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Freedom Act Leaves IT Sector at Risk for Spy Program Costs
August 14, 2014
A recent U.S. Senate proposal to curb the impact of electronic surveillance conducted by the NSA could enhance privacy for citizens and benefit businesses as well. However, major information technology companies that help the government collect telecom and Internet data still will be vulnerable to the substantial costs of working with the NSA, even if the proposed bill becomes law.
Snowden Blows NSA's MonsterMind
August 13, 2014
The NSA is working on a new program codenamed "MonsterMind" that will automate the monitoring of traffic patterns on the Internet to look for attacks, whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed. When it detects an attack, MonsterMind will automatically block it from entering the U.S. cyberinfrastructure. It also will automatically fire back at the server from which the attack was launched.
Yahoo, Google Team Up to Fight Email Snoops
August 13, 2014
Yahoo and Google last week announced they'd be teaming up to secure their Web mail systems with encryption by the end of next year. "Our goal is to make end-to-end encryption fully available in 2015," said Yahoo Vice President of Information Security Alex Stamos. Yahoo will be releasing the code for its encryption solution to the open source community.
The Cavalry Rides Into Auto Industry With Security Proposal
August 12, 2014
A grassroots group calling itself "I Am The Cavalry" has published an open letter to the automotive industry offering its services in ensuring security and safety. "Modern vehicles are computers on wheels and are increasingly connected and controlled by software and embedded devices," the letter reads. New technology "introduces new classes of accidents and adversaries," the group pointed out.
Russian Gang's Credentials Theft Exposes Web's Wild, Wild West Side
August 12, 2014
News that a Russian gang has stockpiled more than a billion purloined user name and password combinations has revved up the Internet's reputation as a post industrial Wild, Wild West. Just how much havoc will be raised by the gang remains to be seen. The data thieves so far appear content to use their ill-gotten trove for spamming, according to Hold Security, which discovered the credential cache.
Taking the Temperature of Java App Security
August 11, 2014
Current approaches to Java application protection place security at the application or the network layer, both of which are problematic. The first approach has proven to be too complex, too time consuming and too risky -- in other words, "too hot." Meanwhile, network level security that consists of perimeter devices lacks the intelligence to know what's going on inside the application.
Carrier Software Flaws Imperil Smartphones: Report
August 08, 2014
Wireless carriers pose a threat to mobile phone security, researchers have disclosed. Mathew Solnik and Marc Blanchou of Accuvant this week told an audience at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas that Android, BlackBerry and some iOS devices are vulnerable. The problem lies in a device management tool using the OMA Device Management Standard, which carriers embed into mobile devices.
Cyberspies Help Themselves to DHS Contractor's Data
August 08, 2014
USIS, the contractor that did the background checks on Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis and NSA leaker Edward Snowden, on Thursday reported that its computer systems have been breached. "Our internal IT security team recently identified an apparent external cyberattack on USIS' corporate network," said US Investigation Services in a statement.
Secure Sites to Get the Google Bump
August 07, 2014
Google on Wednesday announced that it has begun factoring websites' use of HTTPS into its search rankings, resulting in more favorable results for those that use the security-minded protocol. Use of the protocol still is considered just a minor factor, though, affecting fewer than 1 percent of global queries and carrying less weight than high-quality content.
Russian Cybergang Stockpiles 1.2B Unique Stolen Credentials
August 07, 2014
A Russian cybercriminal gang so far has stolen 4.5 billion credentials, of which 1.2 billion appear to be unique, Hold Security has announced. The credentials belong to more than 500 million email addresses. Two reports released Tuesday may help explain why the cybergang was so successful. About 92 percent of the 800 top consumer websites evaluated failed the OTA's 2014 Email Integrity Audit.
WiFi Insecurity: Crying Wolf or Big Bad Wolf?
August 07, 2014
Can a hacker take over a passenger jet by sneaking in through its WiFi or in-flight entertainment system? The possibility of that occurring, as suggested by cybersecurity firm IOActive, has security experts hot under the collar. Ruben Santamarta, principal security consultant at IOActive, is scheduled to present the team's findings Thursday at the Black Hat security conference.
Wikimedia Blasts Europe's 'Right to Be Forgotten'
August 06, 2014
The Wikimedia Foundation has released its first-ever transparency report -- and along with it a protest against Europe's "right to be forgotten" law. Wikimedia is the nonprofit owner of Wikipedia and other sites. "Denying people access to relevant and neutral information runs counter to the ethos and values of the Wikimedia movement," wrote Wikimedia attorneys Geoff Brigham and Michelle Paulson.
