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Gates Sees Both Sides in Apple vs. FBI Ruckus
February 24, 2016
Microsoft founder Bill Gates on Tuesday attempted to clarify his position regarding Apple's conflict with the FBI, telling Bloomberg he was disappointed that his earlier comments had been construed as taking the government's side. Apple has sparked a public debate through its resistance to a court order to unscramble the data on the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists.
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.
Apple FBI Standoff Stretches Into Week Two
February 23, 2016
Apple has called for the creation of a government panel to help resolve a standoff between the company and the Federal Bureau of Investigation over the issue of national security vs. data privacy. The proposal for a commission followed FBI Director James Comey's Sunday post on Lawfare -- an apparent effort to quell the controversy. Comey emphasized that the bureau was not seeking a master key.
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.
Hollywood Hospital Succumbs to Hacker Shakedown
February 19, 2016
Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center on Wednesday announced that it paid approximately $17,000 to resume normal operations after digital extortionists knocked its computer systems offline. The Los Angeles hospital discovered its computer network infected with ransomware earlier this month. After paying the ransom, the hospital was able to bring its electronic medical record system online.
New IBM Mainframe Promises Advanced Security for Hybrid Clouds
February 18, 2016
IBM on Tuesday introduced the z13s, a mainframe computer system optimized for hybrid cloud deployment. The z13s is designed to provide advanced cryptography for mid-sized firms that need a high level of data protection. The advanced cryptography includes built-in hardware security features that effectively double the speed of data encryption and decryption over prior generations of computers.
DHS Ready to Share Intelligence With Private Sector
February 18, 2016
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security this month will start sharing threat information with a small number of hand-picked companies under the newly enacted Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act. DHS hopes to collect threat indicators from companies and redistribute them to other companies so everyone gets a better view of threats and can use that knowledge to bolster defenses.
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.
Encryption Bans and Backdoor Efforts Are Misguided, Harvard Study Finds
February 16, 2016
Any effort to ban encryption or provide government agencies with backdoor access would be unenforceable and prone to failure, according to a Harvard University report released last week. Bruce Schneier, a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Security, collaborator Kathleen Seidel, and student Saranya Vijayakuma, identified and surveyed 865 encryption products from 55 countries.
NIST Risk-Assessment Framework Shapes Federal Cybersecurity Strategy
February 12, 2016
The U.S. government is under pressure to improve cybersecurity and is meeting that challenge with a commitment to enhance spending for protecting IT systems. The Obama administration projected the budget for cybersecurity spending in fiscal 2016 would be about $14 billion -- an increase of $1.4 billion from 2015. That represents strong support to safeguard operations and protect personal data.
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.
Hacker Posts Stolen Data on FBI, Homeland Security Employees Online
February 9, 2016
The U.S. departments of Justice and Homeland Security on Monday announced they were investigating reports that a hacker broke into government computer systems and stole sensitive information about employees at the agencies. The hacker posted stolen information for about 9,000 DHS employees online Sunday and made public data on 20,000 FBI employees Monday.
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.
Keybase Releases Encrypted File-Sharing iPhone App
February 8, 2016
Keybase last week announced the alpha release of the Keybase app for the iPhone with a cryptographically secure file mount. Users can write data in an automatically created folder in this format: /keybase/public/username. Files written in the folder are signed automatically and appear as plain text files. The folder prevents server-side and man-in-the-middle attacks, Keybase said.
Report: 100 Ways to Improve Federal Cybersecurity
February 8, 2016
The U.S. government was shaken last year when the Office of Personnel Management disclosed that employment records affecting 21.5 million people had been breached. The Obama administration initiated several comprehensive actions designed to shore up federal data protection. A parallel initiative revealed that federal agencies still have a long way to go to strengthen cybersecurity performance.
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.
Europe, US Cut 11th Hour Safe Harbor Deal
February 3, 2016
Europe and the United States on Tuesday announced a new Safe Harbor agreement that neutralizes the threat of enforcement actions against domestic companies handling overseas data. The EU-US Privacy Shield aims to protect the privacy of data belonging to European citizens when it's handled by U.S. companies. It "will protect the fundamental rights of Europeans," said EU Commissioner Vera Jourová.
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.
Microsoft's Project Natick: Data Centers Better Down Where It's Wetter?
February 1, 2016
Microsoft on Monday unveiled Project Natick, a research initiative aimed at developing underwater data centers that could be built near coastal cities. The project is still in its infancy, but Microsoft built one test facility last year. It was deployed 30 feet underwater off the California coast in August and was tested through December, when it was returned to the Microsoft campus.
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.
Panel: Time Is Running Out to Address Killer Robot Threat
January 25, 2016
The rise of autonomous war machines is outpacing policies and technological countermeasures, weapons and robotics experts warned last week at the World Economic Forum. Autonomous weaponry potentially is a $20 billion industry that has taken root in 40 countries, said BAE Systems Chairman Roger Carr. He was one of four panelists at the session titled "What If: Robots Go to War?"
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.
Snap-Happy Trojan Targets Linux Servers
January 22, 2016
Security researchers at Dr.Web on Tuesday revealed details of the Trojan Linux.Ekoms.1, which takes screen shots and records audio to acquire sensitive and personal information, mostly from Linux servers. Malware for Linux is becoming more diverse and includes spyware programs, ransomware and Trojans designed to carry out distributed denial-of-service attacks, according to Dr.Web.
Chrome Browser to Blaze With Brotli
January 21, 2016
Google Chrome users will get faster Web access soon through the Brotli open source compression algorithm, which has been rolled out to the M49 release of Chrome. That's in Canary -- which is designed for devs -- so it's not clear when Brotli will surface in the browser. It gives 20 to 26 percent higher compression ratios over its Zopfli algorithm and provides faster page loads, the company said.
GM Bug Program Gets Mixed Notices
January 21, 2016
Two white-hat hackers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, made headlines last year when they demonstrated how they could hijack the control systems of a moving motor vehicle over the Internet. The move got the attention of the auto industry, and last week General Motors put in place a program to encourage more digital dabblers to alert the company when they find bugs in GM vehicles.
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What best reflects your opinion on online privacy?
We need new laws to curb government spying.
It's dead -- Google, Facebook and others killed it.
Personalized advertising is the worst -- it's creepy.
It's achievable through encryption and other tech.
It's an overblown issue -- I have nothing to hide.