open source and cybersecurity news

June 30, 2023

Proton Launches Password Manager with Email Aliases; Soldiers get free smartwatches with malware; Balance Privacy and National Security; This Day in Tech History

In this Episode:

Episode Transcription:

Pokie Huang:

From Sourced Network Production in New York city. “It’s 5:05”. I’m Pokie Huang. Today is Friday, June 30th. Here is the full story behind today’s cyber security and open source headlines.

Edwin Kwan: 

This is Edwin Kwan from Sydney, Australia. 

Everyone deserves privacy by default. That’s Proton’s slogan. Famously known for the encrypted and private email service Proton mail, the company had expanded to other secure and privacy focused services like VPN, Calendar and cloud storage. This week they announced the global launch of their password manager, Proton Pass. 

This is available as a browser extension on most major browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Brave. And also available as mobile apps on the iPhone, iPads, and Android devices. 

Apart from the password generation functionality, Proton Pass also allows for the creation of hide-my-email aliases. This is where a randomly generated email address is created, which keeps your actual email private from the online service you’re signing up for. 

Unlike other password managers which only encrypt the password view, Proton Pass, encrypts all views stored in the password manager. The software code and security architecture are currently being reviewed by independent auditors.

Katy Craig: 

The US Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) is sounding the alarm advising soldiers who received unsolicited D18 smartwatches in the mail not to turn them on over concerns that these devices might be carrying some nasty malware. 

This is Katie Craig in San Diego, California. 

The US Army happens to be running pilot programs to test the use of smartwatches for monitoring the health of its troops. The CID acknowledges that these deliveries could be part of a less sinister brushing campaign, when shady online vendors send random folks cheap products and later use their names to create fake positive reviews. 

If there’s a threat actor behind this, they could be after valuable intelligence. Think geolocation data, sensitive conversations, and troop concentrations. With the size of the US Army, it’s not surprising that a few soldiers would receive brushed items, and maybe it’s all just a coincidence. We’ll have to wait and see. 

In the meantime, it’s crucial for users of wearable smart devices to keep their security patches up to date and to configure their privacy settings wisely. Organizations, don’t forget to restrict these smart devices from sensitive areas. Just like any other electronics that could be used for intelligence collection.

We’ve got to stay one step ahead of those sneaky attackers. 

This is Katie Craig, stay safe out there.

Hillary Coover: 

Hi, this is Hillary Coover. There’s a big debate going on among lawmakers in the United States about government surveillance. They’re trying to figure out whether the FBI should be required to get a warrant before searching a database of foreign intelligence that might have information on American citizens.

The Biden administration is worried that the restriction would hinder their intelligence operations, but privacy advocates think it’s necessary to prevent abuses of power. Under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the NSA can collect a ton of electronic information from US tech providers. It’s aimed at foreigners living abroad, but it ends up grabbing data from some Americans who communicate with foreign suspects. 

Now this debate is putting national security officials in a really tough spot. They say this program is super important for fighting terrorism, cyber attacks, and keeping an eye on adversaries. But on the other hand, the FBI’s come up with some internal changes they’re suggesting, like making analysts choose to use the database and giving written justifications for searches. 

These changes with some other reforms could find a middle ground between privacy and national security without the extreme of requiring a warrant.

 Instead of going all out and restricting a crucial national security tool, maybe we can focus on improving the processes and policies for handling data related to US citizens. That way we can compromise with law enforcement while also keeping a close eye. It’s about finding the balance between privacy and security. We do need to make sure there’s enough oversight and accountability without hindering the ability of national security agencies to protect our country effectively.

Marcel Brown: 

This is Marcel Brown bringing you some technology history for June 30th and July 1st. 

June 30th, 1948. Originally designed to create improvements to electromechanical relays and vacuum tubes and telephone switching equipment, Bell Labs holds a press conference in New York to publicly demonstrate the first Point Contact Transistor. The transistor represents a significant advance in technology. As it is developed over the next few years, it will become the successor to the vacuum tube, the primary method of controlling electronic circuitry at the time. 

The use of transistors allows the development of the integrated circuit and microchips, which kickstarted the rapid advance of electronic and computerized technology over the last 70 years. Every industry that utilizes technology, from communications to computers, to space travel, to video games, to media owes a great deal to the development of the transistor. 

July 1st, 1979. The first Sony Walkman, the TPS L2, goes on sale in Japan. It would go on sale in the US about a year later. By allowing owners to carry their personal music with them, the Walkman and their iconic headphones introduce a revolution in listening habits and popular culture at large. 

That’s your technology history for today. For more, tune in next week and visit my website

Pokie Huang:

That’s our updates for today, June 30th. I’m Pokie Huang. We’ll be back next Monday… at 5:05. 



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