Monthly Archives: June 2015

This Unbreakable Encryption Could Save the Internet

The Awareness to encrypt your private data, chat conversations as well as communication is booming like never before that soon the world will mark some day as the International Encryption Day.

This may or may not be possible in future, but Toshiba is all set to create a next level of encryption technology that the firm claims is absolutely unbreakable and “completely secure from tapping“.

The best way to ensure the complete security of the communication is to make use of a one-time key to decode encrypted data. However, the problem remains to transfer this key from one place to another safely when even mail carriers may be spying on you.

Uncrackable Encryption Technology: The Quantum Cryptography System

To get rid of this issue, Toshiba is creating a ‘foolproof’ Quantum Cryptography System that uses photons sent over a custom-made fiber optic cable that is not connected to the Internet.

Thus, anyone trying to intercept the user’s data would get data with an entirely changed form of data, making spying incredibly difficult.

However, one thing a user must remember is the key to decode, as there would be no second chance given to decode it, according to analysts.

Testing Encryption Technology for 2 Years

Toshiba plans to launch a two-year-long test for its new quantum cryptography system that will start in August and run until August 2017. If this experiment turns out to be successful, longer-term commercial use would be possible.

The firm will begin verification testing with the transmission of genome analysis data in Japan on 31 August, assisting Japan’s Tohoku University to transmit genetic data.

By the year 2020, the company believes to first provide the service to governments and enterprises, and then to consumers, eventually when the cost of development drops.


Via: thehackernews

Google’s Project to Offer Free Superfast Wi-Fi Internet to the World has Begun

Imagine a city with Wi-Fi hotspot. Now imagine that it is free as well. This won’t be just an imagination for long as Google has unveiled its new plan to bring Free, Superfast Wi-Fi to cities around the world.

Sidewalk Labs, a Google-owned company that focuses on improving city living through technology innovations, has announced that the company will roll out free WiFi to everyone in New York City around September this year.

But, How will the company do this?

Google-backed Sidewalk Labs will convert over 10,000 New York’s old phone booths into ad-supported “Wi-Fi pylons.” These booths will offer free wireless Internet access to anyone within 150 feet of radius.

Sidewalk Labs is leading a group of investors acquiring Control Group and Titan, companies working to cover New York City with Free, Superfast Wi-Fi service.

Besides offering free Wi-Fi, the booths are also intended to provide free cell-phone charging, free domestic phone calling and a touchscreen-based information hub that provides you everything you need to know about the city and transit directions, Bloomberg reported.

According to the report, each Wi-Fi pylon will deliver advertising on the sides through Titan’s advertising network, which is expected to bring $500 million in ad revenue to the city over the next 12 years.

If this first trial in New York City proves to be a success, then the search engine giant will step forward to roll out similar programs in other cities around the world in the hopes to get the whole world online.


Via: thehackernews

World’s First 200GB microSD Card Arrives

There isn’t any troll in the title. The “World’s Largest microSD” card sized at 200GB is now officially available for purchasing from Amazon and number of retailers.

So, Is your 16GB, or 32GB, or even 64GB smartphone not enough to store all your data in one place?

Order a Sandisk’s new high-capacity microSD card from Amazon now. However, the only issue is that it is not exactly very cheap. You will have to pay around $240 to buy one.

World’s First 200GB MicroSD Card

Back in March when Sandisk first announced the world’s first 200GB microSD card, it was expected to be priced at around $400. However, $240 has been marked as the price for the highest-capacity microSD card available in the market.

Sandisk’s 200GB microSD card, or Ultra microSDXC UHS-I card, offers a transfer speed of up to 90MB per second, which is double the speed provided by its 128GB counterpart.

Transfer Speed: 1200 Photos Per Minute

The company claims that the speed will allow you to transfer up to 1,200 photos in just a single minute. The card is something of great use for photographers and filmmakers who need more storage capacity to store high-resolution photographs and videos.

Moreover, Sandisk’s 200GB MicroSD card comes packaged with an SD adapter and a 10-year limited warranty.

Furthermore, the 200GB MicroSD card is waterproof, shockproof, temperature proof, magnet proof and X-ray proof to deal with any possibility of destruction.

However, if you can not spent this much for 200GB of storage space, there always remains an option for you to buy a 128GB MicroSD card that still provides you plenty of space and costs as much as $80.


Via: thehackernews

Cisco warns of default SSH keys shipped in three products


Cisco Systems said Thursday it released a patch for three products that shipped with default encryption keys, posing a risk that an attacker with the keys could decrypt data traffic.

