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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Google handing over less data as the government requests more

Posted by Jim Bernstein

With all the talk in the news about the government spying on us and collecting personal information from our computers and cell phones people often wonder how much data is given to the government by companies like Google and Facebook etc. Since these companies store so much of our information it makes sense that the government would go after them to get the information they say they need to “keep us safe”.

After the whole Edward Snowden incident people have been looking at companies like Google and Facebook and wondering how much of our information they are sharing with the government. At first Google made it seem like they would never do such a thing but it turns out that they were giving out some information to the government.

But now it seems that they have decided to cut back on how much data they share even though the government has increased the number of requests for information from Google. Government requests have gone up 120% since 2009. During the second half of 2013 Google was fulfilling 64% of government requests compared to 76% of requests in the second half of 2010. The US government has the highest number of requests for data by far with France coming in 2nd and Germany coming in at 3rd.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

ATMs may be at risk because of the end of Windows XP support

Posted by David Bernstein

As you may or may not know, computers are everywhere whether you realize it or not. They are running things that we don’t even think about such as our cars and TVs. One place where it’s important to have a secure computing environment is inside of ATMs. Since ATMs give us cash at the press of a button, we don’t want them giving our cash to the wrong person.

Many ATMs use Microsoft’s Windows XP as their operating system and Microsoft is going to be stopping support for Windows XP on April 8th of this year. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use Windows XP anymore but it will mean that there will not be any more security patches and support for the operating system itself.

One news site reports that 95% of the world’s ATM machines run on Windows XP and if it’s true this poses a serious security threat. If the operating system of your ATM was not secure, would you want to put in your card and PIN and risk someone getting your information and potentially your money? Microsoft has been pushing Windows XP users and companies to upgrade their computers for some time and many banks are now in the process of upgrading their ATMs to avoid potential security issues. But will they get the job done before it’s too late?