We Have Your Files. If You Ever Want To See Them Again... Pay Now.

By Miranda Sumey

Over the past few weeks, a lot of media hype surrounding a nasty new type of malware called CryptoLocker has left many PC owners frantic. 

CryptoLocker is the latest in ransomware, released in the fall of 2013. The virus is spread largely via email, where it’s disguised as a legitimate attachment (typically under the façade of a FedEx or UPS customer service notice). While it may look like a .pdf, it’s actually an .exe file that once installed on your PC, encrypts all of your files (pictures, movies, music, documents – almost everything of value to an average user) using RSA and AES. It then holds them ransom, asking anywhere from $100 to $300 for the private key necessary for decryption. The ransom must be paid within 96 hours, or else the key will be destroyed and your files are, for all intents and purposes, gone forever.

Recent Google Street View Court Decision Threatens to Criminalize Ordinary Wi-Fi Use (Part 2): Why the Joffe v. Google Opinion Is Wrong

By Shane Huang

In the last installment, I discussed the background of what the Wiretap Act says about interception of signals. Last month, the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit (which includes most of the American west) ruled that Google’s Street View program — specifically, Google’s large-scale interception of unencrypted Wi-Fi signals — violated the Wiretap Act.[1]

Recent Google Street View Court Decision Threatens to Criminalize Ordinary Wi-Fi Use (Part 1): The Wiretap Act's Collision Course with FCC's Part 15

By Shane Huang

Last month, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Google had violated the Wiretap Act by collecting Wi-Fi signals through its Street View program. Google had not challenged the factual findings that it had collected Wi-Fi signals, but argued instead that the Wiretap Act does not apply to Wi-Fi signals. The network security community reacted harshly to this opinion, with one prominent blog post arguing that the 9th Circuit’s logic effectively “makes standard modes of Wi-Fi operation illegal.” While most users may be reassured that, practically speaking, nobody is in danger of criminal prosecution for the ordinary use of Wi-Fi, the security community is rightly concerned that this opinion could be use to target edge cases, and to chill legitimate activities such as pen testing and network monitoring.

The Tallinn Manual: Legal Aspects of Cyber Warfare

By Corrie Becker 

The Tallinn Manual is “an academic, non-binding study on how international law, in particular the jus ad bellum and international humanitarian law, apply to cyber conflicts and cyber warfare.” The goal of this piece is to explore the uses and intent of the Tallinn Manual, and to identify questions and answers surrounding it. Within the International System, states observe treaties out of a sense of legal obligation, Opinio Juris. I am suggesting the Tallinn Manual may be a useful guide to ensure that everyone playing the same game with the same set of rules.

What's the Buzz About Bitcoin?

By Miranda Sumey

Bitcoins have made headlines yet again as of late, this time as the target of a Senate investigation into ‘virtual currency,’ a term that the Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) uses to label Bitcoin. The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee is working through the Departments of Treasury, Homeland Security, and other agencies to glean information on the potential for regulation of virtual currencies, including Bitcoin. The investigation comes after the issuance of 22 subpoenas by the New York Department of Financial Services to Bitcoin businesses nearly three weeks ago, questioning them about their regulation methods and consumer protections.

Doing What Government Can’t: Google Enters the Foray of Counterterrorism

By Miranda Sumey

When it comes to the Internet, there doesn’t seem to be much left that Google hasn’t already accomplished: it’s the largest search engine on Earth, one of the top cloud email providers, a key player in the mapping and geospatial industry, a major social network provider, a popular web browser, and a competitive smartphone platform. Google’s portfolio is a behemoth. Having virtually conquered the online world, Google’s latest foray crosses the digital Rubicon and enters reality: it’s taking on a new challenge in targeting and reversing violent extremism.