Retailers Harassed by Backoff Malware
August 05, 2014
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security last week sounded an alarm warning retailers of a family of malicious programs aimed at compromising point-of-sale systems. Attackers used such software last year in massive data breaches that nicked millions of consumer records at Target and Nieman Marcus. Variants of the Backoff family have turned up in at least three forensic investigations.
Cops Snag Child Pornography Suspect, Thanks to Gmail Scan
August 04, 2014
A routine scan of a Texas man's Gmail by Google has led to his arrest on child pornography possession and promotion charges. John Henry Skillern, 41, of Houston was arrested by police July 30 following a tip by Google to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He has been charged with one count each of child pornography possession and child pornography promotion.
Federal Judge Unswayed by Microsoft's Objections to Data Demands
August 04, 2014
Microsoft's objections to a court order requiring it to turn over a customer's emails held on a server in Ireland have been rejected. Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York last week issued an oral ruling in the case, reportedly saying the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1996 authorizes such extraterritorial collections of data.
When It Comes to Technology, Humans Are Idiots
August 04, 2014
There are a lot of things going on at the moment. Israel is tactically defending itself against Hamas -- winning the battles but losing the war, because the Israeli government can't see the big picture. The U.S. is still blaming Snowden for leaks, even though Russia clearly is able to pull damaging information pretty much anytime it wants without Snowden's help.
Tor Has Been Breached - What Now?
August 01, 2014
News that two Carnegie-Mellon CERT researchers have developed an inexpensive way to breach the Tor network has the project, privacy advocates, and probably criminals who use the network equally concerned. The Tor Project posted has advised relays to upgrade to Tor 0.2.r.23e or 0.2.5.6-alpha to close the protocol vulnerability used by the researchers.
Facebook Staring at Fresh Privacy Class Action
August 01, 2014
Facebook is set for another legal battle over privacy, with a fresh class-action lawsuit fired up against the company. The legal action is the brainchild of Austrian law student Max Schrems, a noted campaigner against Facebook's treatment of user privacy. Schrems called on adult Facebook users around the world to join his suit after he filed a complaint in Vienna's commercial court.
That Innocent Little Thumb Drive Could Be Big Security Trouble
August 01, 2014
USB flash drives could be at risk of a pernicious attack on their firmware. Over the past two decades, USB devices, aka "thumb drives," have proliferated all over the world, because USB has proven to be a versatile standard. That versatility, though, also makes USB devices vulnerable to what could be a very nasty firmware attack, noted Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell of Secure Research Labs.
Russia Cites Surveillance Concerns in Apple, SAP Source Code Demands
July 31, 2014
Russia wants Apple and SAP to turn over their source code in yet another instance of fallout resulting from leaks about NSA surveillance activities. The suggestion reportedly came last week, when Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov met with executives of the two companies: Peter Nielsen, Apple's general manager in Russia; and Vyacheslav Orekhov, SAP's managing director in Russia.
Hackers Back to Their Old Tricks
July 30, 2014
Old tricks that have helped hackers penetrate computers for months or longer worked again last week at Goodwill and Stubhub. Taking a page from the gang that pillaged payment card and personal information from Target last year, hackers clipped payment card information from an undisclosed number of Goodwill Industries International customers. It's believed point-of-sale systems were compromised.
Leahy Bill Aims to Rein In Government Snooping
July 30, 2014
Government snooping on Americans would be curtailed under a bill introduced Tuesday in the U.S. Senate. The measure, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., would ban bulk collection of domestic information, limit the scope of searches by government agencies, and add transparency and reporting requirements. Further, it would reform procedures of the FISA Court.
Android's Fake ID Could Put Millions in Jeopardy
July 30, 2014
An Android vulnerability that exists in every version from v2.1 Eclair to v. 4.3 Jelly Bean could expose millions of users, Bluebox Security has warned. The flaw lets attackers fake the certificates of specially privileged parties, such as Adobe and Google Wallet, and serve them up with malware that bypasses detection by Android. Attackers then can take over every app running on an Android device.
OkCupid's Confessed Hijinks Get Thumbs-Down
July 29, 2014
OkCupid has admitted carrying out psychological experiments on its users. Because OkCupid doesn't really know what it's doing, it needs to experiment to see what works and what doesn't, according to cofounder Christian Rudder. Every Internet company needs to test different things with users, and website visitors are subjected to "hundreds of experiments," he argued. "That's how websites work."

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