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Gadget Ogling: A Creepy Echo, Clever Home Connections, Bizarre Smartphones and Flexible 3D Printing
November 15, 2014
Echo, Amazon's newest attempt at a smart personal assistant, is set to take pride of place in your home. The black tower is voice-activated and can play music, as well as provide information and news updates. It's from Amazon, so it also can update your shopping list. It's always on, so it's continually listening to you, wherever you are in a room. That's just more than a little unsettling.
Facebook Lubes PR Gears to Dampen Privacy Worries
November 14, 2014
Facebook on Thursday announced Privacy Basics, a set of interactive guides to answer the most commonly questions about how users can control their information on its site. It also aired proposed updates to its terms, data policy and cookies policy; improvements to ad targeting; and expansion of user control over ads. "This is mostly a messaging exercise," said tech analyst Rob Enderle.
Who Knew Tim Cook Would Fight for the American Way?
November 14, 2014
Ninety-one percent of Americans believe they have lost control of their personal information -- and many also don't trust companies that buy, sell, barter, and combine their habits and activities to better "serve" -- aka "manipulate" -- them, a recent Pew Research survey found. Along similar lines, they don't particularly trust governments either.
Americans Flip-Flop on Personal Data Privacy
November 13, 2014
Despite the publicity about Edward Snowden's controversial leaks, only 43 percent of 607 English-speaking adults surveyed in January had heard a lot about government surveillance efforts, and another 44 percent had heard a little, according to the Pew Research Internet Project. However, 80 percent of the respondents registered concern about government surveillance of communications.
Researchers Shine Spotlight on OS X/iOS Masque Attack
November 12, 2014
Researchers at FireEye on Monday made public the existence of the Masque Attack, which threatens iOS and Mac OS X operating systems. Masque Attack exploits a flaw in Apple's OSes that allows the replacement of one app by another so long as both apps use the same bundle identifier. All apps, except those preinstalled on iOS, such as Mobile Safari, can be replaced.
Firefox Develops a Case of Selective Amnesia
November 11, 2014
Roughly 10 years to the day after the release of Firefox 1.0, Mozilla on Monday announced an updated version of its open source browser complete with a new Forget button aimed at protecting users' privacy. Forget asks you only one question, said Firefox Vice President Johnathan Nightingale. "How much do you want to forget?" Once you supply a time frame, "it takes care of the rest."
USPS Employees, Retirees, Customers Exposed in Hack Attack
November 11, 2014
Hackers siphoned off data from United States Postal Service servers for more than eight months before being detected, the USPS said. The personal data -- including names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses, beginning and end dates of employment and emergency contact information -- of more than 800,000 employees and some retirees has been exposed.
New Tool Alerts Etailers to Suspicious Characters
November 11, 2014
As thoughtful as mobile phone makers are when they design their products, there are always punters who want something that isn't there and are willing to hack a device to get it. In the Android world such a hack is called "rooting" a phone; in the iOS world, it's called "jailbreaking." Regardless of what it's called, it can turn a phone into a can of worms for retailers.
Phishers' Attacks Pay Off Nicely: Report
November 10, 2014
The most successful phishing attacks manage to dupe their victims a full 45 percent of the time, according to a study released last week by Google. On average, phishing's success rate is about 14 percent, but even the most obvious scams still manage to lure 3 percent of the people targeted to a fake website and convince them to turn over personal information, the report found.
The Law Scores a Victory Against Dark Net Denizens
November 07, 2014
Europol on Friday announced that agents from ICE, the FBI and Eurojust have taken down more than 400 cybercrime services accessible via the Tor browser. They include the dark market Silk Road 2.0. Its operator, Blake Benthall, was arrested, along with six Britons. Europol coordinated the effort. "Almost all crime now has an international nexus," noted ICE Special Agent Gary Hartwig.
Apple-Pestering WireLurker Banished for Now
November 07, 2014
Palo Alto Networks on Wednesday reported that more than 400 apps infected with a malicious program it calls "WireLurker" have been downloaded 356,104 times by Chinese Mac owners from Maiyadi, an online app store unaffiliated with Apple. The malware does no harm to the Macs it infects but when the computer connects via USB to an iOS device -- an iPhone or iPad -- it delivers its malicious payload.
Feds Flummoxed Over Cloud Contract Management
November 07, 2014
Federal agencies may spend as much as $10 billion annually on cloud technology by 2018, as the government seeks to take advantage of the operational improvements and efficiencies it offers. However, deficiencies in contracting for cloud services could compromise the effectiveness of such investments. Furthermore, reactions to proposed remedies have revealed some tensions over contract management.
