Ex-NSA staffer reveals way to hack Mac’s camera and mic

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Mac App Store
You might want to put tape over your webcam.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Security researchers discovered a new way to hack the Mac’s built-in webcam this week, and the method is undetectable by users.

Apple built a green LED light into every Mac with firmware-level protection that turns on anytime the sensor is tripped by unauthorized access. The security feature has become increasingly difficult for hackers to beat, but former NSA staffer Patrick Wardle found a way to piggyback on outgoing feeds and record them.

Oliver Stone amps up spy action in first Snowden trailer

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The first Snowden trailer reveals how he leaked the NSA's secrets.
The first Snowden trailer reveals how he leaked the NSA's secrets.
Photo: Open Road Films

Joseph Gordon-Levitt busts out his best nerd voice in the first trailer for Oliver Stone’s new film, Snowden.

The film is based on the true story of how Edward Snowden went from enlisting in army reserve, to exposing the illegal surveillance activities conducted by the NSA and thus becoming the most wanted man in the world.

Check it out:

Senate wiretapping debate comes to an end

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wiretapping debate
The U.S. Senate is hashing out the USA Freedom Act, which concerns government wiretapping.
Screencap: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

The U.S. Senate has taken one step closer to a final vote on changing the government’s controversial program to freely tap and monitor citizens’ phones.

Senators voted 83-14 to end debate on the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection and Online Monitoring” (USA Freedom) Act. The bill will extend lapsed provisions of the anti-terrorism Patriot Act and aims to add transparency to the NSA’s activities surrounding wiretapping and data collection.

A final vote could happen as early as this afternoon.

Apple urges Obama to block government snooping

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Apple has taken steps to avoid snooping.
Apple has taken steps to avoid snooping.

Apple has put its name to a letter which will be sent today, appealing to the White House to protect individual privacy rights in the face of suggestions that law enforcement should be able to access encrypted smartphone data via a backdoor.

“Strong encryption is the cornerstone of the modern information economy’s security,” argues the letter, which is signed by more than 140 tech companies, technologists, and civil society groups.