The week in security: XP's last stand as home routers compromised

With just days to go until the end of support for Windows XP, the platform was still going strong and Microsoft lodged its final patches as some were concerned that the massive number of PCs in China would make the country a hotspot for botnet activity. Google is also doing its part to stop the botnet army, tightening restrictions on the behaviour of apps in its Google Play store.

Meanwhile, the US government renewed the NSA's phone metadata collection program and was looking for easier access to computers during criminal investigations, while Google boosted the security of Gmail and asked the US Supreme Court to review its ruling about Wi-Fi packet sniffing.

Yahoo also turned on additional encryption, between its data centres, in an effort to thwart the data-sniffing government and others. Turkish ISPs hijacked traffic to a Google service offering ways to bypass the government's Twitter and YouTube-banning infrastructure. Analysts were also happy to find that one ransomware author apparently made a mistake in their code and left the decryption key on the victim's computer. Also mistaken were the makers of home routers that have, it appears, been suborned into participating in DNS-amplification denial-of-service attacks. This method of attack exposed a "serious threat", some security researchers warned.

One of two banks suing Target and Trustwave for alleged security violations decided not to continue with the action, even as Trustwave said it would fight "baseless allegations" over the breach. That's a big move given that hackers' continued success suggests we aren't winning the security war – witness the pillaging of Samsung-owned TV service Boxee.tv – and some analysts believe it's getting so bad that the idea of personal identification is losing its value.

Indeed, given that even bank ATMs Tesla cars are now hackable and data breaches are becoming more common every day (here's a gallery of 12 of the biggest of them in the last 12 months) it's clear every company should be thinking about how to respond if it happens to them. This might be harder than you think, with a McAfee survey suggesting most CIOs don't even know what an advanced evasion technique is.

Google's latest Transparency Report revealed that Australian government requests for user information increased 29 percent during 2013. Yet it may be good that somebody is storing user data, since a World Backup Day-inspired survey found that Australians are worse at backup than peers in other countries.

Meanwhile, the team at Aussie startup Packetloop was gearing up for rapid growth at its new office, opened in the wake of its recent acquisition by global security concern Arbor Networks. Local recruitment company Peoplebank revealed that it's saving hours per applicant after investing in a digital-signature solution for handling applications. Microsoft's oft-maligned Internet Explorer browser beat its rivals in detecting malware, but some analysts suggested the company's Windows Phone mobile operating system was still playing catchup in the security stakes.

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