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Technology UK

Android users warned about 11 popular apps that let hackers steal your password


From Samsung to Huawei, Android smartphones are some of the most popular handheld devices around the world.

But if you use an Android smartphone, a new report may encourage you to rethink which apps you have installed.

Researchers from Check Point have warned that several popular apps let hackers copy your password and break into your account.

The apps were found to contain a vulnerability known as CVE-2020-8913 that lets attackers inject malicious code into apps, granting access your phone data – including passwords, messages and photos.

Thankfully, Google has now fixed the issue, although Check Point estimates that hundreds of millions of users have been affected.

Aviran Hazum, Check Point’s Manager of Mobile Research said:  “We’re estimating that hundreds of millions of Android users are at security risk. Although Google implemented a patch, many apps are still using outdated Play Core libraries.


“The vulnerability CVE-2020-8913 is highly dangerous. If a malicious application exploits this vulnerability, it can gain code execution inside popular applications, obtaining the same access as the vulnerable application.

“For example, the vulnerability could allow a threat actor to steal two-factor authentications codes or inject code into banking applications to grab credentials.

“Or, a threat actor could inject code into social media applications to spy on victims or inject code into all IM apps to grab all messages. The attack possibilities here are only limited by a threat actor’s imagination.”

Based on the findings, the researchers advise that customers install a mobile threat defence solution on their smartphone.


The apps affected include several popular apps:

Viber

Booking

Cisco Teams

Yang Pro

Moovit

Grindr

OKCupid

Bumble

Edge

Xrecorder

PowerDirector





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California Headline USA

Software executive says he was warned neighbor Bill Gross was a ‘billionaire with a short fuse’

A former software executive told a California court on Monday that he was warned about his billionaire neighbor Bill Gross who was described as having a ‘short fuse’ before he started playing the Gilligan’s Island theme song at all hours amid a dispute over a $1million glass sculpture.

Gross, who is known as the ‘Bond King’, and his tech entrepreneur neighbor Mark Towfiq, have been involved in a months-long legal dispute that began when the billionaire installed a 22-foot-long glass sculpture in the backyard of his Laguna Beach mansion. 

During a second round of testimony, Towfiq, recalled how he spoke with other neighbors about Gross’ temper.

According to the Orange County Register, Towfiq told the court that a neighbor told him in 2018: ‘I wouldn’t want an angry billionaire with a short fuse living next to me.’

Towfiq said he didn’t take issue with the sculpture until Gross, 71, began to install netting around it to protect it from ‘vandalism’ in July, a protective device he has described as ‘unsightly’. 

Mark Towfiq

Former software executive, Mark Towfiq (right), told a court on Monday that he was warned about his neighbor Bill Gross (left) who was described as having a ‘short fuse’ before he started playing the Gilligan’s Island theme song at all hours amid a dispute over a $1M glass sculpture 

Gross' lawn sculpture appeared last year, stretching nearly 10 feet in height, and was created by renowned blown-glass artist Dale Chihuly

Gross’ lawn sculpture appeared last year, stretching nearly 10 feet in height, and was created by renowned blown-glass artist Dale Chihuly

Apparently, Towfiq did not have an issue with the glass sculpture until Gross began to install elaborate netting (above) to protect it from 'vandalism' and environmental damage

Apparently, Towfiq did not have an issue with the glass sculpture until Gross began to install elaborate netting (above) to protect it from ‘vandalism’ and environmental damage

Gross allegedly responded to Towfiq’s protests by playing loud music, including the theme song to Gilligan’s Island, at all hours of the day in order to get Towfiq to drop his complaint.

The two men later sued one another for harassment. In the opening day of the hearing for the dueling complaints in Orange County earlier this month, city official Ross Corona testified that he spoke to Gross and his 51-year-old girlfriend Amy Schwartz over the phone in August.

During the call, Corona said that Gross told him he would only turn the music down to a reasonable level if Towfiq dropped his complaint.

‘Did they tell you they’d drop the music down to reasonable level if Mr Towfiq dropped his complaint with the city?’ Chase Scolnick, a lawyer for Towfiq, asked. 

Corona simply replied: ‘Yes’.

Two Laguna Beach Police Officers who responded to Gross’ address on separate occasions in August and October over complaints of loud music also testified earlier in early November. 

