Monday briefing: Iranian hackers are targeting 2020 US presidential candidates, says Microsoft

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Microsoft has warned that the Phosphorous hacking group, thought to be linked to Iran’s government, has attempted to gain access to Microsoft Office 365 email accounts belonging to a US presidential candidate’s 2020 election campaign, primarily by gathering personal information require to reset account passwords (Ars Technica).

Several news outlets subsequently reported that it was sitting president Donald Trump’s campaign that was targeted; this has been denied by the campaign’s communications director. Microsoft advises all Office 365 users to enable two-factor authentication.

PayPal has become the first financial services company to withdraw from Facebook’s Libra Association, the group set up to build services for the social media firm’s planned Libra cryptocurrency (TechCrunch). A PayPal representative said: “PayPal has made the decision to forgo further participation in the Libra Association at this time and to continue to focus on advancing our existing mission and business priorities as we strive to democratize access to financial services for underserved populations.”

Average touchscreen typing speeds are currently at 38 words per minute, according to new research (BBC News). Key speed factors are whether you use two thumbs rather than a single finger, the use of autocorrect rather than predictive selection, and age – people between the ages of 10 and 19 can touchscreen-type around 10 words per minute faster than those in their 40s. By comparison, the number of extremely fast keyboard typists is decreasing, with most people managing just 35 to 65wpm, rather than the 100wpm or more that’s possible.

Brexit is happening on October 31, so says Boris Johnson, though the law and his own team disagree (WIRED). If the prime minister fails to secure either a withdrawal agreement with the EU or an extension before Halloween, a no-deal Brexit could mean the UK runs temporarily short of everything from fresh food to sperm donations to parts for cars. But don’t panic, the government has your back: it’s made a website.

Perhaps as a nod to growing concerns about digital behavior tracking, particularly location tracking, Google has introduced a raft of privacy improvements (WIRED). Among them: a new Incognito Mode for Maps, which prevents Google from saving certain types of data and removes personalization touches from its Maps app. Just don’t assume it makes your movements untraceable.

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