• CybersecurityMalware covertly turns PCs into eavesdropping devices

    Researchers have demonstrated malware that can turn computers into perpetual eavesdropping devices, even without a microphone. Using SPEAKE(a)R, malware that can covertly transform headphones into a pair of microphones, the researchers show how commonly used technology can be exploited.

  • PrivacyCan you be anonymous on the Internet? No, you cannot

    If you still think you can be anonymous on the Internet, a team of Stanford and Princeton researchers has news for you: You cannot. Researchers say most people do not realize how much information they are leaving behind as they browse the Web. Online privacy risks are not new, but the researchers say their research is “another nail in the coffin” to the idea that the average person with the average Web browser can be private online.

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  • SurveillanceWe are watching you: U.K. CCTV strategy

    There are over six million CCTV cameras in the United Kingdom – one CCTV camera for every ten citizens. This number does not include body-cam footage, unmanned aerial vehicles, or the automatic number plate recognition system. Britain has 20 percent of the world’s cameras despite being home to less than one percent of its population. In 2015, turnover for the video and CCTV surveillance sector topped £2.12 billion in the United Kingdom. The government has just released a draft national surveillance camera strategy for England and Wales.

  • SurveillanceHalf of American adults are in a little regulated police face recognition database

    Half of American adults — more than 117 million people — are in a law enforcement face recognition network, according to a report. Of the fifty-two government agencies that acknowledged using face recognition, only one obtained legislative approval for its use and only one agency provided evidence that it audited officers’ face recognition searches for misuse. Not one agency required warrants, and many agencies did not even require an officer to suspect someone of committing a crime before using face recognition to identify her.

  • SurveillanceYahoo stealthily scanned customer e-mails on behalf of U.S. intelligence agencies

    A report on Tuesday accuses Yahoo of secretly building a customized software program to search all of its customers’ incoming e-mails for specific information provided by the U.S. intelligence company. The company, complying with classified NSA and FBI directives, scanned hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts. Yahoo is the first U.S. Internet company to agree to such a blanket request.

  • Which best protects your privacy: Apps or Web sites? It depends

    To protect your privacy, should you use the app — or a Web browser? This is the question researchers ask in new research that explores how free app — and Web-based services on Android and iOS mobile devices — compare with respect to protecting users’ privacy. In particular, the researchers investigated the degree to which each platform leaks personally identifiable information. The answer? “It depends,” they say.

  • SurveillanceFeds: We can read all your e-mail, and you’ll never know

    By Clark D. Cunningham

    Fear of hackers reading private e-mails in cloud-based systems like Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, or Yahoo has recently sent regular people and public officials scrambling to delete entire accounts full of messages dating back years. What we don’t expect is our own government to hack our e-mail — but it’s happening. Federal court cases going on right now are revealing that federal officials can read all your e-mail without your knowledge. For example, in the case of U.S. v. Ravelo, pending in Newark, New Jersey, the government used a search warrant to download the entire contents of a lawyer’s personal cellphone – more than 90,000 items including text messages, e-mails, contact lists, and photos. When the phone’s owner complained to a judge, the government argued it could look at everything (except for privileged lawyer-client communications) before the court even issued a ruling. The judge in Ravelo is expected to issue a preliminary ruling on the feds’ arguments sometime in October. All Americans should be watching carefully to what happens next in these cases – the government may be already watching you without your knowledge.

  • SurveillanceSwiss approve broader surveillance powers for the government

    A majority of 65.5 percent of Swiss voters have on Sunday approved a new surveillance law, agreeing with the government’s argument that that the country’s security services needed more powers in an increasingly dangerous world. Relative to other European countries, the Swiss police and intelligence agencies have had limited investigative powers. For example, the law which was updated on Sunday had banned phone tapping and e-mail surveillance under any circumstances.

  • PrivacyFitness trackers found to have serious security flaws

    They may look like a normal watch but are capable to do much more than just showing the time: So-called fitness trackers are collecting data on their users’ lifestyle and health status on a large scale helping them with training or losing weight. Researchers have investigated fraud opportunities with fitness trackers and detected serious security flaws.

  • EncryptionFBI director calls for “adult conversation” on encryption – and the privacy-security balance

    James Comey, the FBI director, has again said that end-to-end encryption on digital devices makes it impossible for his agency to investigate crimes and acts of terrorism— and called for an “adult conversation” with the manufacturers of these devices. Widespread encryption built into smartphones was “making more and more of the room that we are charged to investigate dark,” Comey said at a cybersecurity symposium.

  • iOS vulnerabilityIsraeli tech company’s spyware turns UAE activist’s iPhone into a self-tracking device

    Two University of Toronto researchers have uncovered an iPhone-based attack on Ahmed Mansoor, a prominent United Arab Emirates human rights defender. The attack employed spyware produced by NSO Group — an Israeli technology company founded by former members of Unit 8200, the Israeli military’s electronic surveillance branch – which is sold to government for the purpose of spying on their citizens.

  • SurveillanceMany sections of Baltimore are under secret, constant aerial video surveillance by BPD

    The Baltimore Police Department has secretly deployed a surveillance system using planes and powerful cameras that can continuously record 30-square-mile sections of the city at once. The technology, which is run by a private company, was originally developed for the Defense Department for use in Iraq. It stores the video footage for an undetermined amount of time, and police can use it to retroactively track any pedestrian or vehicle within the surveillance area.

  • PrivacyAndroid apps can secretly track users’ whereabouts

    Three years ago, the FTC dimmed hopes for the Brightest Flashlight app for Android, slapping its developer with charges of consumer deception, because the app was transmitting users’ locations and device IDs to third parties without telling the users or getting their permission. Permissions, though, are only a small part of the Android-app privacy story. New research shows that Android apps can be manipulated to reach inside your mobile phone to track your whereabouts and traffic patterns, all without your knowledge or consent.

  • PrivacyProtecting privacy in genomic databases

    By Larry Hardesty

    Genome-wide association studies, which try to find correlations between particular genetic variations and disease diagnoses, are a staple of modern medical research. But because they depend on databases that contain people’s medical histories, they carry privacy risks. An attacker armed with genetic information about someone — from, say, a skin sample — could query a database for that person’s medical data. Researchers describe a new system that permits database queries for genome-wide association studies but reduces the chances of privacy compromises to almost zero.

  • PrivacyLive-streaming crime incidents a challenge U.S. privacy law

    In July, the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile went viral on social media. The aftermath of the Castile shooting was first shared via Facebook Live, which is a type of mobile streaming video technology (MSVT) that allows users to stream live video to followers, similar to Periscope and Meerkat. The two incidents focus attention on the legal rights of people to record and live stream and any potential right to be free from being recorded and streamed in public places.