Articles about Security

Electronic Frontier Foundation finds Skype, WhatsApp and more are disappointingly insecure

Electronic Frontier Foundation finds Skype, Whatsapp and more are disappointingly insecure

Secure communication is something we all crave online, particularly after Edward Snowden's NSA revelations increased public interest in privacy and security. With dozens of messaging tools to choose from, many claiming to be ultra-secure, it can be difficult to know which one to choose and which one to trust. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published its Secure Messaging Scorecard which rates a number of apps and services according to the level of security they offer.

It's a fairly exhaustive list that includes numerous well-known names, as well as several more niche products. What is concerning, however, is that many of the most popular tools -- WhatsApp, Yahoo Messenger, Skype, SnapChat, and Facebook chat -- received very low ratings for failing to protect users and their communication data.

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Samsung reveals Find My Mobile is safe, far too long after vulnerability goes public

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Samsung's Find My Mobile device-tracking service was revealed last month to be vulnerable to a denial of service attack, which would allow hackers to lock and wipe enrolled handsets. The media quickly jumped on this, with some pundits suggesting that users should stop using Find My Mobile as soon as possible, due to the apparent risks involved.

Samsung today finally decided to chime in, telling its customers that they actually have nothing to worry about. The vulnerability in question, Samsung says, was fixed more than a week before it went public, resulting in no user data being compromised. Well, it sure took Samsung a long time to come forward with this information, seeing as news about it started to surface a week ago.

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GCHQ's uncomfortable truth about the web: 'privacy has never been an absolute right'

GCHQ's uncomfortable truth about the web: 'privacy has never been an absolute right'

The head of GCHQ, the UK's equivalent of the NSA, says that the Edward Snowden leaks have helped terrorist organizations such as ISIS who have taken to the web to spread propaganda. Writing in the Financial Times, Robert Hannigan points out that ISIS is the first terrorist group whose members have grown up on the internet. He says that the group has made use of "messaging and social media services such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, and a language their peers understand" and that the security tools that have popped up post-Snowden makes the work of GCHQ in tracking communication much harder.

This might not come as a surprise, but something else that Hannigan says is likely to raise eyebrows. His assertion that "privacy has never been an absolute right" goes against the grain of what many web users believe, but he suggests that the challenges facing governments and intelligence agencies in fighting back against terrorists can "only be met with greater co-operation from technology companies".

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Keep your keys in your pocket -- only you should be driving your data

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Generally speaking, an enterprise data security company and a National Security Agency leaker might make for strange bedfellows. Yet, some of the controversial Edward Snowden’s comments at the New Yorker Festival have us nodding our heads -- with reservations, of course.

In his video interview, Snowden warned about the vulnerability of some popular storage and collaboration tools, calling them "dangerous services" that are "hostile to privacy". Indeed, we too find it troubling that a vendor or government agency can access (and distribute) personal or corporate information, without the consent of the data owner.

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Malware on the rise, with Trojans by far the biggest threat

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Not worried about malware? Provided you take sensible precautions when on the web, and have decent anti-malware installed, your chances of getting infected are relatively low, but the threat still persists and isn’t to be underestimated.

According to PandaLabs, a total of 20 million new strains were created worldwide in the third quarter of 2014, which works out to 227,747 new samples being identified every day.

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How health history is more valuable to hackers than your credit card information

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A recent article stated that medical records could be sold for up to 20 times more than credit card information on the black market. There are various factors as to why consumers’ medical information has become so valuable. This article considers those factors as well as some precautions medical providers can take to better protect themselves against malicious threats.

The first thing that needs to be addressed is why hackers prefer to buy and sell medical records versus credit card information.

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Revealed: the secret guide to encryption, hacking, and surveillance for governments

Revealed: the secret guide to encryption, hacking, and surveillance for governments

There is now great interest in the level of governmental interference that takes place into online activity. Edward Snowden told the world about what the NSA was up to and there are now numerous websites dealing with the revelation that he made. One such site is The Intercept, and it has just published the secret manuals that are supplied to governments who want to use a suite of specialist tools to monitor web users' activities.

Sub-titled "the hacking suite for governmental interception", RCS 9 (or Remote Control System) is a suite of tools from Hacking Team. The Italian security and surveillance company is responsible for providing hacking and monitoring guides and software to a list of countries including Colombia, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia. RCS itself is "a solution designed to evade encryption" -- the sort of encryption put in place by Google.

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Facebook opens up to Tor users with new secure .onion address

Facebook opens up to Tor users with new secure .onion address

For those who are concerned about their privacy post-Snowden, there are various ways to boost online privacy such as using the anonymizing Tor browser. Browsing the internet anonymously is something that scares the authorities -- there were reports just a couple of months ago that Comcast was threatening to cut off customers who chose to use Tor -- but now Facebook has opened up to the idea.

