Back in 1999, Neal Stephenson's novel Cryptonomicon introduced me to the idea of Van Eck phreaking—intercepting the weak electromagnetic radiation from a computer monitor to recreate what the person is seeing on the screen. Now security researchers have come up with an exploit that uses an even simpler form of radiation: heat.
The latest security vulnerability to make the rounds, aptly dubbed FREAK, shines a spotlight on why it's maybe not such a great idea to weaken the technology behind the security that we all rely on. Turns out that we're still paying for the mistakes of the 1990s--and I don't mean acid-washed jeans.
The People's Republic of China is a major force on the internet. Their cyber warriors hack American companies, American newspapers, and American weather sattelites. When not hacking America, China's cyber warriors have an impressive record of censorship at home, stretching back at least two decades. China is so good at online censorship, their internet security has been dubbed the “Great Firewall of China.” And rather than hide this glaring contradiction of the internet's original promise of freely flowing information, China has written a song praising its cyber-censors. No, really.
Military secrets are only as secure the loneliest private. A report by online network security firm FireEye details that in the ongoing Syrian civil war, online forces loyal to Syria's brutal Assad dictatorship have obtained information from rebel groups through such simple means as a friendly chat and a picture of a smiling face. Cyberwar, done on the scale of catfishing.
Four months after President Obama asked the Federal Communications Commission to adopt strict net neutrality measures, the agency has come up with a plan. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced that he will submit a proposal to the agency's commissioners later this month that would impose tighter regulations on how broadband providers can manage their traffic.
The Internet's already inextricably intertwined with our everyday lives, and it's only going to become more and more prevalent as the so-called "Internet of Things" takes off. Everything from wearables to home appliances to medical devices are going to be connected to the net, and the U.S.'s Federal Trade Commission wants manufacturers to make sure that the security and privacy of consumers is paramount.