The Switchboard: The NSA can use radio waves to get into offline computers


(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Published every weekday, the Switchboard highlights five tech policy stories you need to read.

NSA devises radio pathway into computers. David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker at the New York Times report on a backdoor the NSA has developed for access to computers. "The N.S.A. has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet, according to N.S.A. documents, computer experts and American officials." The backdoor relies on radio waves, according the report, which also says there's no evidence of domestic use and that in most cases the related hardware "must be physically inserted by a spy, a manufacturer or an unwitting user."

Federal appeals court strikes down net neutrality rules. "A federal appeals court has struck down the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules, which prohibited Internet providers from blocking or prioritizing Web traffic," reports the Switch's Brian Fung. But there is a chance for net neutrality to survive based on the language of the ruling: "the FCC may either choose to argue that its regulations do not fall under the rubric of common carriage, or attempt to reclassify broadband as a common carrier, according to outside observers."

Target says customers are signing up for free credit monitoring after data breach. "Target said Monday that its customers may now sign up for a free year of credit monitoring and identity theft protection, as part of its response to a massive data breach that may have leaked information on at least 100 million customers," reports Hayley Tsukayama for The Washington Post.

Here’s why Yahoo changed the timeline on its malware breach. Again. Yahoo on Friday extended its suspected timeline of when the Internet giant's ad network was recently hijacked to serve malicious advertisements, reports The Switch. "But security experts say that these type of reassessments are par for the course when it comes chasing down cybercriminals."

Silicon Valley workers may pursue collusion case as group. "Roughly 60,000 Silicon Valley workers won clearance to pursue a lawsuit accusing Apple Inc, Google Inc and other companies of conspiring to drive down pay by not poaching each other's staff, after a federal appeals court refused to let the defendants appeal a class certification order," reports Jonathan Stempel at Reuters. The case dates to 2011, when a small group of engineers sued  Apple, Adobe, Intel, Google and others alleging a conspiracy to suppress pay for agreeing not to go after their competitors' employees.

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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Brian Fung | January 15