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Americans shall not have expectations of “absolute privacy” : FBI Director

The Federal Bureau of Investigation chief also said that he planned to finish his term leading the agency

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FBI, VOA

Washington, March 9, 2017: FBI Director James Comey warned that Americans should not have expectations of “absolute privacy” after the disclosure of a range of hacking tools used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

“There is no such thing as absolute privacy in America; there is no place outside of judicial reach,” Comey said at a Boston College conference on cyber security on Wednesday.

He made the remark as he discussed the rise of encryption since 2013 disclosures by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about sensitive US spy practices, CNN reported.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation chief also said that he planned to finish his term leading the agency, CNN reported.

“Even our communications with our spouses, with our clergy members, with our attorneys are not absolutely private in America… In appropriate circumstances, a judge can compel any one of us to testify in court about those very private communications,” Comey said.

But, he also said Americans “have a reasonable expectation of privacy in our homes, in our cars, in our devices”.

“It is a vital part of being an American. The government cannot invade our privacy without good reason, reviewable in court,” Comey said.

Fresh concerns over personal privacy arose after WikiLeaks published what it called the first tranche of a larger body of data about CIA hacking, which it says was provided to the organisation by a whistleblower seeking to trigger a debate on the issue.

The CIA said it would not comment on the authenticity of the WikiLeaks material but issued a statement pointing out it was legally prohibited from using such surveillance tools in the US.

“The CIA’s mission is to aggressively collect foreign intelligence overseas to protect America from terrorists, hostile nation states and other adversaries. It is CIA’s job to be innovative, cutting-edge, and the first line of defence in protecting this country from enemies abroad. America deserves nothing less,” the statement said.

There is anxiety in Washington that the WikiLeaks release of what it called its “Vault 7” trove of data would make the hacking tools available to criminal or terrorist organisations, or foreign governments, according to reports.

Comey said that in the last four months of 2016, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) lawfully gained access to 2,800 devices recovered in criminal, terrorism and counter-intelligence investigations and the agency was unable to open 43 per cent of those devices.

Americans’ desire for privacy and security should never be viewed as incompatible, he said.

“We all value privacy. We all value security. We should never have to sacrifice one for the other,” Comey said.

“Our founders struck a bargain that is at the center of this amazing country of ours and has been for over two centuries.” (IANS)

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Hackers Target 1 Indian Firm Over 1,500 Times a Week

Misconfiguration of cloud resources is still the number one cause for Cloud attacks, but now we also witness an increasing number of attacks aimed directly at Cloud service providers

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Bharat Bhise HNA, Hacker, Business
Hackers have the power to bring down your website or your entire network if they so wish. Pixabay

A single organisation in India was attacked an alarming 1,565 times per week on average in the past six months, compared to 474 attacks by hackers per organisation globally, says a new report.

According to researchers at Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point Research, 93 per cent of malicious files in India were delivered via the web, compared to 35 per cent of malicious files globally.

The most common vulnerability exploit type in India is information disclosure, impacting 64 per cent of the organisations and the top malware in India is “XMRig” that impacts 17 per cent of firms, said Check Point’s ‘2020 Cyber Security’ report.

“2019 presented a complex threat landscape where nation states, cybercrime organisations and private contractors accelerated the cyber arms race, elevating each other’s capabilities at an alarming pace, and this will continue into 2020,” said Lotem Finkelsteen, Threat Intelligence Group Manager, Check Point Software Technologies.

It is pertinent to note that cryptominers still dominate malware landscape.

Even though cryptomining declined during 2019, linked to cryptocurrencies’ fall in value and the closure of the Coinhive operation in March, 38 per cent of companies globally were impacted by crypto-miners in 2019, up from 37 per cent in 2018.

This is because the use of crypto-miners remains a low-risk, high-reward activity for criminals.

“Detecting and automatically blocking the attack at an early stage can prevent damage. Check Point’s 2020 Security Report shares what organisations need to look out for, and how they can win the war against cyber attacks through key best practices,” Finkelsteen added.

Twenty eight per cent of organisations globally were hit by botnet activity, an increase of over 50 per cent compared with 2018.

Iranian, Hackers, Cyberattacks
FILE – In 2010, the Stuxnet virus disrupted operation of centrifuges at a uranium enrichment facility in Iran. VOA

Emotet was the most common bot malware used, primarily because of its versatility in enabling malware and spam distribution services. Other botnet actions such as sextortion email activity and DDoS attacks also rose sharply in 2019.

While the number of impacted organisations is relatively low, the severity of the attack is much higher — as seen in 2019’s damaging attacks against US city administrations.

Criminals are choosing their ransomware targets carefully, with the aim of extorting the maximum revenue possible.

Notably, 27 per cent of organisations worldwide were impacted by cyberattacks that involved mobile devices in 2019, down from 33 per cent in 2018.

While the mobile threat landscape is maturing, organisations are also increasingly aware of the threat, and are deploying more protection on mobiles.

Currently, more than 90 per cent of enterprises use Cloud services and yet 67 per cent of security teams complain about the lack of visibility into their Cloud infrastructure, security, and compliance.

The magnitude of Cloud attacks and breaches has continued to grow in 2019.

Also Read: 84% Indians Hope to Retain Their Jobs Despite Automation: WEF

Misconfiguration of cloud resources is still the number one cause for Cloud attacks, but now we also witness an increasing number of attacks aimed directly at Cloud service providers.

“Even if an organisation is equipped with the most comprehensive, state-of-the-art security products, the risk of being breached cannot be completely eliminated. Beyond detection and remediation, organizations need to adopt a proactive plan to stay ahead of cybercriminals and prevent attacks,” explained Finkelsteen. (IANS)