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Google's Hands Free Puts Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
March 3, 2016
Google on Wednesday announced that it has begun testing an app dubbed "Hands Free," which lets Android and iOS smartphone users make purchases via their devices without taking them out of their pockets or purses. Early adopters in Silicon Valley can use the system at some McDonald's, Papa John's and other eateries. The app offers connectivity via Bluetooth Low Energy, WiFi and location services.
Cryptography Pioneers Win Million-Dollar Turing Award
March 3, 2016
The Association of Computing Machinery on Tuesday named Whitfield Diffie and Martin E. Hellman recipients of the 2015 ACM A.M. Turing Award for their contributions to modern cryptography. Their invention of public key cryptography and digital signatures revolutionized computer security, the organization said. The award includes a $1 million prize, with financial support provided by Google.
Apple Lawyer Pushes Back Against FBI Testimony to Judiciary Committee
March 2, 2016
Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell on Tuesday testified before the House Judiciary Committee that his company should not be required write new code for software that would weaken the security of the iPhone in the wake of the San Bernardino, California, terrorist attacks. The FBI wants Apple to take action that would put the privacy and security of millions of customers at risk, he said.
Report: 3.5 Million HTTPS Servers Vulnerable to DROWN
March 2, 2016
A report released Tuesday on the DROWN vulnerability raises concerns about possible attacks that could expose encrypted communications. DROWN is a serious vulnerability that affects HTTPS and other services using SSL version 2, according to the team of security researchers who compiled the report. The protocols affected are some of the essential cryptographic protocols for Internet security.
FBI Director Makes Case for Security Trade-Off in Congressional Hearing
March 2, 2016
FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday testified before the House Judiciary Committee that the government has the legal right to gain limited access to the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters and other suspected terrorists. Congress and the judicial system can create a mechanism to protect the safety of the American people while preserving constitutional rights, he said.
Fitbit Leads Surge in Wearable Sales
February 26, 2016
Wearable device makers shipped more than 27 million units globally in the fourth quarter of 2015, an increase of nearly 127 percent over the year-ago quarter, IDC reported Tuesday. Vendors shipped a total of 78.1 million units in 2015, up 171.6 percent over 2014, according to the "Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker" report. Fitbit led the growth, followed by Apple and Xiaomi.
Google Brings Project Shield to DDoS Battlefield
February 26, 2016
Google on Thursday announced that it was expanding its Project Shield program, offering to protect news and human rights websites from distributed denial of service attacks for free. Project Shield uses Google's security infrastructure to detect and filter DDoS attacks, which flood websites with Internet traffic or service requests in order to impair their functioning or take them down altogether.
The Downside of Linux Popularity
February 25, 2016
Popularity is becoming a two-edged sword for Linux. The open source operating system has become a key component of the Internet's infrastructure, and it's also the foundation for the world's largest mobile OS, Google's Android. Widespread use of the OS, though, has attracted the attention of hackers looking to transfer the dirty tricks previously aimed at Windows to Linux.
MasterCard Will Put Selfies to Work for Authentication
February 23, 2016
MasterCard on Monday announced facial recognition and fingerprint technology that essentially would allow customers to take selfies to help authenticate their identity when engaged in mobile shopping. The rollout, which is planned for this summer in the U.S., Canada and part of Europe, follows a pilot of biometrics by MasterCard and International Card Services with Dutch participants.
Battle Lines Sharpen in Apple-FBI Encryption Fight
February 22, 2016
In the days following the court order directing Apple to help the FBI unlock an encrypted iPhone associated with the San Bernardino terrorists, supporters have lined up behind both sides. A federal magistrate last week ordered Apple to create software that would let authorities access data in an iPhone used by the shooters in the attack last year. Apple CEO Tim Cook responded with an open letter in defense of the company's resistance.
The FBI's iPhone Problem: Tactical vs. Strategic Thinking
February 22, 2016
I'm an ex-sheriff, I've been in and out of security jobs for much of my life, so I've got some familiarity with the issues underlying the drama between the FBI and Apple. Law enforcement officials would like an easier way to do their jobs. Wouldn't we all? If they could put cameras in every home and business on the planet, they'd find a way to do it. That would solve a lot of tactical challenges.
Cook et al Dig In Heels in iPhone Encryption Battle
February 19, 2016
CEO Tim Cook on Tuesday took Apple's battle with the FBI directly to the public, penning an open letter in defense of the company's resistance to a court order mandating it to create a way to access data in the iPhone used by the San Bernardino terrorists. A federal magistrate issued the order because the high level of encryption built into the device had impeded the FBI's investigation.
Hollywood Hospital Hacked Back to Paper Age
February 17, 2016
Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center last week revealed its computer systems were offline after a ransomware attack scrambled the data on its systems. Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts data and system files on a computer and demands a ransom payment to unscramble the files. Since the attack, HPMC medical personnel have resorted to faxes and handwritten charts to perform their tasks.
Cook Takes Encryption Battle to the Streets
February 17, 2016
CEO Tim Cook on Tuesday brought Apple's dispute with the FBI to the public. Cook penned an open letter explaining the company's resistance to a federal magistrate's order to create software that would let authorities access data in an iPhone used by the shooters in last year's San Bernardino terrorist attack. Carrying out the order could undermine the security of all iPhone users, Cook argued.
IRS Halts Hack Attack
February 11, 2016
The Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday said it recently discovered and halted an automated bot attack on its electronic filing PIN application website. Identity thieves used malware in an attempt to generate E-file PINs for 464,000 Social Security numbers stolen from another source, the IRS said. The hackers succeeded in accessing an E-file PIN for 101,000 of those numbers.
