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'Elegant' Regin Malware Linked to Brits, NSA
November 25, 2014
A sophisticated malware program called "Regin" has been used in systematic spying campaigns against a range of international targets since at least 2008, Symantec reported. Regin is a backdoor-type Trojan with a structure that displays a degree of technical competence rarely seen in malware. "It's a beautiful piece of architecture," said Scott Borg, CEO of the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit.
FCC's Spectrum Cash Cow Produces Rich Milk
November 25, 2014
Bidding for wireless spectrum in the United States Federal Communications Commission's latest auction has gone through the roof, raising more than $36 billion as of Tuesday morning. A total of 70 qualified bidders are seeking 1,614 licenses in the 1695-1710 Mhz, 1755-1780 Mhz and 2155-2180 MHz bands. The auction almost certainly will raise even more money over the next few weeks.
Vendors Sow Seeds for Next Big Federal IT Thing: Convergence
November 19, 2014
Information technology vendors have spotted the next big thing for serving the U.S. government market. The only questions are 1) whether federal agencies themselves have seen the same thing; and 2) if so, whether they are prepared to jump into yet another new procurement process. What the vendors have in mind is akin to the turnkey process used in the construction industry.
WhatsApp Battens Down the Hatches
November 19, 2014
WhatsApp has added end-to-end encryption and enabled it by default in the latest version of its Android messaging application, partner Open Whisper Systems announced Tuesday. The new feature taps Open Whisper's open source TextSecure encryption protocol to ensure that only a conversation's participants can read the messages they exchange. WhatsApp itself won't be able to decrypt the messages.
China Suspected in Attacks on USPS, NOAA
November 19, 2014
The U.S. Postal Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week confirmed that their computer systems were targeted in months-long cyberattacks that appear to have originated in China. The attack on USPS compromised information of an estimated 800,000 employees. Data at risk includes names, date of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses and dates of employment.
GOP Caught With Fingers in the Twitter Jar
November 18, 2014
The Republican Party and at least two outside political-spending groups reportedly used anonymous Twitter accounts to share internal polling data in the months leading up to this year's midterm elections. One of the accounts was named after the fictional West Wing character Bruno Gianelli, who attempted to fund campaigns with possibly unethical cash.
US Marshals Have Their Own Cellphone Data Slurpfest
November 18, 2014
The United States Marshals Service reportedly is grabbing data from thousands, if not millions, of Americans' cellphones using high-tech devices deployed on five Cessnas. The aircraft operate out of at least five metro-area airports and apparently can cover most of the U.S. population. They are equipped with DRT boxes, popularly known as "dirtboxes," made by a subsidiary of Boeing.
Hackers Humiliate U.S. State Department
November 17, 2014
The U.S. State Department on Sunday announced its unclassified email system has been breached, making it the fourth U.S. government organization to have fallen prey to hackers in recent months. The State Department took down its website and unclassified email system and reportedly used Gmail for communications instead. None of its classified systems were compromised, the department claimed.
SBA Proposal Could Change Landscape for IT Resellers
November 17, 2014
Doing business with the U.S. government is always a challenge. In addition to uncertain budgets, political infighting, and the seemingly endless procurement terms of the Federal Acquisition Regulations, there are many other special provisions that come into play in government contracting. One of them is the small business set-aside policy designed to ensure that smaller companies can participate.
Who Knew Tim Cook Would Fight for the American Way?
November 14, 2014
Ninety-one percent of Americans believe they have lost control of their personal information -- and many also don't trust companies that buy, sell, barter, and combine their habits and activities to better "serve" -- aka "manipulate" -- them, a recent Pew Research survey found. Along similar lines, they don't particularly trust governments either.
Americans Flip-Flop on Personal Data Privacy
November 13, 2014
Despite the publicity about Edward Snowden's controversial leaks, only 43 percent of 607 English-speaking adults surveyed in January had heard a lot about government surveillance efforts, and another 44 percent had heard a little, according to the Pew Research Internet Project. However, 80 percent of the respondents registered concern about government surveillance of communications.
FCC Chair Asserts Independence in Net Neutrality Fracas
November 13, 2014
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has responded to the White House's proposal for Net neutrality rules by reasserting his agency's independence in a meeting with executives of Google, Yahoo and other Internet companies following President Obama's Monday call to action. The president urged the FCC to ensure Net neutrality by interpreting Title II of the Telecommunications Act to govern ISPs.
