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Tweet Tracker Spurns US Intelligence Agencies
May 10, 2016
Twitter reportedly has blocked U.S. intelligence agencies from accessing information from Dataminr, a firm that tracks tweets in real time to provide actionable information for financial, media, security and other types of institutional clients. The block suggests Twitter is unwilling to cooperate with government agencies on intelligence gathering. Twitter owns a 5 percent stake in Dataminr.
Adblock Plus to Websites: 'We've Got Your Back'
May 6, 2016
Adblock Plus, which has been in the forefront of online ad blocking, this week announced the beta of Flattr Plus, which promises no less than to revolutionize Web monetization. Users decide how much money they want to have distributed among their favorite sites, and the Flattr Plus algorithm automatically divvies up the proceeds among the sites they engage with the most.
Law Affords More Protection to PINs Than Prints
May 3, 2016
A federal magistrate in Los Angeles ordered the girlfriend of an alleged gang member to open her phone using her fingerprint so prosecutors could look at the data on it for a case they were working on, according to a news report published last week. After Paytsar Bkhchadzhyan pleaded no contest to identity theft, a judge issued a warrant to force her to press her finger to her iPhone to open it.
Supreme Court Grants Federal Agents Broader Surveillance Authority
May 3, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court has approved a series of amendments to the federal rules of criminal procedure that would let judges issue search warrants for computers located outside their jurisdiction. Chief Justice John Roberts announced the changes in the Court's interpretation of the rules. They would allow a judge to issue warrants to search for electronic evidence at remote sites, for example.
Alexa Takes Up Residence in a Really Smart Fridge Magnet
April 28, 2016
Invoxia on Thursday announced that Amazon's Alexa Voice Service has been integrated with its Triby digital assistants. The voice-activated unit is the first non-Amazon product to be Alexa-enabled. Triby, which has a magnetic frame, features a built-in speaker and microphone that can be used to listen to Internet radio or as a hands-free speakerphone, but its main function is to act as a digital assistant.
FBI Says Its Hands Are Tied on Revealing iPhone Crack Details
April 28, 2016
The FBI on Wednesday confirmed its decision not to inform Apple of how it hacked into the encrypted iPhone used in last December's San Bernardino terrorist attack. The bureau was investigating the possibility that deceased shooters Syed Farook, who used the iPhone, and his wife may have had links to other terrorist plots. It also was searching for evidence tying the two to ISIS.
With Latest Opera Browser, Everybody Gets Free VPN
April 22, 2016
Opera on Wednesday announced that it would add a free VPN service to the latest version of its browser. VPNs, or virtual private networks, add an extra level of security for Web surfers. Companies use them to provide secure communications for employees remotely accessing office systems, and consumers use them to block unwanted snooping on their online activity.
EFF Sues DoJ Over Secret Data Decryption Requests
April 22, 2016
The EFF has filed suit against the Justice Department seeking to learn whether the federal government secretly ordered technology companies to decrypt the private communications of their customers. Such orders could place millions of customers in harm's way, the complaint says. The suit seeks the release of records originally requested last fall under the Freedom of Information Act.
Insurance Industry Buzzes Over Data Breach Ruling
April 21, 2016
If the rash of data breaches in recent months has done anything for businesses, it's raised their awareness of cyber liability insurance. The market for cyber liability insurance is expected to increase dramatically as businesses become more aware that their current policies don't adequately cover cyber-risks, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Viber Goes the Encryption Route
April 21, 2016
Viber on Tuesday announced that it has begun rolling out end-to-end encryption across all devices for the 711 million users of its messaging app. Users have to download Viber version 6.0 or higher. The app offers stronger security in every voice or video call, message, video and photo, in both group and one-on-one messages, the company said. In addition, Viber launched Hidden Chats.
Microsoft Sues DoJ Over Spying Gag Orders
April 15, 2016
Microsoft on Thursday filed suit against the U.S. Department of Justice challenging the gag orders that accompany requests to access customers' private emails and other data. The orders prevent the company from notifying affected customers about the government's demands. The case is the fourth public lawsuit it has filed against the Justice Department in three years.
Senate Committee Hears Litany of IRS Cybersecurity Failings
April 15, 2016
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service's cybersecurity measures are woefully inadequate, according to testimony presented this week to the Senate Finance Committee. The hearing was convened to look into how the IRS is safeguarding taxpayer information this filing season and to determine improvements, said Sen. Orrin Hatch. Agencies, tax preparers and Congress have failed taxpayers, Sen. Ron Wyden said.
E2E Encryption Could Make WhatsApp a Spam Magnet
April 15, 2016
Facebook's WhatsApp last week announced it would roll out end-to-end encryption for its users, but the move could make the service more attractive to spammers. While encryption can safeguard information from data thieves, it also can block data protectors. The policy "will not stop the growth of spam on the platform and could make the problem worse," AdaptiveMobile's Simeon Coney said.
FBI Paid Hackers to Defeat Security of Shooter's iPhone
April 14, 2016
The FBI paid hackers to break onto the iPhone of the San Bernardino, California, shooter, according to a news report published Tuesday. The bureau obtained the services of gray hats, insiders said, and apparently did not get help from Cellebrite, as earlier reports had suggested. Gray hats are hackers who sell flaws to governments or companies that make surveillance tools.
CFPB Asserts Jurisdiction Over E-Commerce Privacy Regulation
April 12, 2016
Another federal agency has entered the arena for regulating e-commerce companies regarding the protection of consumer data. The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has closed its first and so far only privacy case with a consent agreement between itself and an online payments processor. The CFPB charged that Dwolla misled consumers that its information was encrypted and stored securely.
