Lahey Hospital and Medical Center (Lahey) has agreed to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Lahey will pay $850,000 and will adopt a robust corrective action plan to correct deficiencies in its HIPAA compliance program. http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/enforcement/examples/LAHEY/index.html http://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2015/11/25/hipaa-settlement-reinforces-lessons-users-medical-devices.html http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/enforcement/examples/LAHEY/lahey.pdf
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/24/business/international/china-cuts-mobile-service-of-xinjiang-residents-evading-internet-filters.html People who had downloaded foreign messaging services and other software were said to be targeted, as part of a new measure in the country's fractious western territory.
"Encryption is about mathematics, not policy." "When you make a credit card payment or log into Facebook, you're using the same fundamental encryption that, in another continent, an activist could be using to organize a protest against a failed regime." "It's not something that we're not smart enough to do; it's something that's mathematically impossible to do. I cannot backdoor software specifically to spy on jihadists without this backdoor applying to every single member of society relying on my software." "politicians are now furiously trying to move the needle back to where they were most comfortable: secret access to huge amounts of information." Kieren McCarthy, *The Register*, 24 Nov 2015 Who's right on crypto: An American prosecutor or a Lebanese coder? District attorney and encrypted chat app dev sound off on privacy http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/11/24/perspectives_on_encryption/ Special report The debate over encryption has become particularly intense following the deadly attacks in Paris. Politicians, police, and government agents insist the encryption in our software and gadgets be limited. Tech companies and programmers insist the encryption be implemented fully securely. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/11/20/tech_companies_against_weaker_encryption/ This past week, there have been two posts from opposite ends of this debate, both argued passionately and eloquently, that highlight the complexities around the issue. One comes from Manhattan's District Attorney and is a 42-page report [PDF] making the case for law enforcement access to smartphones; the second is a blog post from a 25-year-old Lebanese security researcher living in Paris whose secure chat app has become the focus of media interest after the recent attacks. http://manhattanda.org/sites/default/files/11.18.15%20Report%20on%20Smartphone%20Encryption%20and%20Public%20Safety.pdf https://nadim.computer/2015/11/23/on-encryption-and-terrorists.html The question is: who's right? The American prosecutor or the Lebanese coder? The two questions The debate boils down to two basic questions. One: should investigators be able to get hold of communication data if they strongly feel it will solve a crime? And two: how would that system actually work? With few exceptions, almost everyone agrees that, yes, the police and Feds should be able to access information that will assist in sending down criminals, so long as there are adequate measures to prevent the system from being abused. The problem comes with the second question: how is it actually done? And here lies the problem, because the answer to that question in many respects overrides the first. Encryption is about mathematics, not policy. If you create a system that makes data accessible only to Alice and Bob, and inaccessible to Eve, and you then try to ensure the data is somehow accessible to people indistinguishable from Eve, you have to purposefully break the system. And that break, no matter how eloquently implemented, is still a break. Once it is there, it cannot go away. Technologists and coders have become increasingly outspoken about the fundamentally flawed logic of creating an encryption system with a hole in it, in significant part because Edward Snowden revealed the lengths to which the US government was prepared to go to access all data. Previously, tech companies had reached an uneasy agreement that they would include carefully designed holes in their systems so information could be provided to a third party in extreme circumstances typically the production of a search warrant. And while local law enforcement like our prosecutor from New York largely stuck to that agreement, it was clear that the security and intelligence services did not. Once the hole exists, if you know its full details, you are free to access information on anyone using that system. With smartphones in particular becoming increasingly important to everyone's privacy, ready access has become far more than logging suspicious activity. Your phone now contains your interactions with friends and family; personal pictures; your locations now and over time. With apps, your phone contains your financial information, your searches for information, access to secure work networks, your personal life. In his report, Cyrus Vance Jr, the Manhattan District Attorney, argues: "What makes full-disk encryption schemes remarkable is that they provide greater protection to one's phone than one has in one's home, which, of course, has always been afforded the highest level of privacy protection by courts. Every home can be entered with a search warrant. The same should be true of devices." Except in many respects, smartphones contain more personal information than your own home and all in one tiny portable device. While you may be able to find details on people's personal finances in a filing cabinet in a house, there won't be a drawer even a locked one that contains the details of every location you visited in the past few weeks, complete with timestamps. In your house, you may have left some letters, or even printed out an email. You may have photo albums. But the interactions we have these days with our phones are more akin to recording our voices. Law enforcement