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VIDEO: Can Shape Security revolutionize Web defense?

By Byron V. Acohido

Shape Security. Remember that name. The Silicon Valley start-up emerged from stealth mode this morning to publicly unveil details of its plan to revolutionize cybersecurity.

If Shape can deliver, its technology could radically disrupt the engine that drives cybercrime: botnets.

Related video: Shape Security creates first “botwall’

A botnet is a sprawling network of thousands of infected PCs or Web servers, referred to as bots. The top dozen or so cybercriminal rings command massive botnets honed to automate and scale up the delivery of spam scams, the carrying out of denial-of-service attacks, the booby-trapping of legit websites and the hijacking of online financial accounts.

Botnets can’t be stopped largely because the bad guys have mastered a technique, called polymorphism, by which they continually tweak the underlying malicious code to stay a step ahead of the latest security updates.

Shape’s co-founders came up with the notion of using polymorphism against the bad guys. Shape’s technology doesn’t bother trying to detect botnet activity. Instead, it continually scrambles the exchange of information taking place between a Web server and a Web site visitor, be it a legit user or a malicious bot.

Gartner banking security analyst Avivah Litan credits Shape for breaking new ground. “You’ve got to hand it to them, they did something revolutionary, and you don’t see revolutionary technology very often,” Litan says. “No one ever comes up with new ideas in security. It’s always variations of old ideas and incremental changes.”

Shape has attracted cream-of-the-crop brainpower. Co-founder and CTO Justin Call, principal inventor, helped create the network security tools at security vendor Oakley Networks, which defense giant Raytheon acquired in 2007.

Co-founder and products vice-president Sumit Agarwal was the product chief at Google who helped port Google maps to the Android mobile device platform, and build AdWords into a $6 billion business.

And strategy vice president Shuman Ghosemajumder led development at Google of the systems the search giant uses to … more

MY TAKE: Cyber bullying goes beyond just kid stuff — can affect work, romances gone bad

By Byron V. Acohido

Cyberbullying is no longer restricted to children.

Adults routinely use content from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social-media services to intimidate and harass subordinates and rivals at work.

And When romantic relationships go sour, aggrieved lovers often turn to social-media services to stalk or embarrass an estranged partner.

“Adults are now finding themselves in unchartered territory when it comes to social media,” says Jenny Ungless, a life coach and workplace consultant.

In a recent global survey of 4,000 adults, 82% of respondents agreed that posting or messaging defamatory remarks about a colleague amounts to cyberbullying. And 9% disclosed incidents where in which information gleaned from a social-media service was used to their detriment by a manager.

What’s more, results of a survey of 1,000 adults by security firm McAfee show one in 10 Americans have received cyberthreats from an estranged romantic partner. Nearly 60% of those threatened have had personal photos or sensitive e-mails and text messages exposed online. The top motivations for such disclosures: alleged lying, cheating or simply breaking up.

“Technology definitely fuels the best of a relationship and the worst of a breakup,” says Robert Siciliano, McAfee security analyst. “Airing dirty laundry often leads to exposing deep secrets and intimate photos never meant for public consumption.”

In workplace settings, companies are just beginning to consider policies to effectively govern social-media etiquette among employees, says Tony Anscombe, senior security analyst at AVG.

One in 10 respondents to AVG’s survey discovered secret discussions about them online were initiated by colleagues using social media, and 11% reported embarrassing photos or videos uploaded onto social-media sites.

Awareness about the potential invasiveness that can stem from use of social media has not kept pace with its pervasive use.

“Until everyone is clear about exactly what is and isn’t acceptable online behavior, trying to enforce policies will just fail, leaving the door open to cyberbullying and invasion of privacy,” Anscombe says. “If organizations … more

CEO Eric Schmidt discloses: “Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it”

By Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

“The average American doesn’t realize how much of the laws are written by lobbyists” to protect incumbent interests, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told Atlantic editor James Bennet at the Washington Ideas Forum. “It’s shocking how the system actually works.”

In a wide-ranging interview that spanned human nature, the future of machines, and how Google could have helped the stimulus, Schmidt said technology could “completely change the way government works.”

“Washington is an incumbent protection machine,” Schmidt said. “Technology is fundamentally disruptive.” Mobile phones and personal technology, for example, could be used to record the bills that members of Congress actually read and then determine what stimulus funds were successfully spent.

Schmidt pushed back on the claim that the White House doesn’t understand business. He acknowledged that the American business community distrusts the administration, but he said the criticism are mostly about tone. He also brushed off the idea that the White House needs more business executives as an argument about “symbolism” rather than substance. Washington Ideas Forum On the hot topic of China versus America, he made an pithy distinction between what makes the world’s leading powers uniquely successful. America is a bottoms-up entrepreneurial engine, and China is more like “a well-run large business.”

“America’s research universities are the envy on the world,” he said. “We have 90 percent of the top researchers in the world. We also have a bizarre policy to train people and then kick them out by not giving them visas, which makes no sense at all.”

China governs like a large industrial company, he added. “It wants to maximize its cash flow. It wants to maximize its internal and external demand. All of the interesting new ideas [for example, doubling down on solar tech] can be understood as a business expansion.”

The end of the interview turned to the future of technology. When Bennet asked about the possibility of a Google “implant,” Schmidt invoked what … more