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New Year's Resolutions: Be More Secure in 2014
January 07, 2014
If you're inclined to make resolutions this time of year and you're concerned about your online and offline security, here are some suggestions that can keep you safer in the days ahead. At the top of the list: You should vow to change the passwords to your important accounts on a frequent basis. Using the same password for many websites is also something you should vow to avoid in 2014.
Surveillance Rights and Wrongs, Part 2: No Clear Answers
January 04, 2014
Civil liberties groups and privacy advocates rejoiced when U.S. Federal District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled last month that the NSA's collection of bulk telephony metadata is likely a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However, their joy was short-lived. Later in the month, U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley ruled that it is legal.
Surveillance Rights and Wrongs, Part 1: Begging the Questions
January 03, 2014
The National Security Agency's surveillance of Americans' emails, Web searches and phone calls has angered the nation, but lawmakers remain divided on the issue. Bipartisan groups have spoken out against the surveillance and a few have introduced legislation to curb it, but some contend it is essential to protect America from its enemies.
Verizon to Disclose Some of What It's Disclosing to the Government
December 20, 2013
Verizon on Thursday said it will release a semiannual report about the data requests it receives from the government. It is the first major telecom to make such a move. Verizon and other tech industry giants have come under fire for cooperating with government surveillance programs. Verizon and AT&T in particular were named in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Japanese Robot Shoots Breeze With Astronaut
December 20, 2013
A humanoid robot named "Kirobo" has had a chat with a Japanese astronaut on the ISS. The robot, also from Japan, is designed to process questions and construct answers from its vocabulary bank, as opposed to regurgitating preprogrammed responses. Asked if he could handle zero-gravity conditions, the robot replied, "I'm used to it now, no problem at all."
Google Glass Just Got Creepier
December 18, 2013
Google on Tuesday released XE 12, the latest update to its Google Glass product. One of its new features lets users take a photo with a wink, something that previously could be done by using a third-party app. "If I were Google, I'd keep quiet about ... how quickly people can take photos of unsuspecting targets," said Joshua Flood, an analyst at ABI Research.
Twitter's Block Backtrack Scores Points
December 13, 2013
Finding itself at the center of a social media firestorm, Twitter on Friday acted quickly to placate users who were concerned about changes it made to its blocking functionality Thursday afternoon. Twitter effectively turned the block button into a mute function, allowing a blocked user to follow, retweet, favorite, and publicly share tweets of the user who had imposed the block.
NSA Hackers Help Themselves to Google's Cookies
December 12, 2013
The United States National Security Agency reportedly is using at least one type of Google cookie -- PREF, which stores a user's preferences -- to home in on the PCs of targets it wants to hack. NSA's Special Source Operations division apparently is sharing information with Tailored Access Operations, the agency's cyberwarfare intelligence-gathering unit.
Cops' Cellphone Data Collection Challenged
December 10, 2013
Sen. Edward Markey plans to soon introduce legislation that will restrict the bulk collection of Americans' cellphone data by U.S. law enforcement agencies. "We need a 4th Amendment for the 21st century," he said. "Disclosure of personal information from wireless devices raises significant legal and privacy concerns, particularly for innocent consumers."
Tech Giants Demand Government Surveillance Overhaul
December 09, 2013
Eight major U.S. high-tech companies have called on governments worldwide to reform surveillance practices. Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, Apple and AOL want governments to ensure that data collection by law enforcement and intelligence agencies is bound by rules and focuses on targeted suspects. They also want governments to be more transparent about the data they request.
NSA Snoops Extend Ops to Online Games
December 09, 2013
The U.S. National Security Agency and British counterpart GCHQ have monitored the activities of online gamers, according to documents published Monday that were leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The two agencies gained access to the online Xbox Live console network, the documents suggest, as well as deploying real-life agents into the virtual realms of Blizzard's World of Warcraft and Linden Labs' Second Life.
NSA Harvests 5 Billion Cellphone Locations Worldwide Daily: Report
December 05, 2013
Every day, the NSA reportedly collects nearly 5 billion cellphone location records worldwide. The information, obtained from documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, indicate the records are stored in the agency's FASCIA database. Data on Americans' cellphones both in the U.S. and abroad is collected "incidentally," the NSA contended.
Microsoft Cranks Up Security to Lock Out Government Spies
December 05, 2013
Microsoft is taking steps to make its customers' data more secure in the wake of revelations about government spying. The company was implicated in NSA snooping operations after former government contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents related to the agency's activities earlier this year. Government spying on Microsoft's servers constitutes a persistent threat, said General Counsel Brad Smith.
Internet of Things Will Burn Privacy for a While, Cerf Warns
November 21, 2013
"Privacy may actually be an anomaly," Vinton Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet, told participants in an FTC workshop on privacy and security in the Internet of Things. Privacy doesn't really exist in small towns, for instance. Further, consumers' social behavior is "quite damaging to privacy," Cerf said. "The technology we use today has far outraced our social intuition headlights."
LG Promises to Shut Down TV Spy Ops
November 21, 2013
LG Electronics on Thursday said it is preparing a firmware update to address concerns over the discovery that some of its smart TVs have been monitoring users' viewing habits and sending the information back to the company without owners' consent. The issue was discovered when UK-based IT consultant Jason Huntley found that his LG smart TV had logged the channels he was watching and sent that data back to the company.
Yahoo to Tie Up Data With Neat Encryption Bow
November 19, 2013
Yahoo said it will extend 2048-bit encryption planned for Yahoo Mail across its entire network. CEO Marissa Mayer reiterated that the company "has never given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency." However, documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden indicate the NSA reimbursed Yahoo for costs incurred to meet the demands of its Prism surveillance program.
Brit Spies Spoof LinkedIn Pages to Track Targets
November 11, 2013
British intelligence agency GCHQ reportedly has spoofed LinkedIn profiles of employees at mobile communications companies and mobile billing firms to gain access to their corporate networks. The first known attack was on Belgacom, a telecom firm partly owned by the Belgian government, according to a top secret GCHQ presentation revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
North Korea Gets Its Hands on Electromagnetic Pulse Weaponry
November 08, 2013
North Korea is developing electromagnetic pulse weapons designed to disable enemy electronics, according to South Korea's National Intelligence Service. North Korea reportedly purchased EMP technology from Russia and is now in the process of replicating it. Some American politicians, including Republicans Newt Gingrich and Rep. Trent Franks, have issued dire warnings about EMP technology.
Is LinkedIn Being Sued for Doing Just What It Says It Will Do?
November 08, 2013
A class action asserting that LinkedIn harvests and sells users' email addresses was brought in September 2013. More than a month after the lawsuit was filed, LinkedIn still uses the same approach to collect email addresses and personal information -- that is, it encourages users to "sync your contacts. Stay in touch. Bring your email, contacts, and calendar in one place."
Huawei: No One Bothers Us for Data
October 18, 2013
Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, long suspected of being in cahoots with Beijing authorities, said Friday that no government has ever asked it to divulge information about citizens. Translation: Anyone concerned about government meddling should be more concerned with Washington's connections to U.S. companies than Beijing's connection to Huawei. It called for global standards on security.

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