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Former National Security Agency (NSA) IT contractor Edward Snowden could be able to stay in Russia for more than one year, as the Russian government said they don't plan to send him packing.
Snowden, currently in Russia on a temporary one-year asylum, has offers from Brazil and several Central American countries interested in taking him in - but Alexy Pushkov, the Russian Foreign Affairs Committee legislator, noted that Snowden could stay longer. The 30-year-old American is now free to stay in Russia, working for private Russian companies, until he is ready to return back to the U.S.
During a recent online chat, Snowden said he would like to one day return to the United States, but that cannot happen unless he's granted protection under the federal Whistleblower Protection Act - which doesn't apply to former government contractors. Meanwhile, Snowden continues to claim he didn't carry out actions for Russia or any other foreign government, though some U.S. lawmakers still aren't so sure about that.
After a handful of high-profile malware attacks targeting retail point-of-sale, the FBI identified around 20 similar hacking cases over the past 12 months.
Dubbed the "Recent Cyber Intrusion Events Directed Towards Retail Firms," which was dated January 17, and is a shocking wake up call for retailers, credit card and banking executives trying to protect consumers.
"We believe POS malware crime will continue to grow over the near term, despite law enforcement and security firms' actions to mitigate it," the FBI noted in a recent report. "The accessibility of the malware on underground forums, the affordability of the software and the huge potential profits to be made from retail POS systems in the United States make this type of financially motivated cyber crime attractive to a wide range of actors."
Target continues to combat a public relations nightmare after 70+ million customers were affected, while Neiman Marcus also is battling a recent data breach that has led to fraudulent credit and debit card charges.
High-end boutique retailer Neiman Marcus confirmed up to 1.1 million credit cards were affected during a security data breach that was disclosed over the 2013 holiday shopping season. Starting in mid-July to late October last year, malware collected credit card and debit card information, with 2,400 cards reportedly used for fraudulent purchases.
Customer Social Security numbers, debit card PIN numbers and birth dates weren't disclosed, and online shoppers haven't been affected.
"The malware the thieves deployed is more sophisticated and an unusual and a new way of gathering data," said David Robertson, The Nilson Report publisher, when speaking with the media. "In the history of the fight between hackers and retailers and anyone who holds payment data, the attack has occurred at the data center. That's where the largest number of accounts are. That's where the attack occurred because that's the biggest payoff."
Retailers already must deal with a number of different online threats, but malware and security risks facing brick and mortar retailers is a newer issue.
Media giant CNN was recently attacked by the Syrian Electronic Army hacker group, with several social media accounts and one live blog targeted. The official CNN Twitter and Facebook accounts were temporarily defaced before CNN was able to regain control within a few minutes.
The CNN Twitter feed featured the following tweet, for example: "Syrian Electronic Army Was Here... Stop Lying.... All your reports are fake!"
CNN was reportedly targeted for reportedly "viciously lying reporting aimed at prolonging the suffering in Syria," according to the group.
The Syrian Electronic Army recently targeted Microsoft's social media accounts, and continues to take aim at high-profile targets. Even if the compromised company is able to reset passwords and delete fraudulent postings, screenshots are quickly shared. The SEA also has hit The New York Times, Associated Press, BBC, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, and other major global news publications during its campaign.
Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) IT contractor now living in Russia following his high-profile data leak, won't return to the United States until current laws are changed. The federal Whistleblower Protection Act isn't applicable to former government contractors, which means he could face significant legal trouble if he returns to the United States.
"Returning to the U.S., I think, is the best resolution for the government, the public, and myself, but it's unfortunately not possible in the face of current whistleblower protection laws," Snowden said in response to a question about getting a fair shake if he one day returns to the United States.
It seems highly unlikely Snowden will return to the U.S. unless he's offered immunity by the U.S. government, which is something the White House hasn't recently discussed publicly. It seems that the NSA and other government agencies would be able to learn from Snowden, but he won't touch U.S. soil just to face possible espionage charges.
