SenseTime Facial Recognition Firm Is Valued at $1.5 Billion

SenseTime Co., a Beijing-based startup founded in 2014 that sells its facial recognition systems to the Chinese police, just scored $410 million in new venture capital funding that values the company at more than $1.5 billion. The valuation, which makes the company a unicorn, underscores how such surveillance technologies are increasing in importance. Facial recognition breaks down a face into measurements that create a template, and SenseTime uses artificial intelligence to match faces against those in an image database. Continue reading SenseTime Facial Recognition Firm Is Valued at $1.5 Billion

Facebook Faces Tough Questions After a Killer Shares Video

An Ohio resident is accused of fatally shooting an elderly man in Cleveland yesterday after a 57-second video of the murder was shared via Facebook Live. Since its launch less than a year ago, Facebook Live “has provided an unedited look at police shootings, rape, torture, and enough suicides that Facebook will be integrating real-time suicide prevention tools into the platform,” reports Wired. However, this is “the first time a killer has streamed themselves committing a homicide,” raising “questions about the limits and responsibilities of a platform that has pledged to reflect humanity in its purest form.” Continue reading Facebook Faces Tough Questions After a Killer Shares Video

U.S. Claims That Russian Hackers Were Behind Yahoo Attack

The Department of Justice officially charged four people yesterday in connection with Yahoo’s 2014 data breach that reportedly resulted in the theft of data from 500 million Yahoo accounts. According to the indictment, the Russian government used the data obtained by two intelligence officers (Dmitry Dokuchaev, Igor Sushchin) and two hackers (Alexsey Belan, Karim Baratov) to spy on White House and military officials, bank executives, cloud computing companies, a senior level airline official, a Nevada gaming regulator, as well as Russian journalists, business execs and government officials. Continue reading U.S. Claims That Russian Hackers Were Behind Yahoo Attack

Facebook Data Policy Update Will Curb Surveillance of Users

Under pressure from the ACLU and other advocacy groups, Facebook announced it would not allow law enforcement and third party vendors to use its data for surveillance purposes. Facebook did not define surveillance in the update to its data policy, but police have reportedly been using the social network to track protesters and activists. In October, the ACLU published documents from startup Geofeedia that detailed how the location-based, social media analytics platform tracked protestors in Baltimore, Maryland and Ferguson, Missouri. Continue reading Facebook Data Policy Update Will Curb Surveillance of Users

Court Rules Microsoft Email Surveillance Lawsuit Can Proceed

In April, Microsoft sued the federal government for intercepting its customers’ emails and preventing Microsoft from alerting them. Now, U.S. District Judge James Robart has ruled that Microsoft made a viable argument, but rejects its contention that the government interception is an unlawful search and seizure of property. At the time, federal courts issued Microsoft about 2,600 so-called secrecy orders, and the tech company could not inform its customers, even when the search was over. Continue reading Court Rules Microsoft Email Surveillance Lawsuit Can Proceed

Razer Debuts 3-Screen Project Valerie, Models Stolen at CES

At CES 2017, Razer debuted Project Valerie, an ambitious laptop with three 17-inch 4K displays, two of which slide out from each side, with overlapping bezels at the interlocking edges. Despite the rather large footprint, the system is “surprisingly svelte,” at about one-and-a-half inches thick and 12 pounds, with Razer’s matte black styling and a sturdy unibody enclosure. Project Valerie is based on the Razer Blade Pro, with support of the very powerful Intel Core i7-7700HQ and Nvidia GTX 1080 processors. Continue reading Razer Debuts 3-Screen Project Valerie, Models Stolen at CES

Documentarians Entreat Camera Manufacturers for Encryption

Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, who shot the Oscar-winning “Citizenfour” about Edward Snowden, along with 150 other documentary filmmakers, signed an open letter from the nonprofit Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) asking camera manufacturers Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, Fuji, Kodak and Ricoh to add encryption features. The fear is that thieves, law enforcement or agents of authoritarian governments can access footage by simply taking possession of the camera, and the documentarians want protection. Continue reading Documentarians Entreat Camera Manufacturers for Encryption