Officer Wade Kraus said he responded to a call about loud music coming from Gross’ property at 2475 South Coast Highway at around 10:53pm on August 1.

Kraus described how he could hear the Gilligan’s Island theme song booming from Gross’ cliffside mansion while standing inside Towfiq’s house.

‘Based on my personal opinion and training as a police officer that level of noise at that time was unreasonable,’ Kraus told Judge Kimberly Knill.

Fellow Laguna Beach officer Ashley Krotine offered similar testimony. She said she was summoned to Gross’ property more than two months later on the morning of October 22.  

Upon arrival, just after 9am, Krotine said she heard Mariachi music blaring so loudly from Gross’ home that it was drowning out the sound of the ocean and the traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway

Towfiq claims Gross began routinely playing obscenely loud music to make his and his wife’s lives a ‘living hell’ after they contacted the city about his sculpture in July.

The dispute was spurred when Gross erected a white net around the glass sculpture – which is valued at $1million – after it was reportedly ‘vandalized’ and suffered $50,000 in damage.

Towfiq then contacted the city, which inspected the property and sent Gross a letter on July 28 informing him that the netting, lighting and sculpture lacked the proper permits. The quarrel has reportedly only escalated since then.

The homes of Mark Towfiq and Bill Gross are seen above in this aerial image

The homes of Mark Towfiq and Bill Gross are seen above in this aerial image

Towfiq says the gaudy netting and nighttime illumination ruin his seaside views

Towfiq says the gaudy netting and nighttime illumination ruin his seaside views

In his lawsuit, Towfiq said Gross’ incessant blaring of loud and obnoxious music for hours on end has forced him and his wife to seek refuge in a hotel.

When he asked Gross to turn the music down, Towfiq’s lawsuit claims Gross replied in a text message: ‘Peace on all fronts or well [sic] just have nightly concerts big boy.’

Towfiq also alleges that the couple are using remote controls to turn on the music, which he claims plays even when they are obviously not at home. 

‘Defendant William Gross is a 76-year-old billionaire used to getting his way no matter what. As proven by their behavior here, Gross and his decades-younger-girlfriend, defendant Amy Schwartz, are bullies,’ Towfiq’s lawsuit states.

Gross and Schwartz filed their own lawsuit, accusing Towfiq of creepy and obsessive behavior, including installing cameras directed at their property and ‘Peeping Tom behaviors.’

‘Defendant Towfiq appears to have a particular fascination not only with Mr Gross but also Ms Schwartz, particularly when the pair are swimming and thus wearing minimal, if any, clothing,’ states the lawsuit.

‘Enough is enough,’ Gross continued in a court filing. The billionaire says he ‘should not have to live tormented by the presence of cameras trained on him because of one man’s prurient obsessions’.

But Towfiq disputed those claims on Monday, saying he doesn’t have any special interest Gross or his wife. 

‘No, I never thought of [Gross and Schwartz] as celebrities,’ Towfiq said. 

In a statement, Schwartz said the dispute was ‘very upsetting’ to her because the sculpture was bought for her by Gross because her mother is ill.

‘Since I have no children of my own, they are like my babies. My mother, who has Alzheimer’s, and I pray to them and she enjoys looking at them because it’s her favorite color and makes her smile,’ she said in the statement. 

Gross' life partner, former pro tennis star Amy Schwartz, said of the sculpture: 'Since I have no children of my own, they are like my babies'

Gross’ life partner, former pro tennis star Amy Schwartz, said of the sculpture: ‘Since I have no children of my own, they are like my babies’

His former partner, Sue Gross, claimed that he sprayed noxious scents around the home and even crammed dead fish into air vents, making her life 'an unmitigated nightmare' for several months.

His former partner, Sue Gross (shown above), claimed that he sprayed noxious scents around the home and even crammed dead fish into air vents, making her life ‘an unmitigated nightmare’ for several months

'When I was finally able to obtain access to this house, I was disgusted to see that Bill had left it in a state of utter chaos and disrepair,' a court filing from Sue Gross reads. 'I found empty spray bottles of "puke" smell and "fart" smell in the garbage'

‘When I was finally able to obtain access to this house, I was disgusted to see that Bill had left it in a state of utter chaos and disrepair,’ a court filing from Sue Gross reads. ‘I found empty spray bottles of ‘puke’ smell and ‘fart’ smell in the garbage’

Schwartz said that she and Gross are the ‘best neighbors’ because they are only at home for five days a month, five months out of the year.

