This Monday Google said that government demands 150 % more information on company’s users compared to the numbers when the company published their numbers for the first time, in 2009. Over the same time period the number of requests from the US government increased by 250%.
The latest transparency report from Google shows that in the first half of 2014 government requested 15% more information than the second half of 2013. Meanwhile, the US government requested 19% more information.
According to Google legal director Richard Salgado this data shows that government contradicts the idea of revelations about revelations about surveillance programs. He also pointed out that some other countries are also trying to expand their surveillance authorities in order to obtain desirable information from service providers outside their borders. Richard Salgado said that this trend is increasing and other countries are also planning on making similar measures.
In Richard Salgado’s eyes government has legitimate reason to obtain information from various service providers as that information may be very important while fighting crime and identifying possible national security threats. However, in his opinion there is a need for a legislative reform that would ensure the laws enabling government to obtain such information are transparent and subject to independent oversight. Otherwise public confidence in government and technology will not be maintained at the current level which, many might argue, is not at a level that ensure confidence and trust in government’s actions.
The report also states that Google wants to increase the transparency for their users. However, due to the fact that they are limited in what information they can publish regarding requests from Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and information collected by National Security Agency (NSA) under national security letters (NSL). Nevertheless, Richard Salgado says that Google is prohibited by FBI to publish such information for 6 months after the request was completed. Therefor, the report provides data from the second half of 2013 although it is not very specific as Google only give the range of number of requests made by FISA and NSL. The number of requests under FISA Google received during that period was in a range from 0 to 999. Requests under NSL fell in the same range.
Richard Salgado also brought up Google’s support for the USA Freedom Act that was introduced by senators Mike Lee, Dean Heller, Al Franken and Patrick Leahy. The act would prevent information containing origins and target of the call or e-mail, time of it and other important information. If this legislation is enacted it will allow Google to be more transparent about the demands they receive from government. Furthermore, it would allow Google to create better oversight and accountability mechanisms.
Richard Salgado then mentioned the need to update Electronic Communications Privacy Act in a way that would require the government to have a search warrant in order to request a service provider for the content of a user’s communication. Additionally, Richard Salgado not only mentioned that the reform is supported by various groups, associations and companies, he also said that the petition, urging the White House to update the act, was signed by more than 100,000 people and it is supported by the majority of the House Members. He also added that if the act is updated in a way it is proposed now, it will be a historic legislation that is going to help restore trust in government.
Taking all the possible risks into account Jeremy Gillula recommended for all the people that are planning to connect to Xfinity WiFi hotspot to use a VPN or Tor services.
Look out, 1Password and LastPass. Google is puting to the test its own password maker for the Chrome browser, howbeit it’s not yet clear if it will become a long-lasting fixture.
As the entire Internet is striving to build a fitter password, Google has made a password generator of its own into an developmental version of the Chrome browser.
You could see this feature lurking in an option in Chrome since 2012, but on Thursday Google granted it some attention with a completely new interface in Chrome Canary, a version that is designed for developers and early adopters. Though there’s no assurance that the feature will find its way into the reliable manifestation of Chrome, the new interface might mean that Google is preparing it for more-trendy versions. Acording to NetMarketShare reports, Chrome is the second-most-used browser globally, owning 19.61 percent of the market.
François Beaufort – Google employee and Chrome watcher said on Google+ that the tool uses FIPS 181 Automated Password Generator with a C library, and it produces a robust and pronounceable password.
If you would like to activate it, you have to be running Chrome Canary, and then enable two flags: chrome://flags/#enable-save-password-bubble and chrome://flags/#enable-password-generation. Once you’ve performed those actions, your Chrome will open an overlay and suggest newly created passwords to you whenever you click on any field that requires a new password. While Chrome Canary will not override your existing installation of Google Chrome, you still get warned by Google that the browser is experimental and might occasionally stop working.
LastPass, 1Password, RoboForm are few examples of password-generating tools that are a backbone of browser accessories, and are quite often suggested by security experts for the sole reason of them being able to help create and manage “strong” passwords. “Strong” passwords are tough for computers and hackers to guess. Google’s effort to offer such feature, if it works out its way into the more stable and common version of Chrome, could encourage rivals to build password generators into their own browsers and make the field more competitive.
Hackers managed to steal celebrity photos from Apple’s iCloud online storage service by guessing passwords to accounts. A more robust and stronger passwords might have protected the these celebrities from being hacked.
Four Microsoft offices in China were raided by State Administration of China for Industry and Commerce on July 28th, 2014.
The inspection organized by the Chinese authority intended to check whether Microsoft broke anti monopoly laws. Around 100 investigators headed into Microsoft’s offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu.
Investigators took possession of documents, two computers, e-mail inboxes and internal correspondence. Reason of this investigation was the security complaints on the Microsoft’s operating system „Windows“ and „Office“ productivity suite.
The agency stated that it several businesses complained about security features of the mentioned Microsoft products. Moreover, Microsoft had not clarified how it bundle those products together. First complaints were filled back in June, 2013.
State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) believes the results obtained during an earlier inspection are not enough to clear Microsoft of suspicion on anti competitive behavior.
The agency interviewed Microsoft employees and executives although not every Microsoft official was available at the offices. SAIC also copied financial statements and contracts as part of the investigation. The agency urged relevant staffers to present themselves to the bureau for the interviews.
Microsoft spokesman stated that: „Microsoft complies with regulations and laws of each market in which we operate and we use industry leading enforcement and monitoring mechanisms in place to assure that. Our business practices in China are compliant with the Chinese law.“
However, Chinese authority is concerned about country’s security and privacy and is under the impression that the US technology companies spy on China using their services and products. It is like a digital Cold War taking place between China and the US.
Chinese authority lately banned the usage of Windows 8 operating system due to security concerns. Chinese government has been promoting homegrown products and wants people to use these suites instead. It is very clear: Chinese government has spent lots of time and effort promoting and putting Chinese companies into the technology industry.
Although, Microsoft can rebound from this situation. Not like the majority of the US companies, Microsoft has more growth and good relations with the local authorities. It was the first multinational company that launched a public cloud in China which shows government support behind that.
Since anti monopoly behavior is a criminal matter regarding Chinese law, Microsoft could face huge fines and various sanctions if found guilty.
The police in Rhode Island has a secret weapon to fight the child pornography: Thoreau, a 2 year old Labrador dog, who has been trained to sniff out the computer hard drives of USB sticks. The dog is credited to find a thumb drive that was hidden inside a metal cabinet.
The dog was trained by CSPD (Connecticut State Police Department). Using food to reward Thoreau, he has been taught to discover the scent of USB sticks and other devices that may hold illegal videos and images.
If the device has a memory card, Labrador will sniff it out, Detective Adam Houston says. He handles all operations with Thoreau. Detective also has information that child pornography collectors have hidden storage devices everywhere from radios to ceiling tiles.
Rhode Island and Connecticut are reportedly the two states that use dogs’ help to sniff out memory drives during searches. It took five months to train Thoreau and it already paying dividends. However, the training program was extensive and expensive. How it is famous around the nation.
Here is the list of items Thoreau can sniff out:
1. Plastic Credit Card
2. Shotgun Shell
3. Leather Wallet
4. Article of Clothing
5. Metal/Plastic Handgun
6. Paper Matchbook
7. Leather Wallet