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House Passes Cybersecurity Bills Despite Privacy Fears
April 24, 2015
Two cybersecurity bills approved this week by the U.S. House of Representatives pose a threat to citizens' privacy, according to opponents of the measures. Both bills aim to improve sharing of cybersecurity information between businesses and government agencies. "'Information sharing' is a misnomer," said Gabriel Rottman, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Government Surveillance: What to Do, What to Do?
April 21, 2015
The CIA has been trying to hack into iOS for years. British and American agencies reportedly have collaborated to create a map of the Internet and Web users. The United States National Security Agency has, together with the UK's GCHQ, reportedly stolen SIM card encryption keys from Gemalto. The FBI is frothing at the mouth over Google's and Apple's encryption of their mobile OSes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Windows Caught in Path of FREAK Security Storm
March 6, 2015
Microsoft on Thursday issued a security advisory acknowledging a vulnerability in all versions of Windows that could allow FREAK exploits. Windows systems previously were thought to be immune to FREAK attacks. "The vulnerability could allow an attacker to force the downgrading of the cipher suites used in an SSL/TLS connection on a Windows client system," the advisory reads.
China's Cybersecurity Plans Draw US Fire
March 5, 2015
China should change its tune on new rules for purchases from American high-tech companies if it wants to do business with the United States, President Obama recently warned. China reportedly is planning to ask U.S. high-tech firms to hand over their encryption keys and install security backdoors in their systems to allow surveillance as a counterterrorism measure.
Twitter's New Safety Rules: Hot Diggity or Hot Air?
March 3, 2015
Twitter has announced actions to further protect users of its network -- but it left them vague. The company is rolling out unspecified improvements to its reporting process for content issues including impersonation, self-harm, and the sharing of private and confidential information, aka "doxing." It's also beginning to add new enforcement actions for use against accounts that violate its rules.
Citizenfour's Oscar Highlights National Divide Over Snowden
February 24, 2015
Citizenfour, a film documenting interviews director Laura Poitras conducted with whistle-blower Edward Snowden, won the Oscar for best documentary Sunday. The talks took place as Snowden blew the lid off the United States National Security Agency's surveillance activities. The award highlights the divisions in the U.S. over Snowden's actions and the question of national security.
Government Spies Steal SIM Card Cryptokeys
February 23, 2015
The United States' National Security Agency and British spy agency GCHQ have hacked into the internal computer network of Gemalto, the world's largest maker of SIM cards, and stolen the cards' encryption keys, according to information in files leaked by whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Gemalto makes about 2 billion SIM cards a year, and sells them to 450 major wireless network carriers worldwide.
AT&T Puts a Price on Privacy
February 23, 2015
Users who want to sign on to GigaPower by AT&T, the carrier's 1-gigabit-per-second Internet service that just become available in Kansas City, Missouri, have an interesting choice. They can pay $70 with the understanding that their online movements will be tracked for commercial purposes -- or they can pay an additional $29 a month to avoid the monitoring.
Samsung Smart TV Owners Fume Over Sneaky Pop-Up Ads
February 11, 2015
Samsung Smart TV owners, already shaken by news earlier this week that their TVs can transmit voice commands and other private data to third parties, have been hit by another revelation -- that the devices sneak ads into movies they're watching, without the owner's knowledge or consent. A user on the Plex forum complained that a Pepsi ad popped up every 10 to 15 minutes while he was watching his Samsung TV.
Concerns Emerge About Samsung Smart TVs 'Bugging' Owners
February 9, 2015
The feature in question may transmit some voice commands, along with information about the device, to a third-party service that converts speech to text, Samsung's global privacy policy warns. If voice recognition is going to be on all the time, "that seems like really poor design, and certainly represents a privacy risk," said Justin Brookman, director of the consumer privacy project at the Center for Democracy & Technology.
Anthem Mega-Breach Jeopardizes 80 Million Consumers
February 5, 2015
Hackers broke into the databases of Anthem Inc., the second-largest health insurer in the U.S., and stole up to 80 million customers' personal information. The data includes current and former customers' names, birthdays, medical IDs, social security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information, Anthem president and CEO Joseph Swedish wrote in a note sent to customers.
A Little Dab of Credit Card Data Can ID Customers
February 2, 2015
Credit card users may be dismayed by findings MIT Researchers reported last week in the journal Science: Just four pieces of vague non-identifying information were enough to identify 90 percent of people in a data set of 1.1 million credit card users. When the researchers went to work with three pieces of less vague information, they achieved 94 percent success.

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