Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

Tag Archives: Hardening

Recommended Link

Obama campaign used security keys during both elections to prevent hacks

“President Obama’s campaigns used Yubikeys, which are security keys for protecting logins, during both the 2008 and 2012 elections as a defense against hackers, according to Yubico CEO and founder Stina Ehrensvärd.”

Recommended Link

Hacking the U.S. midterms? It’s child’s play

The voting systems many states use are so insecure that children can hack them in just a few minutes, the BBC reports. North American tech reporter Dave Lee explains: “The fallibility of these systems has been of concern since 2016’s presidential election, and in some cases well before that. Each state in the U.S. is able to come up with its own system, and with budgets tight, many are relying on poorly secured databases and voting machines that run software that’s well over a decade old.”

Recommended Link

U.S. Senate now in Russian hackers’ crosshairs, says cybersecurity firm

Via The Associated Press: “The same Russian government-aligned hackers who penetrated the Democratic Party have spent the past few months laying the groundwork for an espionage campaign against the U.S. Senate, a cybersecurity firm said Friday.”

Tags:

Recommended Link

Senators King, Heinrich urge President Obama to strengthen cybersecurity networks

In a letter published after the massive and unprecedented cyberattack on Dyn, Maine’s Angus King and New Mexico’s Martin Heinrich called on President Obama to adopt government-wide policies to help detect vulnerabilities and communicate them to the private sector.

Recommended Link

FBI backs down in fight with Apple, says it will test whether it can break in to shooter’s iPhone without company’s help

In a court filing, the Department of Justice asked a judge to hold off on its request to compel Apple to cooperate in breaking into an iPhone used by Syed Riziwan Farook, one of the perpetrators in the San Bernardino mass shootings. The DOJ said an “outside party” had shown the FBI a way off possibly breaking into Farook’s iPhone without needing any help from Apple.

Quotation

We add security features to protect our customers from hackers and criminals. And the FBI should be supporting us in this because it keeps everyone safe. To suggest otherwise is demeaning. It cheapens the debate and it tries to mask the real and serious issues. I can only conclude that the DoJ is so desperate at this point that it has thrown all decorum to the winds.

Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell, responding to the latest brief filed by the Department of Justice In the Matter of the Search of an Apple iPhone Seized During the Execution of a Search Warrant on a Black Lexus IS300, California License Plate 35KGD203. Apple is fighting a court order to force it help the FBI break into an iPhone used by one of the perpetrators of the San Bernardino attacks.

Recommended Link

Apple’s shareholders offer support for stance against FBI

Bloomberg reports that Apple shareholders are supportive of CEO Tim Cook’s decision to fight a court order granted at the behest of the FBI, which the FBI sought to compel Apple’s help to break into an iPhone used by one of the perpetrators of the San Bernardino shootings.

Quotation

I can think of nothing that has done more harm to the Internet than ad tech… It interferes with everything we try to do on the Web. It has cheapened and debased advertising and spawned criminal empires.

— Bob Hoffman, a veteran ad executive, industry critic, and author of the blog the Ad Contrarian, who recently spoke to Bloomberg Businessweek for its feature The fake traffic schemes that are rotting the Internet.

Recommended Link

Leading cryptographers oppose FBI’s desire for built-in backdoor to bypass encryption

A group of elite cryptographers today released a paper concluding that any laws requiring that the United States and British governments be able to break into encrypted systems by way of a legally-mandated backdoor would be incredibly dangerous to the security of critical infrastructure and would defeat the purpose of encryption.

Quotation

IBM was arrogant in saying, ‘We’ll give them some tech and then innovate faster than them,’ and that wasn’t the case.

— Clyde V. Prestowitz, a former counselor to the Secretary of Commerce during the Reagan administration, telling the New York Times that U.S. technology giant IBM made a mistake when it gave its technology to Japanese firms decades ago, and is now about to make a similar mistake with China.

Chat Transcript

Re/Code’s Kara Swisher talks with Barack Obama about encryption becoming a default

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Where there is a situation in which we’re trying to get a specific case of a possible national security threat — is there a way of accessing it? If it turns out it’s not, then we’re really gonna have to have a public debate. And, you know, I think some in Silicon Valley would make the argument — which is a fair argument, and I get — that the harms done by having any kind of compromised encryption are far greater …

KARA SWISHER: That’s an argument you used to make.

BARACK OBAMA: Well …

KARA SWISHER: You would have made. Has something changed with…

BARACK OBAMA: No, I still make it. It’s just that I am sympathetic to law enforcement.

KARA SWISHER: Because years [ago], you were much stronger on civil liberty.

BARACK OBAMA: I’m as strong as I have been. I think the only concern is our law enforcement is expected to stop every plot. Every attack. Any bomb on a plane. The first time that attack takes place in which it turns out that we had a lead and we couldn’t follow up on it, the public’s going to demand answers.

— Re/Code’s Kara Swisher talks with Barack Obama about encryption becoming a default (Dialogue from the full transcript of their conversation).

Recommended Link

Sony backtracks, will release ‘The Interview’ to some theaters

After being criticized by President Obama and many in Hollywood for self-censorship, Sony Pictures has announced it will release ‘The Interview’ after all. Although the big theater chains still seem uninterested in showing the film, a number of independent theaters are interested and plan to screen it. It will initially be available to watch in two to three hundred smaller theaters.

Recommended Link

All U.S. Postal Service employees’ personal data exposed by hackers

Ars Technica reports on some seriously bad news: Over 600,000 addresses, Social Security numbers, and additional personal data for Postal Service employees have been compromised by hackers thought to be based in China.

Tags:

Recommended Link

USB (Universal Series Bus) ‘critically flawed’, researchers say

The widely used Universal Series Bus standard has a serious flaw that has apparently existed since USB was designed back in the 1990s, which can be used to infect a computer without the user’s knowledge. There is “no practical way” to defend against the vulnerability, security experts Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell say.

Tags:

Quotation

John Chen is impressive… Management knows BlackBerry cannot be all things to all people, but the company recognizes it has a hardened technology and tested infrastructure.

— Cormark Securities analyst Richard Tse, speaking to The Globe and Mail after a meeting with BlackBerry executives last week. The Canadian smartphone maker appears to be on a stable footing after months of turmoil.

Quotation

With Chrome, you give up a lot of control over your own security.

— Blogger Chris Travers, who works on the LedgerSMB project, explaining that it’s problematic to trust Google (or any other large company) as the “middle man” in the flawed secure certificate system. (From is Is Firefox in a fix?)

Recommended Link

Major technology companies building technical defenses against NSA

The New York Times reports that technology giants like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook are finally resisting the federal government’s massive surveillance regime on behalf of their users and customers, after having been quietly cooperative with the NSA and other intelligence agencies.

Recommended Link

NSA chief: Snowden “probably not” a Russian spy

The head of the National Security Agency has admitted the NSA doesn’t believe it likely that Edward Snowden is working on behalf of Vladimir Putin’s regime, or any other for that matter… despite baseless and unfounded suggestions by members of the Congress to the contrary.

Quotation

It’s bad civic hygiene to build technologies that could someday be used to facilitate a police state. No matter what the eavesdroppers and censors say, these systems put us all at greater risk. Communications systems that have no inherent eavesdropping capabilities are more secure than systems with those capabilities built in.

— Security expert Bruce Schneier: Technology shouldn’t give Big Brother a head start (Commentary for Minnesota Public Radio News)