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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.
Quantum Computer Leap Could Make Today's Encryption Passe
March 8, 2016
Researchers at MIT and the University of Innsbruck last week announced that they had designed and constructed the world's first scalable quantum computer, a development that could make existing encryption technology obsolete. They built the computer using five atoms in an ion trap. The researchers used laser pulses to carry out an algorithm on each atom to correctly factor the number 15.
Ransomware Plague Spreads to Macs
March 8, 2016
Researchers at Palo Alto Networks last week announced that they had found the first ransomware in the wild aimed at Macintosh computers, but Apple and one of its developers quickly neutered it. The ransomware -- a malware program that scrambles data on a computer and won't unscramble it unless a ransom is paid -- was embedded in software for installing an OS X app for sharing files on BitTorrent.
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.
Amazon Flip-Flop Lands Fire OS Back in Encryption Camp
March 7, 2016
Amazon last week announced that it had reversed a previous decision to drop support for local encryption on version 5 of its Fire tablet operating system. The disclosure came one day after the company joined 14 others to support Apple in its fight against the FBI, which wants the company to create a tool or code to unlock an iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino, California, terrorists.
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.
For Federal Cloud Investing, Change Is the Only Constant
March 4, 2016
Vivek Kundra, the former federal CIO, envisioned that 25 percent of the funds the federal government spends each year on IT could productively be deployed through cloud-based systems. Two recent reports show that for government IT managers, market and technical factors that were nonexistent or modest in their impact when Kundra was serving as federal CIO will affect future cloud deployments.
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.
The Flip Side of the Shiny Internet Coin
March 3, 2016
There are two sides to every coin -- a good side and a bad side. One side helps you and the other side hurts you. The Internet is a great example: The good side lets you learn anything, about anything, anytime, any place. The bad side targets you with scams. They are running rampant, and there is not a damn thing we can do about it. How can this be, you may ask? Isn't this illegal?
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.
EU Fleshes Out Privacy Shield Agreement
March 1, 2016
The European Commission on Monday released a draft of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield agreement, which would replace the controversial Safe Harbor provisions that regulated U.S. access to the data of European residents. The legal texts aim to finalize the reform of EU data protection rules, which apply to all companies doing business in the region, EC officials said.
Fed Judge Rules for Apple in Drug Case Involving Encryption
March 1, 2016
A federal magistrate judge on Monday ruled that Apple did not have to unlock an encrypted iPhone used in a federal drug case. The ruling gave the company a key victory against the Department of Justice in the midst of a legal struggle over an FBI request that the encrypted phone of one of the suspected shooters in the San Bernardino, California, massacre also be unlocked.
Privacy Advocates Blast Plan to Expand NSA Data Sharing
February 29, 2016
The Obama administration plans to increase the amount of private communications the National Security Agency can share with other government agencies without first adding privacy protections, according to a report published last week. The plan reportedly would ease restrictions on the amount of intercepted email and telephone intelligence the NSA gathers.
Microsoft Bolsters Cloud Security
February 29, 2016
Microsoft last week announced measures to improve security management and transparency for Azure cloud services and Office 365. The features, which come from technology Microsoft acquired last year when it purchased Adallom, will bolster security in cloud apps such as Office 365, Box, Salesforce, ServiceNow and Ariba. The reinforcements are the first of a series of planned measures.
Apple Motion Seeks to Block Feds From Acquiring 'Dangerous Power'
February 29, 2016
Apple last week filed a motion to vacate a federal order requiring the company to create a tool or code to unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters. The order would set a dangerous precedent and release a powerful means to breach security on potentially millions of phones around the world, Apple argued. It transcends one phone, the company said.
Fitbit Leads Surge in Wearable Sales
February 26, 2016
Wearable device makers shipped more than 27 million units globally in the fourth quarter of 2015, an increase of nearly 127 percent over the year-ago quarter, IDC reported Tuesday. Vendors shipped a total of 78.1 million units in 2015, up 171.6 percent over 2014, according to the "Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker" report. Fitbit led the growth, followed by Apple and Xiaomi.
Google Brings Project Shield to DDoS Battlefield
February 26, 2016
Google on Thursday announced that it was expanding its Project Shield program, offering to protect news and human rights websites from distributed denial of service attacks for free. Project Shield uses Google's security infrastructure to detect and filter DDoS attacks, which flood websites with Internet traffic or service requests in order to impair their functioning or take them down altogether.
Operation Blockbuster Brings the Fight to Sony Hackers
February 25, 2016
Operation Blockbuster, a coalition of security companies led by Novetta, on Wednesday published a report detailing the activities of the Lazarus Group, the organization responsible for the 2014 cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. Researchers last week published detection signatures to the companies' respective software in the hope of disrupting the group's activities.
The Downside of Linux Popularity
February 25, 2016
Popularity is becoming a two-edged sword for Linux. The open source operating system has become a key component of the Internet's infrastructure, and it's also the foundation for the world's largest mobile OS, Google's Android. Widespread use of the OS, though, has attracted the attention of hackers looking to transfer the dirty tricks previously aimed at Windows to Linux.
Security Pros to Users: Do as We Say, Not as We Do
February 24, 2016
IT pros -- the gatekeepers of company security policies -- are willing to bend the rules to get things done, according to Absolute Software, based on survey findings it released last week. Forty-five percent of IT pros confessed they knowingly worked around their own security policies, according to the survey. Moreover, 33 percent admitted to hacking their own or another organization's systems.
Gates Sees Both Sides in Apple vs. FBI Ruckus
February 24, 2016
Microsoft founder Bill Gates on Tuesday attempted to clarify his position regarding Apple's conflict with the FBI, telling Bloomberg he was disappointed that his earlier comments had been construed as taking the government's side. Apple has sparked a public debate through its resistance to a court order to unscramble the data on the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists.
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What best reflects your opinion on online privacy?
We need new laws to curb government spying.
It's dead -- Google, Facebook and others killed it.
Personalized advertising is the worst -- it's creepy.
It's achievable through encryption and other tech.
It's an overblown issue -- I have nothing to hide.