Google Engineer Fired Over Diversity 'Manifesto' Threatens Lawsuit

Today’s topics include an engineer who was fired over his diversity "manifesto" threatening to sue Google; the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active smartphone becoming available at AT&T on Aug. 11; Intel readying its Core-X desktop chips aimed at gamers and content creators; and Microsoft warning that tech support scammers are using phishing tactics.

Google has fired an employee who recently penned a controversial internal memo that claimed women's under-representation in technology jobs and leadership positions was the result of biological factors and not overt gender discrimination.

In an email to the New York Times, Google software engineer James Damore said he had lost his job over the manifesto, which he claimed he had written in the hopes of fostering an honest discussion on the company's diversity policies. Damore, whom the Times said had worked at Google's search group, is now apparently planning on suing his former employer for wrongful termination.

Damore described his memo as a way to express rightful concerns over the terms and conditions of his employment at Google. Google CEO Sundar Pichai, however, said the memo violated Google's code of conduct and advanced harmful stereotypes about gender in the workplace.

After weeks of speculation, Samsung finally took the wraps off its hardened Galaxy S8 Active smartphone on Aug. 7.

The device, which will be available on AT&T’s network, is based on the design of the Galaxy S8, including a big screen and high-powered components. But the handset has been hardened to reduce the chance of it being damaged if dropped or dunked in water, thanks to “military-grade materials” that include a metal frame and bumper.

The Galaxy S8 Active also comes with strong security features, including Samsung Knox, making it a more attractive choice for companies and individuals concerned about data security.

Intel, which is being pressed by a resurgent Advanced Micro Devices, later this month will begin launching its powerful Core X-Series desktop processors to address such compute-intensive applications as virtual reality and gaming.

The chip maker introduced the lineup at the Computex show in May, with officials promising up to 20 percent performance improvement for virtual reality content creation over the previous generation and up to 30 percent faster 4K video editing. Games can expect up to 30 percent improved performance.

The chips, which are based on the Skylake-X architecture, offer from four to 18 cores and speeds up to 4.3GHz, and are aimed at gamers, content creators and enthusiasts. The largest chip—the Core i9 7980XE—has 18 cores and 36 instruction threads and a base price of $1,999.

Tech support scammers are switching up their tactics, Microsoft security researchers are warning. They are increasingly using phishing techniques in an attempt to lure unsuspecting users, said the researchers, who reported on the latest data from the spam filters in the company's Exchange Online Protection and email services.

"The said spam emails use social engineering techniques—spoofing brands, pretending to be legitimate communications, disguising malicious URLs—employed by phishers to get recipients to click suspicious links," explained Microsoft Malware Protection Center staffers Alden Pornasdoro, Jeong Mun, Barak Shein and Eric Avena in an Aug. 7 advisory.

"However, instead of pointing to phishing sites designed to steal credentials, the links lead to tech support scam websites, which use various scare tactics to trick users into calling hotlines and paying for unnecessary 'technical support services' that supposedly fix contrived device, platform, or software problems," they continued.