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White Hats Use Heartbleed to Steal Keys
April 14, 2014
The tech industry reeled last week when security researchers discovered a flaw in a key security technology in the Internet's infrastructure. The bug, ghoulishly named "Heartbleed," was found in an open source library, OpenSSL, used by the protocol, SSL, used to encrypt data in transit on the Net. By exploiting the flaw with a specially crafted packet, hackers can extract data from a server's memory in 64K chunks.
Microsoft Touts Privacy Bona Fides to European Customers
April 11, 2014
Having become the first company to formally meet the European Union's data protection rules, Microsoft is trying to turn its trustworthiness into business in privacy-wary Europe. "For customers who care about privacy and compliance, there is no more committed partner than Microsoft," wrote Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith in a Thursday blog post.
XP Users Have a Bad Headache Coming On
April 07, 2014
Money will be the biggest problem users of Windows XP will face when Microsoft officially stops supporting it on Tuesday. As a last resort, Microsoft is offering custom support for Windows XP as a temporary stopgap. That could cost as much as $200 per PC per year, Gartner estimated. The UK government reportedly has paid Microsoft about $9 million to extend Windows XP support for one year.
Yahoo Issues Security Sitrep
April 03, 2014
Yahoo has announced a new effort to upgrade its security, in the wake of a torrent of breaches and hacker attacks over recent months. Yahoo's plans include encryption of data in motion, enabling HTTPS encryption, and implementing the latest in security best practices, said Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos, who took over the job in March.
April Schools' Day: School Canceled Thanks to IT System Hack
April 01, 2014
Well, an A for creativity. In Australia, someone penetrated a high school's IT system and penned text messages and emails to parents saying that the school had been badly damaged by a fire and was not fit for students. There was no truth to the message, however -- just a bit of April Fools' Day shenanigans. An unknown person apparently wiggled into the school's IT systems Tuesday morning.
Clock Counting Down on Windows XP Support
April 01, 2014
As Microsoft prepares to cut off support for Windows XP, hackers are sharpening their knives in anticipation of carving up the operating system's carcass. Web predators will pounce on XP 10 minutes after Microsoft pulls the support plug on the software, predicted one former military computer specialist and network engineer. Indeed, it appears that information highwaymen are stockpiling ammunition.
Earth Narrowly Missed Solar Blasts in 2012
March 20, 2014
Enormous solar blasts, which possessed the potential to wreak havoc on electrical grids and satellites, barely missed Earth in 2012. The near-misses, revealed by researchers Wednesday, would have been akin to the 1859 Carrington Event, the largest solar storm ever recorded. While there were no satellites to cripple back then, the storm knocked out telegraph systems across the U.S.
Target Breach Lesson: PCI Compliance Isn't Enough
March 18, 2014
"Target was certified as meeting the standard for the payment card industry in September 2013. Nonetheless, we suffered a data breach." Those words by Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel affirmed what security experts know as gospel: Compliance does not equal security. "Just because you pass a PCI audit does not mean that you're secure," said HyTrust President Eric Chiu.
All Hacks on Deck: Japan Invites Hackers to Go At Government
March 18, 2014
Japan invited hackers -- nice ones, that is -- to go to town on the nation's government departments Tuesday. The move is designed to expose weaknesses in cyberdefenses and bolster national security ahead of the 2020 Olympics. Japan enlisted 50 cyberdefense specialists to gather at an emergency response center in Tokyo; an additional 100-plus were stationed offsite.
Target Missed Bull's-Eye in Data Breach
March 14, 2014
Target acknowledged Thursday that it put information on a back burner that led to the compromise of more than 100 million customer records. "We learned that after these criminals entered our network, a small amount of their activity was logged and surfaced to our team," said spokesperson Molly Snyder, which "determined that it did not warrant immediate follow up."
NSA Deploys Botnet Armies, Spoofs Facebook
March 13, 2014
The latest revelations about NSA surveillance indicate the agency could infect millons of computers with malware, and has spoofed Facebook servers to capture traffic from targets. "It is not surprising that the NSA would create and deploy malware," said CDT's Harley Geiger. "What is surprising is the evidence the NSA is prepared to do so on a scale that could affect millions of computers."
WhatsApp Flaw Opens Database Doors to Hackers
March 12, 2014
An Android developer's disclosure that it's possible to hack into the WhatsApp database and read the text of the chats from another application could be a big headache for Facebook, which has agreed to purchase the app for $19 billion. "This is not a bug, but a design decision of WhatsApp," said Bas Bosschert, chief technology officer of Double Think.
