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Wikileaks discovers 'global spy ring' that wasn't
As part of The Global Intelligence Files released by Wikileaks, the TrapWire system was uncovered. Nobody quite knew what it was, but it was dubbed a "global surveillance system" that could monitor potentially almost anyone at any given time.
In short, the potential for abuse was huge and it became a global concern for ordinary citizens over the course of the week the news came out and more information about the system became available by the whistleblowing organization. However, it wasn't actually as scary as people thought.
It was developed and maintained by a private company and owned by a mysterious parent company -- ergo the two companies avoided public scrutiny and accountability -- but used by other private industry firms along with various governments on both sides of the Atlantic.
However, it turned a lot of the information was the chief executive and other executives boasting about the system's capabilities, which were vastly overblown and overrated at the best of times. The controversy became somewhat of a dud, but it gave a valuable insight into what governments attempt to (and often succeed at) find out about us as ordinary people.
Philippines next in the cybersecurity legislative line
And next, as if you thought there couldn't be any more in terms of cybersecurity and cybercrime legislation, the Philippines was next to crack down on Internet freedom in the country.
Signed into law in September by the country's president, it aims to combat pornography, hacking, identity theft and spamming after the country's law enforcement agencies complained that it did not have the legal or practical tools to combat the rapidly rising rate of cybercrime.
In a statement by the president's spokesperson, the law was defended: "The Cybercrime Act sought to attach responsibilities in cyberspace… freedom of expression is always recognized but freedom of expression is not absolute," showing just where the government's priorities are. Hackers in protest of the law defaced many government Web sites in the process.
However, after only one month, the country's Supreme Court suspended the law while it was determined if it violates civil rights.
White House network breach
Another day, another attempt on the President's networks -- but in this case, the hackers got through. Don't worry: no damage was done and thankfully the network that was broken into was an unclassified network with no sensitive material up for grabs -- even if the attack was aimed at the White House Military Office, home of the so-called "nuclear football," that carries the codes to the U.S. government's nuclear arsenal.
Thankfully, no classified or secret materials were taken. What caught out the home of U.S. politics was "spear phishing," where an email attachment laden with malware was sent to a specific target, in the hope that malware would be installed on the computer allowing in a backdoor to the network. If it makes you feel any better, the vast majority of highly sensitive material are sent over classified networks that aren't even connected to the wider Web, making breaches like this almost impossible.