Category Archives: Security

Keeping your safe online

What Does Apple’s New Privacy Policy Mean?

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has recently been touting the company’s new privacy policy. In a letter to customers, he said that while the company collected user data, that was not the basis of their business model. In an obvious swipe at Google, he claimed: Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple. More importantly, he went on to write: I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will. In fact, Apple now claims the company is making it impossible for them to turn over data from most iPhones and iPads to police even with a warrant. They claim to have reworked encryption for iOS8 so that they no longer have the keys and thus cannot help authorities. In other words, only users have the passcodes to their accounts (which means if they forget them, they’re in real trouble). But is this truly as radical … Continue reading

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Dangers of Public WiFi

[Note: This is derived from articles originally published in the July and August editions of the SWCP Portal, our monthly newsletter. Due to the importance of the security information they contained, we're republishing them here for everyone.] Ars Technica tech news site recently warned that public WiFi hotspots can post a security risk to users. It’s not that the hotspots are themselves insecure. It’s the way most computers, tablets, and phones implement WiFi logins that poses a danger. AT&T and Comcast, among others, are promoting large networks of WiFi hotspots which are free for their customers to use. For example, AT&T’s free WiFi hotspots are available at McDonald’s and Starbucks. When you see the “attwifi” network at any of these places around the country you can log in with your AT&T login. The same goes for Comcast’s “xfinitywifi“. It’s as convenient as it is dangerous. The trick is that once you have logged in to one of these networks, your computer or tablet saves the login information so you can reconnect to these networks without entering a password the next time you are near one of their hotspots. This is the window that can let the bad guys in. What the criminal can do to the unsuspecting device owner is set up his own WiFi hotspot using the network name “attwifi” or “xfinitywifi“. But the crook’s hotspot has some tricks up its sleeve. First, it allows you to connect regardless … Continue reading

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US Leads the World in Spam

One interesting fact that didn’t make it into this month’s newsletter article on “The Secret Life of Spam” is that the United States leads the world in the overall volume of spam produced. And by a huge margin, too: according to security site Sophos, 24% of all spam generated this spring. That’s nearly a quarter! France and China, the runners-up, come in at less than 7% each. The full results can be accessed here. The results may be surprising because we tend to think of spam originating in Russia or Nigeria, or the actual place where the criminals who generate it live. But spam is a world-wide problem, and one would think the bad guys generally know enough to not spoil their own nests. Instead, the countries which actually generate the most spam are those where the most computers are infected with malware. The US merits the top billing for volume not so much due to poor security practices, but to our large and highly-connected population. When the overall amount is divided by population, the US doesn’t do so badly. In a per-person comparison, we come up merely twelfth, near the bottom with Bulgaria and Belarus being tops at 2.7 and 1.9 times the American rate. However, the US is still spewing a lot of crap messages, and if you’re infected, you’re part of the problem. Once your machine becomes part of a botnet, it’s essentially a zombie out of … Continue reading

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