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Australia to Push for Greater Powers on Encrypted Messaging at ‘Five eyes’ Meeting

Australia is set to push for greater international powers to thwart the use of encrypted messaging services by terrorists and criminals, according to reports on Sunday (via Reuters).

The topic will be addressed this week at a meeting of officials from the "Five Eyes" intelligence sharing network, which includes the U.S., the U.K, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Australia claimed the increasing use of strong encryption on smartphones and other devices was hindering law enforcement's capacity to gather and act on intelligence, and said it wants tech companies to do much more to give intelligence and law enforcement agencies access to encrypted communications.

Security experts and privacy groups regularly argue that any such methods would simply weaken overall security for everyone.
"I will raise the need to address ongoing challenges posed by terrorists and criminals using encryption," Australian Attorney General Senator Brandis said in a joint statement.

"These discussions will focus on the need to cooperate with service providers to ensure reasonable assistance is provided to law enforcement and security agencies."
The announcement followed the U.K. government's recent statement of intent to pressure technology companies to do more to put an end to the "safe spaces" that the internet offers extremists. The country has also called for measures to "regulate cyberspace", following terror attacks in the country.

In related news, a leaked draft technical paper prepared by the U.K. government states that technology companies would be required to remove encryption from private communications and provide the raw data "in an intelligible form" without "electronic protection". However, it's not clear if the Conservatives still intend to pursue these powers after recent elections left the party with a minority government and a diminished mandate.

Last year Apple refused requests from the FBI to break the security of its mobile software, following the recovery of an iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooter. Apple argued the FBI's request would set a "dangerous precedent" with serious implications for the future of smartphone encryption. The dispute ended after the government found an alternate way to access the data on the iPhone through the help of professional hackers.

Last week, the European Union published draft proposals that would enforce end-to-end encryption on all digital communications and forbid backdoors that enable law enforcement to access private message data. If ratified, the law would put it at odds with both the U.S. and U.K. intelligence communities.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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How the CIA hacks computers that aren’t even connected to the internet

CIA Malware Wikileaks

Air-gapped computers are supposed to be ultra-secure PCs that can’t be infected with malware that spreads with the help of the internet. That’s because of these computers, often connected to sensitive machines, aren’t also connected to the internet. You’d think these systems would be impenetrable by remote attacks and would require a hacker to be in the same room with the PC. But, unsurprisingly, the CIA developed tools that can infect air-gapped computers.

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Watch a security developer exact sweet revenge on IRS scammers

IRS Scam

Over the past few years, one of the more prevalent and successful scams going around has involved individuals posing as IRS agents and demanding payment of back taxes. By preying on individuals who are either elderly, unsophisticated, or have limited English-language proficiency, the scammers are able to convince some individuals that they might be subject to hefty fines, jail time, and even deportation if they don't make a prompt payment.

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Russia wants to examine the source code of US software, report reveals

Russia Cyber Attacks

While all US intelligence agencies agree that Russia meddled in the presidential election last year, Donald Trump still finds time in his busy schedule to question whether it actually happened. Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, has denied any interference and suggested that any hacks originating from Russia may be the work of "overzealous patriots."

A new report shows that Russia has been more and more interested in Western technology and its tech secrets in recent years for two reasons: Preventing hacks and finding vulnerabilities.

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Washington State University warns 1 million about stolen hard drive containing personal data

Washington State University sent letters earlier this month to one million people warning that they could be at risk of identity theft after a hard drive was stolen over a month ago.

The university said in the June 9 letter that the hard drive belonged to its Social & Economic Sciences Research Center. The theft occured on April 21. The hard drive contained personal information such as names, Social Security numbers and personal health information, the Seattle Times reported Thursday.

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