Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – July 31, 2015

Facebook pushes out Security Checkup tool worldwide;  Can your old PC run Windows 10?  14 Apps to Jumpstart Your College Social Life;  What Businesses Need to Know About Windows 10 Security;  New exploit renders Android phones mute and useless;  KFC’s new mobile gimmick is a photo-printing bucket;  Google Translate app adds 20 more languages;   6 ways to watch televised news without paying for cable or satellite TV;  How to do a clean install of Windows 10;  Windows 10 laptops and tablets: Your upgrade guide;  Top Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts;  Uber wants to recruit your grandma as a driver;  Hacker shows he can locate, unlock and remote start GM vehicles;  Sony has sold 25 million PS4, sales double that of Xbox One and Xbox 360;  Man shoots down drone hovering over house;  Titanfall to get free-to-play version in Asia;  Top Gear’s Old Crew Signs With Amazon For New Show.

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Facebook pushes out Security Checkup tool worldwide – Security Checkup was designed to walk users through all the security tools available to them, one by one, while asking them which ones they would like on or off. Initial steps include logging out from devices that haven’t been used for Facebook access in awhile as well as email alerts for attempted logins from unfamiliar devices or apps. This is not to be confused with Privacy Checkup, a step-by-step guide published to the platform last September.

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Google Translate app adds 20 more languages – Designed for both iOS and Android, the Google Translate app is adding 20 new languages. You’ll be able to translate to and from English with Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, Hungarian, Indonesian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian. For Hindi and Thai, you’ll be able to do one-way translations from English.

6 ways to watch televised news without paying for cable or satellite TV – Being able to watch the news is one of the biggest reasons people stay tethered to an expensive pay-TV subscription. In a recent Comscore survey, 58 percent of subscribers said the news was important to their viewing habits—more than any other TV category. But nowadays, you don’t need a cable TV package to stay informed. If anything, streaming video is a better way to keep up with the news, offering more choices and broader perspectives compared to the big cable-news networks. And in many cases, you don’t have to pay a dime. Read on for the best ways to watch the round-the-clock news without a big channel bundle.

Cloud storage alternatives: Three ways to sync your own data securely and privately – Cloud storage is convenient, but you can remove any concerns about security or other issues if you do what they do yourself.

Yahoo unveils Livetext, allowing people to text using silent videos – Yahoo on Wednesday unveiled a new video texting app, called Livetext, which the company hopes can revive its relevance for smartphone users. The twist for this service is that the videos don’t have sound. The app will be available for free Thursday on phones running Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems in the US, Canada, UK, France and Germany, as well as in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where it’s available now.

Can your old PC run Windows 10? – For a modern operating system with an vast range of capabilities, Windows 10 is an incredibly lean and mean operating system. To find out just how lean though, I decided to install Windows 10 on a few ancient PCs to see how well it runs. The actual experience might surprise you.

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The “Vista Capable” machine

Windows 10 guide to downloading and loading from a USB stick – Today upgrades to Windows 10 begin to be unleashed by Microsoft for all the most modern computers, including yours. Microsoft is releasing this operating system upgrade for free for most users – assuming they’ve got a Windows operating system from the past couple of generations — if you’re running Windows 7 or Windows 8, you should be safe. Today we’re having a peek at how simple it is to load Windows 10 to your computer using a disk image (ISO file) downloaded from Microsoft to a USB stick.

How to do a clean install of Windows 10 – If you have a Windows 7 or 8 computer, you can install Microsoft’s new Windows 10 OS completely for free. If you choose to follow this method Windows 10 will bring along all of your data, apps and most of your system settings from your older OS. Which can adversely affect performance. This post will show you how to change that and get a clean install of Windows 10 onto your computer. This is possible to do both after you’ve already upgraded to Windows 10 and before, when your computer still runs Windows 7 or 8.

