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Twitter bans animated PNG files from tweets because of epilepsy safety concerns

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The reasons why Jack Dorsey banned political ads from Twitter
The new policy will go into effect on November 22, Dorsey said.

Twitter has said that it will now block animated PNG (APNG) files because the format doesn’t respect autoplay settings and posed a threat to “the safety of people with sensitivity to motion and flashing imagery, including those with epilepsy”. 

The social media giant said the bug in Twitter had allowed users to add multiple APNGs. “APNGs ignore our safeguards and can cause performance issues for the app and your device. Today we’re fixing the bug which will no longer allow APNGs to animate when Tweeted,” Twitter Support said in a tweet.   

APNG files already on Twitter will remain on the social network but the company will prevent users from uploading new ones. According to a report on Yahoo news, Twitter said it was unaware of the bug being used to misuse APNGs but was making the move to avoid the possibility.

SEE: 10 tips for new cybersecurity pros (free PDF)    

The move by Twitter comes soon after the Epilepsy Foundation announced it had filed a criminal complaint with US law enforcement over attacks that used its handle and hashtags to post flashing and strobing lights, which it said were designed to trigger seizures in epilepsy sufferers. 

According to the foundation, the attacks were timed to coincide with National Epilepsy Awareness Month, which is when people with epilepsy are more likely to be following the organization’s Twitter feed.  

“These attacks are no different than a person carrying a strobe light into a convention of people with epilepsy and seizures, with the intention of inducing seizures and thereby causing significant harm to the participants,” said Allison Nichol, Esq., director of legal advocacy for the Epilepsy Foundation. 

The organization noted that people with epilepsy may not be aware that they’re sensitive to strobing lights until they have a seizure. 

It estimates that about 3% of people with epilepsy are vulnerable to seizures when exposed to flashing lights at certain intensities. 

SEE: SIM swap horror story: I’ve lost decades of data and Google won’t lift a finger

Jacqueline French, M.D., chief medical and innovation officer of the Epilepsy Foundation and professor of Neurology at NYU Langone Health’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, said the population of people with photosensitive epilepsy is small, but the impact on them can be “quite serious”. 

“Many are not even aware they have photosensitivity until they have a seizure,” French said.



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The Five Pillars of (Azure) Cloud-based Application Security

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This 1-hour webinar from GigaOm brings together experts in Azure cloud application migration and security, featuring GigaOm analyst Jon Collins and special guests from Fortinet, Director of Product Marketing for Public Cloud, Daniel Schrader, and Global Director of Public Cloud Architecture and Engineering, Aidan Walden.

These interesting times have accelerated the drive towards digital transformation, application rationalization, and migration to cloud-based architectures. Enterprise organizations are looking to increase efficiency, but without impacting performance or increasing risk, either from infrastructure resilience or end-user behaviors.

Success requires a combination of best practice and appropriate use of technology, depending on where the organization is on its cloud journey. Elements such as zero-trust access and security-driven networking need to be deployed in parallel with security-first operations, breach prevention and response.

If you are looking to migrate applications to the cloud and want to be sure your approach maximizes delivery whilst minimizing risk, this webinar is for you.

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Data Management and Secure Data Storage for the Enterprise

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research brings together experts in data management and security, featuring GigaOm Analyst Enrico Signoretti and special guest from RackTop Systems, Jonathan Halstuch. The discussion will focus on data storage and how to protect data against cyberattacks.

Most of the recent news coverage and analysis of cyberattacks focus on hackers getting access and control of critical systems. Yet rarely is it mentioned that the most valuable asset for the organizations under attack is the data contained in these systems.

In this webinar, you will learn about the risks and costs of a poor data security management approach, and how to improve your data storage to prevent and mitigate the consequences of a compromised infrastructure.

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CISO Podcast: Talking Anti-Phishing Solutions

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Simon Gibson earlier this year published the report, “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” which assessed more than a dozen security solutions focused on detecting and mitigating email-borne threats and vulnerabilities. As Gibson noted in his report, email remains a prime vector for attack, reflecting the strategic role it plays in corporate communications.

Earlier this week, Gibson’s report was a featured topic of discussions on David Spark’s popular CISO Security Vendor Relationship Podcast. In it, Spark interviewed a pair of chief information security officers—Mike Johnson, CISO for SalesForce, and James Dolph, CISO for Guidewire Software—to get their take on the role of anti-phishing solutions.

“I want to first give GigaOm some credit here for really pointing out the need to decide what to do with detections,” Johnson said when asked for his thoughts about selecting an anti-phishing tool. “I think a lot of companies charge into a solution for anti-phishing without thinking about what they are going to do when the thing triggers.”

As Johnson noted, the needs and vulnerabilities of a large organization aligned on Microsoft 365 are very different from those of a smaller outfit working with GSuite. A malicious Excel macro-laden file, for example, poses a credible threat to a Microsoft shop and therefore argues for a detonation solution to detect and neutralize malicious payloads before they can spread and morph. On the other hand, a smaller company is more exposed to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, since spending authority is often spread among many employees in these businesses.

Gibson’s radar report describes both in-line and out-of-band solutions, but Johnson said cloud-aligned infrastructures argue against traditional in-line schemes.

“If you put an in-line solution in front of [Microsoft] 365 or in front of GSuite, you are likely decreasing your reliability, because you’ve now introduced this single point of failure. Google and Microsoft have this massive amount of reliability that is built in,” Johnson said.

So how should IT decision makers go about selecting an anti-phishing solution? Dolph answered that question with a series of questions of his own:

“Does it nail the basics? Does it fit with the technologies we have in place? And then secondarily, is it reliable, is it tunable, is it manageable?” he asked. “Because it can add a lot overhead, especially if you have a small team if these tools are really disruptive to the email flow.”

Dolph concluded by noting that it’s important for solutions to provide insight that can help organizations target their protections, as well as support both training and awareness around threats. Finally, he urged organizations to consider how they can measure the effectiveness of solutions.

“I may look at other solutions in the future and how do I compare those solutions to the benchmark of what we have in place?”

Listen to the Podcast: CISO Podcast

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