In a statement today the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) officially came out in support of Yahoo and their attempt to block a government request for access to a private email account. The sticking point here is that the government is seeking access based on probable cause and does not have a warrant. The nature of the case is unknown as all details are sealed.
The case being made by federal investigators is that since the individual has accessed the email, it is no longer "electronic storage" as defined by the Stored Communications Act (SCA), and therefore no warrant is required. This position does not have legal precedence, and strikes us as a bit nutty. Yahoo is in the process of challenging the government request citing the SCA and Fourth Amendment. The EFF court brief is expected to be of help in the case.
"The government is trying to evade federal privacy law and the Constitution," said EFF Attorney Kevin Bankston. The EFF is also pushing for government action to clarify privacy rights when it comes to technology. The EFF's brief was also signed by Google, NetCoalition, and the Distributed Computing Industry Association among others. If Yahoo is unsuccessful in their defense, this could have serious privacy ramifications for personal data storage.
Gmail added a new security feature today to alert users of suspicious activity that may indicate unauthorized access. Gmail already has a feature that lists IP addresses the count is open at, but the information is at the bottom of the page and Google found that most users don’t know it’s there. Now Google will use a banner right up front to alert users proactively of strange activity.
The warning will show a brief description of the activity and link to a list of current and recent sessions identified by IP and geographic location. Google says the warning will only be triggered if the system considers the account to be at risk. For example, if you usually log in from a certain geographic area, then a log in occurs from outside that area, the alert would be triggered. The interface also allows users to change their password if they believe their account is indeed compromised.
We always like to see better security options for users, but it will be interesting to see if Google gets a lot of false positives. Keep an eye out and let us know if you get this warning and what caused it.
Mozilla this week made available the first beta of Thunderbird 3 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Codenamed "Lanikai," the latest release introduces a few changes to the open-source email client, many of which take place under the hood.
Built on top of the Gecko 1.9.2 platform (the same engine powering Firefox 3.6), Mozilla says you can expect improvements in stability and memory, fixes to improve upgrading from Thunderbird 2, fixes for auto complete, tabs, and activity manager, and several design improvements and corrections to the interface.
As with any beta software, you should expect a few bugs, and there are a handful of known issues in Thunderbird 3. Kaspersky's Anti-Spam extension is disabled, for instance, and you may run into some SMTP issues.
If you still want to give it a try, you can download a copy right here.
Teneros, a backup and disaster recovery specialist, announced the launch of its new hosted disaster recovery offering, DR-as-a-Service, for critical network and communication applications like Microsoft Exchange, BlackBerry, and so forth.
Teneros claims its new service is suitable for enterprises of all sizes looking for a global disaster recovery solution, noting that it requires no upfront capital expenditure.
"Our DR-as-a-Service represents another milestone in our product strategy, which is focused on ensuring always-on, available and accessible email," said Ben Petro, president and CEO of Teneros. "Teneros is the industry leader in delivering email and messaging continuity via appliances. The Teneros hosted DR-as-a-Service broadens our Always-On™ product suite to address enterprises’ expanding application continuity requirements across their entire IT infrastructure."
Petro went on to note that the company's SaaS offering is the first complete disaster recovery solution that both protects corporate IT infrastructures while also providing an affordable solution for mission critical SMB applications.
Email encryption is a task that's often misunderstood and frequently confusing. In fact, I can't think of anyone on my list of friends right now--geek or otherwise--who actually encrypts their email. That's not because email encryption is a bad thing. In fact, there are some pretty compelling benefits to being able to conceal the contents of a message. Suppose you have to quickly email a friend or loved one access to your online banking account for some reason. You aren't going to want to just send that information straight into the digital ether. An unhappy coworker or an industrious packet sniffer can pick out the contents of your message and compromise your security in a short amount of time.
You usually have to walk through a ton of hoops to get your hands on powerful email encryption. It's a hodgepodge of certificates, authentications, digital signatures, strings of text exchanged as keys, et cetera. Or, at least, it was. A helpful piece of freeware called Comodo SecureEmail is attempting to simultaneously reduce the headache and maximize the benefit of email encryption. I'm proud to report that it's super-easy to use so long as you know how to work your way around a typical configuration screen. More importantly, it's a great way to set up the encryption handshake between you and new email contacts without rendering you lifeless from all the different options and authentications.
