Federal Government Creates Strike Force to Fight Tech Theft

The U.S. is increasing efforts to thwart technology theft, launching what some are calling a “hack back” attack against adversaries who use illegal means in attempts to steal developmental secrets or strike at supply chains. Operating from 12 metropolitan regions, the new Disruptive Technology Strike Force (DTSF) will enforce laws protecting U.S. advanced technologies from illegal acquisition and use by nation-states. The goal of the DTSF — a joint venture of the Department of Justice and the Commerce Department — is “to strike back against adversaries trying to siphon off our best technology,” deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco said. Continue reading Federal Government Creates Strike Force to Fight Tech Theft

Feds Say Time to Prep for Y2Q Quantum Computer Hacking

Quantum computing promises future benefits, but also poses present-day cybersecurity risks that the federal government is urging commercial businesses to prepare for now. In fact, a law passed in December, the Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act, requires federal agencies to develop security plans addressing the vulnerability posed by the so-called “Y2Q” moment. Quantum computers are so quick and efficient as to be able to crack virtually any encryption. Although quantum computing is still in the development stage, the machines are expected to reach practical operability by 2030. Continue reading Feds Say Time to Prep for Y2Q Quantum Computer Hacking

New Apple HomePod Signals Big Push in Smart Home Space

Apple is gearing up to make a big play for the smart home market, according to reports that put it on a trajectory to challenge Google and Amazon. This week, the company released a new HomePod smart speaker with superior audio, enhanced Siri capabilities, and better security. But a report surfaced of Apple preparing a dedicated smart home control device to rival the displays for Amazon’s Echo Show and Google’s Nest Hub. Although the iPad currently offers some smart home features, standalone devices are growing in popularity, kickstanding on countertops or mounted on walls. Continue reading New Apple HomePod Signals Big Push in Smart Home Space

CES: Crypto Leaders Weigh Benefits of Wallets, Self-Custody

CoinDesk managing editor Toby Bochan, who moderated a CES panel on “How to Keep Control of Your Crypto” noted the industry is in a “crypto winter” in the aftermath of the FTX meltdown. Panelists pinpointed crypto wallets and other self-custody technology to create trust and ease-of-use for wary customers. Bitski head of product Jasmine Xu noted that newbies face unfamiliar phraseology and uncertainty about the security of their crypto assets. Exchanges are intimidating and untrustworthy for many considering crypto. Xu’s company stores keys in a digital wallet, she said, to “give consumers the safety they need.” Continue reading CES: Crypto Leaders Weigh Benefits of Wallets, Self-Custody

Google Introduces End-to-End Encryption Features for Gmail

Select Gmail users are getting expanded access to a beta test for new end-to-end encryption features from Google. Google Workspace Enterprise Plus, Education Plus and Education Standard can apply to join the beta test until January 20, 2023. “Using client-side encryption in Gmail ensures sensitive data in the email body and attachments are indecipherable to Google servers,” the company says, adding that customers will retain control over encryption keys. Users will be able to activate the additional encryption by clicking the padlock button in Gmail. Activating the extra security will disable features like emoji and signatures. Continue reading Google Introduces End-to-End Encryption Features for Gmail

Apple Introduces New iCloud Encryption to Prevent Hacking

Apple is adding a new end-to-end encryption option for iCloud data that will further protect backups, photos and notes. Called Advanced Data Protection, it will shield even Apple from seeing some of the most sensitive data users store on its servers. The change reportedly makes it impossible for Apple to provide law enforcement with the contents of encrypted files. The company says the security enhancements will help protect its customers from the most sophisticated hackers. The feature rolls out this week for those participating in Apple’s Beta Software Program. Continue reading Apple Introduces New iCloud Encryption to Prevent Hacking

Mozilla Sets Discount Privacy Bundle: VPN Plus Firefox Relay

Mozilla has bundled two premium security products into a subscription package. Firefox Relay and Mozilla VPN are available together for $6.99 with an annual subscription. With the holiday sales season in full swing, retailers are bracing for hacker attacks and phishing schemes, an angle Mozilla is leveraging with its push. Axios Codebook says “the ongoing economic downturn is prompting more shoppers to look for online discount codes and more hackers to trick these consumers with phony deals.” Firefox Relay protects identities by hiding users real email addresses, while Mozilla VPN is a virtual private network service. Continue reading Mozilla Sets Discount Privacy Bundle: VPN Plus Firefox Relay

