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Hackers Give Touch ID the Finger
December 29, 2014
Hacker Jan Krissler, aka "Starbug," this weekend told attendees at the 31st Chaos Computer Club convention that he had replicated the fingerprints of German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leven using a standard photo camera and commercially available software. Krissler used a close-up of a photo of the minister's thumb and other pictures taken at different angles during a press event in October.
The Big Tech Stories of 2015
December 29, 2014
Last week, we looked back at the largely untold, or under told, stories of 2014. This week, let's look ahead to some of the stories that are coming in 2015. We'll have robots, self-driving cars, armed autonomous drones, the professional proliferation of head mounted cameras, some scandals, and some interesting political implications. I'll close with my product of the year, which even surprised me.
Flaws in Ancient Standard Enable Wireless Eavesdropping, Spying
December 23, 2014
Vulnerabilities in Signaling System 7, telephony signaling protocols used by carriers worldwide, allow third parties to listen to people's cellphone calls and intercept text messages despite encryption, The Washington Post reported last week. German cybersecurity researchers Tobias Engel of Sternraute and Karsten Nohl of Security Research Labs separately discovered these vulnerabilities.
The Untold Stories of 2014
December 22, 2014
It is time to look back at 2014, so I'll focus here on a series of stories I thought were interesting but didn't seem to catch much or any real air. Some, like what is really behind Sony's decision to pull The Interview still might take off. Hadoop analytics is one of the most powerful platforms to come to market, and one vendor stands out above all others: Cloudera.
Terrorist Threats May Blow Up 'The Interview's' Box Office
December 17, 2014
The now-notoriously controversial action comedy The Interview, which was expected to deliver profits of $90-$95 million for Sony, may have become a financial black hole. The movie's Thursday premiere in New York has been cancelled, and several movie theater chains have scrapped plans to screen it, following a hacker message referencing 9/11 and threatening physical attacks on theaters.
Sony May Have Succumbed to DDoS Temptation
December 15, 2014
Sony reportedly has used Amazon Web Services to launch distributed denial of service attacks on sites carrying files stolen from its network. Those attacks apparently involved "hundreds of computers" in Tokyo and Singapore. Amazon reportedly issued a statement denying the claim, but the language it used was vague: "The activity being reported is not currently happening on AWS."
No Respite for Sony
December 12, 2014
Since the hacker group calling itself "Guardians of Peace" announced its attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment late last month, things have gone downhill for the company. After confidential documents were leaked to the Internet over several days, a denouement of sorts was reached last week, when a security company examining the stolen data discovered nearly 50,000 Social Security numbers.
Plundered Pirate Bay May Be Back in Business
December 11, 2014
The Pirate Bay, which was closed down following a raid by Swedish police on Tuesday, appears to have found safe haven on a Costa Rican domain. The site, which gained notoriety for hosting pirated movies and music files, has been raided repeatedly by the Swedish police. Its founders have been arrested and convicted of copyright infringement, and two are currently behind bars.
Sony's Cyber-Whodunit Is a Page-Turner
December 05, 2014
Who breached Sony Pictures' network and why continues to be a puzzle a week after news of the hack first emerged. Some speculate it was an inside job. A few have pointed fingers at North Korea, which returned its own one-finger salute in response. Others discount that possibility. In the meantime, the FBI has issued a warning stating destructive malware is on the loose.
Cybersecurity Threats 2015: More Espionage, More Apple Malware
December 03, 2014
Cyberspies will flourish and hackers will target Apple devices more often in 2015. Until now, Russia, China and the United States have dominated the cyberespionage scene, but their success will start to attract new players to the practice. "We can expect some of the developing economies ... to engage in these activities to protect their growth status," said Websense's Carl Leonard.
Wristband Heads Off Password Headaches
November 25, 2014
Has software glut got you down? Do you reuse passwords because creating unique ones for all your online accounts would cause a memory overload? If so, you may be interested in a bit of jewelry called the "Everykey," by a startup with the same name. Everykey is a wristband that removes the need to remember the countless log-in credentials we use every day.
EFF Spearheads Safer Web Initiative
November 24, 2014
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has announced a nonprofit organization that will aim to secure the entire Web. Let's Encrypt, starting in summer 2015, will offer free server certificates to help websites transition from HTTP to the more secure HTTPS protocol. EFF is partnering with Akamai, Mozilla, Cisco, iDenTrust and University of Michigan researchers.