Top Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts – Windows 10 is available and as with any OS if you want to get the most out of it you need to know a few keyboard shortcuts. Here are the Windows 10 shortcuts that will make your life easier, both the new entries and old favourites from earlier iterations of the OS.

Windows 10 laptops and tablets: Your upgrade guide – Are you seeking a new laptop, hybrid or tablet on which to run Windows 10? We asked the leading PC vendors to identify suitable products in a number of categories.

How to play DVDs in Windows 10 for free – Windows 10 brings a lot of good stuff to the table, but it also takes away some key functionality that Windows 7 users might miss. In Windows 10, you have to say goodbye to Windows Media Center and with it, the ability to play DVDs natively. Microsoft said in May it would have a native solution for DVD playback to make up for those who lost it. Originally this app was supposed to show up later in the year, but Microsoft’s solution is already available. In my tests, however, the app doesn’t work perfectly. Luckily, there are other options.

The big three record labels threaten to boycott YouTube, according to reports – According to the New York Post, Universal, Sony and Warner are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with YouTube’s monetization efforts. The labels reportedly feel the site isn’t serious when it comes to monetizing their content. Another gripe stems from how the Google-owned site retains complete control over everything from ad policy to the sales channel. The report says the big three could even go “nuclear,” meaning they could resort to pulling their music catalogs from the site.

Windows 10 ‘Service Release 1’ expected to roll out next month – SR1 will be a maintenance update, focusing on adding polish and stability to the OS, so don’t expect any new features. As more people continue to upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft will gather more telemetry from the OS in action, and will no doubt use that data to help inform development of future maintenance releases. Of course, bug fixes are always welcome, but they’re not terribly exciting. However, as we’ve previously reported, Microsoft is planning a further, larger update to be released this October. This update will focus heavily on improving stability too, but it will also mark the arrival of several key features that the company has already announced.

14 Apps to Jumpstart Your College Social Life – College is filled with all sorts of confused, eager folks like you. It can be difficult to find your footing, socially. You’ll have the dorm, the quad, and the cafeteria. But surely there is more! Well, lucky for you, there is, college face. Thanks to technology, the entire world is just a few taps away.

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College is nothing without friends. Here’s 14 ways to find your social footing on and off campus.

Mozilla blasts Microsoft for making it harder to switch to Firefox in Windows 10 – Microsoft has altered Windows 10 so that users have to explicitly set a default app for applications like mail, calendar, or web browsers. The change means the setup installers for Chrome and Firefox can no longer set themselves as the default browser during the install process. Mozilla isn’t happy with this change, and the company is calling on Microsoft to reverse what it calls an “aggressive move to override user choice on Windows 10.”

Microsoft to offer a free 90 day trial of Windows 10 Enterprise – Windows 10 is Microsoft’s most secure OS to date and offers improved security and device management options for large corporations.. In order to entice more corporate customers, Microsoft is now offering up a 90-day trial for Windows 10. Those running Windows 10 Enterprise as an Insider should also be aware that the preview will end on October 1, with notifications of the impending closure starting in September. After that, customers must either register for the 90-day evaluation or purchase the full product to continue using it.

Security:

There’s (Almost) Nothing You Can Do About Stagefright – Move over Heartbleed, there’s a new ominously named digital threat that has the potential to engulf hundreds of millions of people. It’s called Stagefright, and the information security community fears that 950 million Android phones are at risk of succumbing to the exploit. While most Android hacks at least require victims to make some kind of mistake, like getting tricked into downloading malware, the Stagefright vulnerability could already be on nearly a billion Android phones regardless of what users do.

Hacker shows he can locate, unlock and remote start GM vehicles – A security researcher has posted a video on YouTube demonstrating how a device he made can intercept wireless communications to locate, unlock and remotely start GM vehicles that use the OnStar RemoteLink mobile app. Samy Kamkar, who refers to himself as a hacker and whistleblower, posted the video today showing him using a device he calls OwnStar. The device, he said, intercepts communications between GM’s OnStar RemoteLink mobile app and the OnStar cloud service.

