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At a women in technology panel that closed out Google I/O, the tech titan says that it will pay for "thousands" of women and minorities already in tech to advance their skills.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Google's putting its money where its diversity isn't. A new initiative announced at Google I/O will pay for three months of continuing education for women and minorities in tech.
In conjunction with its third annual women tech makers panel, which this year focused on women working on robotics projects at Google, the tech titan said it was partnering with Code School to provide thousands of paid accounts for free. According to a blog post by the CEO of the for-profit online school for programming, Gregg Pollack, Google will pay for three months free for select women and minorities already in tech to expand their skills.
One thousand people will receive free accounts directly, while the unnumbered remainder, estimated to be in the thousands, will be given by referral. People interested who did not receive a code from Google can apply here.
Pollack, who noted that only a quarter of IT jobs are held by women and only 3 percent of scientists and engineers are African-Americans, said that the statistics were "sobering."
"Together, our goal is to invest in women and minorities so they can continue developing their technical skill sets," he said.
The free education offer is part of Google's $50 million Made with Code initiative, said Google X vice president Megan Smith.
"We shouldn't feel guilty about our biases, we should wake up and do something about them," Smith said.
By Google's own admission, its efforts to hire women and minorities have fallen far short. Women make up only 17 percent of Google's tech employees, according to Google's recently-published diversity report, while African-Americans and Hispanics comprised only 1 percent and 2 percent respectively of Google's tech workers.
Google I/O has improved in recent years. Of its 6,000 or so attendees, it went from 300 women in 2012, the first year of the women tech makers panel, to around 1,000 this year.The panel had advice for the standing-room only audience of several hundred people. Nest vice president of technology Yoky Matsuoka, Google X hardware engineer Gabriella Levine, and Google X systems engineer Jaime Waydo talked about their histories building robots prior to working for Google, and what drove them to robotics in the first place.
"It's almost completely impossible for a robot to do this even today," said Matsuoka, wiggling her fingers. But, she added, it was important to focus on solving specific problems. Matsuoka, who joked that she got her start in robotics by wanting to build a robotic tennis partner that would let her win when she was tired, said she was motivated by answering, "How can we enable people who've lost their movement?"
"Try crazy ideas," said Levine, who used her background fighting forest fires, and the lack of robotic aids that could be useful there, to build snake-based water robots to help clean up environmental disasters. "Some will fail, but you'll learn and maybe solve the world's big problems."
Waydo, who worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the Mars rover Curiosity before a frustrating detour into the medical world that finally lead to Google X's self-driving car project, said that it was important not to get dejected by frustrating results.
"How you tune an answer across no good answer," and adaptability, Waydo said, is important to success.
Putting it in a language I/O developer attendees could understand, Smith concluded that they were in the process of "debugging inclusion."
Attackers can use the "Covert Redirect" vulnerability in both open-source login systems to steal your data and redirect you to unsafe sites. Following in the steps of the OpenSSL vulnerability Heartbleed, another major flaw has been found in popular open-source security software. This time, the holes have been found in the login tools OAuth and OpenID, used by many websites and tech titans including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and LinkedIn, among others. Wang Jing, a Ph.D student at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, discovered that the serious vulnerability "Covert Redirect" flaw can masquerade as a login popup based on an affected site's domain. Covert Redirect is based on a well-known exploit parameter. For example, someone clicking on a malicious phishing link will get a popup window in Facebook, asking them to authorize the app. Instead of using a fake domain name that's similar to trick users, the Covert Redirect flaw uses the real site address for authentication. If a user chooses to authorize the login, personal data (depending on what is being asked for) will be released to the attacker instead of to the legitimate website. This can range from email addresses, birth dates, contact lists and possibly even control of the account. Regardless of whether the victim chooses to authorize the app, they will then get redirected to a website of the attacker's choice, which could potentially further compromise the victim. Wang says he has already contacted Facebook and has reported the flaw, but was told that the company "understood the risks associated with OAuth 2.0," and that "short of forcing every single application on the platform to use a whitelist," fixing this bug was "something that can't be accomplished in the short term." Google (which uses OpenID) told him that the problem was being tracked, while LinkedIn said that the company would publish a blog on the matter soon. Microsoft, on the other hand, said that an investigation had been done and that the vulnerability existed on the domain of a third-party and