Scorecard Reveals 'Messaging App Security' Is an Oxymoron
November 06, 2014
The Electronic Frontier Foundation on Tuesday released its Secure Messaging Scorecard, which rates messaging app security. Only six of more than three dozen tools the organization audited met all seven security requirements. They are ChatSecure, CryptoCat, Signal/Redphone, Silent Phone, Silent Text and TextSecure. Apple's iMessage and FaceTime were the best of the mass-market options.
Russian Cyberspies Caught With Mittens in Cyber Cookie Jar
November 06, 2014
Russian cyberspies -- unlike their Chinese counterparts -- have a reputation for stealth, so it's unusual when two digital espionage operations linked to the Kremlin come to light in a week. FireEye early last week released a report detailing how hackers working for the Russian government have been using sophisticated techniques over a seven-year period to penetrate computer systems.
Verizon, AT&T Are Watching You
November 05, 2014
The Electronic Frontier Foundation this week renewed its protests against Verizon Wireless' and AT&T's use of supercookies that can't be deleted or disabled to track customers' mobile Web-browsing activities without their knowledge. The carriers' tracking isn't new -- Verizon has been using these supercookies for two years. However, that has not been generally known.
The Trouble With Facebook's Tor Link
November 05, 2014
Facebook recently announced that it was providing access directly over the Tor network. Its purpose was to let users access Facebook without losing the cryptographic protections provided by the Tor cloud. Facebook is providing an SSL certificate which cites its onion address. It will add onion address support for its mobile site later. The Tor link will work only in Tor-enabled browsers.
Starwood's Keyless Entry Streamlines Hotel Check-In
November 04, 2014
Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide -- which owns and manages a number of high-end hotel brands including the St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Element -- has announced the rollout of SPG Keyless, a tech offering that allows guests to use their smartphone as a room key. Hilton introduced similar technology earlier this year.
Dropbox, Microsoft Gang Up on Google
November 04, 2014
Microsoft on Tuesday announced a strategic partnership with Dropbox -- only eight days after announcing unlimited cloud storage for Office 365 subscribers in a move widely seen as a frontal attack on Dropbox and Google. The companies will integrate their services forphones, tablets and the Internet, so that users can access and collaborate on Office files either from Dropbox or Microsoft Office.
Russians Scrap Jobs Tribute Over Tim Cook's Being Gay
November 03, 2014
A group of Russian companies called the "Western European Financial Union" on Friday dismantled a 6-foot, 6-inch tribute to Steve Jobs following Apple CEO Tim Cook's announcement that he's gay. The Jobs tribute -- an interactive kiosk in the shape of an iPhone -- had graced the courtyard of the National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics in St. Petersburg.
Gallup Poll: Credit Card Hacking Could Happen to Me
November 03, 2014
Over the 4th of July weekend, 82 people were shot in Chicago -- at least 14 died from their wounds. For the year, there were 63 homicides in Oakland as of late October. Philadelphians logged 47 homicides in the first 64 days of this year, two more than were killed in New York City during the same period. Yet results of a recent Gallup poll suggest the threat of credit card theft looms largest.
Cyberattacks Could Wreak Widespread Havoc by 2025
November 03, 2014
The Pew Research Center last week released a report suggesting that cyberattacks in the next 10 years might cause major destruction of human lives and tens of billions of dollars in property damage. However, the situation might not be as overwhelming as the raw numbers indicate, said report author Janna Quitney Anderson, director of the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University.
Snail Mail Surveillance: Rules Are Weak - and Routinely Broken
October 30, 2014
The U.S. Postal Service didn't adequately follow its own rules last year, when it secretly recorded and shared information about some 49,000 pieces of mail to further criminal and national security investigations, according to an audit report from the Office of Inspector General. Information recorded under the service's longstanding mail cover program is limited to what's written on the exterior.
Apple Pay vs. CurrentC: Prelude to the Beacon Wars
October 30, 2014
The current dustup between Apple Pay and CurrentC is a stark, bleak mess. That's not because Apple promises an easier, more secure way of making a smartphone-based retail transaction. Nor is it because CurrentC wants to harvest data on you and provide behavior-bending coupons, incentives and special deals, while cutting out the middleman credit card processing industry. It gets worse.
The Long and Winding Road to Shellshock Recovery
October 29, 2014
Four days after Shellshock was disclosed, Incapsula's Web application firewall deflected more than 217,000 attempted exploits on more than 4,100 domains. The company recorded upwards of 1,970 attacks per hour, from more than 890 IPs around the world. Shellshock was expected to be far worse than the Heartbleed flaw, which was expected to impact about 17 percent of the secure Web servers worldwide.

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