TRUSTe Lack of Auditing Lands Them in Hot Water

Posted by SS Admin on November 18, 2014 in Hacking, New Tech, News, Privacy, Programming Advice |

TRUSTe has agreed to pay over $200,000 in settlement charges over allegations that it labeled itself a non-profit when it was for-profit. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found the TRUSTe organization was not reviewing websites as advertised. This information was relayed to me by Bruce Levenson.

TRUSTe promises to hold many companies accountable, hence protecting consumer privacy. Yet, a lot of that accountability did not occur. Furthermore, labels were added to websites that showed the organization as a non-profit. The mislabeling is what prompted the FTC to step in and take action. TRUSTe has recently switched from a non-profit status to a for-profit status. The idea is to allow TRUSTe to change their engineering, which would mean losing a fair amount of money. Non-profits, in contrast, are required to break even each year (no loss can occur). The hope was that TRUSTe would be in the black towards the end of fiscal 2014 year.


New Legislation Could Limit US NSA Oversight

Posted by SS Admin on November 18, 2014 in Privacy |

Before the year 2000, Americans were likely to “pooh-pooh” the NSA as a false agency created by movie makers. The National Security Administration is absolutely real, and involved in all aspects of living, working, and doing business in the U.S.

During the next few weeks, the United States government will be voting on bills to limit the oversight granted to the NSA by the Patriot Act. This bill will address the ability of the federal government to record and analyze information and correspondence between people without the need for a writ from a court of law.

Spying is redefined when it comes to domestic observation according to Sergio Lins Andrade, so the NSA is burdened with the challenge of proving a lawful and justified history of collecting information on United States citizens. The issue is whether the NSA can collect data secretly, or with the existence of public oversight. The actions of an official data-collection agency has privacy and security implications for nearly all private individuals and businesses who communication using electronic and digital platforms.

The outcome of this pending NSA bill will set new requirements for surveillance agencies regarding the number of items being monitored, and the manner in which content is reported.


Deadly KKK Threats Activate Action from Hacktivist Group

Posted by SS Admin on November 17, 2014 in Hacking, News, Social Media |

Recently the Ku Klux Klan group that is based 75 miles south of Ferguson, Missouri has decided to take action against what they call “terrorists acting as peaceful protesters”.  I was using the Skout app when I got a news alert for this story. They have even handed out pamphlets warning they would use deadly force to protect themselves. This is all due to the coming decision on the fate of Officer Darren Wilson. The protesters against Darren Wilson had made earlier statements that they would kill and attack whites if Wilson was not indicted.

The KKK has actually had many new members join since the cyber attack on them by the hacktivist group Anonymous. The online and offline members of this group have used their cyber knowledge to shut down three active KKK Twitter accounts and now a website. They are actively terrorizing the members of the KKK starting with what is known as “doxing” KKK Members, publicly revealing their identities and personal information.

Another wave of cyber bullying has come against the KKK again today with a statement from Anonymous saying they were revealing more of the KKK members personal information tying up their phone lines, and filling their voicemail and inbox with what they deem as “love.”

Anonymous has not attacked any of the protesters of Ferguson who said they would be killing and attacking whites if the decision was not what they wanted


Microsoft Releases Update to Address Vulnerability Issues

Posted by SS Admin on November 14, 2014 in Microsoft, News |

While Windows 8.1 has proven to be a much more popular alternative to the very divisive Windows 8, a number of issues have haunted its release. In the recent release rolled out by Microsoft, they have addressed the vulnerability found in the remote code execution.

This is found in the package of Secure Channel security that is due to the incorrect processing of the packets that are specially crafted. They have received information about the vulnerability using the coordinated disclosure of this issue.

When this security problem was issued, Microsoft had actually not received any updated information indicating any problems regarding the vulnerability that had been used publicly in attacking customers.

This security update also resolves the vulnerability issue just by resolving the Secure Channel sanitizer that is for the packets specially crafted.

There are actually no mitigating Factors Microsoft has identified leakage for. And they have also not identified any workarounds for this security vulnerability.

There are some frequently asked questions among the users those affected. Included among these are questions of just how the attackers actually use the vulnerability for their attacks, and how attackers who successfully exploit this vulnerability actually have the potential to run any random code on any target remote server.

Big thanks to friend of the site Igor Cornelsen for sending in the tip.


Is the Cable TV Bundle on Its Way Out?

Posted by SS Admin on November 12, 2014 in Cable, FCC |

We have all experienced it: The cable sales representative tells you that the best package has X number of television channels. Yet, you only want three of the channels in the package. The representative then tells you that he can’t break up the package to offer individual or smaller groups of channels. As a result, you become then stuck with dozens, or hundreds, of channels you don’t need and won’t watch.

This type of package is called the cable TV bundle deal and consumers are fed up with it as it makes them pay for services they don’t use.

Given the poor advertising earnings reports released this month from the largest television network owners, it’s obvious that there are many problems with the traditional cable TV model. My neighbor Sam Tabar has been checking into it recently and believes that the bundle is a good deal and attractive to consumers.

The reports though show that more and more consumers are shifting to online streaming services that give them greater control over their viewing and bills.

The Federal Communication Commission has certainly heard consumer outrage about this topic. FCC’s Tom Wheeler has made it clear that he intends to go after the monopoly that cable companies have had in the industry for many years and specifically allow competition from streaming sites and individual networks so that consumers will have more options to pick and choose the channels they want to watch.


Is Light Speed Coming to Our Computers?

