Economist 7/17/14

  1. Verizon, a telecoms company, studied 621 data breaches in 2012 in which 44m records were lost and found that in four out of five cases where hackers had struck they had been able to guess passwords easily—or had stolen them.Technology can help. Darktrace, a British startup, is one of several firms touting continuous network monitoring software. This uses complex algorithms and mathematical models to map what normal daily behaviour on a network looks like and then flags up anomalies, such as a computer that suddenly starts downloading unusually large data files. To catch hackers early and create defences to keep them out, some companies are systematically studying the habits of highly organised groups.. Goldman has built a threat-management centre staffed by ex-spooks who scan cyberspace.Facebook, a prime target for hackers and spammers, has built ThreatData, a computer system that sucks in vast amounts of information about threats from a wide range of sources, including lists of malicious websites. Big banks in America have been doing this for some time; indeed, the retailers’ ISAC is modelled after the financial-services version, FS-ISAC Information Sharing and Analysis Centre, which was set up in 1999. The finance group now has 4,700 members and in recent years has helped co-ordinate banks’ defences against massive DDoS attacks.  The Australian Signals Directorate, the equivalent of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), says that at least 85% of targeted breaches it sees could be prevented by just four measures: whitelisting software applications; regularly patching widely used software such as PDF viewers, web browsers and Microsoft Office; doing the same for operating systems; and restricting administrator privileges (granting control over a system) to those who really need them to do their job.
  2. As yet airlines are not allowed standing sections on their planes. So it should be of little surprise that Airbus has applied for a patent for the next-most bovine configuration: a “motorcycle saddle” for short-haul cabins. Certainly no tray-tables, underseat storage or pockets to keep your sick bag in. This, it reckons, will allow airlines to wedge a third more people on to a plane—that’s an extra 63 passengers on one of Ryanair’s Boeing 737-800s.
  3. Israel’s arms manufacturers have devised an anti-missile system, offering what they call an “Iron Dome” overhead.he $1-billion programme, subsidised by the United States, has served Israel well in Operation Protective Edge.. Palestinian militants have lobbed almost 1,000 missiles into Israel, but Iron Dome’s interceptors have struck down 87% of their targets, according to the Israelis.Iron Dome is the short-range component of Israel’s three-tier anti-missile defences. As soon as enemy rockets are launched, Iron Dome’s radar tracks their trajectory, calculates their impact point and launches a missile which within seconds locks onto the rocket and shoots it down. Each interception costs about $60,000, but its architects claim to have saved Israel billions.Problems do remain: even when rockets are successfully shot down, potentially lethal shrapnel falls from the sky. 
  4. On June 24th Citizen Lab, a Toronto-based cyberspace security outfit, said it had detected specialised spyware being used in Saudi Arabia—the first time it has seen such sophisticated software in that country. The software, known as a remote control device (RCS), can hack into mobile phones, giving the government access to all the user’s information—what he or she has looked at or written online and the call history, for example. Unlike basic surveillance software, the RCS can also transform the device into a monitoring tool by switching on and controlling the camera and microphone, without the user noticing.Citizen Lab says the software was disguised as a copy of a mobile phone news application called Qatif Today.Citizen Lab is unable to tell how many devices have been infected, but has linked the RCS to the legal Italian spyware providers known as Hacking Team.  Hacking Team’s website says it provides the technology “to the worldwide law enforcement and intelligence communities”.   In October 2012 similar software known as FinFisher, manufactured by Anglo-German company Gamma, was linked to the monitoring of high profile dissidents in Bahrain.
  5.  On July 15th Mr Cook and Virginia Rometty ,the boss of IBM, announced that their companies( Apple and IBM) are working together to develop more than 100 business-specific mobile applications for Apple’s iPhones and iPad tablet computers. IBM’s employees will also serve as a sales force for promoting the use of Apple’s gear inside firms and provide on-site service for its devices.

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