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Samy Kamkar stands next to a Chevy Volt that he used to demonstrate how he could hack into the GM’s OnStar mobile app in order to unlock and start the car. Credit: Samy Kamkar

New exploit renders Android phones mute and useless – Another day, another critical Android vulnerability. This time, it might be slightly less serious than Stagefright but still enough to be worrisome. Popular security Trend Mirco came upon this vulnerability in Android’s mediaserver component that, when given a malformed MKV media file, could render the device unresponsive and completely silent, practically locking out the user from his or her device. The one slight good news is that this exploit requires installing a malicious app or visiting a suspicious website, which, sadly, isn’t that hard to get users to do.

Researchers develop astonishing Web-based attack on a computer’s DRAM – Millions of Web users could be vulnerable to an attack on their computer’s DRAM via the Web, a surprising development that expands on a bug that has increasingly worried computer security experts. It has been known for several years that densely packed memory cells on computers are vulnerable to intentional interference. But a new research paper details how an attack could be conducted over the Web, dramatically increasing the danger to users.

How the way you type can shatter anonymity—even on Tor – Security researchers have refined a long-theoretical profiling technique into a highly practical attack that poses a threat to Tor users and anyone else who wants to shield their identity online. The technique collects user keystrokes as an individual enters usernames, passwords, and other data into a website. After a training session that typically takes less than 10 minutes, the website—or any other site connected to the website—can then determine with a high degree of certainty when the same individual is conducting subsequent online sessions. The profiling works by measuring the minute differences in the way each person presses keys on computer keyboards. Since the pauses between keystrokes and the precise length of time each key is pressed are unique for each person, the profiles act as a sort of digital fingerprint that can betray its owner’s identity.

What Businesses Need to Know About Windows 10 Security – Windows 10 has a lot of security features built-in for businesses, but they aren’t all ready out of the box yet.

Company News:

Uber wants to recruit your grandma as a driver – Uber, at least until autonomous cars dot the landscape, needs drivers. It has already hawked its driving perks at teachers, stay-at-home moms, poor college students, and anyone else who wants extra money and has a decent car. Now the ridesharing company has partnered with Life Reimagined, an AARP non-profit subsidiary, to dangle its driving “partnerships” at the organization’s members. Uber will be making appearances at some Life Reimagined events, among other things, targeting “Americans over 40”.

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Groupon Launches Its Own Food Delivery Business, Groupon To Go – Following its acquisition of food delivery service OrderUp earlier this month, Groupon is today announcing its own nationwide delivery and takeout service, Groupon To Go. The program is initially available in Chicago, where it has been in pilot testing with 500 restaurants since March, but the company says it will expand to other metro regions throughout the year, including Boston and Austin this fall. While there are now a number of on-demand food delivery businesses on the market, a big differentiator for Groupon’s service is that it claims it will save its customers up to 10 percent on every order.

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MasterCard and Samsung extend partnership in Europe for Samsung Pay – Samsung and MasterCard have been working together on Samsung Pay for about a year now. Last year MasterCard announced that it would provide tokenization services for Samsung Pay. These tokenization services allow for secure transactions and a fast connection to banks in the US. Samsung and MasterCard have now announced that they have extended their partnership in Europe.

Huawei is now the third largest vendor of phones, leaving Microsoft behind – Huawei is now the third largest vendor of smartphones if a report from Strategy Analytics is to be believed. The spot, previously held by Microsoft after its acquisition of Nokia’s handset business, was taken by Huawei after strong sales of over 30 million devices in 2015, garnering it 7% of the total market. The company was, however, preceded by Samsung and Apple, as the largest and second largest, with 20.5% and 10.9% of the global marketshare, respectively.

