Steps Forward

June 30, 2015
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By Byron Acohido, ThirdCertainty

Three weeks after officials said foreign hackers may have stolen sensitive government records tied to tens of millions of people, the Office of Personnel Management has shut down a system tied to the breach, essentially stopping background checks for new federal employees, contractors and others. The Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing system “will be down for an extended period of time for security enhancements.”...

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June 24, 2015
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By Byron Acohido, ThirdCertainty

Facebook now has the ability to recognize a person in photographs even when their face can’t be seen. The company is testing DeepFace, a new algorithm in its artificial intelligence lab, which uses cues such as hairstyles, clothing or body language to identify a person. It is so good, according to New Scientist, that it can pick a person out of a lineup. “People have characteristic aspects, even if you look at them from the back,” Yann...

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June 19, 2015
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By Byron Acohido, ThirdCertainty

The PureFunds ISE Cyber Security ETF (ticker symbol HACK), which offers investors exposure to the emerging cybersecurity industry, has surpassed $1 billion in assets under management only seven months after its inception. “Due to the steady stream of data breaches across the globe, cybersecurity remains a top-of-mind concern for corporate entities, governments and individuals,” said Andrew Chanin, CEO of PureFunds. “We believe that the increased...

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June 15, 2015
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By Byron Acohido, ThirdCertainty

Amid word of a second major cyber breach at the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Management and Budget gave agencies 30 days to fix their systems. Tony Scott, the federal chief information officer, told agencies to take immediate action to improve data security. He also announced the creation of a Cybersecurity Sprint Team to review federal policies and procedures and recommend a new cyber strategy for civilian agencies....

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June 4, 2015
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By Byron Acohido, ThirdCertainty

The Associated Press is reporting that the Obama administration is preparing to go public with the disclosure of another major data breach.  Quoting a congressional aide and a second U.S. official — both unnamed — AP reports that the Office of Personnel Management and the Interior Department were hacked. Expect a public announcement of the breach Thursday night or Friday morning, the second source advised AP. The Office of Personnel...

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June 3, 2015
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By Byron Acohido, ThirdCertainty

 Mortgage lenders routinely require borrowers to sign IRS form 4506-T, which lets underwriters get transcripts of past tax returns. Your lender gives the form to a third-party vendor to access taxpayer transcripts. Vendors must submit information about their businesses and check a box agreeing to “Safeguard Taxpayer Data.” Curtis Knuth, of transcript vendor NCS, says his firm and others have urged the IRS to “toughen...

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June 2, 2015
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By Byron Acohido, ThirdCertainty

Google has rebranded its Wallet payment system as Android Pay, and plans a big push for it. The payment system uses near-field communication to securely transmit payments to stores equipped with readers. The payment is authorized like a regular credit card swipe, but the retailer never gets your card information, which should offer increased security. That might make it the answer to some of the data breaches that have harmed a number...

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May 8, 2015
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By Byron Acohido, ThirdCertainty

In your hands: Google’s next Android update will give users more detailed choices on what information apps can access. That includes access to photos, contacts and location data. Apple added similar security features more than two years ago. The announcement is expected at the Google IO developer conference later this month. Source:...

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May 7, 2015
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By Byron Acohido, ThirdCertainty

Patriotic duty: The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Patriot Act was never written to authorize the sweeping surveillance the NSA interpreted it to allow. The judges said bulk collection of Americans’ phone metadata wasn’t authorized, as the intelligence community has argued. The ruling doesn’t immediately halt the domestic phone records surveillance program, but if it’s not overturned, it could force...

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May 6, 2015
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By Byron Acohido, ThirdCertainty

Helping the helpers: As 911 services move to an Internet provider-based environment, cybersecurity is more important, said Rear Adm. Ronald Hewitt, of the Office of Emergency Communications at the Department of Homeland Security. More local public safety agencies are rolling out next-generation 911 services, including the ability to text emergency calls and share images with first-responders. With about 80 percent of...

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