Why We Should Not Know Our Own Passwords

The Conversation 3/9/2017

Elon University Professor Megan Squire looks into possible methods for protecting the data on your smartphone and social media accounts. The article focuses on potential searches by US border agents of people traveling from other countries. She explains several different methods of smartphone privacy protection, such as a system that uses your locations and habitual gesture patterns to identify you, or passwords even you don’t know.

New Internet Security Device Launched to Safeguard Schools Against Child Abuse

Plymouth University, 2/20/2017

The University of Plymouth has developed ICAlert, an easy-to-install device that monitors network traffic and sends alerts if users try to access dangerous web content (such as child pornography or terrorist sites). They aim to make browsing safer for children and teens by providing the devices and software to schools at a low cost.

A Chip Flaw Strips Away Hacking Protections for Millions of Devices

Wired, 2/14/2017

Dutch researchers have discovered a method of hacking commonly used microprocessors. Operating systems randomly assign the locations in memory where programs run, but this hack detects where a program is running, making bugs easier to exploit. If hackers figure out how to use this method, it could expose millions of computers to attacks — as it is impossible to fully fix with software updates alone.

Tech Companies Are Building Tiny, Personal AIs to Keep Your Messages Private

Quartz, 2/10/2017

Technology companies, such as Facebook and Google, are developing artificial intelligence systems (AI) for mobile devices to improve the privacy of messaging applications. New AI innovations allow algorithms that need less computing power, and can therefore be implemented locally on mobile devices. This means that information would not be sent to and from the cloud, reducing potential security issues.

Voice Control Everywhere

MIT News, 2/13/2017

A chip, designed by MIT researchers, may reduce the level of energy required to use speech recognition. The software specific speech recognition chip will use up to an estimated 99% less energy compared to universal software compatible chips. The researchers hope to provide an energy efficient solution that allows users to interact with their small electronic devices using speech instead of touch based user interfaces.

New Smartwatch Software May Now Verify Your Signatures

Phys.org, 1/30/2017 (university press release)

Researchers from Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University have developed new software that will allow smartwatches to verify handwritten signatures. This software monitors the movement of the entire wrist in order to catch attempts at forgery, by identifying movements that do not match the movements of the original owner. The goal of this software is to reduce acts of forgery.

Private Medical Data Is For Sale – and It’s Driving a Business Worth Billions

The Guardian, 1/10/017

Private medical data is a multi-million dollar industry that is growing rapidly, according to Adam Tanner at Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science. When medical data is initially sold to big data miners, it may be referred to only by unidentifiable numbers. However, data miners can re-identify patients by cross-referencing the medical data with data collected from other sources.

Ultrasound Tracking Could Be Used to Deanonymize Tor Users

Bleeping Computer, 1/3/2017

Cybersecurity researchers recently discovered that ultrasound cross-device tracking (uXDT), in which a web page plays an ultrasound signal that prompts nearby devices to identify themselves via ultrasound, could be effective even when users are using the anonymization proxy Tor. This provides an example of the continual arms race between privacy-enhancing technologies and privacy-invading technologies.

UK Surveillance Law Marks a “Worse Than Scary” Shift

CNET, 11/29/2016

The Investigatory Powers Act, recently passed in the UK, will require telecom companies to store records of phone calls and websites visited for up to a year, and give authorities access to the latter without a warrant. It also legalizes bulk data collection by the British government. Groups like the Open Rights Group and Privacy International are openly critical of this law, calling it draconian.