Security

Just weeks after internet security experts scrambled to patch up vulnerabilities exposed by the Heartbleed bug, a flaw has been found in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer software that is so serious the US department of homeland security is warning people and companies to avoid using the browser.

Should I be worried? 

Sarah Mishkin

Concerns about children’s privacy and security have prompted the closure of one education technology start-up backed by $100m from supporters including Bill Gates’ foundation. 

The Heartbleed bug, a flaw discovered on encryption software used on about two-thirds of all websites, was created unintentionally, the programmer responsible has said.

Robin Seggelmann, a German programmer, described the flaw as the consequence of a “trivial” error in an update to OpenSSL, the software widely used to enable secure connections, writes Jeevan Vasagar

Robert Cookson

A National Security Agency employee who co-chairs an influential cryptography standards group has survived an attempt to oust him following accusations that he promoted a flawed security protocol.

Kevin Igoe, a senior cryptographer at the NSA, is joint chair of the Crypto Forum Research Group. The CFRG plays an important role in online security because it provides guidance on cryptographic techniques to the Internet Engineering Task Force, a standard-setting body that helps shape the internet

Robert Cookson

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, has thrown his weight behind a new campaign to encourage people across the world to fight back against online censorship and surveillance.

In a letter to the Financial Times on Thursday, Sir Tim wrote that “now is the time for citizens to mobilise to demand that governments and companies respect and protect our basic freedoms online”. 

Getting a new global online payment standard adopted is a tall order, but the involvement of the big three – Visa, Mastercard and American Express – in the latest effort must give it a fighting chance of success. 

Federal judges evaluated the privacy and free speech implications of a California law that would create a database of online identities for sex offenders, noting the shift in public sentiment around such data collection since voters passed the law last November and today, as revelations about the US’s monitoring of online communications continue to emerge.

“We’re living in a post-Snowden world,” said Judge Jay Bybee of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, referencing the surveillance practices revealed by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden and questioning whether a database of email addresses and online identities intended to help solve sex crimes could be used to monitor people’s political speech.

Mr Bybee was one of three judges hearing oral arguments in a case about Proposition 35, the California law that requires convicted sex offenders to register their email addresses and user names for online news sites and social networks. The initiative was passed by a majority of voters last November, after receiving financial backing from Chris Kelly, Facebook’s chief privacy officer between 2005 and 2009. 

Richard Waters

You’re wearing Google Glass. A stranger walks past in a T-shirt emblazoned with a QR code. Suddenly, your world changes: images you didn’t expect start appearing on the tiny Glass screen above your eye. It quickly becomes clear that someone has taken complete control of your eyewear. 

Robert Cookson

As apps go, Ant Smasher sounds simple enough. The free game, which has been downloaded more than 50m times from the Google Play app store, allows mobile phone users to entertain themselves by squishing digital ants as they scurry down the screen. Splat, splat, splat.

But Ant Smasher has a dark side. It is one of a growing wave of apps that contains “adware” – aggressive advertising technology that displays ads in a phone’s notification bar and other places outside of the app itself, without consent. 

Tim Bradshaw

The inventor of the world wide web is not happy with the direction his creation is going.

For several years, Sir Tim Berners-Lee has been warning about incursions to the founding principles of the web, from the UK’s Digital Economy Act and SOPA to Facebook’s “walled gardens”.

This week’s reports about the PRISM system, through which the NSA extracts huge amounts of personal information from Google, Facebook, Apple and other internet companies, are “deeply concerning”, he says.