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Google's Abacus May Count Out Passwords
May 24, 2016
By the end of the year, Android devs will be able to use a trust API from Google's Project Abacus in their apps, Google ATAP Director Dan Kaufman suggested at last week's I/O conference. The API, which will run in the background continually, is aimed at doing away with passwords. It will use a smartphone's sensors to create a cumulative trust score that will authenticate users.
Hacker Hawks 2-Year-Old Cache of 117M LinkedIn User IDs
May 23, 2016
A hacker reportedly has offered to sell the account information of 117 million LinkedIn users, which was stolen in a 2012 hack. The data includes users' email addresses and passwords.The hacker, who goes by the handle "Peace," reportedly offered the data on The Real Deal -- a site on the dark web -- for 5 bitcoins -- about $2,200. LeakedSource last week announced it had more than 167 million stolen records.
Flaw Puts a Billion Wireless Mice at Risk
May 20, 2016
Wireless mice and keyboards are the perfect accessories for a world in which devices increasingly are shuffling off their connection coils, but those accessories -- especially untethered rodents -- also can create new threats for those who use them. One such threat is Mousejack. The attack exploits a vulnerability found in 80 percent of wireless mice.
Reddit Tech Forum May Ban Sites That Circumvent Ad Blockers
May 11, 2016
A forum on Reddit, /r/ Technology, on Monday announced it was considering blocking links to websites that require visitors to turn off their ad blockers before viewing content on the site. "It has come to our attention that many websites such as Forbes and Wired are now requiring users to disable ad blockers to view content," said creq, the moderator of the site. "We see this as a security risk."
Feds to Take a Hard Look at Mobile Device Patch Practices
May 11, 2016
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission on Monday announced a joint investigation into the issue of mobile device security updates. The FTC issued an order requiring Apple, BlackBerry, Google, HTC America, LG Electronics USA, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility and Samsung Electronics America to provide information about how they issue security updates.
ISIS Cyberthreat: Puny but Gaining Power
May 5, 2016
The Islamic State group's cyberwar capabilities are unsophisticated, but they won't be that way for long. That was the conclusion of a 25-page report released last week by Flashpoint. The report, "Hacking for ISIS: The Emergent Cyber Threat Landscape," found that the Islamic State's "overall capabilities are neither advanced nor do they demonstrate sophisticated targeting."
Russian 'Collector' Sells Stolen Email Credentials for a Song
May 5, 2016
A hacker dubbed "The Collector" turned over 272 million stolen email credentials in his possession, Hold Security announced Wednesday. The hacker bragged online about the stash, which included usernames and passwords, the firm said. It got a copy of the data -- which the hacker was peddling for 50 rubles, or less than US$1 -- after giving him a shout-out in the forum.
Researchers Hijack Samsung's SmartThings IoT System
May 4, 2016
Researchers at the University of Michigan on Monday announced they had uncovered a series of vulnerabilities in the Samsung SmartThings home automation system that essentially could have allowed hackers to take control of various functions and break into a user's home. The researchers, working with Microsoft, were able to perform four proof-of-concept attacks.
Law Affords More Protection to PINs Than Prints
May 3, 2016
A federal magistrate in Los Angeles ordered the girlfriend of an alleged gang member to open her phone using her fingerprint so prosecutors could look at the data on it for a case they were working on, according to a news report published last week. After Paytsar Bkhchadzhyan pleaded no contest to identity theft, a judge issued a warrant to force her to press her finger to her iPhone to open it.
Treasury Department Examines Internet's Impact on Finance System
April 25, 2016
Information technology -- especially the Internet -- can have a positive impact on the U.S. financial system. Used improperly, however, such tools can wreak havoc on the financial sector and consumers. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a unit of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, has launched an initiative on the future of e-commerce finance in light of technology innovation.
With Latest Opera Browser, Everybody Gets Free VPN
April 22, 2016
Opera on Wednesday announced that it would add a free VPN service to the latest version of its browser. VPNs, or virtual private networks, add an extra level of security for Web surfers. Companies use them to provide secure communications for employees remotely accessing office systems, and consumers use them to block unwanted snooping on their online activity.
Sports Fans and Social Media, Part 2: Perils, Pitfalls and Best Practices
April 22, 2016
This fall will see a 10-game pilot of professional football streamed on social media -- Twitter, to be specific. It's a continuation of the NFL's search for gold in the veins of digital broadcasting and an opportunity for sports brands to forge new and deeper relations with fans. For teams looking to bolster their brands, social networks have evolved into a critical channel.
EFF Sues DoJ Over Secret Data Decryption Requests
April 22, 2016
The EFF has filed suit against the Justice Department seeking to learn whether the federal government secretly ordered technology companies to decrypt the private communications of their customers. Such orders could place millions of customers in harm's way, the complaint says. The suit seeks the release of records originally requested last fall under the Freedom of Information Act.
Viber Goes the Encryption Route
April 21, 2016
Viber on Tuesday announced that it has begun rolling out end-to-end encryption across all devices for the 711 million users of its messaging app. Users have to download Viber version 6.0 or higher. The app offers stronger security in every voice or video call, message, video and photo, in both group and one-on-one messages, the company said. In addition, Viber launched Hidden Chats.
Windows Users Warned to Dump QuickTime Pronto
April 16, 2016
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Thursday issued a warning to remove Apple's QuickTime for Windows. The alert came in response to Trend Micro's report of two security flaws in the software, which will never be patched because Apple has ended support for QuickTime for Windows. Computers running QuickTime are open to increased risk of malicious attack or data loss, US-CERT warned.
Microsoft Sues DoJ Over Spying Gag Orders
April 15, 2016
Microsoft on Thursday filed suit against the U.S. Department of Justice challenging the gag orders that accompany requests to access customers' private emails and other data. The orders prevent the company from notifying affected customers about the government's demands. The case is the fourth public lawsuit it has filed against the Justice Department in three years.
