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.

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

tor

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?

Is artificial intelligence as big a threat as nuclear weapons?

Is artificial intelligence as big a threat as nuclear weapons?

Elon Musk, King of the Disruptors, thinks so - tweeting recently that artificial intelligence machines are "potentially more dangerous than nukes."

HP finds that "Internet of Things" gadgets are sitting ducks

70% of internet gadgets are sitting ducks for attackers

TVs, webcams, thermostats, remote power outlets, sprinkler controllers, door locks, home alarms, scales and garage door openers: they're all flunking Security 101, with issues as bad as "Sure, go ahead, we consider '1234' to be a perfectly acceptable password."

Apple faces class action suit for tracking users without consent

Apple faces class action suit over location tracking

A Californian plaintiff says that nobody at Apple ever told her about tracking her whereabouts, nor did anybody ever ask for her permission. She says she only found out about it by watching a recent Chinese state TV report about iPhone being a security risk to the state.

Facebook slapped with $123 million revenge-porn lawsuit

Facebook slapped with $123 million revenge-porn lawsuit

For months, Facebook hosted a revenge-porn page dedicated to humiliating one Texas woman with Photoshopped clips of her face pasted onto porn shots, a US woman from Texas is claiming. Facebook's report abuse procedure got her nowhere; only a police subpoena got through. Is that Report Abuse button actually hooked up to anything, or is it buzzing in an empty room?

Tor attack may have unmasked anonymous users

Freedom Hosting arrest and takedown linked to Tor privacy compromise

Two Carnegie-Mellon researchers had planned a highly anticipated talk at next week's Black Hat security conference - a talk that was cancelled when the university's lawyers freaked out - about how easy it is to break Tor anonymity. They're innocent until proved guilty, but The Tor Project says it was likely the two researchers are behind the attack.

Beefed-up Senate bill takes a swing at the NSA

NSA spyglass. Image courtesy of Shutterstock

If it emerges unscathed from the chamber, it could mean an end to bulk metadata collection, an end to the secrecy the government's been operating under, and reform of the USA Patriot Act that's been used to grant it vast surveillance rights.

Free Wi-Fi - but it'll cost you your privacy

Citizens asked to trade their privacy for free WiFi

The UK city of York is planning to roll out citywide free Wi-Fi. Correction: it's only "free" if you don't count the privacy you stand to lose.

Guy brags about gift card tinkering at new job, gets house raided by feds

Gift cards. Image courtesy of Shutterstock

The new recruit showed off to a colleague, calling the gift-card tinkering "research". We'll see what Homeland Security thinks about it after they scour the electronics they seized from his house.

Police slap warning banner ads on 'pirate' sites

Pirate warning. Image courtesy of Shutterstock

The City of London Police has started swapping out legitimate ads on websites believed to be serving up pirated content, instead plastering them with warning banner ads.

Hacker turns ATM into 'Doom' arcade game

ATM gets turned into 'Doom' arcade game

Its screen now eschews balances and transfers in favor of the familiar sight of a hand wrapped around a gun, going around dark corners and blasting stuff. Where did scrap metal hacker "Aussie50" pick this thing up? Do we have to worry about threats to our bank balances? And is he going to rig it with a coin mechanism so we can all play?

One hoax press release, one $300 million hole in mining company

One hoax press release, one $300 million hole in Australian mining company

The fake press release was pretty convincing: it was sent from a domain that riffed on the ANZ Bank name, used the bank's logo, and included the name of a PR person, along with his (NOT!) phone number. It's yet another example of how easy it is to scam people online.

How to break into people's homes with your mobile phone

How to break into people's homes with your mobile phone

Having a tough time breaking into your neighbor's house? Not terribly conversant with key gauges or making clay molds? Don't worry, there's an app for that!

Hacker claims breach of Wall Street Journal and Vice

Malicious hacker claims breach of Wall Street Journal, Vice

W0rm's been quite busy and has already pulled this on CNET, and likewise is again offering to sell user data and server credentials for one Bitcoin.

eBay's StubHub ransacked for over $1 million, international crime ring arrested

StubHub logo

US police have indicted six people across four countries on charges of defrauding eBay's StubHub for over $1 million in pilfered tickets for things like Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake concerts. eBay says its servers weren't broken into; rather, password reuse and account holders' PCs being riddled with malware are to blame.

Car hackers build anti-car-hacking gadget

Cars. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Besides yet more white-knuckled car-jacking stunts, security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek also plan to unveil at next month's Black Hat conference a prototype device meant to foil the type of hacks they've been throwing at cars.

"Rickmote" box Rickrolls Chromecast, forcibly earworms hapless victims

Image courtesy of Dan Petro, Bishop Fox IT

Never gonna give you up, Never gonna let you down, Never gonna run around and desert you.

Your Gmail account is fair game for cops or feds, says US judge

US judge: your Gmail account is fair game for cops or feds

A New York court on Thursday opened up our entire Gmail accounts to feds or cops with warrants, in spite of two recent decisions that went against similar requests.

New search engine Indexeus unmasks malicious hackers

New search engine Indexeus unmasks malicious hackers

Indexeus is a database of stolen names and passwords, many doxed from the hackers who've themselves doxed others' data. Is it poetic justice, exploitation of a lucrative market, a prototype of an educational tool, or all of the above?