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Highlights include:

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Watch live right here (above) or on YouTube today, Dec. 14 at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET.


Google has decided to share detailed information on how it protects service-to-service communications within its infrastructure at the application layer and the the system it uses for data protection.

Called Application Layer Transport Security (ALTS), the technology was designed to authenticate communication between Google services and keep data protected while in transit. When sent to Google, data is protected using secure communication protocols such as TLS (Transport Layer Security).

According to the Web search giant, it started development of ALTS in 2007, when TLS was bundled with support protocols that did not satisfy the company’s minimum security standards. Thus, the company found it more suitable to design its own security solution than patch an existing system.

More secure than older TLS, Google describes ALTS as “a highly reliable, trusted system that provides authentication and security for […] internal Remote Procedure Call (RPC) communications,” that ensures security within the company’s infrastructure.

The system, Google explains, requires minimal involvement from the services themselves, as data is protected by default. All RPCs issued or received by a production workload are protected by ALTS by default, as long as they stay within a physical boundary controlled by or on behalf of Google.

According to Google, the ALTS configuration is transparent to the application layer; all cryptographic primitives and protocols used by ALTS are up-to-date with current known attacks; ALTS performs authentication primarily by identity rather than host name; the system relies on each workload having an identity, which is expressed as a set of credentials; after an initial ALTS handshake, connections can be persisted for a longer time to improve overall system performance; ALTS is considerably simpler than TLS as Google controls both clients and servers, the company also says.


Some HP laptops users came with a preinstalled program to capture the keystrokes of users, a security researcher recently discovered.

The researcher, Michael Myng aka "ZwClose," discovered the keylogger software while trying to solve a keyboard problem for a friend. The software is turned off by default.

After Myng contacted HP about the program, it quickly released a patch to get rid of it.

"A keylogger is a very dangerous piece of software," said Lamar Bailey, director of security research and development at Tripwire.

"It is like having someone looking over your shoulder while you are typing," he told TechNewsWorld. "Keyloggers can capture passwords that can be used to access financial accounts, record personal communications or even proprietary code under development."

No Malicious Intent

Keyloggers are an important weapon in the arsenal of cyberattackers, noted Chris Morales, head of security analytics at Vectra Networks.

"They're often used in the recon phase of targeted attacks to gather user credentials and other sensitive information which can later be used to compromise user accounts," he told TechNewsWorld.

"Keyboard loggers can be very hard to spot with consumer AV," Morales added.

Once a machine is compromised, instead of using a malicious payload that possibly could be identified by security products, a smart attacker might turn on and use the built-in keyboard logger feature, explalined David Picket, a security analyst with AppRiver.

"This would help them evade traditional detection methods that security products might have otherwise detected," he told TechNewsWorld.

Production Error

As dangerous as keyloggers can be, the software in the more than 460 HP laptop models doesn't appear to have any malicious intent behind it.



Intelligence agency GCHQ has advised the UK government to ensure no Russian cybersecurity vendors are protecting Whitehall networks critical to national security.

In an update issued on Friday, National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) CEO, Ciaran Martin, argued — as Prime Minister Theresa May did recently — that “Russia is acting against the UK’s national interest in cyberspace”.

He added:

“We advise that where it is assessed that access to the information by the Russian state would be a risk to national security, a Russia-based AV company should not be chosen. In practical terms, this means that for systems processing information classified SECRET and above, a Russia-based provider should never be used. This will also apply to some Official tier systems as well, for a small number of departments which deal extensively with national security and related matters of foreign policy, international negotiations, defence and other sensitive information.”

He said this could also include departments responsible for critical infrastructure.

The news will be a blow to Moscow-headquartered Kaspersky Lab, which has been trying to clear its name after being accused in several newspapers of either working with or allowing Russian intelligence to use its products to steal sensitive info from the NSA.

Its detailed investigation of the incident in question revealed that the NSA contractor actually disabled Kaspersky Lab AV on his laptop after illegally taking his work home with him, as it had started to detect new NSA-developed malware. The firm said that backdoor malware was then installed on the machine as part of pirated software package.

The contractor in question, Vietnam-born Nghia Hoang Pho, has pleaded guilty to one count of wilful retention of national defense information, and could now face several years in jail.

However, the NCSC claimed that its current guidance — applicable solely to central government at this stage — is just a preliminary missive.

“As well as keeping this guidance under review, we are in discussions with Kaspersky Lab, by far the largest Russian player in the UK, about whether we can develop a framework that we and others can independently verify, which would give the government assurance about the security of their involvement in the wider UK market,” explained Martin. 

“In particular we are seeking verifiable measures to prevent the transfer of UK data to the Russian state. We will be transparent about the outcome of those discussions with Kaspersky Lab and we will adjust our guidance if necessary in the light of any conclusions.”

However, the decision is already having an impact on Kaspersky Lab’s wider business. Barclays has withdrawn its offer to customers of free software from the provider.