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Abuse, theft, exposure: What’s in store for your web history

“If you’re being watched, you change your behavior, and that means you have less freedom.
I don’t think you can have freedom without privacy.” —Kevin Mitnick, quoted in my new book, "Hacking the Hacker."
The United States has a long history of protecting at least some individual privacy rights with respect to common carriers. Much of the current protection was gained with the passage of the Communications Act of 1934 and further amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

The 1934 act put radio and telephone companies under the control of the FCC, and the 1996 act added ISPs and cable companies.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Yahoo breach lessons IT can’t ignore

As more details emerge about how a group of four Russians breached Yahoo, it's increasingly clear that the Internet's very interconnectedness is what makes us so vulnerable to online attacks.
It's enough to want to just unplug from the Internet and...

Microsoft’s Teams is almost excellent Slack-killer, and it’s now live for...

It's a remarkably fine version 1, but not quite the Web-IRC we were hoping for.

Sprint’s long VoIP patent war leads to $140M verdict against Time...

Can Sprint's patent lawyers force competitors to pay up for VoIP?

Singapore defense ministry suffers data breach affecting 850 users

Breach in Ministry of Defence's system compromised the personal data of 850 national servicemen and employees, whose identification and telephone numbers as well as birthdates were stolen.

Telemarketing Firm Leaks 400,000 Recorded Calls

Credit card data and personal information in the form of recorded telephone sales pitches and sales confirmations were leaked online by telemarketer.

Cognosec enters exclusive agreement to acquire UK-based A-tek Distribution Limited

Cognosec AB (publ) (“Cognosec” or “The Company”), (Nasdaq: COGS), a leading supplier of cyber security solutions with operations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, has signed an exclusive agreement with A-tek Distribution, a UK-based company specialising in the sale and digital distribution via innovative portal technologies of cyber security solutions, products and services.

The acquisition is in line with Cognosec’s strategy to expand business areas to cover the sale and distribution of software technologies over the internet.

This press release includes inside information of Cognosec AB (publ) (“Cognosec” or “The Company”) that has been subject to postponement of disclosure.

The disclosure of inside information was postponed on December 8, 2016 under Article 17 (4) of Regulation (EU) No 596/2014 (Market Abuse Regulation).

Cognosec AB today announces the signing of Heads of Terms of Agreement pursuant to the acquisition of A-tek Distribution, which is expected to close in Q1, 2017 subject to legal, financial and technology due diligence exercises.

A-tek Distribution was founded in 2009, and is a United Kingdom registered company.

The transaction will include the acquisition of 100% of outstanding shares for a consideration of approximately €275,000[1] comprised of €44,000 cash and €231,000 Cognosec AB new issue shares.

The transaction will be completed by Cognosec AB subsidiary, Credence Security.

There will be no other impact on Cognosec AB’s balance sheet.

A-tek Distribution is a specialist Digital Software Distribution Business, distributing cyber security solutions by portal and established by pioneers of digital software distribution who between them, possess over 85 man years of digital software distribution.

A-tek is positioned as a New Age Distribution Business, enabling global access to the vast SME markets with Pay-as-you-Use and Software-as-a-Service cyber security solutions.

The technology platform provides significant scalability and global advantages through innovative distribution methodologies.

A-tek Distribution recorded revenues of EUR101 510 2[2] in FY2016 and EBITDA of EUR 48 5602.

The acquisition of A-tek improves Cognosec’s competitive advantage for both vendors and customers alike.

This addition also expands Credence Security’s current product portfolio to incorporate cyber security solutions for secure operation centers, network operation centers, datacenters, mobile platforms, virtualised environments as well as providing critical fraud prevention solutions into the technology, media, telecommunications, financial and public sectors.

Commenting on the acquisition of the business by Cognosec AB, Robert Hall, A-tek Distribution’s Co-founder, says that - “It will allow the Company to fast track the overview above, whilst working together with a globally recognised provider of cyber security excellence to secure additional distribution agreements giving our current and future partners tremendous platforms for future growth, productivity and profitability."

Robert Brown, CEO of Cognosec AB commented – “We are delighted to broaden and deepen our business in line with our strategies through the acquisition of A-tek, a highly respected and experienced team.

