Some States to Start Auditing Election Results to Check for Vote Fraud

Today’s topics include states implementing audits to improve election integrity; North Korea possibly plotting a global cyber-attack; Google adding an estimated salary feature to job search results; and Microsoft previewing Skype Professional Accounts for small businesses.

After clear evidence emerged that Russia attempted to influence the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election through social media and hacking election systems, states are adopting auditing measures to detect any possible direct ballot fraud and give voters confidence in the results.

On Nov. 15, Colorado initiated a statistical technique known as a risk-limiting audit to establish the integrity of the vote for its most recent election. Risk-limiting audits verify the outcome of an election by sampling a much smaller subset of ballots compared to a full recount.

“This system ... provides assurance to voters that the machines are counting accurately and that people can have confidence in those results,” said Wayne Williams, Colorado’s secretary of state. Other states are adopting risk-limiting auditing as well, including New Mexico and Rhode Island.

US-CERT and the FBI have issued a series of warnings to organizations that North Korea may be planning a global cyber-attack. However, the warnings may be too late for organizations whose networks have been infected by Hidden Cobra—a collection of malware used to attack global targets, including South Korea.

According to Paul Innella, CEO of TDI Security, Hidden Cobra’s goal appears to have changed from running ransomware operations to more sinister information gathering.

Initially the attacks are likely to be against the military or launch systems, but now warnings from the Department of Homeland Security indicate there are also plans to attack the financial sector, aerospace and telecommunications using the FallChill malware.

The idea is that once FallChill has mapped out the networks (including the defenses), North Korea will know what and where to attack for best effect.

Google has added a new salary information feature in its recently launched job search tool, allowing job searchers using Google Search to get estimated salary information alongside job postings.

If an employer provides actual salary information, Google will post that information next to the job search result. For postings without salary information, Google will use an estimate sourced from multiple online partners.

The new feature also provides an opportunity for job websites and employer sites with estimated salary information to increase brand awareness and referral traffic.

Google will display a logo of the site from which it uses estimated or actual salary information for a particular job listing, which users can click on to navigate directly to the site's salary estimate pages.

Microsoft is retooling Skype, and previewing a new desktop experience for small businesses that deliver their services over the online communications software.

With built-in video, voice and chat features, as well as real-time language translation, Microsoft is marketing Skype as an alternative to real world meetings.Now, with its new desktop client Skype Professional Account, Microsoft is condensing the jumble of software tools and services currently used to manage Skype sessions, including email clients, calendars and payment processors.

"From French tutors to yoga instructors, you'll be able to book lessons, accept payments, and give lessons all from one place, seamlessly," boasted Microsoft's bloggers. "Plus, we've added an enhanced profile page to help improve your online presence and a dedicated website for your small business right in Skype," added Microsoft.