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Internet of Things, Part 1: God's Gift to the NSA
February 12, 2014
The NSA's salivary glands no doubt started working overtime when it became apparent that technological advances were moving the world toward an Internet of Things -- a world where everything would be connected to everything else wirelessly or over the Web. Almost two years ago, David Petraeus, then director of the CIA, enthused that the IoT would transform surveillance techniques.
Kaspersky Details Sophisticated 'Mask' Robber Ops
February 11, 2014
Kaspersky Lab has released research findings on Careto, a malware toolkit that has hit more than 380 victims in 31 countries so far since 2007. "Careto" means "mask" in Spanish, Kaspersky notes. The word also could point to an ancient tradition incorporated into Portuguese and Brazilian Carnival festivals. Because they are so highly sophisticated, the attacks could be the work of a nation-state.
Defense Contractors Shore Up Security Post-Snowden
February 10, 2014
Defense contractors have begun to bolster their cybersecurity practices in the wake of the massive leaking of government data by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Seventy-five percent of defense contractors said the Snowden Affair had changed security procedures for their employees in a recent survey. "I'm surprised that number isn't higher," said security researcher Dodi Glenn.
Dems Introduce Bills to Bring Back Net Neutrality
February 04, 2014
Democratic members of Congress this week moved to replace by legislative means the Net neutrality rules that a court decision last month suddenly rendered defunct. Lawmakers introduced the Open Internet Preservation Act in both chambers. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last month changed the telecom and data landscape by striking down FCC rules that mandated ISPs treat all Internet data the same.
Internet Domain Names Get More Character
February 04, 2014
Tuesday ushered in a series of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) that for the first time in Web history, include Arabic, Chinese and Russian characters. The new gTLDs -- which are the suffixes to Web addresses, such as ".com" and ".net" -- were approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. ICANN invited applications for new domain names in 2012, at a cost of $185,000 a pop.
Aussie Prime Minister's YouTube Video Blocked as 'Spam'
February 03, 2014
A YouTube video posted by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was blocked after what national media described as "mischievous" spam reports. The video, "Delivering on our Promises," was replaced with a boilerplate YouTube message saying that the video had been removed because of "a violation of YouTube's policy against spam, scams and commercially deceptive content."
Departures, Arrivals, Surveillance: Canada Used Airport WiFi Snooparound
January 31, 2014
Canadian authorities used information culled from a free Internet service at a major national airport to track the wireless devices of scores of travelers. The Communications Security Establishment Canada, or CESC, received information from the unnamed airport's free WiFi system and then used that data to track travelers whose devices later popped up at WiFi locations in other parts of the country.
Snowden in the Running for Nobel Peace Prize
January 30, 2014
A group of Norwegian lawmakers nominated former NSA contactor Edward Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize. Saying that his bottomless pit of surveillance revelations contributes to stability and transparency, the lawmakers submitted the nomination to the Nobel Foundation. President Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, meaning Obama and his secret-leaking foil could soon have something in common.
US, British Intelligence Scoop Data From Smartphone Apps
January 28, 2014
Don't get angry, but... U.S. and British intelligence agencies have long been mining data from smartphone apps such as the wildly popular Angry Birds. The National Security Agency and its British brethren at the Government Communications Headquarters reportedly have targeted the swell of data moving to and fro on mobile apps, based on previously secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Biz Brass Kept in Dark About Breaches
January 27, 2014
With breaking news about data breaches a common occurrence, you'd think security threats to an organization's data would be something CEOs and their management teams were kept in the know about. Apparently not. Some 80 percent of IT pros in the U.S. and UK said they did not frequently communicate with executive management about potential cyberattacks to their organizations in a recent survey.
SEA Hackers Muck Up CNN Sites
January 24, 2014
CNN on Thursday became the latest media outlet to fall victim to hacking by the Syrian Electronic Army. The SEA hacked into and defaced various CNN social media accounts and blogs, the network's Catherine Shoichet reported. "Tonight, the #SEA decided to retaliate against #CNN's viciously lying reporting aimed at prolonging the suffering in #Syria," the SEA tweeted Thursday.
Internet Outage Leaves China Disconnected for 8 Hours
January 23, 2014
The Internet went dark in China on Tuesday. For some eight hours, more than 618 million Chinese couldn't access cyberspace. The outage occurred when two-thirds of all Web traffic in the country was redirected to a single IP address located in the United States. The address belongs to Dynamic Internet Technology, a company with ties to Falun Gong, a spiritual group outlawed in China since 1999.
Privacy Board Urges Shutdown of 'Illegal' NSA Data Dig
January 23, 2014
The United States National Security Agency should end its controversial bulk telephone metadata collection program, recommended the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. The board's report, issued Thursday, says Section 215 of the U.S. Patriot Act, which provides the foundation for the NSA's authority, "does not provide an adequate legal basis to support the program."
English Soccer Player Lobs One at Twitter
January 22, 2014
Stan Collymore, a retired soccer player from England, accused Twitter of sitting on its hands when it comes to combating abusive messages -- of which he has received many. Collymore, now a broadcaster, became a troll target after he suggested Liverpool forward Luis Suarez faked a foul -- "diving," in soccer parlance -- in a game played last Saturday.
Syrian Electronic Army Takes Another Poke at Microsoft
January 22, 2014
The Syrian Electronic Army, which is notorious for launching cyberattacks against the media, on Monday defaced the Microsoft Office blog site. The hack occurred after Microsoft redesigned the blog site following an SEA attack earlier this month. "A targeted cyberattack temporarily affected the Microsoft Office blog and the account was reset," said exec Dustin Childs.
The Blackphone vs. the NSA
January 20, 2014
Well Linux bloggers have made it plain from the get-go that privacy is among their top concerns for 2014, and recent events have done nothing to shift that focus. President Obama's momentous speech proposing NSA reforms wasn't the only clarion call last week. We also heard from Mozilla, which appealed to security researchers to help keep Firefox source code unadulterated and backdoor-free.
Obama's NSA Reforms Draw Tepid Response
January 18, 2014
In a keenly anticipated speech, President Obama on Friday announced reforms to the NSA's surveillance activities, but his pronouncements failed to please just about everyone. "We heard nothing in his speech or proposal that will repair the damage that has been done to the tech industry and the future of the Internet," said Matt Simons, director of social justice at ThoughtWorks.
Terrorist's Penalty Stiffened for Zipped Lips
January 17, 2014
Syed Farhan Hussain, a 22-year-old from Luton, UK, was hit with additional jail time for refusing to divulge the password for a memory stick that police were eager to take a peek at. Police were unable to crack the password themselves and therefore sought Hussain's help; Hussain declined, prompting a guilty verdict under Britain's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
Pentagon Wary of New Chinese Missile Vehicle
January 16, 2014
Last week, China's military took its new "ultra-high speed missile vehicle" -- or "hypersonic glide vehicle," if you prefer -- for its first test drive, raising eyebrows among U.S. defense officials. The hypersonic aircraft, capable of maneuvering at a mindboggling 10 times the speed of sound -- that's more than 7,500 miles per hour -- is designed to deliver warheads through U.S. missile defenses.
Blackphone Aims to Keep Spooks in the Dark
January 15, 2014
Silent Circle and Geeksphone have teamed up to create the Blackphone -- a smartphone designed to truly protect users' privacy. Carrier- and vendor-independent, the Blackphone allows users to make and receive phone calls securely, as well as transfer and store files, swap secure text messages, and conduct video chats without compromising their privacy, the companies claim.

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