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The limits of encryption

As we say goodbye to privacy, some people are putting their faith in encryption. But there’s only so much that encryption can do.

I’m not arguing that encryption is weak and in danger of being busted wide open. I’m not even arguing that companies such as Apple will reverse their stances and give up encryption keys to law enforcement.

I’m simply observing that not everything can be encrypted, and the things that can’t be encrypted can reveal plenty about us. And even Apple has no problem giving law enforcement that kind of information.

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Penn. man gets 18 months for celeb hacking

A Pennsylvania man was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison on charges of hacking the Google and Apple email accounts of over 100 people including celebrities, and getting access to nude videos and photographs of some people.

The sentencing against Ryan Collins, 36, of Lancaster is the offshoot of a Department of Justice investigation into the online leaks of photographs of numerous female celebrities in September 2014, widely referred to as "Celebgate."

But DOJ has not found any evidence linking Collins to the actual leaks or the sharing and uploading of the content.

Between November 2012 and early September 2014, Collins is said to have sent e-mails to victims that appeared to be from Apple or Google and asked them to provide their usernames and passwords. Having gained access to the email accounts, he got hold of personal information including nude photographs and videos, and in some cases used a software program to download the entire contents of the victims' Apple iCloud backups, according to DOJ.

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Malware from last week's DDoS attack continues to harass

It's still unclear who pulled off Friday's massive internet disruption, but the malware largely responsible for the cyber attack has since assaulted new targets -- possibly including video gamers.

Since last Friday, botnets created by the Mirai malware have been launching distributed denial-of-service attacks at seemingly random targets, in short bursts, according to a security researcher who goes by the name MalwareTech.

He has tracked Mirai-powered botnets and helped produce a Twitter feed that monitors their DDoS attacks. On Wednesday alone, the feed posted close to 60 attacks, many of them lasting from 30 seconds to over a minute long.

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To solve IoT security, look at the big picture, ARM says

The recent DDoS attacks launched from IoT devices demonstrate that the internet of things spans all parts of IT and that most companies deploying it still need a lot of help.

That's the message from ARM, the chip design company behind nearly every smartphone and a big chunk of IoT, at its annual TechCon event this week in Silicon Valley.

Small, low-power devices like sensors and security cameras are the most visible part of IoT, and they’re right in ARM’s wheelhouse as the dominant force in low-power chips. But on Wednesday, the company highlighted a cloud-based SaaS product rather than chips or edge devices themselves. IoT depends on back-end capabilities as much as edge devices, and the company wants to play a role in all of it.

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FCC tells ISPs to get customer permission before sharing sensitive info

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has passed rules requiring broadband providers to receive opt-in customer permission to share sensitive personal information, including web-browsing history, geolocation, and financial details with third parties.

The FCC on Thursday voted 3-2 to adopt the new broadband privacy rules, which also include requirements that ISPs promptly notify customers of serious data breaches.

Broadband customers need transparency and control over how their data is used, said Jessica Rosenworcel, one of three Democratic commissioners voting for the rules. Broadband providers are increasingly sharing customer data with third-party companies such as advertising networks and analytics firms, she said.

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No need to shoot down drones! Many of them can now be hijacked

A security researcher has devised a method of hijacking a wide variety of radio- controlled airplanes, helicopters, cars, boats and other devices that use a popular wireless transmission technology.

The attack was developed by Jonathan Andersson, manager of the Advanced Security Research Group at Trend Micro DVLabs, and targets a "wideband, frequency-agile 2.4GHz signal protocol" called DSMx. This protocol is used in radio-control (R/C) toys, including in drones, that are owned by millions of users.

Andersson's attack exploits weaknesses in DSMx and was presented in detail Wednesday at the PacSec security conference in Tokyo. The researcher built a device that he dubbed Icarus, using off-the-shelf electronic components and software-defined radio (SDR). With it, he can take over the control of drones or other R/C devices and lock out their real owners in seconds.

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Microsoft adds macro blocker to Office 2013 to stymie old-school attackers

Microsoft yesterday said that it had added a malware-in-macros blocker to Office 2013 after customers demanded that it expand the feature beyond the latest version, Office 2016.

"The predominant customer request we received was for this feature to be added to Office 2013," the Microsoft Malware Protection Center team wrote in an unsigned blog post Wednesday.

IT administrators have been able to block macros from running in Office 2016 since March. Enterprise IT staff can craft group policies to restrict macros, completely block them, or amplify the warnings users normally see before a macro is opened.

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