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Russian Social Network Tycoon Offers Job to Snowden

Hot air, maybe. But it’s Edward Snowden, so it’s news.

Pavel Durov, the 28-year-old Russian CEO of social network site VKontakte, has offered Snowden a job as a security software developer. VKontakte is akin to Facebook and has 100 million active users, mostly from Eastern Europe.

Last week, Russia granted Snowden, who had been holed up in a Moscow airport, temporary asylum.

Snowden has been mum about the job offer. He is keeping a low profile, period, with his series of leaks about National Security Agency surveillance having riled U.S. authorities, who are pursuing an extradition.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is slated to have a meeting with Barack Obama in Washington this week.

[Source: CNN]

Thailand Threatens Jail for Misplaced Likes

In Thailand, an investigator threatened to jail anyone found to have Liked Facebook posts claiming that a military coup had taken place.

Thai police are investigating four people who allegedly caused a bit of a ruckus by posting rumors of a military coup on Facebook. That woke up the nation’s censors, who are extra wary ahead of an upcoming bill related to a 2006 coup. Some say the bill could allow former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose sister is currently in charge of the government, to return to power.

He was ousted by… a military coup.

The original quartet accused of spreading the coup rumors — along with advice to hoard food and water — could face up to five years in prison and a US$3,200 fine. One of the accused is the political editor for a public television station.

Despite his ouster, Shinawatra has reportedly been intimately involved in Thailand’s affairs. While living in exile, he has used Skype and other electronic communications to advise his sis on what to do.

[Source: The Associated Press]

Australian Electoral Commission’s Hacked Twitter Account Goes Phishing

Hackers commandeered the Twitter account of the Australian Electoral Commission on Tuesday, shooting out direct messages to users in an attempt to gain login information.

“I found a funny pic of you!” some of the messages read, offering a link to a fake Twitter page on which users could plug in their login details.

The commission said it will now change its Twitter password daily to avoid any future problems.

Australia has a federal election coming up next month.

[Source: The Age]

App-Controlled Toilet Vulnerable

A $5,500-plus, smartphone-controlled toilet is susceptible to attack, according to security experts at Trustwave’s Spiderlabs.

The “Satis” toilet, manufactured by Japanese firm Lixil, provides music, fragrance release and automatic flushing. It connects to mobile devices via Bluetooth and is controlled by an Android app called “My Satis,” but a hardware flaw means the toilets can be activated by any phone that has the app installed.

The problem is that the initial pin code for every model is 0000, allowing it to be reset and activated by anyone with the app.

The downside, as Spiderlabs explains, is that an attacker could repeatedly flush a toilet or activate the “air-dry functions, causing discomfort or distress… .”

Of course, Bluetooth only goes so far, so any covert toilet-hacking would have to take place from close range.

[Source: BBC, Spiderlabs]

South Korea Concerned About Apple Pardon

South Korean officials are concerned about Barack Obama’s reversal of a trade ban against Apple’s iPhone 4 and 3G-capable iPad 2.

Samsung was awarded the ban by the U.S. International Trade Commission. Obama’s reversal is the first veto of an ITC ban since 1987.

There are concerns that Samsung is not offering reasonable deals for its standards-essential patents for 3G systems. The European Commission has also hinted that Samsung is abusing its standards-essential patents by incessantly seeking sales bans.

[Source: The Guardian]

David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author ofThe Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out hisECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.

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