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Security

Submission + - TSA Got Everything It Wanted For Christmas (hstoday.us) 1

OverTheGeicoE writes: It looks like Congress' recent jabs at TSA were just posturing after all. Last Friday, President Obama signed a spending act passed by both houses of Congress. The act gives TSA a $7.85 billion budget increase for 2012 and includes funding for 12 additional multi-modal Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams and 140 new behavior detection officers. It even includes funding for 250 shiny new body scanners, which was originally cut from the funding bill last May.
Security

Submission + - Vanity Fair on TSA and Security Theater (vanityfair.com) 1

OverTheGeicoE writes: Perhaps its now officially cool to criticize TSA. Vanity Fair has a story questioning the true value of TSA security. The story features Bruce Schneier, inventor of the term 'security theater' and contender for the Most Interesting Man in the World, it would seem. With Schneier's, um, mentoring, the author allegedly doctors a boarding pass to breach security at Reagan National Airport to do an interview with Schneier. 'To walk through an airport with Bruce Schneier is to see how much change a trillion dollars can wreak. So much inconvenience for so little benefit at such a staggering cost.' Perhaps. The real question is this: now that he's been idolized in Vanity Fair, will Bruce still eat lunch with us in the cafeteria after math class?

Comment That's great. What about OPEN? (Score 4, Informative) 283

There's a rival proposal in the House called the Online Protection & ENforcement of Digital Trade Act, or OPEN, which claims to be better than SOPA/PIPA but does similar things in a different way. I suspect it's better to do nothing at all than approve any of these bills, even OPEN, but it's hard to say because OPEN doesn't get as much coverage. It would be nice if OPEN were included in the discussion in the future.

Privacy

Submission + - Your BitTorrent Activity May Be Online and Searcha (krebsonsecurity.com)

OverTheGeicoE writes: You might think that Facebook privacy is bad, but if you're a BitTorrent user, you've got bigger problems. Krebs on Security has a story about youhavedownloaded.com, a site that indexes download activity for BitTorrent and other file-sharing services by IP address. It isn't perfect; it doesn't have records for a lot of activity, and it doesn't disambiguate information for shared IP addresses. Still, if it has records on you, that may be bad enough to expose you to legal action from MPAA or RIAA, or perhaps just uncomfortable discussions with Mom and Dad.
Security

Submission + - TSA Facing Death By A Thousand Cuts (house.gov)

OverTheGeicoE writes: The Transportation Security Administration is getting a lot of negative attention, much of it from the US government itself. A recent congressional report blasted TSA for being incompetent and ineffective (PDF). A bill to force TSA to reduce its screening of active duty US military members and their families was approved unanimously by the House of Representatives. After a TSA employee was arrested for sexually assaulting a woman while in uniform, a bill has been introduced to prevent TSA from wearing police-style uniforms and badges or using the title 'officer'. The bill's sponsor calls these practices 'an insult to real cops.' The FBI is getting involved by changing its definition of rape in a way that might expose TSA's 'enhanced pat-down' screeners to prosecution. Lastly, public support for TSA's use of X-ray body scanners drops dramatically when people realize there is a cancer risk.
Chrome

Submission + - Chrome takes No. 2 browser spot from Firefox (networkworld.com)

OverTheGeicoE writes: It appears that Google's Chrome is now the world's second most popular browser. Microsoft's Internet Explorer is still the worldwide leader with 40.63% of the market, with Chrome (25.69%) just edging out Mozilla's Firefox (25.23%) for second place this month. In the US, the story is unchanged. Firefox still has about a 3% lead over Chrome.
EU

Submission + - European Union Bans X-ray Airport Body Scanners (europa.eu)

OverTheGeicoE writes: The European Union has adopted a proposal to regulate airport body scanners at Member State airports. No Member State or airport is obligated to use scanners, but if they do, the scanners must conform to new European Union standards. Here's a partial list. Scanners must not store, retain, copy, print, or retrieve passenger images. The image viewer must be in a remote location. Passengers must be informed how the scanners are being controled, and can opt out if they choose. Perhaps most importantly, x-ray scanners are banned 'in order not to risk jeopardising citizens' health and safety.'
United States

Submission + - How X-Ray Scanners Became Mandatory in US Airports (propublica.org)