2013: A Perilous Year on the Internet
March 11, 2014
Surfing the Internet last year was a dangerous proposition. On average, 200 samples of malicious software were collected every minute by McAfee Labs, the company reported in its threat report for the Q4 2013. All kinds of Internet nastiness increased last year -- from ransomware and suspicious URLs to bogus digital certificates, master boot record attacks, and poisoned mobile apps, the firm said.
Mt. Gox: Bankrupt, Accused and Hacked, Oh My!
March 10, 2014
The drama surrounding Mt. Gox, once the world's largest Bitcoin exchange, has intensified. The company on Sunday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. -- less than two weeks after taking a similar action in Tokyo, where it's based. It apparently made this move to freeze a lawsuit initiated in a federal court in Chicago by a customer seeking $25,000-worth of bitcoins and class action status.
Turkey PM, Prez Go Round and Round About Social Media
March 10, 2014
Turkey's prime minister and president are spewing conflicting talking points on the nation's stance toward social media. It turns out the one who's getting nailed on social media is the one who wants more restrictions. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week vowed to restrict social media after this month's local elections, but President Abdullah Gul said that was "out of the question."
Beijing to Officials: Please, No Smartphones During Session
March 05, 2014
Officials partaking in China's National People's Congress, which began Wednesday, have been asked to please not mess around on their mobile devices during the session. A state-owned newspaper published a list of rules for attendees, including this one: "Do not use your phones to send text messages or make phone calls during meeting; do not use your computer or phone to play games."
Mt. Gox Scrambles for Chap. 11 Cover
February 28, 2014
Mt. Gox, the largest Bitcoin exchange, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in Tokyo, Just days after going offline following the publication on Scribd of an internal memo that alleged hackers had stolen nearly 745,000 Bitcoins from its servers over the years. Blaming a weakness in the company's systems, CEO Mark Karpeles apologized publicly but said the Bitcoin industry was healthy.
Target Reels From Customer Data Breach
February 26, 2014
Target reported financial results for the quarter during which it suffered a high-profile data breach, revealing how badly the company was stung by the security lapses. In the three months ending Feb. 1, net earnings dropped by 46 percent compared with the year-ago fourth quarter, from $961 million to $520 million. Profit dropped by more than 40 percent from the same period a year earlier.
The Rise of the Ethical Hacktivist
February 25, 2014
When Saul Alinsky wrote Rules for Radicals more than four decades ago, the world was a very different place than it is today. Protests and demonstrations were among the most common tactics for bringing about social change, and they were used on such a broad scale that they helped define the Vietnam War era and counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
Security Firms Scour Mobile Apps
February 24, 2014
Security pros weren't very kind to mobile applications last week. A number of firms knocked apps produced for the smartphone market for all kinds of risky behaviors that could lead to trouble not only for mobile device owners, but also for their employers. While Android has been a poster child for misbehaving apps in the past, competitor Apple's apps aren't as pristine as is commonly believed.
Hackers Perfectly Time Largest DDoS Attack Ever
February 12, 2014
"Very big NTP reflection attack hitting us right now. Appears to be bigger than the #Spamhaus attack from last year. Mitigating." That Monday evening tweet from Matthew Prince, CEO of CloudFlare, signaled what's being touted as the largest distributed denial of service attack ever launched on the Internet. The attackers leveraged a known vulnerability in the Internet's infrastructure.
Internet of Things, Part 1: God's Gift to the NSA
February 12, 2014
The NSA's salivary glands no doubt started working overtime when it became apparent that technological advances were moving the world toward an Internet of Things -- a world where everything would be connected to everything else wirelessly or over the Web. Almost two years ago, David Petraeus, then director of the CIA, enthused that the IoT would transform surveillance techniques.
Defense Contractors Shore Up Security Post-Snowden
February 10, 2014
Defense contractors have begun to bolster their cybersecurity practices in the wake of the massive leaking of government data by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Seventy-five percent of defense contractors said the Snowden Affair had changed security procedures for their employees in a recent survey. "I'm surprised that number isn't higher," said security researcher Dodi Glenn.
Careless, Reckless Staff Are Corporate Security's Biggest Threat
February 07, 2014
We have met the enemy and he is us. Pogo's philosophical observation perfectly describes the way IT and security professionals view their end users' attitude toward data security. An overwhelming 80 percent of corporate security professionals and IT administrators indicated in a recent survey that "end user carelessness" constituted the biggest security threat to their organizations.

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