Threat Level Thursday: More Snowden, Yahoo Encrypts, the Safest Mobile OS, and the Air Force
In this week's Threat Level Thursday, we get another dose of Edward Snowden, see emails getting safer, take a look at which mobile operating system trumps the other in keeping the baddies out, and the Air Force joins the cyber fight.
Did The United States Accidentally Knock Out Syria's Internet?
According to well-known whistleblower Edward Snowden, the United States tried to install an exploit in a core Syrian router in 2012 and ended up bricking the entire thing. This blunder ended up wiping out Internet in Syria for a large number of users.
...or so he claims. Unlike previous revelations, this one, released as part of an interview with Wired, appears to come without accompanying secret documents to back it up. Instead, he says that a colleague told him about the NSA's accident while he was working for Hawaii-based NSA contractor Booz Allen. Whether or not the story is true, one thing is certain: most Americans will probably believe it with a another huge sigh.
Yahoo Joins Google in Encrypting Emails
Yahoo's new chief information officer Alex Stamos revealed at the Black Hat security conference that the company would begin encrypting Yahoo Mail end-to-end. Yahoo Mail, with its estimated 273 million users, joins Google's Gmail as two of the largest providers of email in the world championing end-to-end encryption. Much like Google, Yahoo will be making its end-to-end encryption code open source in hopes of squashing out the bugs before a 2015 rollout.
"What this means is that eventually not only will Yahoo Mail users be able to communicate in an encrypted manner with other Yahoo Mail users, but also with Gmail users and eventually with other email systems that adopt similar methodologies," Stamos said.
Which One Is Safer? iOS or Android?
According to tests conducted by surveillance firm Gamma Group, Apple's iOS is the most spyware-proof mobile operating system on the market. Using an insidious little bug known as FinSpy, testers were able to hack into Android versions 2.x.x to 4.4.x, Windows Mobile 6.1 and 6.5, Nokia's Symbian, and BlackBerry versions 5.x, 6.x, and 7.x. FinSpy basically takes over a smartphone, allowing the hacker to make phone calls, text messages, and even the microphone. Apple's iOS succumbed to the malware, but only if it was jailbroken.
Air Force Gears Up for Cybersecurity
Aiming to bolster the government's cache of trained cybersecurity experts, the Air Force Academy announced it is creating a comprehensive cybersecurity program. The course will consist of classes in areas like reverse software engineering and computer forensics. The new program comes amidst a number of major cuts at the academy.
Seeing as how skilled cybersecurity professionals generally tend to choose the private sector over the government, programs such as these could go a long way to retaining experts.
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