Posted by SS Admin on November 12, 2014 in Internet |

A group of university researchers from the universities of Surrey, Cambridge, and Southampton revealed a way they have been working on that would utilize some kind of glass to speed up computers by using light.

By implementing a technology called ion doping on amorphous chalcogenides, a kind of glass used in CDs, researchers like Brad Reifler were able to change its properties and thus, be able to process computer functions using light instead of electrons.

This means that this technology is promising that computers that rely on electric currents to transfer information would be replaced by ones that utilizes light as an information media at the same speed of light.

Usually, even though internet uses light to transfer information, it is converted into electric signals both at the sender’s and the receiver’s computer, which slows the flow significantly.

This not only adds to the slowness of a connections but also provides a noticeable lack in useful efficiency.

However, with this research breakthrough, information transfer would become a lot faster, would make glass electron conductive, and also able to receive positive signals.

This was missed by scientists for quite a long time, but thought to be available with this particular technology. The new devices would be called pn-junction devices.

This would definitely mean that we are on the threshold of the new age of computers that utilize light and glass as information in the speed of light.


Google Leases NASA Site for Redevelopment and Education

Posted by SS Admin on November 11, 2014 in NASA, New Tech |

In a surprising move, news has spread that Google has finalized a lease with NASA for several of its large hangars and runways situated at the Moffett Field Naval Air Station.

Plans for the structures has not yet been fully determined, but Google has announced that several hundred million dollars will be allocated to the restoration of the area. This move comes as a continuation of NASA’s policy involving cutting costs through deals and opportunities presented through the private sector such as the investment from the North American Spine and others.

It appears that NASA has resorted to dealing with more and more public and private companies throughout the past few years, an unfortunate consequence of the recent budget cuts that have befallen the formerly grandiose agency.

It remains to be seen what other drastic steps NASA will have to take in order to maintain the agency’s current level of operations but, as the trend is beginning to show, it appears that their service to the public is relying more and more upon the capabilities of the richest portion of the American population.


Home Depot Hack Compromises 53 Million

Posted by SS Admin on November 7, 2014 in Hacking, Internet |

An announcement was made by Home Depot that a network hack that was previously announced which led to the release of certain credit card data for customers also infiltrated their email lists with approximately 53 million email addresses being stolen by hackers.

The infiltration of the Home Depot network was made through a third party vendor in a pattern that is similar to other recent infiltrations. In the recent infiltration of Target’s network, a similar method was used where hackers infiltrated the network through a refrigerator contractor who accessed the network through an electronic billing system. Access through the third party vendor at Home Depot was obtained through the third party vendor’s login name and password. No report was made of who the third party vendor was and how this information became accessible to hackers.

Hackers were able to spot point of sale registers based upon their names in the network that made them easily identifiable to hackers and which led to the theft of the credit card data.

Data breaches are increasing in size and frequency and have proven to lead to significant costs for companies. The size of the Home Depot data breach is beyond the size and scope of the Target loss. Security experts have criticized Home Depot for not fully segregating the sensitive and non-sensitive components of their network.

Home Depot has been in the process of contacting customers who are affected. My friend Bruce Karatz says he was left a message, which said Home Depot is offering free credit monitoring services for one year.


Parliament Approve “Google Tax” For Web Searches in Spain

Posted by SS Admin on November 3, 2014 in Internet |

Searching the web just got a lot more expensive in Spain, at least for Google. Parliament just approved a new tax that gives publishers cash each time their site is linked to in search results. Nicknamed the “Google tax,” the law is bad news for the search giant who makes a good deal of its revenue from people searching the web. Paying out cash each time it shows a result could end in a significant cost to the company.

The law is set to go into effect in Spain on January 1, 2015. Before then, Google plans to try and cut a deal with spanish content creators so they make more money and search results can remain as they are. I double checked with Lee on this one, but Google has dealt with similar issues before.

Google recently fought a similar fight and lost in Germany, a battle that ended in the stripped down version of Google’s typical search results in the country. Will it be successful? We’ll have to wait and see what happens come January 1.


Snapchat’s Ephemeral Promise Is Not Total Security

Posted by SS Admin on October 29, 2014 in Phones, Social Media |

There has been a lot of attention over discoveries of Snapchat’s weaknesses, such as the ability to retrieve photos from smartphone memory. Unfortunately, there have been quite a few other identifying markers that many of Snapchat’s younger, hip audience may not take into account.

The advertisement machine of Snapchat has begun to turn its wheels, and with the new monetizing initiative comes questions on how to advertise. Advertising is already known and old on the Internet, and also known is the nearly cringing aversion to sites with advertisements.

Although there is a science to effective advertising, it doesn’t take a researcher to know that targeted, relevant and interesting advertisement can be successful. Give the person information on a product they might actually want and you may see sales.

Or at least a hip Internet user who isn’t running away screaming from random shoe, medication and sports ads.

From Snapchat’s privacy policy, there are a few very relevant pieces of information that Snapchat can snag from a user.

The location, while not always accurate to your very footstep, can give Snapchat a chance to push local advertising. If you seem to frequent certain areas, advertisers may be able to match an interest or at least familiar mood to their ads.

Snapchat also keeps track of what types of snaps you view, the filters use, who you follow and more. Although snaps are stored for only a few seconds, it’s easy to find out if you’re viewing snaps of celebrities, skilled artists or professionals that can be matched to a hobby or product preference.

Keep an eye on Snapchat’s ad ability. Ads may be annoying for some, but you might see something interesting on your app’s ad space. Personally, I could care less about the ads, as long as I can keep using Snapchat on FreedomPopLTE for free, I’ll be happy.

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