Posts Tagged ‘Secrecy’

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The Winners of WSJ’s Data Transparency Weekend

April 17, 2012

magine installing a service on your cellphone that lets you see all the data – from location to address book info – transmitted by your phone. Or a simple website where you and your friends could have private chats that couldn’t be read by the most aggressive spying agencies. Or a service that lets you know how many tracking codes are on a site before you clicked on it.

Lam Thuy Vo
One of the coders at the Data Transparency Weekend models the official T-shirt from the event.

Over the weekend, more than 100 computer programmers built those tools and many more at the Wall Street Journal’s first-ever Data Transparency Weekend in New York.

The event was an outgrowth of the Journal’s extensive reporting about how companies and government’s are increasingly using technology to collect personal data. The event was designed to promote the creation of tools that let people see and control their personal data.

After a weekend of coding, nearly 20 projects were submitted for judging on Sunday. The entries were judged by Alessandro Acquisti, professor of information technology and public policy at Carnegie Mellon, Sid Stamm, Web security and privacy strategist at Mozilla and Andrew McLaughlin, former deputy chief technologist at the White House and vice president at Tumblr.

Danny Weitzner, the deputy chief technologist at the White House, handed out the certificates to the winning teams. The winners were:

Outstanding Scanning Project: TOSBack2 – a project to scan the Web to build a “living archive” of all privacy policies online.

Outstanding Education Project: PrivacyBucket – software that lets users of the Chrome Web browser view the type of demographic estimates that Web tracking companies make about them based on their Web browsing history.

Outstanding Control Project: Cryptocat – an instant messaging service that lets people engage in encrypted chats inside their Web browsers or on their phones. Extra bonus: the program lets people generate random numbers (which are needed for encryption) by shaking their phone – allowing the creators to say that their program is powered by dance moves.

Judge’s Choice Award: Site Scoper – a website that scans for tracking files and sensitive content on websites before you visit it.

“Ready for Primetime” Award: MobileScope – a service that lets people see what data is being transmitted without their knowledge by their cellphone. It also offers ad-blocking and do-not-track services for cellphones.

The judges also dreamed up their own three award categories:

The Zuckerberg/Systrom Memorial Award for Opportunistic Optimism Award: Pestagram, for its blatantly commercial mashup of hot Web technologies Instagram and Pinterest.

Best Listener Award: The Price of Free, for the fact that the project was generated by Professor Acquisti’s speech kicking off the weekend, in which he challenged participants to find ways to quantify how much people are paying with their data for free services.

And, finally, The Soup Cans and String Winner: Ostel, for its work on technology that allows people to make encrypted cellphone calls using voice-over-the-Internet technology.

Source: The Winners of WSJ’s Data Transparency Weekend

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Verizon’s ICSA Labs Division Identifies Key Security Threats Aimed at Businesses

January 28, 2012

According to the Verizon “2011 Data Breach Investigations Report,” the number of data attacks has tripled in the past five years, making the need to balance security with risk an even greater priority for businesses and consumers. With this trend in mind, Verizon’s ICSA Labs division recommends that businesses and consumers guard against the following 13 security threats in 2012:

