the population lives in rural areas.

It typically takes a couple hours by road to deliver vaccines from one of the region’s main medical centers in Jammu to a hospital located in Marh, a village in mountains nearby. Last month, officials said the delivery took just 20 minutes by the “Octacopter” drone.

Doctors say immunization campaigns have long been challenged by the region’s mountains and weather, which can thwart efforts to reach those living in remote areas.

Director of Health Services Jammu, Dr. Renu Sharma, told VOA that the trial last month delivering 200 doses gave hope that drones could be a useful delivery option.

“If the project is given [approved] it will be very helpful for remote areas especially in Jammu division given the difficult terrain,” Sharma said.

Other parts of Kashmir remain inaccessible for vehicles at times, making drones a better option.

“The areas like Sikardar, Safaid Aab, and Marno are challenging especially in winters. It takes us six to eight hours on foot from Dawar to reach to these areas,” Bashir Ahmad Peroo, a health worker from Gurez area, told VOA.

A spokesperson for the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir, Dr. Mir Mushtaq, told VOA that doctors now often stock enough medicine in the summer to last the local population all winter. Drones could help bolster supplies during the cold months.

Its creators say the Octacopter can carry a payload of 10 kilograms, with a range of 20 kilometers, and a maximum speed of 36 kph.

India’s CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories developed the Octocopter drones and the country’s minister of state for science and technology, Dr. Jitendra Singh, said they hope they will be able to deliver more than just COVID-19 vaccines, including medical supplies, equipment, and critical packages to remote communities.

 

Indian health statistics indicate more than 4,400 people have died from coronavirus in Jammu and Kashmir, and doctors say since late last month there has been a rise in the number of new positive tests each day, making the vaccination campaign ever more important. 

 


US State Department Phones Hacked With Israeli Company Spyware, Sources Say

Apple Inc. iPhones of at least nine U.S. State Department employees were hacked by an unknown assailant using sophisticated spyware developed by the Israel-based NSO Group, according to four people familiar with the matter.

The hacks, which took place in the last several months, hit U.S. officials either based in Uganda or focused on matters concerning the East African country, two of the sources said.

The intrusions, first reported here, represent the widest known hacks of U.S. officials through NSO technology.

Previously, a list of numbers with potential targets including some American officials surfaced in reporting on NSO, but it was not clear whether intrusions were always tried or succeeded.

Reuters could not determine who launched the latest cyberattacks.

NSO Group said in a statement Thursday that it did not have any indication their tools were used but canceled access for the relevant customers and would investigate based on the Reuters inquiry.

“If our investigation shall show these actions indeed happened with NSO’s tools, such customer will be terminated permanently and legal actions will take place,” said an NSO spokesperson, who added that NSO will also “cooperate with any relevant government authority and present the full information we will have.”

NSO has long said it only sells its products to government law enforcement and intelligence clients, helping them to monitor security threats, and is not directly involved in surveillance operations.

Officials at the Uganda Embassy in Washington did not comment. A spokesperson for Apple declined to comment.

A State Department spokesperson declined to comment on the intrusions, instead pointing to the Commerce Department’s recent decision to place the Israeli company on an entity list, making it harder for U.S. companies to do business with them.

NSO Group and another spyware firm were “added to the Entity List based on a determination that they developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments that used this tool to maliciously target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, academics, and embassy workers,” the Commerce Department said in an announcement last month.

Easily identifiable

NSO software is capable of not only capturing encrypted messages, photos and other sensitive information from infected phones, but also turning them into recording devices to monitor surroundings, based on product manuals reviewed by Reuters.

Apple’s alert to affected users did not name the creator of the spyware used in this hack.

The victims notified by Apple included American citizens and were easily identifiable as U.S. government employees because they associated email addresses ending in state.gov with their Apple IDs, two of the people said.

They and other targets notified by Apple in multiple countries were infected through the same graphics processing vulnerability that Apple did not learn about and fix until September, the sources said.

Since at least February, this software flaw allowed some NSO customers to take control of iPhones simply by sending invisible yet tainted iMessage requests to the device, researchers who investigated the espionage campaign said.

The victims would not see or need to interact with a prompt for the hack to be successful. Versions of NSO surveillance software, commonly known as Pegasus, could then be installed.

Apple’s announcement that it would notify victims came on the same day it sued NSO Group last week, accusing it of helping numerous customers break into Apple’s mobile software, iOS.

In a public response, NSO has said its technology helps stop terrorism and that they’ve installed controls to curb spying against innocent targets.

For example, NSO says its intrusion system cannot work on phones with U.S. numbers beginning with the country code +1.

But in the Uganda case, the targeted State Department employees were using iPhones registered with foreign telephone numbers, said two of the sources, without the U.S. country code.

Uganda has been roiled this year by an election with reported irregularities, protests and a government crackdown. U.S. officials have tried to meet with opposition leaders, drawing ire from the Ugandan government. Reuters has no evidence the hacks were related to current events in Uganda.

A senior Biden administration official, speaking on condition he not be identified, said the threat to U.S. personnel abroad was one of the reasons the administration was cracking down on companies such as NSO and pursuing new global discussion about spying limits.

The official added that the government has seen “systemic abuse” in multiple countries involving NSO’s Pegasus spyware.

