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US Government's Social Media Vetting Idea Draws Fire
August 26, 2016
A coalition headed by the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Internet Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union this week filed objections to a Department of Homeland Security proposal to collect social media information from visitors entering the United States. The proposal, published in June, calls for the addition of a request to the I-94W form required for aliens seeking entry.
Defense Department Drifts Toward Commercial Cloud
August 26, 2016
The U.S. Department of Defense plans to spend nearly half a billion dollars on a project that is designed to further the incorporation of commercial cloud capabilities into DoD's information technology operations. Vendors have been asked to submit bids for the project, known as "Mil-Cloud 2.0." The procurement is one element of a comprehensive DoD strategy for expanding cloud operations.
In a Political Season
August 24, 2016
Many, if not most, people I know don't want to talk about it -- the election, that is. Lots of them have views but they don't want to share them, based on a dislike of contentiousness. Who likes conflict? There is an article floating around the Internet that I lost track of that says nobody's mind ever changes in a heated debate about something so vital, so why engage?
Twitter Steps Up Counterterrorism Efforts
August 24, 2016
Twitter last week announced it had suspended 235,000 accounts since February for promoting terrorism, bringing to 360,000 the total number of suspensions since mid-2015. Daily suspensions have increased more than 80 percent since last year, spiking immediately after terrorist attacks. Twitter's response time for suspending reported accounts has decreased dramatically.
From the Olympic Non-Robbery to Ford Getting Out of Cars, to Evil NSA: A Strange Week
August 22, 2016
There were three stories that caught my eye last week that I think deserve some additional discussion. One is the alleged robbery of U.S. Olympians followed by questions of whether it really happened because their phones weren't stolen. There may be a legitimate reason for that, and it's one that suggests a lot of folks will be getting huge cellphone bills next month.
Edward Snowden Sheds Light on Shadow Brokers
August 18, 2016
Edward Snowden has injected himself into an escalating cyberstruggle that could affect the U.S. presidential election. The reported hack of The Equation Group might have been a warning shot from Russia, Snowden claimed. The group, which is widely believed to be a front operation for the NSA, apparently was hacked over the weekend by a previously unknown outfit called the "Shadow Brokers."
Super-Sophisticated Spyware Spotted After 5-Year Run
August 16, 2016
Symantec and Kaspersky Lab last week separately announced the discovery of a highly sophisticated APT that had eluded security researchers for at least five years. A previously unknown group called "Strider" has been using Remsec, an advanced tool that seems to be designed primarily for spying. Its code contains a reference to Sauron, the main villain in The Lord of the Rings.
Feds Make Big Strides in Big Data Management
August 15, 2016
U.S. government agencies gradually have been getting a handle on utilizing the potential of big data and data analytics. At the same time, the Obama administration has recognized that significantly more investment will be required for federal big data research in order to guide agencies toward maximizing the value of processing huge chunks of data and improving their data analysis capabilities.
The Big Tech Election Stories No One Else Is Covering
August 15, 2016
Most analysts earn their daily bread by focusing on a particular subject area and following that direction. However, I rebelled against that established pattern. I tend to look between the lines more than many of my peers do. That means when major news media outlets focus on a story, I'm more likely to see what they missed. What interests me isn't what's been covered but what hasn't been covered.
Russian Regulators Scoop Apple Into Price-Fixing Probe
August 12, 2016
A Russian regulatory authority earlier this week named Apple, along with more than a dozen Russian retailers, as a target for an investigation into price-fixing activities. The Federal Antimonopoly Service, or FAS, has seen signs of price-setting coordination among iPhone resellers in Russia, according to a notice published on the agency's website.
Russia Plays the Cybervictim Card
August 11, 2016
Russia's FSB recently reported that it found a cyberspying virus in the computer networks of more than 20 state authorities and defense contractors. The claim that malware has infected various government and defense companies came in the midst of a flurry of accusations that Russia has engaged in cyberattacks against U.S. targets in an effort to impact the presidential election.
DARPA Rewards Best Bug-Bombing Bots
August 11, 2016
The code warriors of the future literally might be computer code acting as warriors to defend against attackers on computer networks. DARPA gave us a glimpse into that future last Sunday, when it announced the winners of its Cyber Grand Challenge at DEF CON. Seven teams participated in the challenge to create systems that used bots to find and fix software problems without human intervention.
UK Greenlights Amazon's Drone Delivery Tests
August 2, 2016
Amazon, which has appealed to U.S. regulators for years for permission to test package delivery with aerial drones, last week announced a new partnership with the UK government to launch a pilot program there. A cross-government team, supported by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, has granted Amazon permission to begin testing three critical performance factors.
Federal Agencies Seek Cyberdefenders
August 2, 2016
The U.S. government is in the process of hiring a small army of IT specialists to bolster its efforts to protect data held at federal agencies from cybersecurity threats. The feds hired 3,000 new cybersecurity and IT professionals in the first six months of the current fiscal year. The hiring spree is just one component of a "first ever" Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Strategy.
Clinton Campaign Latest Target of Hackers Linked to Russia
July 30, 2016
The campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is the latest possible victim of a series of hack attacks some cybersecurity experts have linked to the Russian government. Campaign officials reportedly acknowledged that an analytics program it uses, which is maintained by the DNC, was accessed in a breach discovered earlier this month.
Trump Tries to Walk Back Comments on Clinton Emails
July 28, 2016
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Thursday attempted to walk back some of his remarks at a Wednesday morning press briefing during the Democratic National Convention, including his suggestion that Russian intelligence services should look for more than 30,000 deleted emails belonging to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and reveal them to the world.
