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Category Archives: Microsoft

Prying Eyes: Inside the NSA’s War on Internet Security

By SPIEGEL Staff: “…Software giant Microsoft, which acquired Skype in 2011, said in a statement: “We will not provide governments with direct or unfettered access to customer data or encryption keys.” The NSA had been monitoring Skype even before that, but since February 2011, the service has been under order from the secret US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), to not only supply information to the NSA but also to make itself accessible as a source of data for the agency. The “sustained Skype collection” is a further step taken by the authority in the arms race between intelligence agencies seeking to deny users of their privacy and those wanting to ensure they are protected. There have also been some victories for privacy, with certain encryption systems proving to be so robust they have been tried and true standards for more than 20 years. The Snowden documents reveal the encryption programs the NSA has succeeded in cracking, but, importantly, also the ones that are still likely to be secure. Although the documents are around two years old, experts consider it unlikely the agency’s digital spies have made much progress in cracking these technologies. “Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on,” Snowden said in June 2013, after fleeing to Hong Kong. The digitization of society in the past several decades has been accompanied by the broad deployment of cryptography, which is no longer the exclusive realm of secret agents. Whether a person is conducting online banking, Internet shopping or making a phone call, almost every Internet connection today is encrypted in some way. The entire realm of cloud computing — that is of outsourcing computing tasks to data centers somewhere else, possibly even on the other side of the globe — relies heavily on cryptographic security systems. Internet activists even hold crypto parties where they teach people who are interested in communicating securely and privately how to encrypt their data.”

Irish Government Joins Microsoft Against US Govt Access to Cloud Based Servers

The Register: “The Irish government today supported Microsoft in its ongoing fight against US prosecutors – who appear to want access to server hard drives anywhere in the world. Microsoft has garnered serious backing from the technology industry in its case against American investigators. The Feds believe they have the right to access emails stored onContinue Reading

Law Enforcement Without Borders

CDT – “A critical case is now working its way through the US courts—one that raises important questions for users and providers of cloud services in both the US and Europe. As part of a US criminal investigation, a US federal court has ordered Microsoft to hand over a customer’s files that the company holdsContinue Reading

Reflections on How Designers Design With Data

Reflections on How Designers Design With Data – Alex Bigelow, Steven Drucker, Danyel Fisher, and Miriah Meyer. Microsoft Research. May 2014. “In recent years many popular data visualizations have emerged that are created largely by designers whose main area of expertise is not computer science. Designers generate these visualizations using a handful of design tools and environments.Continue Reading

Paper – The Grey Web

The Grey Web – Dataveillance Vision Fulfilled through the Evolving Web. Richard Gomer, University of Southampton; Natasa Milic-Frayling, Microsoft Research; m.c. schraefel, University of Southampton. 2014. “Over the past three decades, Web has evolved from an information medium to an intricate economic ecosystem. Initially focused on supporting the transition from traditional business practices to e-commerce, the Web has given rise to new,Continue Reading

EFF – Reforming Terms of Service: Microsoft Changes Its Policy on Access to User Data

News release: “Last week we wrote about initial news reports that Microsoft had searched and disclosed the contents of a blogger’s Hotmail account as part of an internal investigation into the alleged theft of Microsoft source code and other trade secrets. Since then, EFF has been in touch with Microsoft to discuss our objections to the company’sContinue Reading

Report – How Google Is Trying to Protect Your Drug Supply

“Illegal online pharmacies play a major role in the growing problem of counterfeit drugs, with regulation often challenging because they sell directly to consumers. As National Journal Correspondent Sophie Novack reports, though, some major internet players are working with the federal government to combat the problem. Writes Novack: “Google is now a member of the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies,Continue Reading

Microsoft Research adopts Open Access policy for publications

Microsoft Research Connections Blog: “In a recent interview with Scientific American, Peter Lee, head of Microsoft Research, discussed three main motivations for basic research at Microsoft. The first relates to an aspiration to advance human knowledge, the second derives from a culture that relies deeply on the ambitions of individual researchers, and the last concerns “promotingContinue Reading

Microsoft releases global survey on Internet users around the world

“A new global survey of Internet users conducted by Microsoft Corp. reveals distinct regional findings and differing viewpoints between the developed and developing world. However, overwhelmingly the more than 10,000 people surveyed from 10 nations said they embrace personal technology, particularly in emerging markets, and see it as the foundation of innovation and economic empowerment.Continue Reading

Microsoft – Create strong passwords

“A strong password is an important protection to help you have safer online transactions. Here are some steps to create a strong password. Consider using some or all to help protect yourself online: Length. Make your passwords at least eight (8) long. Complexity. Include a combination of at least three (3) upper and/or lowercase letters, punctuation, symbols, andContinue Reading

Tech Giants Call for Global Government Surveillance Reform

“The undersigned companies believe that it is time for the world’s governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of individuals and access to their information. While the undersigned companies understand that governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety and security, we strongly believe that current laws and practices need toContinue Reading

Trading Strategies and Market Microstructure: Evidence from a Prediction Market

Trading Strategies and Market Microstructure: Evidence from a Prediction Market – David M. Rothschild, Microsoft Research – NYC; Rajiv Sethi; Barnard College, Columbia University; Santa Fe Institute. September 8, 2013 “We examine transaction-level data from Intrade’s presidential winner market for the two weeks immediately preceding the November 2012 election. The data allow us to computeContinue Reading