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Cook Slams Door on Backdoor Discussions
January 19, 2016
Privacy advocates from around the globe have taken heart from reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook pushed hard against the Obama administration's efforts to reach a compromise on encryption during a recent Silicon Valley meeting. Cook reportedly lashed out at administration officials who were calling for a way to grant law enforcement officials limited, backdoor access to computer systems.
NASA Advances Mission to Protect Earth From Asteroids
January 15, 2016
NASA last week announced that it has established the Planetary Defense Coordination Office to formalize its efforts to detect and track near-Earth objects. The PDCO will supervise all NASA-funded projects to find and characterize asteroids and comets that pass near Earth's orbit around the sun. It will issue notices of close passes and warnings of any detected potential impacts.
Google's Self-Driving Cars Still Need Human Touch
January 14, 2016
Google's self-driving cars showed major safety improvements over the past year -- but there were dozens of incidents when test drivers had to intervene, the company said in a report recently filed with California regulators. There were 272 so-called immediate manual control disengagements due to a failure of the autonomous car technology, between September 2014 and November 2015, Google reported.
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.
EFF Urges Revival of Human Rights Case Against Cisco
January 13, 2016
The Electronic Frontier Foundation on Monday pressed to revive a lawsuit against Cisco Systems for violating human rights in China, in a brief filed with a U.S. Court of Appeals. Members of Falun Gong, a religious group persecuted in China, originally filed the lawsuit in 2011, but a federal district court in California dismissed it in 2014. The federal appeals court now is considering a challenge to that dismissal.
Administration, Silicon Valley Bigs Meet to Strategize on ISIS
January 13, 2016
Obama administration officials last week met with senior executives from several leading Silicon Valley firms in a summit on how to combat the proliferation of terrorist communications on social media networks. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, and John Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security, represented the DoJ.
US Army Marches to the Cloud
January 13, 2016
The U.S. Army may be in the walking phase of its plan to shift major portions of its information technology resources to the cloud, but a recent contracting initiative could move the service up to a jogging pace by the end of the year. The Army's progress in migrating much of its IT capabilities to the cloud was characterized as a crawl during 2015.
Apple Execs' Salaries Go Up as Stock Goes Down
January 9, 2016
All but one of Apple's top team received a pay raise in 2015, according to a proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission this week. While Angela Ahrendts, Apple's senior vice president for retail and online stores, didn't get a raise, she's still pulling down the highest executive compensation at the company at $25.8 million. Her compensation in 2014 was $73.4 million.
Taxpayer Advocate Blasts IRS' Planned Customer Service Revamp
January 8, 2016
The Taxpayer Advocate Service has released its annual report to Congress. Among other things, it warns that a five-year plan to revamp IRS operations may result in a substantial reduction in telephone and face-to-face interactions with taxpayers. "TAS has been left with the distinct impression that the IRS's ultimate goal is to get out of the business of talking with taxpayers," the report states.
China Levels Antitrust Allegations Against Microsoft
January 6, 2016
China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce on Tuesday launched the latest in a series of investigations against Microsoft for possible violations of the country's antimonopoly law. Back in July 2014, about 100 SAIC officials burst into four Microsoft offices in various parts of China and copied contracts and records, downloaded data from company servers, and questioned executives.
The EPA, Social Media and Politics
January 6, 2016
Before the Internet, messages were spread by television and newspaper ads and highway billboards. Today that is done through social media. Virtually everyone knows about it, and many people use it. Does it make any sense that a U.S. government agency could violate any laws for using social media to carry out its mission? That doesn't make sense to me.
FTC Debates Cybersecurity Injury Standard
January 5, 2016
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is engaged in an internal struggle over how it should assess the effect on consumers when businesses fail to provide proper e-commerce security. The outcome of the debate will have a significant impact on the FTC's ability to initiate cybersecurity violation cases. The legal issue could spill over to federal courts or even Congress for resolution.
Security Execs Sweat Insider Threats
December 31, 2015
Insider threats are becoming increasingly worrisome to corporate security executives. That is one of the findings in a survey of C-level businesspeople Nuix released last week. "The insider threat seems to be a bigger concern this year than it was in previous years," said Nuix's Keith Lowry. "People are recognizing that it is a significant weakness that has yet to be fully addressed."
China's Internet Tightrope Walk
December 30, 2015
Chinese President Xi Jinping recently told an international delegation of cybersecurity and technology experts that governments must be allowed to exercise sovereign rights and decision making over Internet use within their own countries. Speaking at the second annual World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China, the president effectively called for a revised order in Internet governance.
Zuckerberg Defends Downsized Internet for Developing World
December 29, 2015
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday defended his company's downsized version of the Internet, called "Free Basics," which is offered in developing nations around the world. "In every society, there are certain basic services that are so important for people's wellbeing that we expect everyone to be able to access them freely," he said, citing public libraries, hospitals and schools as examples.
Major Challenge to FTC's Cybersecurity Authority Evaporates
December 28, 2015
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Wyndham Worldwide earlier this month reached a settlement over allegations that the company violated federal law regarding the protection of customer records. The settlement could have a significant impact on e-commerce in that it ended a major legal challenge to the FTC's extension of its authority into the realm of cybersecurity.
