Stories by Shannon Vavra

Tech firms flag Australia's encryption proposal

Woman in silhouette looking at her phone.
Photo: Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty Images

In the last few days Cisco, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and other tech giants have criticized Australia’s draft encryption legislation, which they say gives law enforcement access to encrypted communications at the price of weaker security for everyone.

Why it matters: Australia’s legislation could act as a catalyst for less liberal countries to adopt similar measures, Cisco warns. Apple writes: "Encryption is simply math. Any process that weakens the mathematical models that protect user data for anyone will by extension weaken the protections for everyone."

DHS warns of escalation in election hacking attempts

Person's feet visible while voting behind polling booth with red white and blue curtains
Photo: Meredith Dake-O'Connor/CQ Roll Call

A new Department of Homeland Security intelligence assessment found there is a "growing volume of cyber activity targeting election infrastructure in 2018," NBC News’ Pete Williams and Ken Dilanian report.

Why it matters: Until now, U.S. intelligence officials, as well as officials from the DHS, have maintained that the attempted hacks observed this year have not been as "robust" as the attacks observed in 2016. Midterms are less than 30 days away now, but most states don't have plans to update election infrastructure before the midterms.

Study: Beer prices could double with climate change

Beer in clear plastic cups on a serving tray
Photo: Sam Mellish/In Pictures via Getty Images

Beer prices around the world could double as climate change-related droughts and heat waves cut into production of barley, one of the key ingredients in beer and a particularly heat-sensitive crop, according to a new study in Nature Plants.

The big picture: One of the paper's authors, Steve Davis of the University of California, Irvine, told AP that, as a beer drinker, the study was "born of love and fear" and meant to provide a more concrete basis for the warnings of climate change. A UN report last week warned of dire consequences without "unprecedented" global action to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

NASA data released Monday showed that 2018 is likely to become Earth’s fourth-warmest year on record.