Through A-tek, Cognosec will be extending its customer base with the addition of web-based digital distribution portals covering existing and new segments of this growing market.

Cognosec recognises the expansion of distribution of cyber security software through innovative portal solutions providing products and services with a strong emphasis on the SME markets as our strategic focus."

[1]The transaction will complete in GBP so the approximation is for the GBP:EUR exchange rates which were taken at mid-market on 23rd January 2017, 1GBP=1.158EUR.
[2]A-tek Distribution Limited uses GBP as reporting currency.

The approximation is for GBP:EUR exchange rates which were taken at mid-market on 23rd January 2017, 1GBP=1.158EUR.

Certified Adviser
Mangold Fondkommission AB is the Company’s Certified Adviser.
Telephone: +46 (0)8 5030 1550
E-mail: info@mangold.se

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Magnus Stuart
IR-contact, Cognosec AB
Email: magnus.stuart@cognosec.com

Aidan Murphy / Matthew Watkins
PR contacts, Finn Partners
Email: Cognosec@FinnPartners.com
Call: +44 (0)20 3217 7060

This information is information that Cognosec AB is obliged to make public, pursuant to the EU Market Abuse Regulation.

The information was submitted for publication, through the agency of the contact person set out above, on 24th January, 2017, at 15.00 CET.

ABOUT COGNOSEC
Cognosec AB (publ) (Nasdaq: COGS) is engaged in the provision of cyber security solutions and conducts its operations through the Swedish parent company and through subsidiaries in South Africa, UK, Kenya, and the United Arab Emirates.

The Group delivers services and technology licences to enhance clients’ protection against unwanted intrusion and to prevent various forms of information theft.

The parent company is domiciled in Stockholm, Sweden.

Cognosec employs 110 people and had revenues of EUR 16.8 million in 2015. Please visit www.cognosec.se for more information.

Pompeo sworn in as CIA chief amid opposition from surveillance critics

Mike Pompeo was sworn in late Monday by U.S.
Vice President Michael Pence as the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency, amid protests from surveillance critics who worry about his conflicting views on a number of key issues. The oath of office was administered to him after the Senate voted in favor of his confirmation in a 66-32 vote. Critics of Pompeo, a Republican representative from Kansas, are concerned that he may weigh in with the government on a rollback of many privacy reforms, including restrictions on the collection of bulk telephone metadata from Americans by the National Security Agency under the USA Freedom Act.

There are also concerns that the new director may try to introduce curbs on the use of encryption and bring in measures to monitor the social media accounts of people. The new CIA chief wrote in January last year in an op-ed that Washington is “blunting its surveillance powers” with measures like the USA Freedom Act. Pompeo had previously voted in favor of the legislation. “Congress should pass a law re-establishing collection of all metadata, and combining it with publicly available financial and lifestyle information into a comprehensive, searchable database,” Pompeo wrote in the op-ed he coauthored with constitutional lawyer David B. Rivkin. During a recent confirmation hearing, Pompeo did not provide details of limits he would accept, if any, to the new surveillance powers he has suggested. His proposals have not unexpectedly irked critics of the government’s surveillance, who are concerned that Pompeo has not clarified when asked for details about the kind of data he would like the government to collect. “After two rounds of submitted questions and a hearing, we still don’t know what Congressman Pompeo meant when he referred to ‘all metadata’ or how he defines ‘publicly available financial and lifestyle information,’” said Ron Wyden, Democrat senator from Oregon, in a speech in the Senate. Wyden said that on issue after issue, whether on surveillance, torture or Russia, Pompeo had “taken two, three or four positions, depending on when he says it and who he’s talking to.” The CIA last week updated rules governing the collection, retention and dissemination of information on U.S. persons with an eye to addressing concerns about the collection and handling of information on U.S. persons in the course of overseas surveillance. One of the measures was to put a five-year limit on the holding of sensitive data.

The rules introduced under the administration of former President Barack Obama come into effect on March 18.

