Articles by Lisa Vaas

About Lisa Vaas

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.

Google plans YouTube clean-up, ready for kid customers

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The new services reportedly will include a dashboard for parents, a child-safe YouTube, and a new age requirement on Android gadgets. This might be a good thing. Can you imagine a YouTube that won't make you feel like you need a shower after a viewing session? Then this might be a bad thing. Helloooooo, micro-data-mining!

US won't release Russian MP's son being held on PoS hacking charges

US won't release Russian MP's son being held on PoS hacking charges

A US federal court has refused to release Roman Seleznev, arrested in the Maldives under suspicion of rigging retail PoS systems to rip off credit card details. Prosecutors say he was caught with over 2 million stolen cards on his laptop and that he'd been searching the US federal court electronic filing system for charges against him.

Twitter injects favourites into newsfeeds, but is it an 'invasion of privacy'?

Twitter injects people's favourites into newsfeeds, annoying many

Twitter is taking people's favourites - what many (mistakenly) have assumed were private - and sticking them into people's newsfeeds, along with follow notifications.

Shark attack! Google wraps underwater cables in Kevlar-like vests

Shark attack! Google wraps broadband cables in Kevlar vests

Google has to wrap its underwater sea cables in a Kevlar-like material, it says, because sharks like to bite them.

How will you pay for the internet of the future?

How will you pay for the internet of the future?

In this, the 25th year anniversary of the invention of the World Wide Web, the man who claims to have invented the pop-up ad and gave rise to an economy of surveillance has apologized, said that the consequences were unforeseen, and invited the world's citizens to re-imagine a different web.

Thousands of computers open to eavesdropping and hijacking

Thousands of computers open to eavesdropping and hijacking

Many, many people and businesses are running a remote access tool, Virtual Network Computing, without a password. The tool lets people see everything we do online or reach through and take over our systems. The list of exposed sites is astonishing: everything from power stations to pharmacies to people watching porn.

Snowden: NSA working on 'MonsterMind' cyberwar bot

Snowden: NSA working on 'MonsterMind' cyberwar bot

The cyber defense system would instantly and autonomously neutralize foreign cyberattacks against the US and could also be used to launch retaliatory strikes. To do so, it would have to control and analyze all traffic entering the US - a chilling prospect that was the last straw, the whistleblower says.

Good bot, bad bot? 23 million Twitter accounts are automated

Good bot, bad bot? 23 million Twitter accounts may be automated

Its latest SEC filing says that 8.5% of active monthly users are automatons, which could mean there are a boatload of bots on the service. Some are spam, some are useful, some are just publications' own, automated Twitter feeds.

Facial recognition software leads to arrest after 14-year manhunt

Facial recognition software leads to FBI success in 14-year manhunt

A former US resident from New Mexico was captured in Nepal after 14 years on the run. The fugitive's passport photo matched up with a newly issued wanted poster. Does the capture of a suspected child abuser justify the use of a technology that hasn't yet had privacy implications ironed out?

DEA paid out $854,460 for free Amtrak passenger data

Amtrak secretary cons $854,460 out of the DEA by selling 'free' passenger data

Since 1995, a former Amtrak employee has been selling passenger data to the US Drug Enforcement Administration - information that cost the DEA $854,460, but which it could have gotten for free.

Facebook ordered to disclose records on underage users

Facebook ordered to disclose records on underage users

Facebook says it doesn't keep them longer than six months, but a court in Belfast is nonetheless ordering it to hand over any records it might have or control about its underage users. The case concerns a girl who, starting at the age of 11, took out four Facebook accounts and used them to post sexually suggestive photos.

War Kitteh hunts out your unsecured Wi-Fi

Coco the wardriving cat reminds you to secure your Wi-Fi

Coco the cat was outfitted with Wi-Fi sniffing equipment in his collar, enabling him to map out 23 unique Wi-Fi hotspots, 4 of which used feeble WEP encryption, 4 of which were wide open, requiring no password. He also caught a mouse, showing him to be adroit in both analog and digital media.

Most people think public Wi-Fi is safe. Seriously?

Most people think public Wi-Fi is safe. Seriously?

Talk about dismaying numbers! In Ofcom's recent report, three quarters of the public were unconcerned about security when accessing Wi-Fi outside of their homes, and were quite happy to do *anything* on public Wi-Fi. Help us educate them, please!

Pwnie Awards for Heartbleed, "goto fail", Mt. Gox

Pwnie Awards

The golden My Little Pony statuettes have been passed out at the Black Hat Security 2014 conference, commemorating select infosec glories and groans. Best song: the haunting "SSL Smiley Song", sung to the tune of "Jingle Bells".

Apple iPads and MacBook Pros banned for Chinese government use

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China has banned government officials from buying Apple products, reportedly to avoid the possibility of the US hijacking the technology to spy on Beijing.

Microsoft scans email for child abuse images, leads to arrest‏

Microsoft scans email for child porn images

Microsoft detected two illicit images of a young girl when they were uploaded to a Pennsylvanian man's OneDrive cloud storage account. Before anybody starts worrying about snooping, be assured that humans weren't involved in looking at the email; rather, Microsoft's own PhotoDNA matched the images to those of known child abuse images.

Evidence of another Snowden-like mole is worrying Feds

Evidence of another Snowden-like mole is worrying Feds

The US government has been trying to answer a crucial question: is Snowden a lone wolf, or are other Edward Snowdens out there, leaking ever more classified documents?

Given new leaks published by Glenn Greenwald's The Intercept, the Feds now fear they have their answer, and it is in the affirmative.

Potato chips: Big Brother's next eavesdropping tool?

Potato chips: Big Brother's next eavesdropping tool?

A team of researchers from MIT, Microsoft and Adobe have figured out how to use sound vibrations in objects that are quivering too imperceptibly for the naked eye to discern, but when captured on video can be used to decipher intelligible speech.

FBI used drive-by downloads to track child abuse image suspects hidden on Tor

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The FBI has been silently installing spyware in its quest to identify and prosecute criminals hiding behind the powerful Tor anonymity system. The technique's a classic tool in the malware writer's kit. Do the ends justify the means when it's the law, using it to capture child abusers?