Computers & Linux News

Germany Fires Cybersecurity Chief 'Over Russia Ties'

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-10-18 20:45
Germany's cybersecurity chief has been fired after allegations of being excessively close to Russia through an association he helped set up. The BBC reports: Arne Schonbohm had led the Federal Cyber Security Authority (BSI) -- charged with protecting government communications -- since 2016. German media have accused him of having had links with people involved with Russian intelligence services. The interior ministry is investigating allegations made against him. But it confirmed he had been fired with immediate effect. Mr Schonbohm had come under scrutiny after his potential links to a Russian company through a previous role were highlighted by Jan Bohmermann, the host of one of Germany's most popular late-night TV shows. Before leading the BSI, Mr Schonbohm had helped set up and run the Cyber Security Council Germany, a private association which advises business and policymakers on cybersecurity issues. He is said to have maintained close ties to the association and attended their 10th anniversary celebrations in September. One of the association's members was a cybersecurity company called Protelion, which was a subsidiary of a Russian firm reportedly established by a former member of the KGB honored by President Vladimir Putin. Protelion was ejected from the association last weekend, and Cyber Security Council Germany says the allegations of links to Russian intelligence are untrue.

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The Top Four Cat Breeds a Veterinarian Would Never Choose - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-10-18 20:14
Ben Simpson-Vernon has rated the best and worst dog breeds, and now it's kitty's turn.

Boston University Researchers' Testing of Lab-Made Version of COVID-19 Draws Government Scrutiny

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-10-18 20:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from STAT: Research at Boston University that involved testing a lab-made hybrid version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is garnering heated headlines alleging the scientists involved could have unleashed a new pathogen. There is no evidence the work, performed under biosecurity level 3 precautions in BU's National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories, was conducted improperly or unsafely. In fact, it was approved by an internal biosafety review committee and Boston's Public Health Commission, the university said Monday night. But it has become apparent that the research team did not clear the work with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which was one of the funders of the project. The agency indicated it is going to be looking for some answers as to why it first learned of the work through media reports. Emily Erbelding, director of NIAID's division of microbiology and infectious diseases, said the BU team's original grant applications did not specify that the scientists wanted to do this precise work. Nor did the group make clear that it was doing experiments that might involve enhancing a pathogen of pandemic potential in the progress reports it provided to NIAID. "I think we're going to have conversations over upcoming days," Erbelding told STAT in an interview. Asked if the research team should have informed NIAID of its intention to do the work, Erbelding said: "We wish that they would have, yes." The research has been posted online as a preprint (PDF), meaning it has not yet been peer-reviewed. The senior author is Mohsan Saeed, from BU's National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories. STAT reached out to Saeed on Monday but had not received a response by the time this article was published. In the paper Saeed and colleagues reported on research they conducted that involved creating a hybrid or chimeric virus -- in which the spike protein of an Omicron version of SARS-2 was fused to a virus of the Wuhan strain, the original version that emerged from China in 2020. Omicron viruses first emerged in late 2021 and have since splintered into multiple different sub variants. The goal of the research was to determine if the mutations in the Omicron spike protein were responsible for this variant's increased ability to evade the immunity to SARS-2 that humans have built up, and whether the changes led to Omicron's lower rate of severity. The testing actually showed, though, that the chimeric virus was more lethal to a type of lab mice than Omicron itself, killing 80% of the mice infected. Importantly, the original Wuhan strain killed 100% of mice it was tested in. The conclusion of the study is that mutations in the spike protein of the Omicron variant are responsible for the strain's ability to evade immunity people have built up via vaccination, infections, or both, but they are not responsible for the apparent decrease in severity of the Omicron viruses. The university disputed the claims made by some media outlets that the work had created a more dangerous virus, saying: "In fact, this research made the virus [replication] less dangerous." They noted that other research groups have conducted similar work. "That 80% kill rate, that headline doesn't tell the whole story," Erbelding said. "Because Wuhan" -- the original strain -- "killed all the mice." The fatality rate seen in this strain of mice when they were infected with these viruses raises questions about how good a model they are for what happens when people are infected with SARS-2. The Wuhan strain killed less than 1% of people who were infected.

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