AT&T refuses to pay $100 million FCC fine, suggests $16,000 max – AT&T was hit with a massive $100 million fine by the FCC several weeks ago in response to its throttling of unlimited data customers, but now the carrier is asking that decision to be reversed. Even if it cannot get the commission’s verdict set aside, it’s asking that the fine be capped at a much lower amount. What does AT&T think is reasonable? $16,000 max. So, that’s 0.016% of the original fine.

LinkedIn Beats Analyst Estimates With $712M In Q2 Revenue – LinkedIn’s earnings today beat analyst expectations in dramatic fashion, sending the stock up as much as 14 percent in extended trading after it released its second-quarter results. The company reported earnings of 55 cents per share and revenue of $712 million. Analysts estimated that the company would bring in 30 cents per share on $680.3 million in revenue.

Sony Posts $780M Profit On Strong PlayStation And Sensor Businesses – The Japanese firm posted quarterly revenue of $14.5 billion, down a mere 0.1 percent year-on-year. Back in February, the firm announced a major restructure with a focus on entertainment and its financial results reflected that. Sony said that increased business for its music division — which saw income jump 173 year-on-year to $256 million — devices business which sells camera sensors for smartphones — up 164 percent to $244 million — and games division — up 350 percent to $157 million — were the stellar performers.

Games and Entertainment:

Exploding Kittens, the most-funded game in Kickstarter history, is now shipping – Exploding Kittens holds the record for the most backers in Kickstarter history (219,382 — a record is still reportedly holds, at least according to whatkickstarterprojecthasthemostbackers.com). It’s also the #1 most funded game and #4 most funded project of all time with $8.78 million (just above Ouya and just below the original Pebble). The game was scheduled for release in July, and with just one day to go, Exploding Kittens is now shipping.

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Dying Light: The Following expansion pack brings dune buggies – Techland has taken the wraps off its upcoming expansion pack for Dying Light, and it is said to be a big one. Dying Light: The Following will bring with it dune buggies (image after the jump), as well as what are referred to as other “bold game-changers” by the developer. To get an idea of the size of the upcoming expansion, its producer Tymon Smektala said that the new map is as big as all of the game’s previous maps in one, meaning gamers are in for something huge.

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Blizzard teases new World of Warcraft expansion reveal on August 6 – The reveal is set to happen at Gamescom 2015, which runs between August 5-9. Blizzard has given us an exact date and time of August 6 at 9am PDT (noon EST). It forms part of a World of Warcraft special event that is being streamed live from the show in Germany. After that, a World of Warcraft developer chat is set to happen on August 9 at 8am PDT (11am EST) where there will be further discussion about the new expansion.

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Angry Birds 2 Review: riddled with potential and purchases – Today we’re having a peek at the next big release from Rovio, the game called Angry Birds 2. The name is a strange one, coming from a company that’s actually releasing its THIRTEENTH Angry Birds game this week, but it is a return to the basics… in a sense… anyway. No seasons here, no special characters or cross-brand relationships. Just Angry Birds and their popping of Pigs. And a whole lot of extras. Lots of extras. So many extra features that you’re going to get confused at what you’re looking at.

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Sony has sold 25 million PS4, sales double that of Xbox One and Xbox 360 – Sony has now sold 25.3 million PS4 since launch and is predicting 16.5 million will sell this financial year. That means by the end of March 2016 there will be 38.8 million of them in homes around the world. As you’d expect, Sony is seeing healthy income from its gaming products, with console, software, and peripheral purchases all contributing to the Game & Network Services division’s $2.365 billion sales total for the quarter. This will be helped further by that new model PS4 that’s cheaper to manufacture.

