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.

Arrests made after keyloggers found on public PCs at US hotels

Keyloggers found on public PCs at US hotel business centres

Proof of the lack of hygiene in publicly accessible PCs came up yet again when the US Secret Service last week warned that cybercrooks are installing keyloggers on the PCs in hotel business centers to steal personal and business information from travelers.

How to burn a password into your brain

How to burn a password into your brain

It turns out that it can actually be surprisingly easy to train people to memorise a 56-bit password or passphrase, two researchers found.

iPhones are a security threat to the state, China claims

iPhone's a security threat to the state, China claims

China has cited Apple iPhone's ability to track and time-stamp users' whereabouts as reason to declare the mobile phone hazardous to state security.

Tor Project is NOT getting sued for enabling revenge porn site PinkMeth

Tor Project is NOT getting sued for enabling revenge porn site PinkMeth

A Texas revenge-porn victim is suing the operators of revenge-porn site PinkMeth.com and was (until her lawyer figured out just what, exactly, the anonymising service Tor actually is) suing The Tor Project for helping PinkMeth to operate anonymously.

UK to rush through "emergency" phone and internet data retention law

UK to rush through "emergency" phone and internet data retention law

The UK is rushing through Parliament what it calls an emergency law that will ensure it retains access to people's phone and internet records, in spite of the European Court of Justice having said in April that data retention violates human rights. It's not a rehash of the Snooper's Charter, politicians claim, but there's not a lot of time to eyeball it to make sure that's true.

DARPA dissects Twitter, Facebook, Reddit to extract propaganda how-to's

DARPA

The internet found out last week that Facebook's been dissecting us. Now, it looks like DARPA's been at it too, with research on users of Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, Kickstarter and Digg.

Google Drive security hole leaks users' files

Google Drive security hole leaks users' files

The flaw, which Google recently patched, was giving out original documents to unauthorized users via embedded links. It's yet another example of how storing documents "in the cloud" means "heaven knows with whom".

US arrests Russian MP's son for PoS hacking; Russia calls it kidnapping

US arrests Russian MP's son for PoS hacking; Russia calls it kidnapping

The Russian man's father conjectures that, for all he knows, this may be a ploy for the US to get bait to exchange for Snowden.

Australian police using tower dumps to slurp mass phone data

Australian police using tower dumps to slurp mass phone data

Australian federal and state police have joined the ranks of mega-data slurpers - namely, the US, where 1 in 4 law enforcement agencies have reportedly used a "tower dump" - ordering phone providers to hand over personal information about thousands of mobile phone users, regardless of whether or not those people are under investigation.

Police dog catches paedophiles by sniffing out their hidden hard drives

Police dog catches paedophiles by sniffing out their hidden hard drives

Police detection dogs are the latest tool in investigators' arsenal when it comes to finding gadgets that might contain illegal images of child abuse, sometimes hidden in metal tins four layers deep inside a filing cabinet.

Holiday snaps and nuclear intel: The NSA's data capture exposed

NSA catches only 10% of data legally, but is it a fair trade off?

That leaves large-scale privacy invasion on 90% of 160,000 analysed messages swept up illegally by the NSA. But credit where credit is due: the legal 10% of intercepts have significant intelligence value, including data about a secret overseas nuclear project and double-dealing by an ostensible ally.

EFF sues NSA over hoarding of zero days

nsa-250

Wouldn't it be nice to know just how, exactly, the spy agency decides whether to silently exploit zero days for snooping purposes while leaving businesses and individuals in the dark with their bellies exposed? The EFF has filed a FOIA lawsuit to help find answers.

Supreme Court refuses to drag Google out of its Street View privacy wreckage

Supreme Court won't drag Google out of its Street View privacy wreckage

Google's planning to slurp up ever more data, from wearables, fitness apps and more. It sure would be nice for Google if the Street View fiasco would fade away and stop reminding people of how they snooped on data and then lied about it, but the Supreme Court isn't disposed to helping it out on this one.

Ex-boyfriend avoids jail for posting offensive update on woman's Facebook account

Smartphone. Image courtesy of Shutterstock

The case - one which involves prosecution over damage to a social media account - is reportedly unprecedented. The guilty party was facing a maximum of 10 years in prison and a €10,000 fine, with a judge who had no precedents to go on when it came time for sentencing.

Facebook shrugs as 'emotional contagion' research outrages its users

Image of comedy tragedy masks courtesy of Shutterstock

Some users saw a dash more positive items in their feeds; some received a more grim daily dose, as the researchers cut out happy tidings. The researchers' conclusion: yes, emotional states are contagious, and no, seeing friends post happy news does not necessarily make people want to jump off ledges. The internet's reaction: how dare you manipulate emotions without informed consent?

Microsoft stops Patch Tuesday emails, blames Canada, then does U-turn

Email ban. Image courtesy of Shutterstock

The decree mentions "changing governmental policies concerning the issuance of automated electronic messaging" - a head-scratcher that Microsoft spokespeople subsequently clarified by pointing to a new Canadian anti-spam law that takes effect today.

Facebook's facing a losing battle to protect users' privacy

Facebook's facing a losing battle to protect users' privacy

Last year, prosecutors in Manhattan held Facebook up by the ankles and shook out personal data on 381 users. A judge last week said that it's up to the targeted users to complain about privacy invasion, not data-repository Facebook. But how are they supposed to stand up for their rights if they're never told about the sealed warrants to begin with?

Hacker who plotted to send heroin to Brian Krebs arrested in Italy

Hacker who plotted to send heroin to Brian Krebs arrested in Italy

I don't envy the scriptwriters who are busy at work on the Krebs movie. The news just keeps coming! The latest: Sergei Vovnenko, known as Fly, was arrested under suspicion of trafficking in stolen credit cards as well as plotting to send heroin to the security journalist/crimefighter.

Revenge porn hits two high profile boyfriends where it hurts

Voodoo doll. Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Former NSA analyst and vocal NSA supporter John Schindler had his pink parts exposed by a lover in an extramarital affair, and a state representative's chief of staff was outed by a porn star ex-girlfriend and subsequently resigned. Revenge porn might typically target women, but these cases clearly show that we're all vulnerable when it comes to sharing explicit content.

Is that Google Glass wearer stealing your iPad passcode?

Tablet. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

What about the one with a smartwatch? Snoopers can catch your code from nearly 10 feet away with Google Glass or Samsung's smartwatch and from almost 150 away using a HD camcorder, thanks to researchers' custom-coded, shadow-tracking recognition algorithm.