The social network -- often criticized for its own privacy policies -- has lifted its bans on using Tor, and has created a secure URL (https://facebookcorewwwi.onion/). This can be used to visit Facebook using any Tor-enabled browser and adds a few extra layers of protection for those looking to stay secure. While the idea of anonymity on Facebook may seem oxymoronic, there is a degree of logic.

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Next-gen firewalls need to evolve to avoid becoming irrelevant

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When Gartner coined the phrase "next generation firewall", in 2003, it captured a then-nascent approach to traffic classification and control. Combining traditional packet filtering with some application control and IPS layered on top, today's 'legacy' NGFWs do pretty much what they say on the tin.

However, while NGFWs continue to be a vital part of an organization’s protection, they were designed for a time before advanced targeted threats started attacking our enterprises -- threats which often go undetected until it's too late.

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Getting the basics of network security right

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With every new breach, network security hits the news, yet many people and companies still don’t get the basics right.

UK-based wireless network specialist Exigent Networks has produced an infographic that looks at the importance of network security and offers tips and expert advice.

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What's your password backup plan?

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After news broke earlier this month that hackers had gotten their hands on nearly 7 million Dropbox login credentials, the familiar media chorus of password safety tips soon followed. You likely saw the headlines: "How to Change Your Dropbox Password". "It’s Time to Enable Two-Step Authentication on Everything". "Never Ever Reuse Your Passwords".

It’s not that good password hygiene isn’t important. Enabling two-factor authentication, not using the same passwords for multiple sites, changing passwords every couple of months -- these are all aspects of a smart and savvy approach to protecting the files and data that you store online. But they’re not foolproof. As hackers grow increasingly sophisticated, even users following all the "rules" may see their login credentials compromised as part of an attack. Additionally, for companies whose employees use consumer-facing platforms, enforcing password safety rules can sometimes be a challenge. Whether it’s a result of hacker expertise or human error, when passwords fail, companies must make sure they have a backup plan in place.

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How multimodal biometrics improves border control security

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The use of biometrics by border control agencies worldwide is now commonplace. Many countries around the world are deploying or have already deployed biometric border security systems for accurate and fast identification of citizens and foreign travelers.

Border security biometric systems include national database deployments in entrance and exit systems, immigration, and e-passports, to track and manage the flow of humans across borders. More sophisticated technologies like multimodal biometrics identification are now considered more reliable to improve border control security.

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Samaritans Radar puts Twitter users on suicide watch

Samaritans Radar puts Twitter users on suicide watch

We all go through difficult times, and it can often be hard to cope with what life throws at us. Whether you're going through a particularly tricky patch and feeling low, or you're struggling with depression, it can be helpful to know that there are people you can talk to. But reaching out to people can be hard and it often falls to friends to notice signs of someone in trouble so they can be there when required.

Everyone would like to think they would notice when a friend starts to post worrying messages online, but the sheer volume of content we all consume each day means that it is easy to miss something important. Suicide prevention charity, Samaritans, has launched a new online venture, Samaritans Radar, which monitors the Twitter feeds of those who sign up, looking out for "potentially worrying tweets".

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Feedly kills URL shortener to improve speed, security, and privacy

Feedly kills URL shortener to improve speed, security, and privacy

Back in January feedly -- the RSS reader that tried to fill the gap left by the death of Google Reader -- introduced a URL shortener. At the time it was billed as a "captur[ing] analytics about how people are engaging with the content you are sharing". Ten months later, the news service realized that this could be seen as being overly intrusive and has killed the tool.

The original blog post that heralded the launch of feedly.com/e has been updated to reflect the fact that the shortener is no more. "With hindsight this was a bad idea. We focused too much on feedly's growth versus doing what is right for users and for the Web. Sorry".

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How to defeat network zombies this Halloween

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Zombies are a staple of the horror film industry despite being absurdly ill-equipped to play the role of a predatory force unleashing Armageddon on the human race. They're embarrassingly slow and brainless, for starters. They have terrible personal hygiene, can't operate machinery of any kind, they can't drive and they even don't know how to use a computer or a smartphone. As if that wasn't bad enough, no one has properly explained why some people they kill become zombies and others are completely gobbled up.

Network zombies, on the other hand, are an all too real menace for the modern-day IT administrator. They are smarter than the average zombie, impossible to predict because they appear randomly without warning and dangerous because they cause downtime and lost productivity. Without the right approach, they are nearly impossible to locate and kill.

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