needs more than a search warrant to install a bug in your home. And while people still keep photo albums, they don't come with GPS coordinates and instant links to the identities of the other people pictured. In short, while entering your home is a significant invasion of privacy, the physical interference is actually likely to reveal less about yourself than the ability to go through your phone. The law enforcement case That said, Vance does make a persuasive case. http://manhattanda.org/sites/default/files/11.18.15%20Report%20on%20Smartphone%20Encryption%20and%20Public%20Safety.pdf His report includes real-world examples of where access to people's phones has led to real evidence that has led to real convictions. And the examples are harrowing: * A man accidentally filmed his own murder. The recovered video supported eyewitness accounts and the shooter was found guilty and given 35 years. * Text messages sent between two accused rapists concerned the use of mace spray which is being used as a piece of evidence in their trial. * Child abuse images were taken off a phone after the owner showed one to a taxi driver. * A sex trafficker's phone contained photos of him posing with women who appeared in online prostitution ads. They were used in his trial and helped lead to his conviction. * A credit card swiping ring that fleeced restaurant customers of over $1m was taken down thanks to the details on a phone from one of the waiters involved. * A murder suspect was actually cleared when his phone's details made it clear he was not involved; a second phone found at the scene of the crime led to the person responsible. The prosecutor makes the argument that if tech companies do not include some method for accessing information then "we risk losing crucial evidence in serious cases if the contents of passcode-protected smartphones remain immune to a warrant." And the paper cites a conversation from jail in which an inmate asks a friend to check what operating system his iPhone is using. They upgraded their phones at the same time and the fact that the friend's phone was running iOS 8 meant that the cops would not be able to access his phone data. "That means God might be in my favor. I don't think they can open it," the inmate said over the recorded phone line. "I mean, you know how much shit is on that phone." If the only way to access a phone's data is for the user to type in their personal passcode, then the police will be missing out on hugely valuable information. "It is the rare case in which information from a smartphone is not useful; rather, it is often crucial," he argues, citing 111 search warrants between September 17, 2014 and October 1, 2015 where his office was not able to get at phone data because of new encryption standards. And it wasn't just suspects refusing to hand over the code: in some cases, the phone belonged to a dead victim. It is not hard to imagine the enormous frustration that must exist in a detective at a crime scene if she is simply not able to get at what may be critical evidence because she doesn't know what the correct four numbers are. In short, the district attorney argues that the previous system where the authorities would get a search warrant after it had persuaded a judge of "probable cause" and then send it with the phone to the manufacturer's headquarters in California and get a hard drive back in return with all its contents was a good balance between security and privacy. It gave law enforcement what it needed; it meant that the average Joe was not impacted. Getting access to details through cloud-storage rather than directly from a phone was also not equivalent, Vance argues, even producing a table that highlights the sort of information that can be acquired from phones themselves, cloud storage, and network operators. https://regmedia.co.uk/2015/11/23/district-attorney-table.jpg A table from the Manhattan District Attorney pointing out what data can be accessed by different means The district attorney rails against the default encryption that Apple and Google have introduced that means they don't have ready access to a phone's data, and argues for a new law to pass through US Congress that would make it a requirement for "any designer of an operating system for a smartphone or tablet manufactured, leased, or sold in the US to ensure that data on its devices is accessible pursuant to a search warrant." The developer's case On the flipside of this argument sits Nadim Kobeissi, a programmer born and raised in Beirut, and now lives in Paris. Kobeissi developed the secure, open-source chat tool Cryptocat and as a result has been the focus of a lot of attention following the recent Paris attacks. "In light of the recent terrorist attacks, things are getting heated for the regular security and encryption software developer. Being one myself, I've been on the receiving end of a small avalanche of requests from journalists, political pundits, and even law enforcement." https://crypto.cat/ Kobeissi has had a diametrically opposite experience to that of district attorney Cyrus Vance, and he's written about his perspective in a personal blog post. https://nadim.computer/2015/11/23/on-encryption-and-terrorists.html Where Vance's job is to lock up criminals, Kobeissi recalls how his home in Beirut was demolished in a bombing attack because his family happened to live close to the headquarters of a wing of the militant group Hezbollah. "While walking through a field of rubble and unexploded cluster bombs to try and find my house, I distantly saw a friend of mine, far away on the other side of whatever it was that I was staring across. We locked eyes. Then, we burst out laughing. We laughed for a long time." Kobeissi has seen the flipside of effective encryption: the ability of ordinary people to communicate in their society's better interests without being spied on. "I've seen my software used in Hong Kong to organize protests against a government otherwise unwilling to give people their rights. I've seen my colleagues produce software used by Egyptians rallying for democracy. I've had childhood friends call me from Beirut, desperate to know of a way to organize protests against a government that would lock them up were they to use public phone lines. "I've set up communication lines for LGBTQ organizations so that they can give counsel without fearing ostracization or reprisal. And in the comfort of my new life in France, I've also relied on encryption so that I know I'm obtaining my simple right to privacy when discussing my daily life with my friends or with my partner." He has also seen the darker side of law enforcement authorities in a democratic society. He was detained and questioned at the United States border over Cryptocat in 2012, and he was searched and questioned almost every time he flew into the country. But more disturbingly, he was one of the targets of the sting operation against hackers that the FBI ran through LulzSec member Sabu. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/03/07/lulzsec_takedown_analysis/ Sabu, under the direction of the federal unit, repeatedly tried to get Kobeissi to work with him in carrying out illegal hacking operations. He refused, and when he found out much later about the sting operation, he warned others about being seduced into breaking the law. "The incident doesn't personally worry me at all, since I'm confident in my standing as a lawful citizen. To all young hackers out there use your talents for research. Never acquiesce to anything illegal with anyone, even if they do it with you," he wrote. http://nadimkobeissi.tumblr.com/page/29 It is hardly surprising then that Kobeissi has a different perspective when it comes to encryption. On that encryption work, he wrote this week: "We're using mathematics and engineering to contribute towards a society that's safer, more capable, and able to communicate with a sense of privacy and dignity inherent to all modern societies. "The premise driving the people writing encryption software is not exactly that we're giving people new rights or taking some away; it's the hope that we can enforce existing rights using algorithms that guarantee your ability to free speech, to a reasonable expectation of privacy in your daily life. When you make a credit card payment or log into Facebook, you're using the same fundamental encryption that, in another continent, an activist could be using to organize a protest against a failed regime." He uses a variation of an analogy used by many pro-encryption advocates in recent weeks: that blaming the tools used by violent criminals is illogical. "Ford and Toyota build automobiles so that the entire world can have access to faster transportation and a better quality of life. If a terrorist is suspected of using a Toyota as a car bomb, it's not reasonable to expect Toyota to start screening who it sells cars to, or to stop selling cars altogether." On the issue of law enforcement access, he also takes the firm line put down by technologists: it's all or nothing. "The issue is that cryptography depends on a set of mathematical relationships that cannot be subverted selectively. They either hold completely or not at all. It's not something that we're not smart enough to do; it's something that's mathematically impossible to do. I cannot backdoor software specifically to spy on jihadists without this backdoor applying to every single member of society relying on my software." To his mind, the solution is not preventing people from communicating securely, but addressing the issues that cause them to act in violent ways. On a recent visit to his old home in Beirut, he writes, "I found that people were angry ... Left without any hope for a good education, for a happy life, with much of their families missing, with their friends dead, many pledged themselves in return. That's what's causing terrorism, not encryption software." How to square the circle It's not hard to see both perspectives. Nor is it hard to find holes in either [both? PGN]. The District Attorney Vance goes out of his way in his report to note that he is not talking about real-time data, only information held on phones "at rest." And yet he can only be too aware of the cases going on across the United States where the police have used phone data to correlate location data with crimes a situation of dubious legality that will be heading to the Supreme Court soon. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/08/05/cell_phone_location_data_protected/ And while he stresses the need for a search warrant and hence proof of "probable cause," the reality on the ground is that many police forces argue that "reasonable suspicion" is sufficient to access phone data. There is also legal uncertainty about whether the police can access phones with the latest encryption software anyway by forcing suspects to give their fingerprints. Except rather than giving their fingerprints on a piece of paper, they are forced to apply it to their smartphone's reader and hence unlock their phone. Vance is also determinedly obtuse about the fact that authorities in other countries can oblige companies to give them access to phone data if they are able to do so. According to Vance, that situation would only happen if tech companies decided to do so; otherwise other countries' governments and law enforcement agencies would be forced to come to the United States to make their case. The argument is laughable: companies set up in many different countries and are subject to local laws. The idea of Apple refusing to comply with a request from, say, the Chinese government and telling them to head over to its parent company in the United States if they want access is pure fantasy. If the company is technologically able to access that data, it will be made to do so wherever it sells its phones. It is also worth noting that even in the district attorney's sobering examples, the information retrieved from phones was just a small part of the puzzle in convicting people. The information helped, certainly, but the cases did not depend on it. Meanwhile, in the real world Likewise while Kobeissi's idealism is admirable in many respects, it is also painfully naïve. The fact is that government is not a singular mass, but an extremely complex interaction