Senate Committee Hears Litany of IRS Cybersecurity Failings
April 15, 2016
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service's cybersecurity measures are woefully inadequate, according to testimony presented this week to the Senate Finance Committee. The hearing was convened to look into how the IRS is safeguarding taxpayer information this filing season and to determine improvements, said Sen. Orrin Hatch. Agencies, tax preparers and Congress have failed taxpayers, Sen. Ron Wyden said.
E2E Encryption Could Make WhatsApp a Spam Magnet
April 15, 2016
Facebook's WhatsApp last week announced it would roll out end-to-end encryption for its users, but the move could make the service more attractive to spammers. While encryption can safeguard information from data thieves, it also can block data protectors. The policy "will not stop the growth of spam on the platform and could make the problem worse," AdaptiveMobile's Simeon Coney said.
Male Snubbing Ride-Sharing Service Postpones Launch
April 13, 2016
Chariot for Women, a ride-sharing service that excludes males 13 and older, reportedly has postponed its launch to sometime this summer due to heavier-than-anticipated demand. The company originally had planned to debut the service in Boston next week. Chariot for Women is open to all women, including transgender women. Children, including boys under the age of 13, also may ride.
Zuckerberg Launches Remodeled Messenger
April 12, 2016
CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday launched the company's new Messenger platform beta at its annual F8 conference. The Messenger announcement was the first major initiative in the long-term vision he presented. Zuckerberg outlined a major push to incorporate AI and bots into the Messenger platform. "Messenger is going to be the next big platform for sharing privately," he said.
CFPB Asserts Jurisdiction Over E-Commerce Privacy Regulation
April 12, 2016
Another federal agency has entered the arena for regulating e-commerce companies regarding the protection of consumer data. The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has closed its first and so far only privacy case with a consent agreement between itself and an online payments processor. The CFPB charged that Dwolla misled consumers that its information was encrypted and stored securely.
Adobe Issues Emergency Patch to Head Off Flash Ransomware Attacks
April 11, 2016
Adobe last week issued an emergency security patch to fix a vulnerability in Flash that could leave users vulnerable to a ransomware attack. The vulnerability exists in Adobe Flash Player 21.0.0.197 and earlier versions for Windows, Macintosh, Linux and Chrome operating systems. It can cause a crash and leave the computer vulnerable to attackers, the company said.
White House Takes a Pass on Encryption Debate
April 7, 2016
It appears that the Obama administration will refrain from giving its outspoken support to any legislation that aims to compel high-tech companies to help law enforcement agencies crack mobile phone encryption. On the other hand, it won't level any outspoken opposition either. Introduction of such a bill -- sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr -- is expected soon.
Vivaldi Flaunts Its Plus-Size Browser Attributes
April 7, 2016
Vivaldi on Wednesday launched the first release of its eponymously named browser. Vivaldi is the brainchild of CEO Jon von Tetzchner, a cofounder of Opera Software. Aimed at the power user, Vivaldi 1.0 packs in features that were stripped out of Opera 12. However, "Vivaldi is not about a single feature," von Tetzchner said. "Vivaldi is more about a philosophy."
Apple, FBI Tussle Puts Bull's-Eye on iPhone
April 7, 2016
The battle between the FBI and Apple over access to the iPhone of Syed Farook came to an abrupt end last week when the agency announced it no longer needed the company's assistance. Since the Department of Justice delayed a hearing on an order to force Apple to assist the FBI in brute-forcing the password, speculation has spread about how the agency planned to access the data.
WhatsApp Encryption Ups Privacy Ante
April 6, 2016
WhatsApp on Tuesday told its 1 billion users that their communications would be better protected from prying eyes with end-to-end encryption. The company always has made data and communication security a priority, according to Jan Koum and Brian Acton, the founders of WhatsApp, which Facebook bought for $19 billion in 2014. End-to-end encryption is accomplished through use of the Signal Protocol.
FBI May Help Local Law Enforcement Agencies Crack Encrypted iPhones
April 4, 2016
Weeks after backing down from its litigation demanding Apple's help to access encrypted data on the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone, the FBI appears to be taking full advantage of its newly discovered forensic prowess by offering assistance to law enforcement agencies across the country. The agency has sent out letters letting local officials know that it has gained access to the encrypted data.
ACLU Finds Widespread Use of All Writs Act to Compel Cooperation
April 1, 2016
The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday announced that it had identified dozens of criminal cases in which the government has made requests for cooperation in unlocking encrypted phones -- both of Apple and of Google. The government has used the All Writs Act to compel a phone manufacturer to hand over data to law enforcement in a total of 63 cases, the ACLU report shows.
CNBC's Password Security Lesson Fails Spectacularly
March 31, 2016
CNBC earlier this week published a piece with the goal of helping users strengthen their password security, but the attempt backfired badly. An interactive tool provided to help readers detect the strength of their passwords was to blame. Readers were asked to enter potential passwords into a field, and see how long it would take the system to crack them.
Firm Wins Patent for Novel Way to Detect Spearphishing
March 31, 2016
Hackers in recent weeks have stepped up their efforts to steal employee tax information from companies in all kinds of industries. Typically, the information contained on IRS form W-2 is used to file false tax returns or steal someone's identity. The situation has become so bad that the IRS earlier this month issued an alert to human resources and payroll professionals about the subject.
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Google just announced Home, a voice-activated speaker similar to Amazon's Echo. What do you think of these devices?
I have an Echo and I love it.
I have an Echo but rarely use it.
I plan to buy an Echo or Home.
Google's Home will be much better than Echo.
They're expensive novelties.
They're intrusive and creepy.