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Phone tapping becoming a problem in France

29 November 2010

The French press are reporting on public disquiet concerning mass telephone conversation tapping. A lot of politicians and journalists are openly declaring that their telephones were tapped.

Phone tapping is officially illegal in France, but many organisations involved in economic espionage often use their capabilities for other aims. For example, phone tapping politicians.

In addition, today functional equipment and software for illegal phone tapping are available to all. Both can be easily bought over the internet.

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Europe: control over personal data on the Internet

16 November 2010

Viviane Reding, the European Union commissioner for information society and media, called to European leaders with an attempt to draw their attention to the problem of gradual loss of users’ control over the distribution of their personal data.

She explained that the users’ inability to control the distribution of their personal data is not just a serious problem, but also a violation of the private data protection law adopted back in 1995.

Her address also covers the necessity of creating more up-to-date laws protecting personal data, revision of the current legislation and creation of tools that will enable users to remove any references to their personalia on the Internet.

Confidential information published online (in social networks and various online services) can seriously affect people’s lives. Such precedents have already resulted in job losses, divorces and other serious problems.
Today, removal of the information published online is an incredibly complex (if at all feasible) task, since information can spread absolutely unpredictably.

The European Commission has already started discussing this problem. The draft version of the document that is supposed to minimize the collection and storing of personal users’ data on the Internet is expected to be released in 2011.

Japan: leak of secret information

16 November 2010

A major scandal concerning the leaking of personal data has hit Japan. More than 100 documents containing secret information were made available 28 October on a server located in Luxembourg. Japanese authorities consider this leak to be extremely dangerous and suspect that it was done deliberately.

The documents that were made available contained fairly detailed information on people taking part in Japanese anti-terrorism activities around the world. There was also data on security measures taken for the G8 summit in Tokyo and personal data on police officers and lists of people suspected of links with terrorists.

Although most of these documents covered 2007 to 2009, a lot of people, whose names are found in these documents, have expressed their anger to the authorities. So far there has been no official comment on the continuing investigation of the incident.

Google: accidental stealing of personal data

11 November 2010

Google is one of the largest internet companies who, in the process of collecting data for its Google Street View service became embroiled in a scandal related to personal data security. Data for this service is collected by cars, installed with special equipment, which drive around city streets.

The scandal began in Germany, whose inhabitants pay rather close attention to their personal information security. They expressed their concern regarding the possible appearance of people, numbers of houses and cars on Street View. Following their demands this data was removed, almost 250 thousand houses disappeared from the service’s database.

The second strand of the scandal began when it was discovered that Google cars accidentally connect to all wireless networks that they encounter and collect some information. Google management confirmed the interception, but described it as an accident. Code from a different program was included, apparently by mistake, in the car antenna algorithm. Meanwhile, the volume of information captured from other Wi-Fi networks was almost 600 gigabytes (a quarter of networks in European towns are completely unsecured).

At the moment, public organisations in more than 30 countries are demanding that the internet company be charged with breaking laws on information security.

In order to help defuse this conflict, Google promised to delete collected data and also appointed Alma Whitten as Director of Privacy to protect the interests of users and their personal data.

New free spy apps for android keeps a detailed log and records all conversations, allowing you to find out everything from contact name to the duration of the call.

Trend Micro displeased with Microsoft’s MS Security Essentials in Windows Update

10 November 2010

MSE in Windows UpdateTrend Micro, a developer of commercial antivirus software, criticized Microsoft for its recent inclusion of the free MS Security Essentials antivirus tool into Windows Update, the standard update service in Windows operating systems.

A representative of Trend Micro stated that this update affected the interests of the company and forced users to switch to Microsoft’s antivirus solution without offering them any alternatives.

Microsoft retorts the charge and believes that the accusation is unjustified for a number of reasons.

  • The update will only be made available to users with no anti-virus tools installed at all. This update runs a special check to identify them.
  • Users always have a choice — even critical OS updates can be skipped.
  • The update containing MS Security Essentials is marked as optional and will not be installed without the user’s permission.

Microsoft remains confident that this type of free antivirus tool distribution will help users that have no opportunity or time to look for and install alternative antivirus software.

This conflict appeared to be quite unexpected, considering that Microsoft is a client of Trend Micro — their antivirus solutions are used in some Microsoft’s services. It should be noted, however that it’s not the first time Trend Micro has expressed dissatisfaction with free antivirus products: in 2008, the company sued ClamAV developers for breaching patent rights for a method of checking files over FTP. This lawsuit initiated by Trend Micro was condemned by the Open Source and Free Software Foundation (FSF) communities.

Trojan Keylogger fraud disclosed

22 October 2010

Arrest of a criminal group accused of major fraud has been reported by UK and US authorities. Criminals supposedly had stolen over 10 million US dollars from bank accounts using viruses that capture user data.

The crime was committed using a ZeuS bot-net management tool which is popular among cyber-fraudsters. Also a Zbot phishing trojan was used, which steals bank account passwords and various private data.

Stolen data had been used to transfer funds of fraud victims to criminals’ accounts and then specially recruited persons (called “mules” or “drops”) would withdraw the money. Such “mules” make up majority of captured suspects, but the scam leader has been arrested as well. A total of 20 people has been captured, 17 are yet to be located and over a hundred are in the suspects list.

Most of the suspects have Russian and ex USSR origins. But general Russian council in New Your has been notified by FBI about only 4 Russian citizens being captured. It is most likely that the rest of criminals with russian names did not have Russian citizenship or were using fake documents.

InfoWatch data leaks report in 2010

20 October 2010

Global research by InfoWatch company has revealed 382 private confidential leaks in the first half of 2010. That’s more than 2 per day. 169 (44%) of such leaks are reported to be intentional and 185 (48%) — to be accidental.

Comparing to the first half of year 2009, the number of intentional leaks has reduced by 11%. This fact could be a result of more strict corporate security policies and deployment of information protection solutions in a number of companies.

A number of accidental leaks has got higher by 11% comparing to the same period. Specialists blame increased usage of mobile devices at work (e.g. notebooks, netbooks, flash drives and smart phones) and a lack of data encryption on these devices.

Another common reason for accidental confidential data leaks is weak control over paper copies of data. Only modern corporate DLP systems take control of which information is printed on paper, while otherwise there’s no way to track printed data which leads to data leaks.

DLP (Data Leak Prevention) systems are software or hardware systems designed to prevent confidential data leaks. Such systems are based on analysis and blocking of data streams which cross  info system boundaries.

US and UK are known to be the leaders of data leaks, and local laws are to blame. Companies are obliged to register all cases of data leaks. Russia, Canada and Germany complete the top 5 info-leaking countries.

General president of InfoWatch — Natalia Kaspersky notes that “lack of control over confidential info imposes major risks, which affect performance of commercial and government organizations. Both financial and reputation-wise.”

 

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