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  1. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla) is well known for his Wastebook reports, annual documents that detail the unwieldy and often absurd expenditures made by the federal government. Now, Coburn and a bipartisan group of policymakers have come together to propose a new bill aimed at a single agency, the National Technology Information Service (NTIS), they view as outdated and unnecessary. The bill, snarkily named the "Let Me Google That For You Act," sets its sights on the NTIS for charging for technical reports that anyone can Google for free. The NTIS was established in 1970 within the Department of Commerce as a resource for the country's government-funded technical, scientific, engineering, and business data. As such, it compiles and sells that information — often for a hefty sum — to entities willing to pay for it. However, in Coburn's view, the documents the NTIS produces are especially wasteful when 95 percent of that information can now be found on the internet. In fact, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found in 2012 that the agency had wasted budget dollars for a full decade. Citing the GAO's work, Coburn and company make it clear Google is probably more indispensable a data-retrieval tool than the NTIS itself, with the bill itself reading: © 'The source that most often had the report [GAO] was searching for was another website located through http://www.Google.com.' In an official statement, Coburn remarked that the bill is meant to "eliminate an outdated agency that has lost more than $1 million trying to sell government reports that are available for free online." Should the NTIS be dismantled, its necessary functions will be spread out through the Commerce Department in a more effective manner. However, that remains to be seen; according to USA Today, the proposed 2015 budget sees the agency growing from $67 million to $86 million. Source
  2. Cybercriminals always look for the weakest link they can leverage to make as many victims as possible, and it looks like web browsers with out-of-date plugins are the norm in Europe. Browser plugin update situation in Europe According to the latest statistics from the Germany-based Cyscon GmbH, a company specializing in detecting an mitigating cyber threats, the users of most countries in Europe rely on poorly updated web browsers to explore the online world, which translates into plenty of possible victims for the crooks. The company makes available an interactive map that shows, in percentage, the proportion of a country’s users that do not rely on a browser that integrate plugin components updated with the latest patches available. According to Cyscon’s statistics at the time of the writing, the European country whose users are more aware of the security risks posed by out of date web browsing software, is Netherlands, where 51% of the computer users have at least one plugin component in the browser that needs to be updated. Although this is an alarming value, the country whose users would be more prone to falling victim to a cybercriminal, is Croatia, where it appears that 97% of the users contributing to Cyscon’s statistics do not have installed all the updates for said components. It is followed by Republic of Moldova, with 94%, Serbia with 86% and Germany with 80%. As shown by these statistics, there is no country with users sufficiently aware of risk posed by an old component with security glitches, to report outdate information lower than 50%. Source
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