Abney and Associates Internet and Technology Research Lab

Abney and Associates Internet and Technology Research Lab

Communication

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    LONDON – A year has passed since the American former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden began revealing the massive scope of Internet surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency.

    His disclosures have elicited public outrage and sharp rebukes from close U.S. allies like Germany, upending rosy assumptions about how free and secure the Internet and telecommunications networks really are.

    Single-handedly Snowden has changed how people regard their phones, tablets and laptops, and sparked a public debate about the protection of personal data.

    What his revelations have not done is bring about significant reforms.

    To be sure, U.S. President Barack Obama, spurred by an alliance between civil society organizations and the technology industry, has taken some action. In a January speech, and an accompanying presidential policy directive, Obama ordered American spies to recognize that “all persons should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their nationality or wherever they might reside, and that all persons have legitimate privacy interests in the handling of their personal information.”

    Some specific advances, unprecedented in the shadowy world of intelligence agencies, have accompanied this rhetorical commitment to privacy. When technology companies sued the government to release details about intelligence requests, the Obama administration compromised, supporting a settlement that allows for more detailed reporting. Under this agreement, compani...

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    ‘Double standards’: Apple implements MAC anti-tracking technique used by Aaron Swartz

    Apple is going to implement random MAC addresses technology in its iOS8 devices, an anonymity-granting technique which late computer prodigy Aaron Swartz was accused of using to carry out his infamous MIT hack.

    Swartz, who faced criminal prosecution on charges of mass downloading academic documents and articles, was also accused of using MAC (Media Access Control) spoofing address technology to gain access to MIT’s subscription database.

    At the time of his suicide at the age 26, Swartz was facing up to 35 years in prison, the confiscation of assets and a $1 million fine on various charges.

    Now computer giant Apple is installing a MAC address randomizing system into its products. The company announced that in its new iOS 8, Wi-Fi scanning behavior will be “changed to use random, locally administered MAC addresses.”

    MAC-address is a unique identifier used by network adapters to identify themselves on a network, and changing it could be regarded as an anti-tracking measure.

    David Seaman, journalist and podcast host of “The DL Show,” told RT that a single technology cannot protect users from being spied upon and advised users to trust no one, particularly the companies that have been caught cooperating with agencies such as the NSA, or those who used to turn a blind eye toward governments’ illegal activities.

    *RT*: Why is Apple suddenly becoming interested in boosting the ...

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    Mock email scam ensnares hundreds of bureaucrats at Justice Canada

    OTTAWA – Many of the Justice Department’s finest legal minds are falling prey to a garden-variety Internet scam.

    An internal survey shows almost 2,000 staff were conned into clicking on a phoney “phishing” link in their email, raising questions about the security of sensitive information.

    The department launched the mock scam in December as a security exercise, sending emails to 5,000 employees to test their ability to recognize cyber fraud.

    The emails looked like genuine communications from government or financial institutions, and contained a link to a fake website that was also made to look like the real thing.

    Across the globe, an estimated 156 million of these so-called “phishing” emails are sent daily, and anyone duped into clicking on the embedded web link risks transferring confidential information – such as online banking passwords – to criminals.

    The Justice Department’s mock exercise caught 1,850 people clicking on the phoney embedded links, or 37 per cent of everyone who received the emails.

    That’s a much higher rate than for the general population, which a federal website says is only about five per cent.

    The exercise did not put any confidential information at risk, but the poor results raise red flags about public servants being caught by actual phishing emails.

    A spokeswoman says “no privacy breaches have been reported” from any real phishing scams at Justice Canada...

  • OWN GOAL: Security software company said fraudsters were attempting to entice users to click on corrupted links with the offer of World Cup tickets

    Security software firm Symantec Corp yesterday issued an alert ahead of the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament, calling on Internet users to heed the threat of malware scams disguised as free ticket give-aways.

    The antivirus vendor said that there has recently been a rise in Internet scams, with many using offers of free World Cup tickets to spread viruses or malware.

    The tricks involve e-mails about such popular soccer stars as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to entice people to click on corrupted links, it said.

    There are also false “live broadcast” links which carry the threat of phishing.

    This kind of Internet scam usually asks the user to download and install a video player or fill out a questionnaire — both of which are designed to deceive soccer fans into sending money to the fraudsters, it added.

    Saying that it expected scammers to turn to social networks soon, Symentek reminded Web users to be alert to potential fraud perpetrated in the name of the FIFA World Cup.

    Fans wishing to follow the latest news about their favorite soccer players are advised to go to the official Web site of the sports event, it said.

    Those who plan to watch the event online should keep away from dubious Web sites and use services provided by trusted sports channels only, it said.

    As an added precaution Web users should also update...

  • An Abney Associates Tech Tips SECURITY WARNING

    Communication, Communication Design

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    The Association of Cyprus Banks has issued a warning for all bank customers in relation to Phishing attacks or fraudsters attempting to steal their personal data over the phone, email and internet.