Reddit's Blocking Tool Balances Free Speech With Right to Ignore
April 8, 2016
Reddit this week announced that it has extended the reach of its blocking tool, which was introduced in 2011 to let users fight harassment. The tool previously focused on blocking private messages; now it can block comments to users' posts. Clicking the Block User button while viewing a reply will hide the blocked user's profile, comments, posts and messages without that user's knowledge.
Apple, FBI Tussle Puts Bull's-Eye on iPhone
April 7, 2016
The battle between the FBI and Apple over access to the iPhone of Syed Farook came to an abrupt end last week when the agency announced it no longer needed the company's assistance. Since the Department of Justice delayed a hearing on an order to force Apple to assist the FBI in brute-forcing the password, speculation has spread about how the agency planned to access the data.
WhatsApp Encryption Ups Privacy Ante
April 6, 2016
WhatsApp on Tuesday told its 1 billion users that their communications would be better protected from prying eyes with end-to-end encryption. The company always has made data and communication security a priority, according to Jan Koum and Brian Acton, the founders of WhatsApp, which Facebook bought for $19 billion in 2014. End-to-end encryption is accomplished through use of the Signal Protocol.
FBI May Help Local Law Enforcement Agencies Crack Encrypted iPhones
April 4, 2016
Weeks after backing down from its litigation demanding Apple's help to access encrypted data on the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone, the FBI appears to be taking full advantage of its newly discovered forensic prowess by offering assistance to law enforcement agencies across the country. The agency has sent out letters letting local officials know that it has gained access to the encrypted data.
Oculus' Controversial ToS a Stark Reminder of Its Facebook Parentage
April 4, 2016
Oculus last week updated its terms of service to accompany the release of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, raising privacy and content ownership concerns. Software will be installed to monitor how the device is used, and the usage data will be sent back to Oculus and its parent company, Facebook, according to the terms of service. Collected data could be shared with third parties.
ACLU Finds Widespread Use of All Writs Act to Compel Cooperation
April 1, 2016
The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday announced that it had identified dozens of criminal cases in which the government has made requests for cooperation in unlocking encrypted phones -- both of Apple and of Google. The government has used the All Writs Act to compel a phone manufacturer to hand over data to law enforcement in a total of 63 cases, the ACLU report shows.
Firm Wins Patent for Novel Way to Detect Spearphishing
March 31, 2016
Hackers in recent weeks have stepped up their efforts to steal employee tax information from companies in all kinds of industries. Typically, the information contained on IRS form W-2 is used to file false tax returns or steal someone's identity. The situation has become so bad that the IRS earlier this month issued an alert to human resources and payroll professionals about the subject.
The Calm Before the Next US vs. Apple Storm
March 31, 2016
Apple got a last-minute reprieve last week. The U.S. government no longer is going after the company to break into the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone, for now. It found another way. So Apple dodged a bullet, this time. However, as terrorism rises, this sticky question will rise again -- count on it. Now, when things are quiet, is the best time to debate this issue and come up with a solution.
Feds Crack iPhone, Warn Apple to Keep One Eye Open
March 29, 2016
After a bitter legal battle over encryption and privacy rights, the Department of Justice on Monday announced it would back out of its case against Apple because the FBI was able to crack the code of the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters. The department had asked a federal magistrate judge to force Apple to help the FBI crack open the encrypted smartphone.
FCC Privacy Proposal Troubles Broadband Internet Providers
March 29, 2016
Broadband Internet service providers are wary of a government plan to impose consumer privacy protection regulations on the sector. The Federal Communications Commission likely will issue the proposed regulations by Friday. It will accept public comment on the proposal before taking final action. The program would require ISPs to meet privacy standards similar to those covering phone companies.
Judge Delays Encryption Hearing After FBI Says It May Not Need Apple's Help
March 21, 2016
A federal magistrate judge on Monday granted the Department of Justice's request to delay a much-anticipated court hearing that had been scheduled to take place on Tuesday in Riverside, Calif. The court granted an indefinite stay, after the DoJ said it had found a possible method of accessing the encrypted iPhone of the San Bernardino terrorist without the help of Apple.
Android, iOS on Opposite Sides of Encryption Divide
March 18, 2016
Consumers' understanding of what encryption does apparently doesn't determine whether they use the technology, as iPhone owners are much more likely to use encryption than Android users. Most Android phones are not encrypted, either by user choice or manufacturer design. About 95 percent of all iPhones reportedly are encrypted, compared with less than 10 percent of Android phones.
Apple Ransomware Reveals Cert Problem
March 17, 2016
Researchers last week discovered the first ransomware in the wild aimed at Apple's hardware platform. While the threat was subdued quickly, it exposed the weakness of digital certificates in authenticating software to devices. The ransomware appeared as a legitimate application because it contained a digital certificate stolen from a bona fide Mac developer in Turkey.
Apple Channels Founding Fathers in Legal Brief
March 17, 2016
Lawyers for Apple on Tuesday argued in a federal District Court filing that the founding fathers would be appalled by the demands the Department of Justice has made in seeking a backdoor to iPhone encryption. The DoJ and the FBI want "Apple to create exactly the kind of operating system that Congress has thus far refused to require," the lawyers wrote.
Celebgate Hacker Strikes Plea Deal
March 17, 2016
Prosecutors for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California on Tuesday announced they had reached a plea agreement with Ryan Collins, a Pennsylvania resident, over charges that he hacked Apple and Google email accounts of more than 100 people back in 2014. The allegations stemmed from the official investigation into the hacking case dubbed "Celebgate."
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