Departure of FCC’s Tom Wheeler Could Impact Net Neutrality

The FCC announced that Tom Wheeler will resign his chair position on January 20. The Obama appointee led the agency for the last three years. It is customary for the chairperson to resign when there is a new administration. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel’s nomination for another term was also impacted last week by the Senate’s decision not to vote prior to adjourning for the year. Rosenworcel is expected to step down by the end of December. President-elect Donald Trump will have two FCC seats to fill, one from each major party. Meanwhile, the departures leave the agency with two Republican commissioners and one Democratic commissioner. Continue reading Departure of FCC’s Tom Wheeler Could Impact Net Neutrality

Yahoo: Second Data Breach Involves 1 Billion User Accounts

In September, Yahoo revealed a 2014 security breach that involved 500,000 of its users’ accounts. Now the company has announced an even larger data breach from 2013 involving more than one billion accounts, including those of more than 150,000 government and military employees. “The two attacks are the largest known security breaches of one company’s computer network,” reports The New York Times. “The newly disclosed 2013 attack involved sensitive user information, including names, telephone numbers, dates of birth, encrypted passwords and unencrypted security questions that could be used to reset a password.” Continue reading Yahoo: Second Data Breach Involves 1 Billion User Accounts

International Law Enforcement Takes Down Avalanche Botnet

An international team of law enforcement agencies and security firms just took down “Avalanche,” a botnet that has been engaged in phishing attacks and at least 17 different malware families since at least late 2009. The team took offline more than 221 servers and more than 800,000 domain names used by Avalanche, and conducted searches and arrests in five countries, according to a statement released by the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice. Avalanche malware impacted victims in over 180 countries. Continue reading International Law Enforcement Takes Down Avalanche Botnet

Harder to Trace Than Bitcoin, Zcash Virtual Currency Debuts

Zcash is the latest in virtual currency, designed by academics with advanced cryptography to be untraceable. After only a few days on the market, Zcash is soaring in popularity, with investors paying over $1,000 for a single unit. The company, led by developer Zooko Wilcox, has already received $3 million from several Silicon Valley venture capitalists as well as the support of computer scientists at Johns Hopkins University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and privacy advocates. Continue reading Harder to Trace Than Bitcoin, Zcash Virtual Currency Debuts

BlackBerry Outsources Handset Biz, Shifts Focus to Software

BlackBerry, whose phones were once so popular they were dubbed “Crackberry,” has licensed its brand to a group owned by Indonesian phone companies. The Canadian company — whose market share is now in the single digits in North America and Europe — made this decision despite the fact that it recently adopted the Google Android operating system. The strategy, led by executive chair/chief executive John Chen, is intended to evolve BlackBerry into a software and wireless device security business. Continue reading BlackBerry Outsources Handset Biz, Shifts Focus to Software

Apple is the Latest Tech Giant to Launch Bug Bounty Program

Apple has announced its new “security bounty” initiative that will offer payments up to $200,000 to any hackers who inform the company about critical vulnerabilities to its products. In doing so, Apple joins major tech companies that have similar programs in place. Alphabet, Facebook and Microsoft “have paid out millions of dollars in bug bounties over the past few years,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Automobile companies such as Tesla and GM are also introducing bounty programs as vehicles are relying more on software to control their systems. Continue reading Apple is the Latest Tech Giant to Launch Bug Bounty Program

Latest Cryptocurrency Cybertheft Could Shake Faith in Bitcoin

Hong Kong exchange Bitfinex was hacked and funds were stolen, marking a setback for digital currency Bitcoin. Bitfinex director of community and product development Zane Tackett posted on Reddit that 119,756 Bitcoins had been stolen. “Before the hacking was made public, that number of Bitcoins would have been worth about $72 million,” explains The New York Times. “Now that the currency has slumped, the figure is closer to $65 million.” During its investigation, Bitfinex has stopped all trading, deposits and withdrawals. The security breach is the latest in a series of events that could impact the viability of virtual currency. Continue reading Latest Cryptocurrency Cybertheft Could Shake Faith in Bitcoin

EU Approves Debated Privacy Shield to Replace Safe Harbor

Following extensive debate, the European Union has approved the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield data transfer agreement that will replace Safe Harbor, which “was struck down by the European Court of Justice in October of last year over concerns about how EU data was being treated once it was transferred to the U.S.,” reports Digital Trends. According to the European Commission’s press release, “For the first time, the U.S. has given the EU written assurance that the access of public authorities for law enforcement and national security will be subject to clear limitations, safeguards and oversight mechanisms and has ruled out indiscriminate mass surveillance of European citizens’ data.” Continue reading EU Approves Debated Privacy Shield to Replace Safe Harbor