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NIST Risk-Assessment Framework Shapes Federal Cybersecurity Strategy
February 12, 2016
The U.S. government is under pressure to improve cybersecurity and is meeting that challenge with a commitment to enhance spending for protecting IT systems. The Obama administration projected the budget for cybersecurity spending in fiscal 2016 would be about $14 billion -- an increase of $1.4 billion from 2015. That represents strong support to safeguard operations and protect personal data.
IRS Halts Hack Attack
February 11, 2016
The Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday said it recently discovered and halted an automated bot attack on its electronic filing PIN application website. Identity thieves used malware in an attempt to generate E-file PINs for 464,000 Social Security numbers stolen from another source, the IRS said. The hackers succeeded in accessing an E-file PIN for 101,000 of those numbers.
Bill Aims to Keep States From Banning Smartphone Encryption
February 11, 2016
United States Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, last week introduced legislation to prevent states from passing laws banning the sale of smartphones with encryption capabilities. The bill aims to shut off attempts by the FBI, NSA and law enforcement agencies in the U.S. to force high-tech companies to include security or encryption backdoors.
Hacker Posts Stolen Data on FBI, Homeland Security Employees Online
February 9, 2016
The U.S. departments of Justice and Homeland Security on Monday announced they were investigating reports that a hacker broke into government computer systems and stole sensitive information about employees at the agencies. The hacker posted stolen information for about 9,000 DHS employees online Sunday and made public data on 20,000 FBI employees Monday.
New Safe Harbor Pact Offers Temporary Port in Storm
February 9, 2016
Through an eleventh-hour maneuver, the United States and the European Union last week avoided action that could have choked the movement of data between the regions and caused financial harm to U.S. companies. It may be only a temporary respite, however. The problem stems from a European Court of Justice decision in October that blew up an agreement between the regions.
Keybase Releases Encrypted File-Sharing iPhone App
February 8, 2016
Keybase last week announced the alpha release of the Keybase app for the iPhone with a cryptographically secure file mount. Users can write data in an automatically created folder in this format: /keybase/public/username. Files written in the folder are signed automatically and appear as plain text files. The folder prevents server-side and man-in-the-middle attacks, Keybase said.
Report: 100 Ways to Improve Federal Cybersecurity
February 8, 2016
The U.S. government was shaken last year when the Office of Personnel Management disclosed that employment records affecting 21.5 million people had been breached. The Obama administration initiated several comprehensive actions designed to shore up federal data protection. A parallel initiative revealed that federal agencies still have a long way to go to strengthen cybersecurity performance.
Rugged Turing Phone to Run on Sailfish OS, Not Android
February 4, 2016
Turing Robotic Industries this week announced that it has uninstalled Google's Android mobile platform in favor of Jolla's Sailfish OS in its yet-to-appear secure smartphone. The Turing Phone, molded from a single unit of the Liquidmorphium liquid-metal alloy, is designed to be more durable to absorb shocks and prevent screen breakage. Preorder pricing starts at $610.
Europe, US Cut 11th Hour Safe Harbor Deal
February 3, 2016
Europe and the United States on Tuesday announced a new Safe Harbor agreement that neutralizes the threat of enforcement actions against domestic companies handling overseas data. The EU-US Privacy Shield aims to protect the privacy of data belonging to European citizens when it's handled by U.S. companies. It "will protect the fundamental rights of Europeans," said EU Commissioner Vera Jourová.
Harvard Researchers Debunk Warnings of Terrorists 'Going Dark'
February 2, 2016
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University on Monday released a report that questions the so-called "going dark" phenomenon. The U.S. government and surveillance and law enforcement agencies have been calling for an end to encryption because they say it lets terrorists communicate with impunity and is responsible for the inability of law enforcement to monitor communications.
Microsoft's Project Natick: Data Centers Better Down Where It's Wetter?
February 1, 2016
Microsoft on Monday unveiled Project Natick, a research initiative aimed at developing underwater data centers that could be built near coastal cities. The project is still in its infancy, but Microsoft built one test facility last year. It was deployed 30 feet underwater off the California coast in August and was tested through December, when it was returned to the Microsoft campus.
Oracle Pulls Plug on Java Browser Plug-In
January 30, 2016
Oracle earlier this week announced its decision to scrap its Java browser plug-in. The plug-in, a frequent target of hackers, won't be included in the next version of JDK 9, which is expected to ship in September. Oracle's action was motivated by browser makers' withdrawal of support for the plug-in. Developers of applications that depend on it need to consider alternatives, the company said.
FDA Guidelines Target IoT Medical Device Security
January 28, 2016
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week took a step toward addressing the threat the Internet of Things poses to patients and their data by releasing some proposed guidelines for managing cybersecurity in medical devices. "Networked medical devices, like other networked computer systems, incorporate software that may be vulnerable to cybersecurity threats," the FDA says in its proposal.
Suggestion Glitch Crashes Safari Browser
January 27, 2016
Apple's Safari browser has been crashing on Macs and iOS devices when users launch a search through its address bar, according to reports on Wednesday. OS X and iOS users worldwide have been affected, according to The Verge, which confirmed the problem on several iOS devices and at least one OS X machine. One of the first mentions of the glitch was a tweet by app developer Phillip Caudell.
Panel: Time Is Running Out to Address Killer Robot Threat
January 25, 2016
The rise of autonomous war machines is outpacing policies and technological countermeasures, weapons and robotics experts warned last week at the World Economic Forum. Autonomous weaponry potentially is a $20 billion industry that has taken root in 40 countries, said BAE Systems Chairman Roger Carr. He was one of four panelists at the session titled "What If: Robots Go to War?"
