If, after the media dubbed Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (YT video, Wikipedia) as "Star Wars" (transcript) in 1983, you might quesiton his concerns triggered from another movie mere months later. But after watching WarGames, he was informed that "the problem is much worse than you think." WarGames was that accurate thanks in part to input in the script from an engineer named Willis Ware, who had concerns about network security (PDF) for decades before the movie. Reagan's fears lead to the first cybersecurity directive from any U.S. President and the first concerns about the NSA's potential role in "data base oversight" (Google books preview), as well as an attempt to regulate teenagers and teenaged technology (Gbp) that impacts US internet use to this day. And then there was the USSR computer program that nearly triggered WWIII. What a year. [more inside]
Following up on their promise last month to release the data they hacked from Ashley Madison (the online infidelity-enablement site) hackers have released a ship-load personal information on ASM users. The hackers claim it is more of an attack on the shady business practices of the corporation than the users. (Though in contrast to other hacks, it looks like ASM managed to do a better job of storing passwords semi-securely). But certainly a lot of people's private issues are now public, including 10,000 folks with government emails, and many writers are warning: "Don't be smug, this is only the beginning. And Wired has some useful advice on checking out if you or a loved one is among the hacked data: Don't.
How secure is public wi-fi? A lot less than you probably imagine.
German authorities have discovered yet another giant database of hacked passwords. The German Federal Office for Information Security says it will have a website allowing people to check if their accounts are affected up and running by Monday. Some 3 million Germans are believed affected; there is no indication that the impact is limited to Germans or Germany. A link to an ARD article on the case is here, in German.
Mat Honan of Wired has a covetableTwitter username (@mat). Recently hackers tore his digital world apart in an attempt to commandeer it. Now he reflects: The age of the password has come to an end; we just haven’t realized it yet. And no one has figured out what will take its place. What we can say for sure is this: Access to our data can no longer hinge on secrets—a string of characters, 10 strings of characters, the answers to 50 questions—that only we’re supposed to know. The Internet doesn’t do secrets. Everyone is a few clicks away from knowing everything.
Murdoch's Scandal - Lowell Bergman (the journalist portrayed by Al Pacino in The Insider) has investigated News Corporation for PBS Frontline [transcript]. He depicts Rupert Murdoch's British operation as a criminal enterprise, routinely hacking the voicemail and computers of innocent people, and using bribery and coercion to infiltrate police and government over decades. Enemies are ruthlessly "monstered" by the tabloids. Bergman also spoke to NPR's Fresh Air [transcript]. But the hits keep coming: in recent days News Corp has been accused of hacking rival pay TV services and promoting pirated receiver cards in both the UK and Australia. With the looming possibility of prosecution under America's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, how long will shareholders consider Rupert Murdoch irreplaceable? [Previous 1 2 3 4]
The Socialbot Network - A UBC study suggests that many Facebook users will friend total strangers. Researchers said they collected 250 gigabytes of information from Facebook users by using socialbots — fake Facebook profiles created and controlled by computer code (sic). The researchers said they got the approval of UBC’s behavioural research ethics board. The data they collected was encrypted and anonymized and deleted after they completed their data analysis. [more inside]
An anonymous hacking outfit called "Gnosis" has infiltrated Gawker Media, hijacking the front page and leaking the company's internal chat logs, source code, and content databases along with the usernames, email addresses, and passwords of over 1.3 million users (including Gawker staff). The attack, which was motivated by what the group describes as the "outright arrogance" with which the company's bloggers taunted anonymous imageboard 4chan (semi-previously), affects every site in the Gawker network, including Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker, Jezebel, Deadspin, Jalopnik, and io9. While most of the leaked passwords are encrypted, more than 200,000 of the simpler ones in the torrent file have been cracked, and the links between account names and email addresses are in plaintext for all to see. Since the integrity of Gawker's encryption methods remains in doubt, it is recommended that anyone who has ever registered an account on any Gawker property change their passwords immediately, especially if the same log-in information is used for other services.
Neurosecurity: security and privacy for neural devices. "An increasing number of neural implantable devices will become available in the near future due to advances in neural engineering. This discipline holds the potential to improve many patients' lives dramatically by offering improved—and in some cases entirely new—forms of rehabilitation for conditions ranging from missing limbs to degenerative cognitive diseases. The use of standard engineering practices, medical trials, and neuroethical evaluations during the design process can create systems that are safe and that follow ethical guidelines; unfortunately, none of these disciplines currently ensure that neural devices are robust against adversarial entities trying to exploit these devices to alter, block, or eavesdrop on neural signals. The authors define 'neurosecurity'—a version of computer science security principles and methods applied to neural engineering—and discuss why neurosecurity should be a critical consideration in the design of future neural devices." [Via Mind Hacks]
This is an ironic tale of the consequences of inept application of cryptographic tools. Or is it? Dan Egerstad, a Swedish hacker, gained access to hundreds of computer network accounts around the world, belonging to various embassies, corporations and other organizations. How did he do it? Very easily: by sniffing exit traffic on his Tor nodes. [more inside]