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DEA Sued for Unconstitutional Phone Surveillance
April 10, 2015
The Electronic Frontier Foundation this week filed a complaint against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for secretly collecting data on all telephone calls to as many as 116 countries, possibly going back to the 1990s. The suit was filed on behalf of Human Rights Watch. Many of the calls were made to countries known to be heavily involved in the drug trade.
Chrome Web Store Gives Bad Extensions the Boot
April 10, 2015
Google recently purged some 200 extensions from its Chrome Store inventory. Extensions and add-ons let users add functions and features to the Chrome Web browser, but bad extensions can expose users to a greater risk of spyware and malware. A major problem with many browser add-ons is ad injectors. The clean-up resulted from increasing user complaints.
Heartbleed Threat Won't Fade Away
April 9, 2015
This week marks the first anniversary of the Heartbleed vulnerability that caused a panic across the Internet last year. While the flaw appears to have faded from the recollections of Net denizens, it still poses danger at many sites in cyberspace. Heartbleed was discovered in April 2014 in an open source library, OpenSSL, used by the SSL protocol.
FTC Upgrades IT to Protect Consumer Privacy, Data Security
April 8, 2015
The FTC, which is at the forefront of regulating the impact of information technology on consumers, is bolstering its technical resource capabilities through a new Office of Technology Research and Investigation. The FTC is concerned about the failure of commercial entities to make adequate disclosures or to properly address data breaches and privacy issues.
John Oliver Tackles Surveillance in Surprise Snowden Scoop
April 6, 2015
Comedy talk show host John Oliver boldly went where few journalists from the mainstream media have dared to tread, grilling whistle-blower Edward Snowden about his leaking of thousands of NSA documents to the press. He raked Snowden over the coals for not having read every one of the documents, insisting there's a difference between understanding what's in documents and reading them.
Obama Draws Cyber Line in Sand
April 2, 2015
President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed an executive order that gives the Secretary of Treasury the authority to impose sanctions on entities found responsible for or complicit in carrying out a cyberattack harmful to U.S. interests. The Secretary of Treasury will have to consult with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General before enacting the powers granted under the order.
Proposed Amendments to US Cybersecurity Laws Under Scrutiny
March 31, 2015
The White House in January proposed updates to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that have stirred controversy within the cybersecurity industry. "If the proposed legislation were to be enacted, it would certainly have a chilling effect on cybersecurity research," said Chris Doggett, managing director at Kaspersky Lab North America.
The Futility of the Strong Password Solution
March 31, 2015
After experiencing a data breach, most companies take a number of measures to strengthen security, including advising users to change their passwords and to make them strong. Although it stopped short of confirming anything, Amazon-owned Twitch last week notified users that its network might have been hacked and that some user account information might have been exposed.
GitHub Defenses Hold in 4-Days-and-Counting Battle
March 30, 2015
After battling a DDoS attack for four days, GitHub has restored normal service levels. The primary target of the assault is GreatFire.org, which is hosted on GitHub. GreatFire has attracted the ire of the Chinese government for offering anticensorship tools. "Very clearly, the Cyberspace Administration of China is behind both of the recent DDoS attacks," said GreatFire Co-founder Charles Smith.
Compliance Mindset Can Lead to Epic Security Fail
March 30, 2015
The recent data breach at Premera Blue Cross -- in which the personal information of some 11 million customers was compromised -- raises questions about how effective government regulators are at ensuring that healthcare providers adequately protect their patients' data. There have been abundant warnings that compliance with government regulations alone would not be adequate.
CAPTCHAs May Do More Harm Than Good
March 26, 2015
If an annoyance contest were held between passwords and CAPTCHAs, passwords would probably win, but not by much. CAPTCHA -- Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart -- was created to foil bots attempting to mass-create accounts at websites. Once created, those accounts could be exploited by online lowlifes for malicious ends, such as spewing spam.
Glass Is Still a Twinkle in Google's Eye
March 23, 2015
Google hasn't killed Glass, its controversial Internet-connected eyewear, CEO Eric Schmidt said in an interview published Monday. In fact, Google plans to bring out a new version of Glass later this year, he said. Rumors of its demise seemed to be confirmed in January, when Google abruptly stopped selling the initial version of Glass and shuttered its Explorer program.
How Secure Is the Apple Watch?
