Tagged With security

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The Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee over the past two years might seem like a very American news story, inseparable from the lead characters of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and hyped as only the polarised media of that country can do it.

But when we look more deeply, we see a very threatening reality that concerns all governments, liberal democratic or authoritarian. Australia should take note.

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In a move that sounds convenient and a little terrifying, international travellers to Australia may not need a passport by 2020. Officials say that the country is implementing a system to replace the standard paper ID with biometric technology that recognises faces, irises and/or fingerprints.

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Last night, the Guardian published a story with an alarming headline: "WhatsApp backdoor allows snooping on encrypted messages." If true, this would have massive implications for the security and privacy of WhatsApp's one-billion-plus users. Fortunately, there's no backdoor in WhatsApp, and according to Alec Muffett, an experienced security researcher who spoke to Gizmodo, the Guardian's story is "major league f**kwittage".

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I travelled to China for work recently. I'll admit, my paranoia level was at an all-time high; the country is known to filter and monitor internet activity. They don't call it The Great Firewall of China for nothing. Compounding my fears was the fact that I had to rely on public WiFi networks in a hotel. Considering my room had four broken power points, my confidence in the hotel's WiFi network security was low. All this got me thinking about ways to protect myself on public WiFi networks in general. Here are a few techniques you may find useful as well.

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Remember the data retention laws that were introduced late 2015? It forces telcos to retain metadata on mobile and broadband users for at least two years. The data would assist in criminal and terrorism investigations. Now the Government wants to open the data up to be used for civil lawsuits. It called for public to comment on the issue right before Christmas (cheeky bastards) and public comment submissions close January 13.

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As the end of the year draws near, thoughts turn to family gatherings and celebrations — and the obligatory tech support session for your not-so-computer-savvy relatives. If you want to maximise the good you do and minimise the time you spend doing it, here are five steps to focus on.

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If you're erasing sensitive files from a computer, you probably want them gone forever and far beyond the reach of data recovery tools. Unfortunately, that's not what happens all of the time. Here are some simple steps you can take to make sure your files are deleted permanently.

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It's the end of 2016. Do you know where your CEO is? For a brief period of time, it looked like 2016 was going to be the year that Marissa Mayer finally did something good for Yahoo. She managed to sell the company's core assets, which had been floundering for several years, to Verizon for $US4.8 ($7) billion. But now, thanks to two massive data breaches, the deal is on the line and Mayer is nowhere to be found.

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Back in 2013, one billion Yahoo accounts were compromised. We thought it was only (ha) 500 million accounts. Now we know it is double that number.

That means the personal data of Yahoo account holders - including names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers - is now known to a third party, and likely being used for nefarious purposes.

So what should you do now?

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The problem with passwords is they’re no longer fit for purpose.

The threats that passwords aim to protect us from have actually lapped this defence tool. In a 24/7-connected world, passwords are now the problem rather than the solution.

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The second you log onto the internet, you start leaving a trace that's more telling than you think. Browsers can not only identify where you are in the world, but they collect a ton of other data too, such as where your mouse is hovering and when you launch a private browser window. Here's a way to find out exactly what you're leaking.

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This weekend, San Francisco's Municipal Railway was savaged by hackers demanding over $US70,000 ($93,679) in bitcoins, leaving the metro system unable to collect fares. But the hack may be much more devastating for the transit agency, according to a list of servers allegedly compromised by the hackers and obtained by Gizmodo.

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Who doesn't love a good scary problem that has a "-gate" suffix? An Israeli security firm has dubbed a particularly nasty outbreak of ransomware "ImageGate" and that will help us all remember that if you receive a random image on your favourite social network, you probably shouldn't click it.

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Video: Come up with a password, they will crack it. Program a key card, they will hack it. Tie your identity to a DNA sequence and Russian black hats will break into your bedroom while you're sleeping and steal all your blood. In the end, there's only one truly unbreakable security measure: Atelerix albiventris, the humble hedgehog.