Category Archives: Technology

Boris Johnson gets final warning with Huawei 5G verdict imminent

Former senior government figures voice security fears as PM chairs meeting of NSC

Former ministers have sounded their final warnings to Boris Johnson about the Chinese telecoms firm Huawei ahead of his expected decision on whether it will play a part in the UK’s 5G network.

The prime minister will chair a meeting of the national security council (NSC) later on Tuesday before making a judgment on the firm’s future in the country after months of concern around security, including from the US president, Donald Trump.

5G is the next generation mobile phone network and it promises much higher connection speeds, lower latency (response times) and to be more reliable than the creaking 4G networks we have now.

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Choosing the right cloud for your business

By Hiren Parekh, Senior Director of Cloud Services, OVHcloud Introducing new company-wide initiatives can be daunting for CIOs, especially when it comes to assessing the best cloud environment for a business. While it’s no secret that IT managers consider the use of cloud services strategic to their business, implementing and maintaining these services isn’t always…

Israeli spyware firm fails to get hacking case dismissed

Judge orders NSO Group to fight case brought by Saudi activist and pay his legal costs

An Israeli judge has rejected an attempt by the spyware firm NSO Group to dismiss a case brought against it by a prominent Saudi activist who alleged that the company’s cyberweapons were used to hack his phone.

The decision could add pressure on the company, which faces multiple accusations that it sold surveillance technology, named Pegasus, to authoritarian regimes and other governments that have allegedly used it to target political activists and journalists.

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I’m still on Windows 7 – what should I do?

Support for Windows 7 has ended, leaving Marcy wondering how they can protect themselves

I do a lot of work on a Windows 7 desktop PC that is about five years old. I’m a widow and can’t afford to run out and get a new PC at this time, or pay for Windows 10. If I do stay with Windows 7, what should I worry about, and how can I protect myself? I have been running Kaspersky Total Security for several years, which has worked well so far. Marcy

Microsoft Windows 7 – launched in 2009 – came to the end of its supported life on Tuesday. Despite Microsoft’s repeated warnings to Windows 7 users, there may still be a couple of hundred million users, many of them in businesses. What should people do next?

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Microsoft rolls out Windows 10 security fix after NSA warning

US agency revealed flaw that could be exploited by hackers to create malicious software

Microsoft is rolling out a security fix to Windows 10 after the US National Security Agency (NSA) warned the popular operating system contained a highly dangerous flaw that could be used by hackers. Reporting the vulnerability represents a departure for the NSA from its past strategy of keeping security flaws under wraps to exploit for its own intelligence needs.

The NSA revealed during a press conference on Tuesday that the “serious vulnerability” could be used to create malicious software that appeared to be legitimate. The flaw “makes trust vulnerable”, the NSA director of cybersecurity, Anne Neuberger, said in a briefing call to media on Tuesday.

Related: Skype audio graded by workers in China with 'no security measures'

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Las Vegas Successfully Averted a Cyberattack

The City of Las Vegas successfully averted what could have been a disastrous cyberattack earlier this month.

City officials detected a cyberattack January 7, and in response immediately took several services offline, including its public-facing website. 

“We do not believe any data was lost from our systems and no personal data was taken. We are unclear as to who was responsible for the compromise, but we will continue to look for potential indications,” the city announced on its Twitter feed.

The cyberattack coincided with this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, which is the world’s largest showcase for technology products.

While city officials have declined to specify the nature of the attack, municipal governments have been a frequent target for ransomware-based malware. The city of Las Vegas is a regular target for hackers, facing 279,000 attempts to breach its systems, according to city spokesman David Riggleman. 

The post Las Vegas Successfully Averted a Cyberattack appeared first on Adam Levin.

Skype audio graded by workers in China with ‘no security measures’

Exclusive: former Microsoft contractor says he was emailed login after minimal vetting

A Microsoft programme to transcribe and vet audio from Skype and Cortana, its voice assistant, ran for years with “no security measures”, according to a former contractor who says he reviewed thousands of potentially sensitive recordings on his personal laptop from his home in Beijing over the two years he worked for the company.

The recordings, both deliberate and accidentally invoked activations of the voice assistant, as well as some Skype phone calls, were simply accessed by Microsoft workers through a web app running in Google’s Chrome browser, on their personal laptops, over the Chinese internet, according to the contractor.

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Get yourself cybersecure for 2020

With ever more tech in our lives, our data is vulnerable. Here are our six top tips to keep it safe in the new year

Technology is changing our lives for the better; yet it’s also exposing us to organised crime, online scammers and hackers – and whole industries built around monetising our personal data. But you don’t have to be resigned to cyber-victimhood. Give yourself, and your devices, a security update for 2020 and start fighting back.