The products are Cisco’s Web Security Virtual Appliance, Email Security Virtual Appliance and Security Management Virtual Appliance, it said in an advisory. Versions downloaded before Thursday are vulnerable.

Cisco said it “is not aware of any public announcements or malicious use of the vulnerabilities that are described in this advisory.”

The three products all shipped with preinstalled encryption keys for SSH (Secure Shell), which is used to remotely log into machines. It’s considered a bad security practice to ship products that all have the same private keys.

If attackers obtained the private keys, it would be possible to decrypt traffic after collecting it during a man-in-the-middle attack. It would also be possible to impersonate one of the appliances or alter traffic, Cisco warned.

The patch deletes the preinstalled SSH keys and provides instructions for how customers can completely fix the problem. Cisco wrote that the patch is not required for physical hardware appliances or for virtual appliance downloads or upgrades after Thursday.

The fix is named “cisco-sa-20150625-ironport SSH Keys Vulnerability Fix” in a list of product upgrades. It must be manually installed from a command line interface, it said.



Via: networkworld

Apple Bans Games And Apps Featuring The Confederate Flag [Update: Some Games Being Restored]

Apple has now joined a host of merchants (Major retailers like Amazon, Ebay, and Walmart immediately jumped on board and have now removed confederate flags from their listings. The sheer ridiculousness of the move is noted that while Amazon has removed memorabilia featuring the flag of the Confederacy, they continue to allow the sale of items featuring Nazi emblems and Swastikas.)  in removing the Confederate flag from its platform – in its case, the iTunes App Store. Several app developers are now reporting that their Civil War games, which featured imagery of the flag as part of their game’s historical context, have been pulled from the App Store.

Apple’s move to ban these games follows similar decisions by a number of major retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Sears and others, which all announced bans on the sale of Confederate flag merchandise in the wake of the shooting deaths of nine black parishioners at a church in Charleston, S.C., this month.

UPDATE #1 – 6/25, 4 PM ET: Apple has now commented on the matter, saying:

“We have removed apps from the App Store that use the Confederate flag in offensive or mean-spirited ways, which is in violation of our guidelines. We are not removing apps that display the Confederate flag for educational or historical uses.”

UPDATE #2 – 6/25, 5 PM ET: We’ve spoken to Apple more extensively about the removals now. The company says it’s working with developers to quickly get their games reinstated to the App Store.

It seems like the removals were not a blanket ban on use of the Confederate flag imagery in App Store apps. And there may have been titles that shouldn’t have been pulled because the use of the flag could be considered “historical” or “educational,” as per Apple’s comment above. Apple’s intention is not to lose games from the App Store, but rather remove those titles that could offend. That means there will be some apps that are not likely to be reinstated, such as the banned Confederate flag wallpaper app, for example.

Original post continues below – 

Currently, affected titles include Ultimate General: Gettysburg; several Hunted Cow/HexWar Games Civil War games; and more. The ban has also affected select apps, like “Southern Pride (Rebel Flag) Wallpaper,” it’s been noted.

According to at least one game developer Touch Arcade spoke with, their game was removed because it contained “images of the Confederate flag used in offensive and mean-spirited ways.” We’ve confirmed with others that this is the language Apple is using when referencing the removals.

Many developers argue that their games aren’t meant to be offensive, but rather include the flag imagery because of its historical context. Maxim Zasov of Game Labs, which publishes Ultimate General: Gettysburg, told Touch Arcade that teachers have used his game when teaching the Civil War in the classroom.

Adds Hunted Cow/HexWar Games director Andrew Mulholland, “it seems disappointing that [Apple] would remove [the games] as they weren’t being used in an offensive way, being that they were historical war games and hence it was the flag used at the time.”

Elsewhere on Reddit, an unnamed developer also reports that 14 titles from a game studio they work with have been removed.

It’s unclear what criteria Apple is using to determine whether it pulls an app featuring the Confederate flag imagery. But Mulholland tells us that Apple contacted his company after pulling several of its titles, and pointed to section 19.1 of the App Store Review Guidelines in its email. This section states:

“Apps containing references or commentary about a religious, cultural or ethnic group that are defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited or likely to expose the targeted group to harm or violence will be rejected.”

The company advised HexWar (which grew out of a collaboration between Hunted Cow and the original HexWar), to “review its app concept and incorporate different content and features that are in compliance the guidelines.” The company offers several Civil War-themed games which have been banned, including Civil War: 1862, Civil War: 1863, Civil War: 1864 and Civil War: Gettysburg. The oldest game, Civil War: 1863, has been live on the App Store since September 2012.