All Security Pros Want for Christmas: Smarter Users, Decoy Networks
December 24, 2015
People like to see gifts from their wish lists under the Christmas tree, and security pros are no exception. Here are things some cyberwarriors would like old St. Nick to deliver to them. "It's probably never going to happen, but it would be fantastic to get smarter users who are less susceptible to social engineering," said Proofpoint's Ryan Kalember.
Apple's Cook Goes to the Barricades on Encryption
December 22, 2015
Apple CEO Tim Cook brought the encryption battle between the high-tech industry and the nation's law enforcement authorities to prime time TV Sunday in an interview on the CBS news program 60 Minutes. During the interview, Charlie Rose asked Cook about the need for law enforcement agencies to access data that has been encrypted on Apple phones. There's all kinds of sensitive information on smartphones today, Cook noted.
Juniper Networks Shortens ScreenOS Threat List
December 21, 2015
Juniper Networks on Sunday informed customers that recent security threats to its ScreenOS were not as widespread as initially believed. The company last week issued an alert following its discovery in ScreenOS of unauthorized code that could allow an attacker to gain administrative control of devices using Netscreen or to decrypt a VPN. The two issues are unrelated to each other.
California's Proposed Rules Could Stop Google Car in Its Tracks
December 18, 2015
The California Department of Motor Vehicles on Thursday proposed rules for autonomous vehicles, and Google isn't happy about one of the provisions. The new rules for autonomous autos were presented for public commentary. The DMV has invited the public to weigh in on the proposal in two workshops, one in Sacramento and the other in Los Angeles, early next year.
Congress Passes Budget Bill With Controversial Cybersecurity Provision
December 18, 2015
Congress on Friday passed an omnibus budget bill that included the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA. The Senate earlier this year passed CIS, which many conservative and liberal politicians, high-tech firms, and privacy and civil liberty advocates oppose. The latest version includes amendments that will allow corporations to share customers' information with the government.
Google, Facebook and Twitter Agree to Pull Hate Speech in Germany
December 18, 2015
Germany on Tuesday announced that Google's YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have agreed to its demands to remove hate speech appearing on their networks within 24 hours after a removal request has been made. The measures include best practice mechanisms that FSM, a nonprofit association dedicated to the protection of minors, and its members, including Google, have developed.
WhatsApp Brouhaha Breaks Out in Brazil
December 17, 2015
A Brazilian judge on Thursday lifted the ban a different judge had imposed on WhatsApp hours earlier, according to reports. It did not seem reasonable to affect millions of users to penalize Facebook, WhatsApp's owner, for failing to cooperate with judicial rulings, the judge reportedly said, suggesting that the imposition of a larger fine would have been more appropriate.
Feds Give Commercial Off-the-Shelf IT a Closer Look
December 17, 2015
Federal information technology purchasing often involves large amounts of money based on the small print of acquisition requirements. Arcane procurement language seemingly can have a big impact on transactions. For IT vendors, provisions of recent legislation are prime examples of why it pays to scrutinize every line of the laws and regulations pertaining to federal acquisition programs.
Creating Rules of War for Cyberspace
December 17, 2015
The idea of a "Cyber Geneva Convention" has gained steam in the last five years. Based on the original Geneva Convention, it would ensure that certain types of attacks and specific targets would remain off-limits in a cyberwar. The concept of rules dictating what shouldn't be allowed in war came about after Henry Dunant visited wounded soldiers during the Second Italian War of Unification.
Seattle Lets Ride-Sharing Drivers Unionize
December 16, 2015
The Seattle City Council this week approved an ordinance that will allow drivers for Uber and Lyft to form unions, becoming the first U.S. city to pass such legislation. The City Council voted 9-0 in favor of the ordinance, which doesn't require the mayor's signature to pass. Drivers for Uber and other ride-sharing networks are classified as independent contractors, like taxi drivers.
Twitter Alerts Users to State-Sponsored Cyberattack Threat
December 15, 2015
Twitter last week began warning some of its members that they may be the target of a state-sponsored attack on their accounts. Coldhak posted to its Twitter account a copy of the warning it received. It's among a small number of accounts that state-sponsored actors may be targeting in an attempt to obtain information such as email addresses, IP addresses and phone numbers, Twitter warned.
Alibaba May Have to Handle SCMP With Kid Gloves
December 15, 2015
Alibaba Group last week announced that it has entered an agreement to buy the South China Morning Post and other media assets of SCMP Group. Alibaba, which claims to be the world's largest online and mobile commerce company, said its vision was to provide objective coverage of China to readers around the English-speaking world. The SCMP is known for its tough coverage of Beijing.
FBI Chief: High-Tech Firms Need to Rethink Encryption Stance
December 11, 2015
FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday told members of a U.S. Senate committee that high-tech companies may need to adopt a new business model regarding encryption in order to get on the same page with law enforcement. "Encryption is getting in the way of our ability to have court orders effective to gather information we need in our most important work," he told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Feinstein Revives Terrorist Activity Reporting Bill
December 10, 2015
Sen. Dianne Feinstein has reintroduced a bill that would require technology companies to alert law enforcement of certain activities that might be related to terrorist threats. It would mandate that technology companies notify authorities of communications regarding attack planning, recruitment, or distribution of information relating to explosives if they should become aware of that activity.
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