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Winkelvoss Twins Plan to Tame Bitcoins
January 26, 2015
Cameron and Tyler Winkelvoss on Friday announced Gemini, a regulated bitcoin exchange to be based in the United States. The Winkelvoss twins, who shot to fame when they sued Facebook and won $65 million, have assembled a team of security experts, technologists and financial engineers to build a world-class exchange from the ground up, based on security.
White House Jump-Starts Cybersecurity Protection Programs
January 23, 2015
As members of the U.S. Congress started to prepare for the upcoming legislative session, President Obama lost little time in putting cybersecurity near the top of a to-do list for lawmakers. During a visit to the federal National Cybersecurity Communications Integration Center, Obama called for additional legislation to improve information technology protection.
Chen Calls on Congress to Mandate BlackBerry Apps
January 22, 2015
BlackBerry CEO John Chen set off a barrage of online chatter Wednesday when he proposed that any rules the U.S. adopts to preserve Net neutrality also should guarantee application neutrality. Chen made the proposal in a letter to two U.S. congressional panels and posted an adapted version on the company's blog. Both the FCC and Congress are considering Net neutrality proposals.
Warning Sony of Coming Storm Wasn't NSA's Department
January 19, 2015
The United States National Security Agency reportedly knew in advance that North Korea was about to hack into Sony's systems. The NSA apparently penetrated North Korea's network through several vectors, including Chinese networks used to connect with the rest of the world and hacker connections in Malaysia. The NSA was able to burrow in using the networks of South Korea and other allies.
Cameron Takes Hard Line on Encrypted Communications
January 15, 2015
UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who is standing for re-election, has vowed to ban personal encrypted communications apps such as Snapchat and WhatsApp if he is voted in. He also will allow UK government security agencies to monitor communications, with warrants signed by the Home Secretary. "The first duty of any government is to keep our country and our people safe," Cameron declared.
Feds Struggle to Keep Up With Digital Access Demand
January 14, 2015
The explosion in the use of mobile devices in the U.S. is posing a major challenge for the federal government to provide public access to agencies via wireless channels. In an effort to keep pace with technology, the U.S. government launched the Digital Government Strategy in May 2012 with the goal of providing citizen access to federal services and information anywhere, anytime, on any device.
Sony Sortie's Smoking Gun Still Missing
January 14, 2015
Recent research from security firm Cloudmark has raised doubt about the purported connection between North Korea and last November's intrusion on Sony Pictures Entertainment's computer networks. The FBI last week continued to press its case that North Korea was behind the cyberattack, pointing to an exposed block of IP addresses allocated to North Korea.
CFPB Shifts Some Power to Mortgage Shoppers
January 13, 2015
The CFPB on Tuesday introduced Owning a Home, a set of online tools designed to make it easier for consumers to comparison shop for the best deal in mortgage financing. With one tool, users can plug in a credit score and ZIP code to get a sense of the current interest rates being offered within a particular area. There is also a guide that walks consumers through various loan options.
The Convoluted Trail Linking North Korea to Sony
January 13, 2015
FBI Director James Comey has "very high confidence" that North Korea was behind last November's cyberattack on Sony, he said last week at Fordham University. New evidence of the link includes documentation of the hackers' failure to cover their tracks with proxy servers on several occasions, Comey said. Several times they got "sloppy" and exposed their home IP addresses.
SCOTUS Seeks DoJ Input on Google-Oracle Java Dispute
January 13, 2015
The Supreme Court of the United States on Monday invited the Obama administration to weigh in on whether it should hear arguments in the ongoing dispute between Google and Oracle over Java copyrights. U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr. "is invited to file a brief in this case expressing the views of the United States," reads the SCOTUS memo.
The Fallout From the NSA's Backdoors Mandate
January 13, 2015
The United States National Security Agency (NSA) is widely believed to have mandated high-tech vendors build backdoors into their hardware and software. Reactions from foreign governments to the news are harming American businesses and, some contend, may result in the breakup of the Internet. For example, Russia is moving to paper and typewriters in some cases to move certain types of information.
Data Breach Law Tops Obama Privacy Initiatives
January 12, 2015
A proposed national data breach reporting law, aimed primarily at protecting consumer privacy, headlined several initiatives the Obama administration announced Monday. The Personal Data Notification & Protection Act clarifies the obligations of companies when there's been a data breach. It includes a requirement to notify customers within 30 days of the discovery of a breach.
