FBI Warns US Private Sector To Cut Ties With Kaspersky ( 173

An anonymous reader quotes CyberScoop: The FBI has been briefing private sector companies on intelligence claiming to show that the Moscow-based cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab is an unacceptable threat to national security, current and former senior U.S. officials familiar with the matter tell CyberScoop... The FBI's goal is to have U.S. firms push Kaspersky out of their systems as soon as possible or refrain from using them in new products or other efforts, the current and former officials say.

The FBI's counterintelligence section has been giving briefings since beginning of the year on a priority basis, prioritizing companies in the energy sector and those that use industrial control (ICS) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. In light of successive cyberattacks against the electric grid in Ukraine, the FBI has focused on this sector due to the critical infrastructure designation assigned to it by the Department of Homeland Security... The U.S. government's actions come as Russia is engaged in its own push to stamp American tech giants like Microsoft out of that country's systems.

Meanwhile Bloomberg Businessweek claims to have seen emails which "show that Kaspersky Lab has maintained a much closer working relationship with Russia's main intelligence agency, the FSB, than it has publicly admitted" -- and that Kaspersky Lab "confirmed the emails are authentic."

Kaspersky Lab told ZDNet they have not confirmed the emails' authenticity. A representative for Kaspersky Lab says that the company does not have "inappropriate" ties with any government, adding that "the company does regularly work with governments and law enforcement agencies around the world with the sole purpose of fighting cybercrime."

Google Warns Webmasters About Insecure HTTP Web Forms ( 94

In April Chrome began marking HTTP pages as "not secure" in its address bar if the pages had password or credit card fields. They're about to take the next step. An anonymous reader quotes SearchEngineLand: Last night, Google sent email notifications via Google Search Console to site owners that have forms on web pages over HTTP... Google said, "Beginning in October 2017, Chrome will show the 'Not secure' warning in two additional situations: when users enter data on an HTTP page, and on all HTTP pages visited in Incognito mode."
Google warned in April that "Our plan to label HTTP sites as non-secure is taking place in gradual steps, based on increasingly broad criteria. Since the change in Chrome 56, there has been a 23% reduction in the fraction of navigations to HTTP pages with password or credit card forms on desktop, and we're ready to take the next steps..."

"Any type of data that users type into websites should not be accessible to others on the network, so starting in version 62 Chrome will show the 'Not secure' warning when users type data into HTTP sites."

Microsoft Avoids Washington State Taxes, Gives Nevada Schoolkid A Surface Laptop ( 72

theodp writes: The Official Microsoft Blog hopes a letter from a Nevada middle schooler advising Microsoft President Brad Smith to "keep up the good work running that company" will "inspire you like it did us." Penned as part of a math teacher's assignment to write letters to the businesses that they like, Microsoft says the letter prompted Smith to visit the Nevada school to meet 7th-grader Sky Yi in person as part of the company's effort to draw attention to the importance of math and encourage students and teachers who are passionate about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. In an accompanying video of the surprise meeting, Smith presents Yi with a new Surface Laptop that comes with Windows 10 S, a version of the OS that has been streamlined with schools in mind. "Not bad for a little letter," the Microsoft exec says.

Speaking of Microsoft, Nevada, and education, Bing Maps coincidentally shows the school Smith visited is just a 43-minute drive from the software giant's Reno-based Americas Operations Center. According to the Seattle Times, routing sales through the Reno software-licensing office helps Microsoft minimize its tax bills (NV doesn't tax business income) to the detriment, some say, of Washington State public schools.

Microsoft's state and local taxes will drop to just $30 million for the last year (from an average of $214 milion over the previous 14 years) according to the Seattle Times. "A Microsoft spokesman said the decline in 2017 was caused by the company's deferring taxes on some income to future years and the winding down of the company's smartphone business."

Should Plex Stop Allowing Users To Opt Out of Data Collection? ( 158

UPDATE: Plex has now made more changes to their privacy policy to address concerns about data collection, including "the ability to opt out of playback statistics for personal content on your Plex Media Server" and a promise "to 'generalize' playback stats in order to make it impossible to create any sort of 'fingerprint' that would allow anyone to identify a file in a library."

Here's what the original kerfuffle was about. Slashdot reader bigdogpete wrote: Many users of Plex got an email that said they were changing their privacy policy which goes into effect on 20 September 2017. While most of the things are pretty standard, users found it odd that they were now not going to allow users to opt-out of data collection. Here is the part from their website explaining the upcoming changes.