Snowden is currently in Russia where he was given one-year asylum, and could eventually find his way to a country like Brazil after his stay in Russia ends. There are rumors private Russian companies are interested in hiring Snowden and trying to help him secure permanent residency.
The National Security Agency (NSA) phone surveillance program that monitored U.S. citizen phone calls wasn't legal, according to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. Of note, the panel discovered Section 215 of the Patriot Act doesn't give the NSA legal basis to listen in and record phone conversations of American citizens.
"The report reaffirms the conclusion of many that the Section 215 bulk phone records program has not been critical to our national security, is not worth the intrusion on Americans' privacy, and should be shut down immediately," said Sen. Patrick Leah, (D-Vermont), in a statement. "The report appropriately calls into question the legality and constitutionality of the program, and underscores the need to change the law to rein in the government's overboard interpretation of Section 215."
Following data leaks of Edward Snowden, a former NSA IT contractor, President Barack Obama and the NSA have battled against strong public backlash. White House Press Secretary Carney fired back against the PCLOB's analysis, saying the White House "simply disagrees" on the "legality of the program," in what will continue to be a complicated matter.
Just a few hours after Microsoft introduced a revamped Office blog, the Syrian Electronic Army victimized the software company by hacking and defacing the site. A few of the blog posts featured "hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army" byline instead of the original blog titles - with the group confirming the hack via its Twitter account.
No customer information was compromised in the attack, and the blogs were quickly restored back to normal.
The Syrian Electronic Army has enjoyed targeting Microsoft, and previously accessed a "small number" of Microsoft employee e-mail accounts. SEA also sent the following Tweet from Microsoft's official Skype account: "Don't use Microsoft emails (Hotmail, Outlook), they are monitoring your accounts and selling data to the governments. More details soon."
Expect SEA to target Microsoft in future hacks, as the group continues to target Microsoft, The New York Times, Associated Press, BBC, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, and other major news media outlets. The group typically uses phishing tactics to gain access into Twitter and other social media platforms, which continue to prove successful.
A representative from the Korea Credit Bureau (KCB) has reportedly been arrested following accusations he stole personal customer information from three different credit card companies, media reports from South Korea indicate.
The stolen information includes full customer names, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and expiration dates, and phone numbers, according to the South Korean Financial Supervisory Service (FSS). The information was continually stolen from May 2012 until December 2013, with the suspect saving information on a flash drive.
Companies and government agencies providing access to large amounts of personal information must now combat the information from being mistakenly released - or intentionally stolen and later shared - as customers demand better privacy protection.
The United States government believes National Security Agency (NSA) whistle blower Edward Snowden possibly received support from the Russian government.
"I don't think Mr. Snowden woke up one day and had the wherewithal to do this all by himself," said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Teaxas), in a recent TV interview. "To say definitively I can't answer that, but I personally believe he was cultivated by a foreign power to do what he did. Again, I can't give a definitive statement on that, but I think given all the evidence I know Mige Rogers has access to, that I've seen, that I don't think he was acting alone."
Snowden has evolved into an enigma since his public data breach last year, as the former CIA technical assistant received a GED and dropped out of a Maryland community college. Described as a "geek," it seems shocking that he would eventually find his way to the U.S. government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton - and would remain there until he quickly left for Hong Kong in 2013.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein from California, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also noted that Snowden "may well have" received support from an outside source. Whether or not Snowden received foreign support to steal information and publicly share it, government lawmakers and the NSA have struggled with heavy criticism from American citizens.
The recent high-profile data theft that left more than 70 million Target shoppers affected could be part of a more organized cyber plot against major retailers, according to a recent U.S. government document. The credit card readers used in the Target data breach reportedly became available last spring, partially written in Russia, and it couldn't be detected by anti-virus software.
A 17-year-old from St. Petersburg, Russia, is reportedly responsible for creating the BlackPOS malware which was later sold to the Russian organized crime group.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working with cyber intelligence company iSight Partners, though other retailers that were affected weren't disclosed by either group. Meanwhile, Target, Nieman Marcus, and other retailers have already suffered due to the cyber crime, with other retailers on the lookout of similar attacks.