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Secure Sites to Get the Google Bump
August 07, 2014
Google on Wednesday announced that it has begun factoring websites' use of HTTPS into its search rankings, resulting in more favorable results for those that use the security-minded protocol. Use of the protocol still is considered just a minor factor, though, affecting fewer than 1 percent of global queries and carrying less weight than high-quality content.
Russian Cybergang Stockpiles 1.2B Unique Stolen Credentials
August 07, 2014
A Russian cybercriminal gang so far has stolen 4.5 billion credentials, of which 1.2 billion appear to be unique, Hold Security has announced. The credentials belong to more than 500 million email addresses. Two reports released Tuesday may help explain why the cybergang was so successful. About 92 percent of the 800 top consumer websites evaluated failed the OTA's 2014 Email Integrity Audit.
WiFi Insecurity: Crying Wolf or Big Bad Wolf?
August 07, 2014
Can a hacker take over a passenger jet by sneaking in through its WiFi or in-flight entertainment system? The possibility of that occurring, as suggested by cybersecurity firm IOActive, has security experts hot under the collar. Ruben Santamarta, principal security consultant at IOActive, is scheduled to present the team's findings Thursday at the Black Hat security conference.
Wikimedia Blasts Europe's 'Right to Be Forgotten'
August 06, 2014
The Wikimedia Foundation has released its first-ever transparency report -- and along with it a protest against Europe's "right to be forgotten" law. Wikimedia is the nonprofit owner of Wikipedia and other sites. "Denying people access to relevant and neutral information runs counter to the ethos and values of the Wikimedia movement," wrote Wikimedia attorneys Geoff Brigham and Michelle Paulson.
BlackBerry Ripe for Growth, Predicts CEO Chen
August 06, 2014
BlackBerry -- the "sick man of mobile" -- is poised for better times. That was the sentiment expressed by CEO John Chen in an internal memo distributed to BlackBerry employees last week. BlackBerry has completed its restructuring and the workforce reductions that started three years ago have been completed, Chen reportedly wrote in the memo. Better yet, it may soon be adding workers.
Retailers Harassed by Backoff Malware
August 05, 2014
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security last week sounded an alarm warning retailers of a family of malicious programs aimed at compromising point-of-sale systems. Attackers used such software last year in massive data breaches that nicked millions of consumer records at Target and Nieman Marcus. Variants of the Backoff family have turned up in at least three forensic investigations.
Cops Snag Child Pornography Suspect, Thanks to Gmail Scan
August 04, 2014
A routine scan of a Texas man's Gmail by Google has led to his arrest on child pornography possession and promotion charges. John Henry Skillern, 41, of Houston was arrested by police July 30 following a tip by Google to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He has been charged with one count each of child pornography possession and child pornography promotion.
Federal Judge Unswayed by Microsoft's Objections to Data Demands
August 04, 2014
Microsoft's objections to a court order requiring it to turn over a customer's emails held on a server in Ireland have been rejected. Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York last week issued an oral ruling in the case, reportedly saying the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1996 authorizes such extraterritorial collections of data.
Tor Has Been Breached - What Now?
August 01, 2014
News that two Carnegie-Mellon CERT researchers have developed an inexpensive way to breach the Tor network has the project, privacy advocates, and probably criminals who use the network equally concerned. The Tor Project posted has advised relays to upgrade to Tor 0.2.r.23e or 0.2.5.6-alpha to close the protocol vulnerability used by the researchers.
Facebook Staring at Fresh Privacy Class Action
August 01, 2014
Facebook is set for another legal battle over privacy, with a fresh class-action lawsuit fired up against the company. The legal action is the brainchild of Austrian law student Max Schrems, a noted campaigner against Facebook's treatment of user privacy. Schrems called on adult Facebook users around the world to join his suit after he filed a complaint in Vienna's commercial court.
That Innocent Little Thumb Drive Could Be Big Security Trouble
August 01, 2014
USB flash drives could be at risk of a pernicious attack on their firmware. Over the past two decades, USB devices, aka "thumb drives," have proliferated all over the world, because USB has proven to be a versatile standard. That versatility, though, also makes USB devices vulnerable to what could be a very nasty firmware attack, noted Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell of Secure Research Labs.
