Items tagged with Government

The National Security Agency (NSA) has a program in place called Upstream that taps directly into the Internet backbone to search traffic. The agency has claimed in the past that the warrantless searches of email are allowed under Section 702 enacted as part of the FISA Amendments Act. The agency made changes in 2017 to stop collecting communications of U.S. persons who aren't in direct contact with a foreign intelligence target. However, a pair of House lawmakers are pushing for an amendment that would defund the massive data collection operation run by the NSA unless the government promises not to collect data on Americans. The bipartisan amendment is very short spanning just 15 lines. It would... Read more...
Facial recognition offers a wealth of uses, from allowing us to unlock our phones quicker to smartly cataloging our photos. With most cool tech, though, there's a lot of room for ill use, and that's a reality not lost on Microsoft. In its latest corporate blog post, the company starts off with a humorous analogy: "All tools can be used for good or ill. Even a broom can be used to sweep the floor or hit someone over the head." The post becomes more serious from that point on. From the get-go, Microsoft touts facial recognition for having uses that enrich our lives. Facebook and Microsoft use facial recognition to detect who's who in a picture. Facebook in particular has had the functionality for... Read more...
Could Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company, be a threat to American national security? The United States Congress recently urged Google to reconsider their partnership with Huawei. The lawmakers believe that Huawei is capable of phone-tapping and cyber-espionage. Senators Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton and Representatives Michael Conaway, Liz Cheney, and Dutch Ruppersberger wrote a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. They recommended that Google discontinue their relationship with Huawei, “...particularly since your company recently refused to renew a key research partnership, Project Maven, with the Department of Defense.” They also stated that they are “...even more disappointed... Read more...
Late last year a hack was perpetrated on what is called a "partner organization" that worked with the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD). The unnamed organization notified the ASD that it was hacked in November of 2016, and that outside parties gained access to its network. The small organization has only 50 employees and is a subcontractor to the Department of Defense, providing aerospace engineering assistance. The data that was stolen in the hack contained information that is protected under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and included details on the F-35 Lightning II fighter, P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, C-130 transport aircraft, Joint Direct Attack Munition... Read more...
WhatsApp is one of the most popular chat apps on the planet, for a handful of reasons. For one, WhatsApp makes it extremely easy to keep communications with friends and family open and ongoing even if your mobile data package is paltry (thanks to Wi-Fi), in addition, it's also been deemed one of the most secure chat apps available, a fact that's led those even with the most confidential subject matter to rely on it. But there may be a chink in WhatsApp's armor. A report recently outed a significant security flaw in WhatsApp that "could" let the company regenerate your encryption keys without your knowledge, effectively allowing it to intercept your messages before they get re-encrypted. There... Read more...
It's been proven that some tech companies have been willing to cater to the government's every need, but others -- namely Google -- remain adamant about transparency regarding shady practices. Earlier this year, we reported on Google's new feature that informs users if they've become the target of state-sponsored attackers, so as to help you better protect yourself via whatever means you have available. We can't imagine what it's like to receive a notification like this, but it can't be a great feeling. Now, we're reminded that this functionality exists, as a slew of journalists and professors have been warmed that "Government-backed attackers" have tried to steal their passwords. The full... Read more...
This past summer, we learned that even though the US government is adamant about fighting piracy, it found itself in a "Do as I say, not as I do" situation. So far, it's managed to - but given hard evidence, we can't imagine that it's likely to last for long. Starting back in 2011, the Department of Defense's US Navy worked with German company Bitmanagement to license 38 copies of its BS Contact Geo software, with the intent of giving the software a test run. Later, that installation number burst to over 100,000, and ultimately reached a staggering 558,466. The problem? The DoD didn't want to pay for those excess licenses; only the original 38. BS Contact Geo 7.2 Now we learn that the DoD... Read more...
As tension continues to build between Russia and the US over alleged cyber attacks, the US has begun contemplating issuing its own set of cyber attacks against the Kremlin. As we covered last weekend, the US government has formally accused Russia of being responsible for breaking into official servers and walking away with a trove of emails relating to the DNC. While as of last weekend, we were unaware of what counter-action the US might take, the picture this week has just become a little clearer. According to officials close to the matter, the US government is in the planning stages of deciding what kind of retaliation is suitable against Russia, while weighing the risk of potential backlash.... Read more...
As if relations between US and Russia governments weren't sensitive enough, both the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence have officially accused Russia of being responsible for breaking into official government servers and stealing more than 19,000 emails relating to the DNC this past summer. While some US government officials, including Hillary Clinton, have already made their own accusations towards the Kremlin, this is the first time the US government as a whole has directed blame specifically. It's unclear at this time whether or not this accusation will result in new sanctions between the two countries. Meanwhile, Russia is sticking to its... Read more...
We wrote earlier about the kind of success Google has been seeing with its Android bug bounty program -- success that has led the company to actually increase its rewards. Over the years, we've seen other major companies offer bug bounties as well, such as Facebook and Microsoft, so it's clear that they can provide some real value. Could that value be important enough for the US government to get in on the action? It appears that "yes", it certainly can. In a new report from the Pentagon, the groundwork is laid for future programs that target much more than some front-facing websites, which is all that was involved during the Department of Defense's test period of April 18 - May 12 of this year.... Read more...
It's no secret that law enforcement agencies and governments at large want to have access to our personal data whether we like it or not. Hot on the heels of the FBI managing to bypass security measures that should have protected the data on a terrorist's iPhone 5c, we see that the case is definitely not closed. As many had suspected, now that the floodgates are open, agencies like the FBI are not content to let this one win be the last. This week, draft legislation leaked out of the U.S. Senate that to some highlights the government's ignorance about encryption. Within the bill is an overly vague proposal that would largely outright ban strong encryption, or encryption that wouldn't... Read more...
In December, HotHardware reported that Microsoft had entered the planning stages for introducing a tweaked version of its Windows 10 operating system in China, and just three months later, the first iteration is being delivered. You have Windows 10 Pro? China has Windows 10 'Zhuangongban'. That rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it? The Chinese government has in the past made it no secret that it's skeptical of potential spying code that could run on software (or hardware) produced by American companies, which results in companies such as Microsoft having to face uphill battles anytime it wishes to release a new product in Asia's largest market. To... Read more...
Over the past couple of years, law enforcement at large has ramped up its efforts to try to gain access to communication mediums, which can include being able to browse unlocked smartphones. As it stands today, most jurisdictions do not give a member of law enforcement the ability to gain access to a smartphone without a warrant, and because a PIN code is personal information, it cannot simply be asked of someone to provide it. That hasn't halted efforts to get rid of such roadblocks, though. Even if it requires brute force, agencies like the FBI want in, especially in high stakes, high profile cases against the threat of terrorism. There has been much discussion regarding the ongoing battle... Read more...
Last week, we learned about the company teaming up with others, such as Microsoft and Yahoo, to make SMTP 'Strict Transport Security' a reality, a protocol that would make it even harder for malicious users to gain access to our email. In a new blog post, the company draws our attention to SMTP STS as well as a couple of other recent (and not so recent) ways the company has improved our security. On Safer Internet Day, which happened a month-and-a-half ago, the company introduced a new Gmail feature that highlights when email is received or being sent to a domain that doesn't offer encryption. You'll see this as a broken lock inside a compose window or... Read more...
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