Malware Museum: 65 viruses archived, 100M to go

Our weekly review of the tech scene includes a museum for malware, a battle between Netflix and border-hopping VPN users, and new proposals to stop governments from building encryption backdoors into tech products.

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Remember the ‘retro’ viruses and worms of yesteryear? If so, the Internet Archive has a treat for you: The project, known for hoarding historical digital assets, has launched The Malware Museum, with copies of malicious software produced over the past few decades. There are currently around 65 items in the museum, which have been de-fanged by removing the destructive routines. With millions of malware strains now in circulation and 12 new ones discovered every minute, it has a little catching up to do …

Netflix applies chokehold to border-hopping VPN users

Netflix has finally begun cracking down on border-hopping VPN users that use unblocking services to view content in other regions. The company, which announced the crackdown last month, has started choking off services to viewers who connect via unblocking services. These unblocking services tunnel users to restricted Internet services via servers in other countries. This makes it look like they’re connecting to Netflix from there, which gives them access to region-restricted content. Unblocking services have been fighting back, but PayPal appears to be on board with Netflix, as it has also been denying its payment processing service to at least one of them.

Encryption backdoor battle expands to Congress

The battle over encryption backdoors continues. In the U.S., four Congressmen have filed a bill that would stop states from asking tech manufacturers to build encryption backdoors into their products. The bill counters state-level legislation filed in New York and California that would mandate such backdoors.

Law enforcement officials want encryption loopholes in tech products such as smartphones and software so they can unscramble information exchanged by suspects in investigations. A report issued by Harvard’s Berkman Law Center this week said that such laws would be ineffective, though, because two thirds of tech products are produced and distributed overseas, outside the reach of U.S. laws. Bad guys would simply shift to overseas vendors, it warned.

U.K. waves through ‘snooper’s charter’

The U.K. seems to be going the other way with digital surveillance, as a parliamentary committee waved through the draft Investigatory Powers bill this week. The proposed law, nicknamed the ‘snooper’s charter,’ would require ISPs to record every citizen’s surfing history for 12 months and make it available to police without a warrant.

Best of expertIP

Though unified communications has been around for more than a decade, 2016 will be the Year of UC, according to Jared Lindzon. He blogged this week about three fundamental shifts in technology that will foreground the technology in the next 12 months. Citing industry analysis, he said that analytics, more integrated mobile development and cloud computing will push the tech — which combines text, audio, video and presence information — into the spotlight.

Analytics will help IT departments understand how employees are communicating, which means they can tweak their deployments to suit. Developers are also starting to integrate it natively into applications, especially on mobile platforms, which already have a strong sense of where users are and what they’re doing. That means people will be able to communicate with each other directly within mobile apps, reducing the friction often associated with opening and using unified communications software.

Lindzon’s blog ties in with research from elsewhere. In summer 2015, an IDG Enterprise survey said that two-thirds of SMBs plan to implement or upgrade their unified communication and collaboration systems in the next year.

Screengrab: The Malware Museum

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