Tag: Policy

Privacy Bombshell: NSA Given Access To Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Others

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Washington Post story on The National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) and FBI’s widespread program of wire tapping, which leads directly into the servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, including Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Apple. The classified program, dubbed PRISM, dates to 2007 and the administration of George W. Bush and authorizes the nation’s top spy agency to peer deep into the servers of  popular social networking sites, compiling audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs. Together the information could enable intelligence operators to track an individual’s communications, movements relationships over time. The classified program came to light following the leak of a classified presentation for NSA staff, dated April 2013, that describes the program as critical and a leading contributor of intelligence to President Obama’s daily briefing. While a small cadre of members of Congress were briefed on the program […]

Mobile Phone Use Patterns: The New Fingerprint

Mobile phone use may be a more accurate identifier of individuals than even their own fingerprints, according to research published on the web site of the scientific journal Nature. Scientists at MIT and the Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium analyzed 15 months of mobility data for 1.5 million individuals who the same mobile carrier. Their analysis, “Unique in the Crowd: the privacy bounds of human mobility” showed that data from just four, randomly chosen “spatio-temporal points” (for example, mobile device pings to carrier antennas) was enough to uniquely identify 95% of the individuals, based on their pattern of movement. Even with just two randomly chosen points, the researchers say they could uniquely characterize around half of the 1.5 million mobile phone users. The research has profound implications for privacy, suggesting that the use of mobile devices makes it impossible to remain anonymous – even without the use of tracking […]

FTC Forum Will Tackle Mobile Device Threats

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is continuing to focus its energies on protecting the growing number of consumers using smart phones and other mobile devices. Next up: a public forum to discuss threats to mobile devices. The FTC announced the one-day public forum on Friday and said it hopes to use the event to address problems like “malware, viruses and similar threats facing users of smartphones and other mobile technologies.” The event will take place on June 4th at the FTC’s offices on New Jersey Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. The public forum is just the latest effort by the nation’s leading watchdog to reign in a free-wheeling mobile application marketplace, and put stronger consumer and privacy protections in place. Earlier this month, the agency released a Staff Report that called on mobile OS, mobile device and mobile application firms to provide clearer guidelines to consumers about how their information […]

Uncle Sam Needs A Plan: GAO Pans Govt. Cybersecurity Efforts in 100 Page Report

There’s been a lot of light and heat in the last week when it comes to the U.S. government and cyber security. After all, President Obama just released his Executive Order on cyber security, which puts an emphasis on identifying and protecting critical infrastructure and, just maybe, pushes the sprawling federal bureaucracy towards better security practices. But a just-released report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) makes clear that, in the big scheme of things, the Executive Order is just window dressing on the mess that is the Federal Government’s handling of cyber security. The report, GAO-13-187 (PDF), is a round-up and updating of previous reports that studied aspects of federal cyber security as they affect a wide range of federal agencies. The GAO’s conclusion? Uncle Sam has made negligible progress towards improving the security of its information systems, and has little to show in key areas such as responding to […]

Funding Cut, Military’s List of Critical Defense Technologies Languishes

The U.S. Department of Defense is failing to adequately maintain its main reference list of vital defense technologies that should be banned from export, despite rules requiring its use and upkeep, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The Militarily Critical Technologies List (MCTL) is “outdated and updates have ceased,” the GAO found in a report released this week. The list was intended as the DOD’s main resource for tracking sensitive technology and preventing its export to foreign nations or entities. But the government agencies charged with using the list say it is too broad and out-of-date to be of much use and have long since abandoned it. Now budget cuts to the program that maintains the list are forcing export control officials in the government to use alternative information sources and informal “networks of experts” to tell them what technologies are in need of protection, […]