• “Stalking software”: Surveillance made simpler

    The controversial Snap Map app enables Snapchat users to track their friends. The app makes it possible for users to monitor their friends’ movements, and determine – in real time – exactly where their posts are coming from (down to the address). Many social media users expressed their indignation, referring to the app as “stalking software.” This is the latest in a series of monitoring tools to be built on social media platforms. A new study assesses the benefits and risks associated with their use.

  • The real costs of cheap surveillance

    Surveillance used to be expensive. Even just a few years ago, tailing a person’s movements around the clock required rotating shifts of personnel devoted full-time to the task. Not any more, though. Governments can track the movements of massive numbers of people by positioning cameras to read license plates, or by setting up facial recognition systems. Private companies’ tracking of our lives has also become easy and cheap too. Advertising network systems let data brokers track nearly every page you visit on the web, and associate it with an individual profile. It is worth thinking about all of this more deeply. U.S. firms – unless they’re managed or regulated in socially beneficial ways – have both the incentive and the opportunity to use information about us in undesirable ways. We need to talk about the government’s enacting rules constraining that activity. After all, leaving those decisions to the people who make money selling our data is unlikely to result in our getting the rules we want.

  • New questions in Russia probe

    “It has become clear that the Russian intention was to attempt to enter into a collaborative or cooperative relationship with the Trump campaign in order to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign to their mutual benefit,” a former CIA official says. “To that end, the Russian government employed hacking activity to collect information and then embarked on an ambitious intelligence operation to leak that information to Trump’s advantage and to Clinton’s detriment. The question that remains, and is most important to answer, is did the Trump campaign willfully accept this assistance from the Russian government and enter into a conspiracy to benefit the campaign?” the former official said. “I would say it’s the most consequential Russian intelligence operation in my lifetime in terms of the attempted scope of their intention to penetrate our domestic politics and influence an American election. I can’t recall a precedent where they were that ambitious and that aggressive in pursuing that kind of goal. It’s hard to imagine that they would have done so with a completely unwilling partner.”

  • Petya variant hobbles European businesses

    In the wake of May’s WannaCry attack, which affected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries, a fast-moving malware malware outbreak was reported 27 June at targets in Spain, France, Ukraine, Russia, and other countries. The attack infected large banks, law firms, shipping companies, and even the Chernobyl nuclear facility in the Ukraine. The new malware is thought to be a variant of Petya, a wiper malware designed to destroy systems and data with no hope of recovery.

  • Cybercrime fighting tool moves from government to private sector

    Some Department of Energy facilities experience thousands of attempted cyberattacks every day. But the FLOWER software app, developed and patented by DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has been used by other tools and cyber analysts to detect, deter, and mitigate coordinated attacks.

  • The Russian government’s disinformation campaign failed to influence the French election. Why?

    A few days before the presidential election in France this year, Russian government hackers leaked documents purported to contain unverified information which was damaging to Emmanuel Macron’s campaign. Nonetheless, Macron won the French presidency by a wide margin over Marie Le Pen. The Russian government’s hacking and disinformation campaign had limited effect on French voters. Why? One answer: Most of the Russian government’s disinformation was consumed and distributed by alt-right Americans – and more than half of it was in English, not French.

  • “Social media triangulation” to help emergency responders

    During emergency situations like severe weather or terrorist attacks, local officials and first responders have an urgent need for accessible, reliable and real-time data. Researchers are working to address this need by introducing a new method for identifying local social media users and collecting the information they post during emergencies.

  • Why has healthcare become such a target for cyber-attackers?

    More than 16m patient records were stolen from healthcare organizations in the United States and related parties in 2016. That year, healthcare was the fifth most targeted industry when it came to cyber-attacks. And earlier this year, Britain’s National Health Service was crippled by a ransomware attack that locked up the computers holding many of its records and booking systems. As connected technology becomes even more embedded in healthcare, this cyber-threat is only likely to grow. But if we want to protect our health from cyber-attacks, we shouldn’t fear technology. Instead, we need to understand it better and realize that the threat becomes much worse when people make simple mistakes.

  • NSA funds cybersecurity project to bolster security of cloud-based computing

    A University of Arkansas at Little Rock researcher has received funding from the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to improve cybersecurity skills for students and the general population. The cybersecurity lab project, “Networking and Network Security in the Cloud (NetSiC),” will address issues related to cloud-based computing environments and help students practice networking and cyber defense skills.

  • U.K. energy firms hacked by Russian government hackers: U.K. spy agency

    A leaked U.K. government memo says that in the wake of the 8 June general election, the U.K. energy industry is “likely to have been compromised” by Russian government hackers. The report, produced by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – the British equivalent of the U.S. NSA — warns that the British intelligence service had spotted connections “from multiple U.K. IP addresses to infrastructure associated with advanced state-sponsored hostile threat actors.”

  • Cyberattack could cost $120 billion: Lloyd’s

    Insurance giant Lloyd’s of London has warned that the cost of a serious cyberattack to the global economy could reach $120 billion or more – which was the cost of damage inflicted by Hurricanes Katrina or Sandy. insurance firm says the threat posed by global cyberattacks has spiraled, and that it poses a huge risk over the next decade to business and governments everywhere. Trevor Maynard, Lloyd’s head of innovation and co-author of the report, said that where people are involved, risk changes quite rapidly — from cyberattacks to terrorism and political risk – but that from year to year, such risks vary relatively little. “But climate change in the end will be far larger as a risk,” he said, and it remains the biggest challenge in the long run.

  • Combatting cyber threats

    New initiatives from the Cybersecurity Policy & Research Institute at the University of California, Irvine will help combat one of our greatest security challenges: vulnerabilities and attacks in cyberspace. These efforts include research on cyberattack attribution and supply chain security, the development of law enforcement training, the launch of a cyber-victims defense clinic, and a curriculum development effort for high school students.

  • App ensures safe surfing on public Wi-Fi hotspots

    You always need to assume someone’s looking over your shoulder when you’re using public Wi-Fi: a hacker, or the government, or a plain old snoop. New app — SaferVPN — automatically turns on as soon as your device connects to unsecured networks, an begins to direct data through an encrypted “tunnel.”

  • Quantum computer will protect your secrets – even over the internet

    Researchers suggest you could operate a quantum computer in the cloud without revealing your data or the program you’re running. The technique could hide both your data and program from the computer itself. Their work counters earlier hints that such a feat is impossible.

  • Space quantum communication using a microsatellite demonstrated

    A big step toward building a truly-secure global communication network: the world’s smallest and lightest quantum-communication transmitter has now been developed. Researchers report they have succeeded in the demonstration of the first quantum- communication experiment from space, receiving information from the satellite in a single-photon regime in an optical ground station in Koganei city. This is a major step toward building a global long-haul and truly-secure satellite communication network.