A Voracious Vineyard-Killer, Apple’s Siri Snoopers, and More News

An invasive bug is destroying vineyards at an alarming rate, Apple contractors are listening to your Siri conver­sations, and we’ve got the earbuds for your next workout. Here’s the news you need to know, in two minutes or less.

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Today’s Headlines

“Opt out” is useless. Let people opt in

Just like Google and Amazon before, Apple has been caught having contractors listen to your Siri conversations without telling anyone about it. Apple’s eventually going to give people control over whether that happens to their data, but our writer says it needs to make that consent opt-in.

A voracious, unstoppable bug is killing off vineyards

The spotted lanternfly loves apples, nectarines, almonds, cherries—and above all, grapes. This has been devastating for the Pennsylvania wine industry, where yields have fallen by as much as 90 percent. The bug is one of the most [...]  read more

United Airlines CISO Emily Heath joins TC Sessions: Enterprise this September

In an era of massive data breaches, most recently the Capital One fiasco, the risk of a cyberattack and the costly consequences are the top existential threat to corporations big and small. At TechCrunch’s first-ever enterprise-focused event (p.s. early-bird sales end August 9), that topic will be front and center throughout the day.

That’s why we’re delighted to announce United’s chief information security officer Emily Heath will join TC Sessions: Enterprise in San Francisco on September 5, where we will discuss and learn how one of the world’s largest airlines keeps its networks safe.

Joining her to talk enterprise security will be a16z partner Martin Casado and DUO / Cisco’s head of advisory CISOs Wendy Nather, among others still to be announced.

At United, Heath oversees the airline’s cybersecurity program and its IT regulatory, governance and risk management.

The U.S.-based airline has more than 90,000 employees serving 4,500 flights a day to 338 airports, including New [...]  read more

US utility firms hit by state-sponsored spear-phishing attack

Three US entities from the utility sector were targeted by a spear-phishing campaign which used a new malware that featured a remote access Trojan (RAT) module with the aim of giving attackers admin control of the infected systems.

The new malware called LookBack was discovered by researchers from Proofpoint’s Threat Insight Team after analyzing phishing attacks and their malicious payloads.

In a blog post detailing their discovery, the researchers explained how the phishing emails impersonated a US-based engineering licensing board to appear as legitimate emails, saying:

“The phishing emails appeared to impersonate a US-based engineering licensing board with emails originating from what appears to be an actor-controlled domain, nceess[.]com. Nceess[.]com is believed to be an impersonation of a domain owned by the US National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. The emails contain a malicious Microsoft Word attachment that uses macros to install and run malware [...]  read more

Bitcoin.com to Launch an Exchange

This is the latest addition to a suite of products Bitcoin.com provides beyond their news service. The company has also developed a crypto casino, …
social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit

The SEC wants disgraced VC Mike Rothenberg to cough up more than $30 million

Nearly three years ago, TechCrunch reported on suspected fraud committed by Mike Rothenberg, a self-described “millennial venture capitalist” who’d made a name for himself not only by eponymously branding his venture firm but for spending lavishly to woo startup founders, including on Napa Valley wine tours, at luxury boxes at Golden State Warriors games and most famously, hosting an annual “founder field day” at the San Francisco Giants’s baseball stadium that later inspired a scene in the HBO show “Silicon Valley.”

The Securities & Exchange Commission had initially reached out to Rothenberg in June of 2016 and by last August, he’d been formally charged for misappropriating up to $7 million of his investors’ capital. He settled with the agency without making an admission of guilt, and, as part of the settlement, he stepped down from what was left of the firm and agreed [...]  read more

Facebook defends decision not to ban fake news from politicians

“I understand that your preference would be for Facebook to remove all content that you believe constitutes misinformation – which in this instance mean all content that discussed whether or not Labor intends to introduce a death tax – rather than demote it; however Facebook only removes content that violates our community standards,” wrote Milner. The executive insisted that the company had invested significantly in the Australian government’s efforts to “safeguard” the 2019 federal election.

Opponents of Australia’s Labor Party played a part in spreading fake news about the party’s tax policy. Back in January, Liberal treasurer Josh Frydenberg published a media release that falsely claimed that the Labor Party was going to impose a death tax. Minor political parties such as Clive [...]  read more

Americans Trust Scientists, Until Politics Gets in the Way

Nothing’s more American than a science-hero—an indomitable, big-brained hasher-out of ideas that change the world, that make the impossible possible. At least since Ben Franklin sat with the founders, and certainly since Vannevar Bush explicitly connected the US’ future to federal funding of science after World War II, the idea of sciencing the shit out of everything has been core to the American character. Like many surveys and studies before it, a new report from the Pew Research Center confirms this truth: Americans love and trust scientists. In 2019, 86 percent of Americans said they had a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in them—up 3 percent from the year before.

That’s higher than confidence in the military (82 percent), or even in public school principals (80 percent)! It’s even higher than, can you believe it, the news media (47 percent, ahem) or elected officials (35 percent).

Except, like the polling nerds say, you have to check the cross-tabs—the [...]  read more