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Terrorist Threats May Blow Up 'The Interview's' Box Office
December 17, 2014
The now-notoriously controversial action comedy The Interview, which was expected to deliver profits of $90-$95 million for Sony, may have become a financial black hole. The movie's Thursday premiere in New York has been cancelled, and several movie theater chains have scrapped plans to screen it, following a hacker message referencing 9/11 and threatening physical attacks on theaters.
FIDO Pursues Vision of a Password-Free World
December 17, 2014
A group of some 150 companies last week moved closer to eliminating the bane of many an online user: the ubiquitous password. The FIDO Alliance, which counts among its members Microsoft, PayPal, Google, Bank of America, Visa and MasterCard, released version 1.0 of its open specifications for strong authentication on the Internet without the use of passwords.
Sony Sends News Outlets a Stern but Toothless Warning
December 16, 2014
On behalf of Sony Pictures Entertainment, high-powered attorney David Boies has sent a letter to several news outlets demanding that they refrain from publishing stories based on material hackers recently stole from the company and that they destroy the pilfered data. The letter to the news organizations claims the stolen information is "protected under U.S. and foreign legal doctrines."
Sony May Have Succumbed to DDoS Temptation
December 15, 2014
Sony reportedly has used Amazon Web Services to launch distributed denial of service attacks on sites carrying files stolen from its network. Those attacks apparently involved "hundreds of computers" in Tokyo and Singapore. Amazon reportedly issued a statement denying the claim, but the language it used was vague: "The activity being reported is not currently happening on AWS."
Berners-Lee Sounds Clarion Call for Universal Web Access
December 15, 2014
The Internet should be a basic human right, but access to it is increasingly unequal around the globe, said World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee last week. The Web has the potential to be a great equalizer, he asserted, but only "if we hard-wire the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, affordable access and Net neutrality into the rules of the game."
Iowa to Lead Digital Driver's License Movement
December 12, 2014
Iowa plans to issue digital drivers' licenses in the form of a smartphone app by next year, Paul Trombino, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation, said earlier this week at a public state agency budget hearing. The digital license will be accepted by Iowa law enforcement officers conducting traffic stops, as well as by security officers who screen travelers at Iowa's airports.
No Respite for Sony
December 12, 2014
Since the hacker group calling itself "Guardians of Peace" announced its attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment late last month, things have gone downhill for the company. After confidential documents were leaked to the Internet over several days, a denouement of sorts was reached last week, when a security company examining the stolen data discovered nearly 50,000 Social Security numbers.
FIDO Alliance Launches 'Password Killer' Spec
December 11, 2014
The Google-supported FIDO Alliance this week achieved a key milestone in its mission to end the use of passwords by releasing version 1.0 of its namesake open standard. "Today, we celebrate an achievement that will define the point at which the old world order of passwords and PINs started to wither and die," said Michael Barrett, president of the alliance. FIDO stands for "Fast IDentity Online."
Blackphone to Peddle a Few Good Apps
December 10, 2014
Blackphone plans to open an app store for privacy-focused applications to run on its secure smartphone. The store is expected to launch in January. The Blackphone runs PrivatOS, a modified version of Android 4.4.2 that comes bundled with tools that encrypt phone calls, texts, emails and Internet browsing. The app store will feature curated apps selected for their security and privacy chops.
Dashlane, LastPass Promise Easy Password Changing
December 10, 2014
Two password manager makers on Tuesday announced new features that allow their users to minimize the hassle of resetting passwords. One of the first things online users are advised to do after a data breach -- and there have been more than few of those lately -- is to change their passwords. Few users act on that advice, though, because password changing is too onerous.
NSA's Auroragold Mining Operation
December 10, 2014
The United States National Security Agency, which is known for monitoring landline, Web and cellphone communications worldwide, reportedly also targets wireless carriers. Documents released by whistle-blower Edward Snowden show the NSA has monitored more than 1,200 email accounts associated with major cellphone network operators worldwide since 2010.
No One Has Privacy Now, Thanks to Super Cookies
December 10, 2014
Does anyone really think that we have any privacy? Probably not. Between GPS tracking and our favorite app, most of us gave up on privacy long ago. Some privacy advocates claim that cell carriers have not been transparent about what personal data they have been gathering and using, although we now know that in order to use a cellular device, we must agree to give it away.