  1. Mobile Malware Is on the Rise. Malware targeting mobile devices will continue to increase, and enterprises will wrestle with how to protect users. Obvious targets will be smartphones and tablets, with the hardest hit likely to be Android-based devices, given that operating system’s large market share and open innovation platform. All mobile platforms will experience an increase in mobile attacks.
  2. Criminals Target and Infect App Stores. Infected applications, rather than browser-based downloads, will be the main sources of attack. Because they are not policed well, unauthorized application stores will be the predominant source of mobile malware. Cybercriminals will post their infected applications here to attempt to lure trusting users into downloading rogue applications. Cybercriminals also will find ways to get their applications posted into authorized application stores. And infections can easily spread beyond the smartphone and into a corporate network, upping the ante on risk.
  3. Application Scoring Systems Will be Developed and Implemented. To reassure users, organizations will want to have their application source code reviewed by third parties. Similarly, organizations will want to be sure that the applications approved for use on workers’ devices meet a certain standard. It is anticipated that the industry will develop a scoring system that helps ensure that users only download appropriate, corporate-sanctioned applications to business devices.
  4. Emergence of Bank-Friendly Applications with Built-in Security. Mobile devices will increasingly be used to view banking information, transfer money, donate to charities and make payments for goods and services, presenting an opportunity for cybercriminals, who will find ways to circumvent protections. To help ensure the security of online banking, the banking industry is likely to begin to offer applications that have strong, built-in security layers.
  5. Hyper-connectivity Leads to Growing Identity and Privacy Challenges. In today’s business environment, more users need to legitimately access more data from more places. This requires the protection of data at every access point by using stronger credentials, deploying more secure, partner-accessible systems, and improving log management and analysis. Compounding the issue are a new age of cross-platform malicious code, aimed at sabotage, and mounting concerns about privacy. Enterprises will no longer be able to ignore this problem in 2012, and will have to make some hard choices.
  6. New Risks Accompany Move to Digitized Health Records. In the U.S., health care reform and stimulus funding will continue to accelerate the adoption of electronic health records and related technologies throughout the industry. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act calls for all medical records to be electronic by 2014, meaning that much work must be done in 2012 and 2013 to prepare.) New devices will be introduced that send sensitive information beyond the traditional boundaries of health care providers, and more and more health care providers are using mobile devices. Along with the need to secure newly implemented EHR systems, securing mobile devices and managing mobile clinical applications will continue to be an ever-increasing focus in the health care industry.
  7. Mobile and Medical Devices Will Begin to Merge. Mobile devices and health care apps will proliferate, making it easier, for example, to transform a smartphone, into a heart monitor or diabetes tester. As a result, some experts believe that industry health care groups will declare mobile devices to be medical devices in order to control and regulate them. As interoperability standards mature, more mobile devices and traditional medical devices will become nodes on an organization’s network. These devices also will share data with other devices and users and, as a result, be susceptible to the same threats and vulnerabilities that computers and other network-attached peripherals, such as printers and faxes, are susceptible to today.
  8. Smart Grid Security Standards Will Keep Evolving. In the U.S., public utility commissions, along with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, will continue to develop smart-grid standards. State PUCs will begin to agree on a standard in the coming year. The government will increasingly require utilities to demonstrate that their smart grid and advanced metering infrastructure solutions protect not only the privacy of consumers and consumer usage data but also the security of the AMI infrastructure. At some point, a single federal framework will supersede state regulations and requirements.
  9. New Concerns Will Surface About IPv6. The federal government is still struggling with the rollout of IPv6-enabled devices as organizations migrate from IPv4. This will be an ongoing concern and IPv6 specific vulnerabilities and threats will continue to cause trouble during 2012. In addition, the other two fundamental mechanisms of the Internet — Border Gateway Protocol and Domain Name System – also now offer a next-generation version. In 2012, many will start migrating to these newer versions, generating a new round of vulnerabilities and exploits.
  10. Social-Engineering Threats Resurface. More targeted spear-phishing — an e-mail-fraud attempt that targets a specific organization, seeking unauthorized access to confidential data – will be the major social-engineering threat of 2012. Efforts to educate user communities about safe computing practices, will continue to be a challenge as the user base of smart devices increases dramatically. Social networking sites will continue to implement protection for users from malware, spam and phishing, but sophisticated threats will continue to seduce users to visit a rogue Website or reveal personally identifiable information online.
  11. Security Certification Programs Will Increase in Popularity. Certifications will continue to increase, especially as the government accelerates IT mandates for its agencies in the areas of cloud and identity; and in turn, the private sector will follow suit. Internet threats will continue to affect business, government and user confidence and wreak havoc on computing devices in the office and at home. The challenge for all testing bodies will be to stay ahead of the ever-changing threat landscape and to evolve testing accordingly. Some testing bodies may suggest certifying the security of companies as a whole, not just their products or services, as a way to build trust online.
  12. ‘Big Data’ Will Get Bigger, and so Will Security Needs. ”Big data” — large data sets that can now be managed with the right tools — will be popular in 2012 as more companies derive greater value through analytics. Companies will use the data to create new business opportunities while empowering evidence-based decision making for greater success. However, companies will need to secure this data in order to achieve the gains they seek.
  13. Safeguarding Online Identities Will no Longer be Optional. With the rampant growth of online identity theft, consumers, businesses and government agencies are seeking ways to better protect their identities. These groups will look to the private sector to provide a cost-effective solution that helps to safeguard their identities and create greater online trust.

“The proliferation of Internet connectivity, mobile devices and Web applications are helping to enrich lives and advance global business opportunity in new meaningful ways,” said Roger Thompson, emerging threats researcher, ICSA Labs. “But in this new era of hyper-connectivity, which is compounded by the blurring of lines between our professional and personal lives, it’s everyone’s responsibility — whether as a business user or a consumer — to safeguard our online activities and interact with technology responsibly to protect our assets, identity and privacy.”

