From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Pollie watch. This in from a tipster:

“On Monday night, a well-known NSW Liberal pollie, having just landed on a flight from the Gold Coast and dressed in his best attempts at a RM Williams look, spent the long minutes waiting for his bag at the Qantas baggage carousel in Sydney loudly complaining to the person on the other end of the phone (apparently a journo) that ‘the Labor Party has had access to my emails for the last three weeks’.  Barging through the waiting passengers who dared to be in his path towards the bags, the pollie then went on to even more loudly tell the journo ‘when you report this, keep my name out of it’. Well, you might think twice about having your backgrounding phone calls in a more private situation if you’d like that to happen next time.”

Seen a pollie somewhere interesting? Let us know.

It’s wild out there. As we track redundancies from companies, government departments and organisations around the country, we got this from a tipster at the community-based, not-for-profit enviro group the Wilderness Society:

“Still more staff being made redundant in the enduringly nasty atmosphere of the Wilderness Society. The green group are currently running a T shirt design competition. One suggestion was ‘I worked loyally for the Wilderness Society for 5 years and all I got was this lousy T shirt’.”

We asked Wilderness Society national director Lyndon Schneiders if any redundancies had taken place and he said there hadn’t, but that didn’t mean they wouldn’t be coming:

“There have been no recent redundancies. However we have just completed an 18-month-long whole-of-organisation strategic planning exercise … This process is likely to lead to the creation of new positions and possible redundancies of a small number of existing roles. However this will require a proper HRM process which respects the rights of affected parties.”

He told us that staff morale was very high, but we’ll be watching to see what develops.

How to treat Ebola. General practitioners around the country received this letter from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, advising them on how to deal with patients who present with Ebola-like symptoms in their surgeries. Our tipster was scathing of the instructions, saying Australia needs measures to make sure possible Ebola patients don’t end up at the GP in the first place.

POODLE — not harmless or fluffy. The tech world has been abuzz this week after a report from Google security engineers on the POODLE (Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption) flaw in the older type of Web encryption standard SSL 3.0. While it affects a small number of websites and requires quite  bit of effort by a potential hacker, Bodo Moller from the Google Security Team said in a blog post:

“SSL 3.0 is nearly 18 years old, but support for it remains widespread. Most importantly, nearly all browsers support it and, in order to work around bugs in HTTPS servers, browsers will retry failed connections with older protocol versions, including SSL 3.0. Because a network attacker can cause connection failures, they can trigger the use of SSL 3.0 and then exploit this issue.”

ZMap has published a list of the sites that are vulnerable to the bug, and it includes eight websites ending in .au — they include asic.gov.au, health.gov.au, goauto.com.au, racgp.org.au, altronics.com.au, ehealth.gov.au, dhmedia.com.au and qls.com.au. Looks like ASIC and the Health department, both of which operate websites used extensively by third parties in health and finance, need to update their web security.

Good bargains — but you’ve got to travel. A tipster reading the Knox Leader, which covers Melbourne’s outer-eastern suburbs, was surprised to see an advertisement for the IGA supermarkets in Bairnsdale and Paynesville — in the far east of the state. The bargains look good, but probably not worth the three-hour drive from Wantirna to Bairnsdale.

I see fear mongering. This sign has been spotted in at a Melbourne bus stop. Well played.

An expensive lunch. A tipster spotted this headline on the BBC Sports website yesterday, with an unfortunate typo. It’s got Ms Tips thinking — maybe we’ve been doing lunch wrong this whole time.

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form

Peter Fray

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