Hackers don’t like a liar – especially if the fibs are about the questions sites ask you as a means of identification

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Huawei says ‘survival is our first priority’ in 2020 as western boycott bites

Chairman Eric Xu warns that hit from US sanctions means telecoms firm must ‘go all out’ to maintain sales

The embattled Chinese telecommunications company Huawei says “survival” is its first priority after announcing sales were hit hard by a boycott from western countries.

Eric Xu, the company’s chairman, said estimated sales revenue would reach 850bn yuan for 2019 (US$121bn) - up roughly 18% from the previous year, but much lower than initially expected.

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Dominic Cummings: If Leave had lost Brexit vote, I’d have queried result as invalid

Boris Johnson aide wrote to data watchdog in 2017 complaining electoral system was ‘wide open to abuse’

Boris Johnson’s adviser Dominic Cummings would have challenged the EU referendum result as “invalid” had Vote Leave lost the Brexit campaign.

According to documents seen by the Observer, the prime minister’s chief aide told the UK’s data watchdog that he would have contested the result because UK elections are “wide open to abuse.”

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The Guardian view on Boris Johnson’s NHS plan: trading patient data | Editorial

Donald Trump has made clear he wants a post-Brexit Britain to let US tech companies and big pharma access medical records

The NHS is a goldmine of patient data which the United States wants to be quarried by some of its biggest companies. Britain’s health service is home to a unique medical dataset that covers the entire population from birth to death. Jeremy Corbyn’s NHS press conference revealed that the US wanted its companies to get unrestricted access to the UK’s medical records, thought to be worth £10bn a year. A number of tech companies – including Google – already mine small parts of the NHS store. Ministers have been treading carefully after an attempt to create a single patient database for commercial exploitation was scrapped in 2016 when it emerged there was no way for the public to work out who would have access to their medical records or how they were using them.

However, such caution might be thrown to the wind if Boris Johnson gets his way over Brexit – and patients’ privacy rights are traded away for US market access. This would be a damaging step, allowing US big tech and big pharma to collect sensitive, personal data on an unprecedented scale. Donald Trump’s officials have already made clear that this is what they are aiming for. In the leaked government records of talks between US and UK trade representatives White House officials state that “the free flow of data is a top priority” in a post-Brexit world. Trump’s team see Brexit as an opportunity “to avoid forcing companies to disclose algorithms”. The US wants the UK to drop the EU’s 2018 data law, in which individuals must be told what is happening with their medical data, even if scrubbed of personal identifiers.

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Has WhatsApp become a potential career assassin? | Afua Hirsch

The app helped connect me to an inspiring sisterhood. But the case of police officer Robyn Williams shows unopened messages can be a legal minefield

We need to talk about WhatsApp. When the little green speech bubble first showed up in my life, I greeted it with awe and wonder. I even wrote a little love letter to its ability to connect with a virtual black sisterhood – the kind that rarely exists in our too-undiverse workplaces in real life – in my first book. It became the perfect platform to share experiences, frustrations, strategies and ideas.

WhatsApp group communities proliferated on my phone – they were education, community and activism all in one place. It was great.

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What sort of security software and backups do I need for a home business?

Allen wants to set up a small company working from home, and would like some advice

I’m looking to set up a small business working from home, and would like some advice on back up and security measures. I have an Office 365 account so my main directory for saving documents will be OneDrive. I was looking to back up on a Synology NAS drive, perhaps to two separate hard drives as a precaution. Also, I currently just use Windows’ built-in security, but wondered whether I should look for something else.

Initially, it would just be me, but if things go well then I may have another two or three people helping. I’m assuming I can just scale up any security measures as the need arises. Allen

Technology manufacturers cater to two very large markets with different needs: home users and businesses. You’re about to enter the SoHo (small office, home office) market where home technologies dominate because most single traders don’t need proper business systems with all the extra costs and complications involved.

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Twitter to clear out inactive accounts and free up usernames

Company has been criticised for handling of move it says will reduce risk from hacking

Twitter has announced it is to clear out inactive accounts, freeing up dormant usernames and reducing the risk of old accounts being hacked.

But the company is facing criticism for the way it has handled the announcement, with many concerned that the accounts of people who have died over the past decade will be removed with no way of saving their Twitter legacies.

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Google’s secret cache of medical data includes names and full details of millions – whistleblower

Whistleblower tells Guardian of growing alarm over secret transfer of medical history data, which can be accessed by Google staff

A whistleblower who works in Project Nightingale, the secret transfer of the personal medical data of up to 50 million Americans from one of the largest healthcare providers in the US to Google, has expressed anger to the Guardian that patients are being kept in the dark about the massive deal.

Related: Mick Mulvaney drops impeachment lawsuit but will not comply with House subpoena – live

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These new rules were meant to protect our privacy. They don’t work | Stephanie Hare

The data protection laws introduced last year are failing us – and our children

Who owns your data? This is one of the toughest questions facing governments, companies and regulators today and no one has answered it to anyone’s satisfaction. Not what we were promised last year, when the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, commonly known as the GDPR, came into effect.

