This week’s headline story: More from Edward Snowden
From his hideout in Russia, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has released more top secret government documents to the Washington Post. The latest leaked documents reveal that the U.S. intelligence community utilizes one fifth of its $52.6 billion annual budget to fund cryptography-related programs and operations. These programs make it possible for the NSA to decrypt just about any information flowing over the Internet including business and bank transactions, email and other communications.
The leaked documents also reveal that the U.S. intelligence services carried out 231 offensive cyber-operations in 2011 in what was the leading edge of a clandestine campaign to embrace the Internet as a theater of spying, sabotage and war. Under one extensive cyber-effort code-named GENIE, U.S. computer specialists broke into foreign networks and placed them under surreptitious U.S. control. The report indicates that China was among the top targets of cyber operations carried out by U.S. intelligence services.
- Leaked US spying budget reveals investments in ‘groundbreaking’ cryptanalysis [PCWorld]
- N.S.A. Able to Foil Basic Safeguards of Privacy on Web [NYTimes]
- U.S. spy agencies mounted 231 offensive cyber-operations in 2011, documents show [Washington Post]
- After Snowden revelations, China worries about cyberdefense, hackers [Washington Post]
and elsewhere in Tech News.
- It’s being heralded by some as the beginning of the next big technology wave. Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy Gear smart watch which has a 320×320 color OLED touch screen, and the ability to send and receive text messages and email, make phone calls, take pictures and run apps. Simultaneously Qualcomm, the company behind many smartphone processors, announced its own smart watch called the Toq spelled T-O-Q. The new generation of smart watches work through bluetooth connections with smartphones. Sony, Apple and Google are expected to unveil smart watches of their own in the coming months.Is Samsung’s Galaxy Gear the First Truly Smart Watch? [MIT Technology Review]
Wrists, Meet Samsung’s Galaxy Gear Smart Watch [NewsFactor]
Qualcomm Shows Off ‘Toq’ Rival to Galaxy Smart Watch [NewsFactor]
The Smart Watch Ushers in a New Day for Tech [NewsFactor]
- 100 of the country’s best college student hackers are converging on San Francisco for the University Hacker Olympics (UHO). With a reputation of being “the most epic university hackathon ever,” CS students from 35 of the country’s top engineering schools team up with professional developers from top tech companies to compete for venture capital and job opportunities.100 top computer science students flock to S.F. for hacker Olympics [Venture Beat]
- Google is in court defending its right to scan the email of gmail users in order to serve ads. The class action lawsuit filed in May says Google “unlawfully opens up, reads, and acquires the content of people’s private e-mail messages” in violation of California’s privacy laws and federal wiretapping statutes. Google lawyers are asking for the case to be thrown out saying that “all users of e-mail must necessarily expect that their e-mails will be subject to automated processing.”Google Argues for Right To Continue Scanning Gmail [NewsFactor]
and in Information Security news this week…
- Father of the Internet and chief Internet evangelist for Google, Vint Cerf, says that the Internet needs a “cyber fire department” to tackle online issues that arise so that risks found on websites or services do not spread. Cerf argues that like a fire brigade a response force would help protect those without the means to defend themselves.Internet needs ‘cyber fire department’ to protect web users, claims Vint Cerf [v3]
- Researchers at the International Computer Science Institute and UC Berkeley want teens to understand how much private information can be gleaned from their social media updates. Specifically, they hope teens will learn that the metadata accompanying a casual tweet or photo on Instagram can be used to “cybercase” a person’s home, a technique commonly employed by robbers to discover the best time to break into a home. Backed by a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, the researchers have built a privacy app called Ready or Not that shows a heat map of 30 days’ worth of geographic coordinates taken from a user’s Twitter or Instagram account. The group has also posted a website that teaches ten principles of social media privacy at teachingprivacy.icsi.berkeley.edu.
and in Tech Industry news…
- Microsoft is purchasing handset maker Nokia for $7.2 billion. The purchase highlights the struggle that the Finnish handset maker has experienced since its switch to developing Microsoft Windows smartphones. The purchase provides Microsoft with Nokia’s thick portfolio of patents, and tighter integration between software and hardware. Microsoft stock fell 4.6 percent after the news, but Nokia’s stock increased by 47%. In related news, Verizon announced it would pay Vodafone $130 billion for the 45 percent of Verizon Wireless that it didn’t already own. That makes Verizon Wireless roughly 40 times more valuable than Nokia.Microsoft Takeover of Nokia Fans Fears in Finland [NewsFactor]
The Numbers in the Microsoft-Nokia Deal Are Telling [MIT Technology Review]
- A company named Oyster is using the Netflix subscription model for ebooks. For $9.95 a month, the Oyster mobile app provides unlimited access to over 100,000 ebooks. The new service is currently only available for iPhone via invite.Oyster Takes a Crack at E-Book Subscriptions [Ecommerce Times]
- Apple is holding a press event this Tuesday to announce the iPhone 5S. Invitations for the event featured colorful polkadots hinting at a wide range of colors for the new iPhone.Colorful Invites to Apple Press Event Mean… [NewsFactor]
- Google is preparing to release a new version of its Android operating system, and this time it isn’t code naming it after a generic sweet treat like Jelly Bean, Cupcake, or Gingerbread. With this version, Google is going with a brand name sweet treat: Android 4.4 KitKat! Nestle was more than happy to partner with Google to spotlight its KitKat candybar brand.Android Team’s Munchies Lead to Genius KitKat Tie-In [Ecommerce Times]