Titanfall to get free-to-play version in Asia – Titanfall, the hit mech-based first-person shooter originally released for Xbox and PC last year, is probably the last title you’d expect to go free-to-play, but that’s what’s happening. But don’t expect it to be showing up on your smartphone or tablet, where free-to-play games are a dime-a-dozen. Instead, Titanfall will be getting a special PC release just for the Asian market, where the free-to-play genre is huge, thanks to a partnership between the game’s makers and Japan’s Nexon.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Meet Aquila, Facebook’s unmanned Internet drone – At 140 feet, it has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but carries no passengers—and it’s much lighter too, weighing in at no more than 1,000 pounds. And within the next couple months, Facebook hopes to get its drone off the ground on an inaugural test flight. Named Aquila, the aircraft is the product of more than a year’s work at the social networking giant. Its function is not to drop retail items from the clouds like Amazon’s drones, but to provide Internet access to the hundreds of millions of people who don’t have it in under-served parts of the world. Facebook aims to partner with carriers and other companies to provide connectivity, potentially at a lower cost than typical infrastructure like cell phone towers.

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Smart Sniper Rifle Vulnerable to Hacks – Almost anything with an integrated computer can be hacked—including a smart sniper rifle. Married security researchers Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger spent a year hacking a pair of $13,000 TrackingPoint self-aiming rifles. During next week’s Black Hat convention in Las Vegas, the couple will show off techniques that allow an attacker to take control of the rifle via its Wi-Fi connection.

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Dashcam catches off-duty cop threatening to put ‘hole in head’ of driver – Technically Incorrect: A Massachusetts driver makes a wrong turn. What happens next, all filmed on his dashcam, has led to an investigation. And yes, it’s now on YouTube.

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Man shoots down drone hovering over house – A Kentucky man thinks it unacceptable when a drone floats over his property. So he shoots it down. Then the drone’s owners come calling.

KFC’s new mobile gimmick is a photo-printing bucket – These days, fastfood chains are thinking up of unusual and sometimes bizarre marketing stunts to appeal to today’s mobile generation? Remember the Pizza Hut projector box in Hong Kong? Or how about KFC’s Bluetooth keyboard food tray? It seems that the latter is at it again. Its Canadian branch will soon be celebrating its 60th anniversary and to honor that memory, it is going to help their devoted customers make their own memories. How? By turning their boring chicken buckets into instant photo printing machine.

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Ask Cortana anything: Snarky answers to 59 burning questions – Cortana spits out funny responses on topics ranging from Siri to Surface to Steve Ballmer. She makes jokes and explains her Halo-inspired lineage. Here are 59 of the funniest answers we’ve found while goofing around. (Screenshots were taken from Windows Phone 8.1, rather than Windows 10, hence the stark interface.) And remember: Cortana may be one of the standout features of Windows 10, but before long she’ll spread her wings beyond Microsoft’s garden, landing in iOS and Android later this year.

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Top Gear’s Old Crew Signs With Amazon For New Show – The original trio behind popular U.K. TV show Top Gear will be back sooner rather than later as they signed a deal with Amazon. Amazon Prime members in the U.K. will be able to stream the new car show starting in 2016. Prime members in the U.S., Japan, Austria and Germany should get the new show, too, as the company talks about a “global TV deal.”

Something to think about:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

–      Apple Inc.

Today’s Free Downloads:

RoboCrypt – RoboCrypt is an encrypted data backup application for Windows, combining the functionality of freely available utilities to backup data.

The application uses TrueCrypt, freely available to create and utilize encrypted backup files and/or volumes. The application also uses the available utilities from Microsoft (Robocopy, VShadow, and PowerShell) to allow you to backup data and optionally use Microsoft Volume Shadow Services for snapshot backups and PowerShell to send notification emails upon backup completion.

This program has been designed to work with Windows XP/Server 2003/Vista/7/8.x/Server 2008. A help file in PDF format is included to give more details on how the program works.

