The FBI used a novel type of remotely installed spyware last month to investigate who was e-mailing bomb threats to a high school near Olympia, Wash. Federal agents obtained a court order to
While there's been plenty of speculation about how the FBI might deliver spyware electronically, this case appears to be the first to reveal how the technique is used in practice. The FBI did confirm in 2001 that it was working on a virus called Magic Lantern but hasn't said much about it since.
Another recent court case provided a rare glimpse into how some federal agents deal with encryption: by breaking into a suspect's home or office, implanting keystroke-logging software, and spying on what happens from afar. An agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration persuaded a federal judge to authorize him to sneak into an Escondido, Calif., office believed to be a front for manufacturing the drug MDMA, or Ecstasy. The DEA received
That was necessary, according to DEA Agent Greg Coffey, because the suspects were using Pretty Good Privacy, or PGP, encryption software, and the encrypted Web e-mail service Hushmail.com. Coffey asserted that the DEA needed "real-time and meaningful access" to "monitor the keystrokes" for PGP and Hushmail passphrases.
The aggressive surveillance techniques employed by the DEA were part of a case examined by the 9th Circuit, which ruled that "e-mail and Internet users have no expectation of privacy in the To/From addresses of their messages or the IP addresses of the Web sites they visit because they should know that these messages are sent and these IP addresses are accessed through the equipment of their Internet service provider and other third parties."
Because only two known criminal prosecutions in the United States involve police use of keyloggers, important legal rules remain unsettled. But keylogger makers say that police and investigative agencies are frequent customers, in part because recording keystrokes can bypass the increasingly common use of encryption to scramble communications and hard drives. Microsoft's Windows Vista and Apple's OS X include built-in encryption.
A CNET News.comcooperating unofficially with government agencies. Some, however, indicated that they would not alert customers to the presence of fedware if they were ordered by a court to remain quiet. (Click to the survey.)
While many CNET News.com readers reacted by debating various technologies' effectiveness against spyware, more lamented a loss of constitutional rights.
"There is no doubt that the Internet can be a valuable crime fighting tool but, there should be warrants signed by judges before information is accessed, just as there must be if law enforcement wants to search a home or business," wrote one reader to the News.com Talkback forum.
Privacy, and patents too
With only two months left before government agencies must figure out how to deal with data breaches and data theft, federal bureaucrats are . The deadline was created by a White House directive published this spring that gave all federal agencies until September 22 to figure out the wisest way, using their "best judgment," to come up with a plan to secure Americans' personal data and to alert them if it falls into the wrong hands.
Finishing everything by that date is "definitely a challenge," Mischel Kwon, chief IT security technologist for the U.S. Department of Justice, said Wednesday.
While it's not clear how effective a set of written policies will be if they're not always followed and not part of the culture of an existing agency, the White House memo does recommend techniques such as encryption, limiting remote access and access logging. At the very least, the memo says, egregious disregard of privacy safeguards would result in an employee's "prompt removal of authority to access information."
Meanwhile, a House of Representatives panel approved a bill that backers say will
The bill, called the Social Security Number Privacy and Identity Theft Protection Act, includes a requirement that government agencies not include SSNs on checks, identity cards issued to government employees, or medical tags issued to patients in government hospitals, as well a prohibition on the sale or purchase of SSNs by private companies.
In other Capitol Hill moves, House and Senate committees have approved
Earning and learning
It's earnings season--time for tech companies to put their cards on the table.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini's 2006 cost cuts, painful as they were for Intel employees, paid off as the company's
One sore spot for Intel was its gross margin, whose tumble contributed to a sharp decline in the price of Intel shares during after-hours trading. The company's gross margin percentage (basically revenue minus the cost of making chips) fell to 46.9, lower than expected and very low compared with Intel's historical margins.
Yahoo on Tuesday posted second-quarteras growth in its historically strong display advertising business slowed, and moves to better compete with Google on search advertising have yet to pan out. Yahoo executives said revenue for the rest of the year would be lower than previously anticipated because of continued lower-than-expected display ad growth and larger-than-expected declines in search affiliate revenue. Yahoo stock dropped more than 3 percent in after-hours trade.
Many Yahoo observers feel that as Google pulls further and further ahead in the ad market war, Yahoo executives keep promising big things. But so far, it appears,.
"I'm a little frustrated by the direction of Yahoo," said Jordan Rohan of RBC Capital Markets. "Investor patience is wearing thin."
In a sharp contrast to Yahoo's earnings, Google's second-quarterfrom a year ago on continued strong search advertising sales, while profits rose 28 percent, slightly lower than analyst expectations. The search king's earnings, missing expectations by 3 cents per share, disappointed many on Wall Street and sent the stock down more than 7 percent in after-hours trading.
So what happened? Looks like the. Specifically, it appears the culprits were payroll and data center construction. The company hired 1,548 employees during the quarter, bringing the total number of employees to 13,786.
Also of note
by which Verizon Wireless will pay Broadcom $6 for every handset, smart phone or data card that it imports that contains Qualcomm's 3G chips...A Motorola board member has