Public-Private Team Leads Assault on Ransomware
July 28, 2016
Ransomware has become a scourge on the Internet -- but two information security companies, along with a pair of law enforcement agencies, this week launched an initiative to do something about it. No More Ransom is the centerpiece of a collaborative effort involving Kapersky Lab, Intel Security, the Dutch National Police and Europol. The new portal aims to educate the public about ransomware.
FBI Launches Probe Into DNC Email Hack
July 26, 2016
The FBI on Monday confirmed it has opened an investigation into allegations that the Wikileaks email dump of nearly 20,000 DNC emails over the weekend might be linked to the Russian government. Hackers connected to Russian intelligence agencies allegedly have been working to help tilt the U.S. presidential election. "The FBI is investigating a cyber intrusion involving the DNC," the agency said.
Civil Rights Office Issues Ransomware Guidance
July 22, 2016
Ransomware infections are on the rise, and healthcare organizations are ripe targets, which may be why the federal government addressed the subject last week. Ransomware attacks have risen from about 1,000 a day last year to 4,000 a day this year, Symantec has reported. Many of those attacks are for small change, but some of the larger ones have been directed at healthcare providers.
Snowden Puts His Mind to Designing Spy-Proof Smartphone Cases
July 21, 2016
NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden and noted hacker Andrew "Bunnie" Huang on Thursday published a paper on their collaboration to design a smartphone case that will protect user privacy. The pair developed a prototype compatible with the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, as it's "driven primarily by what we understand to be the current preferences and tastes of reporters," the paper states.
Google Transparency Report Shows Government Data Demands Rising
July 20, 2016
The number of government requests to Google for citizens' personal data rose in the second half of 2015, according to the company's latest Transparency Report, released Monday. The number has been trending upward for the past few years as the number of people connected to the Internet has increased. The growth also coincides with almost-daily reports of terrorist attacks.
Congressional Committee Report Finds Something Rotten at FDIC
July 18, 2016
Officials at the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which insures deposits in U.S. banks, made false statements to Congress and failed to make timely notification of serious cybersecurity breaches, according to a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology's interim staff report. FDIC CIO Lawrence Gross has created a toxic work environment, it also says.
EU Ratchets Up Charges in Google Antitrust Probe
July 16, 2016
Google and its parent company Alphabet are facing new charges in the European Commission's ongoing investigation of allegations that Google's comparison shopping and online advertising platforms violated antitrust laws. The EC on Thursday alleged that Google had abused its dominant position by systematically favoring its own comparison shopping service in search results.
Microsoft Wins Legal Victory in Fight Over Email Stored Abroad
July 15, 2016
Microsoft has won its nearly four-year battle against a warrant requiring it to turn over customer emails held on a server in Ireland. Microsoft had complied with demands to turn over account information stored on its servers in the U.S., but it had refused to give up the emails themselves, contending a U.S. judge did not have the authority to issue warrants for information stored abroad.
Consumer Reports Urges Tesla to Pull Plug on Autopilot
July 15, 2016
Consumer Reports has urged Tesla to disable the automatic steering function and change the name of its Autopilot driving assist feature. Questions recently have arisen over whether Tesla's Model S vehicles can operate safely without regular human intervention. Consumer Reports' change request sprang from concerns over a number of recent test crashes, including a fatal accident in Florida.
Changes in Federal IT Spending Require Nimble Contracting
July 14, 2016
Federal agencies will continue to spend heavily on IT over the next five years, but the pace and direction of spending will be complicated by shifting priorities, congressional constraints and a presidential election. The bottom line is that the overall rate of IT spending will be above $98 billion each year for next six federal fiscal years, according to a forecast Deltek released last month.
Facebook Lets Messenger Conversations Go Dark
July 13, 2016
Facebook last week said it would begin testing long anticipated end-to-end encryption capabilities in its Messenger app, enabling users to have secret conversations. The new level of security means that a message will be visible only to the sender and the recipient -- Facebook won't even be able to read it. Users can set a timer to limit the amount of time that a message remains visible.
US Pummels ISIS in Online Combat
July 11, 2016
The U.S. government's campaign to counter ISIS' social media presence is bearing fruit. More anti-ISIS content than pro-ISIS content is appearing on the Net by a ratio of six to one. Twitter traffic for accounts affiliated with the Islamic State is down by 45 percent compared to two years ago, and the average number of followers for an ISIS account has plunged to 300 from 1,500 in 2014.
Twitter to Carry Live Convention Coverage on the Web
July 11, 2016
Twitter will stream CBS News' live coverage of the Republication and Democratic National Conventions, the companies announced Monday. Twitter and CBS previously partnered on one of each party's presidential primary debates. In both instances, CBS' coverage included real-time metrics and curated tweets, and questions Twitter users submitted during the broadcasts were put to the candidates.
Parsing the Clinton Email Scandal
July 11, 2016
I've been watching the Clinton email scandal closely, because I not only have been in and out of law enforcement and security for much of my early life, but also was an internal auditor for IBM and one of the leading email experts in the 1990s. I think this is the only time I've seen an investigator channel a prosecutor and give someone a pass without addressing why crimes were committed.
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What do you think of politically inspired Internet memes?
They tend to be brutally honest about their targets.
They're usually cheap shots based on lies.
They're often stupid but amusing.
They can have a dangerous influence on uninformed people.
They don't impress me one way or the other.