OverTheGeicoE writes: ProPublica has a story on how x-ray scanners became the controversial yet mandatory security fixtures we in the US must now endure. The story title, "U.S. Government Glossed Over Cancer Concerns As It Rolled Out Airport X-Ray Scanners," summarizes a substantial part of the article, but not all of it. The story also describes how government attitudes about the scanners went from overwhelmingly negative in the early 1990's to the naive optimism we see today. How did this change occur? The government weakened its regulatory structure for radiation safety in electronic devices, and left defining safety standards to an ANSI committee dominated by scanner producers and users (prison and customs officials). Even after 9/11 there was still great mistrust of x-ray scanners, but nine years of lobbying from scanner manufacturers, panic over failed terrorist attacks, and pressure from legislators advancing businesses in their own districts eventually forced the devices into the airports. The article estimates that 6 to 100 cancers per year will be caused by the x-ray scanners.
The Courts

Submission + - DHS Ignores Court Ruling to Take Public Comment on (epic.org)

OverTheGeicoE writes: On Saturday, the Electronic Privacy Information Center announced that they filed papers in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to get the Department of Homeland Security to start its public comment process. In July the court ordered DHS to take public comment on airport body scanning, in accordance with federal law. The court allowed DHS and TSA to continue using scanners during the comment period. According to EPIC's filing the ruling against DHS became final on September 21 after EPIC's motion for a rehearing was denied. Since then, DHS has done nothing to comply with the order. EPIC wants DHS to release details for their public comment period process within 45 days. DHS is no stranger to the kind of notice and comment rulemaking that is being required of them. Earlier public comment on their Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP), which would have required draconian security on aircraft 10% of the size of a Boeing 737, did not go so well. They received 7400 comments 'vehemently opposed' to LASP in 2008 and 2009 and are still reworking the plan in response to the comments received. How will DHS manage the public comment period for body scanners, which directly affects many millions more Americans than LASP does? Would DHS prefer to take their chances in court, including an appeal to the Supreme Court if need be, rather than face the public over their body scanners?

Submission + - Skylander Toys Hacked, Activision Says Cease and D (brandonw.net)

samebull writes: Brandon Wilson, a hobbyist with prior experience in key factoring and decryption for handheld calculators and other devices, has successfully dumped and modified toy data using a Texas Instruments calculator and the Portal of Power game accessory (and included figures) of the recently released Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure.

Within 24 hours of celebrating his accomplishment on Twitter, however, he caught the attention of Activision's legal team. The exploit has potential to be quite costly for Activision, seeing as it might possibly be used to not only modify character stats but also affect what species the portal recognizes it as.

Skylanders uses collectible figurines as playable characters, which not only can remember their experience or customizations but they are also compatible on multiple console versions. Three different figures come with the game, but additional figures are needed to access all of the game's additional content. Collecting all of the figures could ring up a hefty sum of up to three hundred dollars.

The hack could force the game to recognize other characters the player hasn't acquired, which may have a profound effect on sales of the additional toys. Details on the hack were removed from the hobbyist's site, complying with the cease and desist order... but extensive details on the toy and the portal, as well as the dump of one character, Gill Grunt, can still be found in Google's cache.

Security

Submission + - TSA's VIPR Bites Rail, Bus, and Ferry Passengers (washingtontimes.com)

OverTheGeicoE writes: TSA's VIPR program may be expanding. According to the Washington Times, 'TSA has always intended to expand beyond the confines of airport terminals. Its agents have been conducting more and more surprise groping sessions for women, children and the elderly in locations that have nothing to do with aviation.' In Tennessee earlier this month bus passengers in Nashville and Knoxville were searched in addition to the truck searches discussed here previously. Earlier this year in Savannah, Georgia TSA forced a group of train travelers, including young children, to be patted down (video). (They were getting off the train, not on.) Ferry passengers have also been targeted. According to TSA Administrator John Pistole's testimony before the Senate last June, 'TSA conducted more than 8,000 VIPR operations in the [previous] 12 months, including more than 3,700 operations in mass-transit and passenger-railroad venues.' He wants a 50% budget increase for VIPR for 2012. Imagine what TSA would do with the extra funding.

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