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Apple Pay vs. CurrentC: Prelude to the Beacon Wars
October 30, 2014
The current dustup between Apple Pay and CurrentC is a stark, bleak mess. That's not because Apple promises an easier, more secure way of making a smartphone-based retail transaction. Nor is it because CurrentC wants to harvest data on you and provide behavior-bending coupons, incentives and special deals, while cutting out the middleman credit card processing industry. It gets worse.
Mobile Malware Takes Victims by Surprise
October 28, 2014
Malware writers behind Koler, a bad app that attacks Android devices, have upped their game with a new variant of the pernicious program. In its original version, Koler hijacked phones it landed on and wouldn't set them free until a ransom was paid. This latest strain of the malapp also does the ransomware thing, but it takes its malignancy a step further.
Some Apple Pay Users Get Double-Billing and Double-Talk
October 22, 2014
Shortly after Apple Pay's Monday launch, some eager early users were unsettled to see duplicate charges on their accounts. Apple Pay lets iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus users store credit card information on their devices and then pay for products using tap-to-pay terminals in stores, or via apps when shopping online. However, in some cases, it appears to be dinging consumers' accounts twice.
Staples May Be Next to Wear Data Breach Scarlet Letter
October 21, 2014
Yet another major retailer -- this time, office supply chain Staples -- reportedly has fallen victim to a data breach. More than half a dozen banks operating on the East Coast have seen fraudulent charges made at non-Staples businesses, such as supermarkets and other big-box retailers, by people using Staples cards. Those cards apparently were used previously at three Staples stores in the area.
Chinese Officials Kick In Apple, MS Cloud Doors
October 21, 2014
Chinese authorities have launched man-in-the-middle attacks on Apple's iCloud.com and Microsoft's Login.live.co that are ongoing, according to Greatfire.org. Qihoo 360 browser users' local connections to iCloud.com are being rerouted to a dummy site that's identical to Apple's login page. Users of Firefox or Chrome land on a warning page instead. The attack on iCloud reportedly is nationwide.
Black Box Keeps Cybersnoops in Dark
October 21, 2014
Following Edward Snowden's revelations about indiscriminate government snooping on U.S. citizens, many Net surfers would like to find a way to lower their visibility on the Internet. There are a number of tools in cyberspace that can help a soul do that, but they can take time and savvy to set up. That's why Kerry Cox launched the Sierra Project, which he hopes to fund through Kickstarter.
Apple Pay Aims to Make Plastic Passť
October 20, 2014
Apple on Monday launched its Apple Pay mobile payment system in the U.S., for use with Apple's latest iPhones and to a limited extent its new iPads, as well. Apple Pay allows purchasing transactions to be performed with a phone swipe -- as long as a retailer has the right hardware. Purchases within apps can be completed using only the Touch ID fingerprint reader.
Snapchat Hackers Could Be Prosecuted for Child Porn Offenses
October 13, 2014
Private videos and pictures shared between tens of thousands of Snapchat users -- possibly as many as 200,000 -- were posted online by hackers over the weekend in an episode dubbed the "Snappening." Much of the content is sexual, including many nude photos -- some possibly of minors. The hackers appear to have gone for maximum embarrassment and humiliation with this particular breach.
Tech Execs Issue Dire Warnings on Impact of NSA Surveillance
October 10, 2014
The NSA's wide-ranging surveillance of people's communications worldwide is hitting America's high-tech industry hard, said panelists on Wednesday at a roundtable held by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden in Palo Alto, California. Wyden set the tone from the start: "This is going to cost America jobs." Several foreign governments are planning to build domestic Internets.
DEA Lifts Woman's Identity, Creates Fake Facebook Page
October 08, 2014
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency reportedly co-opted a woman's identity to create a fake Facebook page as a ruse to investigate suspects. The agency posted racy pictures of the woman, then known as "Sondra Prince," as well as a photo of her young son and niece, to the sham page. The photos were taken from her cellphone, which DEA had seized when Prince was arrested in connection with a drug ring.
Phishers Find Apple Most Tasty Target
October 07, 2014
"Follow the money" isn't just the war cry of journalistic bloodhounds hot on the trail of political corruption. It's the mantra of Web predators, too. That's why PayPal consistently has been the top brand targeted by phishers -- although that appears to have changed. Apple now has the dubious distinction of most-phished brand, according to the latest report from the Anti-Phishing Work Group.
FDA Aims to Shore Up Medical Device Cybersecurity
October 06, 2014
The Food and Drug Administration last week released long-awaited recommendations aimed at better managing cybersecurity risks to protect patient health and information. The new standards recommend manufacturers take into account cybersecurity risks as part of the design and development of a medical device. They require device makers to submit documentation to the FDA about identified risks.
