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FTC Upgrades IT to Protect Consumer Privacy, Data Security
April 8, 2015
The FTC, which is at the forefront of regulating the impact of information technology on consumers, is bolstering its technical resource capabilities through a new Office of Technology Research and Investigation. The FTC is concerned about the failure of commercial entities to make adequate disclosures or to properly address data breaches and privacy issues.
The Futility of the Strong Password Solution
March 31, 2015
After experiencing a data breach, most companies take a number of measures to strengthen security, including advising users to change their passwords and to make them strong. Although it stopped short of confirming anything, Amazon-owned Twitch last week notified users that its network might have been hacked and that some user account information might have been exposed.
Compliance Mindset Can Lead to Epic Security Fail
March 30, 2015
The recent data breach at Premera Blue Cross -- in which the personal information of some 11 million customers was compromised -- raises questions about how effective government regulators are at ensuring that healthcare providers adequately protect their patients' data. There have been abundant warnings that compliance with government regulations alone would not be adequate.
Optimizing the Brick-and-Mortar Customer Experience
March 27, 2015
The retail industry has finally awakened to what customers always have known -- they don't distinguish too much between channels. Modern shoppers are happy to embrace the immediacy and experience of the physical store while also benefiting from the informed and personalized ease of shopping online. Retailers should translate the smartest online strategies into their in-store experience.
Amazon Fires 1st Shot in Storage Price War
March 27, 2015
Amazon on Thursday announced two new plans for unlimited storage in its Cloud Drive service. The Unlimited Photos plan includes 5 GB of additional storage for videos or other documents and files. It costs $11.99 per year. The Unlimited Everything option provides limitless cloud storage of photos, videos, movies, music and files for $59.99 per year. Both plans come with a free three-month trial.
CAPTCHAs May Do More Harm Than Good
March 26, 2015
If an annoyance contest were held between passwords and CAPTCHAs, passwords would probably win, but not by much. CAPTCHA -- Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart -- was created to foil bots attempting to mass-create accounts at websites. Once created, those accounts could be exploited by online lowlifes for malicious ends, such as spewing spam.
How Secure Is the Apple Watch?
March 19, 2015
Apple typically has impeccable timing for its new product introductions, but that may not be the case with its new smartwatch. In a gala event last week, the company announced model and pricing details -- but that came just six days after questions were raised about the security of Apple Pay. Those questions haven't gone away, and now they're also being asked about the Apple Watch.
Windows Hello Waves Off Passwords
March 18, 2015
Microsoft on Tuesday announced Windows Hello, a feature that allows users to access computers and devices running Windows 10 via face recognition, iris identification or fingerprint matching. In addition, the company raised the curtain on Microsoft Passport, a programming system that IT managers, software developers and website authors can use for signing in to websites and applications.
Talking Barbie Says Hello, Parents Say Goodbye
March 18, 2015
It's not so much Hello Barbie's talking -- it's her listening that has parents up in arms. Here's how Hello Barbie works: A kid presses on the doll's belt buckle and speaks into a microphone in the doll's necklace. An AI system processes and analyzes that speech in the cloud. Responses are then streamed back to the doll, who replies to the kid -- all over a secure WiFi connection to the Internet.
No Need to Waste Brain Space on Yahoo Passwords
March 16, 2015
The way to permanently cure someone's headache is to cut off their head, and that appears to be the principle Yahoo has adopted with a new security policy announced Sunday. Users of Yahoo Mail no longer have to rack their brains to remember passwords, said Chris Stoner, director of product management. Instead, they can opt for on-demand passwords after signing in to their Yahoo.com account.
Apple's Researchkit Could Be Gold Mine for Hackers
March 13, 2015
Apple earlier this week announced ResearchKit, an open source framework that will let medical and health researchers gather data through iPhone apps. ResearchKit will be released in April. Apps to monitor asthma patients and for studies on breast cancer survivors, cardiovascular health and Parkinson's Disease, already have been developed using ResearchKit.
The CIA Has Been Hacking iOS for Years: Report
March 12, 2015
The CIA for years has been working to break iOS security, according to a report published Tuesday. The allegations are based on documents provided by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Researchers working with the CIA have presented their tactics and achievements at Trusted Computing Base Jamborees, secret annual gatherings that have been going on for nearly a decade.
Mobile Wallets as Credit Card Killers
March 9, 2015
Years have spent trying to oust the credit card as the ultimate payment method. Publications and pundits have been quick to hail new technologies as "credit card-killers," and they're not without justification. The credit card has lost whatever futuristic luster it may have once had. Magnetic stripes wear out, plastic snaps in half, and the incessant manual inputting of 16-digit numbers becomes tiresome.
