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Microsoft Asks Social Media Platforms to Act Fast on Terror

According to him, tech firms must also continue to improve upon newer, AI-based technologies that can detect whether brand-new content may contain violence

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FILE - Microsoft Corp. signage is seen outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington, July 3, 2014. VOA

Microsoft President Brad Smith has asked social media platforms to learn and act more in the wake of the March 15 Christchurch shootings that was livestreamed on Facebook.

In a blog post on Monday, Smith said words alone were not enough.

“Across the tech sector, we need to do more. Especially for those of us who operate social networks or digital communications tools or platforms that were used to amplify the violence, it’s clear that we need to learn from and take new action based on what happened in Christchurch,” he said.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old self-proclaimed white supremacist, has been charged with one murder in connection with the attacks at the two mosques that killed 50 people, and he is expected to face further charges.

Smith said that across Microsoft, we have identified improvements we can make and are moving promptly to implement them.

“This includes the accelerated and broadened implementation of existing technology tools to identify and classify extremist violent content and changes for the process that enables our users to flag such content,” he posted.

Smith emphasised on developing an industry-wide approach that will be principled, comprehensive and effective.

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Logo of Microsoft outside it’s office. Pixabay

Over two years ago, four companies — YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft — came together to create the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT).

Among other things, the group’s members have created a shared hash database of terrorist content and developed photo and video matching and text-based machine learning techniques to identify and thwart the spread of violence on their platforms.

These technologies were used more than a million times in 24 hours to stop the distribution of the video from Christchurch, informed Smith.

“As (New Zealand) Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern noted last week, gone are the days when tech companies can think of their platforms akin to a postal service without regard to the responsibilities embraced by other content publishers,” noted Smith.

Also Read- PM Narendra Modi Engages with Celebrities to Boost Visibility

According to him, tech firms must also continue to improve upon newer, AI-based technologies that can detect whether brand-new content may contain violence.

“We should also pursue new steps beyond the posting of content. For example, we should explore browser-based solutions – building on ideas like safe search – to block the accessing of such content at the point when people attempt to view and download it,” he added. (IANS)

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Cyber Criminals Attack Nearly 10,000 Microsoft Customers

“ElectionGuard” is free and open-source and will be available through the repository GitHub as a software development kit (SDK) later this year

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FILE - A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 18, 2017. VOA

Microsoft has notified nearly 10,000 customers in the past year who were targeted or compromised by nation-state attacks originating from three countries — Iran, North Korea and Russia.

According to Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President for Consumer Security and Trust at Microsoft, 84 per cent of these attacks targeted its enterprise customers, and about 16 per cent targeted consumer personal email accounts.

“While many of these attacks are unrelated to the democratic process, this data demonstrates the significant extent to which nation-states continue to rely on cyber attacks as a tool to gain intelligence, influence geopolitics or achieve other objectives,” Burt said in a blog post late on Wednesday.

The company has seen extensive activity from the actors it calls Holmium and Mercury operating from Iran, Thallium operating from North Korea, and two actors operating from Russia it calls Yttrium and Strontium.

“This data has been compiled by the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center which works every day to track these global threats,” said Burt.

Since the launch of Microsoft “AccountGuard” last August, the company has uncovered attacks specifically targeting organisations that are fundamental to democracy.

“We have steadily expanded AccountGuard, our threat notification service for political campaigns, parties, and democracy-focused non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to include 26 countries across four continents.”

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FILE – Microsoft Corp. signage is seen outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington, July 3, 2014. VOA

Microsoft has made 781 notifications of nation-state attacks targeting organisations participating in AccountGuard.

This data shows that democracy-focused organisations in the US should be particularly concerned as 95 per cent of these attacks have targeted US-based organisations. Many of the democracy-focused attacks target NGOs and think tanks.

“As we head into the 2020 elections, we anticipate that we will see attacks targeting US election systems, political campaigns or NGOs that work closely with campaigns,” warned Microsoft.

Also Read: Samsung Galaxy Note May not Feature Snapdragon 855 Plus Chip

The company demonstrated the first voting system running Microsoft ElectionGuard technology at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado, on Wednesday.

“ElectionGuard can enable a new era of secure, verifiable voting. It is also possible to make voting more accessible for people with disabilities and more affordable for local governments while increasing security,” said Burt.

“ElectionGuard” is free and open-source and will be available through the repository GitHub as a software development kit (SDK) later this year. (IANS)