• DHS S&T awards $3.66 million for privacy-enhancing technology R&D

    DHS S&T has announced the award of three contracts totaling $3.66 million to fund the research and development of privacy-enhancing technologies that better defend personally identifying information and protect privacy in cyber space.

  • Protecting against “browser fingerprint”

    Imagine that every time a person goes out in public, they leave behind a track for all to see, so that their behavior can be easily analyzed, revealing their identity. This is the case with people’s online browser “fingerprints,” which are left behind at each location they visit on their internet browser. Almost like a regular fingerprint, a person’s browser fingerprint — or “browserprint” — is often unique to the individual. Such a fingerprint can be monitored, tracked, and identified by companies and hackers.

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  • How to stay anonymous online

    Anonymity networks protect people living under repressive regimes from surveillance of their Internet use. But the recent discovery of vulnerabilities in the most popular of these networks — Tor — has prompted computer scientists to try to come up with more secure anonymity schemes. These scientists have developed a new anonymity scheme that provides strong security guarantees but uses bandwidth much more efficiently than its predecessors, making it possible for network to protect users’ anonymity if all but one of its servers are compromised.

  • Your smart watch and fitness tracker may give away your PIN

    Wearable devices — Fitbits, Jawbones, Nike+, Apple Watches, and the like — are white-hot. The tech segment is already producing an estimated $14 billion in sales worldwide, and expected to more than double within four years, climbing to north of $30 billion. But a new research report reveals those cool wearables just may leak information as you use them.

  • House committee releases encryption report, laying foundation for a national dialogue

    Terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have sparked a public debate on the use of encryption in the United States because the attackers used encrypted communications to evade detection, a phenomenon known as “going dark.” Earlier this week, the Majority Staff of the House Homeland Security Committee released a new report, titled Going Dark, Going Forward: A Primer on the Encryption Debate. The summarizes the committee’s findings, based on more than 100 meetings and briefings committee staff and members have held with key stakeholders over the past year.

  • Weak spots in Europe’s “Right to be Forgotten” data privacy law

    Under Europe’s “Right to be Forgotten” law, citizens there can petition Internet search providers such as Google to remove search results linked to personal information that is negative or defamatory. In many cases, these links lead to information about accusations of criminal activity or financial difficulties, which may be “delisted” if the information is erroneous or no longer relevant. But “gone” doesn’t always mean “forgotten,” according to a new study.

  • You are not as anonymous online as you may think

    Hiding online is harder than you would have thought. You may not be anonymous as you think you are online, reveals a new study. Your browsing behavior can indicate your personality and provide a unique digital signature which can identify you, sometimes after just 30-minutes of browsing.

  • Snowden performed “public service” but should be punished: Eric Holder

    Eric Holder, the former U.S. Attorney General, has said Edward Snowden performed a “public service” by triggering a debate over surveillance techniques. Holder added, however, that he believed Snowden should be punished for leaking classified intelligence information which threatened U.S. national security.

  • We know where you live

    Researchers have shown that the location stamps on just a handful of Twitter posts — as few as eight over the course of a single day — can be enough to disclose the addresses of the poster’s home and workplace to a relatively low-tech snooper. The tweets themselves might be otherwise innocuous — the location information comes from geographic coordinates automatically associated with the tweets.

  • Telephone metadata can reveal surprisingly sensitive personal information

    Most people might not give telephone metadata – the numbers you dial, the length of your calls – a second thought. Some government officials probably view it as similarly trivial, which is why this information can be obtained without a warrant. Researchers show, however, that telephone metadata – information about calls and text messages, such as time and length – can alone reveal a surprising amount of personal detail. The work could help inform future policies for government surveillance and consumer data privacy.

  • Snowden revelations led to “chilling effect” on pursuit of knowledge: Study

    National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden’s 2013 mass surveillance revelations caused a drop in website browsing, particularly in internet searches for terms associated with extremism, an example of the most direct evidence yet that the spying operations exposed in the leak had a “chilling effect” on the lawful pursuit of information, an impending report has found.

  • Location data on two apps enough to identify someone: Study

    Stripping a big data set of names and personal details is no guarantee of privacy. Previous research has shown that individual shoppers, Netflix subscribers, and even taxicab riders are identifiable in heaps of supposedly anonymous data. Now, a team of computer science researchers has identified new privacy concerns by demonstrating that geotagged posts on just two social media apps are enough to link accounts held by the same person.

  • Privacy advocacy groups ask NSA to halt changes to data sharing rules

    More than thirty organizations sent a letter to the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the National Security Agency, urging them to halt reported changes to the rules governing when and how the NSA can share the data it collects through overseas surveillance.

  • Apple versus FBI: All Writs Act’s age should not bar its use

    A federal magistrate judge in California has issued a warrant ordering Apple to assist the FBI in accessing data on an iPhone used by a suspect in the December 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting. Apple’s public refusal to comply with the order – and its motion asking a judge to reverse the order – have set up a legal showdown that has captivated the technology world. It’s hard not to think that marketing and economics are at least somewhat behind Apple’s actions. But my guess is most people understand that the FBI would not be getting into their phones without a probable cause search warrant. In addition, I would think Apple would not want to have a market composed of people who want to use iPhones for dangerous and illegal activity. The company might actually lose more future customers because of its uncooperative attitude than it would ever lose by helping the government by complying with a court order.

  • App warns users when they are about to give away sensitive information online

    Researchers are seeing potential in a software application which could effectively warn users when they are about to give away sensitive personal information online. The eye tracker detects where a user’s eyes are at the computer screen and records how long they gazed at that spot. The app uses these two functions to find when a user’s eyes remain on a request for sensitive personal information.