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CFPB May Rein In Payday Lending
January 05, 2015
The CFPB reportedly is considering various approaches to reforming the payday loan industry. The bureau is concerned about the short-term, high-rate debt consumers take on. States typically have been responsible for regulating payday loan company practices. If the CFPB should take action, it would be the first time federal regulations were applied to this financial niche.
Yikes! Ransomware Could Take Over Your Hard Drive
January 05, 2015
Malware is running rampant on the Internet, affecting smartphones, tablets and PCs. Relatively new malware allows bad guys to encrypt devices until a ransom is paid. Usually the ransom is required in bitcoin, rather than U.S. currency, as it cannot be traced. What are the legal and other risks associated with ransomware? Ransomware is largely directed at personal devices and small businesses.
Gmail Struggles for Air in China
December 30, 2014
China last week apparently began blocking Gmail, and the outage was still in effect on Tuesday, although to a lesser degree, according to reports. A sharp drop in traffic from China to Google services began last Friday, according to its Transparency Report, and the company could find no explanation in its own systems. China's "Great Firewall" censorship program is to blame, according to GreatFire.
Tech Sector Sees Federal IT Act as 1st Step to Significant Reform
December 26, 2014
The political spotlight in Washington was on congressional approval of the 2015 budget before legislators broke for the holidays, but a less volatile proposal also was passed in the closing days of the session -- one of considerable importance to the information technology sector. In addition to the budget, Congress approved the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, or FITARA.
Boeing Picks BlackBerry to Brace Black's Security
December 22, 2014
Boeing has enlisted BlackBerry to help bolster the security of its Black smartphone by providing "secure mobile solutions for Android devices utilizing their BES-12 platform," said Boeing spokesperson Andrew Lee. BES 12 provides cross-platform enterprise mobile management that gives organizations strict control of devices, while letting users keep personal data private.
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.
Flat Federal IT Market Means Vendors Must Work Harder, Smarter
December 19, 2014
The U.S. government will remain a steady and significant customer for information technology providers over the next several years. That's the good news for vendors. For the foreseeable future, though, the days of ever-growing federal spending for IT are over. "the reality of shrinking federal budgets has set in," said Tomas O'Keefe, civilian senior analyst at immixGroup.
US Mulls Response to Sony Hack
December 19, 2014
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Thursday said the United States "is actively considering a range of options" to take in response to the Sony hack. The hack is "very serious," Johnson said, though he refused to label it as a terrorist attack. There has been widespread suspicion that North Korea engineered the hack. The FBI is investigating.
Experts Forecast the End of Privacy as We Know It
December 18, 2014
Privacy's future appears muddy at best, judging from a survey released Thursday by the Pew Research Center and Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center. More than 2,500 Internet experts and analysts were narrowly divided on whether policy makers and technology innovators would create a secure, popularly accepted and trusted privacy-rights infrastructure by 2025.
Tech Industry Rallies Around Microsoft in Data Privacy Battle With US
December 18, 2014
A coalition of supporting organizations filed 10 amicus briefs with the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a case challenging a U.S. government search warrant for Microsoft customer data stored on a server based in Ireland. The coalition includes 28 technology and media companies, 35 computer scientists, and 23 trade associations and advocacy organizations.
Berners-Lee Sounds Clarion Call for Universal Web Access
December 15, 2014
The Internet should be a basic human right, but access to it is increasingly unequal around the globe, said World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee last week. The Web has the potential to be a great equalizer, he asserted, but only "if we hard-wire the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, affordable access and Net neutrality into the rules of the game."
Iowa to Lead Digital Driver's License Movement
December 12, 2014
Iowa plans to issue digital drivers' licenses in the form of a smartphone app by next year, Paul Trombino, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation, said earlier this week at a public state agency budget hearing. The digital license will be accepted by Iowa law enforcement officers conducting traffic stops, as well as by security officers who screen travelers at Iowa's airports.
NSA's Auroragold Mining Operation
December 10, 2014
The United States National Security Agency, which is known for monitoring landline, Web and cellphone communications worldwide, reportedly also targets wireless carriers. Documents released by whistle-blower Edward Snowden show the NSA has monitored more than 1,200 email accounts associated with major cellphone network operators worldwide since 2010.
