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CYBER WARS
US lawmakers propose password privacy bill
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Feb 6, 2013


US Fed acknowledges computer system hacked
Washington (AFP) Feb 6, 2013 - The Federal Reserve acknowledged Wednesday its computer systems were accessed by hackers but said the incident did not affect the central bank's "critical operations."

The acknowledgement came days after the hacker group known as Anonymous claimed it had posted personal information of some 4,000 bankers, purportedly obtained from the Fed.

"The Federal Reserve System is aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a website vendor product," a Federal Reserve spokesman said in a statement in response to an AFP query.

"The vulnerability was fixed shortly after discovery and is no longer an issue. This incident did not affect critical operations of the Federal Reserve System."

On Monday, an Anonymous-linked Twitter account called Operation Last Resort, claimed in a tweet to have obtained and posted "4k banker d0x via the FED."

The group argues it is taking actions responding to the suicide last month of Aaron Swartz, an Internet freedom advocate who was being prosecuted for illegally downloading millions of academic journal articles he had allegedly planned to distribute for free.

"This tragedy is basis for reform of computer crime laws, and the overzealous prosecutors," the Twitter account states.

The incident comes after the US Department of Energy confirmed it was the target of a cyber attack in January, which stole employee and contractor data.

The news also comes after revelations of high-profile cyber-attacks targeting US news media including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal said to be originating from China.

A group of US lawmakers on Wednesday proposed a bill that would make it illegal for employers or schools to require the disclosure of passwords for social networks such as Facebook.

The bipartisan proposal comes after reports that some firms have required passwords as a condition of employment, or that schools have asked for the information to guarantee enrollment or participation in sports programs.

The lawmakers said the bill, a reintroduction of a measure proposed last year, was aimed at protecting privacy in social networks like Facebook or Twitter.

"The lack of clarity in the law puts individuals in a position where they either have to give up vital, private information, or risk losing their job, potential job, or enrollment in school and involvement in the school's sports programs," said Representative Eliot Engel, one of the bill's sponsors.

"Frankly, when there are no laws prohibiting institutions from requiring this information, it becomes a common practice."

The proposed Social Networking Online Protection Act would protect people already employed or enrolled, those seeking employment or admittance, and those facing disciplinary action, from being required to disclose their passwords.

The lawmakers said six states -- California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey -- have already enacted similar legislation, but argued that a federal bill is needed.

"Asking for someone's password is like asking for a key to their home," said Representative Jan Schakowsky, another sponsor.

"Privacy is a basic right that all Americans share, and one that we should act to protect; this legislation sets boundaries," she said.

"No one seeking an educational or job opportunity should have to worry that their personal password information will be required as a condition of enrollment or employment."

Engle, from New York, and Schakowsky, from Illinois, were joined by Representatives Michael Grimm and Paul Tonko of New York, Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Chellie Pingree of Maine.

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CYBER WARS
US Energy Department was hacking victim
Washington (AFP) Feb 4, 2013
The US Department of Energy on Monday confirmed it was the target of a cyber attack in January, which stole employee and contractor data, but said no classified data was compromised. The agency, in a memo to staff released to AFP by a spokeswoman, said the "cyber incident that occurred in mid-January" targeted the agency's network and "resulted in the unauthorized disclosure of employee and ... read more


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