Yahoo pushes back timing of Verizon deal after breaches

Verizon’s planned acquisition of Yahoo will take longer than expected and won’t close until this year’s second quarter, the internet company said on Monday. The $4.8 billion deal was originally slated to close in the first quarter, but that was before Yahoo reported two massive data breaches that analysts say may scrap the entire deal. Although Yahoo continues to work to close the acquisition, there’s still work required to meet closing the deal's closing conditions, the company said in an earnings statement, without elaborating. Verizon has suggested that the data breaches, and the resulting blow to Yahoo’s reputation, might cause it to halt or renegotiate the deal. In September, Yahoo said a "state-sponsored actor" had stolen details from at least 500 million user accounts in late 2014. As if that wasn’t enough, the company reported another breach in December, this one dating back to August 2013 and involving 1 billion user accounts. Both breaches were detected months after Verizon announced last July that it would buy the ailing internet company. Reportedly, Yahoo is facing an investigation from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over whether the breaches should have been reported to investors earlier. The breaches may have shaken confidence in Yahoo’s internet business. But the company has since taken measures, such as password resets, to secure user accounts. Nevertheless, some user accounts are still vulnerable. On Monday, Yahoo said 90 percent of its daily active users were protected from the breach. That leaves another 10 percent potentially exposed. Among the information stolen in the breaches were names, email addresses, telephone numbers, hashed passwords and security questions and answers meant to protect the accounts. 

Trump's CIA nominee grilled on his advocacy of surveillance database

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency wants to create a massive surveillance database by resurrecting a U.S. telephone records collection program, but some senators questioned what limits he would accept. CIA nominee Mike Pompeo, currently a Republican representative from Kansas, has called on Congress to reverse its mid-2015 decision to rein in the phone metadata collection program run by the National Security Agency, a sister agency to the CIA that focuses on signals intelligence. Congress should allow surveillance agencies to collect “all metadata” and combine it with “publicly available financial and lifestyle information into a comprehensive, searchable database,” Pompeo said in an opinion piece he co-authored in January 2016. Senators questioned that position during a confirmation hearing Thursday. “So you basically would get the Congress and the country back in the business of collecting millions and millions of phone records from law-abiding people,” said Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat. “You would be in favor of a new law collecting all this new data collecting information about the personal lives of our people.” Wyden pressed Pompeo for his proposed limits on such a database. “Are there any boundaries, in your view, to something this sweeping?” Pompeo avoided describing limits, other than saying the 2015 USA Freedom Act now prohibits a metadata collection program in the U.S.
Intelligence agencies should do “all they can, in a lawful, constitutional manner to collect foreign intelligence important to keeping America safe,” he said. But a U.S. metadata collection program wouldn’t be foreign intelligence, Wyden said. He asked Pompeo what kind of financial and lifestyle information about U.S. residents would be targeted. Lawmakers and the U.S. public “demand” that intelligence agencies track threats, Pompeo said. “If there’s ... information someone has out there on a publicly available site, we have an obligation to use that information to keep Americans safe,” he said. “If someone’s out there on their Facebook page plotting an attack against America, I think you’d find the director of the Central Intelligence Agency grossly negligent if they didn’t pursue that information.” Senator Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, asked Pompeo if he planned, as CIA director, to recommend changes to the law to allow more U.S. surveillance. Pompeo said he had no plans to do so. A handful of senators also asked Pompeo his views on the public’s use of encryption, in light of Trump’s criticism of Apple for refusing to help the FBI unlock a mass shooter’s iPhone. Wyden asked if Pompeo would oppose Trump if the president calls for encryption back doors. “I take a backseat to no one in protecting American’s privacy,” Pompeo said.

But encryption is a “complicated issue,” he added. “I will do my best to understand what it means to the Central Intelligence Agency, what it means to our capacity to keep America safe, and I will represent its interests as my part of a larger effort to make sure we get that policy decision right.” Several senators also asked Pompeo if he believes the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign in an effort to sway the presidential election toward Trump. Trump questioned that conclusion for months. On Wednesday, he finally said he “thinks” the Russians were behind the election hacks and information leaks. Pompeo said he has no doubt it was the Russians. “It’s pretty clear about what took place here, about Russian involvement in efforts to hack information and to have an impact on American democracy,” he said. “This was an aggressive action taken by the senior leadership inside of Russian.”

