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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."
Amazon May Let You Pay With a Wink and a Nod
March 16, 2016
Amazon has applied for a patent for selfie-based authentication for online purchases, according to a patent application published last week. Using the technology, a prospective purchaser would take a selfie, and the image would be authenticated against an image database using facial recognition software. The buyer then would perform an action to verify that the image is of a live human being.
WhatsApp Case May Be New Encryption Battleground
March 15, 2016
A new front may have opened up between the Department of Justice and Silicon Valley in the ongoing legal battle over government access to encrypted data, this time involving WhatsApp, the electronic messaging and voice system owned by Facebook. DoJ officials reportedly have been debating how to proceed in a criminal case in which a court-ordered wiretap has been hindered by WhatsApp encryption.
DoJ, Apple Butt Heads in Latest Encryption Go-Round
March 14, 2016
The legal battle between Apple and the Department of Justice over access to encrypted iPhone data got a little more personal last week after lawyers for Apple blasted a government filing that accused the company of collaborating with the Chinese government. The DOJ's filing was a smear campaign, Apple attorney Bruce Sewell argued in a conference call with reporters.
Senators Aim to Lay Down the Law on Encryption Cooperation
March 11, 2016
Lawmakers this week sent to the White House the draft version of a bill that would penalize technology companies if they failed to cooperate on encryption cases, according to Capitol Hill sources. The bill would open up tech companies to contempt orders and other penalties if they refused to comply with a law enforcement request involving encrypted communications.
Home Alone? Now Nest Can Tell
March 10, 2016
Nest on Thursday announced two new features, Family Accounts and Home/Away Assist. Family Accounts would let up to 10 people access the Nest products in a connected home from their Android or iOS devices. Home/Away Assist was designed to track the patterns of household members, utilizing learning algorithms and activity sensors that are built into products such as the Nest Learning Thermostat.
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.
Reviled People-Rating App Slithers Into Action
March 8, 2016
With its reputation preceding it, Peeple on Monday launched on the iTunes App Store. The goal of the app is to help people better understand each other, according to the company. It was designed for people who need to display their reputation to others, including freelancers, business owners, employees, teachers and coaches. Users can leverage social media platforms to share their recommendations.
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.
UN Commissioner: Human Rights at Stake in FBI, Apple Struggle
March 5, 2016
UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra'Ad Al-Hussein weighed in on the Apple-FBI dispute, asking U.S. authorities to proceed with great caution. The legal fight centers on a court's order that Apple help the FBI access encrypted iPhone data to aid its investigation of the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Such a move could lead to crackdowns in various authoritarian countries, Al-Hussein said.
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.
Amazon's Alexa Goes to Work in 2 New Devices
March 3, 2016
Amazon on Thursday announced two products, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap, that extend the range of the Alexa-enabled home automation products anchored by the company's Echo device, which uses voice recognition to manage routine tasks. The Echo Dot is a small, hands-free device that uses the same far-field voice-recognition tech as Amazon Echo. It lets users control their stereos with voice commands.
Google's Hands Free Puts Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
March 3, 2016
Google on Wednesday announced that it has begun testing an app dubbed "Hands Free," which lets Android and iOS smartphone users make purchases via their devices without taking them out of their pockets or purses. Early adopters in Silicon Valley can use the system at some McDonald's, Papa John's and other eateries. The app offers connectivity via Bluetooth Low Energy, WiFi and location services.
Cryptography Pioneers Win Million-Dollar Turing Award
March 3, 2016
The Association of Computing Machinery on Tuesday named Whitfield Diffie and Martin E. Hellman recipients of the 2015 ACM A.M. Turing Award for their contributions to modern cryptography. Their invention of public key cryptography and digital signatures revolutionized computer security, the organization said. The award includes a $1 million prize, with financial support provided by Google.
German Authorities to Examine Facebook's Data Practices
March 3, 2016
The German Cartel Office on Wednesday announced the launch of an investigation into Facebook over allegations that it abused its market position by infringing data protection rules, specifically in connection with the terms of service on the use of user data. The office, or Bundeskartellamt, is looking into whether Facebook's terms of service violate data protection provisions.
Facebook Exec Sprung From Brazilian Jail
March 2, 2016
A Brazilian judge on Wednesday ordered the release of Facebook Regional Vice President Diego Dzodan, one day after Brazilian police placed him under arrest for WhatsApp's failure to produce messages the government believed relevant to a drug ring investigation. Judge Ruy Pinheiro concluded the exec's detainment amounted to coercion, according to press reports.
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.
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