Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Greece back in recession; Ford to cut North America, Asia staff; Boy, 11, shows 'weaponisation of toys'

1 Greece back in recession (BBC) Greece has fallen back into recession for the first time since 2012, official figures from Eurostat show. The country's gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.1% in the first three months of the year after shrinking by 1.2% in the final quarter of 2016.

The figures come as Greek unions begin two days of industrial action against cuts to pensions and tax rises insisted on by creditors. Greece is still struggling to secure a new bailout from international lenders. Its government hopes the loan payment will be approved by a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on 22 May.

Howard Archer, chief economist at IHS Markit, said Greece's return to recession was largely due to uncertainty over the bailout. Eurostat said the European Union as a whole continued to grow in the first quarter, expanding by 2% compared with the same period last year.

2 Ford to cut North America, Asia staff (Straits Times) Ford Motor plans to shrink its salaried workforce in North America and Asia by about 10 per cent as it works to boost profits and its sliding stock price, a source familiar with the plan told Reuters.

A person briefed on the plan said Ford plans to offer generous early retirement incentives to reduce its salaried headcount by Oct 1, but does not plan cuts to its hourly workforce or its production. The Wall Street Journal reported that Ford plans to cut 10 per cent of its 200,000-person global workforce, but the person briefed on the plan disputed that figure.

Ford remains focused on its core strategies to "drive profitable growth," the company said in a statement. "Reducing costs and becoming as lean and efficient as possible also remain part of that work," it said. "

The automaker may face potential fallout from Republican US President Donald Trump, who has made boosting auto employment a top priority. But Ford plans to emphasize the voluntary nature of the staff reductions.

3 Boy, 11, shows ‘weaponisation of toys’ (The Guardian) An 11-year-old boy has stunned an audience of security experts by hacking into their Bluetooth devices to manipulate a robotic teddy bear, showing in the process how interconnected smart toys “can be weaponised”.

Reuben Paul, who is in sixth grade at school in Austin, Texas, and his teddy bear Bob wowed hundreds at a cyber-security conference in the Netherlands. “From airplanes to automobiles, from smartphones to smart homes, anything or any toy can be part of the Internet of Things (IOT),” he said. “From terminators to teddy bears, anything or any toy can be weaponised.”

Plugging into his laptop a device known as a “Raspberry Pi” – a small credit-card size computer – Reuben scanned the hall for available Bluetooth devices, and to everyone’s amazement including his own, suddenly downloaded dozens of numbers, including some of top officials.

Then using a computer language called Python he hacked into his teddy bear via one of the numbers to turn on one of its lights and record a message from the audience. “Most internet-connected things have a Bluetooth functionality ... I basically showed how I could connect to it, and send commands to it, by recording audio and playing the light,” he said.

They could be used to steal private information such as passwords, as remote surveillance to spy on kids, or employ GPS to find out where a person is, he said. More chillingly, a toy could say “meet me at this location and I will pick you up”, Reuben said.

His father, information technology expert Mano Paul, Paul said he been “shocked” by the vulnerabilities discovered in kids’ toys, after Reuben first hacked a toy car, before moving on to more complicated things.

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