of different groups with different jobs. The FBI is no more able to effect change in its country's foreign policy than small developers are able to change the policies of Google or Apple. You can bet there are no shortages of law enforcement personnel who sympathize with the difficulties and struggles of ordinary people in Middle Eastern countries, but their job is to track down criminals and lock them up. It is not difficult to hold two seemingly opposing thoughts at the same time, and yet act in accordance with just one of them if that's what you get paid for and are trained to do. You can bet that given the choice, the security services would much rather there be no one at all that was hell bent on bring death and destruction to innocent people. But when those people already exist, the rest of peaceful society is relying on the security services to find them and stop them before they turn up outside a music venue with AK-47s. Commercial pressures While these two views represent opposite, understandable, but flawed arguments, where we end up on encryption will come from a combination of policy and commercial pressures. The fact is that the Internet's ability to share information and code across the globe has created an environment fundamentally different from the past. Anyone can create an application that makes their communication secure over the Internet. And there have been many hundreds of them in the past decade. But despite their existence, large numbers of people were not driven to use encrypted software because it was a little clunky and they didn't really see the point. That all changed when Edward Snowden revealed the depth of mass surveillance undertaken by the US government in particular, but also the UK government. Suddenly people started to look at things a little differently; the demand for secure communications rocketed, secure apps and software became more user-friendly. Safe, secure messaging is now a 20-second download away. Aside from the fact that the big tech companies were not excited about the fact that the NSA had tapped their own data centers, it quickly became clear that millions of customers would head for the exit unless something more was done to protect their data. The app economy that has made Apple a global force could easily push the giant back into its old hardware box if the apps end up becoming more important than the operating system. Tech companies are extremely wary about becoming complacent because it only takes the emergence of the new Facebook to become the old MySpace. Likewise, Apple, Google, and other technology companies that don't like the idea of their products being used to put people in jail, or worse, would much rather not be responsible for safeguarding the highly personal information of their millions of users. If a software update puts them out of the equation without impacting their bottom line, you're not going to find many vice presidents arguing against it. Enter the politicians And that's where the balancing force of politics will soon come into play. Politicians have become increasingly vocal about their desire to see what's inside people's communications, especially when many of their nightmares came true on the streets of Paris. From the tech companies' perspectives, the cat is well and truly out of the bag. Any efforts that force them to introduce backdoors represent a significant commercial risk. They don't want to be talking about cold-blooded murders or child molesters so they are pointing to the mathematic realities of encryption. They argue it is "magical thinking" to imagine you can have a hole that only the right people can access. But then this is not exactly the first time that compromises over clean code have been made to get regulatory approval or build a large customer base. In fact, it is hard to think of a single example where technology has not been bent to accommodate commercial or political pressures, either internal or external. Companies that don't bend with the wind end up failing. Which is why politicians are now furiously trying to move the needle back to where they were most comfortable: secret access to huge amounts of information. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/11/20/clinton_silicon_valley/ It remains to be seen whether that pressure will prove sufficient to force tech companies to backtrack on their effort to stay out of the way altogether, and introduce systems that again put them in a position of privileged access. Expect to see a lot more about encryption in the coming months. As to where we all end up: that will depend on whose arguments you found the most persuasive: the American prosecutor or the Lebanese coder?
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/11/26/microsoft_renamed_data_slurper_reinserted_windows_10/ The data that DiagTrack collected was typical of a spyware programme. The only way you knew you were being monitored was by eyeballing the list of running processes in Task Manager. As Microsoft explained: Examples of data we collect include your name, email address, preferences and interests; browsing, search and file history; phone call and SMS data; device configuration and sensor data; and application usage. Users thought it had disappeared in recent Windows 10 builds - but it hadn't. Microsoft had simply renamed it. The sinister-sounding tracking app was now the beatific and caring "Connected User Experiences and Telemetry Service". Once again, it needs to be disabled manually (this time through the Services control panel). "It is this kind of overriding desire for control and a disregard for user choices which is harming Windows 10," says Forbes journo Gordon Kelly, and he's right. Windows 10 is a horrific turkey when it comes to privacy. Happy Thanksgiving! [at least in the U.S.! PGN]
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/26/business/black-friday-falters-as-consumer-behaviors-change.html The decline in impact of the day after Thanksgiving suggests a shift in the way consumers spend. They're going online more, and buying furnishings instead of sweaters.
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