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Twitter lashes out at Google search changes

January 16, 2012

Google launched a social network in June, dubbed Google+, that offers many of the capabilities available on Twitter and on Facebook.

With Tuesday’s changes to Google’s search engine, photos and posts from Google+ will increasingly appear within the search results.

The changes effectively create customized search results for people who are logged in to Google. A person who searches for the term “Hawaii,” for example, might find private photos that their friends have shared on Google+ as well as public information about the islands.

Twitter’s general counsel, Alex Macgillivray, a former Google attorney, said in a Tweet on Tuesday that Google’s changes “warped” Web searches and represented a “bad day for the Internet.”

Source Twitter lashes out at Google search changes

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The Criminal Cloud Criminals are using cloud computing to share information and to superpower their hacking techniques.

October 20, 2011

The cloud opens a world of possibilities for criminal computing. Unlike the zombie computers and malware that have been the mainstay of computer crime for the past decade, cloud computing makes available a well-managed, reliable, scalable global infrastructure that is, unfortunately, almost as well suited to illicit computing needs as it is to legitimate business.

The mass of information stored in the cloud—including, most likely, your credit card and Social Security numbers—makes it an attractive target for data thieves. Not only is more data centralized, but for the security experts and law enforcement agencies trying to make the cloud safe, the very nature of the cloud makes it difficult to catch wrongdoers. Imagine a virtual Grand Central Station, where it’s easy to mix in with the crowd or catch a ride to a far-away jurisdiction beyond the law’s reach.

Most of all, the cloud puts immense computing power at the disposal of nearly anyone, criminals included. Cloud criminals have access to easy-to-use encryption technology and anonymous communication channels that make it less likely their activities will be intelligible to or intercepted by authorities. On those occasions that criminals are pursued, the ability to rapidly order up and shut down computing resources in the cloud greatly decreases the chances that there will be any clues left for forensic analysis.

Source The Criminal Cloud

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Microsoft’s latest Google-compete weapon: The Gmail man

July 29, 2011

Microsoft managed to keep its 12,000 or so attendees of its annual Microsoft Global Exchange sales conference from tweeting and blogging company secrets last week. But at least one enterprising attendee managed to grab one of those infamous sales videos that the company loves to show at these events.On July 20 during the MGX opening sessions, the Softies showed off their “Gmail Man” spoof.

View here Gmail Man
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/microsofts-latest-google-compete-weapon-the-gmail-man/10217?tag=search-results-rivers;item0

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Apple may face class action over tracking

July 17, 2011

A lawyer in South Koreas announced Thursday that he will lead a class action against Apple Inc. for violation of privacy with its iPhone “tracker” device.

All eyes are now on whether Apple will aggressively defend against the litigation, which may affect the majority of the country’s 3 million iPhone users and inflict billions of won in losses on the business giant.

Source Apple may face class action over tracking

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Digging Up Social Media’s Treasure Trove of Discovery

July 11, 2011

Facebook, and other social media sites such as MySpace and Twitter, allow users to express themselves and share information. In personal injury and employment suits, disclosure of plaintiffs’ personal information can impact the litigation dramatically. Not surprisingly, plaintiffs’ privacy rights are colliding with the broad parameters of discovery on what I call the Facebook frontier.

On May 19, Judge Charles H. Saylor of the Court of Common Pleas of Northumberland County, Pa., issued a thorough opinion analyzing the Facebook frontier. According to that opinion, the plaintiff in Zimmerman v. Weis Markets Inc. sought damages for a workplace accident that left him with a scarred leg.

Referring to earlier cases in Pennsylvania, New York, Colorado, and Canada, the court ordered the owner to provide all passwords to his Facebook and MySpace accounts and refrain from altering the information therein. The court noted that “liberal discovery is generally allowable, and the pursuit of truth as to alleged claims is a paramount ideal.”

The court also observed that regardless of privacy settings, “… Facebook and MySpace do not guarantee complete privacy,” and:

With the initiation of litigation to seek a monetary award based upon limitations or harm to one’s person, any relevant, non-privileged information about one’s life that is shared with others and can be gleaned by defendants from the internet is fair game in today’s society.

Source Digging Up Social Media’s Treasure Trove of Discovery