not on its own sites. "Patching this vulnerability is easier said than done. If all the third-party applications strictly adhere to using a whitelist, then there would be no room for attacks," said Wang. "However, in the real world, a large number of third-party applications do not do this due to various reasons. This makes the systems based on OAuth 2.0 or OpenID highly vulnerable. "Jeremiah Grossman, founder and interim CEO at WhiteHat Security, a website security firm, agreed with Wang's findings after looking at the data. "While I can't be 100 percent certain, I could have sworn I've seen a report of a very similar if not identical vulnerability in OAuth. It would appear this issue is essentially a known WONTFIX," Grossman said."This is to say, it's not easy to fix, and any effective remedies would negatively impact the user experience. Just another example that Web security is fundamentally broken and the powers that be have little incentive to address the inherent flaws. "Further corroborating Wang's findings are Chris Wysopal, CTO at programming code verification firm Veracode. Wsyopal told CNET that it looks to be a "very real issue" and that OAuth 2.0 looks vulnerable to phishing and redirect attacks. ”Given the trust users put in Facebook and other major OAuth providers I think it will be easy for attackers to trick people into giving some access to their personal information stored on those service," he said. Users who wish to avoid any potential loss of data should be careful about clicking links that immediately ask you to log in to Facebook or Google. Closing the tab immediately should prevent any redirection attacks. While this issue isn't as severe as Heartbleed, it's relatively easy to do so unless the flaw gets patched, which according to Wang, is quite difficult to implement due to third-party sites having "little incentive" to fix the problem. Cost is a factor, as well as the view that the host company (such as Facebook) bears the responsibility for making the attacks appear more credible.
Well, as if Microsoft hasn’t given us enough reasons to kick their browser to the side, now there is another eason. Microsoft recently released a security advisory that warns about remote code executions in various versions of Internet Explorer.
“This issue allows remote code execution if users visit a malicious website with an affected browser,” Microsoft said. “This would typically occur by an attacker convincing someone to click a link in an email or instant message.”
The bug affects Internet Explorer 6 – 11.
The Vulnerability enables the hackers to gain control of your system and lets them access and manipulate the data which is quite alarming considering the fact that almost 10% of all government systems still run Windows XP and perfectly vulnerable to this attack. Microsoft has addressed the issue in a security advisory post and says “it is working on a patch” to fix the issue.
Microsoft's announcement was made in tandem with the Obama administration's ConnectED initiative to get more technology in schools.Microsoft is donating $1 billion to help school districts buy Windows devices for under $300.
Monday's announcement is being made in tandem with President Obama's ConnectED initiative to foster greater use of technology in schools.
"As much technology as we've brought into schools in the last 30 years, there hasn't been significant change," Cameron Evans, national technology officer and chief technology officer of Microsoft Education, said in an interview with CNET. He added that there still remain wide gaps in schools between students when it comes to who has access to technology.To be sure, this remains the proverbial work in progress especially when compared with the investments made in some other nations. In Singapore, for example, the Ministry of Education has spent more than $2.6 billion so far announcing a master plan for technology in the late 1990s.
Proponents in this country have long maintained that greater spending on technology can help revolutionize education. A 1997 White House report got the conversation going in earnest but the results since then have often proved less clear-cut. A chicken-or-the-egg debate continues with some studies arguing the benefits of spending on technology while other data suggest that the focus ought to be on hiring better teachers.Last year the White House announced a plan to ensure that 99 percent of students had access to high-speed Internet within the next five years. Now, with the support of Microsoft and its partners -- a list that includes Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, Panasonic, and Toshiba -- school districts will be able to source Windows-based hardware for their students at sharp discounts to what they otherwise might have paid.The details are different but there are parallels between Microsoft's largesse and the discount programs that Apple pioneered in earlier decades when it sold hardware to the K-12 school districts. The idea was to win hearts and minds when they were young, hoping that they would remain loyal Apple customers after graduation.
"Do we want to win them so they'll be customers later?" Evans said. "I don't think anyone shies away from that. But there's nothing negative or sinister about that. So I'll concede that is happening."
That's in the long-term. More immediately, he said, there's great need for bringing more technology into classrooms. For example, he pointed to snowstorms that led to West Virginia students losing many school days this past winter.
"You and I been so accustomed for the last 10 years to work anywhere we wanted as long as we have a phone or a computing device," he said. "There are still gaps out there in terms of who has access to technology."
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