Russia Cites Surveillance Concerns in Apple, SAP Source Code Demands
July 31, 2014
Russia wants Apple and SAP to turn over their source code in yet another instance of fallout resulting from leaks about NSA surveillance activities. The suggestion reportedly came last week, when Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov met with executives of the two companies: Peter Nielsen, Apple's general manager in Russia; and Vyacheslav Orekhov, SAP's managing director in Russia.
Hackers Back to Their Old Tricks
July 30, 2014
Old tricks that have helped hackers penetrate computers for months or longer worked again last week at Goodwill and Stubhub. Taking a page from the gang that pillaged payment card and personal information from Target last year, hackers clipped payment card information from an undisclosed number of Goodwill Industries International customers. It's believed point-of-sale systems were compromised.
Leahy Bill Aims to Rein In Government Snooping
July 30, 2014
Government snooping on Americans would be curtailed under a bill introduced Tuesday in the U.S. Senate. The measure, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., would ban bulk collection of domestic information, limit the scope of searches by government agencies, and add transparency and reporting requirements. Further, it would reform procedures of the FISA Court.
Android's Fake ID Could Put Millions in Jeopardy
July 30, 2014
An Android vulnerability that exists in every version from v2.1 Eclair to v. 4.3 Jelly Bean could expose millions of users, Bluebox Security has warned. The flaw lets attackers fake the certificates of specially privileged parties, such as Adobe and Google Wallet, and serve them up with malware that bypasses detection by Android. Attackers then can take over every app running on an Android device.
OkCupid's Confessed Hijinks Get Thumbs-Down
July 29, 2014
OkCupid has admitted carrying out psychological experiments on its users. Because OkCupid doesn't really know what it's doing, it needs to experiment to see what works and what doesn't, according to cofounder Christian Rudder. Every Internet company needs to test different things with users, and website visitors are subjected to "hundreds of experiments," he argued. "That's how websites work."
BlackBerry Picks Secusmart to Tighten Mobile Security
July 29, 2014
BlackBerry on Tuesday announced plans to acquire Secusmart, a developer of high-security voice and data encryption and anti-eavesdropping technologies. Mobile devices increasingly are being used for more critical tasks and to store more critical information, noted CEO John Chen. "The acquisition of Secusmart underscores our focus on addressing growing security costs and threats."
Chinese Turn the Screws on Microsoft
July 28, 2014
China is ramping up its campaign against Microsoft, following its ban in May on the installation of Windows 8 on government computers. Officials of China's State Administration for Industry & Commerce reportedly have made unannounced visits to Microsoft offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu. They apparently questioned staff in at least one office.
Do Facebook Searches to Show Disability Fraud Violate the Constitution?
July 28, 2014
Looking for evidence of disability fraud, the district attorney for Manhattan last year obtained 381 search warrants and served them on Facebook as part of a long-term investigation into a massive scheme. The search warrants were "sealed," which means they were not made public. Ultimately, 106 former New York police and firefighters were arrested.
Google to Search for the Meaning of Health
July 25, 2014
Google is seeking 175 volunteers from whom it will collect bodily samples in an effort to create their biochemical fingerprints and establish the baseline for a healthy body. The Baseline study, to be run by Google X labs, will seek to connect traditional clinical observations of health, such as diet -- or habits, such as smoking -- with molecular-level changes.
Failure to Communicate Hamstrings Cyberdefenders
July 23, 2014
A failure to communicate between security pros and company brass may be contributing to the inability of a significant number of organizations to reduce the risk of cyberattacks on their systems. Thirty-one percent of the nearly 5,000 respondents surveyed for a recent study said their cybersecurity team never met with the executive team about cybersecurity.
Black Hat Tor-Busting Talk Nixed
July 22, 2014
The Tor Project is working to remedy a vulnerability in its anonymity software following the sudden cancellation of a talk at next month's Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas that would have revealed it. The planned talk would have demonstrated a way to unmask users of Tor, the privacy-minded Web browsing software. CMU researcher Alexander Volynkin was to deliver the briefing.

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