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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.
Technology Taxes Come at a Steep Cost, Report Finds
October 28, 2014
Slapping taxes on information and communication technologies can cost countries more money than it brings in, says a study by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. Most of the countries imposing high taxes are lower- or middle-income nations in Africa, South Asia and America. The report's release coincides with protests in Hungary over the government's plan to tax ISPs.
Robots Gearing Up to Join Ebola Front Lines
October 24, 2014
The White House and roboticists have set Nov. 7 to get together in a workshop to explore ways of using robots to help in the battle against Ebola. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will cohost the workshop on safety robotics for Ebola workers, with Texas A&M University's Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue, or CRASAR.
Divvying Up the US' Crucial Wireless Spectrum
October 23, 2014
The U.S. government is about to hold another wireless spectrum auction. Why is spectrum so important? If you owned a brand new car with brand new tires, you would still need air in those tires in order to drive, right? That's wireless spectrum. It's the air inside the tires that lets you drive. Without spectrum, you can't use mobile apps. The problem is, wireless spectrum is not unlimited.
FTC Snags Soltani for Chief Technologist Role
October 22, 2014
Privacy expert and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ashkan Soltani will be the FTC's new chief technologist, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez announced Tuesday. "Ashkan is well qualified and was an excellent choice for the agency," said Ginger McCall, an associate director with the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Soltani will succeed Latanya Sweeney in the position beginning in November.
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.
Feds Loosening Purse Strings for Cloud Deployments
October 21, 2014
Federal investment in cloud technology is picking up steam and should increase sharply in the next several years -- but that doesn't mean that government agencies suddenly have found that cloud migration will be either quick or simple. Federal cloud spending will jump from slightly more than $3 billion in fiscal 2014 to $9.9 billion in fiscal 2018, according to IDC Government Insights.
BBC to Preserve Memory of Its 'Forgotten' Articles
October 17, 2014
The BBC will publish and continually update a list of its published articles that were removed from Google searches under Europe's "right to be forgotten" rule. David Jordan, director of editorial policy and standards for the BBC, announced the move. The decision is a reaction to the EC ruling that search engines must remove "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" links upon request.
Microsoft Patch Blocks Sandworm Tunnels
October 17, 2014
iSight Partners this week revealed that a cybergang it dubbed "Sandworm" has been exploiting a zero-day vulnerability that impacts all supported versions of Microsoft Windows, including Windows Server 2008 and 2012. The announcement was held off until Microsoft issued its patch earlier this week. If exploited, the flaw will let attackers remotely execute code on target systems.
Federal Agencies Push Cloud Migration Boulder Uphill
October 15, 2014
Migration to cloud technologies is a challenging task for federal agencies -- even though they have increasingly high hopes for greater adoption of cloud platforms. Information technology managers at federal agencies are seeking to double the utilization of cloud technology for IT infrastructure, software and applications, and platform or middleware purposes.
DARPA's Concept Car Makes the Batmobile Look So Passť
October 13, 2014
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency last week posted a video of an advanced concept ground vehicle under development in its Ground X-Vehicle Technologies program. It's not clear whether the vehicle in question is a light armored car or a tank, but DARPA wants to give it improved survivability through the use of advanced technologies. The vehicle will rely more on speed than on armor.
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.
AT&T Will Fork Over $80M for Mobile Cramming
October 09, 2014
AT&T Mobility will pay $80 million for refunds to consumers who were unlawfully billed for unauthorized third-party charges in a practice known as "mobile cramming," the Federal Trade Commission announced on Wednesday. AT&T billed customers for hundreds of millions of dollars in subscription charges -- typically in increments of $9.99 per month -- levied by other companies.
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.
Feds Seek Advice on Privacy Tech Spending
October 07, 2014
Various U.S. government agencies have been conducting research on how best to meet the challenge of privacy in the digital age, with investigations of a wide range of technology issues including encryption, data tagging, sensors, healthcare records and clinical informatics. As useful as this research eventually may become, the fragmented nature of these efforts poses a problem.
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.
Major Players Bid for Slice of Federal Health Records Pie
September 30, 2014
The ambitious health information technology program now under way at the U.S. Department of Defense has garnered attention from some of the major e-commerce companies in the U.S. The DoD soon will evaluate bids for its 10-year, multibillion-dollar program to enhance its health IT capability, with an emphasis on electronic health records.
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.
The Sky Is Droning
September 26, 2014
The FAA on Thursday gave the green light for six aerial photo and video production companies to begin using unmanned aircraft systems, also known as "drones." To incorporate the devices in film and TV production, the companies will be required to hold private pilot certificates, keep their drones within line of sight at all times, and restrict flights to a so-called sterile area.
AmazonFresh, USPS Could Be Marriage Made in Heaven
September 25, 2014
Commission for approval of a two-year test that would expand its collaboration with AmazonFresh, a service that offers same-day delivery of perishable groceries and other items. The postal service said the expanded test could bring in revenue of more than $10 million a year. The USPS has been collaborating with Amazon for years. It has delivered books, movies and consumer electronics.

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