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Google is developing alternative authorization schemes

12 April 2013

Google employees say they have begun developing new user authentication technologies that do not use passwords.

The company’s security division released a report on the possible ways of lowering the risk that websites’ authorization mechanisms will be broken into. According to the report, user passwords are no longer a sufficient method for protecting information.

Google’s ideas for protecting its e-mail service, Gmail (and connections to it), include miniature cryptographic USB cards that allow users to be authorized after registration without entering a password. It has been suggested that in time the USB interface will move way to wireless technology that would allow any accessory — watches, rings, etc. — to be used to grant access.

ZoneDefense: advanced mobile protection

10 November 2011

ZoneDefenseAirPatrol has presented a new wireless security technology called ZoneDefense. This system uses a new unique approach to the prevention of corporate data leaks.

This a narrowly focused technology that prevents data leaks through mobile devices and applications. ZoneDefense integrates into the structure of a protected building (with its elements being placed in every room) and detects the location of any mobile device with 6-7 foot accuracy.

However, this is not all the system is capable of.

Not only does it allow to find devices within a protected building, but can also make them work according to system-wide rules. Depending on the rules, ZoneDefense can either allow or block the work of both devices and specific mobile applications using a number of parameters: device ownership by a specific employee, type of application, movement direction and even proximity of other devices.

This system can also set off an alarm notifying the security service about a possible data leak or detection of a suspicious device in an unauthorized area.

 

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Data Mining: From the General to the Specific

31 August 2011

Data mining (deep data analysis) — a collective term used for a set of methods for detecting previously unknown, unusual, interpretable and practically useful knowledge in arrays of data that can be used for making decisions in various fields of human activities.

It’s common knowledge that complete privacy in today’s world is a utopian concept: our names appear in different kinds of lists and reports on a daily basis. We pay for goods and services with credit cards, use mobile phones, buy tickets… And when it comes to the Internet, we leave a colossal number of tracks: from the addresses of visited pages to search engine queries – everything can be intercepted, logged and stored in a single database.

The primary purpose of data mining lies in the analysis of huge amounts of data in such databases (involving special analytical patterns).

For instance, there is nothing suspicious about money being transferred from one account to another. Or about somebody buying a plane ticket to a large city. Or buying a large shipment of fertilizers. Or, let’s say, buying a kitchen timer or several cheap mobile phones from an online store. However, if all of these purchases were made by a single person, the local anti-terror force should definitely take a closer look.

It would seem that combining so many heterogeneous pieces of information is an immensely complex task. However, such a system is absolutely possible and may have been in operation for some time now.

The Total Information Awareness program was developed by the Pentagon from 2002 through 2003 and was aimed at detecting suspicious behavioral patterns. Following a number of public protests, it was renamed to Terrorism Information Awareness (TIA) and became nearly completely confidential. The report of the Department of Homeland Security mentions three active programs of this type. Similar solutions are being developed by other countries as well: China, the United Kingdom, Israel and Germany.

The legitimacy of such analysis is a matter of harsh public debate and none of the parties has been able to decide whether security is more important than privacy (or vice versa). And while the debate is in full swing, data collection and analysis are booming on the Internet – the Law hasn’t fully set foot on this land yet.