"In order to understand the usage across the Plex ecosystem and how we need to improve, Plex will continue to collect usage statistics, such as device type, duration, bit rate, media format, resolution, and media type (music, photos, videos, etc.). We will no longer allow the option to opt out of this statistics collection, but we do not sell or share your personally identifiable statistics. Again, we will not collect any information that identifies libraries, files, file names, and/or the specific content stored on your privately hosted Plex Media Servers. The only exception to this is when, and only to the extent, you use Plex with third-party services such as Sonos, Alexa, webhooks, and"

What do you all think?

Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Honors Chelsea Manning, an IFEX Leader, And TechDirt's Editor ( 108

An anonymous reader quotes the Electronic Frontier Foundation: Whistleblower and activist Chelsea Manning, Techdirt editor and open internet advocate Mike Masnick, and IFEX executive director and global freedom of expression defender Annie Game are the distinguished winners of the 2017 Pioneer Awards, which recognize leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier. This year's honorees -- a whistleblower, an editor, and an international freedom of expression activist -- all have worked tirelessly to protect the public's right to know.

The award ceremony will be held the evening of September 14 at Delancey Street's Town Hall Room in San Francisco. The keynote speaker is Emmy-nominated comedy writer Ashley Nicole Black, a correspondent on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee who uses her unique comedic style to take on government surveillance, encryption, and freedom of information.

The EFF describes Chelsea Manning as "a network security expert, whistleblower, and former U.S. Army intelligence analyst whose disclosure of classified Iraq war documents exposed human rights abuses and corruption the government kept hidden from the public." Their annoncement also notes that Annie Game has led the IFEX network of 115+ journalism and civil liberties groups around the world for over 10 years, and that Mike Masnick coined the term "The Streisand Effect" -- and is currently being sued by that man who claims he invented email.

Marcus Hutchins' Code Used In Malware May Have Come From GitHub ( 52

troublemaker_23 quotes ITWire: A security researcher says code has been discovered that was written by British hacker Marcus Hutchins that was apparently 'borrowed' by the creator of the banking trojan Kronos. The researcher, known as Hasherezade, posted a tweet identifying the code that had been taken from Hutchins' repository on GitHub.
Hasherezade also found a 2015 tweet where a then-20-year-old Hutchins first announces he's discovered the hooking engine he wrote for his own blog -- being used in a malware sample. ("This is why we can't have nice things," Hutchins jokes.) Hasherezade analyzed Kronos's code and concluded "the author has a prior knowledge in implementing malware solutions... The level of precision lead us to the hypothesis, that Kronos is the work of a mature developer, rather than an experimenting youngster."

Monday on Twitter Hutchins posted that "I'm still on trial, still not allowed to go home, still on house arrest; but now I am allowed online. Will get my computers back soon."

US State Department Suffers Worldwide Email Outage ( 69

An anonymous reader quotes USA Today: The U.S. State Department's email system underwent a worldwide outage Friday, affecting all its unclassified communications within and outside of the department. The system was fully restored by Friday afternoon [after 12 hours], said a State Department official briefed on the incident who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

It was not clear what caused the early morning outage, but spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters it was not "any external action or interference."


Google and ProPublica Team Up To Build a National Hate Crime Database ( 310

In partnership with ProPublica, Google News Lab is launching a new tool to track hate crimes across America. The "Documenting Hate News Index" is being powered by machine learning to track reported hate crimes across all 50 states, collecting data from February 2017 onward. TechCrunch reports: Data visualization studio Pitch Interactive helped craft the index, which collects Google News results and filters them through Google's natural language analysis to extract geographic and contextual information. Because they are not catalogued in any kind of formal national database, a fact that inspired the creation of the index to begin with, Google calls the project a "starting point" for the documentation and study of hate crimes. While the FBI is legally required to document hate crimes at the federal level, state and local authorities often fail to report their own incidents, making the data incomplete at best.

The initiative is a data-rich new arm of the Documenting Hate project which collects and verifies hate incidents reported by both individual contributors and by news organizations. The Hate News Index will keep an eye out for false positives (casual uses of the word "hate" for example), striking a responsible balance between machine learning and human curation on a very sensitive subject. Hate events will be mapped onto a calendar in the user interface, though users can also use a keyword search or browse through algorithmic suggestions. For anyone who'd like to take the data in a new direction, Google will open sourced its data set, making it available through GitHub.

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