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The overall number of Microsoft Windows vulnerabilities has increased 12.6 percent year-over-year, according to the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report (SIR), covering July to December 2013. During Q3 2013, 5.8 of every 1,000 Windows computers reportedly suffered from malware infection - and jumped to a whopping 17 computers per 1,000 during Q4.
However, severe Windows vulnerabilities reportedly declined 70 percent between 2010 and 2013 - as Microsoft continues to increase security - but the sophistication of current threats are giving computer security companies fits. Cybercriminals are using social engineering to get users to click on malicious links, or install malware bundled with legitimate software, the report also indicates.
Malware authors are finding a great market, in which they can launch mass attacks for a low price and little risk of being prosecuted. To make matters worse, next-generation malware is able to easily circumvent anti-virus software that traditionally kept PCs more secure.
Google remains an outspoken critic of mass surveillance operations by the National Security Agency (NSA), but it appears both sides were exchanging a large amount of emails. NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander and Google executives Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt exchanged emails - including personal meetings and invitations to briefings and meetings.
At least one meeting, between U.S. government departments and Silicon Valley tech leaders, was focused on Enduring Security Framework - with a focus on mobile security.
Despite the emails, Google gave the Huffington Post this statement: "We work really hard to protect our users from cyberattacks and we talk to outside experts, including occasionally in the US government, to ensure we stay ahead of the game."
The average cost of a data breach to U.S. companies averaged $3.5 million and is a 15 percent increase year-over-year, according to a new study conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by IBM. Each lost record reportedly cost $201 each, an increase from $188 per record in 2013, as cybercriminals find success targeting select industries.
Not only are companies finding data breaches to be more costly, but retailers need to worry about customers possibly leaving if a security issue occurs. Everything from university and medical records to debit and credit card information have value among criminals, trying to steal information which can later be exploited, sold, or traded in underground forums.
From the Ponemon press release: "As a preventive measure, companies should consider having an incident response and crisis management plan in place. Efficient response to the breach and containment of the damage has been shown to reduce the cost of breach significantly. Other measures include having a CISO in charge and involving the company's business continuity management team in dealing with the breach."
The Department of Defense is reportedly looking into bitcoins and whether or not the cryptocurrency is a potential terrorist threat, with the DoD Combatting Terrorism Technical Support Office division spearheading the investigation. Due to how bitcoins were designed to be owned and traded, the government is concerned that virtual currency provides a great method for terrorists to receive donations - and distribute funds.
Russia previously banned bitcoins, and Singapore created new regulation to try and prevent criminals from using bitcoins to help launder money. The idea that bitcoins could be used for money laundering seems to have the US government concerned that terrorists could use anonymity to fund operations.
Considering the concern of government snooping, critics already are sounding off to say that the DoD is launching an irrelevant investigation.
A new report states that Australian energy grids and public infrastructure face increased threat of cyberattacks, according to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). It's a difficult time for government agencies and private sector companies to try and combat increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks.
The CSIRO report calls for increased transparency, and additional open disclosure if a breach happens, along with trying to focus on simplifying digital systems.
"Despite recently being ranked second in the Asia-Pacific region when it comes to cybersecurity capabilities, we need to recognize that our increasing reliance on digital services leaves us potentially vulnerable at unprecedented scales," said James Deverell, CSIRO Futures Director, in a press statement. "The sheer complexity and interconnectedness of different elements of our digital economy means we can expect rapid exponential growth in the number, speed, and severity of breaches - far beyond what any single organization can tackle on its own."
Entire populations are living under constant surveillance from governments, according to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, while participating in a video shown during a conference focused on mass surveillance. Still hidden away in Russia, possibly under Russian influence, Snowden is becoming more vocal, typically through video statements.
"It's no longer based on the traditional practice of targeted taps based on some individual suspicion of wrongdoing," Snowden recently said in an interview. "It covers phone calls, emails, texts, search history, what you buy, who your friends are, where you go, who you love."
Although US lawmakers still don't appreciate Snowden's actions, many Internet users have applauded him for making the disclosures.
A number of groups are calling on users and developers to create new methods to prevent spying from the National Security Agency (NSA), with advocates calling on better unity from users. The groups hope to see new tools rolled out by June 5 as part of the "reset the 'Net" effort, hoping to see wider use of HTTPS, for example.
Here is what the group said in a released video: "But government spies have a weakness. They can hack anybody, but they can't hack everybody. Folks like the NSA depend on collecting insecure data from tapped fiber. They depend on our mistakes - mistakes we can fix."
Japanese officials plan to meet with the European Union to discuss cybersecurity efforts, especially from mounting attacks from China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and organized cybercriminal groups. Japan has become a leader in international cybersecurity cooperation, already holding meetings with the United States and England, as more governments become aware of growing cybersecurity threats.
Many western countries are now "facing more severe, widespread and globalized risks surrounding cyberspace... protection of a safe, open and secure cyberspace is needed," according to both sides.
Despite political tensions, Japan and South Korea have a shared goal: to defend against cyberattacks from China and North Korea. Earlier in the year, both countries mentioned cybersecurity talks would need to be held, but it wasn't the appropriate time - but increased cooperation between Japan and the EU could help bring South Korea into the fold.
Security company Symantec is changing its product strategy as antivirus "is dead," and companies can no longer rely on just antivirus product suites, according to Brian Dye, Symantec senior vice president for information security. Symantec is changing gears and plans to create a new response team able to assist companies on disaster recovery once a security breach has taken place.
PC security threats are evolving and security companies are now boosting technology to stifle cybercriminals once they breach a system. End-users are the first line of PC security defense, though tend to mistakenly click links, install malware, and circumvent security protocols in place.
It's an important lesson for companies, as the number of cyberattacks targeting end-users and corporations continues to rise, recent studies have found.
Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said revelations of National Security Agency (NSA) spying on his company wasn't a big surprise, and is confident that customers will continue to show the Chinese tech giant support moving forward.
"This monitoring behavior of the United States is within expectations," Zhengfei told reporters. "It has just been proved. The business we are doing with our customers is built on a mutual understanding between our customers and ourselves over the last two to three decades. Therefore, those things going on will not, I believe, have any impact on doing business with us."
Considering the U.S. government's suspicions that Huawei is under heavy Chinese government influence, companies such as Nokia Siemens, Alcatel-Lucent, and Ericsson have found success. However, Huawei has over 140,000 employees, and more than 20 research and development firms worldwide - making it a valuable asset for many telecommunication companies.