The GDPR was billed as the gold standard of data protection, offering the strongest data rights in the world. It has forced companies everywhere to modify their operating models, often at great cost. It inspired the state of California to pass a similar law and where California leads, the rest of the US often follows; there have been calls for a federal version of the GDPR.

Most websites nudge us into clicking 'I consent' by making it harder for us not to

Advances in computing processing power and AI will allow those who have our data to do much more with it, and so with us

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7-Eleven fuel app data breach exposes users’ personal details

App users were able to see other customers’ data, including names, dates of birth and mobile numbers

The popular petrol-buying app run by 7-Eleven has suffered a data breach that allowed customers to view the names, email addresses, mobile numbers and dates of birth of other users.

The 7-Eleven fuel app, which the company said this week has been downloaded two million times, was taken offline for a matter of hours on Thursday after a customer alerted the company to the fact that he was able to access the personal information of several other customers via the app.

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Police database flagged 9,000 cybercrime reports as ‘security risk’

Reports were quarantined by software designed to protect fraud bureau’s computer system, watchdog told

Thousands of reports of cybercrime were quarantined on a police database instead of being investigated because software designed to protect the computer system labelled them a security risk.

The backlog at one point stretched to about 9,000 reports of cybercrime and fraud, some of them dating back to October last year. The reports had been made to Action Fraud and handed to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), run by the City of London police.

Related: Plan for massive facial recognition database sparks privacy concerns

Related: Counter-terror police running secret Prevent database

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Farewell the ‘porn block’ – a PR exercise but lousy policy | Amy Orben

Without greater access to our online habits, politicians cannot frame laws for the digital age

The UK government’s porn block was a dead man walking for months, if not years. It is long overdue that this attempt to curb children’s access to online pornography is scrapped. Almost two years ago, a close colleague and I sat in a meeting with one of the policymakers who had recently been asked to implement the proposal. The pained look on his face when we queried his progress confirmed our suspicions that it was an impossible task. It was clear to many that the block could – and would – never come to pass.

The plan did not have just one achilles heel – it had many.

Scientists and other stakeholders cannot access information about what the population is actually doing online

Related: UK drops plans for online pornography age verification system

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China has built ‘massive global data-collection ecosystem’ to boost its interests

Chinese use state-owned enterprises, local tech companies and foreign partnerships, ASPI report says

The Chinese government is sweeping up vast amounts of data from all around the world to bulwark the nation’s security, but most critically to secure the political future of the Communist party, a new report argues.

Engineering Global Consent, a policy brief by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Dr Samantha Hoffman, argues that the Chinese party-state seeks to influence – and where possible control – global online and political environments so that public sentiment around the world is more favourable towards its interests. China has expanded its operations of influence into organisations such as universities in the UK, the US and Australia.

Related: Peter Dutton: China accuses home affairs minister of 'shocking' and 'malicious' slur

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Related: Australia's relationship with China in a 'terrible' state after Morrison's US visit, Labor says

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Prevent database is secure but not secret | Letter

Describing a documented database as ‘secret’ risks causing unjustified distrust in a multi-agency programme that seeks to protect those vulnerable to all forms of radicalisation and keep our communities safe, writes Chief Constable Simon Cole

Your front-page lead (7 October) talks of a “secret” police Prevent database. It is not a very well kept “secret”; a quick online search brings up numerous references to its existence in public documents – and it is where the published annual referral statistics are sourced from. The Prevent pages on the National Police Chiefs’ Council website also refer to the fact Prevent officers keep records.

We do this for exactly the same purpose we document other forms of supportive safeguarding activity such as for child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse or human trafficking. It means we can be – and are – subject to oversight and accountability.

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Scientists invent new technology to print invisible messages

Messages can only be seen under UV light and can be erased using a hairdryer

Forget lemon juice and hot irons, there is a new way to write and read invisible messages – and it can be used again and again.

The approach, developed by researchers in China, involves using water to print messages on paper coated with manganese-containing chemicals. The message, invisible to the naked eye, can be read by shining UV light on the paper.

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YouTube’s fine and child safety online | Letters

Fining YouTube for targeting adverts at children as if they were adults shows progress is being made on both sides of the Atlantic, writes Steve Wood of the Information Commissioner’s Office

The conclusion of the Federal Trade Commission investigation into YouTube’s gathering of young people’s personal information (‘Woeful’ YouTube fine for child data breach, 5 September) shows progress is being made on both sides of the Atlantic towards a more children-friendly internet. The company was accused of treating younger users’ data in the same way it treats adult users’ data.

YouTube’s journey sounds similar to many other online services: it began targeting adults, found more and more children were using its service, and so continued to take commercial advantage of that. But the allegation is it didn’t treat those young people differently, gathering their data and using it to target content and adverts at them as though they were adult users.

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