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Keeping Score in the Google vs. Microsoft Zero-Day Games
January 20, 2015
Google's recent publication of Windows' vulnerabilities -- two within a week -- predictably raised Microsoft's ire. "Risk is significantly increased by publically announcing information that a cybercriminal could use to orchestrate an attack and assumes those that would take action are made aware of the issue," wrote Chris Betz, Microsoft's senior director of trustworthy computing.
Cameron Takes Hard Line on Encrypted Communications
January 15, 2015
UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who is standing for re-election, has vowed to ban personal encrypted communications apps such as Snapchat and WhatsApp if he is voted in. He also will allow UK government security agencies to monitor communications, with warrants signed by the Home Secretary. "The first duty of any government is to keep our country and our people safe," Cameron declared.
Data Breach Law Tops Obama Privacy Initiatives
January 12, 2015
A proposed national data breach reporting law, aimed primarily at protecting consumer privacy, headlined several initiatives the Obama administration announced Monday. The Personal Data Notification & Protection Act clarifies the obligations of companies when there's been a data breach. It includes a requirement to notify customers within 30 days of the discovery of a breach.
BlackBerry Jingles Its Keys to Recovery
January 08, 2015
BlackBerry has been hurting over the last several years, but recently it's starting to look like the stars may be lining up for recovery. If BlackBerry does make a comeback, it will be a very different company. This time, the focus will be on security -- plus one more important factor. BlackBerry succeeded years ago. It was the first successful smartphone maker.
Thieves Take $5M Bite Out of Bitcoin Exchange
January 07, 2015
An estimated $5.2 million was stolen over the weekend from Bitstamp, a digital currency exchange. It has suspended services pending an investigation. The company assured its customers that bitcoins held with Bitstamp prior to suspension of services were completely safe and would be honored in full. Bitstamp on Sunday discovered that some of its operational wallets had been compromised.
Fingerprint Theft Just a Shutter Click Away
January 07, 2015
Ever since smartphone makers started incorporating fingerprint scanners as a means of unlocking mobile phones, the Chaos Computer Club has attacked the technology with vigor. Not long after Apple added Touch ID to its iPhones, the German hackers demonstrated how to lift prints from a surface and create a flexible pad containing the print that could be used to break into a phone.
Yikes! Ransomware Could Take Over Your Hard Drive
January 05, 2015
Malware is running rampant on the Internet, affecting smartphones, tablets and PCs. Relatively new malware allows bad guys to encrypt devices until a ransom is paid. Usually the ransom is required in bitcoin, rather than U.S. currency, as it cannot be traced. What are the legal and other risks associated with ransomware? Ransomware is largely directed at personal devices and small businesses.
Hackers Give Touch ID the Finger
December 29, 2014
Hacker Jan Krissler, aka "Starbug," this weekend told attendees at the 31st Chaos Computer Club convention that he had replicated the fingerprints of German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leven using a standard photo camera and commercially available software. Krissler used a close-up of a photo of the minister's thumb and other pictures taken at different angles during a press event in October.
Misfortune Cookie Crumbles Millions of Security Systems
December 29, 2014
Check Point Software Technologies recently revealed a flaw in millions of routers that allows the devices to be controlled by hackers. The company detected 12 million Internet-connected devices that have the flaw. The vulnerability, which Check Point dubbed "Misfortune Cookie," can be found in the code of a commonly used embedded Web server, RomPager from AllegroSoft.
The Big Tech Stories of 2015
December 29, 2014
Last week, we looked back at the largely untold, or under told, stories of 2014. This week, let's look ahead to some of the stories that are coming in 2015. We'll have robots, self-driving cars, armed autonomous drones, the professional proliferation of head mounted cameras, some scandals, and some interesting political implications. I'll close with my product of the year, which even surprised me.
Fraud-Proofing Credit Cards Through Quantum Physics
December 26, 2014
Researchers at the University of Twente and the Eindhoven University of Technology have come up with what they claim is an unprecedentedly secure way to authenticate credit cards, IDs, biometrics, and parties involved in quantum cryptography. The method -- quantum-secure authentication of optical keys -- basically consists of sending a beam of light at cards treated with a special paint.
Flaws in Ancient Standard Enable Wireless Eavesdropping, Spying
December 23, 2014
Vulnerabilities in Signaling System 7, telephony signaling protocols used by carriers worldwide, allow third parties to listen to people's cellphone calls and intercept text messages despite encryption, The Washington Post reported last week. German cybersecurity researchers Tobias Engel of Sternraute and Karsten Nohl of Security Research Labs separately discovered these vulnerabilities.
