Global Tech Security & Privacy

Watching Walmart Parking Lots from Space: New Apps for Satellites

Here's a new barometer for measuring a technology's disruptive potential: "If there's not a capacity to exploit something for evil, it's probably not that revolutionary." That's one way 27-year-old Skybox Imaging co-founder Julian Mann explains to the Atlantic this week the transformative uses for the 200-pound, mini-fridge-sized satellites that his company intends to start launching into orbit next month.   More

Security & Privacy

Does Citizen Sleuthing Lead to Smears?

A revealing New York Times Magazine article by Jay Caspian Kang sheds more light on the dark side of citizen journalism and what happens when the crowd gets it wrong. It all started on April 19 on Reddit, where photos of 22-year-old missing Brown University student Sunil Tripathi were posted alongside images of Suspect #2 in the Boston Marathon bombings (later confirmed to be Dzhokhar Tsarnaev). The “news” of an identified suspect spread like wildfire, cycling through Twitter and Facebook and quickly being picked up by major news media, including NBC, until the FBI eventually stomped it out by denying that Tripathi was a suspect.   More

Media & Marketing Security & Privacy

Snowden’s Exploits: Ripped from Prime Time’s “Scandal?”

I wonder if NSA leakmeister Edward Snowden watches the ABC prime-time drama “Scandal?” In particular, I'd be interested to know if he saw the episode entitled “Hunting Season” that originally aired last October, before Snowden went rogue. Why? Because that episode of the show—about the machinations of Olivia Pope, a gorgeous D.C. fixer extraordinaire—featured an NSA analyst who exposes a far-reaching domestic spying operation that permeates even the highest reaches of government.   More

Learning Security & Privacy

Cyberattacks Target … Our Universities?

Cyberattacks on large corporations and government organizations are nothing new. Over the past two decades, whole industries have been formed to stay one step ahead of the increasingly sophisticated and nefarious cadre of global hackers seeking information to gain advantage. Companies and government entities across the world view hacking as a top security threat and are continually on high alert for the next big cyberattack.   More

Business Security & Privacy

As NSA Worries Cloud Dropbox, Tonido Offers its “Personal Cloud”

With the revelation that the National Security Agency’s PRISM program accesses user data at nine U.S. Internet companies, many presumed that Dropbox would be the tenth. The public cloud storage company denied that, but the mere idea should get one thinking about “personal clouds.” At least that’s what Madhan Kanagavel, founder of Austin-based CodeLathe and its Tonido storage service, is counting on. He says his “personal cloud” software and service product was inspired not by privacy concerns, but by the worry that he could lose content if his public cloud provider went out of business. The surveillance scandal, however, underscores his pitch: “Personal data is no longer safe, and hasn’t been for a long time.”   More

Global Tech Government Security & Privacy

NSA Surveillance a Setback for U.S. Cloud Services Overseas

Long before the National Security Agency's PRISM program was exposed, technology industry executives had warned Congress that the Patriot Act and other laws that "give U.S. government authorities unfettered access to data stored with U.S. companies" are hampering global sales for American cloud services providers.   More

Security & Privacy Startup Culture

How Startups Helped the NSA Build PRISM

In 2004, while working for USA Today, then based in part of an Arlington, Va., office tower, I wanted to do a story about the CIA’s then-experimental venture capital unit called In-Q-Tel. I got the OK from In-Q-Tel to visit its office. But the CIA was so concerned about secrecy and terrorism, I had to agree to not reveal where the office was located. So I met a man on the ground floor of an office tower that had once housed USA Today, and he promptly took me back up the elevator. In-Q-Tel’s office was in the same building. I may be one of the only journalists to go there. In-Q-Tel has since moved down the street. You can find its address on the Web—though not on its own web site. And now that the National Security Agency’s PRISM data-collection system has been outed, In-Q-Tel is more visible than it's ever been.   More

Security & Privacy

Could We Lose Control of Drones?

Is any technology inherently “good” or “evil”? The deciding factor would be how it's used (or misused), right? Consider drones. Drones—unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or aircrafts without human pilots on board—have been around since the early 1900s, and the U.S. Air Force was developing them in earnest as early as 1959. Today, the use of drones has grown dramatically. National Geographic reported this past March that at least 50 countries now use drones, and several—Iran, Israel, and China, for example—make their own.   More

Internet of Things Security & Privacy

Reputation.com’s Fertik: Put Humans Back at the Center of the Internet

Alongside Techonomy's recent mini-conference on the Internet of Everything in Menlo Park in May, we interviewed Michael Fertik, CEO of Reputation.com. Fertik is one of the world's most successful innovators focusing on a topic of great concern globally—privacy on the Internet. Reputation.com can sanitize and improve the way one is viewed in Google searches and other online contexts, and Fertik has given more thought than most to what we are doing as the Net evolves and more and more info about us is exposed in disparate contexts. In this video interview he talks about his hopes and fears, and waxes surprisingly philosophical about the relative importance and value of being human, and being a machine.   More

Government Security & Privacy

Could a Drone Kill You on Its Own?