WhatsApp Debuts Communities with End-to-End Encryption

Meta Platforms is globally releasing a major update for WhatsApp called Communities, which doubles the number of group chat members to 1,024, and adds video (and voice) for up to 32. Designed for schools, clubs, churches, the workplace and other organizations, Communities features include support for sub-groups, admin controls and in-chat polls. “We’re aiming to raise the bar for how organizations communicate with a level of privacy and security not found anywhere else,” the company said of the upgrade, stressing end-to-end encryption. In fact, Communities are not publicly discoverable, requiring an invitation. Continue reading WhatsApp Debuts Communities with End-to-End Encryption

Big Tech Ramps Up Digital Security with Passkey Deployment

Now that Apple, Google and Microsoft have updated their operating systems to support the open standard passkey protocol stewarded by the FIDO Alliance, consumers will soon be liberated from the tyranny of passwords and their attendant security threats. PayPal has become the latest to embrace the passkey approach, announcing U.S. users will soon be able to log in using FIDO-compliant passkeys. It joins Best Buy, CardPointers, eBay, Kayak and WordPress among those with digital portals offering a passkey option. Passkeys will permit consumers to login seamlessly across devices, making online purchases easier and eliminating friction from app access. Continue reading Big Tech Ramps Up Digital Security with Passkey Deployment

U.S. Aims to Slow China Tech Progress with Chip Restrictions

The Biden administration is acting to limit China’s rapid military progress by banning shipments of advanced chips and the production tools needed to make them. This is in response to signs that China is using AI and supercomputing to develop hypersonic weapons and systems that may be able to crack highly encrypted messaging. The new rules, which extend to foreign companies using relevant U.S. technology, have already begun taking effect. But companies including Intel, Samsung, TSMC and SK Hynix have reportedly received limited exemptions allowing them to continue shipping to some factories there. Continue reading U.S. Aims to Slow China Tech Progress with Chip Restrictions

Roku Partners with Walmart on Line of Smart Home Products

Roku is expanding into smart home products in partnership with Walmart. Roku Smart Home features security cameras, smart lights, video doorbells, and voice-enabled smart plugs. A new Roku Smart Home mobile app and subscription-based security camera service will help keep everything running. The move makes Roku an upstart competitor to Amazon and Google in the connected home space. Roku Smart Home offerings are compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa in addition to Roku Voice. Roku TVs and streaming players will display video feeds from the Roku security cameras. Continue reading Roku Partners with Walmart on Line of Smart Home Products

Apple Passkey Implementation Begins This Month via iOS 16

The world is preparing for a passwordless future, which Apple provides with the September 12 launch of iOS 16 and macOS Ventura next month. Known as passkeys, the password replacement will work across iPhones, iPads, and Macs, letting users log in to apps and websites and create new accounts without having to store a password. Made from a cryptographic key pair, the passkey is synced across iCloud’s Keychain. Google, Microsoft, Meta Platforms and Amazon are also in various stages of developing passkeys using standards created by the FIDO Alliance, which means they’ll all likely be interoperable. Continue reading Apple Passkey Implementation Begins This Month via iOS 16

Meta Explores New Monetization Features for Its Social Apps

Meta Platforms is assessing “possible paid features” for its social apps, including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, according to an internal employee memo. The initiative, under a freshly minted division called New Monetization Experiences, led by Pratiti Raychoudhury, represents Meta’s first coordinated move into paid features across social platforms serving an estimated 3.65 billion monthly users worldwide, per Statista. It comes at a time when Meta is under pressure to increase revenue, which has taken a hit from Apple’s ad-tracking changes and a general softening in digital ad spending. Continue reading Meta Explores New Monetization Features for Its Social Apps

EU Checks Power of Big Tech with Digital Services Regulation

The European Parliament has adopted two digital acts, one focused on leveling the competitive playing field, the other on protecting consumer rights online. The Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act are both expected to take effect this fall, after the European Commission signs off. “We are finally building a single digital market, the most important one in the ‘free world,’” EU commissioner for the internal market Thierry Breton said Tuesday. “The same predictable rules will apply, everywhere in the EU, for our 450 million citizens, bringing everyone a safer and fairer digital space.” Continue reading EU Checks Power of Big Tech with Digital Services Regulation

Apple Campaign Exposes Data Auctions as Privacy Concern

Apple has unleashed an ad campaign to raise consumer awareness of the features it has developed to mitigate the privacy risks associated with data brokers who market users’ mobile data, selling everything from browsing history to shopping habits, contacts and location data. The 90-second spot, running this summer on broadcast and social media in 24 countries, is conveniently timed as a message to global regulators who have Apple in its crosshairs for a closed ecosystem some say is anticompetitive. The ad extends messaging CEO Tim Cook initiated in 2018 with his “data industrial complex” speech. Continue reading Apple Campaign Exposes Data Auctions as Privacy Concern