This is not the first time Gross has been accused of employing juvenile tactics to torment his adversaries.

Gross was accused in 2018 of spraying his $20million marital home with fart spray after he was forced to hand over the keys to the property to his ex-wife as part of a divorce settlement. 

His former partner, Sue Gross, claimed that he sprayed noxious scents around the home and even crammed dead fish into air vents, making her life ‘an unmitigated nightmare’ for several months.

‘When I was finally able to obtain access to this house, I was disgusted to see that Bill had left it in a state of utter chaos and disrepair,’ a court filing reads.

‘I found empty spray bottles of ‘puke’ smell and ‘fart’ smell in the garbage; the houseplants smelled foul and had to be replaced. The carpets were stained, and there was water damage throughout the house.’

It continues: ‘A one of a kind art installation piece had been dismantled and removed. The remote controls for the televisions, drapes and other technology were all missing.

‘There were balls of human hair in the drawers. I even found dead fish and dirt stuffed into the air vents.’

Gross made his fortune running PIMCO Investment management, and Towfiq is a tech entrepreneur. He purchased the Laguna Beach mansion, dubbed Rockledge-by-the-Sea, for $32million in 2018.

Towfiq built his dream home on the lot next door after purchasing it in 2009 and winning a protracted legal battle with another neighbor who claimed the project would impede coastal access.

The hearing for the case between Gross and Towfiq is set to resume on Wednesday.

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Sports UK

Man Utd warned “deep-rooted problems” could lead to Bruno Fernandes’ exit


Manchester United have been warned their “deep-rooted problems” could frustrate Bruno Fernandes and cause him to seek a move elsewhere.

The Portuguese midfielder has swiftly become United’s key talisman, scoring twice again on Tuesday to follow up his penalty winner at the weekend.

Fernandes has racked up 21 goals since joining the club in January, yet United’s form has been drastically inconsistent.

The 26-year-old recently declared he had come to United to win trophies, but former Chelsea duo Wayne Bridge and Joe Cole believe it could still be some time before the club are back competing for major honours.

“People have got to realise Manchester United are not the club they used to be at the moment and I think some are struggling to accept that still,” Bridge told Coral.

United have been warned Bruno Fernandes could get frustrated at Old Trafford

“I also think Bruno Fernandes could get frustrated there, if he carries on performing like he is he could easily have his head turned by one of Europe’s top clubs.

“There is a lot at the club that’s not quite right and it will take time to get back to the level they were.”

Manchester United are looking to plot their path back to the top.

And you can keep track of their journey by signing up for the brilliant new Mirror Football newsletter!

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have missed out on Jadon Sancho in the summer, but he still made some big moves in the transfer market with Donny van de Beek, Alex Telles and Edinson Cavani all arriving.

But their start to the season has been a mixed bag, with a home defeat to Crystal Palace and a 6-1 thrashing by Spurs at one end of the scale, and a tremendous 2-1 win over PSG in Paris at the other.

The question now is whether they can find the right balance?

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United looked to be getting back on the right path after their £67million investment in Fernandes began bearing fruit.

He helped his side claim third spot in the Premier League on the final day of last season, as well as narrowly missing out on three finals.

Do you think Fernandes will be at United long-term? Have your say below.

Fernandes has been driving United since his arrival but their form has been erratic
Fernandes has been driving United since his arrival but their form has been erratic

Since then United’s progress appears to have stalled somewhat, after a difficult transfer window coupled with erratic results, until Fernandes’ brace against Istanbul Basaksehir restored some of the feel-good factor.

But Cole feels it may only be momentarily.

“The problems at United are deep rooted,” he said. “The way it works above Solskjaer with Ed Woodward, their dealings in the transfer market, and Ole is a lovely guy and you want him to do well but it just doesn’t look like happening.”





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Tech News

NSE Warned Future Retail of Action Over Disclosures on Amazon Dispute


India’s National Stock Exchange (NSE) privately warned Future Retail it risked regulatory action for not making timely market disclosures about efforts by Amazon.com to block a disputed asset sale, according to e-mails reviewed by Reuters.

