Morning Security Brief: Google Privacy Director Steps Down, Russia Blocks Social Media, and Public Safety Call Centers Attacked

By Holly Gilbert

► According to, Google’s privacy director Alma Whitten has announced internally that she is stepping down from the position, and will soon resign from the company. Whitten was the first person to hold that title at Google, beginning in 2010. Google’s privacy policies have come under sharp criticism over the past few years. In one incident, the company’s Street View cars were “accidentally” engineered to capture Wifi data from the networks it drove through. Google said this was the result of a “rogue engineer” and paid out a $7 million fine. The new privacy director will be Lawrence You, an engineer who’s been with the company for eight years.

► The Russian government has taken several steps to block content on social networks like Facebook and Twitter that it says is harmful to children, but YouTube has resisted compliance because it says the blocking constitutes censorship. The New York Times reports a child protection law, passed in November, allows Russia’s regulatory agency, known as Roskomnadzor, to blacklist any site that it promotes suicide, drug use, or other “extremist” propaganda that directly conflicts with the Russian government. Major sites have already taken steps to comply with the law. Recently, Roskomnadzor demanded that Facebook take down a page that supported suicide. The social site complied with the request, saying in a statement that it violated their terms of use policy. Twitter has similarly agreed to take down content flagged by the Russia related to drug-trade and suicide. But YouTube filed a lawsuit in Russian court in February because it says a video showing how to create a fake wound with makeup was intended as humorous and should not be blocked.

► The FBI and Department of Homeland Security warn that attacks flooding the lines of emergency call centers are on the rise. CSO Online reports the scheme, known as Telephone Denial of Service Attacks (TDoS), is pulled off by extortionists who call demanding cash, and are refused. In most recent incidents, the callers have posed as debt-collectors looking for someone who never actually worked at the call center, known as a public safety answering points. Those centers “handle administrative and emergency calls for police, firefighting and ambulance services.” According to the agencies, emergency 911 lines have not been affected.


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