Amazon is slowly but steadily building a surveillance network. It’s not just building it for itself. It has Alexa for that. It’s building a new one for US law enforcement agencies, free of charge, in exchange for free promotion and future long-term buy-in.
Ring’s doorbell cameras are a consumer device, but many, many people are getting them for free from local PDs. The incentives work for everyone… except for those concerned about privacy.
The police hand out the free cameras to citizens, implicitly suggesting end users could repay their debt to um… society, by providing camera footage on demand. Amazon gives these cameras to PDs for next to nothing, asking only that PDs promote Ring cameras and push camera recipients into downloading Amazon’s snitch app, “Neighbors.”
Amazon’s willingness to tie government agencies into contracts that demand final cut approval on press releases and a certain amount of free publicity blurs the line between public and private. That blurred line, unfortunately, runs right up to the doorsteps of suburban America, converting personal security into police surveillance.
Windows 7 will not stop working on January 14 2020 – you’ll still be able to use Windows 7 for as long as you want. So the good news is that you’re not going to wake up on January 15 to find your Windows 7 PC no longer boots up.
But just because you can continue to use Windows 7 in its End of Life status, it doesn’t mean you should.
The biggest issue with continuing to use Windows 7 is that it won’t be patched for any new viruses or security problems once it enters End of Life, and this leaves you extremely vulnerable to any emerging threats.
What’s more, if a large number of people continue to use Windows 7 after the End of Life date, that could actually be a big incentive for malicious users to target viruses and other nasties at WIndows 7.
So, while Windows 7 will continue to work after January 14 2020, you should start planning to upgrade to Windows 10, or an alternative operating system, as soon as possible.
On January 14, 2020, support for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will end.
That means the end of regular security updates which will leave you vulnerable. Please refer to the Microsoft Website for all the details.
Microsoft has kicked off its three-year countdown for Windows 7’s end of extended support, warning enterprises they’ll pay dearly for sticking with the platform’s outdated security compared with Windows 10.
Enterprises can of course delay upgrading until January 13, 2020, when extended support ends for the 2009 OS and it no longer receives security patches.
However, as Microsoft has warned, Windows 7, which moved to extended support in 2015, is outdated and will drive up operating costs from remediating malware attacks that wouldn’t penetrate Windows 10 systems.
Windows 7 “does not meet the requirements of modern technology, nor the high security requirements of IT departments”, said Markus Nitschke, head of Windows at Microsoft Germany.
If you want to escape the clutches of ransomware, the best thing you can do is install the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft says there’s been a 400 percent rise in ransomware encounters affecting Windows since 2015, but older versions of Windows are more exposed to it and more prone to actual infection after an encounter. Microsoft says it has “made Windows 10 Anniversary Update the most secure Windows ever”.
Devices on Windows 10 are 58 percent less likely to run into ransomware than Windows 7, Microsoft argues in a new white paper detailing in-built defenses against the extortion-ware.
Ransomware arrives either through email or the browser, both of which Microsoft has battened down in Windows 10.
Vulnerable routers and webcams pose a significant threat to online security. D-Link, one of the world’s leading hardware manufacturers of these inter-connected computer accessories, has been sued by the FTC. Apparently, the company has not taken the necessary steps to secure their devices. A hacker may have taken advantage of this issue, although that has not been officially confirmed.
Trouble Ahead For D-Link
On Thursday, January 5th, the FTC filed their complaint against D-Link Corporation and its US subsidiary. The main issue is how their webcams and routers are not adequately secured, allowing hackers to gain remote access. If these devices are exploited, one never fully knows what the criminals may do. Given the recent DDoS attacks through IoT devices, the security of these machines has become a pressing matter.
According to the FTC, D-Link failed to take reasonable steps to protect their IP cameras and routers from unauthorized access. To be more precise, the complaint mentions how the company ignored the “widely known and reasonably foreseeable risks” in this regard. Considering how D-Link has become a household name in nearly every country, this does not bode well for the manufacturer.
Police in Bentonville, Arkansas are turning to Amazon to help prosecute a suspected murderer. The case, which was first spotted by The Information and goes back to 2015, shines a light on how smart home devices might start playing a larger role in future criminal investigations.
James Andrew Bates was charged with first-degree murder after a man named Victor Collins was found dead in Bates’ hot tub in November 2015. Bates owned a few connected devices, including a Nest thermostat, a Honeywell alarm system, and an Amazon Echo. During the course of their investigation, police issued a warrant to Amazon requesting data in the form of audio recordings, transcribed records, and other text records from Bates’ Echo. The police also sought more personal information on Bates, including his subscriber information, and his purchase and billing history.
Amazon hasn’t disclosed the data Bates’ Echo transmitted to its servers, although it did provide police with Bates’ account information and purchase history. However, the police seized his Echo and independently extracted data from it. The court documents do not specify what that data was exactly. A search warrant states that police believe they could have extracted audio recordings, transcribed records, text records, and “other data.” The Echo does have some local storage. Amazon sent us this statement about the case: “Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us. Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course.”
Now, we likely won’t have a better clue about what police were able to ascertain from this data until the case reaches a court room, if ever. The important takeaway is that connected devices are becoming essential to police investigations. For its part, Amazon says the Echo only begins recording when its wake word, like “Alexa,” is spoken. That said, the device is always listening for its trigger word.