Future Retail, one of country’s top retailers, has been locked in a bitter dispute with Amazon over its $3.4 billion (roughly Rs. 25,300 crores) retail assets deal with Reliance. Amazon is a business partner of Future and argues the Indian firm’s asset sale breached some of their pre-existing agreements.

Amazon had complained to stock exchanges, accusing Future of misleading public by making incorrect market disclosures, allegations the Indian group denies.

The complaint came after Amazon on October 25 won an injunction from an arbitrator to halt the Future-Reliance deal.

Previously unreported e-mails exchanged between the NSE and Future show the stock exchange repeatedly requested the company submit more details of the arbitration order, seeking details of possible impact on financials, lenders and the Reliance deal.

On October 27, NSE asked Future why it had not disclosed the commencement of the arbitration proceedings and not shared the impact of the order. Future in response said it believed a disclosure wasn’t required.

NSE’s listing compliance division rejected that argument. It demanded a series of disclosures be made within hours, “failing which appropriate actions may be initiated”, the emails showed.

Future Retail’s Company Secretary, Virendra Samani, answered most of NSE’s queries in a late night e-mail on October 30, saying it was doing so “in the best interest of all stakeholders”, the communications showed.

Many of those responses were made public on directions of the NSE two days later in a six-page exchange filing by Future.

Before that, Future had only submitted a disclosure on October 26 in which it attached a media release saying it would ensure its deal with Reliance proceeded unhindered and that it was reviewing the arbitration order.

The NSE and Future Retail did not respond to requests for comment.

The legal dispute has now reached the Delhi High Court, where Future Retail has urged the court to stop Amazon from writing letters to regulators to block its Reliance deal, which is pending approvals from the market regulator and stock exchanges. The judge is expected to rule on the plea in the coming days.

Amazon had separately asked India’s market regulator to investigate Future for insider trading, saying it disclosed to Reliance price sensitive details of the arbitration order before its exchange filing in late October.

Future has said its communications with Reliance, which is led by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, were for a “legitimate purpose”.

NSE in e-mails at least twice asked Future Retail to provide a copy of the arbitration order to vet the disclosures, and also why it should not be disclosed as material price-sensitive information, emails between October 27 and October 30 showed.

Future’s Samani at first declined the request, stating in an e-mail that the order was “confidential in nature” and sharing further information could be “deterimental” to the company. A copy was provided following NSE’s warning.

© Thomson Reuters 2020


iPhone 12 Pro Series Is Amazing, but Why Is It So Expensive in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.



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UAE

UAE shoppers warned to watch out for White Friday fake discounts


Time for caution as online fraud is expected to be on the rise during White Friday-related promtions.
Image Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Dubai: A US-based cybersecurity firm has warned UAE shoppers to take extra precautions this week as fake discounts and phishing attacks are expected to soar online, due to scammers taking advantage of White Friday.

White Friday is the Middle Eastern equivalent of Black Friday in the United States. The shopping event takes place at the end of November, and offers customers with sales, deals, and discounts on a number of products.

In a report released on Sunday, cybersecurity and compliance firm Proofpoint released research identifying that 13 of the top 20 online retailers in the UAE (65 percent) are susceptible to cybercriminals copying their identity, which increases the risk of email fraud for their customers. The main reason for their vulnerability was attributed to these UAE retailers not having a published DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) record.

“Despite this, only 15 percent of leading retailers – or 3 out of the top 20 – have implemented the strictest and recommended level of DMARC protection, which actively blocks fraudulent emails from reaching their intended target,” according to the report.

In addition, the research highlighted that 85 percent of leading online retailers are not proactively blocking fraudulent emails, leaving their customers in the UAE vulnerable to email fraud.

Emile Abou Saleh, Regional Director, Middle East and Africa for Proofpoint, said: “Retailers should prioritise protecting themselves and their customers by implementing simple, yet effective email authentication best practices. Ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers must remain vigilant and check the validity of all emails, especially at a time when their attention is more likely to be focused on grabbing the best deals.

“With greater numbers of people now online, organisations in all sectors should deploy authentication protocols, such as DMARC, to bolster their email fraud defences and protect customers and businesses.”

Cybercriminals regularly use the method of domain spoofing to pose as well-known brands, by sending an email from a supposedly legitimate sender address. These emails are designed to trick people into clicking on links or sharing personal details which can then be used to steal money or identities and it can be almost impossible for an ordinary Internet user to identify a fake sender from a real one. Having a DMARC policy in place, protects employees, customers, and partners from cybercriminals looking to impersonate a trusted domain.