Bill Aims to Keep States From Banning Smartphone Encryption
February 11, 2016
United States Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, last week introduced legislation to prevent states from passing laws banning the sale of smartphones with encryption capabilities. The bill aims to shut off attempts by the FBI, NSA and law enforcement agencies in the U.S. to force high-tech companies to include security or encryption backdoors.
Gadget Ogling: A Personal Padlock, a Grown-Up Desk, and an Informative Mirror
February 10, 2016
Tapplock is a padlock that unlocks when you press your finger against a sensor to let it read your print. There are other smart padlocks on the market you can unlock using your smartphone via Bluetooth, though there are a couple of points that help Tapplock stand out. First, the price for backers of the crowdfunding campaign is reasonable, at $29 for the basic version and $49 for the larger model.
New Safe Harbor Pact Offers Temporary Port in Storm
February 9, 2016
Through an eleventh-hour maneuver, the United States and the European Union last week avoided action that could have choked the movement of data between the regions and caused financial harm to U.S. companies. It may be only a temporary respite, however. The problem stems from a European Court of Justice decision in October that blew up an agreement between the regions.
Rugged Turing Phone to Run on Sailfish OS, Not Android
February 4, 2016
Turing Robotic Industries this week announced that it has uninstalled Google's Android mobile platform in favor of Jolla's Sailfish OS in its yet-to-appear secure smartphone. The Turing Phone, molded from a single unit of the Liquidmorphium liquid-metal alloy, is designed to be more durable to absorb shocks and prevent screen breakage. Preorder pricing starts at $610.
Harvard Researchers Debunk Warnings of Terrorists 'Going Dark'
February 2, 2016
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University on Monday released a report that questions the so-called "going dark" phenomenon. The U.S. government and surveillance and law enforcement agencies have been calling for an end to encryption because they say it lets terrorists communicate with impunity and is responsible for the inability of law enforcement to monitor communications.
Oracle Pulls Plug on Java Browser Plug-In
January 30, 2016
Oracle earlier this week announced its decision to scrap its Java browser plug-in. The plug-in, a frequent target of hackers, won't be included in the next version of JDK 9, which is expected to ship in September. Oracle's action was motivated by browser makers' withdrawal of support for the plug-in. Developers of applications that depend on it need to consider alternatives, the company said.
FDA Guidelines Target IoT Medical Device Security
January 28, 2016
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week took a step toward addressing the threat the Internet of Things poses to patients and their data by releasing some proposed guidelines for managing cybersecurity in medical devices. "Networked medical devices, like other networked computer systems, incorporate software that may be vulnerable to cybersecurity threats," the FDA says in its proposal.
Suggestion Glitch Crashes Safari Browser
January 27, 2016
Apple's Safari browser has been crashing on Macs and iOS devices when users launch a search through its address bar, according to reports on Wednesday. OS X and iOS users worldwide have been affected, according to The Verge, which confirmed the problem on several iOS devices and at least one OS X machine. One of the first mentions of the glitch was a tweet by app developer Phillip Caudell.
California Bill Would Ban Encrypted Smartphone Sales
January 25, 2016
California State Assemblyman Jim Cooper last week introduced a bill seeking to ban the sale of smartphones that include unbreakable encryption. It would require smartphones made on or after Jan. 1, 2017, and sold in California to be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by manufacturers or OS providers. Knowingly failing to comply would subject a seller or lessor to a fine of $2,500 per device.
Consumer Advocates Push FCC on Broadband Privacy Rules
January 22, 2016
A coalition of 59 organizations on Wednesday sent a letter to U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler calling on him to get cracking on privacy protection rules for consumers. The groups include consumer advocates such as Consumer Watchdog and the Chicago Consumer Coalition as well as the Center for Democracy and Technology and the American Association of Law Libraries.
Zero-Day Flaw Puts Millions of Linux Machines, Android Devices at Risk
January 21, 2016
Tens of millions of Linux PCs and servers, as well as 66 percent of all Android mobile devices, are vulnerable to a zero-day flaw that could allow users with lower-level privileges to gain root access, according to Perception Point, which announced its discovery last week. The local privilege escalation vulnerability, which affects Linux Kernel v3.8 and higher, has existed since 2012, the firm said.
Ukraine Mounts Investigation of Kiev Airport Cyberattack
January 20, 2016
Ukrainian officials earlier this week said they had launched a probe into the source of a cyberattack that targeted a Kiev Airport. The attack may be related to the BlackEnergy malware attacks that recently targeted Ukrainian infrastructure facilities, apparently from Russia. CERT-UA on Monday warned system administrators to be on the alert for the presence of BlackEnergy malware.
Phishing Attack Could Net LastPass Credentials
January 19, 2016
LastPass has boosted security for its users after a security researcher alerted the company of a phishing attack he devised to steal users' login and two-factor authentication credentials. Sean Cassidy, CTO of Praesidio, demonstrated the phishing attack, which he calls "LostPass," last week at ShmooCon. "We think this is a very serious problem," said Praesidio CEO Edgardo Nazario.
Microsoft Prods Skylake Users to Take the Windows 10 Plunge
January 18, 2016
Microsoft last week announced that within the next 18 months, it will end support for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 on machines equipped with Intel's 6th generation Core processors, also known as "Skylake." As of mid-July next year, Windows 10 will be the only supported Windows platform on Skylake systems, and only the most critical security fixes will be released for earlier versions of Windows.
Privacy as a Service Advocates Promise Better Data Protection
January 14, 2016
There's been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth about the Sisyphean task of protecting privacy in the Digital Age, but that hasn't stopped innovators from searching for ways to preserve it. One of the latest ideas to emerge in the field is Privacy as a Service. As with many emerging technologies, the definition of "PaaS" (not to be confused with Platform as a Service) is in flux.
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