FBI Shares 7 Tech Tips to Keep You Safe

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The FBI’s Oregon office shared seven tech tips to keep people safe over the holidays, like not letting devices auto-connect to free Wi-Fi. It’s well worth the read.

The kids are getting out of school this week and you are packing your bags for the big trip to the in-laws. Now is not the time you want to talk about cyber security, but we do have a few travel tips to keep you safe while you are on the go.

FBI Draft Resolution Calls for End-to-End Encryption Ban

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An FBI draft resolution for Interpol calls for a ban on end-to-end encryption. It’s for Interpol’s 37th Meeting of the INTERPOL Specialists Group on Crimes Against Children.

A draft of the resolution viewed by Ars Technica stated that INTERPOL would “strongly urge providers of technology services to allow for lawful access to encrypted data enabled or facilitated by their systems” in the interest of fighting child sexual exploitation. Currently, it is not clear whether Interpol will ultimately issue a statement.

Remember when I mentioned the Four Horses of the Infocalypse? Terrorists, drug dealers, pedophiles, and organized crime. Four fears to use as a way to push their agenda. I know it’s a delicate issue. These groups are definitely ones that the majority of society would want to stop. But removing end-to-end encryption for everyone isn’t the way to do that.

Encryption Hasn't Stopped the FBI From Fighting Child Porn

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Despite arguments from governments that encryption would hinder their ability to fight criminals, this clearly isn’t the case. In a recent example one of the biggest child porn sites on the dark web was recently taken down.

No backdoors were needed to track down the owner of the server or hundreds of the site’s visitors. For that matter, the FBI didn’t even need a warrant. The FBI did not deploy its infamous NIT (Network Investigative Technique) to track down site users. The flaw was the payment system linked to the site. Users may have thought their Bitcoin transactions couldn’t be traced back to them, but they were wrong.

The Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse: Terrorists, pedophiles, drug dealers, organized crime.

FBI to Monitor Social Media for Domestic Terrorism Threats

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The FBI wants to monitor Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for domestic terrorism threats in real time.

The FBI ultimately wants an interactive tool that can be accessed by all headquarters division and field office personnel via web browsers and through multiple devices. Interested vendors should have the capabilities to offer the agency the ability to set filters around the specific content they see, send immediate and custom alerts and notifications around “mission-relevant” incidents, have broad international reach and a strong language translation capability and allow for real-time geolocation-based monitoring that can be refined as events develop.

Just ask the NSA.

Chuck Schumer Calls For Investigation into FaceApp

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U.S. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer called on the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate FaceApp over privacy and national security concerns.

The viral smartphone application, which has seen a new surge of popularity due to a filter that ages photos of users’ faces, requires “full and irrevocable access to their personal photos and data,” which could pose “national security and privacy risks for millions of U.S. citizens,” Schumer said in his letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and FTC Chairman Joe Simons.

A misconception around the app is that is transmits all of your photos. It doesn’t; it only uses photos that you willingly upload.

Governments Are Terrible at Securing Data

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It absolutely infuriates me when agencies like the FBI, and governments like Australia, the U.S., Germany, and more want us to break encryption or circumvent it with a back door. As Mathew Gault writes, they are completely inept at securing data. Even the NSA, which likes to think it’s the “world leader in cryptology” got hacked.

Regular phone and internet users remain vulnerable, forced to take individual protective measures, like a poor wage-worker without health insurance who’s told to secure her nest egg by cutting out morning lattes.

FBI: Encryption Infects Law Enforcement Community

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The FBI really really dislikes end-to-end encryption, saying that it’s a problem that infects the law enforcement community (paywall).

The so-called going-dark issue…is a problem [that] infects law enforcement and the intelligence community more and more so every day,” said Amy Hess, executive assistant director with the FBI, in an interview. Ms. Hess, who previously oversaw the FBI’s science and technology branch, testified to Congress on the problem during Apple’s 2016 clash with the bureau.

Apple and others are worried about Australia’s encryption ban, and it could be a test case for the rest of the Five Eyes.

Former Director of FBI, CIA Foiled a Phone Scammer

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William H. Webster, a former director of both the FBI and CIA, foiled a phone scammer who threatened him and his wife.

Over a number of weeks, Thomas, calling himself David Morgan, made a series of calls to the Websters, and they soon turned threatening: he described their house, and he said that if they didn’t hand over $6,000, he’d shoot them in the head or burn their house down, boasting that the FBI and CIA would never find him.

Can you imagine the look on that guy’s face when he learned who he threatened?