Tech Industry Rallies Around Microsoft in Data Privacy Battle With US
December 18, 2014
A coalition of supporting organizations filed 10 amicus briefs with the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a case challenging a U.S. government search warrant for Microsoft customer data stored on a server based in Ireland. The coalition includes 28 technology and media companies, 35 computer scientists, and 23 trade associations and advocacy organizations.
BlackBerry Bucks Up Its Loyal Base With Classic Comeback
December 17, 2014
BlackBerry has unveiled the BlackBerry Classic, a handset with a full QWERTY physical keyboard, physical navigation keys, and a design that can be best described as "retro," in that its appearance is virtually identical to the BlackBerry Bold. The Classic, which is smaller than the company's recently launched Passport smartphone, targets users who still long for the traditional BlackBerry handset.
FIDO Pursues Vision of a Password-Free World
December 17, 2014
A group of some 150 companies last week moved closer to eliminating the bane of many an online user: the ubiquitous password. The FIDO Alliance, which counts among its members Microsoft, PayPal, Google, Bank of America, Visa and MasterCard, released version 1.0 of its open specifications for strong authentication on the Internet without the use of passwords.
Iowa to Lead Digital Driver's License Movement
December 12, 2014
Iowa plans to issue digital drivers' licenses in the form of a smartphone app by next year, Paul Trombino, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation, said earlier this week at a public state agency budget hearing. The digital license will be accepted by Iowa law enforcement officers conducting traffic stops, as well as by security officers who screen travelers at Iowa's airports.
No Respite for Sony
December 12, 2014
Since the hacker group calling itself "Guardians of Peace" announced its attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment late last month, things have gone downhill for the company. After confidential documents were leaked to the Internet over several days, a denouement of sorts was reached last week, when a security company examining the stolen data discovered nearly 50,000 Social Security numbers.
FIDO Alliance Launches 'Password Killer' Spec
December 11, 2014
The Google-supported FIDO Alliance this week achieved a key milestone in its mission to end the use of passwords by releasing version 1.0 of its namesake open standard. "Today, we celebrate an achievement that will define the point at which the old world order of passwords and PINs started to wither and die," said Michael Barrett, president of the alliance. FIDO stands for "Fast IDentity Online."
Blackphone to Peddle a Few Good Apps
December 10, 2014
Blackphone plans to open an app store for privacy-focused applications to run on its secure smartphone. The store is expected to launch in January. The Blackphone runs PrivatOS, a modified version of Android 4.4.2 that comes bundled with tools that encrypt phone calls, texts, emails and Internet browsing. The app store will feature curated apps selected for their security and privacy chops.
Dashlane, LastPass Promise Easy Password Changing
December 10, 2014
Two password manager makers on Tuesday announced new features that allow their users to minimize the hassle of resetting passwords. One of the first things online users are advised to do after a data breach -- and there have been more than few of those lately -- is to change their passwords. Few users act on that advice, though, because password changing is too onerous.
Hackers Derail Sony's PlayStation Network
December 09, 2014
Still reeling from a cyberintrusion that exposed massive amounts of personnel data from its entertainment division on the Internet, Sony was attacked again over the weekend. This time, hackers disrupted the company's PlayStation Network. However, unlike the foray against Sony Pictures Entertainment, which is still under investigation, the company quickly recovered.
Google Releases Consumers From the Scourge of CAPTCHA
December 04, 2014
Google on Wednesday announced the no-CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA, a kinder, gentler way of distinguishing human Web surfers from bots. The new system requires that users confirm their humanity by checking a box to the left of the statement "I'm not a robot." A privacy statement is displayed on the right. If checking the box doesn't work, a window containing distorted text will pop up.
Cybersecurity Threats 2015: More Espionage, More Apple Malware
December 03, 2014
Cyberspies will flourish and hackers will target Apple devices more often in 2015. Until now, Russia, China and the United States have dominated the cyberespionage scene, but their success will start to attract new players to the practice. "We can expect some of the developing economies ... to engage in these activities to protect their growth status," said Websense's Carl Leonard.
Wristband Heads Off Password Headaches
November 25, 2014
Has software glut got you down? Do you reuse passwords because creating unique ones for all your online accounts would cause a memory overload? If so, you may be interested in a bit of jewelry called the "Everykey," by a startup with the same name. Everykey is a wristband that removes the need to remember the countless log-in credentials we use every day.

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