Three nights before Christmas 2016, I was standing in my bathroom when a gallop broke out across my chest. It was ventricular tachycardia, a dangerous kind of arrhythmia where only one side of the heart pumps and does so at high speed, denying blood from moving through it. At the age of 23, I’d had arrhythmias all my life, but had never felt anything like this. Twenty minutes later, with the arrhythmia still going, I was in the back of a parked ambulance. Alone with the EMTs, I braced for the shock of a defibrillator.
The pain was overwhelming, like…
“I am currently reading an article titled ‘10 Ways to Keep Sweaty Hands From Holding You Back,’” a man shouts from a toilet cubicle in Apple’s latest iPhone video. The ad is about a new feature in iOS 14 that blocks tracking cookies: bits of code that follow you across the internet so you can be targeted by ads. In the video, people shout aloud private information to highlight what tracking cookies are doing behind the scenes and how ridiculous it is that we accept them.
In an April 2020 report on the security and privacy of 15 video calling apps, the Mozilla Foundation gave failing grades to three apps: Doxy, Houseparty, and Discord. I was one of the journalists who worked with the foundation to break the story.
It’s been months since the report came out, and both Doxy and Houseparty are still on the foundation’s fail list. But Discord, a voice, video, and text communication tool that’s popular with gamers and on the rise among other groups, is different. Within one day of the Mozilla report’s release, Mozilla announced that Discord had fixed its…
A while back I read the autobiography of Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who worked on the atomic bomb with Einstein. The book is a series of anecdotes: Stories about the time Feynman made an elevator for ants, or when he accompanied the ballet on his bongos.
In one chapter Feynman writes about the year and a half he spent cracking safes at Los Alamos. When he finds a safe he isn’t able to crack, he guesses the combination and gets it right on his second try. Eventually, he comes across a safe that is impervious to his tricks…
When it came time to set a publication date for their report Escalation by Tweet: Managing the new nuclear diplomacy, King’s College London researchers Heather Williams and Alexi Drew settled on the arbitrary date of Wednesday, July 15 to release 18 months’ of research on how Twitter’s format is uniquely positioned to make dangerous global situations exponentially worse.
Their timing turned out to be prescient. Within hours of the paper’s online publication, Twitter endured the worst security breach in its history.
Earlier this week, India’s Ministry of Information Technology issued a press release banning 59 apps that the government says pose a “threat to sovereignty and integrity” of the nation. Although the press release does not call out any country by name, the fact that all the apps are Chinese leaves no doubt as to the target.
With companies across the world economy feeling an unprecedented economic crisis as a result of Covid-19, many recently banded together to ask for the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) to be delayed. The California attorney general was unmoved. In a statement reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, the attorney general’s office seemed to imply that Covid-19 made enforcement of the act more urgent, rather than less so, saying:
We’re committed to enforcing the law starting July 1… We encourage businesses to be particularly mindful of data security in this time of emergency.
In June 2019, a group of cybersecurity researchers notified Google of more than 1,000 potentially malicious apps on the company’s Play Store that can be used to surveil, monitor, and harass users. Their findings, which have not previously been reported, eventually led to one of the largest ever mass removals of Android apps.
Less than a year later, there are signs that the “creeperware,” as the researchers called it, is returning. The label comprises a broad category of abusable apps, including tools for spying, spoofing phone numbers, and secretly recording video and audio. Some of those programs banned by Google…
For months, Zoom has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Now used for everything from pandemic-era yoga retreats to mass layoffs, the company’s popularity stems from the fact the platform is simple and it works. But its newfound fame has also brought unrelenting attention to the notion that company leaders haven’t taken privacy and security seriously enough.
But are the problems severe enough to warrant ditching Zoom entirely? It depends on what you’re using the platform for, how much time you’re willing to spend protecting yourself, and who you ask.
Some security experts insist Zoom is taking…
In July 2019, Guillermo Federico Ibarrola was heading home on the subway when he was stopped by Buenos Aires police. The authorities told Ibarrola that he was being detained for an armed robbery that had happened three years ago in a city about 400 miles away.
Ibarrola protested. He said he had never even been to the city where he was accused of committing the crime. Still, he was arrested.
On the sixth day in police custody, he was suddenly released. The police officers offered Ibarrola coffee and dinner, and a bus ticket back home.