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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.
Cyber security threats continue to plague users and businesses trying to defend against increasingly sophisticated and well-executed attacks, according to the Cisco 2014 Annual Security Report. Cyber security is a major business as Cisco and other companies develop cyber security efforts to protect end-users and businesses.
Overall cyber attacks increased 14 percent in 2013, with select industries facing a staggering number of attacks designed to steal information and disrupt day-to-day operations. The pharmaceutical, agriculture, mining, chemicals and electronics industries all saw an increase in malware aimed at compromising systems - a whopping growth of 600 percent - while energy, oil and gas industries saw a 400 percent increase in malware and cyber attacks.
"Although the Cisco Annual Security Report paints a grim picture of the current state of cyber security, there is hope for restoring trust in people, institutions and technologies - that that starts with empowering defenders with real-world knowledge about expanding attack surfaces," said John Stewart, Cisco Chief Security Officer, noted in a press release. "To truly protect against all of these possible attacks, defenders must understand the attackers, their motivations and their methods - before, during and after an attack."
President Barack Obama announced an overhaul of the National Security Agency (NSA) phone surveillance program following classified data leaks by former IT analyst Edward Snowden.
"Let us chart a way forward that secures the life of our nation, while preserving the liberties that make our nation worth fighting for," Obama said during his Friday morning press conference. "The United States is not spying on ordinary people who don't threaten our national security ... unless there is a compelling national security purpose, we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies."
Obama's administration has endured a tremendous amount of criticism following NSA data leaks, courtesy of Snowden's disclosure last year. Even with a promised overhaul, many Internet users - and foreign government leaders - expect continued distrust from regular Internet users. Furthermore, Obama's promise of not spying on "close friends and allies" only applies to "dozens" of foreign leaders and high-ranking government officials.
Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus reportedly first had its computer network accessed by hackers dating back to July 2013, with the security hole only recently plugged, according to recent stories. The security breach likely compromised customer names and credit card information used in-store only, and online shoppers reportedly remained safe.
The company didn't reportedly receive an alert about the cyber intrusion until mid-December - a shocking reality check for retailers, as five months elapsed from the first date-stamped data intrusion.
Retailers are facing increasingly sophisticated physical and online security threats - and consumers rightfully demand companies handle personal information carefully - though security experts warn this is only the beginning.
Microsoft has given Windows XP users a brief reprieve by announcing anti-malware support for the 12-year-old operating system will be extended into 2015. The XP end of life scheduled for April 8 will still take place as scheduled, but anti-malware protection will give stragglers an additional layer of much-needed security.
Anti-virus vendors already stepped up support for XP, saying they would continue to provide anti-virus and anti-malware defense - but Microsoft won't provide updates, and that could still leave users vulnerable.
"Our research shows that the effectiveness of anti-malware solutions on out-of-support operating systems is limited," Microsoft said in a recent blog post. "Running a well-protected solution starts with using modern software and hardware designed to help protect against today's threat landscape."
There are still millions of users using XP worldwide, and many businesses are still scrambling trying to migrate from the aging OS.