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Snowden in the Running for Nobel Peace Prize
January 30, 2014
A group of Norwegian lawmakers nominated former NSA contactor Edward Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize. Saying that his bottomless pit of surveillance revelations contributes to stability and transparency, the lawmakers submitted the nomination to the Nobel Foundation. President Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, meaning Obama and his secret-leaking foil could soon have something in common.
US, British Intelligence Scoop Data From Smartphone Apps
January 28, 2014
Don't get angry, but... U.S. and British intelligence agencies have long been mining data from smartphone apps such as the wildly popular Angry Birds. The National Security Agency and its British brethren at the Government Communications Headquarters reportedly have targeted the swell of data moving to and fro on mobile apps, based on previously secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Google Buys DeepMind to Dig Deeper Into Data
January 27, 2014
News that Google is purchasing artificial intelligence company DeepMind for between $500 million and $650 million surfaced Monday. The first commercial applications of DeepMind are in simulations, e-commerce and games. "These are the areas most likely to benefit from -- and generate revenue from -- AI," aid Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.
Privacy Board Urges Shutdown of 'Illegal' NSA Data Dig
January 23, 2014
The United States National Security Agency should end its controversial bulk telephone metadata collection program, recommended the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. The board's report, issued Thursday, says Section 215 of the U.S. Patriot Act, which provides the foundation for the NSA's authority, "does not provide an adequate legal basis to support the program."
Bitcoin's Popularity Attracts Malware Writers
January 22, 2014
Most folks know the value of money, but few know the latest value of a Bitcoin, a virtual currency prone to wide price swings. Those swings haven't deterred those on the digital leading edge from speculating in the currency -- or bad app writers from plotting ways to steal it. "Bitcoins -- and indeed any digital property of any value -- will be a theft target," said Bitcoin developer Jeff Garzik.
Nest CEO Promises to Preserve Privacy
January 21, 2014
Nest CEO Tony Fadell took on one of the many lingering questions about Google's $3.2 billion acquisition of the company: What will become of its privacy policy? Any changes to Nest's privacy policy will be opt-in, and the company will be "transparent" about those changes to its users, Fadell promised. This assurance from Fadell is almost as significant as Google's acquisition of Nest.
Wife of Indian Minister Dead After Exposing Husband on Twitter
January 20, 2014
The wife of Shashi Tharoor, an Indian minister and member of parliament, was found dead in a luxury hotel in New Delhi days after exposing her husband's alleged infidelity via Twitter. The cause of death is not known, but a forensic expert reportedly dubbed it a "sudden, unnatural death." Private messages between Tharoor and a Pakistani journalist popped up on Tharoor's Twitter account Wednesday.
The Blackphone vs. the NSA
January 20, 2014
Well Linux bloggers have made it plain from the get-go that privacy is among their top concerns for 2014, and recent events have done nothing to shift that focus. President Obama's momentous speech proposing NSA reforms wasn't the only clarion call last week. We also heard from Mozilla, which appealed to security researchers to help keep Firefox source code unadulterated and backdoor-free.
Obama's NSA Reforms Draw Tepid Response
January 18, 2014
In a keenly anticipated speech, President Obama on Friday announced reforms to the NSA's surveillance activities, but his pronouncements failed to please just about everyone. "We heard nothing in his speech or proposal that will repair the damage that has been done to the tech industry and the future of the Internet," said Matt Simons, director of social justice at ThoughtWorks.
Passwords Flow Freely at Starbucks
January 16, 2014
Starbucks has admitted storing users' passwords in plain text on its mobile apps, creating security and privacy risks. Anyone with access to a customer's phone could obtain that person's user name, password and email address by connecting the device to a computer and opening a file. The clear text reportedly also displays a string of geolocation data that could put customer privacy at risk.
Pentagon Wary of New Chinese Missile Vehicle
January 16, 2014
Last week, China's military took its new "ultra-high speed missile vehicle" -- or "hypersonic glide vehicle," if you prefer -- for its first test drive, raising eyebrows among U.S. defense officials. The hypersonic aircraft, capable of maneuvering at a mindboggling 10 times the speed of sound -- that's more than 7,500 miles per hour -- is designed to deliver warheads through U.S. missile defenses.
Blackphone Aims to Keep Spooks in the Dark
January 15, 2014
Silent Circle and Geeksphone have teamed up to create the Blackphone -- a smartphone designed to truly protect users' privacy. Carrier- and vendor-independent, the Blackphone allows users to make and receive phone calls securely, as well as transfer and store files, swap secure text messages, and conduct video chats without compromising their privacy, the companies claim.
NSA's Radio Spying Could Backfire
January 15, 2014
The United States National Security Agency's surveillance efforts reportedly include radio transmissions from circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into computers. This apparently has been going on since 2008. "This is pretty cool," said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research. "You could embed a transmitter in a USB dongle or memory card or mouse plugin or USB plugin."
Facebook to Share User Data With Russian Search Engine
January 15, 2014
Facebook will start peddling user data to Yandex, Russia's top search engine, as part of a deal between the two tech giants. Yandex will get full access to public data from users in Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Yandex will use the data in question -- which includes posts and comments that have not been classified as "private" -- to enhance its search results.
Foreign Firms Flee US Cloud Services
January 13, 2014
Further proof that the NSA surveillance scandal is impacting the United States IT industry came on Friday with the publication of a study conducted for Canadian Web hosting and cloud services provider Peer1 Hosting. Fully 64 percent of the 300 UK- and Canada-based respondents to the survey hoped to move data from U.S.-based cloud service providers to their own countries within the next five years.
Google Gives Gmail More Pluses
January 10, 2014
Google on Thursday started rolling out changes designed to further integrate its Gmail and Google+ platforms. The updates make it easier for Google+ users to contact other users without knowing their email addresses. Going forward, when users with both a Gmail and a Google+ account begin typing a contact's name into an email draft, a list of Google+ contacts will appear along with other contacts.
China Gets Its First Homegrown Game Console
January 10, 2014
Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications outfit best known for its mobile phones and its propensity to spook U.S. lawmakers, announced that it has created China's first videogame console. The timing of Huawei's announcement, coming at this week's CES extravaganza in Las Vegas, is interesting: Just this week, Beijing announced that it would for the first time allow foreign-made videogame consoles.
Snapchat Manages to Cough Up Brief Apology
January 09, 2014
Snapchat on Thursday finally apologized for last month's data breach. A website dubbed "SnapchatDB.info," which went live on New Year's Eve, published the user names and phone numbers of 4.6 million Snapchat accounts. The company now allows users to opt out of the Find Friends functionality that harvested the leaked data. "We are sorry for any problems this issue may have caused you," it said.
France Finally Levies Teeny Fine Against Google
January 09, 2014
Privacy regulators in France have slapped Google with the maximum fine allowed by law, confirming both the nation's dissatisfaction with Google and Europe's need to overhaul its data-privacy penalties. France followed through on threats made in June and September to fine Google over its privacy policies, laying down a penalty of roughly $200,000 -- the max fine allowed under EU regulations.
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.

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