Families of ISIS victims sue Twitter for being 'weapon for terrorism'

The families of three Americans killed in ISIS terror attacks are suing Twitter for allegedly knowingly providing support for the terrorist group and acting as a “powerful weapon for terrorism.” The suit was filed over the weekend in a federal court in New York City on behalf of the relatives of three U.S. nationals who were killed by ISIS in the March 22, 2016, terrorist attacks in Brussels and the Nov. 13, 2015, terrorist attacks in Paris.

At least 32 people died in the Brussels attack and about 130 in the attack in Paris. The suit alleges that Twitter has violated, and continues to violate, the U.S.

Anti-Terrorism Act.

The plaintiffs are asking for a jury trial and monetary damages to be determined at trial. Twitter did not reply to a request for comment. “Twitter’s social media platform and services provide tremendous utility and value to ISIS as a tool to connect its members and to facilitate the terrorist group’s ability to communicate, recruit members, plan and carry out attacks, and strike fear in its enemies,” the suit alleges. “ISIS has used Twitter to cultivate and maintain an image of brutality, to instill greater fear and intimidation, and to appear unstoppable ...” The lawsuit also contends that specifically for the Brussels and Paris attacks, ISIS used Twitter to issue threats, as well as to announce and celebrate the attacks. The lawsuit was filed by the family of siblings Alexander Pinczowski and Sascha Pinczowski, who were killed in Brussels, and the family of Nohemi Gonzalez, who was killed in Paris. Last year, another lawsuit was filed by Gonzalez’s father against Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for allegedly knowingly allowing ISIS to “use their social networks as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds and attracting new recruits.” In December, the families of three victims of the June shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, sued Facebook, Twitter and Google, the owner of YouTube, for allegedly ”providing support to the Islamic State.” Forty-nine people were killed in the attack. The question, if either case goes to trial, is whether a social network can be held responsible for the actions of any of its users. “While I certainly can sympathize with the families, it’s hard for me to see how Twitter can be held responsible for the rise of ISIS and their terror activities,” said Dan Olds, an analyst with OrionX. “Let’s imagine the world a few decades ago, before the internet. Would someone try to hold AT&T responsible for criminal activities that were planned over the telephone? Or is the printing press manufacturer responsible for magazines that encourage terrorism that were printed using presses they built and sold? “ In response to the attacks, Twitter took steps to prevent terrorists from using its network. In August, the company reported that in the previous six months, it had suspended 235,000 accounts for violating its policies related to the promotion of terrorism. That was in addition to 125,000 accounts that been suspended since mid-2015, bringing the total number of terrorist-related suspended accounts to 360,000. “We strongly condemn these acts and remain committed to eliminating the promotion of violence or terrorism on our platform,” the company said in a blog post at the time. Judith Hurwitz, an analyst with Hurwitz & Associates, said it would be a significant challenge for Twitter to keep terrorists completely off its site. “Perhaps Twitter could do a better job identifying users who are terrorists,” she said, saying the company would likely need advanced machine learning tools to weed out the bad players. “Of course, it would have to be advanced… Remember that terrorists are very good at adapting.
If they are thrown off of the system, they can come back with a different persona and try to game the system.” Brad Shimmin, an analyst with Current Analysis, said social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Google can’t be held responsible for their users’ actions. “There is no way of effectively policing those sites based upon affiliation or behavior,” Shimmin said. “Twitter itself has gone to some extreme measures to single out and remove accounts engaged in this sort of thing.

That will help, and I think such efforts are a moral responsibility for Twitter and other social networking vendors, but those actions can’t rule out future misuse.” Olds said it would be impossible for Twitter to keep terrorists from using its site 100% of the time, but the company could do a better job of curtailing it. “Terrorist messages should be able to be rooted out with some solid language processing software,” Olds said. “I’d like to see them do more along these lines.

The technology is there, they just need to adapt it to anti-terrorist tasks.” If Twitter loses the lawsuit and is ordered to pay significant damages, the impact on other social networks would be chilling, he said. “Social networks would be forced to keep a much closer eye on user activities and crack down on anything that could be interpreted as ‘bad,’ “ Olds said. “The end result would be self-imposed censorship on the part of the nets, which would greatly upset many users.

