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Apple Channels Founding Fathers in Legal Brief
March 17, 2016
Lawyers for Apple on Tuesday argued in a federal District Court filing that the founding fathers would be appalled by the demands the Department of Justice has made in seeking a backdoor to iPhone encryption. The DoJ and the FBI want "Apple to create exactly the kind of operating system that Congress has thus far refused to require," the lawyers wrote.
Amazon May Let You Pay With a Wink and a Nod
March 16, 2016
Amazon has applied for a patent for selfie-based authentication for online purchases, according to a patent application published last week. Using the technology, a prospective purchaser would take a selfie, and the image would be authenticated against an image database using facial recognition software. The buyer then would perform an action to verify that the image is of a live human being.
WhatsApp Case May Be New Encryption Battleground
March 15, 2016
A new front may have opened up between the Department of Justice and Silicon Valley in the ongoing legal battle over government access to encrypted data, this time involving WhatsApp, the electronic messaging and voice system owned by Facebook. DoJ officials reportedly have been debating how to proceed in a criminal case in which a court-ordered wiretap has been hindered by WhatsApp encryption.
Senators Aim to Lay Down the Law on Encryption Cooperation
March 11, 2016
Lawmakers this week sent to the White House the draft version of a bill that would penalize technology companies if they failed to cooperate on encryption cases, according to Capitol Hill sources. The bill would open up tech companies to contempt orders and other penalties if they refused to comply with a law enforcement request involving encrypted communications.
Home Alone? Now Nest Can Tell
March 10, 2016
Nest on Thursday announced two new features, Family Accounts and Home/Away Assist. Family Accounts would let up to 10 people access the Nest products in a connected home from their Android or iOS devices. Home/Away Assist was designed to track the patterns of household members, utilizing learning algorithms and activity sensors that are built into products such as the Nest Learning Thermostat.
Facebook Exec's Brazilian Misadventure Signals Bigger Problem
March 10, 2016
The jailing last week of Facebook Regional Vice President Diego Dzoda in Brazil may have been the tip of an iceberg. Frustrated police made the arrest after Facebook failed to produce WhatsApp messages connected to a drug trafficking case. The incident is one of a growing heap of examples that highlight the difficulties law enforcement agencies face when trying to collect digital evidence.
Ransomware Plague Spreads to Macs
March 8, 2016
Researchers at Palo Alto Networks last week announced that they had found the first ransomware in the wild aimed at Macintosh computers, but Apple and one of its developers quickly neutered it. The ransomware -- a malware program that scrambles data on a computer and won't unscramble it unless a ransom is paid -- was embedded in software for installing an OS X app for sharing files on BitTorrent.
Amazon Flip-Flop Lands Fire OS Back in Encryption Camp
March 7, 2016
Amazon last week announced that it had reversed a previous decision to drop support for local encryption on version 5 of its Fire tablet operating system. The disclosure came one day after the company joined 14 others to support Apple in its fight against the FBI, which wants the company to create a tool or code to unlock an iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino, California, terrorists.
UN Commissioner: Human Rights at Stake in FBI, Apple Struggle
March 5, 2016
UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra'Ad Al-Hussein weighed in on the Apple-FBI dispute, asking U.S. authorities to proceed with great caution. The legal fight centers on a court's order that Apple help the FBI access encrypted iPhone data to aid its investigation of the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Such a move could lead to crackdowns in various authoritarian countries, Al-Hussein said.
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.
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What do you think about Hillary Clinton's use of private email servers during her term as Secretary of State?
She broke the law and should go to jail.
She violated guidelines -- the issue is overblown.
She placed important state department information at risk.
Her servers might have been more secure than the government's.
I really don't care one way or the other.