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HTC, FTC settle over security flaws #thecircuit

HTC, FTC settle over security flaws: The Federal Trade Commission said Friday that it has settled with HTC America on charges that the handset maker did not adequately secure its handsets, leaving sensitive user information stored on smartphones and tablets at risk.

The security flaws, first noted in 2011, allowed apps that connected to the Internet to look into HTC phones’ logs and access data including call history, location, e-mail addresses and system logs. HTC was also found to be improperly logging information from Carrier IQ, a piece of analytics software that ended up at the center of a controversy over how carriers and manufacturers collect and handle data from their customers’ mobile devices.

HTC has been working with carriers to deploy patches that fix these security holes; many consumers have already received them. The company said that it is working with carriers to get more updates to users across carrier networks.

Zendesk discloses hack: Tumblr, Pinterest and Twitter were all affected by a data breach at Zendesk, a company that provides customer service tools to sites around the Web, according to a report from Wired.

Zendesk disclosed the intrusion in a blog post Thursday night, saying that three of its customers had been affected. Wired was the first to report that the customer service files from the three popular Web sites were targeted. Zendesk said that it believes hackers have downloaded the e-mail addresses and subject lines of messages sent to customer service e-mails at the three companies. No other customers — or their users — were affected, according to the post written by Zendesk chief executive Mikkel Svane.

Twitter also recently announced that it would amp up security measure on e-mails from the service. In a blog post from the company’s postmaster, Josh Aberant, Twitter said that it would implement a new security protocol that should reduce the risk that users will be fooled by forged e-mails.

FCC on policymaking during times of transition: Federal Communications Commission chief of staff Zachary Katz addressed the challenge of legislating changing technology in a blog post Friday, and outlined the guiding principles of the agency’s Technology Transitions Task Force.

He said that the agency is focused on competition, universal service and consumer protection and public safety as it works to determine what policies still apply in the face of changing technology.

The agency is holding a workshop on March 18 to talk about these issues.

Congressman asks Google for information on apps: Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) sent a letter Thursday to Google chief executive Larry Page asking for more information on how much information app developers can get through the company’s Google Play marketplace. An app developer recently disclosed that he and others selling apps on Google’s marketplace get access to users’ payment information, as Google’s policies make each developer the merchant of record in app transactions.

Johnson, who has launched a Web site that promotes app transparency, privacy and security, asked Page for more information on why Google has structured policies this way and for more information on how Google discloses these policies.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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