• United States



by CSO Contributor

The Hidden Dangers of Documents; Wireless Growth Hinders Rescuers; The Sad Tale of a Security Whistleblower

Aug 18, 20033 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

The Hidden Dangers of Documents

According to a BBC News story today, the U.K. government has now largely abandoned Microsoft Word for official documents and has turned to documents created using Adobe Acrobat which uses the Portable Data Format (PDF). A bug in many versions of Microsoft Office programs, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint, allows fragments of data (which Microsoft refers to as metadata) from other files you deleted or were working on at the same time to be hidden in any document you save. In the U.K., analysis of hidden information in the so-called Iraq “dodgy dossier” showed, among other things, the names of the four civil servants that worked on it. The problem also allowed leakage of information during the D.C.-area sniper situation last year. The BBC reports that computer researcher Simon Byers gathered about 100,000 Word documents from sites on the Web and every single one of them had hidden information that revealed the names of document authors, their relationship to each other and earlier versions of documents, and occasionally even very personal information such as social security numbers. Wireless Growth Hinders RescuersWashington Post, public safety agencies say the explosive growth of the mobile phone industry has crowded and tangled the nation’s airwaves to such an extent that wireless company signals are increasingly interfering with emergency radio frequencies used by police and firefighters. No death or catastrophe has been attributed to such communication problems, the Post reports, but dozens of agencies large and small have registered complaints, and one public safety coalition estimates that interference is a problem in at least 27 states. The Federal Communications Commission has vowed to find a solution, even if it has to reorganize a large swath of the radio spectrum

a massive and controversial task, potentially costing hundreds of millions of dollars and taking years to complete, according to industry officials.

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The Sad Tale of a Security WhistleblowerThe Register today, columnist Mark Rasch outlines the story of Bret McDanel, who was tried and convicted under U.S. computer crime law for revealing a vulnerability to customers of a company he had formerly worked for. He had told the company of the vulnerability when he had worked there, and six months after leaving, seeing it still unfixed, felt compelled to warn the users, his lawyers argued. The article outlines details of the case and legal implications.

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