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Seattle Lets Ride-Sharing Drivers Unionize
December 16, 2015
The Seattle City Council this week approved an ordinance that will allow drivers for Uber and Lyft to form unions, becoming the first U.S. city to pass such legislation. The City Council voted 9-0 in favor of the ordinance, which doesn't require the mayor's signature to pass. Drivers for Uber and other ride-sharing networks are classified as independent contractors, like taxi drivers.
Twitter Alerts Users to State-Sponsored Cyberattack Threat
December 15, 2015
Twitter last week began warning some of its members that they may be the target of a state-sponsored attack on their accounts. Coldhak posted to its Twitter account a copy of the warning it received. It's among a small number of accounts that state-sponsored actors may be targeting in an attempt to obtain information such as email addresses, IP addresses and phone numbers, Twitter warned.
Alibaba May Have to Handle SCMP With Kid Gloves
December 15, 2015
Alibaba Group last week announced that it has entered an agreement to buy the South China Morning Post and other media assets of SCMP Group. Alibaba, which claims to be the world's largest online and mobile commerce company, said its vision was to provide objective coverage of China to readers around the English-speaking world. The SCMP is known for its tough coverage of Beijing.
FBI Chief: High-Tech Firms Need to Rethink Encryption Stance
December 11, 2015
FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday told members of a U.S. Senate committee that high-tech companies may need to adopt a new business model regarding encryption in order to get on the same page with law enforcement. "Encryption is getting in the way of our ability to have court orders effective to gather information we need in our most important work," he told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Feinstein Revives Terrorist Activity Reporting Bill
December 10, 2015
Sen. Dianne Feinstein has reintroduced a bill that would require technology companies to alert law enforcement of certain activities that might be related to terrorist threats. It would mandate that technology companies notify authorities of communications regarding attack planning, recruitment, or distribution of information relating to explosives if they should become aware of that activity.
Federal IT Opportunities: Steady Funding, Constant Challenges
December 9, 2015
The good news for federal information technology managers -- and the vendor community -- is that government IT budgets will remain stable for the next few years in terms of projected spending. An additional potential benefit is that a recent budget agreement will support agencies for two years. The spending stability doesn't mean federal IT procurement will remain boringly routine, however.
Social Media's Troubling Terrorist Infestation
December 4, 2015
For individuals, social networking means sharing small moments and major events in life. For businesses, social media marketing can help build brands. For terrorist groups such as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, social networks increasingly are the tool of choice for delivering messages of hate and recruiting new members to their cause. ISIS has exploited Twitter to send out propaganda.
Federal Budget Promises Stable IT Spending - Unless Politics Interferes
December 3, 2015
Just when the U.S. federal budget situation seemed about to settle down -- it didn't. With tens of billions of dollars at stake, federal acquisition managers and the IT vendors who support government agencies were breathing a sigh of relief when Congress and the White House agreed to a two-year government spending program last month. Then the wheels started to come loose.
Court Lifts NSL-Imposed Gag Order on Warrantless FBI Probing
December 1, 2015
Calyx founder Nicholas Merrill -- who made history in 2004 when he sued to lift a nondisclosure order imposed by an FBI National Security Letter -- has won his 11-year battle. The ruling, handed down this summer by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, was stayed for 90 days to give the government time to file an appeal. It became public when the stay expired on Monday.
New US Asteroid Mining Law Could Violate International Space Treaty
November 30, 2015
President Obama last week signed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, which governs ownership of asteroid resources, possibly triggering a new battle in the commercial space race. Section 5103 of the Act gives U.S. companies the right to resources mined from asteroids, although it does not give them rights to the asteroids themselves.
Massive Hack Attack on Educational Toy Company Exposes Parents, Kids
November 30, 2015
Officials of several U.S. states on Monday have opened investigations into a massive data breach that occurred last month at VTech. The award-winning Hong Kong-based maker of electronic learning toys for kids on Friday announced that its Learning Lodge database was breached in a hack attack on Nov. 14. Learning Lodge offers apps, learning games, e-books, and other educational content.
BlackBerry to Pull Out of Pakistan on Privacy Grounds
November 30, 2015
BlackBerry on Monday announced that it will cease operations in Pakistan at the end of the year. The move is the result of a shutdown order from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, which in July notified the company that its BlackBerry Enterprise Service servers would no longer be allowed to operate in the country beginning in December for what it said were security concerns.
How Technology Could Prevent Another Paris-Like Attack
November 30, 2015
What I find fascinating is that with all of the focus members of the intelligence community place on violating our privacy, they still aren't able to stop attacks like the one in Paris. Currently they are complaining that it is our fault for implementing encryption that blocks their often-illegal views into citizens' personal lives. I think that even if encryption didn't exist, they still would be ineffective.
NY AG Subpoenas Yahoo in Daily Fantasy Sports Battle
November 21, 2015
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman this week sought an injunction to keep DraftKings and FanDuel from operating in the state, according to press reports. He also subpoenaed Yahoo as part of his effort to end the operation of daily fantasy sports platforms in New York, press reports said. If he's successful, it could tip the dominoes in other states.
NASA Awards Space Robot R&D Projects to MIT, Northeastern
November 20, 2015
NASA on Tuesday announced it has awarded one R5 humanoid robot each to MIT and Northeastern University to conduct research on adapting them for use in space. The universities were selected from U.S. entries in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Robotics Challenge held in June. Each team will receive up to $250,000 a year for two years. They also will get technical support from NASA.