EFF Raises Alarm Over ComputerCOP's Spying Ways
October 02, 2014
ComputerCOP software, a parental monitoring application that long has been recommended and distributed by law enforcement agencies, is little more than spyware with significant potential for abuse, the EFF reported Wednesday. The software includes a keylogger that could expose a family's personal information by transmitting what's typed to third-party servers without encryption, the EFF said.
Apple Shrinks Market for Stolen iPhones
October 02, 2014
Apple on Thursday closed a gap in its efforts to combat mobile device theft with the announcement of a service for checking the Activation Lock status of its iPhone, iPad and iPod product lines. The Find My iPhone Activation Lock requires that an owner's Apple ID and passcode be entered into an iOS device before Find My iPhone can be turned off or the device can be erased or reactivated.
Consumers Fed Up With Data Breaches
September 30, 2014
Consumers are beginning to lose their patience with the custodians of their personal information. Survey results from 2,000 consumers released last week by HyTrust, suggest that 51 percent of those polled would bolt from any business involved in a data breach that compromised personal information such as address, Social Security number or credit card details.
Banks, Businesses Scramble to Smash Bash Shellshock Bug
September 29, 2014
Banks and businesses toiled over the weekend to crush a bug in a widely used open source operating system. The flaw has been in Unix for some 25 years, but it was revealed just last week. If exploited, the vulnerability could be used to inject malicious code or take command of a system or device. Dubbed "Shellshock," it requires patching systems and devices running Apple's OS X, Linux and Unix.
FBI Director Comey Gives Apple and Google a Tongue-Lashing
September 26, 2014
FBI Director James Comey on Thursday strongly criticized Apple and Google for hardening information stored in smartphones by encrypting data, making it inaccessible to law enforcement even with a court order. The FBI has had conversations with both Apple and Google over the encryption features, Comey said, although he personally was not involved in those talks.
Bash Shellshock Bug Patched but Not Pummeled
September 25, 2014
Researchers on Thursday discovered proof-of-concept code that could take advantage of unpatched computer systems, and found evidence of attacks exploiting the BASH Shellshock bug in the wild. Shellshock, which came to light on Wednesday, could become a major threat to Linux/Unix and Apple operating systems if published patches to BASH are not applied before an attacker cashes in.
Self-Driving Car Security: No Room for Error
September 25, 2014
Walk into any electronics store and you will find antivirus software from companies like Norton, ESET, McAfee and Kaspersky. In the last few years, the risk has spread from our computers to our smartphones and our tablets. The next thing we will have to protect may be our cars -- and our lives could depend on it. We used to think the computer was the only device that needed virus protection.
Banking Trojan Targets Petrochemical Outfits
September 23, 2014
The pernicious program Citadel has been around for awhile, but it's using some new tricks on new targets. From its humble origins as a "man in the browser" thief of banking credentials, Citadel has become a knave of all trades. Once it lands on a computer, it can be configured in a number of ways with a file from a server operated by Web predators.
Phishing Scam Ensnares eBay Shoppers
September 23, 2014
Attackers for months have been using eBay listings to redirect visitors to password-harvesting scam sites. They use cross-site scripting to hijack shoppers and trick them into handing over personal data. Smartphones, televisions, hot tubs and clothing are among the items supposedly for sale in listings infected with malicious Javascript code. eBay reportedly has been slow to address the issue.
Home Depot Gives 56 Million Customers a Heads Up
September 19, 2014
Home Depot on Thursday said it had excised the malware demon from its computerized payment system after its recent discovery of a security breach in which thieves stole records of 56 million credit cards. Home Depot stopped short of admitting that an ongoing security upgrade may have contributed to the breach. Efforts to harden the system with enhanced encryption are under way.
Android L Will Keep Your Secrets Safer
September 19, 2014
Hard on the heels of increased security measures in Apple's newly released iOS 8, Google this week confirmed that encryption will be turned on by default in the next release of Android. Android has offered encryption for more than three years, and keys are not stored off the device, so they can't be shared with law enforcement, Google said. In Android L, encryption will be enabled by default.
Apple Fills iOS 8 Security Basket to Brim
September 19, 2014
With data thefts and cybersnooping making headlines daily, security has started to capture the attention of the disciples of the digital lifestyle -- and if the latest version of iOS is any indication, it's catching the attention of Apple, too. Along with nifty features like Hand Off and Family Sharing, iOS 8 contains a number of significant security and privacy enhancements.

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