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Friday, June 06, 2014

News roundup: This week's tech topics

From NSA facial recognition to cancer-fighting technology, here are four interesting tech tidbits from this week.

Category:   News and Events

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Here's some of the leading tech stories from this week:

NSA using Internet pictures to fuel facial recognition 
In one of the latest revelations from the 2011 documents released by Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency is supposedly gathering huge quantities of images from the Web and other communications to feed advanced facial recognition programs, The New York Times reported.

This comes as another insight into the agency's pervasive global surveillance initiatives, crossing the line in what some people expect for personal privacy in order to improve its intelligence—though the law doesn't dictate clear guidelines for facial images. According to the newspaper, the NSA collects "millions of images per day," which includes about 55,000 "facial recognition quality images," Snowden's documents said. 

Panelists discuss PCI compliance in wake of Target breach 
At the second SC Congress in London, held on June 3, panelists debated the role of PCI compliance following the massive data breach that exploited Target and other retailers this past year, SC Magazine reported.

The panel emphasized that being validated as compliant is not enough on its own to guard against cybercriminals. Upholding the guidelines is something that "has to be hit all the time," explained panelist Dave Whitelegg, senior information security and PCI consultant at Capita, according to the source. For this reason, another participant, James Mckinlay, head of information security for UK&I at Wordline, praised the recent changes contained within PCI DSS 3.0, which became effective in January this year.

Technology takes on cancer 
It's a safe bet that no one would be sad to see cancer become a thing of the past. It will claim the lives of more than half a million U.S. citizens this year, InformationWeek noted. The news source reported that technological advancements are offering promising weapons in the battle against these often fatal illnesses.

Apps, smart pills, IBM Watson, gene sequencing, data analytics, and tiny computers are some of the developments contributing toward more refined, targeted, personalized cancer research and treatment. For example, smart pills contain tiny cameras to replace more invasive investigations and can transmit data wirelessly to remove the need for sedation and surgery. Social media and other secure file sharing tools are also helping the cancer community improve collaborative efforts, the source added.

Russian man charged for massive cybercrime operation 
The U.S. has charged Evgeniy Bogachev with using a botnet to steal personal and financial data from more than 1 million computers, the BBC reported. The U.S. Department of Justice explained during a press conference that Russian authorities have been cooperative, though the accused is still at large, the source noted.

Bogachev, who allegedly went by the online aliases "lucky12345" and "slavik," is tied to utilizing a strand of malware called Gameover Zeus, the news source explained. This software is introduced to victims' systems through phishing attacks, which trick users into downloading the malware. The software may then install Crytolocker, which holds devices hostage until their owners pay a fee. The FBI believes that the operation charged to Bogachev may have caused losses of hundreds of millions of dollars, one of the biggest attacks of its kind. All computer users are urged to verify that their machines have not been infected, the BBC added.