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Black Hat rides into Sin City

Black Hat rides into Sin City
August 6, 2015

LAS VEGAS—Hacking the daily stuff of life is one theme emerging at this year’s Black Hat computer security conference. More than 10,000 computer security professionals, researchers and government workers are expected at the conference, which features 290 sessions describing network security flaws, attacks past, present and future, and how to guard against them. Black Hat is known as a conference where security types present the fruits of research that’s necessary, but at times sobering. This year, talks include how to take a nuclear plant offline, hacking a chemical production facility, taking over a computer-aided rifle, and wirelessly controlling cars from afar. “For security officials, this represents a scary new world,” said Steve Wylie, Black Hat general manager. “It’s just one example of threats to our modern-day society, and there’s more coming.” Source: USA Today

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Duplicity in the dorm

Fighting fraud is not likely a college student’s top priority as they head back to school, but it’s something they will want to watch out for throughout the year. According to Javelin Strategy and Research, the average cost of losses from identity theft for people ages 18 to 24 is $1,156, roughly five times more than the amount lost by other age groups. Identity theft for that age group also takes the longest to detect: 132 days on average. Tips include: Send sensitive mail sent to a permanent address, such as your parent’s home or a post office box; store your Social Security card, passport, bank and credit card statements under lock and key; and shred financial information. Source: KFVS, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

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Rights here, rights now

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is renewing his effort to create a panel to investigate the impact of technology on privacy as part of the Senate’s cyber bill. Sanders, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, is offering an amendment to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act to establish “a Commission on Privacy Rights in the Digital Age.” He wants the group to look into how public and private companies gather data on U.S. citizens and how that information is used and recommend changes “needed to safeguard the privacy of the people of the United States,” according to the amendment. He also wants the panel to home in on any implications for privacy rights, transparency for the government and consumers, and potential waste, fraud or abuse. Source: The Hill

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Facebook nibbles on cookies

New or nonregistered visitors to Facebook’s website from within the EU are being met with a banner outlining privacy information. The move follows feedback from the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, which regulates the social network in Europe. Facebook says while the banner will provide information on its use of cookies, which are files that can gather data on users, the way it uses them is not changing. It also says that people can continue to learn about its use of cookies from any page on Facebook. The company says the measure, which will be expanded gradually to site visitors over time, is designed to improve user experience. Facebook across Europe has been regulated by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner for five years. Source: RTE News, Ireland

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Gotta hand it to him

Alex Smith (or what he calls himself), researcher at penetration testing firm Assurance and owner of the Cyberise.Me body hacking supplier, has a total of four RFID chips that he injected into himself. He uses one for storing cloned smart cards and another for unlocking his Android phone. He also has a magnet inserted into his finger, extending his senses to feel magnetic fields. Smith is hopeful others have as much enthusiasm as he does. “It’s more of a side project right now, but I would like to make Cyberise.Me a proper business.” Using his subdermal implants, anyone could break into offices with the wave of a hand. Source: Forbes

Dollars and sense about cyber

The U.S. Treasury warned that a brush with the threat of default could leave government finances more vulnerable to disruptions caused by a cyber attack, while also squeezing debt markets. The federal government currently is scraping under its $18 trillion legal debt cap, with political wrangling about fiscal policy putting Washington at risk of not being able to pay its bills. The Treasury came close to missing payments in 2011 and 2013, when Congress delayed increasing the borrowing limit. The Treasury will have to reduce the government’s cash buffer in coming months as it runs out of room under the debt ceiling, Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets Seth Carpenter said. The department said in May that it would try to hold larger cash balances to be ready for any disruptions to the financial system, such as a cyber attack or major storm. Source: Reuters

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Pump up the volume of crime

After investigators found sophisticated credit card skimmers at two pumps in a Harahan, La., gas station, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is asking local businesses to regularly inspect credit card-reading equipment for similar, illegal devices. “It’s very troubling to us because they may have done this at other locations that we are unaware of,” said Col. John Fortunato, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office. Skimmers, usually secretly installed by thieves, illegally scan and record customer information. The stolen credit and debit card numbers are then used to make purchases or create counterfeit cards, authorities say. ATMs and more recently, gas pumps, are a favorite target. Source:

Now airing from your air conditioner

Security researchers at a Manhattan startup have discovered how to make any modern device—printer, washing machine, air conditioner—broadcast invisible, inaudible signals for miles. That’s a huge step forward for hackers. The rapidly expanding $77 billion cybersecurity industry is all about guarding computer networks. Ang Cui and his team of researchers found a way to sneak data out of a computer network without setting off any alarms. It also hints at the ability to steal data from computers that aren’t connected to the Internet, like those at nuclear facilities. One of the only ways to detect this tactic is by walking around with an AM radio. If you get near a device and the radio static is interrupted by loud beeping, it’s secretly transmitting radio signals. Source: CNN


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