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  1. Verizon Media, the division comprising brands like HuffPost, AOL, Yahoo, TechCrunch and Engadget, is set to lay off about 150 employees, the latest retrenchment by the telco’s still-declining digital-media group. Verizon confirmed the cuts, which were first reported by CNN. The job cuts represent around 1.4% of the 10,500 employees in Verizon Media, which the telco formed after acquiring Yahoo and AOL. Verizon Media did not provide details on which areas of the business will be affected by the layoffs. The pink-slips will hit U.S. teams across the organization, per CNN. In a statement, a Verizon Media rep said, “Our goal is to create the best experiences for our consumers and the best platforms for our customers. Today we are investing in premium content, connections and commerce experiences that connect people to their passions and continue to align our resources to opportunities where we feel we can differentiate ourselves and scale faster.” The cutbacks come after Verizon Media let go 7% of its employees in January, or around 800 staffers. Verizon Media revenue in the third quarter of 2019 was $1.8 billion, flat with the prior quarter and down 2% year over year. Revenue from mobile advertising is now outpacing desktop, which has been declining for years, according to the company. Going forward, Verizon Media is focused on augmenting its advertising revenue with subscription fees (via services like HuffPost Plus and TechCrunch’s Extra Crunch), and transactions and ecommerce, such as the launch of Yahoo Sportsbook to allow mobile sports betting (initially only for users in New Jersey), CEO Guru Gowrappan said at a media conference last month. Gowrappen, speaking the Code Media conference, also said Verizon is not selling HuffPost after reports that the telco was shopping the brand (possibly because it could not find a buyer). Verizon Media previously sold off other assets including Tumblr, Flickr and Moviefone. Source
  2. The move is part of EU’s efforts to beef up cybersecurity, after several high-profile incidents shocked diplomats and officials. The European Commission has told its staff to start using Signal, an end-to-end-encrypted messaging app, in a push to increase the security of its communications. The instruction appeared on internal messaging boards in early February, notifying employees that "Signal has been selected as the recommended application for public instant messaging." The app is favored by privacy activists because of its end-to-end encryption and open-source technology. "It's like Facebook's WhatsApp and Apple's iMessage but it's based on an encryption protocol that's very innovative," said Bart Preneel, cryptography expert at the University of Leuven. "Because it's open-source, you can check what's happening under the hood," he added. Signal was developed in 2013 by privacy activists. It is supported by a nonprofit foundation that has the backing of WhatsApp founder Brian Acton, who had left the company in 2017 after clashing with Facebook's leadership. Privacy experts consider that Signal's security is superior to other apps'. "We can't read your messages or see your calls," its website reads, "and no one else can either." While WhatsApp's technology is based on Signal's protocol (known as Open Whisper Systems), it isn't open-source. Another popular messaging app, Telegram, meanwhile, faces similar concerns over the lack of transparency on how its encryption works. EU not-so-confidential After a series of high-profile incidents that shocked diplomats and officials in Brussels and across the Continent, the European Union is beefing up its cybersecurity standards. In December 2018, cybersecurity research firm Area 1 Security said it found that thousands of diplomatic cables were downloaded from the EU's COREU (or Courtesy) system, which is used by national governments and EU institutions to exchange day-to-day information on foreign policy. Then in June last year, the news broke that the EU's delegation in Moscow had suffered what appeared to be a cybersecurity breach in 2017, with two computers allegedly hacked to steal diplomatic information. The Commission said it was investigating the issue and informed its top diplomats. The EU on Wednesday said it would soon draft a new European cybersecurity strategy. It announced earlier it would set up a "joint cybersecurity unit" to support EU countries and organizations in the event of an attack. Commission officials are already required to use encrypted emails to exchange sensitive, non-classified information, an official said. Classified documents fall under tighter security rules. The use of Signal was mainly recommended for communications between staff and people outside the institution. The move to use the application shows that the Commission is working on improving its security policies. Promoting the app, however, could antagonize the law enforcement community. Officials in Brussels, Washington and other capitals have been putting strong pressure on Facebook and Apple to allow government agencies to access to encrypted messages; if these agencies refuse, legal requirements could be introduced that force firms to do just that. American, British and Australian officials have published an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in October, asking that he call off plans to encrypt the company’s messaging service. Dutch Minister for Justice and Security Ferd Grappehaus told POLITICO last April that the EU needs to look into legislation allowing governments to access encrypted data. Cybersecurity officials have dismissed calls to weaken encryption for decades, arguing that it would put the confidentiality of communications at risk across the board. Source
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