Ashley Madison has been hacked, with some 37 million accounts hacked, including financial records, private details of the users, and more. Noel Biderman, the CEO of Avid Life Media, the company which runs Ashley Madison, has confirmed the site has been hacked. Biderman said: "We're not denying this happened".
A hacker group going by the name of The Impact Team has taken responsibility behind the back, with the team holding ALM ransom with the information it has. The hacking group sayd that it will release "all customer records, including profiles with all the customers' secret sexual fantasies and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails". The Impact Team will keep the information it has in its possession, if ALM and the other sites it runs - Cougar Life and Established Men - is taken offline in all forms.
The Impact Team has said it's taken a high moral stance, taking a stab at ALM's business practices, and the users that are on these sites by cheating on their partners. Where things get interesting, is that The Impact Team says that the "full delete" option that Ashley Madison offers for $19 - which reportedly deletes your payment and address details from their records - is a "complete lie". The hacking group says: "Full Delete netted ALM $1.7mm in revenue in 2014. It's also a complete lie. Users almost always pay with credit card; their purchase details are not removed as promised, and include real name and address, which is of course the most important information the users want removed".
FBI Director James Comey recently spoke in front of lawmakers, again saying encryption is making things difficult for law enforcement. Silicon Valley wants to keep user data secure, and many services provide encryption and enhanced security measures - but it hasn't made the FBI and other agencies happy.
"Our job is to look at a haystack the size of this country to find needles that are increasingly invisible to us because of end-to-end encryption," Comey told the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary. "People watch TV and think the FBI as a way to break that encryption... we do not."
Of course, the federal government wants a backdoor to access private user data, while tech companies and privacy advocates argue about security and privacy issues.
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, won't be leaving the Ecuadorian embassy in London to head to France, after President Francois Hollande refused to give him asylum. Assange's attorneys say he never requested official asylum, but was asked to visit the country by Justice Minister Chistiane Taubira and members of a French civil rights group.
"France cannot act on his request. The situation of Mr. Assange does not present an immediate danger," President Hollande's office said in an official statement. "Furthermore, he is subject to a European arrest warrant."
Assange will remain in the embassy in London, where he has been for three years, as he tries to avoid extradition to Sweden. Although he maintains his innocence in alleged rape and sexual assault cases, he fears the possibility Sweden will extradite him to the United States.
French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said it's not up to her, but she "wouldn't be surprised" if WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were offered asylum in France. Ultimately, it'd be up to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and President Francois Hollande to make a final determination - however, trying to get both men to France would be a rather unique logistical challenge.
"If France decides to offer asylum to Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, I wouldn't be surprised. It's a possibility," Taubira recently told BFMTV.
Snowden is wanted by US authorities for espionage and numerous other charges after leaking NSA documents to the public. Meanwhile, Assange has taken up residence in the Ecuadorian consulate in London, in an effort to avoid extradition to Sweden on alleged sexual assault charges. He's afraid if extradited back to Sweden, he'd be sent to the United States.
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has said multiple times he would like to return home to the United States, but has become comfortable living in Russia. Over the past two years, Snowden has adapted to his temporary home as best as he could, learning to live his life away from political scrutiny and intense media attention.
"Edward and all of us hope that, sooner or later, all absurd charges against him will be lifted and the questions for him put on the legal track, without insults and name-calling. This is when he can return home," said Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden's attorney, in a statement to Interfax.
The idea that Snowden will one day be able to return to his homeland seems like nothing more than a fantasy at this point - it seems highly doubtful the Obama Administration, and other members of the government would be able to leave him alone.
Political tensions between the United States and China have been strained for a number of reasons in recent months, and things won't suddenly get better. US intelligence chief James Clapper believes China is the leading suspect in the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breach, which left millions of government workers at risk of identity theft.
Here is what Clapper said while speaking at a recent Washington intelligence conference: "You have to kind of salute the Chinese for what they did," based on the sophistication of the data theft. The first two attacks stole more than 4 million records, and it's been reported that up to 18 million files could have been affected.
"It's something that we agreed needs to be addressed and hopefully it can be addressed soon," said John Kirby, US State Department spokesman, during a recent press conference.
Cybersecurity software company Malwarebytes has launched a new amnesty program that offers a free replacement key for Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium customers - people using pirated copies or customers tricked into purchasing a counterfeit copy.
To help keep your PCs and systems secure, Malwarebytes has a variety of different anti-virus and anti-malware software solutions. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium costs $24.95 for one year and can be installed on three different PCs.
"The Internet is full of pioneers and cowboys. It's also got its fair share of pirates and trolls," Malwarebytes said in a public statement. "Some of those bad guys may have duped you into purchasing a counterfeit version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. Or perhaps we've simply detected a problem with your key. Not to worry. We're here to help."
The US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) suffered a devastating data breach that has impacted millions of people - and the agency is now trying to move too fast and isn't following best practices. The OPM is relying on systems that are "decades-old" and apparently has no idea what they are actually doing to prevent future cybersecurity issues.
"It may sound counterintuitive, but OPM must slow down and not continue to barrel forward with this project," said Patrick McFarland, Inspector General of the OPM, while speaking to the Senate Homeland Security Committee. "The agency must take the time to get it right the first time."
Sen. Ron Johnson (R - WI) and Sen. John McCain (R - AZ) have called into question the Obama Administration's commitment to overall cybersecurity. The "OPM has become a case study in the consequences of inadequate action and neglect," Johnson recently said. Meanwhile, McCain questioned if OPM agency director Katherine Archuleta should stay in her current role, especially after offering conflicting reports regarding OPM's breach damage.
The US government and military cannot be left alone to keep data safe from outside threat, and it's up to the private sector, security planners and citizens to lend a hand. Officials hope to create a new national cybersecurity strategy that will better protect the federal government from cyberespionage attempts.
"You do not want this to be a military approach," said Mark Troutman, director of the Center for Infrastructure Protection & Homeland Security at George Mason University, during a meeting at the US Army War College. "We are Americans. We secure ourselves at the end of the day with an active and engaged citizenry."
It's appropriate timing for the talks, as the United States and China interact with one another at the Strategic and Economic Forum, with US officials assuming China is behind the devastating Office of Personnel Management (OPM) attack.
Passwords and PIN codes remain the most popular first line of security for smartphones and tablets, but researchers continue researching biometrics.
There are some devices that use fingerprint scans to help unlock phones, but new solutions could include using a retina scan or your palm print to help unlock devices. As more devices contain sensitive data, and rising interest in mobile payments, the need for biometrics to evolve may become necessary.
The first wave of Apple products with biometrics, however, had some issues - and hopefully was a learning experience for other smartphone manufacturers.