Auto Insurance? Just Google It
January 12, 2015
Google reportedly is gearing up to launch a shopping and comparison site for auto insurance in the United States. The company has been operating such a site in the UK, dubbed "Google Compare," for the past two years. Although it apparently has been beset by delays, an entity called "Google Compare Auto Insurance Services Inc." now is licensed to do business in 26 states.
Google Joins Charlie Hebdo Solidarity Movement
January 09, 2015
Google has donated nearly $300,000 to help French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo make its largest print run ever, following Wednesday's massacre at the magazine's Paris office. Its normal production run numbers about 60,000 copies, but the surviving staff plan to print a million issues next week. A number of media outlets also have pledged to help keep the publication alive.
Net Neutrality Hostilities Resume
January 08, 2015
The battle over Net neutrality has been reignited, dashing the hopes of those who thought it might be settled in February, at least in part, when the United States Federal Communication Commission is expected to make its ruling on the issue. Democratic members of congress led by Sen. Patrick Leahy on Wednesday introduced the Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act of 2015.
Federal IT Reform: Just Getting Started
January 07, 2015
IT providers who market to the federal government got some holiday cheer as the U.S. Congress and the White House approved legislation to improve the way the government acquires IT equipment and services. The reforms are significant, and no doubt will facilitate the marketing of IT to federal agencies. President Obama signed the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act on Dec. 16.
Writers Worldwide Chilled by Government Surveillance
January 06, 2015
Concern over government surveillance has been so heightened by confidential information leaked by former intelligence hand Edward Snowden that writers in free countries are as worried as those in autocratic nations, according to a new report. Three-quarters of writers in countries classified as "free" told researchers they were "worried" or "somewhat worried" about surveillance.
CFPB May Rein In Payday Lending
January 05, 2015
The CFPB reportedly is considering various approaches to reforming the payday loan industry. The bureau is concerned about the short-term, high-rate debt consumers take on. States typically have been responsible for regulating payday loan company practices. If the CFPB should take action, it would be the first time federal regulations were applied to this financial niche.
Yikes! Ransomware Could Take Over Your Hard Drive
January 05, 2015
Malware is running rampant on the Internet, affecting smartphones, tablets and PCs. Relatively new malware allows bad guys to encrypt devices until a ransom is paid. Usually the ransom is required in bitcoin, rather than U.S. currency, as it cannot be traced. What are the legal and other risks associated with ransomware? Ransomware is largely directed at personal devices and small businesses.
Gmail Struggles for Air in China
December 30, 2014
China last week apparently began blocking Gmail, and the outage was still in effect on Tuesday, although to a lesser degree, according to reports. A sharp drop in traffic from China to Google services began last Friday, according to its Transparency Report, and the company could find no explanation in its own systems. China's "Great Firewall" censorship program is to blame, according to GreatFire.
Tech Sector Sees Federal IT Act as 1st Step to Significant Reform
December 26, 2014
The political spotlight in Washington was on congressional approval of the 2015 budget before legislators broke for the holidays, but a less volatile proposal also was passed in the closing days of the session -- one of considerable importance to the information technology sector. In addition to the budget, Congress approved the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, or FITARA.
Boeing Picks BlackBerry to Brace Black's Security
December 22, 2014
Boeing has enlisted BlackBerry to help bolster the security of its Black smartphone by providing "secure mobile solutions for Android devices utilizing their BES-12 platform," said Boeing spokesperson Andrew Lee. BES 12 provides cross-platform enterprise mobile management that gives organizations strict control of devices, while letting users keep personal data private.
The Untold Stories of 2014
December 22, 2014
It is time to look back at 2014, so I'll focus here on a series of stories I thought were interesting but didn't seem to catch much or any real air. Some, like what is really behind Sony's decision to pull The Interview still might take off. Hadoop analytics is one of the most powerful platforms to come to market, and one vendor stands out above all others: Cloudera.
Flat Federal IT Market Means Vendors Must Work Harder, Smarter
December 19, 2014
The U.S. government will remain a steady and significant customer for information technology providers over the next several years. That's the good news for vendors. For the foreseeable future, though, the days of ever-growing federal spending for IT are over. "the reality of shrinking federal budgets has set in," said Tomas O'Keefe, civilian senior analyst at immixGroup.

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