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Apple to use drones to improve maps data

Since its launch in 2012, Apple Maps has come a long way yet has not been able to surpass its rival Google Maps which is why now it has decided to hop drones on its mission.

Apple has got approval from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use drones for data collection. The drones will be flown overhead and capture critical street information, including signs and traffic changes during which it will capture photos, videos and other traffic data.

The tech giant has also acquired startup for indoor navigation features, like views inside buildings, to improve its Map service and catch longtime leader Google. It is said that the company will also make improvements to car navigation.

Drone capture could prove important to Apple AAPL -0.93% as it works to improve its Maps application running on iOS and MacOS devices. After capturing the data from streets both in the U.S. and abroad, it can then be transmitted back to Apple’s team and its information uploaded to the Apple Maps servers. The drones would replace the existing fleet of camera-and-sensor ladened minivans to collect data.

According to Bloomberg’s report, Apple is said to want to use the drones to examine street signs, monitor road changes as well as see if areas are under construction.

Apple, like Google and Microsoft's Bing, currently uses cars equipped with cameras and sensors to travel and record mapping data. By switching to drones the company could conceivably record this data faster and thus more quickly update and improve Maps.

Apple's move toward drones isn't indicative of any future commercial drone plans. Apple has planned to use drones from manufacturers such as DJI and Aibotix.

The Cupertino, California-based company was vastly criticized when it had launched the Maps four years ago for having inaccurate information and poor driving directions following which its CEO, Tim Cook had apologized and suggested users try out other options like Google Maps which was previously bundled with Apple’s mobile operating system. Apple lacked the technology needed to quickly suck in data from many different sources to evaluate and change the digital maps.

Since then, Apple has made strides towards improving the app’s accuracy and data and has added more information, including traffic and transit data. Over the years, it had included Street View feature which lets users see images of addresses but it is still considered inferior to Google Maps.

Looking ahead, Apple could possibly hit the market with its new improved mapping system sometime next year along with a tool which would tell users when and where to change lanes during navigation.

German elections may be disrupted by Russia

Germany's spy chief, Bruno Kahl warned that state-sponsored hackers aligned with Russia may disrupt German elections taking place next year by spreading campaigns of misinformation and hacking government emails which could undermine the democratic process.

Kahl, president of the German Federal Intelligence Agency (BND), added that the entire Europe was on focus of disruption but presently the danger was hovering more over Germany.

In an interview to a daily, Süddeutsche Zeitung on Tuesday (November 30), Kahl said that his agency knows of “cyber attacks that have no other point than causing political insecurity.” He told that pressure on public discourse and democracy is "unacceptable."

"The perpetrators are interested in delegitimising the democratic process as such, regardless of who that ends up helping," Kahl said, adding that the attacks may come "from the Russian region" where he claimed hacking is "at least tolerated or desired by the state."

Kahl also claimed to have already witnessed targeted email spoofing campaigns orchestrated by foreign hackers although admitted attribution remains tough.

The head of Germany's domestic BfV intelligence agency told Reuters earlier in November that authorities were concerned that Russia may seek to interfere in Germany's national elections through the use of misleading news stories.

Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also warned that social bots software used by Russian hackers might manipulate public opinion by spreading fake news.

In the wake of a suspected cyber attack on Deutsche Telekom on Monday (November 29), Merkel said: "such cyber attacks, or hybrid conflicts as they are known in Russian doctrine, are now part of daily life and we must learn to cope with them."

Merkel faces a challenge from the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party which has said the EU should drop sanctions on Russia and that Berlin should take a more balanced position towards Moscow.

During the U.S. presidential elections too, intelligence officials believed that votes were manipulated by Russian authorities by hacking into Democratic National Committee emails which Russian officials denied. These incidents have sparked fear of nation-state influence on elections.

Some critics say a proliferation of fake news helped sway the US election in the favour of Republican Donald Trump, who has pledged to improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton accused Trump of being a Putin “puppet”.

Cybersecurity Firm Proficio raises $12 Million Funding

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Proficio, a Carlsbad-based startup providing cybersecurity protection services for middle market companies, has raised $12 million in an investment round led by Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors. The Los Angeles-based private equity firm provided funding from its Kayne Partners Fund Group, which invests in high-growth technology businesses.

It is the first major capital raise for Proficio, which previously took in about $1 million, said co-founder and President Tim McElwee.

“They haven’t done anything in cyber, and they have been looking to get involved in the cybersecurity space,” said McElwee. “We are excited to be partnering with Kayne Capital as we accelerate the next phase of Proficio’s growth.”

“Proficio is changing the way organizations meet their information technology security and compliance goals by providing the most advanced cybersecurity solutions without the cost and complexity of acquiring sophisticated software or operating a 24x7 security operations center on their own,” said Nate Locke, a Kayne partner who will join Proficio’s board of directors, in a statement.

With the funding, Proficio aims to expand in its current markets of North America and parts of Asia, as well as spread into additional regions such as Europe and other parts of Asia. The company also plans to expand its cybersecurity technology platform, adding new services for advanced analytics, threat intelligence and incident response.

Founded in 2010, Proficio provides managed cybersecurity services on a subscription basis to customers in banking, health care, utilities, credit and consumer businesses.

Locky Ransomware Spreads Through Facebook,LinkedIn

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A new ransomware has spread into social networking sites Facebook and LinkedIn through graphic files and images. The new type of ransomware, Locky, is being distributed by a new attack vector called ImageGate.

Few researchers from CheckPoint says that Locky understands the flaws in the treatment of images by Facebook and LinkedIn and uses it to their advantage by making users download malicious codes through the pictures which eventually hijacks computer exactly when you open them. The ransomware encrypts your files and attackers don’t give the back to the user until a certain amount is paid.

Dikla Barda, Check Point Research team wrote, “The attackers have built a new capability to embed malicious code into an image file and successfully upload it to the social media website. The attackers exploit a misconfiguration on the social media infrastructure to deliberately force their victims to download the image file. This results in infection of the users’ device as soon as the end-user clicks on the downloaded file.”

Check Point added that it will release further details about the vulnerability once the affected websites confirm they have fixed the flaw.

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