NSA's reported Huawei hack gives glimpse of agency's role in 'cyber Cold War'

A new report based on the trove of secret NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden gives a glimpse of the agency's role in the cyber-intrigues taking place between the US and China, with files showing that the NSA hacked into Chinese router-maker Huawei's servers with the hope of gaining info on government plans and of exploiting the company's products to spy on other foreign rivals.

The New York Times reports that the NSA "pried its way into the servers in Huawei's sealed headquarters in Shenzhen, China's industrial heart" and "obtained information about … Read more

Obama talks spying with Facebook's Zuckerberg, Google's Schmidt

As expected, President Obama met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, and other tech executives Friday afternoon to discuss efforts to reform the National Security Agency's controversial surveillance programs.

"The President used this opportunity to update the CEOs on our progress in implementing the principles and reforms he announced on January 17, including the new Presidential Directive he issued to govern our intelligence activities that will ensure that we take into account our security requirements, but also our alliances, our trade and investment relationships, including the concerns of our companies, … Read more

Microsoft revises privacy policy in wake of Hotmail search case

Microsoft promised to toughen policies regarding the company's potential reading of Hotmail users' emails, after an outcry over Microsoft searching a user's Hotmail account to discover the identity of someone now charged with stealing company secrets.

John Frank, Microsoft's deputy general counsel, said that in the future, the company would meet a more rigorous standard before peeking into a non-employee's Hotmail account.

There are four parts to the new standard, Frank said:

We will not conduct a search of customer email and other services unless the circumstances would justify a court order, if one were available. … Read more

Obama to meet again with tech leaders over surveillance

President Obama plans to meet with a select group of technology CEOs on Friday to discuss "issues of privacy, technology, and intelligence," a White House official told Politico.

A full list of chief executives was not made available by the White House, but industry sources told Politico that Google, Facebook, and Yahoo had been invited to the meeting. CNET has contacted those companies for comment on their participation and will update this report when we learn more.

It's the second such meeting Obama has held with Silicon Valley executives in recent months over controversial US electronic surveillance … Read more

How to remove spammy notifications from your Facebook feed

Recently I installed Goodreads on my Android phone. It's kind of rough around the edges compared with the iOS version, but no matter -- the service is invaluable for keeping track of the books I'm reading and want to read.

So today, when I added Nic Pizzolatto's "Galveston" to my "now reading" list, imagine my surprise at discovering the following Goodreads post on my Facebook feed: "Rick Broida is now reading 'Galveston.'"

I don't really mind anyone knowing that, but I don't like it when apps share things on … Read more

NSA system designed to attack 'millions' of computers -- report

Through an operation called Turbine, the NSA crafted an automated system designed to hack "millions" of computers, new documents from Edward Snowden's leaks on government surveillance reveal.

According to documents published by The Intercept on Wedesday, Turbine created "implants" that let it gain access to peoples' computers. Getting the implants onto machines involved an array of deceptions: fake Facebook Web pages, spam emails with malicious links, and man-in-the-middle attacks that would "shoot" bogus data at a target's computer when the NSA detected it was visiting a Web site the NSA could spoof. … Read more

Feinstein excoriates CIA for spying on Senate committee

Senator Dianne Feinstein is not a fan of government surveillance, at least when it's directed at the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The California senator, who has been the chair of the committee since 2009, said on Tuesday that the Central Intelligence Agency improperly monitored an independent computer network created for Congress to investigate allegations of torture and abuse in a detention and interrogation program from the George W. Bush administration.

Feinstein went public with the allegations after the CIA ignored letters from her on January 17 and January 23 that demanded an explanation and an apology.

She said in a … Read more

Snowden at SXSW: The NSA set fire to the future of the Internet

Edward Snowden accused the National Security Agency and the US government today of "setting fire to the future of the Internet."

In a high-profile video appearance at the South by Southwest festival -- his video was beamed over Google Hangout from Russia to Austin, Texas, apparently jokingly through "seven proxies" -- Snowden touched on myriad topics, ranging from privacy to the ramifications of government spying, as he answered questions from the Internet at large via Twitter.

"The NSA...they're setting fire to the future of the Internet. And the people in this room, you … Read more

Man arrested for wiretapping after filming police officer

We're all hypocrites at heart. It's how we manage it that gets us through the day.

Take those who are charged with surveilling others. They don't always warm to being surveilled themselves.

Indeed, one police officer in Fall River, Mass., was allegedly miffed when a bystander, George Thompson, filmed him as he was talking on his flip phone.

Thompson says the officer was talking loudly and cursing. He also says the officer was on duty.

What happened next is that when the officer noticed Thompson had taken out his iPhone to film him, he allegedly stormed over … Read more

Schmidt: Not even US gov't can get at Google user data

Though he didn't get into specifics, Google's chief executive, Eric Schmidt, told a packed house in Austin, Texas, on Friday that the company has completed its efforts to secure user data against unauthorized access.

On the first day of the annual South by Southwest Interactive conference, Schmidt told panel moderator Stephen Levy of Wired that the solution to governmental intrusions was "to encrypt data more."

"We are pretty sure that now the info inside of Google is safe from prying eyes, including those of the US government," said Schmidt, who clarified that his company … Read more