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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.
Toll Fraud Can Take a Big Toll on SMBs
October 22, 2014
Toll fraud -- the hijacking of a phone system to dial out to premium numbers in distant countries at several dollars a minute -- costs companies more than $4.7 billion a year, up nearly $1 billion from 2011. Major carriers, such as the companies that make up the CFCA, have sophisticated fraud systems in place to catch hackers, and they can afford to credit customers for fraudulent charges.
Staples May Be Next to Wear Data Breach Scarlet Letter
October 21, 2014
Yet another major retailer -- this time, office supply chain Staples -- reportedly has fallen victim to a data breach. More than half a dozen banks operating on the East Coast have seen fraudulent charges made at non-Staples businesses, such as supermarkets and other big-box retailers, by people using Staples cards. Those cards apparently were used previously at three Staples stores in the area.
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.
Kickstarter Puts Kibosh on Tor-Based Router Funding
October 21, 2014
Kickstarter on Friday suspended a crowdfunding campaign for Anonabox, a portable networking device designed specifically to run Tor. The campaign for the privacy-minded router, which launched earlier last week, was wildly successful. In just a few days, it reportedly garnered more than $600,000 in pledged funds from thousands of backers. The Kickstarter goal for the $45 device was just $7,500.
Black Box Keeps Cybersnoops in Dark
October 21, 2014
Following Edward Snowden's revelations about indiscriminate government snooping on U.S. citizens, many Net surfers would like to find a way to lower their visibility on the Internet. There are a number of tools in cyberspace that can help a soul do that, but they can take time and savvy to set up. That's why Kerry Cox launched the Sierra Project, which he hopes to fund through Kickstarter.
Whisper Shouts Denials of Tracking Allegations
October 20, 2014
Whisper, an app that purports to send messages anonymously, reportedly has been tracking the location of its users, including those who have turned off their geolocation feature. Even more incendiary than the location-tracking accusation is the allegation that Whisper has identified smartphones used at military bases and has shared information gleaned from them with the Defense Department.
FOSS and the Fear Factor
October 20, 2014
In a world that's been dominated for far too long by the Systemd Inferno, Linux fans will have to be forgiven if they seize perhaps a bit too gleefully upon the scraps of cheerful news that come along on any given day. Of course, for cheerful news, there's never any better place to look than the Reglue effort, run by longtime Linux advocate and all-around-hero-for-kids Ken Starks.
FBI's Comey Argues Against Encryption: Trust Us
October 20, 2014
FBI director James Comey, in a speech last week at the Brookings Institute, reiterated his concerns about encryption built into iOS 8 and Android stymieing law enforcement. "I'm a huge believer in the rule of law, but I also believe that no one in this country should be beyond the law," he said. However, the law has not kept pace with technology, Comey pointed out.
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.
Find My iPhone? Find Me! Lost Phone Feature Helps Rescuers Locate Crashed Car
October 16, 2014
A woman whose car rolled 500 feet down an embankment near San Jose, California, was located through the Find My iPhone feature on her smartphone after spending 19 hours in the ravine where her Chevy Cruze ended up. The OnStar feature in her car triggered two calls to police, at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Monday, but neither pinpointed the location of her car.
Report: Open Source Needs to Get With the Security Program
October 15, 2014
Open source developers apparently don't adhere to best practices such as using static analysis and conducting regular security audits, found Coverity's Spotlight report, released Wednesday. The Coverity Scan service, which is available at no charge to open source projects, helped devs find and fix about 50,000 quality and security defects in code last year.
Spam Still Packs a Punch
October 15, 2014
The days of in-boxes flooded with spam messages on an assortment of sordid subjects are a faint memory to most email users, but what spam has lost in volume it's gained in power. More than two-thirds of some 200 IT decision makers in companies with five to 1,000 employees said a spam incident in the last year had severely disrupted their business operations -- or halted them entirely.
Snapchat Hackers Could Be Prosecuted for Child Porn Offenses
October 13, 2014
Private videos and pictures shared between tens of thousands of Snapchat users -- possibly as many as 200,000 -- were posted online by hackers over the weekend in an episode dubbed the "Snappening." Much of the content is sexual, including many nude photos -- some possibly of minors. The hackers appear to have gone for maximum embarrassment and humiliation with this particular breach.
Kaspersky Probes ATM Malware Mystery
October 10, 2014
Kaspersky Lab this week reported that criminals have been emptying ATMs and infecting them with malware dubbed "Tyupkin." About 50 machines have been infected in eastern Europe, and the attacks have spread to the United States, India and China, based on statistics culled from VirusTotal, Kaspersky said. The attackers target ATMs running Windows 32-bit operating systems.
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.
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.
Phishers Find Apple Most Tasty Target
October 07, 2014
"Follow the money" isn't just the war cry of journalistic bloodhounds hot on the trail of political corruption. It's the mantra of Web predators, too. That's why PayPal consistently has been the top brand targeted by phishers -- although that appears to have changed. Apple now has the dubious distinction of most-phished brand, according to the latest report from the Anti-Phishing Work Group.
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.
Being Facebook Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry
October 03, 2014
Facebook on Thursday announced it had developed a framework for conducting research on its 1.3 billion or so users. The announcement clearly is a response to the onslaught of criticism the company recently received, when it blithely reported the findings of a study about how News Feed content affected a user's mood. Facebook withheld certain posts and promoted others to see how users would react.
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.
Attorney Slams Google for Making Money Off Nude Celeb Pics
October 02, 2014
Google may be on the receiving end of a $100 million lawsuit from attorneys representing some of the celebrities whose nude photos were hacked from their iCloud accounts and subsequently posted online. Entertainment lawyer Martin Singer has sent a letter to Google's top executives and its legal staff, accusing the company of ignoring a take-down request sent to it four weeks ago.

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