But I just don’t see this happening—at least not with this case.” This story, "Families of ISIS victims sue Twitter for being 'weapon for terrorism' " was originally published by Computerworld.

Former DHS head urges Trump to see economic dangers from cyberattacks

Last week’s U.S. intelligence report tracing Russia’s cyber-meddling with the 2016 presidential election is a timely reminder of the cybersecurity risks that the government and private companies face, said Tom Ridge, the nation’s first secretary of Homeland Security. “President-elect Trump is entering into a world fraught with hazards as never before,” Ridge said in a telephone interview on Monday. “Russia is a reminder that cyberattacks are a permanent risk to individuals and countries and companies, and you must do all you can to understand the risk.
It’s a reminder of how serious and permanent the risk is.

The risk continues to get deeper.” Ridge, who is also a former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, is chairman of Ridge Global, a Washington-based cyber protection advisory firm. He was named by President George W.

Bush to head the Department of Homeland Security, which was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He held the post from 2003 to 2005.  Ridge said President-elect Donald Trump needs to appreciate that cyberattacks affect not only national security but also the nation’s economic security.

Companies that control the nation’s financial sector, energy resources, transportation and other vital infrastructure are just as vulnerable as federal agencies and political party emails, he noted. “It’s not just about securing government information, but about national security and economic security,” Ridge explained. “One thing the next president needs to understand is that it’s both.

Time will tell if he’s up to it.” Ridge said the Russian hacks “didn’t influence the outcome of the election, but are a reminder to citizens and companies alike that we live in an interdependent world. People get excited about the digital forever that computing devices offer, but there are dangers, whether from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, organized crime or a hacker.
If you have something in the network such as personal information, then it’s vulnerable and we need to protect it.” Nearly all the nation’s vital infrastructure is under the control of the private sector, which is made up primarily of public companies, he added. “That means that CEOs and corporate boards, along with IT shops, have to be paying far more attention than ever before to cybersecurity.
I call it the digital forevermore. “The cyber actors are proliferating and some are owned by nation-states and some with the consent of nations, or it can be organized crime,” he said. Ridge Global has joined with the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) and Carnegie Mellon University to raise the level of cyber-risk awareness among CEOs and corporate boards of directors. Last September, they created the first NACD Cyber-Risk Oversight Program, a 20-hour online cyber-risk training package. “Cybersecurity is the most significant governance challenge for the public and private sector,” Ridge said. “It’s not just the exclusive domain of the CIO and CTO and is now in the domain of the CEO and the corporate board.” “We’re not trying to turn members of boards into technologists, but it will be a better way to understand the risks and broader implications of IT systems and how they impact all parts of business operations, from procurement to HR to supply chain, communications, mergers and intellectual property,” he said.  Ridge said the training is intended to urge board members to make an attitude change in favor of greater scrutiny over cyber matters. “If your attitude hasn’t changed about cybersecurity, then there’s risk for your brand and reputation from a financial point of view,” he added. “There’s greater risk from SEC investigations over cyber and risk from litigation over cyber.” NACD, which has 17,000 members, recently surveyed more than 600 board directors and professionals and found only 19 percent believe their boards have a high level of understanding of cybersecurity risks.

Also, 59 percent said they find it challenging to oversee cyber risk.

The NACD and the Internet Security Alliance, a trade group, this week are issuing an update of a Cyber Security Handbook first issued in 2014 that has been endorsed by the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Ridge also said that federal legislation to require companies to disclose computer hacks at the national level could be valuable to general counsels in large companies with operations in multiple states.

Currently, there are disclosure laws in many states, but they are inconsistent. “General counsels in companies probably would like to see a uniform type of reporting, since disclosure varies from state to state,” Ridge said. Still, Ridge said that disclosure laws are “unfortunately at the tail end of the problem, after a company has been hacked. We’re trying to minimize hacks.
If companies rely on government to help them, that’s misplaced confidence.

Companies have the most significant responsibility.” This story, "Former DHS head urges Trump to see economic dangers from cyberattacks" was originally published by Computerworld.