The week in security: Huawei plays good cop to NSA’s bad

Australians are suffering fewer losses to cybercrime but are continuing to suffer mobile security problems, research from Symantec suggested as standards group BSI updated the ISO 27001 and 27002 enterprise information-security standards and the National Online Security Council announced plans for an Oct 31 meeting to formulate a national security vision for Australia.

New figures from Akamai Technologies suggested that fast-climbing Indonesia had supplanted longtime champion China as the world’s largest source of online attacks. Also overseas, the Brazilian government is so upset with the US government's online snooping (via the National Security Agency's PRISM system) that it's building its own system] for secure communications. Data harvesting by the NSA continued, with revelations that the organisation is [[xref: from popular online services even as the US government knocked back a proposed Supreme Court review of the NSA’s activities.

There were claims that the NSA’s value had been overstated, while others were noting growing pressure on the US Congress to rein in the agency and some Internet infrastructure groups were using the PRISM revelations to support a case that the coordination of the Internet should be moved away from US interests. Whatever happens, some observers warned that fallout from the NSA fiasco could be a real problem for the next head of the NSA.

Assessments that Apple’s iMessage security is “basically lies” didn’t stop Yahoo from a best-effort attempt to enable SSL encryption on all its user sessions, although that doesn’t mean email is any safer: California’s governor vetoed a bill that would have required law enforcement agencies to get a warrant to search email and other electronic communications. But that’s not going to stop companies from trying, with Bitdrop releasing an app that claims to enable secure and anonymous content transfers and other vendors finding new ways to secure cloud computing. Facebook was also working on new security methods, with revelations that it was already working to improve its security controls before the PRISM revelations emerged.

Government users were fingered for security breaches despite cybersecurity professionals’ efforts to lock down the infrastructure, a survey found. The UK government was becoming somewhat conciliatory, indicating that it was open to investment from blacklisted vendor Huawei, which was taking advantage of the NSA fiasco to paint itself as relatively trustworthy.

Also conciliatory was ex-email provider Lavabit, which reopened for five days to give users five days to download their email before it puts up the shutters for good. Potential liability could range up to $40 million for managed security service (MSS) providers that [[xref: |miss a security incident], some have warned.

The likelihood of that happening could increase as hackers adopt a sophisticated new hacking technique. Investigations revealed that the cause of a hack of Google’s Malaysia sites was the hack of a reseller’s account, while security vendor Rapid7 admitted it took too long to take respond to the hacking of two of its Web sites. Startup company Skycure launched an intrusion-detection and intrusion-prevention system for Apple iPhones and iPads, while a back door was found in D-Link router firmware – forcing the company to race to develop a fix that’s expected by Halloween.

Thought leaders in identity management and data protection were arguing for a rethink in the way we approach those areas, while a report suggested that the value of virtual currencies like Bitcoin was being compromised by their increasing targeting by hackers. Also focused on thought leaders were the UK spying centre GCHQ and the NCA, which partnered with BT to develop a security-focused competition program.

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