Windows Caught in Path of FREAK Security Storm
March 6, 2015
Microsoft on Thursday issued a security advisory acknowledging a vulnerability in all versions of Windows that could allow FREAK exploits. Windows systems previously were thought to be immune to FREAK attacks. "The vulnerability could allow an attacker to force the downgrading of the cipher suites used in an SSL/TLS connection on a Windows client system," the advisory reads.
Bracing for the Cyberthreat Deluge
March 6, 2015
Almost 17,000 malware alerts surface every week, the Ponemon Institute recently found. Only 4 percent of alerts were investigated, and traditional antivirus products missed nearly 70 percent of malware in the first hour, researchers discovered in a recent Damballa study. Rescanning led to identification of 66 percent of the malware in 24 hours and 72 percent after seven days.
Apple Pay Cybercrime Burns Banks
March 4, 2015
Identity thieves are using Apple Pay to defraud banks of what could amount to millions of dollars. Due to weak authentication procedures at the institutions issuing the cards, fraudsters are able to use stolen cards to make purchases through Apple Pay. Before cards can be added to Apple Pay, they must be approved by the card issuer. Criminals are finding that process easy to game.
BlackBerry Makes a Leap in the Dark
March 4, 2015
BlackBerry introduced its new Leap smartphone at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Equipped with a touchscreen rather than a physical keyboard, the Leap is a successor to BlackBerry's Z3 model. Its enhanced security and performance features are designed to appeal to young professionals and startup companies. BlackBerry is counting on the Leap to help it bounce back.
Twitter's New Safety Rules: Hot Diggity or Hot Air?
March 3, 2015
Twitter has announced actions to further protect users of its network -- but it left them vague. The company is rolling out unspecified improvements to its reporting process for content issues including impersonation, self-harm, and the sharing of private and confidential information, aka "doxing." It's also beginning to add new enforcement actions for use against accounts that violate its rules.
Government Spies Came Up Dry, Says Gemalto
February 26, 2015
SIM card maker Gemalto, whose networks reportedly were breached by hackers from the United States National Security Agency and the UK's GCHQ, on Wednesday said the spies got nothing. The hackers stole cryptokeys for millions of SIM cards, according to The Intercept, which cited documents released by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Gemalto denied any SIM cryptokeys had been stolen.
Malicious Emailers Find Healthcare Firms Juicy Prey
February 26, 2015
Healthcare providers have garnered growing interest from hackers in recent months. More evidence of that trend appeared last week in a report on email trust. An email that appeared to come from a healthcare company was four times more likely to be fraudulent than an email purportedly from a social media company like Facebook, one of the largest creators of email on the Internet, Agari found.
FTC, Private Sector Lock Horns Over Consumer Data Protection
February 25, 2015
The major headline hacking event of 2014 involved data theft at a highly visible enterprise: Sony Pictures. Perhaps just as significant in e-commerce security was a 2014 federal court ruling which allows the FTC to continue penalizing commercial firms for failure to protect consumer data from hackers. That decision has been challenged, and in early March the FTC and its opponent will square off in court.
AT&T Puts a Price on Privacy
February 23, 2015
Users who want to sign on to GigaPower by AT&T, the carrier's 1-gigabit-per-second Internet service that just become available in Kansas City, Missouri, have an interesting choice. They can pay $70 with the understanding that their online movements will be tracked for commercial purposes -- or they can pay an additional $29 a month to avoid the monitoring.
Lenovo Rapped for Preinstalling Spyware
February 19, 2015
Lenovo has come under fire for preinstalling spyware on some of its laptops. The software, Superfish, uses the same techniques cybercriminals often employ to crack encrypted traffic. "Superfish is purposely designed to bypass the security of HTTPS websites in a manner that would allow malware and attackers to also bypass the security provided by HTTPS," said Bluebox cofounder Adam Ely.
NSA Suspected of Spreading Super-Resistant Malware
February 17, 2015
Kaspersky Lab on Tuesday announced the discovery of what may be the most sophisticated malware ever. The malware's creators, whom Kaspersky has dubbed "The Equation Group," use a never-seen-before tactic to infect hard drives' firmware. The technique "makes traditional antivirus and antimalware software practically useless," said Protegrity VP of Products Yigal Rozenberg.

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Is Microsoft starting to get cool again?
Yes - thanks to Satya Nadella's vision.
Yes - but only in certain areas, like AI and VR.
Maybe - it doesn't seem as stodgy as before.
No - it never was.