Narrative: Declining Privacy & Security
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Narrative: Declining Privacy and Security (Jan 24, 2017)
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Google Expands In-Store Sales Attribution to More Ad Types (May 23, 2017)
The UK National Health Service and many other corporate and government systems around the world are being attacked by ransomware which is enabled by NSA hacking tools for targeting Windows leaked earlier this year. Though Microsoft issued a patch for the affected vulnerability in March, many organizations haven’t applied those patches, which is not uncommon especially in large distributed organizations with many computers not “owned” by a particular end user or subject to any blanket policy on such updates. Though the motive appears to be financial – the hackers are demanding bitcoin in return for unlocking the affected machines – its immediate impact has been disruption, as operations have been canceled and medical centers closed, among other things. It’s a salutary lesson on the importance for both individuals and business of applying OS upgrades and patches in a timely fashion, but also of the vast reliance on aging machines and software across the corporate world. It’s also the kind of thing that’s dramatically less likely to affect web-based or more locked down systems like ChromeOS, Apple’s iOS or macOS, or even Microsoft’s new Windows 10 S. But given the prevalence of older versions of Windows in enterprises and government departments, that’s not going to help much anytime soon.
HP Laptops with Conexant Secretly Maintain Log of Keystrokes (May 12, 2017)
Microsoft Hires Head of Privacy and Data Security from FTC (Apr 28, 2017)
This is a great move from Microsoft, which has been at the forefront of recent legal cases over data privacy and security, as it reinforces its commitment to these issues at a time when threats to both security and privacy are increasing. Putting a high profile individual explicitly in charge of this area is a great symbolic move, but if done right should also ensure that these issues are examined in every aspect of Microsoft’s business. So far, Apple has been arguably the strongest champion for privacy as a guiding force among the major tech companies, but this move could see Microsoft become a more prominent advocate too. Worth noting: Brill won’t start at Microsoft until the summer.
Apple fans, Android world scramble to patch Broadcom’s nasty drive-by Wi-Fi security hole – The Register (Apr 6, 2017)
There are two interesting things here, both worth discussing briefly. Firstly, Broadcom, which provides chips for many popular smartphones including the iPhone, has a vulnerability in its WiFi element which can be hacked, allowing a way into the device. Apple issued a patch this week to deal with the issue, and Android vendors will be working to close the vulnerability too, though there’s no specific timeframe yet, highlighting yet another challenge with Android’s fragmented ecosystem. The second thing that’s interesting here is that the vulnerability was discovered by Google’s Project Zero team, which is set up to discover and fix vulnerabilities like this, and has been doing great work lately doing just that, including on non-Google devices like the iPhone. Vulnerabilities like this are always worrying, and it’s great to have Google out there with what seems like a strong team detecting these and notifying vulnerable vendors so they can patch the issues.
via The Register