Thursday, 24 October 2013

UK to Form a Cyber Army

Britain is going to recruit hundreds of computer experts to create a cyber-army. The unit is supposed to defend vital networks against virtual attacks and launch high-tech assaults of its own. The Ministry of Defense announced that the country is spending increasing amounts on defending the people from the threats they are unlikely to ever face.

Despite the fact that the United Kingdom is broke, it still has the 4th largest defense budget in the world. A large part of this cash is not being spent on cyber intelligence and surveillance. Back in 2012, cyber defenses blocked about 400,000 advanced malicious cyber threats against the government’s secure Internet alone. This shows that the threat is real.

However, the Ministry of Defense points out that building cyber defense is not sufficient, because the United Kingdom also has to deter attacks. The country said that it is going to build a dedicated capability to counterattack in cyberspace and, in case of necessity, to strike. The representatives of the Ministry added that clinical “cyber strikes” could disable enemy communications, nuclear and chemical weapons, planes, ships and other hardware.

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Electronic Gadgets Will Be Allowed During Flight Takeoff & Landing

Media reports confirm that a federal advisory committee has prepared a report for American Federal Aviation Administration, saying that flights can handle switched-on gadgets at all times, including takeoff and landing. This is true about the devices not connected to the web.

In case the suggestion is approved, the passengers will be able to enjoy their ebooks, music players and other devices during takeoff and landings. The above mentioned report, commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration, recommends testing transmission tolerance on older aircraft. As for the newer aircraft types, they will be considered safe for electronic transmissions.

According to the industry officials, the suggestions could be approved as early as the end of 2013. The aircraft types able to tolerate electronic transmissions are already in use, some of them fitted out with picocells for in flight phone calls. In case a plane already has a picocell, it means that it has already been evaluated to have electronic devices for all phases of flight. Such aircrafts are Airbus 330 300s and Boeing 747 400s, for example.

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Google Pays Corporation Tax in the US instead of the UK

Google paid only £11 million in British corporation tax in 2012, despite revenues of £500 million. Indeed, the company made global profits of £6 billion last year, but says that it pays bulk of its tax where business originated – the United States. Its representatives argued that the company made a significant contribution to the United Kingdom through investment and jobs.

Back in 2011, Google paid £6 million while showing a £24 million loss on a £400 million turnover. The US company has been repeatedly accused of failing to pay its fair share of tax in the United Kingdom. In addition, the tech giant has been criticized for designating Ireland, and not the United Kingdom, as Google’s official European sales base in order to benefit from lower company tax rates.

Google’s former employee, who turned to be a whistle blower, handed over documents to HM Revenue and Customs to show how the company’s London sales staff would negotiate and sign contracts with UK customers, with cash paid into a British bank account. However, the deals were allegedly booked through Google’s Dublin office in order to minimize its liabilities.

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National Security Agency Maps Social Connections

According to the latest Snowden leak, for the last three years, the National Security Agency has been creating sophisticated graphs of the US citizens’ social connections.

Investigating the shedloads of information the agency has collected, NSA is now able to tell who your friends are, your locations at certain times, your travel companions and other personal data.

One of the slides from a leaked NSA presentation reveals the way it uses e-mail and phone information in order to analyze the relationships of foreign intelligence targets. Another file revealed that the NSA was told to carry out large-scale graph analysis on communications metadata “without having to check foreignness of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier”.

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France Will Fine Google

The tech giant hoped that France would forget its sins and let it do what it wants with EU data having been dashed recently. Local press confirm that Google will get a fine after it failed to comply with an order to alter the way user data is stored and used in order to conform to French privacy laws.

The fine comes as a result of an investigation led by EU data protection authorities of a new privacy policy adopted by Google a year ago. Local privacy watchdog pointed out that Google was ordered to comply with data protection legislation within three months, but it just didn’t. It seems like Google just shrugged and refused. The company keeps insisting that local data protection laws can’t be applied to users of certain Google services in France.

Now the watchdog will designate a rapporteur to initiate a formal procedure for imposing sanctions. This is done under the provisions laid down in the country’s data protection legislation. The tech giant could be fined about $200,000 which seems not much. In addition, the company could in certain circumstances be ordered to refrain from processing personal information in certain ways for 3 months. The company responded that its privacy policy does respect European legislation. It also insisted that it had “engaged fully” with the watchdog within this process.

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Snowden Shortlisted for Human Rights Award in EU

As you know, the American government regards Edward Snowden as a traitor who exposed its abysmal treatment of its own people, while in the EU Edward has been shortlisted for the Sakharov prize.

Indeed, it turned out that Edward Snowden, the fugitive US former intelligence worker, has made the shortlist of three for the top human rights award in Europe. Media reports revealed that he was nominated by Green politicians in the EU Parliament for leaking details of NSA surveillance.

In the meantime, it seems that Snowden wasn’t suffering as much for his deeds as other nominees did. The other two nominees are Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan, a teenager who was shot in the head for demanding education for girls, and a group of Belarusian political dissidents who were jailed three years ago for protesting against the disputed re-election of President Lukashenko. For Snowden, this looks like tough competition from people who really suffered for their stands for human rights.

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US Tech Giants Lose Money from NSA Spying

American corporations are losing billions of dollars, because foreign firms look closer to home in order to avoid NSA snooping. Today companies and politicians consider an opportunity to take business from the United States in the wake of Snowden’s allegations about NSA spying.

For example, 3 of Germany’s largest email providers, including partly state-owned Deutsche Telekom, decided to join their efforts and offer a new service, Email Made in Germany. The matter is that by encrypting email via national servers and using German strict privacy legislation, American authorities won’t be able to snoop that easily.

Email Made in Germany is currently reporting over 100,000 people have already signed up. Media reports say that foreign governments were seeking to use data-privacy legislation as a competitive advantage to boost domestic companies against such international giants as Google and Microsoft. However, it would be much more expensive for the Germans to use such a service and requires ignorance about the way the worldwide web works.

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