Citadel Trojan Adds Keylogging to Arsenal
November 21, 2014
Cybercriminals are using a new version of the dangerous Citadel Trojan, which has been employed to attack the financial and petrochemical industries, to compromise password and authentication solutions, IBM Trusteer has reported. The new version begins capturing keystrokes, or keylogging, when some processes are running. It was discovered on a server that already had been infected.
Hackers Humiliate U.S. State Department
November 17, 2014
The U.S. State Department on Sunday announced its unclassified email system has been breached, making it the fourth U.S. government organization to have fallen prey to hackers in recent months. The State Department took down its website and unclassified email system and reportedly used Gmail for communications instead. None of its classified systems were compromised, the department claimed.
Researchers Shine Spotlight on OS X/iOS Masque Attack
November 12, 2014
Researchers at FireEye on Monday made public the existence of the Masque Attack, which threatens iOS and Mac OS X operating systems. Masque Attack exploits a flaw in Apple's OSes that allows the replacement of one app by another so long as both apps use the same bundle identifier. All apps, except those preinstalled on iOS, such as Mobile Safari, can be replaced.
USPS Employees, Retirees, Customers Exposed in Hack Attack
November 11, 2014
Hackers siphoned off data from United States Postal Service servers for more than eight months before being detected, the USPS said. The personal data -- including names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses, beginning and end dates of employment and emergency contact information -- of more than 800,000 employees and some retirees has been exposed.
New Tool Alerts Etailers to Suspicious Characters
November 11, 2014
As thoughtful as mobile phone makers are when they design their products, there are always punters who want something that isn't there and are willing to hack a device to get it. In the Android world such a hack is called "rooting" a phone; in the iOS world, it's called "jailbreaking." Regardless of what it's called, it can turn a phone into a can of worms for retailers.
Phishers' Attacks Pay Off Nicely: Report
November 10, 2014
The most successful phishing attacks manage to dupe their victims a full 45 percent of the time, according to a study released last week by Google. On average, phishing's success rate is about 14 percent, but even the most obvious scams still manage to lure 3 percent of the people targeted to a fake website and convince them to turn over personal information, the report found.
The Law Scores a Victory Against Dark Net Denizens
November 07, 2014
Europol on Friday announced that agents from ICE, the FBI and Eurojust have taken down more than 400 cybercrime services accessible via the Tor browser. They include the dark market Silk Road 2.0. Its operator, Blake Benthall, was arrested, along with six Britons. Europol coordinated the effort. "Almost all crime now has an international nexus," noted ICE Special Agent Gary Hartwig.
Apple-Pestering WireLurker Banished for Now
November 07, 2014
Palo Alto Networks on Wednesday reported that more than 400 apps infected with a malicious program it calls "WireLurker" have been downloaded 356,104 times by Chinese Mac owners from Maiyadi, an online app store unaffiliated with Apple. The malware does no harm to the Macs it infects but when the computer connects via USB to an iOS device -- an iPhone or iPad -- it delivers its malicious payload.
Russian Cyberspies Caught With Mittens in Cyber Cookie Jar
November 06, 2014
Russian cyberspies -- unlike their Chinese counterparts -- have a reputation for stealth, so it's unusual when two digital espionage operations linked to the Kremlin come to light in a week. FireEye early last week released a report detailing how hackers working for the Russian government have been using sophisticated techniques over a seven-year period to penetrate computer systems.
The Trouble With Facebook's Tor Link
November 05, 2014
Facebook recently announced that it was providing access directly over the Tor network. Its purpose was to let users access Facebook without losing the cryptographic protections provided by the Tor cloud. Facebook is providing an SSL certificate which cites its onion address. It will add onion address support for its mobile site later. The Tor link will work only in Tor-enabled browsers.
Gallup Poll: Credit Card Hacking Could Happen to Me
November 03, 2014
Over the 4th of July weekend, 82 people were shot in Chicago -- at least 14 died from their wounds. For the year, there were 63 homicides in Oakland as of late October. Philadelphians logged 47 homicides in the first 64 days of this year, two more than were killed in New York City during the same period. Yet results of a recent Gallup poll suggest the threat of credit card theft looms largest.
Cyberattacks Could Wreak Widespread Havoc by 2025
November 03, 2014
The Pew Research Center last week released a report suggesting that cyberattacks in the next 10 years might cause major destruction of human lives and tens of billions of dollars in property damage. However, the situation might not be as overwhelming as the raw numbers indicate, said report author Janna Quitney Anderson, director of the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University.

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