New Bill Being Proposed in California to Combat Burner Phones

Technology and the law are constantly racing, with each one taking steps to catch up with the other. From the arguments Apple and the FBI are having regarding privacy and encryption to something as simple as Segways being illegal in public, technology is creating new gadgets and systems and the law is creating laws to either change or catch up with the issue. An issue that has long plagued law and the courts is burner phones, but a new bill in California could change that.

Burner phones follow a simple concept, you pay for them and the credit you need to use them. Once they are finished with, you can either dispose or top up the phone. Due to the throwaway nature, they are used by people with stuff to hide, with it recently being revealed that the terrorists who attacked Paris used burner phones not encryption to avoid detection.

The new bill, dubbed the “Closing the Pre-Paid Mobile Device Security Gap Act Of 2016″ would require anyone who sells prepaid devices to register and record the identity of those who purchased the phone. The specifics are the customer would be required to provide a credit card, social security number or driving license number, the same requirements people are required to provide for mobile contracts.

Rep. Jackie Speier of California is the one proposing the bill and states that the ” bill would close one of the most significant gaps in our ability to track and prevent acts of terror, drug trafficking, and modern-day slavery”.

Say Hello to the Headphones That Know Who You Are

We’ve all heard that we need to improve our security. Remember your password? Are you absolutely certain you remember every single password you need to remember? How about your fingerprint? Sure someone can’t use playdough to trick your fingerprint sensor? What about headphones that know who you are?

While this may sound stupid the science behind the idea is sound. Every ear is unique, very much the same way we have unique fingerprints or eyes. By using the way sound resonated within your ear canal, the headphones create a unique sound, something that can be measured and compared.

Reported to have 99% accuracy and only taking a second to do the measurements needed, listening to all that music may actually help you unlock your phone. The system is praised by the general manager of NEC saying that as it doesn’t “require particular actions such as scanning a part of the body over an authentication device” it would enable “a natural way of conducting continuous authentication”.

This solution may be a few years out though with the company behind it, NEC, saying that they are looking to commercialize the system for the 2018 fiscal year. So looking forward to listening to music while you bank? Take your headphones out to talk to someone and your phone will start to doubt if you truly are who you say you are.

IRS Hacked By The Same Issue They Were Protecting People From

Last year the US Internal Revenue System revealed that they had been hacked. At first they said that up to 100,000 people were affected by the hack, only to then bump that up to 334, 000 in August. The latest figures put that closer to 724,000 and set to only get worse as it seems they have been hacked yet again.

When filing a tax return you are now required to provide the “Identity protection PIN” that you are given by the IRS. These are specific codes given to people to place on tax returns, failure to do so invalidates the tax return and the IRS will reject it. Sounds like a good idea doesn’t it? So what happens when the IRS’s record of these secret PIN’s are hacked?

Becky Wittrock, an accountant in South Dakota, went to file her tax return this year only to find that the pin had already been used to file a “large refund request” more than three weeks prior. How did the hackers get access to the PIN? Seems that if you lose your PIN you can retrieve it by logging into the IRS website. Seems this is where the problem lies, as the technology used to secure this login process is the same technology that was breached last year.

That’s right, in order to protect people from a hack the IRS used the same technology that was breached by that hack. In order to retrieve your PIN you were asked questions (known as KBA or knowledge-based authentication) such as “on which of the following streets have you lived?” and other multiple choice questions, a system that allowed a hacker to answer the questions correctly.

Seems like a big mistake for the IRS to make, costing both the government and hard working people time, money and stress because they didn’t check that their fix didn’t use the very thing that got them into trouble in the first place.

Iowa Creating App For Digital Driving Licenses

The state of Iowa in the US is developing a smartphone app that will allow citizens to display their driving license on their devices.

The new app is intended to make it easier for drivers to carry their license, as many people simply don’t bother carrying it anyway. Besides driving, the app will also come in useful for other times ID is required, such as at airports and for purchasing age restricted items. Residents will still of course be allowed to carry their conventional license, as the app is not seen as a complete replacement.

Governor Terry Branstand told the Des Moines Register, “We are really moving forward on this”, with the app currently under development and with a pilot program to take place next year. The app will use a pin number and biometric scanner for verification.

Source: BBC News