No One Has Privacy Now, Thanks to Super Cookies
December 10, 2014
Does anyone really think that we have any privacy? Probably not. Between GPS tracking and our favorite app, most of us gave up on privacy long ago. Some privacy advocates claim that cell carriers have not been transparent about what personal data they have been gathering and using, although we now know that in order to use a cellular device, we must agree to give it away.
Turla Trojan Unearthed on Linux
December 09, 2014
Turla, a Trojan that has infected hundreds of 32- and 64-bit Windows computers at government institutions, embassies, military installations, educational institutions, and research and pharmaceutical companies over the years, has been found on Linux systems, Kaspersky Lab reported. The company has discovered two variants of the malware running on Linux.
Federal IT Contract Forecast: Mostly Foggy
December 09, 2014
Federal agencies will be keeping a sharp eye on how much they spend on information technology over the next several years, as budgets will remain tight. In order to deal effectively with tighter budgets, IT providers to the government will have to understand the complex contracting procedures federal agencies will use to maintain discipline in spending.
Did North Korea Get the Last Laugh Against Sony?
December 02, 2014
Upwards of 1.2 million people reportedly have used pirate sites to download Brad Pitt's unreleased World War II drama Fury. That was one of five films hackers leaked onto the Web following an attack on Sony Pictures' network last week. Sony has called in the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. It's rumored that the hack was launched by North Korea.
The Madness of the ITC, Part 2: Is Its Reach Exceeding Its Grasp?
December 02, 2014
The U.S. Trade International Trade Commission has broad investigative powers on matters of trade, gathering and analyzing trade data, and providing it to the White House and Congress to help formulate U.S. international trade policies. Its statutory authority is based on legislation that is 20 or more years old, and consequently does not address issues in the digital age.
'Elegant' Regin Malware Linked to Brits, NSA
November 25, 2014
A sophisticated malware program called "Regin" has been used in systematic spying campaigns against a range of international targets since at least 2008, Symantec reported. Regin is a backdoor-type Trojan with a structure that displays a degree of technical competence rarely seen in malware. "It's a beautiful piece of architecture," said Scott Borg, CEO of the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit.
FCC's Spectrum Cash Cow Produces Rich Milk
November 25, 2014
Bidding for wireless spectrum in the United States Federal Communications Commission's latest auction has gone through the roof, raising more than $36 billion as of Tuesday morning. A total of 70 qualified bidders are seeking 1,614 licenses in the 1695-1710 Mhz, 1755-1780 Mhz and 2155-2180 MHz bands. The auction almost certainly will raise even more money over the next few weeks.
Vendors Sow Seeds for Next Big Federal IT Thing: Convergence
November 19, 2014
Information technology vendors have spotted the next big thing for serving the U.S. government market. The only questions are 1) whether federal agencies themselves have seen the same thing; and 2) if so, whether they are prepared to jump into yet another new procurement process. What the vendors have in mind is akin to the turnkey process used in the construction industry.
WhatsApp Battens Down the Hatches
November 19, 2014
WhatsApp has added end-to-end encryption and enabled it by default in the latest version of its Android messaging application, partner Open Whisper Systems announced Tuesday. The new feature taps Open Whisper's open source TextSecure encryption protocol to ensure that only a conversation's participants can read the messages they exchange. WhatsApp itself won't be able to decrypt the messages.
China Suspected in Attacks on USPS, NOAA
November 19, 2014
The U.S. Postal Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week confirmed that their computer systems were targeted in months-long cyberattacks that appear to have originated in China. The attack on USPS compromised information of an estimated 800,000 employees. Data at risk includes names, date of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses and dates of employment.
GOP Caught With Fingers in the Twitter Jar
November 18, 2014
The Republican Party and at least two outside political-spending groups reportedly used anonymous Twitter accounts to share internal polling data in the months leading up to this year's midterm elections. One of the accounts was named after the fictional West Wing character Bruno Gianelli, who attempted to fund campaigns with possibly unethical cash.

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