Cyber attack shuts down Aussie businesses

At least a dozen Australian businesses have been crippled by the malicious ransomware computer bug that has claimed more than 200,000 victims around the world.

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The federal government has confirmed 12 reported cases in Australia of the ‘WannaCry’ software.

Four private businesses in Darwin and Alice Springs have suffered “significant impact”, Northern Territory Police said, with some still prevented from operating.

The government wouldn’t reveal details of the other affected businesses.

Some experts believe the ransomware – which blocks access to data until a ransom is paid – has links to North Korea.

“The ransomware incident highlights the need for all businesses to ensure that their systems are up-to-date with the most current patches and they have back-up procedures in place,” Detective Sergeant Craig Windebank said.

“If your computer system has the most recent patches installed, you are safe from this incident.”

But a majority of Australian companies admit they’re not sure how to protect unorganised data from being stolen, research shows.

The research shows about half of Australian organisations suffered two or more security breaches in the past 12 months, costing an average of $1.8 million.

Almost two-thirds expect to be breached again this year.

The study surveyed 600 companies globally – including 50 local businesses – with at least 1000 employees.

It found 66 per cent of Australian firms weren’t sure how to manage and protect unstructured data – unorganised, text-heavy material – from potential theft.

Employees who don’t stick to security policies are proving a headache, as well as risks posed by vendors and contractors.

Only 26 per cent of respondents said they have the ability to provide a report of “who has access to what” within 24 hours – lower than the 33 per cent global average.

The research was commissioned by identity management company SailPoint.

Vic men tried to join Filipino jihadists

Six Australian men accused of plotting to become foreign fighters allegedly wanted to join a violent militant group in the southern Philippines that is notorious for kidnappings and killing hostages.

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Robert “Musa” Cerantonio, Paul Dacre, Shayden Thorne, Kadir Kaya, Murat Kaya and Antonio Granata are fighting allegations they planned to sail from Cape York to join Filipino militant group Abu Sayyaf last year.

On Tuesday all six faced a committal hearing that will determine whether they should stand trial charged with making preparations for incursions into foreign countries to engage in hostile activities.

Abu Sayyaf was founded in the early 1990s and was once linked to al-Qaeda, insurgency analyst Matthew Henman told the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court via video link from London.

But the group has since declared allegiance to IS and purportedly held training camps for “soldiers of the Caliphate” in the southern Philippines region of Mindanao.

Cerantonio, Dacre, Thorne, Granata and Kadir Kaya were arrested near Cairns on May 10, 2016 towing a seven-metre boat en route to Cape York.

Murat Kaya was arrested in Victoria and is accused of helping the others buy the boat that they were allegedly planning to use to leave Australia.

His brother, Kadir, tried to fly to Turkey from Melbourne several months before the alleged boat plot was foiled, the court heard on Tuesday.

In September 2015 Kadir was stopped at Melbourne airport after presenting his Turkish passport at an immigration checkpoint.

Border officials then discovered his Australian passport had been cancelled and Kadir was prevented from boarding his flight.

The hearing before Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg will resume on Wednesday.

Craig Lowndes stays with Triple Eight

Retirement plans have been put on hold by Craig Lowndes for at least another two years after the Supercars great re-signed with Holden heavyweights Triple Eight Race Engineering on Tuesday.

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The six-time Bathurst 1000 winner said he never considered walking away from the sport at season’s end and did not rule out extending his Triple Eight stay at the age of 45 when his new contract expires in 2019.

There was speculation the off contract Lowndes, 42, may be tempted to take a back seat and only contest the three enduro rounds as a part-time driver from next year.

The three-time Supercars champion won his last series title in 1999.

However, Lowndes said he was as motivated as ever in his 12th year with Triple Eight.

Remarkably Lowndes has finished inside the top four in the championship every year since linking with Triple Eight in 2005.

“I’ve been here a long time now and we’ve enjoyed a great amount of success together over the years,” Lowndes said.

“I’ve always said that if I’m still motivated and I’m still competitive, then I’ll keep going.

“I’m enjoying racing as much as I ever have, so it was a no-brainer for me to continue.”

Lowndes said his new contract may not be his last as a full-time driver.

“At the moment it’s just a matter of seeing what the end of 2019 looks like (when his new deal expires),” Lowndes told motorsport长沙桑拿按摩论坛, website.

“We’ll definitely analyse where I am personally and whether I still have the ambition and drive to compete after that.”

Lowndes was the first Supercars driver to record 100 race wins, back in 2015.

Overall he has a record 105 wins and 254 podium finishes from 610 races.

He is currently eighth in the 2017 drivers’ championship ahead of this weekend’s fifth round in Winton.

Triple Eight boss Roland Dane said he was always keen to re-sign Lowndes, starting talks after the first round in Adelaide.

He wanted to lock up Lowndes before negotiations began with his co-drivers, Supercars stars Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen, who are off contract next year.

“There was never a question mark for me over whether we wanted Craig to stay with the team and I’m pleased we’ve been able to confirm the extension relatively early in the season,” Dane said.