March 19, 2015
Apple typically has impeccable timing for its new product introductions, but that may not be the case with its new smartwatch. In a gala event last week, the company announced model and pricing details -- but that came just six days after questions were raised about the security of Apple Pay. Those questions haven't gone away, and now they're also being asked about the Apple Watch.
Windows Hello Waves Off Passwords
March 18, 2015
Microsoft on Tuesday announced Windows Hello, a feature that allows users to access computers and devices running Windows 10 via face recognition, iris identification or fingerprint matching. In addition, the company raised the curtain on Microsoft Passport, a programming system that IT managers, software developers and website authors can use for signing in to websites and applications.
Talking Barbie Says Hello, Parents Say Goodbye
March 18, 2015
It's not so much Hello Barbie's talking -- it's her listening that has parents up in arms. Here's how Hello Barbie works: A kid presses on the doll's belt buckle and speaks into a microphone in the doll's necklace. An AI system processes and analyzes that speech in the cloud. Responses are then streamed back to the doll, who replies to the kid -- all over a secure WiFi connection to the Internet.
New Facebook Marketing Tool Chews Up Data, Spits It Out
March 17, 2015
Facebook has launched Topic Data, a new service that reveals to advertisers the subjects users discuss, the products they use, and the activities they follow. Marketers will be able to sift through data compilations of what users say about events, brands, subjects and activities. Data on all of Facebook's 1.3 billion users will be used -- anonymized and aggregated to protect their identities.
BlackBerry, IBM, Samsung Come Together on High-Price, High-Security Tablet
March 17, 2015
BlackBerry subsidiary Secusmart on Monday introduced the SecuTablet, a high-security tablet based on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5, at the CeBIT 2015 trade show in Dusseldorf, Germany. Developed in collaboration with IBM, the tablet targets national and international public sector markets and enterprises. IBM provided the secure app wrapping technology.
Survey: Surveillance Is Fine as Long as It's Not on Me
March 16, 2015
Growing concern over privacy in cyberspace has people changing their online behavior. Nearly 90 percent of 475 adults recently surveyed said they were aware of government surveillance programs targeting Internet users, the Pew Research Center found. Large numbers of adults supported monitoring programs aimed at others -- from terrorists to political leaders -- but opposed spying on U.S. citizens.
No Need to Waste Brain Space on Yahoo Passwords
March 16, 2015
The way to permanently cure someone's headache is to cut off their head, and that appears to be the principle Yahoo has adopted with a new security policy announced Sunday. Users of Yahoo Mail no longer have to rack their brains to remember passwords, said Chris Stoner, director of product management. Instead, they can opt for on-demand passwords after signing in to their Yahoo.com account.
Lawsuit Challenges NSA Internet Dragnets
March 13, 2015
The ACLU earlier this week filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the NSA from indiscriminately snooping on U.S. Internet traffic. Using a technique called "upstream" surveillance, the NSA does a spinal tap of the Internet's U.S. backbone, which carries the communications of millions of Americans, the ACLU explained in its complaint filed with a federal district court in Maryland.
Apple's Researchkit Could Be Gold Mine for Hackers
March 13, 2015
Apple earlier this week announced ResearchKit, an open source framework that will let medical and health researchers gather data through iPhone apps. ResearchKit will be released in April. Apps to monitor asthma patients and for studies on breast cancer survivors, cardiovascular health and Parkinson's Disease, already have been developed using ResearchKit.
The CIA Has Been Hacking iOS for Years: Report
March 12, 2015
The CIA for years has been working to break iOS security, according to a report published Tuesday. The allegations are based on documents provided by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Researchers working with the CIA have presented their tactics and achievements at Trusted Computing Base Jamborees, secret annual gatherings that have been going on for nearly a decade.
Security Experts Rap Clinton's Email Practices
March 11, 2015
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in hot water over her use of a private email server to handle emails for official business. The practice was very risky cybersecurity behavior for everyone involved, critics have alleged. In taking her mail outside the State Department's systems, Clinton appears to have turned up her nose at the agency's rules.
Schumer to FAA: Straighten Up Cybersecurity and Fly Right
March 10, 2015
The United States Federal Aviation Administration should implement cybersecurity upgrades recommended by the U.S. Government Accountability Office immediately, or risk hackers taking over its computer systems, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has warned. The GAO last week released a report that found significant security control weaknesses in the FAA's computer systems.

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