Below are some key features with RoboCrypt :

Uses TrueCrypt to create an encrypted file or volume backup destination

Uses Microsoft Robocopy with user control over the major data copy functions to backup data

Uses Microsoft VShadow to create Volume Shadow Services snapshots of data to allow for backup of open files (ie. servers)

Uses Microsoft PowerShell to create summary emails that can be sent to notify a system administrator of a completed backup

RoboCrypt can check current data size vs projected data backup size to warn users of data overflow to the encrypted destination

Right-clicking on a folder in Windows Explorer can allow a user to use the RoboCrypt One-Time Backup feature to backup data to a currently defined data set.  This is for a quick backup of critical data if there is not enough time for a full backup

Encryption of saved TrueCrypt passwords and email account username/passwords

File date/time modification functionality will allow the user to define files that should have the dates and times modified to the current date/time to force the file to be backed up with Robocopy

Ability to run a pre-process or post-process around the data backup

Ability to verify backed up data using CRC32, MD5, or SHA-1 methods

Windows Task Scheduler can be used to schedule an automated backup of a system daily, weekly, etc.

Command-line options allow custom icons to be created for automated backups with RoboCrypt.  Command-line options are explained in the included help file.

Multiple language support included by copying and modifying the included English.rlf file (standard text file)

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Germany orders Facebook to let users choose fake names – Facebook’s policy of forcing users to use their real names on the social network has been under fire for some time now from privacy advocates and those in the LGBT community who feel discriminated against. But now a privacy watchdog in Germany has said that is unacceptable in the country, and ordered Facebook to begin allowing users under pseudonyms. The Hamburg data protection authority ruled that the network’s real name policy is in violation of Germany’s privacy laws.

GAO To Congress: Revisit Privacy Concerns Over Facial Recognition Technology – Today, Senator Al Franken announced a new report by the GAO on the use of facial recognition technology. Franken has been on the side of looking into the privacy implications on that type of tech and says today that the report shows that there needs to be a set of federal standards in place before widely adopted.

Franken said in a release:

Over the past several years, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the use of facial recognition technologies, and it has profound implications for consumer privacy. Facial recognition tracks you in the real world—from cameras stationed on street corners and in shopping centers, and through photographs taken by friends and strangers alike. Last year, I asked the government’s independent investigative agency to examine the privacy implications of the commercial use of facial recognition technology.

The newly released report raises serious concerns about how companies are collecting, using, and storing our most sensitive personal information. I believe that all Americans have a fundamental right to privacy, which is why it’s important that, at the very least, the tech industry adopts strong, industry-wide standards for facial recognition technology. But what we really need are federal standards that address facial recognition privacy by enhancing our consumer privacy framework.

Companies like Facebook and Google use face-recognition technology to tag you in photos, for example, but as you could imagine, this technology could be used for nefarious things if it’s in the wrong hands (like The Terminator, with the wrong intentions). This unofficial Glass app was an example of something that got Franken and others riled up.

After publishing secret spy docs, German news site investigated for treason – A well-known German political and tech news website has received (English translation here) a nearly unprecedented letter from the German Federal Public Prosecutor, saying that two of the site’s top editors are being investigated for treason after having published secret government documents earlier this year.

Netzpolitik.org’s two earlier articles (one in February and another in April) detailed the proposed surveillance expansion of social networks by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, an intelligence agency.

“We don’t know if we should cry or not,” Markus Beckedahl, the site’s editor-in-chief, told Ars from Berlin. He was specifically named as one of the targets of the investigation, along with Andre Meister, another top editor. A third target, named “Unknown,” was also mentioned in the letter.

Opponents focus on defeating CISA cyberthreat info-sharing bill – Opponents of a U.S. Senate bill intended to encourage businesses to share information about cyberthreats may have stalled a vote on the legislation. Recent news reports had Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushing for a vote on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) before a four-week summer recess starting Aug. 10, but a spokesman for the Kentucky Republican said Thursday there were no immediate plans for a vote. CISA would give businesses immunity from customer lawsuits when they share information about cyberthreats with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, but opponents of the legislation say it would allow businesses to share personal information about customers. DHS could then pass that personal information on to the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies, critics say.

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2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – July 31, 2015