News & Analysis

July 24, 2015
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Lax security left the U.S. Treasury’s computer system for tracking overseas threats to the U.S. financial system vulnerable to hackers, according to a government audit prepared in late 2014 and obtained by Reuters. U.S. spy agencies use the Treasury Foreign Intelligence Network to share secret information and to keep tabs on the impact of sanctions against countries such as Iran and Russia, as well as militant groups such as Hezbollah. The report gave no indication the foreign intelligence...

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July 23, 2015
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Credit bureau Experian is the target of a class-action lawsuit alleging that the company negligently violated consumer-protection laws when it failed to detect that a customer of its data broker subsidiary was a scammer who sold data to identity thieves. The lawsuit follows the imposition of a 13-year jail sentence against Hieu Minh Ngo, who ran an ID theft service variously named Superget.info and findget.me. Ngo admitted hacking into or otherwise illegally gaining access to databases...

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July 22, 2015
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Two security researchers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, have found a way to hack a car and control it remotely. From the Internet, they were able to track cars by location, see how fast they were going, turn the blinkers and lights on and off, and mess with the windshield wipers, radios, navigation and, sometimes, brakes and steering. In one test, they bought a Jeep that connected to the Internet through a hardware chip. They found vulnerability in a chip, then connected to another chip...

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July 21, 2015
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Federal regulators want tighter controls on the export of cyber weapons, with the Commerce Department seeking to ensure that software that can attack a network—the kind that can break in, bypass encryption and steal data—can’t be shipped overseas without permission. According to human rights reports, government agencies in Bahrain, Turkmenistan, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates have used spyware to monitor and crack down on activists. Leaders from about 40 countries, including the...

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July 20, 2015
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Affluent, educated consumers are the most likely to get their identities stolen, reports identity theft protection company LifeLock. Earning $100,000 or more a year increases your risk by 51 percent, and having a four-year college degree leads to a 44 percent increase. Students and members of the military are particularly at risk for new account fraud—meaning that thieves will open accounts in their names without their knowledge. Students were 45 percent more likely to experience this type...

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July 17, 2015
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By Byron Acohido, ThirdCertainty

Google won the dismissal of a lawsuit by Android users who said the company violated its privacy policy by disclosing their names, email addresses and account locations to third parties without permission, to boost ad revenue. Judge Paul Grewal said the users failed to show that Google transmitted their own personal data or that they would suffer economic harm if it occurred. Grewal had allowed plaintiffs to pursue breach of contract...

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July 16, 2015
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By Byron Acohido, ThirdCertainty

It’s not news that the Internal Revenue Service, hit by a 17 percent real cut in its budget in the past five years, provided poor phone service this past tax-filing season. But in her midyear report to Congress, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson disclosed that since the IRS has added security layers to block fraudulent refund claims by identity thieves, it’s delaying legitimate tax returns. This past filing season, it froze 1.6...

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July 15, 2015
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By Byron Acohido, ThirdCertainty

The personal data for 21.5 million people was stolen in the Office of Personnel Management hack, but for national security professionals and cybersecurity experts, the more troubling issue is the theft of 1.1 million fingerprints. Unlike a Social Security number, address or password, fingerprints cannot be changed—once they are hacked, they’re hacked for good. And government officials have less understanding about what adversaries...

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July 14, 2015
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By Byron Acohido, ThirdCertainty

Army National Guard members should check their credit reports after a contract employee unintentionally transferred personnel files to an unapproved data center. Compromised data includes soldiers’ names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and home addresses. “All current and former Army National Guard members since 2004 could be affected by this breach,” the National Guard Bureau’s Maj. Earl Brown said. The Pentagon did not...

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July 13, 2015
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By Byron Acohido, ThirdCertainty

Lawmakers are debating whether to strip the Office of Personnel Management of its control of security clearances after hackers breached nearly 20 million background check forms housed at the agency. Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Steve Russell, R-Okla., who both likely had their security clearance details taken, are prepping a bill to move the security clearance database away from the OPM, perhaps to the Defense Department, where it was...

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