The week in security: Why scammers and extortionists love Australia; Apple cites US Constitution in FBI fight
- 29 February, 2016 10:27
The Apple-FBI stoush continued as the FBI claimed it doesn't want to break everyone's iPhone encryption; Facebook weighed in on Apple's side while Google and Microsoft eventually did the same; surveys suggested a majority of Americans support the FBI's position – as does Microsoft founder Bill Gates – and Apple pushed for a government commission to explore the issue – also supported by one US lawmaker – after it claimed software is free speech.
Tech leaders weighed in as Cisco's CEO said both parties would need to compromise in the end, while reports suggested Apple was fighting 12 more similar orders to extract data from iPhones. Apple filed a motion to vacate the FBI's order while the company's CEO, Tim Cook, gave his first TV interview on the topic and argued that the back door is “the software equivalent of cancer” and would set a precedent that is “bad for America”.
Many at the Mobile World Congress were debating the issue and its implications for Europe's tight privacy regulations, while reports suggested Japan's infrastructure had been targeted by a group of cyber attackers. Yet some were fighting back, with one Indian CIO figuring out a way to get ahead in the fight against DDoS attacks.
Such attackers are also increasingly targeting Australia because it's ripe for the picking – and because ransomware extortionists are winning as many companies have no choice but to pay up – but it's also becoming a bigger source of cyber attacks as well.
Concerns about the security of open-source software have made supporters of the model have to proceed with caution, while users of the Tor anonymity network said it was getting harder and harder to use the service for Net access.
Some were turning to the US CNAP policy as an example of the kind of guidance Australia needs for its forthcoming federal cybersecurity policy. One startup was talking about four-factor authentication for VIP-level access, while Mastercard is apparently working on selfie-based authentication and CloudFlare launched a secure domain-name management service designed to prevent domain hijacking.
Studies showed that many attackers are resorting to old-fashioned methods to infect machines, which apparently worked quite well in a campaign against Russian bank employees. Other research suggested the hackers that hit Sony Pictures years ago have been hitting other organisations from around the world for years.
Expanding mobile-and-security vendor BlackBerry set up a cybersecurity consulting service with a focus on the Internet of Things (IoT) and other areas, while Microsoft added new security capabilities to its cloud offerings.
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