Web

Tech companies and security experts pan U.K.’s encryption backdoor proposal

18 months on those nasty truecrypt bugs have been found encryption
Shutterstock

Tech companies, civil rights groups, and security experts have released an open letter condemning the U.K. security agency GCHQ’s (Government Communications Headquarters) proposal to circumvent encryption on private messages.

The proposal was raised last year, and is known as the “ghost protocol.” It suggested encrypted messages should be copied and sent to law enforcement agencies who would act as “ghost users.” They would then be able to read the encrypted messages. This was suggested an alternative to weakening encryption to allow law enforcement to crack it.

The proposal was almost universally unpopular, with opposition swiftly mounted by privacy groups, tech companies, and lawyers. One main concern was that even if the ghost protocols were only used in extreme circumstances, they would both violate trust in the privacy of messages, and introduce a fatal security hole in vital encryption technology.

The open letter, which is downloadable in PDF form, was published this week alongside an explanation in the Lawfare blog. The letter was signed by a total of 47 organizations and individuals, including 23 civil liberties organizations, seven tech companies, and 17 experts in digital securities. The tech companies that signed included Microsoft, Apple, Google, and WhatsApp.

Currently the overwhelming majority of users rely on their confidence in reputable providers to perform authentication functions and verify that the participants in a conversation are the people they think they are, and only those people,” the letter read. “The GCHQ’s ghost proposal completely undermines this trust relationship and the authentication process.”

In addition to the concerns over privacy and trust in encryption, the letter also made mention of the potential security threats of the proposal. “The ghost proposal would introduce a security threat to all users of a targeted encrypted messaging application since the proposed changes could not be exposed only to a single target,” it read.

“In order for providers to be able to suppress notifications when a ghost user is added, messaging applications would need to rewrite the software that every user relies on. This means that any mistake made in the development of this new function could create an unintentional vulnerability that affects every single user of that application.”

The technical director of the U.K. National Cyber Security Center, Ian Levy, who originally proposed the legislation, responded that the idea was only “hypothetical” and intended as a “starting point for discussion,” according to the BBC.

Computing

1.5% of Chrome users’ passwords are known to be compromised, according to Google

In February, a new feature was introduced to the Google Chrome browser which checks whether users' passwords are secure. Now, Google has released eye-opening stats gathered from Password Checkup.
Mobile

Critical Bluetooth security bug discovered. Protect yourself with a quick update

Researchers have discovered a major new security flaw in Bluetooth, which could leave millions of devices at risk of a malicious hack. The attack allows a hacker to “break” Bluetooth security without anyone knowing.
Deals

Get discounts up to $250 off the 10.5-inch Apple iPad Pro at Walmart

If you’re planning to get an iPad, today is an ideal time to secure a great deal on an older generation of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. Prices of all variants from 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB are reduced up to $250 off at Walmart.
Computing

Notepad has a major security flaw that leaves Windows PCs vulnerable to hackers

A Google Project Zero security researcher has discovered a major security flaw involving Windows PCs and Notepad. The flaw can allow hackers to take over entire computers. Microsoft has released a patch for the flaw.
News

The IRS is cracking down on people who didn’t pay taxes on Bitcoin earnings

If you've been trading Bitcoin and haven't been reporting your earnings to the IRS, you might be getting a surprise in your mailbox. By the end of next month, around 10,000 people are expected to get letters from the IRS.
Computing

This magic box stops hackers, advertisers, ISPs, and everyone else spying on you

The Winston Privacy Filter is an unobtrusive little box that you plug your router into, and it promises to protect your online activities from hackers, advertisers, Internet Service Providers, and everyone else looking to snoop on you.
Computing

What’s the best way to stick it to Equifax? Make them work for you

If you're among those whose data was compromised by the Equifax data breach, you're probably not going to get the $125 promised by the FTC settlement. If you want to make Equifax pay, you're better off choosing free credit monitoring.
Home Theater

CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox sue Locast, a free, nonprofit TV streaming service

In a story that his highly reminiscent of the legal battle that ultimately took down Aereo, Fox, CBS, ABC, and NBC are jointly suing Locast, a nonprofit that streams these TV channels for free over the internet.
Smart Home

Amazon is about to kill off its press-to-order Dash button

Amazon's diminutive Dash button is about to die. The ecommerce giant has said that from the end of August, customers will no longer be able to use its press-to-buy button to order products from its shopping site.
Mobile

Apple Card applications have opened for a lucky few enthusiasts

Apple is getting into the credit card business. Apple Card is a credit card you can sign up for directly on your iPhone, and it doesn't have fees. There's a lower interest rate and you can even get Daily Cash from all purchases.
Web

Were they really that bad? Here are the 10 most disliked videos on YouTube

Ever wondered which videos are the most disliked videos on YouTube? Well, we have the top ten list you’re looking for. Here are the latest videos with the most dislikes currently on YouTube.
Computing

From beautiful to downright weird, check out these great dual-monitor wallpapers

Multitasking with two monitors doesn't mean you have to split your screens with two separate wallpapers. From beautiful to downright weird, here are our top sites for finding the best dual-monitor wallpapers for you.
Computing

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. The best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.
Computing

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier than ever, but choosing the right tool to use isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our three favorite tools.