In 2020, online shopping has grabbed an ever-increasing market share, given the changing dynamics of retail in the COVID-19 era. According to Kearney Middle East, the e-commerce sector in the GCC is expected to reach $50bn by 2025, and the current pandemic has been the main driver for this growth. With Black Friday (November 27) and Cyber Monday (November 30) approaching, online retail traffic is expected to surge to an annual high, as consumers search the internet for the hottest deals.

A recent study published by advertising platform Criteo also indicated that retail traffic and sales in the Middle East and Africa are set to peak during the upcoming White Friday sales. White Friday last year saw an average of 336 per cent increase in sales and a 170 per cent increase in traffic. Similar trends are expected this year, with e-commerce expected to perform stronger as consumers move to online shopping, in the wake of COVID-19.

The Criteo study of 800 consumers in the UAE revealed that four out of ten shoppers plan to buy more products online this year, including toys and gaming items, cultural goods, and beauty products. In addition, three out of ten UAE shoppers plan to buy more luxury brands, home goods, groceries, apparel/accessories, household products and consumer electronics online.



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Sports UK

Paul Pogba warned over Man Utd comments after lifting lid on “difficult period”


Frank Leboeuf has warned his compatriot Paul Pogba his recent comments will not have been “well interpreted” by the Manchester United hierarchy.

Pogba admitted he is going through the most “difficult period” of his career during a frank interview with RTL on Sunday.

He added: “The France team is a breath of fresh air, the group is exceptional, it’s magic. It’s not that in the club we don’t have fun, but here it’s not the same. We laugh. It’s really a family.”

Pogba has started France’s last two matches after being dropped for United’s last two games following his poor display in the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal.

Pogba lavished praise on his France teammates as he opened up on a “difficult period” with United

There is no doubt Pogba is yet to find his best form for the Red Devils this season, but Leboeuf urged him to be careful with his choice of words for the good of his relationship with the club.

When asked about the 27-year-old’s comments on his “difficult period” at Old Trafford, Leboeuf told ESPN : “You have to be always cautious of what you say.

Is Frank Leboeuf right to warn Paul Pogba over his comments? Have your say here.

Frank Leboeuf (pic: Getty)
Leboeuf has warned his fellow World Cup winner over his comments

It has been a hectic season so far – so make sure you don’t miss a single thing by signing up for the brilliant new Mirror Football newsletter!

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“It’s true that this is not going to be very well interpreted with Manchester United.

“It’s meaning that he is belonging to a group with friends which is not the case with Manchester United.”

Solskjaer has preferred a midfield pivot of Fred and Scott McTominay to Pogba in recent fixtures and the pairing helped the United boss clinch a 3-1 win at Everton last time out.

Pogba has also featured on the left of a midfield diamond, which worked to great effect in the 5-0 win over Leipzig but fell flat in the defeat to Arsenal.

The former Juventus man conceded a costly penalty for a clumsy foul on Hector Bellerin as the Gunners came away from Old Trafford with a first victory in 14 years.

Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip.





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UAE

UAE weather: Rainy conditions, rough seas, residents warned



Dubai: UAE residents can expect a rainy day especially in Fujairah, and the northern region with strong winds blowing.

According to the National Center of Meteorology (NCM), today’s skies are looking fair to partly cloudy at times with convective cloud formation associated with rainfall over some eastern coastal areas, and might extend to the internal and northern areas.

Winds are also expected to repeatedly blow, at a speed of 20 – 30 km/h, reaching up to 40 km/h at times.

The winds are expected to blow dust and sand into the air.

Conditions at the Arabian Gulf and the Oman Sea are expected to be rough.

The NCM has issued a yellow and orange alert due to the weather conditions which are expected to last till 9 am.

Drivers have been warned to be careful on the road as the dust might hinder visibility. Those who suffer from allergies should also take precautions when going outside.

The temperatures are expected to be in the mid to low 30s on average.

Dubai is currently at 25 °C with mostly sunny skies.



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Headline USA

Police shoot Hispanic who warned he would open fire at Florida gas station | The State


The suspect was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Photo:
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

MIAMI, Florida – A 46-year-old Hispanic man recovers in a hospital in Florida of the shots fired by the police on Friday after they warned that he was going to shoot people at a gas station, according to the authorities.

