This week’s headline story: Government Snooping is Getting Personal
Last June, President Obama assured U.S. citizens that NSA spying on online activities is focussed on terrorist suspects and does not apply to U.S. citizens. This week Edward Snowden leaked more secret documents that seem to contradict the presidents message. The documents indicate that the NSA is harvesting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world, many of them belonging to Americans. One leaked document provides an example of a typical day last year, in which the NSA’s Special Source Operations branch collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers. Those figures, described as a typical daily intake in the document, correspond to a rate of more than 250 million a year.
Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting that cities are ramping up surveillance programs that collect unprecedented amounts of data about the daily activities of people on the streets. The combination of data collected from surveillance cameras, license plate readers mounted on police cars, radiation sensors, drone aircraft, along with online data from social networks, transactions, online interactions, criminal databases, and terrorist suspect lists provide fuel for big data analytics software to provide law enforcement agencies with detailed information about the daily activities of criminals and non-criminals.
All of the personal data about average citizens being collected by national and local government agencies has privacy advocates warning that we are living in a Orweilian society where the welfare of a free and open society is at risk. Governments counter that concern saying that the collection of data is necessary in order to provide a safe and secure environment for citizens. And so the question lies in where to draw the line. Is it possible to provide security without infringing on privacy?
- NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally [Washington Post]
- NSA Collecting Millions of Contact Lists [NewsFactor]
- Privacy Fears Grow as Cities Increase Surveillance [The New York Times]
and elsewhere in Tech News.
- Facebook Changes Privacy Settings for Teens [NewsFactor]
Facebook has changed its privacy settings for teens. Facebook users between the ages of 13 and 17 have been limited to sharing information and photos only with friends and friends of friends. Now they can opt to share with the world.
and in Information Security news this week…
- Cyber warrior shortage hits anti-hacker fightback [Reuters]
Reuters is reporting that “For the governments and corporations facing increasing computer attacks, the biggest challenge is finding the right cyber warriors to fight back.” Governments and businesses are looking to dramatically increase the number of personelle tasked with protecting computer systems, but professionals with the requisite skills are lacking. If you are looking for a career where unemployment is not an issue, you should check out computer and information security.
- 80% of Smartphones Unprotected, Juniper Says [NewsFactor]
A recent Juniper Research survey revealed that 80 percent of smartphones are running without any type of malware protection. The news has triggered increased concern among security analysts who know that today’s smartphones carry more personal information than do PCs, and have become the most targeted devices by cybercriminals.
- Akamai: DDoS attacks increased since Q1 2013, Indonesia marked as biggest cyberbully [Engadget]
Indonesia has beat out China as the number one perpetrator of global cybercrime after nearly doubling its first-quarter malicious traffic from 21 percent to 38 percent. China’s malicious traffic dropped from 34 percent to 33 percent and the U.S. is a distant third with 6.9 percent.
- Hackers Take Control of Internet Appliances [NewsFactor]
As the Internet of Things grows to include increasing numbers of Internet-connected devices, hackers have been quick to take advantage of the new targets. New Internet-connected surveillance cams, web cams, baby monitors, storage drives, climate-control modules and home security systems were not necessarily created with hackers in mind. However each is assigned an IP address and is accessible online. Hackers use scripts that scour the Internet to find such vulnerable devices, take control of them, and sometime use them to launch Internet fraud schemes.
and in Tech Industry news…
- You’ve Got Money [Ecommerce Times]
Online transaction processing company square has launched a new FREE public service name Square Cash. Square Cash allows anyone to transfer funds to anyone else through the email. Simply email a friend or business with an amount in the subject line, and CC email@example.com. Square will follow up with requests for debit card numbers to complete the transaction. Square’s slogan for Square Cash: “You don’t sign up, you just send email.”
- With Windows 8.1, Microsoft Hopes To Re-Start Adoption [NewsFactor]
Windows 8.1 has been officially released bringing the treasured Start button back to Windows 8.0 users. However the Start button doesn’t work like it used to. Rather than showing a menu of folders and programs, the new Start button brings up the tile interface to open programs. Holding down the Start button brings up settings. For those who really miss the old Windows interface, 8.1 allows you to boot into the traditional desktop interface.
- Microsoft Makes Office 365 Free for Students [NewsFactor]
Through its new Student Advantage benefit, Microsoft is offering its Office 365 free to high school and college students and faculty . The program is expected to benefit as many as 110 million students upon launch. “We are thrilled to offer Student Advantage to schools across the globe so students have access to the latest, most up-to-date version of the world’s leading set of productivity tools in order to give them a competitive advantage when entering the workforce ,” said Anthony Salcito, Microsoft’s VP of worldwide education.