California Bill Would Ban Encrypted Smartphone Sales
January 25, 2016
California State Assemblyman Jim Cooper last week introduced a bill seeking to ban the sale of smartphones that include unbreakable encryption. It would require smartphones made on or after Jan. 1, 2017, and sold in California to be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by manufacturers or OS providers. Knowingly failing to comply would subject a seller or lessor to a fine of $2,500 per device.
Snap-Happy Trojan Targets Linux Servers
January 22, 2016
Security researchers at Dr.Web on Tuesday revealed details of the Trojan Linux.Ekoms.1, which takes screen shots and records audio to acquire sensitive and personal information, mostly from Linux servers. Malware for Linux is becoming more diverse and includes spyware programs, ransomware and Trojans designed to carry out distributed denial-of-service attacks, according to Dr.Web.
Chrome Browser to Blaze With Brotli
January 21, 2016
Google Chrome users will get faster Web access soon through the Brotli open source compression algorithm, which has been rolled out to the M49 release of Chrome. That's in Canary -- which is designed for devs -- so it's not clear when Brotli will surface in the browser. It gives 20 to 26 percent higher compression ratios over its Zopfli algorithm and provides faster page loads, the company said.
GM Bug Program Gets Mixed Notices
January 21, 2016
Two white-hat hackers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, made headlines last year when they demonstrated how they could hijack the control systems of a moving motor vehicle over the Internet. The move got the attention of the auto industry, and last week General Motors put in place a program to encourage more digital dabblers to alert the company when they find bugs in GM vehicles.
Digital Ad Fraud Could Top $7 Billion in 2016
January 20, 2016
Bot fraud will cost digital advertisers $7.2 billion worldwide this year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Association of National Advertisers. For the "2015 Bot Baseline" report, 49 ANA members deployed detection tags from White Ops on their digital ads to measure bot fraud over 61 days. Bot fraud impacted up to 37 percent of ads, compared to up to 22 percent in a study in 2014.
Ukraine Mounts Investigation of Kiev Airport Cyberattack
January 20, 2016
Ukrainian officials earlier this week said they had launched a probe into the source of a cyberattack that targeted a Kiev Airport. The attack may be related to the BlackEnergy malware attacks that recently targeted Ukrainian infrastructure facilities, apparently from Russia. CERT-UA on Monday warned system administrators to be on the alert for the presence of BlackEnergy malware.
FTC Issues Regulatory Warning on Big Data Use
January 20, 2016
The Federal Trade Commission is extending its regulatory reach to the e-commerce impact of big data. For years, the FTC has asserted vigorously its authority to apply existing consumer protection laws to emerging developments in the IT realm. Now it is signaling that it will apply that same vigor to big data under the regulatory authority it possesses through the FTC Act and other laws.
Cook Slams Door on Backdoor Discussions
January 19, 2016
Privacy advocates from around the globe have taken heart from reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook pushed hard against the Obama administration's efforts to reach a compromise on encryption during a recent Silicon Valley meeting. Cook reportedly lashed out at administration officials who were calling for a way to grant law enforcement officials limited, backdoor access to computer systems.
Phishing Attack Could Net LastPass Credentials
January 19, 2016
LastPass has boosted security for its users after a security researcher alerted the company of a phishing attack he devised to steal users' login and two-factor authentication credentials. Sean Cassidy, CTO of Praesidio, demonstrated the phishing attack, which he calls "LostPass," last week at ShmooCon. "We think this is a very serious problem," said Praesidio CEO Edgardo Nazario.
OpenSSH Flaw Could Leak Crypto Keys
January 15, 2016
Qualys on Thursday reported a flaw in the OpenSSH client that could let a hacker steal the client's private crypto keys. The bug is the result of an undocumented feature called "roaming" that exists in version 5.4 and above. It's one of two vulnerabilities that a malicious SSH server or a trusted but compromised server can exploit, Qualys said. The other is a heap-based buffer overflow.
Privacy as a Service Advocates Promise Better Data Protection
January 14, 2016
There's been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth about the Sisyphean task of protecting privacy in the Digital Age, but that hasn't stopped innovators from searching for ways to preserve it. One of the latest ideas to emerge in the field is Privacy as a Service. As with many emerging technologies, the definition of "PaaS" (not to be confused with Platform as a Service) is in flux.
Black Duck Intros Container Scanning
January 13, 2016
Black Duck Software on Tuesday announced it has added to its Hub software container-scanning capabilities that let users map open source security flaws for applications, Linux distros, and other software in Docker and other Linux containers. Adding a containerized scanner to a Docker host enables automatic identification of known open source vulnerabilities in all layers of containers on the host.
Administration, Silicon Valley Bigs Meet to Strategize on ISIS
January 13, 2016
Obama administration officials last week met with senior executives from several leading Silicon Valley firms in a summit on how to combat the proliferation of terrorist communications on social media networks. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, and John Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security, represented the DoJ.
US Army Marches to the Cloud
January 13, 2016
The U.S. Army may be in the walking phase of its plan to shift major portions of its information technology resources to the cloud, but a recent contracting initiative could move the service up to a jogging pace by the end of the year. The Army's progress in migrating much of its IT capabilities to the cloud was characterized as a crawl during 2015.
Microsoft Puts Legacy IE Browsers Out to Pasture
January 12, 2016
Microsoft has ended technical support for the older versions of its legacy Internet Explorer browser, placing at risk millions of users who -- despite extensive warnings -- have not upgraded to the latest version of Internet Explorer or the free install of Windows 10. The support expiration means that customers using IE 8, 9 and 10 no longer will receive technical support and security updates.
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