Click the jump to check out Comodo SecureEmail's features!
It's difficult to envision a life without email. I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing. Suffice, digital messaging is just a fact of geek life that we all have to deal with on a daily basis. Whether your inbox gets flooded with messages like the Nile during rainy season, or it's barren as one of those outback wastelands that Bear Grylls likes to visit, you probably aren't using your email client of choice to its fullest potential.
That's ok. Neither was I before undertaking the research for this week's open-source and freeware roundup. But now that I have seen the light, as it were, I would never go back to the ol' vanilla installations of Outlook, Thunderbird, Gmail, or whatever one's particular email utility of choice happens to be. There are just too many interesting ways to tweak and alter the normal email experience to better enhance your ability to read, organize, and shuffle your messages.
That's kind of "the big point" of the roundup this week--making your email work better for you. Click the jump, and I'll show you five apps and utilities for taking your email processing to the next level!
Do your online and phone contacts constantly fail to grasp the sarcasm in your emails, IMs and texts? Are you worried that such misunderstood attempts at sarcasm may strain your relationships with others? The SarcMarc will help you remain at your sarcastic best without the fear of coming across as impertinent or disdainful to your (fatheaded) acquaintances.
The $1.99 SarcMark is a new punctuation for giving adequate notice of the sarcasm that precedes it. It currently supports Windows, Mac and select Blackberry devices. Michigan-based Sarcasm Inc. is a very sarcastic company and its maiden product, the SarcMarc, is enough testament. The company now wants a patent for its “brilliant” contribution to digital discourse.
The asking price may seem trivial but it is important to remember that all you get is an unrecognized punctuation mark; a purchase that may make you the butt of all jokes among your friends for days.
Note: Quotes were used in the last line of the second para to emphasize the underlying sarcasm not because of their superiority over the SarcMarc but due the unavailability of the latter at this point. Also, please condone the woefully poor attempt at sarcasm.
PS: Eagerly waiting to read a review of the SarcMarc.
Outlook users beware, According to Red Condor, an email filtering company, bogus Outlook alerts are making the rounds in an attempt to spread banking Trojans, which are used by hackers to access online accounts.
Red Condor said potential victims receive a personalized email message that appears to come from a tech support rep. Adding to the scam's effectiveness, the emails appear to come from the same domain as the target.
The security firm claims to have blocked over a million of these types of messages, which would indicate a botnet is at work and that the hackers are playing a numbers game.
It was with a bit of apprehension that I clicked on the link in my email box to check out the personal site that Posterous, an online archive of notes both yellow and multimedia, had automatically created for me. First off, they got the name all wrong. I won't tell you what it is, for fear that an unsavory party might sign me up for all sorts of interesting email lists, but just know that I hadn't exactly intended for random letters to be a part of my brand-new domain.
But that's Posterous. To its credit, this microblogger's dream might not get the name right the first time around, but the customized blogging platform it creates for you--based on a photo, note, MP3, or other file you email into the service--isn't set in stone. And I far prefer this method to the opposite: Signing up for multiple accounts just to be able to quickly host and share files with others.
That last scenario is really the best-case usage scenario for Posterous. For while you can "claim" a site that the service creates on your behalf by signing up for an official Posterous account (which grants you, among other features, the ability to redo the name of the site's xxx.posterous.com subdomain), Posterous is the perfect platform for quick-and-dirty multimedia hits.
Of course, that's not all Posterous offers--not by a mile! Click the jump to find out more!
Mozilla earlier this week released its Thunderbird 3 email client in stable form, which introduced a handful of new features, like tabbed email and a new search interface. It also contains code from an unlikely source - the French military.
It all started six years ago when the French military chose Mozilla's open-source software rather than roll with Microsoft's proprietary software. The reason? The open-source nature allowed the military to tinker with the code and build security extensions.
"We started with a military project, but quickly generalized it," said Lieutenant-Colonel Frederic Suel of the Ministry of Defense and one of those in charge of the project.
Some of the work the French military did on Thunderbird ended up being released to the public under the name "TrustedBird," of which Thunderbird 3 borrows some of the code.
"The primary changes (the military" have made allow them to know for sure when messages have been read, which is critical in a command-and-control organization," said David Ascher, chief executive of Mozilla Messaging.