“We’ve achieved an awful lot during his time with Triple Eight and we aim to continue building on that into the future.”

Terminally ill mother asks for NSW euthanasia bill support

A terminally ill mother is calling for the public to support a bill to legalise euthanasia in NSW.

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Annie Gabrielides. who suffers from motor neurone disease, shared her story in state parliament as an exposure draft of the legislation was released on Tuesday.

The bill would give access to medically-assisted euthanasia to people over 25 years old who are expected to die within a year.

The draft laws have cross-party support and will be introduced to the New South Wales parliament in coming months.

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The bill includes safeguards, like a 48 hour cooling off period and the requirement for two medical professionals to sign off on the final decision.

Ms Gabrielides, who was a speech pathologist and a teacher for 30 years, was diagnosed in July 2016 and now can no longer speak and has lost control of her hands.

She’s launched an online petition calling for the public to support the bill.

“Ten months ago I only had a mild speech slur, now it’s all gone,” she said through an assistance device on her iPad.

“Every morning I wake up and wait to discover what else I have lost. Some days it’s something small, like being able to shampoo my own hair, pick my own rogue hairs, while other days it’s something big like steadiness on my feet, or having someone cut my food so that I can eat.”

Ms Gabrielides will soon be in wheelchair and won’t be able to move or eat. But what she fears most is suffering a horrible death.

“I want an option when I can’t move or eat or breathe,” she said.

One of those behind the cross-party bill, Nationals MP Trevor Khan says current laws don’t stop people from trying to end their lives.

“Is it fair and reasonable that a person has to choose to starve themselves to death to bring an end to their suffering?” he said.

“In my view that’s an appalling choice that’s presented to people now. What we want to do is, if they’re making that choice, to make their road out easier.”

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Catholic Bishop of Sydney’s Broken Bay diocese Peter Comensoli believes it’s a dangerous move and warns it could be a slippery slope.

“There’s all sorts of changes that will come about,” he said.

“The doctor-patient relationship changes, our attitude towards the vulnerable changes, the government and the medical profession get into the business of killing. All that changes with this legislation.”

Bishop Comensoli said the bill could undermine family relationships and change attitudes about helping people as they’re dying.

And he fears it would lead to Australia following countries such as Holland, Belgium and Canada, where euthanasia is legal.

“Belgium for instance now allows children as young as 12 to be euthanised,” he said.

“It is not because they are necessarily dying. In Holland there is no longer a requirement that someone be terminally ill. This is already happening.”

Voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide are currently illegal in all Australian states and territories.

A bill legalising euthanasia was passed in the Northern Territory in 1995, but was overturned by the federal government two years later.

That’s unlikely to happen if the New South Wales bill passes because, unlike territories, the Commonwealth is rarely able to intervene in state laws.

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Thailand backs down on Facebook ban over royal posts

Thailand ferociously enforces a draconian lese majeste law which outlaws any criticism of the monarchy.

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Since ultra-royalist generals seized power three years ago more than 100 people have been charged, many for comments made online, and some people have been jailed for decades.

The authorities have redoubled efforts to purge the Thai web following the October ascension of the country’s new king Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Last week Thailand’s telecom regulator, the NBTC, said it would file a police complaint against Facebook’s Thailand office and shut down the hugely popular site if it did not remove more than 130 “illegal” posts by Tuesday.

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“Facebook is cooperating with Thailand,” Takorn Tantasith, secretary general of the NBTC told reporters after the 10am deadline passed.

Takorn said some 97 web pages deemed critical of the monarchy remained on the platform but authorities were seeking court orders to send Facebook demanding their removal.

Thai authorities last week previously said Facebook had already removed some 170 posts. 

The social network giant declined to comment on how many posts it had made unavailable in Thailand since the recent requests.

Under its published policies, Facebook says it will comply with a country’s request to remove content if it receives a valid court order.

Watch: How much power can the government have?: Sinpeng

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“When we receive such a request, we review it to determine if it puts us on notice of unlawful content,” the company told AFP. 

“If we determine that it does, then we make it unavailable in the relevant country or territory and notify people who try to access it why it is restricted.”

According to its published data, Facebook made 50 posts unavailable to Thai users after requests from the government in 2016.

No items were restricted in 2015 and 35 items were removed in 2014, the year of the coup.

Vajiralongkorn, 64, became king following the death of his father King Bhumibol Adulyadej who reigned for seven decades.

He has yet to attain his father’s widespread popularity. 

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At least seven people are known to have been charged with lese majeste since he took the throne.

One, human rights lawyer Prawet Prapanukul, is facing up to 150-years in prison after being charged with a record ten separate counts if lese majeste. 

Media inside Thailand must heavily self censor when reporting on the monarchy making it perilous to detail what content has angered the authorities.

Somsak Jeamteerasakul, an exiled Thai academic and monarchy critic, posted a letter from Facebook on his own account informing him that some of his posts were among those censored.

The posts included photographs and video footage taken of Vajiralongkorn in Germany where he spends much of the year.

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