Of stolen secrets and surveillance (week in review)

Global cyber-espionage effort steals dozens of secrets, while a White House report recommends social networks aid in monitoring extremists. Also: Microsoft and Google square off.

A widespread cyber-espionage campaign stole government secrets , sensitive corporate documents, and other intellectual property for five years from more than 70 public and private organizations in 14 countries, according to a McAfee researcher who uncovered the effort.

The campaign, dubbed "Operation Shady RAT" (RAT stands for "remote access tool"), was discovered by Dmitri Alperovitch, vice president of threat research at the cyber-security firm McAfee. The targets cut across industries, including government, defense, energy, electronics, media, real estate, agriculture, and construction. The governments hit include the U.S., Canada, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, and India.

Meanwhile, a White House terrorism strategy says Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks aid in "advancing violent extremist narratives" and should be monitored by the government . President Obama said in a statement accompanying the report that the federal government will start "helping communities to better understand and protect themselves against violent extremist propaganda, especially online."
•  Researchers warn of SCADA vulnerabilities
•  DefCon Kids joins adult hacker conferences
•  Hacking laptop batteries: A new security threat
•  More from Black Hat

More headlines

<b>Google's top lawyer rips Apple, Microsoft, and Oracle

David Drummond, Google's senior vice president and chief legal officer, says the tech troika's attacks on Android patents serve to stifle innovation and drive up costs.
•  Microsoft and Google go tit-for-tat in patent spat
&#149;&nbsp; HTC takes Apple patent battle to U.K.
•  Patent filings a hint at new gestures in Windows 8?

<b>Developers believe Google+ can beat Facebook

A new survey of mobile developers finds Google's innovation in its new social network and its integration into existing products may help the service eventually topple Facebook.
•  Google+ speeds to 25 million users in first month
•  Facebook buys digital bookmaker Push Pop Press
•  Facebook News Feed to get face-lift?
•  Randi Zuckerberg to leave Facebook to start social media firm

<b>Could Apple sell 30 million iPhones next quarter?

With the likely launch of the iPhone 5, Apple could see sales of 30 million iPhones around the world and 10 million just in the U.S. during this year's final quarter, says BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk.
&#149;&nbsp; Report: Apple orders 10 million iPhone 5 units for September
&#149;&nbsp; China Telecom deal to include two new iPhones?

<b>Newt Gingrich accused of Twitter follower fraud

Gawker and an anonymous ex-staffer of Newt Gingrich are accusing the presidential candidate of buying more than a million (fake) followers on Twitter.
•  Security firm warns of new Twitter threat
&#149;&nbsp; Twitter revamping mobile site for iPad users
•  Twitter ready to close the door on old site
•  How to tweet like a man

<b>Android Trojan records your phone conversations

The malware is launched after a user tries to place a call. The conversation is stored in the .amr file format, research at CA say.
&#149;&nbsp; Android users twice as likely to see malware as 6 months ago

Porn site dings Megaupload in copyright case

Perfect 10, which has a lackluster record fighting copyright cases, is taking on one of the largest, most mysterious, and highly controversial sources of pirated video on the Web.
•  The mystery man behind Megaupload piracy fight
•  Porn studio loses appeal in Google copyright case

Are you overpaying for smartphone data?

Most smartphone subscribers only use about 20 percent of the data in their monthly plan. But heavy data subscribers are flocking to Sprint Nextel, while light users looking for a good deal are going to T-Mobile.
•  Broadband subscribers mostly get what they pay for

States weigh in on AT&T-T-Mobile merger

So far, 28 state governments have voiced an opinion on the proposed merger between T-Mobile and AT&T. Most are in favor, but a few are expressing concern.
•  AT&T gets merger support from a key lawmaker

<b>Airbnb revamps policies in response to vandalism

After a customer's home was vandalized by a guest, travel marketplace Airbnb makes a slew of changes to its policies to help guard against future incidents.
•  Life has been 'utter hell,' says Airbnb victim

Also of note
•  72 people charged in online child porn ring
•  Relief: IE users not stupid after all
•  Wikipedia losing contributors, to streamline editing

 

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