The Sheriff’s Office Highlands County (Central Florida) indicated in a statement that it did not find a weapon at the place where its agents shot and detained Julio Garcia, an incident subject to investigation as required by the rules.

The agents, according to the bailiff of the County Highlands, Paul Bleckman, They went looking for Garcia last night after the Hispanic man called 911 to say that he had injured his girlfriend and was heading with a firearm to a gas station near his home in Sebring, Florida to shoot to the people.

Police found Garcia walking down an avenue toward the gas station parking lot.

According to witnesses, Garcia was in an “aggressive” mood and had something in his hand that looked like a pistol with which he pointed at the police.

The agents gave him “verbal orders” and ended up shooting him in the upper part of his body, after which they gave him first aid before being transferred to a hospital, where he is stable.

Sheriff Blackman said in the statement that apparently what was believed to be a weapon was Garcia’s cell phone.

The two agents who intervened are off duty while the pertinent investigations are carried out.

García, according to the statement, has a criminal record and has tried to commit suicide several times using the police, the last of them in October.

.



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Sports UK

Klopp warned Alaba transfer would have “long-term consequences” for Liverpool


Jurgen Klopp has been warned about signing David Alaba as a “short-term fix” by former Liverpool goalkeeper David James.

The Reds have been heavily linked with Bayern Munich defender Alaba as they eye cover for Virgil van Dijk, who is expected to miss the rest of the season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Alaba, 28, has been one of Bayern’s most consistent performers over the last decade but his contract with the Bavarian giants expires in less than 12 months.

As such, Liverpool could enter talks with the versatile Austrian and his representatives in the January window – but James is concerned over the repercussions of making the signing.

Alaba is able to play at left-back, centre-back or in midfield

“I’m just trying to work out what system they would play if they had him in the side,” the former England No. 1 told Stadium Astro .

“He is a phenomenal player. Watching him in the Champions League, he is scary going forward. Liverpool would want him – any top six of English clubs would want him.

“But it’s what you do once you’ve got him.

Would David Alaba be a good signing for Liverpool or would he cause further problems down the line? Have your say here.

James does not want Alaba’s potential signing to upset the balance at Anfield

It has been a hectic season so far – so make sure you don’t miss a single thing by signing up for the brilliant new Mirror Football newsletter!

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“These short-term fixes have long-term consequences because you end up pushing someone further down the line. It’s whether it fits into the Liverpool plan.

“One thing Liverpool have been very good at over the years is their recruitment, since Klopp took over, so if they weren’t thinking about him before they wouldn’t be one of their targets.”

While he agreed with some of his former Liverpool teammates’ comments, Danny Murphy insisted he would “be wanting” to sign Alaba.

The former midfielder added: “In terms of his ability, he absolutely fits. He’s a super player.

“What you’d have to look at from Jurgen Klopp’s perspective is the balance of the club moving forward when everyone’s fit.

“I would be wanting to do it – you can’t have enough good players. I think he would certainly add quality and strength in depth.”

Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip.





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Headlines UK London

Rishi Sunak’s ex-boss warned he is too nice to win in politics, writes LORD ASHCROFT 


Who is Rishi Sunak? That’s the question I set out to answer when I decided to write a book about how he landed one of the most powerful and influential jobs in government.

It all happened so suddenly. One minute almost nobody outside Westminster and Yorkshire, where he is an MP, had heard of him.

The next, he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, leading the economic response to coronavirus. In what seemed like a heartbeat, he had become a star.

His new role leading the battle to save jobs and livelihoods from the impact of the pandemic would have been reason enough to explore his past, but something else spurred me on: people were beginning to talk of Sunak as a future Conservative Party leader.

One minute almost nobody outside Westminster and Yorkshire, where he is an MP, had heard of him. The next, he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, leading the economic response to coronavirus. In what seemed like a heartbeat, he had become a star

Not only that: at Westminster, the buzz around him was such that colleagues were beginning to speculate he might be the next Prime Minister. 

This was exciting, but beyond the various measures he devised to help workers and businesses weather the storm, like the furlough scheme and Eat Out To Help Out, most people still didn’t know much about him.