Turla Trojan Unearthed on Linux
December 09, 2014
Turla, a Trojan that has infected hundreds of 32- and 64-bit Windows computers at government institutions, embassies, military installations, educational institutions, and research and pharmaceutical companies over the years, has been found on Linux systems, Kaspersky Lab reported. The company has discovered two variants of the malware running on Linux.
Hackers Derail Sony's PlayStation Network
December 09, 2014
Still reeling from a cyberintrusion that exposed massive amounts of personnel data from its entertainment division on the Internet, Sony was attacked again over the weekend. This time, hackers disrupted the company's PlayStation Network. However, unlike the foray against Sony Pictures Entertainment, which is still under investigation, the company quickly recovered.
Sony's Cyber-Whodunit Is a Page-Turner
December 05, 2014
Who breached Sony Pictures' network and why continues to be a puzzle a week after news of the hack first emerged. Some speculate it was an inside job. A few have pointed fingers at North Korea, which returned its own one-finger salute in response. Others discount that possibility. In the meantime, the FBI has issued a warning stating destructive malware is on the loose.
Google Releases Consumers From the Scourge of CAPTCHA
December 04, 2014
Google on Wednesday announced the no-CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA, a kinder, gentler way of distinguishing human Web surfers from bots. The new system requires that users confirm their humanity by checking a box to the left of the statement "I'm not a robot." A privacy statement is displayed on the right. If checking the box doesn't work, a window containing distorted text will pop up.
Iran Raises Its Cyberfist to the World
December 04, 2014
Iran, which for decades has locked horns with the United States, is emerging as a cyberwarfare power that's threatening the world, Cylance warned in its Operation Cleaver report, released Tuesday. Cylance has been tracking one team of roughly 20 hackers called "Tarh Andishan," which means "thinkers" or "innovators" in Farsi. The group is suspected to be Iranian.
Cybersecurity Threats 2015: More Espionage, More Apple Malware
December 03, 2014
Cyberspies will flourish and hackers will target Apple devices more often in 2015. Until now, Russia, China and the United States have dominated the cyberespionage scene, but their success will start to attract new players to the practice. "We can expect some of the developing economies ... to engage in these activities to protect their growth status," said Websense's Carl Leonard.
Did North Korea Get the Last Laugh Against Sony?
December 02, 2014
Upwards of 1.2 million people reportedly have used pirate sites to download Brad Pitt's unreleased World War II drama Fury. That was one of five films hackers leaked onto the Web following an attack on Sony Pictures' network last week. Sony has called in the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. It's rumored that the hack was launched by North Korea.
Journalist-Tracking Uber Exec Gets Vague Hand Slap
December 02, 2014
Uber has disciplined a company executive accused of using an internal tool to track a journalist's whereabouts, it said. The company offered no details about the nature of that reprimand, however, or about the possibility of taking similar action against another executive who publicly suggested the possibility of targeting journalists with a smear campaign.
'Elegant' Regin Malware Linked to Brits, NSA
November 25, 2014
A sophisticated malware program called "Regin" has been used in systematic spying campaigns against a range of international targets since at least 2008, Symantec reported. Regin is a backdoor-type Trojan with a structure that displays a degree of technical competence rarely seen in malware. "It's a beautiful piece of architecture," said Scott Borg, CEO of the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit.
Wristband Heads Off Password Headaches
November 25, 2014
Has software glut got you down? Do you reuse passwords because creating unique ones for all your online accounts would cause a memory overload? If so, you may be interested in a bit of jewelry called the "Everykey," by a startup with the same name. Everykey is a wristband that removes the need to remember the countless log-in credentials we use every day.
Lollipop's Encryption Takes a Hefty Toll
November 24, 2014
The new full-disk encryption feature that's enabled by default in Android 5.0 Lollipop comes at a hefty price in terms of performance, according to a recent benchmark report. In fact, when full-disk encryption is enabled, random read performance drops by 62.9 percent, while random write performance falls by 50.5 percent, AnandTech reported late last week.
EFF Spearheads Safer Web Initiative
November 24, 2014
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has announced a nonprofit organization that will aim to secure the entire Web. Let's Encrypt, starting in summer 2015, will offer free server certificates to help websites transition from HTTP to the more secure HTTPS protocol. EFF is partnering with Akamai, Mozilla, Cisco, iDenTrust and University of Michigan researchers.

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