    Phishing is a type of internet fraud that seeks to acquire a user’s credentials by deception. It includes theft of passwords, credit card numbers, bank account details and other confidential information. The announcement said that in Cyprus, fraudsters call people who have bank accounts and pretend that they are bank employees calling to confirm their clients’ bank account number, password, ID details and other personal data.

    Fraudsters also send fake emails, pretending to be the bank of the recipient in order to convince them to divulge their personal data. They come up with various reasons for sending the email such as security reasons, fraud, renewal of their data and other.

    If recipients press on the link, they are then redirected to a page where they have to enter their access codes which they use to access online banking services.

    “If someone falls victim to fraud it usually means that fraudsters have managed to gain access to their bank account and steal their money transferring sums to their own account in Cyprus or abroad,” said the announcement.

    The Association said that in the case that a client has revealed their password and realised they have fallen victim to fraud, they should immediately notify their bank to change their access codes.

    The Associa...

  • BEIJING — Outraged by U.S. cyberspying charges against members of a secretive Chinese military unit, China summoned the U.S. ambassador in Beijing for a dressing down, state media said Tuesday, and the Defense Ministry blasted the U.S. accusations as hypocritical.

    The government, meanwhile, published new statistics that it said showed massive cyberattacks on China originating from the United States. “Those activities target Chinese leaders, ordinary citizens and anyone with a mobile phone,” the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported. “In the meantime, the U.S. repeatedly accuses China of spying and hacking.”

    A day after the U.S. Justice Department unveiled explosive criminal cyber-espionage charges against five Chinese military officers, Beijing was still sputtering with indignation. Late Monday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry called the charges in a U.S. federal grand jury indictment “purely fictitious, extremely absurd.” China also announced it was suspending participation in the Sino-U.S. Cyber Working Group, formed to bridge differences over cyberspying.

    The U.S. charges are certain to strain Washington’s military relationship with China, which the Pentagon made a concerted effort to build up in recent years. A Pentagon spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said Tuesday that the Defense Department had been aware of the impending charges and hoped that they would not stymie cooperation on various fronts.

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    Derbyshire Constabulary have launched an online video to raise awareness and offer advice on courier fraud following recent incidents across the county.

    The online video gives the public an insight into the scam to see how fraudsters are calling members of the public to convince them to hand over their banks cards and PIN to a courier.

    Detective Inspector Rob King, head of the Derbyshire Economic Crime Unit said: “We have been working alongside our partners to raise awareness of frauds and scams as part of our forcewide Stamp out Fraud campaign.

    “Recently we have had an increase in reports of suspected courier fraud, but thankfully there are steps that we can all take to protect ourselves from the crime.

    “This includes never giving out your card details, PIN or bank card to anyone and ending any suspicious calls immediately before reporting the incident.

    “By spreading the message we can aim to stamp out fraud and protect more people from falling victim to the crime.”

  • A phone number on a Maryville man’s caller ID that appeared to be from The Daily Times ended up being nothing more than a phishing scam.

    The scam is described as con artists using techniques such as phony caller ID numbers to solicit personal information and money.

    The man, who asked not to be not identified, said that he received a call early Tuesday evening from what looked to be The Daily Times, according to his caller ID. When he answered, the caller offered to give information on how to reduce his credit card rate.

    The man was suspicious and ended the call. When he called the number back, the number was not in service.

    He then paid a visit to The Daily Times and showed them the number on his phone. They informed him that the caller definitely did not represent the newspaper.

    According to Scambusters.org, the callers are able to convince victims that they’re receiving a call from a bank or credit card company, and try to acquire sensitive personal and financial information, or even money, from their victims.

    Scammers’ philosophy

    The philosophy of the scammers is that few people would think that the names and phone numbers appearing on their caller ID screens were not genuine. Therefore, scammers are already using phony caller IDs and are posing as representatives of banks and credit card companies.

    The Internet offers a number of legal online services that supply fake caller ID numbers.

    Internet sites, email accounts and regular mail are also used regularly...

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    SO you think you’re safe online and take all the necessary steps to protect your information? Think again — your details may not be as private as you think.

    More Australians than ever are falling victim to identity crime and the victims aren’t signing up to dodgy scams and being careless either.

    They’re using internet banking, shopping online and sending email, actions that millions of Australians do each day without a second thought.

    A startling new survey by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) shows 1 in 5 Australians have had their personal information misused and 10 per cent have experienced in the past year.

    That’s higher than similar research in the United Kingdom and the United States.

    The amounts lost ranged from a few dollars to a staggering $310,000. The first indication anything was wrong usually was when they received their bank account statement.

    Dr Clare Sullivan, an identity crime expert and law lecturer at the University of South Australia, said the survey showed that no system was “impenetrable”, even banking systems.

    “I can tell you I don’t use online banking. I don’t think it’s secure,’’ Dr Sullivan told news.com.au.

    She expected there would be more public attention on that issue if banks didn’t bail out people who lost money through fraud that wasn’t directly their fault.

    Internet banking was cost effective for the banks and popular with consumers — because it was convenient — but Dr Sullivan said no system ...

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