Thursday, January 30, 2014

How curious!

¡Qué curioso!

Albert Einstein said: "It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education." Undoubtedly we are curious by nature. However, it is possible to drive this desire for learning and discovering on the right or the wrong way.

The former analyst of the U.S. National Security Agency Edward Snowden satisfied the curiosity of the entire planet when he leaked thousands of confidential documents which revealed the extent of the espionage carried out by such agency. For some people, Snowden did not make a good decision because that threatened the security of US. On the contrary many other people believe that civil population had the right to know and accept or reject the practices of its government. As proof of this, he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 2014 by two Norwegian deputies.

Regarding the NSA, there is an interesting campaign running called "Turn it off", which is aimed to forced the end of the NSA’s techniques for collecting, storing and mining data. It is assumes that in order to keep their equipment properly refrigerated, the agency requires huge amounts of water. Therefore the campaign urges states where the NSA has facilities to promote legislation that will cut off their water supplies and electricity.

It is not only interesting, but also very surprising to see how  the police is sometimes a victim by hackers. This time, a website of the Thailand police was hacked and defaced to demonstrate its security deficiencies.

The cyber temple for curious people, ie Wikipedia, also suffered some cyber vulnerabilities. Indeed, researchers at security company Check Point warned of a remote code execution vulnerability on the wiki platform that supports the popular encyclopedia, called MediaWiki.

Wikipedia has made universal knowledge more accessible than ever for many users eager to learn. But the curiosity of some people goes in a different direction. The password crackers usually launch brute force attacks to get the password to someone else’s account. In order to face this problem, two researchers developed Honey Encryption which is a system that gives a mixture of false and actual data to the intruder when he finally gets the password or encryption key, so he does not know what is real and what is not.

We want to tell you one last curiosity, a very dangerous one though, before finishing the article today. Security firm Doctor Web discovered the first bootkit for Android, called Android.oldboot. This is a Trojan that infects the boot partition so in the case that the device was formatted, the malware was still able to reproduce itself. It has already affected over 350,000 devices, some of them in Spain, so we better watch out.


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