Drones are among the fastest-growing concerns of citizens and governments worldwide. The U.S. has taken the lead in using them militarily for attacks and assassination, generating extensive criticism and promoting a debate over whether the policy reduces or increases terrorism. Israel, too, has extensively used military drones, and China has admitted contemplating it. Now worries have emerged among rights activists and others that the decision over whether or not to kill may itself be delegated to the drones.   More

Cities Security & Privacy

Now, Everybody’s an Investigator

As the real-time manhunt continues in Boston—with the city on lockdown and one suspect still at large—we’re witnessing a profound shift in the role of the crowd. Since the Boston Marathon attacks on Monday, the public has been asked for by law enforcement officials, and taken it upon themselves, to help solve the crime. Having a plethora of evidence from a variety of sources—photos, video, and eyewitness accounts—has been key in the effort to apprehend the perpetrators. But where it gets hazy is when the public, emboldened on sites like Reddit and 4Chan Think Tank, becomes judge and jury, and ends up wrongly implicating lookalikes.   More

Cities Security & Privacy

Investigators Will Crowdsource Clues to Boston Attack

Tracking down the perpetrators of Monday's Boston Marathon bombing will depend in part on determining the techniques they used, an aspect of the investigation that will rely heavily on evidence gathered from videos and photos of the crime scene. The New Yorker's Paige Williams spoke with former crime-scene analyst and Boston University School of Medicine instructor Adam B. Hall about the types of clues investigators will be looking for, and why. Forensic chemistry, explains Hall, lets investigators put together chemical evidence in crimes that involve drugs, arson, and explosives. To learn about the devices used in the Boston attack, Hall says investigators will be collecting every piece of evidence they can.   More

Cities Security & Privacy

Google’s Person Finder Launched Moments After Boston Explosions

Within moments of the explosions at the finish line of the Boson Marathon today, Google put its Person Finder into action to help friends and family locate loved ones who might have been affected and were unreachable by cell phone. At 7:00 pm, the app was tracking about 3,000 records.   More

Security & Privacy

With Mobile the Future, How Does a Company Stay Secure?

A PC, Mac, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, and Nexus 7 all sit on Sam Curry’s desk one afternoon while he works from home. Though not everyone has access to such a range of mobile devices, this lineup offers a glimpse at the diversity of devices people now use to work. Curry is CTO of Identity and Data Protection at RSA, a firm specializing in information security. During a phone call last week, he said that all the devices on his desk provide connectivity for his work at RSA, each with its own unique set of capabilities and limitations.   More

Security & Privacy

Seeking Consensus on Cyberdefense

The cyberattack that temporarily paralyzed the American Express website last week highlighted the escalating frequency and brazenness of strikes aimed at global financial institutions. In the past six months, similar attacks hit JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, while another disabled computers at banks and television networks in South Korea. As predicted by Arthur W. Coviello at the Techonomy 2012 conference last November, the perpetrators of these attacks appear to be more focused on disruption than on fraud.   More

Techonomy 12 Security & Privacy Techonomy Events Video

Cyberwar: It’s a MAD MAD World

As society relies ever more on the Internet, cyberwar and its unpredictable consequences has become our 21st century bogeyman. And the country most responsible for letting this particular genie out of its bottle, as with another frightening weapon back in the 1940’s, appears to be the United States. Can there really be winners in a cyberwar?   More

Learning Partner Insights Security & Privacy

Educating IT Security Soldiers for a Virtual Cold War

On a new global battlefield, countries, criminals, and commercial competitors can effectively leverage technology to steal from or attack target organizations. Corporate intellectual property is at risk of breach as most everyone seeks to gain advantage in the innovation race. Military and government information faces the same risks with consequences for national security, digitized assets, and international affairs. The most dangerous hackers are no longer solitary, discontented teenagers working from their basement bedrooms, but instead are highly skilled professionals employed by corporate offices or military bases.   More

Security & Privacy

Social Media’s New Role as a Tool for War

We know the world is awash with new connections and that social media is transforming our social and political landscape. But did you ever think that the CIA may have ways to use social, Skype, and email accounts of officers of unfriendly governments to deliver personal messages and attempt both to track and influence them? This Daily Beast article by Eli Lake explains how the scramble to prevent Syria from using chemical weapons has led to some cutting-edge techniques for intelligence and influence.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Security & Privacy

Black Box for DNA Analysis Keeps Data Off the Cloud

Despite the widely hailed plummeting price and time to get a whole-human-genome sequence, it still takes a battery of software applications and a dream team of specialists to analyze, interpret, and apply DNA data in a medically useful way. A new piece of hardware described in The New York Times this weekend is positioned to substitute for at least a few players on the team.   More

Security & Privacy Techonomy Events

Are Recent Network Attacks as Serious as Washington Says?

Some members of Congress and the White House want to mandate certain “cybersecurity practices” because they believe private sector companies are not doing enough to protect systems. Push-back from business stalled the legislation before the recent election. Now, a series of high-profile attacks is being used to bolster the argument that the U.S. government needs more authority over private sector systems as well as access to data that might indicate incursions.   More