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Facebook Exec's Brazilian Misadventure Signals Bigger Problem
March 10, 2016
The jailing last week of Facebook Regional Vice President Diego Dzoda in Brazil may have been the tip of an iceberg. Frustrated police made the arrest after Facebook failed to produce WhatsApp messages connected to a drug trafficking case. The incident is one of a growing heap of examples that highlight the difficulties law enforcement agencies face when trying to collect digital evidence.
White House Proposes $3B IT Update Fund
March 10, 2016
The Obama administration is seeking $3.1 billion for a modernization fund to update federal IT resources that need to be replaced with more efficient systems. The fund would bolster the government's annual spending on IT, which is set for a modest increase to $89.8 billion in the administration's proposed budget for fiscal 2017. Upgrading older systems has been a concern for some time.
Tech Titans Tackle the Trump Problem
March 9, 2016
High-profile Silicon Valley executives last week attended a secret summit with GOP leaders at the American Enterprise Institute's World Forum in a bid to put the brakes on the political campaign of Donald Trump, according to a report published Monday. Trump has dominated the Republican presidential race with highly charged rhetoric and out-of-the-box campaign promises.
Ransomware Plague Spreads to Macs
March 8, 2016
Researchers at Palo Alto Networks last week announced that they had found the first ransomware in the wild aimed at Macintosh computers, but Apple and one of its developers quickly neutered it. The ransomware -- a malware program that scrambles data on a computer and won't unscramble it unless a ransom is paid -- was embedded in software for installing an OS X app for sharing files on BitTorrent.
FBI Would Hurtle Us Back to Encryption Jurassic, Apple Warns
March 8, 2016
The FBI's efforts to compel Apple to unlock an iPhone used by one of the slain San Bernardino terrorists could threaten national security, charged Craig Federighi, Apple's SVP of engineering, in an op-ed piece published Monday. Terrorists and criminals could launch attacks on vital infrastructure through access "to just one person's smartphone," he maintained.
Malvertisers Use Digital Fingerprints to Avoid Detection
March 4, 2016
In the world of computer security, fingerprints are found in more places than where the tips of hands touch. That's because the term is applied to any data set that can be used to make a unique identification. Antifraud programs online retailers use can identify customers by the structure of the files on their computers. In fact, the technique works so well, malicious actors use it.
The Flip Side of the Shiny Internet Coin
March 3, 2016
There are two sides to every coin -- a good side and a bad side. One side helps you and the other side hurts you. The Internet is a great example: The good side lets you learn anything, about anything, anytime, any place. The bad side targets you with scams. They are running rampant, and there is not a damn thing we can do about it. How can this be, you may ask? Isn't this illegal?
Apple Lawyer Pushes Back Against FBI Testimony to Judiciary Committee
March 2, 2016
Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell on Tuesday testified before the House Judiciary Committee that his company should not be required write new code for software that would weaken the security of the iPhone in the wake of the San Bernardino, California, terrorist attacks. The FBI wants Apple to take action that would put the privacy and security of millions of customers at risk, he said.
Report: 3.5 Million HTTPS Servers Vulnerable to DROWN
March 2, 2016
A report released Tuesday on the DROWN vulnerability raises concerns about possible attacks that could expose encrypted communications. DROWN is a serious vulnerability that affects HTTPS and other services using SSL version 2, according to the team of security researchers who compiled the report. The protocols affected are some of the essential cryptographic protocols for Internet security.
FBI Director Makes Case for Security Trade-Off in Congressional Hearing
March 2, 2016
FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday testified before the House Judiciary Committee that the government has the legal right to gain limited access to the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters and other suspected terrorists. Congress and the judicial system can create a mechanism to protect the safety of the American people while preserving constitutional rights, he said.
Fed Judge Rules for Apple in Drug Case Involving Encryption
March 1, 2016
A federal magistrate judge on Monday ruled that Apple did not have to unlock an encrypted iPhone used in a federal drug case. The ruling gave the company a key victory against the Department of Justice in the midst of a legal struggle over an FBI request that the encrypted phone of one of the suspected shooters in the San Bernardino, California, massacre also be unlocked.
Privacy Advocates Blast Plan to Expand NSA Data Sharing
February 29, 2016
The Obama administration plans to increase the amount of private communications the National Security Agency can share with other government agencies without first adding privacy protections, according to a report published last week. The plan reportedly would ease restrictions on the amount of intercepted email and telephone intelligence the NSA gathers.
Apple Motion Seeks to Block Feds From Acquiring 'Dangerous Power'
February 29, 2016
Apple last week filed a motion to vacate a federal order requiring the company to create a tool or code to unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters. The order would set a dangerous precedent and release a powerful means to breach security on potentially millions of phones around the world, Apple argued. It transcends one phone, the company said.
Operation Blockbuster Brings the Fight to Sony Hackers
February 25, 2016
Operation Blockbuster, a coalition of security companies led by Novetta, on Wednesday published a report detailing the activities of the Lazarus Group, the organization responsible for the 2014 cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. Researchers last week published detection signatures to the companies' respective software in the hope of disrupting the group's activities.
The Downside of Linux Popularity
February 25, 2016
Popularity is becoming a two-edged sword for Linux. The open source operating system has become a key component of the Internet's infrastructure, and it's also the foundation for the world's largest mobile OS, Google's Android. Widespread use of the OS, though, has attracted the attention of hackers looking to transfer the dirty tricks previously aimed at Windows to Linux.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Digital Ad Fraud Could Top $7 Billion in 2016
January 20, 2016
Bot fraud will cost digital advertisers $7.2 billion worldwide this year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Association of National Advertisers. For the "2015 Bot Baseline" report, 49 ANA members deployed detection tags from White Ops on their digital ads to measure bot fraud over 61 days. Bot fraud impacted up to 37 percent of ads, compared to up to 22 percent in a study in 2014.
Phishing Attack Could Net LastPass Credentials
January 19, 2016
LastPass has boosted security for its users after a security researcher alerted the company of a phishing attack he devised to steal users' login and two-factor authentication credentials. Sean Cassidy, CTO of Praesidio, demonstrated the phishing attack, which he calls "LostPass," last week at ShmooCon. "We think this is a very serious problem," said Praesidio CEO Edgardo Nazario.
Privacy as a Service Advocates Promise Better Data Protection
January 14, 2016
There's been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth about the Sisyphean task of protecting privacy in the Digital Age, but that hasn't stopped innovators from searching for ways to preserve it. One of the latest ideas to emerge in the field is Privacy as a Service. As with many emerging technologies, the definition of "PaaS" (not to be confused with Platform as a Service) is in flux.
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