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NSA's Radio Spying Could Backfire
January 15, 2014
The United States National Security Agency's surveillance efforts reportedly include radio transmissions from circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into computers. This apparently has been going on since 2008. "This is pretty cool," said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research. "You could embed a transmitter in a USB dongle or memory card or mouse plugin or USB plugin."
Ready, Set, Cyberattack!
January 14, 2014
Advanced persistent threats and stealth malware attacks have been making the rounds for years. Now, U-M researchers Robert Axelrod and Rumen Iliev have created a model that, in essence, lays out the best time for nation-states to launch cyberattacks. The model takes into account the stealth and persistence of a cyber-resource -- a means to exploit a vulnerability in a target's computer system.
China Gets Its First Homegrown Game Console
January 10, 2014
Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications outfit best known for its mobile phones and its propensity to spook U.S. lawmakers, announced that it has created China's first videogame console. The timing of Huawei's announcement, coming at this week's CES extravaganza in Las Vegas, is interesting: Just this week, Beijing announced that it would for the first time allow foreign-made videogame consoles.
New Year's Resolutions: Be More Secure in 2014
January 07, 2014
If you're inclined to make resolutions this time of year and you're concerned about your online and offline security, here are some suggestions that can keep you safer in the days ahead. At the top of the list: You should vow to change the passwords to your important accounts on a frequent basis. Using the same password for many websites is also something you should vow to avoid in 2014.
Was 2013 the Run-Up to Nineteen Eighty-Four?
December 23, 2013
It is time to look back on 2013 and consider what we've learned about technology and human nature. Both Apple and Dell were massively changed, and Google went from a company that wanted our private information to one that wanted our jobs. The U.S. government decided, through the NSA, that laws don't apply to it. Those who brought this to our attention got big punishments.
Hackers Find Slim Pickings in Washington Post Attack
December 19, 2013
For the third time in three years, computers at The Washington Post came under attack by hackers. The intrusion targeting the usernames and passwords of Post employees was relatively short in duration -- a few days, at most. No subscriber information was accessed. Publishing and email systems were not hacked, and employee personal information was not compromised.
Surveillance Report Blasts NSA, Recommends Overhaul
December 19, 2013
A task force set up by President Obama to review the National Security Agency's surveillance activities has suggested a list of what it calls "significant" reforms, including restrictions on spying. Among the recommendations: changes in surveillance of both U.S. and non-U.S. citizens to protect their privacy; and an overhaul of the NSA and the secretive FISA Court.
NSA's Latest Threat: Constitutional Law
December 17, 2013
A federal judge has ruled that the NSA's collection of telephone metadata is likely a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adding another point of debate to this volatile issue. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon's ruling has extra impact because he is a conservative appointed by George W. Bush. "That sets a serious precedent," said CREDO Mobile's Becky Bond.
Snowden Amnesty Idea Kicked Around
December 17, 2013
NSA official Rick Ledgett, who has been with the agency for 25 years, suggested offering whistleblower Edward Snowden amnesty, but Gen. Keith Alexander squashed the idea. About 31,000 of the possibly 1.7 million documents Snowden stole from the agency contain information that could be helpful to enemies of the U.S., Ledgett said, and it would be worth discussing a Snowden amnesty to secure them.
A Cybersecurity Strategy for Citizens
December 14, 2013
The era of Big Data has scary implications for both personal privacy and national security and puts our society at significant risk. The impact of a cyberattack on a large financial institution or a security breach at a government's secure data house, for example, would have dire consequences. As a result, cybersecurity is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today.
Australian State Outlaws Non-Consensual Sexting
December 12, 2013
The Australian state of Victoria has made it illegal to distribute explicit images without consent. The new law specifically outlaws "non-consensual sexting," which generally takes place when lovers split and there is post-breakup payback in the form of intimate photos of the former partners. The law does exempt children in order to ensure that they aren't charged with child pornography.
NSA Hackers Help Themselves to Google's Cookies
December 12, 2013
The United States National Security Agency reportedly is using at least one type of Google cookie -- PREF, which stores a user's preferences -- to home in on the PCs of targets it wants to hack. NSA's Special Source Operations division apparently is sharing information with Tailored Access Operations, the agency's cyberwarfare intelligence-gathering unit.
Malware Drop, Ransomware Rise Forecast for 2014
December 09, 2013
A malware decline and ransomware rise are in the security crystal ball for 2014. There will be less malware spreading through networks next year as hackers focus on obtaining credentials that allow them to access systems. "Malware will still be important in establishing a foothold in the network, but we don't see malware moving laterally in networks," said Websense's Alex Watson.
Chinese Banks Warned About Bitcoins
December 06, 2013
China's central bank said Thursday that the nation's banks and payment systems were prohibited from handling Bitcoins. Bitcoins are "virtual goods" and have no legal weight, the banking body said. Individuals can still toy with them at their own risk, but financial institutions and payment systems can't touch -- no selling, no trading and no storing of Bitcoins.
Akamai Buys Prolexic to Beef Up DDoS Protection
December 02, 2013
Akamai Technologies is buying Prolexic, which offers protection against distributed denial of service attacks. The deal, which is expected to close in the first half of 2014, will cost Akamai about $370 million in cash plus the assumption of outstanding unvested options to purchase Prolexic stock. "Akamai aims to extend its optimization and security solutions," said spokesperson Jeff Young.
Potential for Abuse Stalls Cellphone Kill Switch Debate
November 26, 2013
Law enforcement officials and mobile phone makers last week knocked heads with wireless carriers over planting "kill switches" in smartphones. Led by San Francisco's DA and New York's AG, law enforcement wants smartphones to contain firmware that allows a consumer to "brick" a mobile that's lost or stolen. The largest mobile phone maker in the world, Samsung, is on board with the program.
Yahoo to Tie Up Data With Neat Encryption Bow
November 19, 2013
Yahoo said it will extend 2048-bit encryption planned for Yahoo Mail across its entire network. CEO Marissa Mayer reiterated that the company "has never given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency." However, documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden indicate the NSA reimbursed Yahoo for costs incurred to meet the demands of its Prism surveillance program.
Securing the Internet of Things: 5 Easy Pieces
November 15, 2013
The Internet of Things has been receiving quite a bit of attention. Definitions vary, but at its core the concept is a simple one: Extend computing and data-processing capability to the physical world around us. The earliest manifestations of this are starting to be seen already in the growth of smart devices: televisions, automobiles, appliances, electric meters, etc.
KitKat Raises Android Security Bar
November 11, 2013
Google's mobile operating system Android has been a whipping boy for some segments of the security community, but the latest version of the software may begin to rehabilitate its reputation. Android 4.4, or KitKat, contains a number of new and improved features that are garnering the praise of malware fighters -- especially improved implementation of SELinux.
Brit Spies Spoof LinkedIn Pages to Track Targets
November 11, 2013
British intelligence agency GCHQ reportedly has spoofed LinkedIn profiles of employees at mobile communications companies and mobile billing firms to gain access to their corporate networks. The first known attack was on Belgacom, a telecom firm partly owned by the Belgian government, according to a top secret GCHQ presentation revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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