Surveys Reveal Lax Mobile Security Among Federal Workers
November 18, 2015
The use of mobile devices provides significant benefits in convenience and workplace productivity. However, two recent reports indicate that U.S. government workers often ignore security protocols associated with mobile IT. The Office of Personnel Management hack revealed earlier this year drove an effort to address federal IT security. That effort largely has bypassed mobile device security.
FBI Paid Carnegie Mellon $1M to Crack User IDs, Claims Tor
November 17, 2015
The Tor Project last week claimed the FBI paid Carnegie Mellon University $1 million to crack the anonymity of Tor users. The claim appears to have been triggered by a report that said the FBI's arrest of an alleged member of Silk Road 2.0 was based on "information obtained by a 'university-based research institute' that operated its own computers on the anonymous network used by Silk Road 2.0."
Nadella: Microsoft to Be Stealth Operator for Cloud Security
November 17, 2015
CEO Satya Nadella on Monday made a bid to reintroduce Microsoft to professionals working in a brave new cyberworld of virtual, interconnected computing. Speaking at the Microsoft Government Cloud Forum in Washington, Nadella presented a broad new vision of a cloud- and mobile-first enterprise that promises to make personal and client security a central theme of its business.
Drone, Ferris Wheel Altercation a Worrying Sign of the Times
November 17, 2015
A drone crashed into the 175-foot-tall Seattle Great Wheel last week, triggering a police investigation. The Great Wheel is a ferris wheel near the downtown Seattle waterfront. No damage or injuries were reported in the crash. "I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often," commented Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.
Microsoft Hands Cloud Data Control to German Trustee
November 12, 2015
Microsoft announced it will offer its Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics CRM cloud services to business clients using two Germany-based data centers hosted by a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. The arrangement will protect the integrity and privacy of customer data, the company said. The data centers will be under the control of T-Systems, a unit of Deutsche Telekom, which will act as data trustee.
NIST Seeks Review of Email Safety Doc
November 11, 2015
Email systems have become so routine that consumers and workers often regard them as simply part of the furniture. However, the technology is more complex than most users appreciate -- and that complexity makes it vulnerable to cyberthreats. Increased use of email has resulted in a corresponding increase in criminal and nuisance threats, NIST said in a recent advisory on email security.
Deep Learning App Targets Malware
November 10, 2015
Here's the problem with most programs aimed at killing malicious software: They need someone to tell them something's malicious. What if, however, the programs had the smarts to identify bad code on their own? That's what a company called Deep Instinct says its security solution, launched last week, can do. The offering works its magic with a technology called "deep learning."
NSA Keeps Some Security Bugs Under Its Hat
November 10, 2015
The U.S. National Security Agency is getting a collective side-eye after posting what it characterized as proactive information: the fact that it discloses 91 percent of security vulnerabilities that pass through its internal review process. While the agency appears pleased with its newfound transparency, it's being called out en masse for the things it's not reporting.
NIST Seeks Business Partners to Boost Email Security
November 3, 2015
The controversy over the management of email systems by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been in the spotlight since March. More recently, the CIA director acknowledged that his personal email had been hacked. Both situations highlight the vulnerability of email. That's why NIST has launched an initiative to help both public and private organizations improve email security.
Using Tech to Fix the Horrid US Political Debates
November 2, 2015
I watched with interest last week's Republican debate and realized very quickly that whatever that was on my TV, it sure as hell wasn't an actual debate. The idea is for us to be able to compare the qualifications and positions of a variety of candidates and then make a more informed choice -- but if every candidate is asked a different question, then how do we compare the answers?
Europe's New Net Neutrality Law Draws Jeers
October 28, 2015
The European Parliament on Tuesday passed Net neutrality legislation to a chorus of boos from Net neutrality proponents. The European Union has found consensus on the common principles of Net neutrality -- no blocking, no throttling and no prepaid prioritization -- said Commissioner GŁnther H. Oettinger. However, the rules have three major loopholes, Net neutrality supporters said.
CISA Passes Senate Despite Privacy Advocates' Fear and Loathing
October 28, 2015
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted 74-21 to pass the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA, in the face of strong opposition from legal and cybersecurity experts, the high-tech industry, privacy and civil liberties organizations, and members of the public. The Act calls for several federal agencies to share cyberthreat indicators between the public and private sectors.
Russian Sub Activity Near Internet Cables Worries US
October 27, 2015
Russian spy ships and subs reportedly are hovering close to the routes of undersea communications cables. Military and intelligence officials apparently have observed increased Russian sub activity near cables located from the North Sea to Northeast Asia, as well as in waters close to American shores. The movements suggest Russia might decide to attack those cables in times of tension or conflict.
Google Pushes Transparency for SSL Certificates
October 27, 2015
The padlock on a browser's address bar is supposed to give Net travelers some security in insecure virtual space, but some dangerous flaws lurk behind the padlock. They can weaken the effectiveness of encrypted Internet connections and compromise TLS/SSL processes, including domain validation, end-to-end encryption, and the chains of trust certificate authorities have put in place, Google said.
OMB Prohibits 'Wasteful' PC Purchasing Practices
October 27, 2015
Consumers who purchase desktop or laptop computers are able to select various options. When it comes to paying for the device, however, each consumer has the buying leverage of exactly one. If the customer is the U.S. government, the transaction surely involves a lot of pricing leverage for bulk purchasing. Not really, says OMB, which has launched a program to change the way agencies purchase PCs.
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What is your reaction to the rumored
4-inch iPhone?
I'm in -- I'd love to have a smaller iPhone.
I prefer a larger iPhone, but it's good to have more options.
I expect innovation from Apple -- seems it's running out of ideas.
I'm not interested in an iPhone of any size.