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Friday Cyber News, February 26 2016

Cyber technology-related news and links from around the web, for the week of 2/20 - 2/26:

1. Apple's fight against the FBI continues in the courts this week, with an order of magnitude more discussion in the court of opinion. To head off future disputes, Apple is working on a version of its operating software that would be "unhackable" even to its own engineers in the absence of the user's passcode. Another way to stay secure even if the FBI wins this one is to change your passcode to a longer, stronger one--but that will cost you 32 hours per year in lost time. Another fix? Join the trend of neo-Luddites switching back to "dumb" phones. [TechCrunch; NYTimes; Cyber Initiative blog; Financial Times]

2. Stripe Atlas is aiming to make it easier for foreign entrepreneurs to get started: the service allows them to incorporate in the US and use US-based payment networks to charge customers through their app and online tools. Access to reliable banking and transaction infrastructure has been a focus of some cryptocurrency startups, and improves the opportunities available to individual small-business operators. [NY Times]

3. Allstate's 2015 annual report acknowledges that driverless cars are a threat to its business. The upside is that driverless cars may be more vulnerable to hacking than even today's software-enabled vehicles (such as the Nissan Leaf, which can be turned on by an app that offers little security beyond knowing a VIN), presaging a shift for the insurer toward insuring cyber liabilities. [Chicago Tribune; Troy Hunt]

4. The rules for how the NSA can share information it collects with other intelligence agencies are about to change: privacy protections will no longer need to be applied to the information, allowing other US agencies to examine foreign phone calls and emails, as well as communications by, and about, US citizens that were collected incidentally. Because FISA does not cover most of the collection methods used by the NSA, the executive branch can change the rules affecting the sharing of this information without going through Congress. [NY Times]

5. We're "hopelessly hooked" on our digital devices; four recent books explore the implications of this behavior shift on our psychological well-being, familial relationships, conceptions of addiction, and social behaviors. Speaking of social behaviors, researchers are working on "designing out" negative behaviors, like cyber bullying and threats of violence, from online platforms. [NY Review of Books; Guardian]

6. Google wants to help defend news sites against DDoS attacks--for free, and retaining as little information as possible and who is visiting those news sites. The benefit to Google is keeping information online, bolstering its search results. [Wired]

7. A journalist gave hackers carte blanche to ruin his life. They accessed his bank account, his home security system, his hard drive, his phone--but he's actually not that worried about it, drawing a parallel between the threat of a roving band of trained martial artists--versus that of a petty thief who notices your car is unlocked. [Fusion]

8. Dell Security's latest annual threat report indicates an uptick in the diversity of malware: are hackers spending more time writing unique code, rather than buying pre-made tools? (And is diversity in malware growing faster than diversity in the cybersecurity workforce? The NSF announced a new initiative this week to fund up to $12M of projects to increase diversity in STEM, including computer security.) [Dell; ThinkProgress]

9. Director of National Intelligence Clapper told Congress yesterday that it's difficult to tell whether China has upheld its end of the cyber espionage pact made with the US last year, in part due to the nature of their operations, which can outsource activity to avoid direct attribution to the government. [Washington Times]

10. Mastercard will accept selfies as an ID check to verify online payments. This may put Kim Kardashian at risk of continuous credit card fraud. [BBC]


Stanford Cyber Initiative

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