Items tagged with Government

Maybe someday the Chinese government will take a page from O.J. Simpson and write a book titled, "If I Did It: Confessions of a Hacker." After all, China is clinging to the innocence card just as adamantly as Simpson, never mind any evidence to the contrary. In fact, not only is the Chinese government saying it's not responsible for a massive security breach that compromised the personal information of millions of U.S. federal employees, but it claims that the accusations are the result of "absurd logic."The security breach was discovered in April, but actually began back in December of last year.... Read more...
If the state of the US government's security wasn't appalling before, it sure should be now. Earlier this month, we reported on a breach of government systems that saw the information of four million current and prior government employees get taken by a third-party -- a third-party that was highly believed to be China. Well, now it seems certain. As we learned before, that breach was discovered in April, but we now know that it began in December. That means that the attackers -- the Chinese -- had a free-for-all with this personal data for four months. According to... Read more...
At the behest of President Obama, Federal Chief Information Officer Tony Scott yesterday issued Memorandum M-15-13 calling for the provision of government service for all Federal websites via HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure).  The HTTPS standard was described by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as a "great first step", this despite it being written off as a "top-down solution" by a database administrator for NASA.  Memorandum M-15-13 explicitly states that "All browsing activity should be considered private and sensitive." It also provides guidance to... Read more...
It looks like a cyberattack that hit the White House last year by Russian hackers was a bit more serious than originally presented. The biggest takeaway is the fact that president Obama's personal emails were accessed, including both sent and received messages. That's the downside; the upside is that it appears absolutely no classified information had been accessed. This security breach does raise some major concerns, though, ones that the White House have taken extremely seriously. At the time of the attack, officials met on a nearly daily basis to keep apprised of the situation. One official... Read more...
The House has just passed two cybersecurity bills that should cause some major concern for those who believe the US government's spying efforts have already gone way too far. The House Permanent Select Committee passed the 'Protecting Cyber Networks Act', while the House Homeland Security Committee passed the 'National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act'. The two bills will be soon merged and forwarded to the Senate for advancement. The goal of both bills is to help thwart 'hackers' quicker. They could allow companies dealing with an issue to work with other companies, as well as the government,... Read more...
Here we go again. This past November, the US' Department of Justice latched onto public heartstrings by saying that encryption on mobile phones could lead to the death of children, and in January, president Obama followed-up to plainly say that encryption should under no circumstance hinder police and spy agencies. The government can say what it wants, of course, but that doesn't mean that whatever it suggests will be kosher as far as our civil liberties go. Looking beyond the fact that criminals can benefit from encryption (just as they can benefit from a slew of other things), it stands to reason... Read more...
On Sunday Facebook attempted once again to lend clarity to its Community Standards and policies as they apply to government requests. Specifically, Head of Global Policy Management Monika Bickert and Deputy General Counsel Chris Sonderby set out to provide "more detail and clarity on what is and is not allowed" on the site, citing in particular “nudity” and “hate speech” as areas in need of particular attention. In addition, Bickert and Soderby stated that circumstances may arise in which Facebook will need to remove or restrict access to content due to said content being against the law in... Read more...
An accountability board overseen by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) cleared the spy agency of any wrongdoing after investigating the search of Senate computers that were used to review the agency's alleged use of torture tactics during Bush's presidency period. That might be fine and dandy under different circumstance, but in this case, the review panel looking into the CIA's actions was put together by… the CIA. Conflict of interest, anyone? The board released a 38-page report in which it found that a handful of agency officials made a "mistake" by searching for files used by the Senate... Read more...
A couple of official social media accounts of the United States' Central Command have been breached today, with the Islamic State militant group ISIS claiming responsibility. Both the Twitter and YouTube accounts of the Central Command were accessed to change both the banner and profile picture, as well as add a couple of messages. On the Twitter account, a message was left to instill fear in American soldiers, as seen in the screen capture below. The YouTube account also had two pro-ISIS videos uploaded. Beyond that, it doesn't seem like much impact was made, outside of the fact that both social... Read more...
Governments around the world are increasingly interested in what their citizens are doing on Facebook. According to the social network's third Government Requests Report, which provides information about the number of government data and content removal requests received during the first half of 2014, combined government requests rose 24 percent since the last half of 2013. That works out to 34,946 requests for data. In addition, Facebook noted a 19 percent increase in the amount of content restricted because of local laws. Image Source: Flickr (Maria Elena) "As we’ve said before, we scrutinize... Read more...
The Edward Snowden revelations have faded a bit from public view in light of other, more recent political activities, but a new report regarding the NSA and Yahoo has people talking about it once more. Reportedly, the United States government threatened to fine Yahoo a quarter of a million dollars <i>per day</i> in 2008 "if it failed to comply with a broad demand to hand over user communications." Yahoo's stance was that doing so would violate the U.S. constitution, but that didn't stop the feds from pressuring with such staggering fines to comply with its PRISM program. Unsealed documents... Read more...
The U.S. government might not negotiate with terrorists, but it is willing to use social media as a tool to engage in conversation with jihadists and their sympathizers online. Why bother? The U.S. government hopes that it can convince potential terrorists to go in another direction. It's an ugly world the government's stepping into, but can it work? "We are actually giving al Qaeda the benefit of the doubt because we are answering their arguments," Alberto Fernandez, coordinator of the State Department's Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), tells CNN. "The way I see it... Read more...
Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt has never been one to hold back from uttering his true feelings, which is led to him making news with a recent comment regarding the ongoing NSA fallout. As the agency comes under continued fire for seemingly unchecked spying across all sorts of digital properties, Google has also been eyed as a potential culprit for being an enabler. Schmidt said: "It’s really outrageous that the National Security Agency was looking between the Google data centers, if that’s true. The steps that the organization was willing to do without good judgment to pursue... Read more...
Following an eight-year stint as the man in charge of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), Army General Keith Alexander has decided to step down effective next March or April. So will his civilian deputy, John "Chris" Inglis, who is planning to retire by the end of the year. The NSA came under heavy media and public scrutiny after former contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the agency's extensive spying campaign, which entails intercepting all forms of digital media like email and instant messages. However, the NSA claims Alexander's departure is completely unrelated. "This has nothing... Read more...
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