Sen. Ron Wyden, who is on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said: “Companies that enable their customers to hack U.S. government employees are a threat to America’s national security and should be treated as such.”

Historically, some of NSO Group’s best-known past clients included Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Mexico.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense must approve export licenses for NSO, which has close ties to Israel’s defense and intelligence communities, to sell its technology internationally.

In a statement, the Israeli Embassy in Washington said that targeting American officials would be a serious breach of its rules.

“Cyber products like the one mentioned are supervised and licensed to be exported to governments only for purposes related to counter-terrorism and severe crimes,” an embassy spokesperson said. “The licensing provisions are very clear and if these claims are true, it is a severe violation of these provisions.” 

 


Росія: до реєстру ЗМІ-«іноагентів» внесли чотирьох журналістів проєкту Радіо Свобода

Загалом у реєстрі ЗМІ – «іноземних агентів» у Росії зараз 103 особи й організації, включно з російськомовними проєктами Радіо Свобода


Європейська федерація журналістів виступила на підтримку колег, яких переслідують у Криму

Генеральний секретар Європейської федерації журналістів Рікардо Ґутьєррес зазначив, що Крим «став зоною, де більше не поважають міжнародне право та верховенство права»


НБУ послабив гривню ще на 1 копійку щодо долара

Торги на українському міжбанківському валютному ринку завершуються на рівні 27 гривень 30,5–32,5 копійки за долар


«Укргазвидобування» заявляє про відкриття нового газового родовища в Харківській області

Компанія оцінила потенціал родовища у до 5 мільярдів кубічних метрів запасів газу


Тисяча за вакцинацію: Кабмін пропонує виділити з бюджету до 8 мільярдів гривень – Шмигаль

«Оскільки очікуємо збільшення звернень, прийнято рішення збільшити суму, яка буде спрямована на виплати вакцинованим українцям»


НБУ послабив гривню ще на 2 копійки щодо долара

На торгах на українському міжбанківському валютному ринку також поновилося зростання американської валюти, сесія завершується на рівні 27 гривень 31–33 копійки за долар


Суд у Мінську заарештував на 10 діб фрілансера Радіо Свобода

За даними білоруської служби Радіо Свобода, рішення суд ухвалив ще 26 листопада, родичам про нього повідомили пізніше


Верховна Рада ухвалила закон про «збалансованість бюджетних надходжень»

Перед голосуванням депутати кілька годин розглядали правки до документу


Мін’юст отримав позовну заяву китайської сторони через «Мотор-Січ», вважає вимоги необґрунтованими

Міністерство отримало повний текст позовної заяви 15 листопада, вона містить вимоги на суму 4,59 мільярда доларів


New Twitter CEO Steps From Behind the Scenes to High Profile 

Newly named Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal has emerged from behind the scenes to take over one of Silicon Valley’s highest-profile and politically volatile jobs. 

But his prior lack of name recognition, coupled with a solid technical background, appears to be what some big company backers were looking for to lead Twitter out of its current morass. 

A 37-year-old immigrant from India, Agrawal comes from outside the ranks of celebrity CEOs, which include the man he’s replacing, Jack Dorsey, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or SpaceX and Tesla’s Elon Musk. Those brand-name company founders and leaders have often been in the news — and on Twitter — for exploits beyond the day-to-day running of their companies.

Having served as Twitter’s chief technology officer for the past four years, Agrawal’s appointment was seen by Wall Street as a choice of someone who will focus on ushering Twitter into what’s widely seen as the internet’s next era — the metaverse. 

Agrawal is a “‘safe’ pick who should be looked upon as favorably by investors,” wrote CFRA Research analyst Angelo Zino, who noted that Twitter shareholder Elliott Management Corp. had pressured Dorsey to step down. 

Elliott released a statement Monday saying Agrawal and new board chairman Bret Taylor were the “right leaders for Twitter at this pivotal moment for the company.” Taylor is president and chief operating officer of the business software company Salesforce. 

Agrawal joins a growing cadre of Indian American CEOs of large tech companies, including Sundar Pichai of Google parent Alphabet, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and IBM’s Arvind Krishna. 

He joined San Francisco-based Twitter in 2011, when it had just 1,000 employees, and has been its chief technical officer since 2017. At the end of last year, the company had a workforce of 5,500. 

Agrawal previously worked at Microsoft, Yahoo and AT&T in research roles. At Twitter, he’s worked on machine learning, revenue and consumer engineering and helping with audience growth. He studied at Stanford and the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. 

While Twitter has high-profile users like politicians and celebrities and is a favorite of journalists, its user base lags far behind old rivals like Facebook and YouTube and newer ones like TikTok. It has just over 200 million daily active users, a common industry metric.

As CEO, Agrawal will have to step beyond the technical details and deal with the social and political issues Twitter and social media are struggling with. Those include misinformation, abuse and effects on mental health. 

Agrawal got a fast introduction to life as CEO of a high-profile company that’s one of the central platforms for political speech online. Conservatives quickly unearthed a tweet he sent in 2010 that read “If they are not gonna make a distinction between muslims and extremists, then why should I distinguish between white people and racists.”

As some Twitter users pointed out, the 11-year-old tweet was quoting a segment on “The Daily Show,” which was referencing the firing of Juan Williams, who made a comment about being nervous about Muslims on an airplane.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a message for comment on the tweet.