So I set out to chart his journey from suburban Southampton, where he grew up the son of a GP father and pharmacist mother, to Oxford, the City of London, Silicon Valley and the Houses of Parliament. Along the way, he married an Indian heiress, adding glamour into his remarkable success story.

From the moment I embarked on my research, what I heard time and again about Rishi Sunak is how much his colleagues like him.

In interview after interview with MPs, special advisers, political strategists, almost everyone with whom I spoke described him as really ‘nice’.

Their tone was always admiring. ‘He’s just a great guy,’ they would say, generally adding that he is exceptionally bright, capable, and works very, very hard.

Voters are impressed, too, seeing a politician who is on their side and wants to help. In my polling, he is often praised as one of the few Ministers who seems to know what he is doing.

But this overwhelming positivity about Sunak among those who have worked with him was weird – and a little frustrating. Were people just singing his praises because they wanted to stay in his good books? I did not want to write a hagiography, yet nobody had a bad word.

From the moment I embarked on my research, what I heard time and again about Rishi Sunak is how much his colleagues like him. Mr Sunak was appointed by Boris Johnson earlier this year

From the moment I embarked on my research, what I heard time and again about Rishi Sunak is how much his colleagues like him. Mr Sunak was appointed by Boris Johnson earlier this year

Not only had he apparently reached the top of politics without upsetting anyone, his meteoric rise did not seem to have given cause to any real jealousy, either among the 2015 intake of Tory MPs who entered Parliament at the same time as he did, or more experienced colleagues who might be forgiven for some resentment over the speed of his ascent.

In the cut-throat, back-stabbing world of politics, this is quite remarkable. What was going on?

What I discovered as I researched his background is that Sunak has been professionally trained to be ultra-careful about the way he treats others. 

This is not just an act – he is naturally personable – but cultivating colleagues is an artform he has perfected since he left university, and he is nothing short of brilliant at it.

As a young trainee at Goldman Sachs in the early 2000s, his survival depended not only on his financial acumen but also on his interpersonal skills. 

The corporate culture was one in which those who did well rose fast, while those who failed to impress were quickly issued with a P45.

To avoid this fate, Sunak not only had to put in punishing hours at the office – a bad day might begin before 8am and finish in the middle of the night – but also continually impress (or at the very least not alienate) both his bosses and his peer group.

In an approach that encouraged every employee to tread exceptionally carefully with colleagues, the firm operated a ‘360-degree review process,’ in which staff were actively encouraged to report back on each other. 

To climb the ladder, new recruits could never afford to forget that everyone with whom they worked had a line into the HR department – and could stab them in the back.

After three years, Sunak left Goldman to study for an MBA at Stanford, securing a Fulbright Scholarship to help fund the course, but he never forgot the people skills he learned at the bank. 

When in 2015 he entered politics, securing one of the safest Tory seats in the country, his respectful attitude to others, whatever their seniority, marked him out in an environment in which it is commonplace to trample on others to reach the top.

Today, he remains eager to learn, recently startling an applicant for a senior position at the Treasury by asking the candidate to offer a critical appraisal of his performance as Chancellor.

Sunak also takes a professional approach to his personal brand, using some of the best spinners in the business to curate his public image. He is assiduous in maintaining his physique, regularly working out on an exercise bike and even fasting to keep in shape.

Will he make it to the very top? The odds look good. Fellow MPs rate him, and politicians of this calibre whom voters like and trust are few and far between.

But it could be his very ‘niceness’ that ultimately impedes his path to No 10. He will never be the scheming Frank Underwood in House Of Cards. 

Some who know him well think he may lack the Machiavellian streak required to outmanoeuvre rivals.

Indeed, Richard Sharp, his former boss at Goldman Sachs, advised him not to go into politics, doubting he was equipped for such a ‘dirty business’.

It is also unclear how he will ultimately emerge from the coronavirus crisis.

For months, he has been bracing himself for the backlash he knows will come his way when the furlough scheme is wound up, more people lose their jobs, and he must begin to raise taxes.

Recently, a highly personal video by a Left-wing campaign group depicting him as obscenely rich and out of touch went viral: a taste of what may be to come.

Yet he is still only 40 years old. Based on what I have learned about his personality, ambition and work ethic, I suspect the rise of Rishi Sunak has only just begun.

Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC is a businessman, philanthropist, author and pollster. For more on his work visit lordashcroft.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook: @LordAshcroft.



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