The US Government's Tenuous Relationship With Open Source
November 12, 2014
The amount of open source software used by the U.S. government might be one of the biggest secrets in Washington. Not even purveyors of FOSS, as in free and open source software, know the extent of federal agency adoption of nonproprietary software. Some in the Beltway Loop contend that open source is very prevalent. Others suggest that it's avoided because its code is exposed for anyone to see.
USPS Employees, Retirees, Customers Exposed in Hack Attack
November 11, 2014
Hackers siphoned off data from United States Postal Service servers for more than eight months before being detected, the USPS said. The personal data -- including names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses, beginning and end dates of employment and emergency contact information -- of more than 800,000 employees and some retirees has been exposed.
Obama Bangs Drum for Net Neutrality
November 10, 2014
President Obama on Monday leaped into the controversy surrounding Net neutrality, calling on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to ensure and protect it. "I believe the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting Net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online," he said.
The Law Scores a Victory Against Dark Net Denizens
November 07, 2014
Europol on Friday announced that agents from ICE, the FBI and Eurojust have taken down more than 400 cybercrime services accessible via the Tor browser. They include the dark market Silk Road 2.0. Its operator, Blake Benthall, was arrested, along with six Britons. Europol coordinated the effort. "Almost all crime now has an international nexus," noted ICE Special Agent Gary Hartwig.
Feds Flummoxed Over Cloud Contract Management
November 07, 2014
Federal agencies may spend as much as $10 billion annually on cloud technology by 2018, as the government seeks to take advantage of the operational improvements and efficiencies it offers. However, deficiencies in contracting for cloud services could compromise the effectiveness of such investments. Furthermore, reactions to proposed remedies have revealed some tensions over contract management.
Russian Cyberspies Caught With Mittens in Cyber Cookie Jar
November 06, 2014
Russian cyberspies -- unlike their Chinese counterparts -- have a reputation for stealth, so it's unusual when two digital espionage operations linked to the Kremlin come to light in a week. FireEye early last week released a report detailing how hackers working for the Russian government have been using sophisticated techniques over a seven-year period to penetrate computer systems.
Facebook's Voter Turnout Efforts: Good, Bad or Pointless?
November 05, 2014
In the run-up to Tuesday's mid-term elections, suspicions were rife about the possibility of Facebook influencing the outcome. Facebook had joined Google, Twitter and other high-tech companies in urging people to vote, but skepticism about its motives ran high. In previous elections, it had turned its call to voters into sociological experiments, tweaking its approaches for different groups.
Russians Scrap Jobs Tribute Over Tim Cook's Being Gay
November 03, 2014
A group of Russian companies called the "Western European Financial Union" on Friday dismantled a 6-foot, 6-inch tribute to Steve Jobs following Apple CEO Tim Cook's announcement that he's gay. The Jobs tribute -- an interactive kiosk in the shape of an iPhone -- had graced the courtyard of the National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics in St. Petersburg.
Cyberattacks Could Wreak Widespread Havoc by 2025
November 03, 2014
The Pew Research Center last week released a report suggesting that cyberattacks in the next 10 years might cause major destruction of human lives and tens of billions of dollars in property damage. However, the situation might not be as overwhelming as the raw numbers indicate, said report author Janna Quitney Anderson, director of the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University.
Inspectors Find Big Gaps in Federal Cloud Contract Compliance
October 31, 2014
U.S. government agencies may be warming to the cloud, with ambitions to significantly boost investment in the technology. However, many millions of dollars in federal cloud projects could be at risk both currently and in the future, as a result of flawed contract procedures. Many agencies have had difficulty in meeting federal requirements and guidance covering cloud contracts with IT vendors.
Snail Mail Surveillance: Rules Are Weak - and Routinely Broken
October 30, 2014
The U.S. Postal Service didn't adequately follow its own rules last year, when it secretly recorded and shared information about some 49,000 pieces of mail to further criminal and national security investigations, according to an audit report from the Office of Inspector General. Information recorded under the service's longstanding mail cover program is limited to what's written on the exterior.
AT&T: We Told Our Customers 'Unlimited' Doesn't Mean 'Unlimited'
October 29, 2014
The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday filed a complaint in a California federal court against AT&T, seeking compensation for customers who were told they had unlimited data plans but in reality did not. The legal action stemmed from a practice AT&T began in 2011 of throttling data delivery to customers with unlimited data plans when their data usage reached a specified amount during a billing period.

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