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Russia blocks encrypted email provider ProtonMail – TechCrunch

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Russia has told internet providers to enforce a block against encrypted email provider ProtonMail, the company’s chief has confirmed.

The block was ordered by the state Federal Security Service, formerly the KGB, according to a Russian-language blog, which obtained and published the order after the agency accused the company and several other email providers of facilitating bomb threats.

Several anonymous bomb threats were sent by email to police in late January, forcing several schools and government buildings to evacuate.

In all, 26 internet addresses were blocked by the order, including several servers used to scramble the final connection for users of Tor, an anonymity network popular for circumventing censorship. Internet providers were told to implement the block “immediately,” using a technique known as BGP blackholing, a way that tells internet routers to simply throw away internet traffic rather than routing it to its destination.

But the company says while the site still loads, users cannot send or receive email.

ProtonMail chief executive Andy Yen called the block “particularly sneaky,” in an email to TechCrunch.

“ProtonMail is not blocked in the normal way, it’s actually a bit more subtle,” said Yen. “They are blocking access to ProtonMail mail servers. So Mail.ru — and most other Russian mail servers — for example, is no longer able to deliver email to ProtonMail, but a Russian user has no problem getting to their inbox,” he said.

That’s because the two ProtonMail servers listed by the order are its back-end mail delivery servers, rather than the front-end website that runs on a different system.

The letter, translated, says that the listed internet addresses caused “the mass distribution of obviously false reports of a terrorist act” in January, resulting in “mass evacuations of schools, administrative buildings and shopping centers.” (Image: supplied)

“The wholesale blocking of ProtonMail in a way that hurts all Russian citizens who want greater online security seems like a poor approach,” said Yen. He said his service offers superior security and encryption to other mail providing rivals in the country.

“We have also implemented technical measures to ensure continued service for our users in Russia and we have been making good progress in this regard,” he explained. “If there is indeed a legitimate legal complaint, we encourage the Russian government to reconsider their position and solve problems by following established international law and legal procedures.”

Russia’s internet regulator Roskomnadzor did not return a request for comment.

Yen says the block coincided with protests against government efforts to restrict the internet, which critics have dubbed an internet “kill switch.” The Kremlin, known for its protracted efforts to crack down and stifle freedom of speech, claimed it was to protect the country’s infrastructure in the event of a cyberattack.

Some 15,000 residents protested in Moscow on Sunday, during which users started noticing problems with ProtonMail.

It’s the latest in ongoing tensions with tech companies in the wake of the Russian-backed disinformation efforts. Russia’s crackdown on the internet intensified in 2014 when it ratified a law ordering tech companies operating in the country to store Russian data within its borders. LinkedIn was one of the fist casualties of the law, leading to the site’s nationwide ban in 2016.

Last month, Facebook was told to comply with the law or face its own ban. Twitter, too, also faces a possible blackout.

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Vietnamese Automaker’s EV Shipment Is Big Competition For The US

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Bloomberg reports that VinFast is exporting 999 electric vehicles to the U.S. market. The electric vehicles were dispatched on Nov. 25, and they’re expected to arrive in California right around Christmas. The specific model that is en route to the U.S. is the VinFast VF 8 — a 402 hp electric SUV with a battery range of 292 miles. This is similar to the VF 32 model that was unveiled last year. With a price tag of about $41,000, the VinFast VF 8 will be competing with the likes of the Volkwagen ID.4, Tesla Model Y, and Hyundai Ioniq 5.

Another model, the VinFast VF 9, is scheduled to be shipped out from Vietnam in January. But unlike the VF 8, the VF 9 model will include a bigger battery to increase the range up to 342 miles after a full charge. Just like the VF 32 model that was unveiled last year, the VF 9 is designed with all-wheel drive dual electric motors to optimize performance. All VinFast electric vehicles that will be sold in the U.S. will have a battery warranty of 125,000 miles or 10 years.

However, the VinFast VF 8 and VF 9 will not qualify for the new tax credit because they’re not assembled in North America. Then again, VinFast is working to solve that problem since it’s building an electric vehicle manufacturing plant in North Carolina. “As soon as we start manufacturing cars in the U.S., our customers will be eligible (for) the tax incentive,” Le Thi Thu Thuy, the CEO of VinFast told Reuters. The Vietnamese company has also received about 65,000 pre-orders from the international market, and 17,000 bookings from the U.S. 

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Amazon Gives Discounted Xbox Series S A $40 Credit For Cyber Monday

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The Xbox Series S is an ideal backup console for a second room in your home (perhaps used with your monitor to complement your gaming PC), or for your young ones who don’t get caught up in pixel peeping and only care about playing the latest games. Even if you have a 4K TV and you intend to use this as your primary console, games can look pretty great with the advanced resolution upscaling available in most of today’s sets, and you still get that smooth 120Hz performance in games that support it.

Sadly, affordable storage space remains a problem for all current-gen consoles. While Microsoft advertises 512GB, you might get less than 400GB after the system OS eats its share. With some games demanding as much as 100-150GB, you can quickly run out of headroom. You might survive with an affordable external hard drive to store games on while you’re not playing them, as moving games from one hard drive to another is much quicker than redownloading them.

It’s also worth noting that older, non-optimized games can be played directly from an external hard drive. If you anticipate needing more storage for current games, your best bet might be to step up to the 1TB Xbox Series X, which costs $260 more than this deal (and is typically harder to find), or add an optional storage expansion card, which is similarly costly, starting at $220 for 1TB.

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ARK: Ultimate Survivor Edition Review For Nintendo Switch: Fight For Your Fun

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Whether you’re playing the standard version of “ARK” or this new all-in-one Switch port, the fundamental game is the same: Your character wakes up in a semi-random spot on your chosen map, then you get to work crafting survival implements and putting together a shelter. Eventually you branch out into bigger and better stuff, and even start to tame dinosaurs to act as mounts, protectors, or specialized material gatherers.

Gather materials and supplies, craft tools and gear, level-up to learn more crafting recipes, gather more materials, craft better stuff, and so on. All while balancing your character’s need for food and water, navigating extreme temperatures, and trying not to get eaten by prehistoric animals. Comparing it to “Minecraft” might seem disingenuous, but the game runs on similar principles.

Some things are a bit more complicated in “ARK,” however, even without the need for terrain manipulation found in “Minecraft.” There are a lot of status effects to consider (get too warm, too cold, poisoned, knocked out, broken bones), and you have to craft everything — including the parts needed to build yourself a home. It’s a satisfying enough feedback loop of steady progression, but it also feels a bit hamstrung by its history.

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