Hunted Cow/HexWar says they will now try resubmitting its titles using a lesser-known 1861 version of the flag to see if their games will be approved.

The Apple bannings don’t seem to be universal, however. Ars Technica points out there are other titles that include the image of the flag that are still live on the App Store, like The Battle of Antietam and The History Channel’s The Civil War Today. Plus, Apple continues to sell other media that showcases the Confederate flag, including albums and TV shows like Primal Scream’s Give Out But Don’t Give Up, Legend by Lynyrd Skynyrd and seven seasons of Dukes of Hazzard, as The Guardian notes.

In addition, The Guardian also remarks that Apple’s decision to enforce the Confederate flag ban contradicts how it handles other offensive materials, like the Nazi flag. Several titles (including those that don’t claim historical accuracy) that feature this flag remain available.

The question, apparently, is where does Apple draw the line with regard to the removal of the Confederate flag, or any offensive flag, from its storefront?

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently tweeted his support for measures that involve removing the symbols of racism, so it’s not entirely surprising to see the company take this step.


Via: techcrunch

HP drops the hammer on unpatched IE11 vulnerability

Microsoft refuses to patch 32-bit Internet Explorer, so HP’s Zero Day Initiative responds with full proof-of-concept code.


Microsoft refuses to fix a known flaw in Internet Explorer 11, and so HP is raising the stakes by publishing proof-of-concept code that could be used to attack to weakness.

Last year HP’s highly regarded Zero Day Initiative group found a bug in Internet Explorer 11’s Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) routine and reported it to Microsoft.


HP went public with the flaw in February, when it announced that HP researchers Brian Gorenc, AbdulAziz Hariri, and Simon Zuckerbraun had received a $125,000 bug bounty from Microsoft. According to HP:

The February announcement came after the 120-day disclosure timeline had passed, but at the time, we did not disclose further details in the best interests of the ecosystem at large. In other words, Microsoft hadn’t fixed all of the bugs yet, and we wanted to give them a little more time. We were working under the assumption that a fix for all reported bugs was being worked. Unfortunately, Microsoft eventually informed the team a complete fix was not forthcoming.

The sticking point? Microsoft doesn’t want to fix the 32-bit version of IE11.

We still haven’t heard Microsoft’s side of the story, but according to HP, Microsoft has given two reasons for not fixing the 32-bit bugs: “64-bit versions of IE would benefit the most from ASLR” which is undeniably (if obviously) true; and “MemoryProtect has led to a significant overall decrease of IE case submissions,” which is also undoubtedly the case, but beside the point.

HP’s Dustin Childs, a former Microsoft Security Response Center researcher, whomI wrote about in January, gave HP’s reason for full disclosure on the HP Zero Day Initiative blog:

Since Microsoft feels these issues do not impact a default configuration of IE (thus affecting a large number of customers), it is in their judgment not worth their resources and the potential regression risk. We disagree with that opinion and are releasing the PoC information to the community in the belief that concerned users should be as fully informed as possible in order to take whatever measures they find appropriate for their own installations… in order to effectively protect a system, defenders must fully understand the threat. We feel it’s important to let everyone know about the threat so that they could better understand the actual risk to their network.

While the remaining security flaw isn’t earth-shattering — it’s a bypass of IE11’s internal ASLR bug-thwarting capability, not a direct exploit — and Microsoft has apparently fixed the much more common 64-bit version, it’s still unsettling that Microsoft isn’t willing to devote the resources to fix the 32-bit version of its flagship Web browser.

IE11 continues to live in Windows 10 — 32-bit and 64-bit. Will the 32-bit flaw also persist?

It’ll be interesting to hear Microsoft’s side of the story.


Via: infoworld

How encryption keys could be stolen by your lunch

Israel-based researchers said they’ve developed a cheaper and faster method to pull the encryption keys stored on a computer using an unlikely accomplice: pita bread.

The new study builds on research into what can be learned from the electronic signals that waft from computers while performing computations, often referred to as side-channel attacks.

By studying the electronic signals, researchers have shown it is possible to deduce keystrokes, figure out what application a person is using or discover the secret encryption keys used to encrypt files or emails.

This latest work focuses on capturing the encryption keys for laptops running GnuPG 1.x, an open source encryption program using the RSA and ElGamal key encryption algorithms. The researchers said they’ve notified the developer of GnuPG, Werner Koch, of their research.

The researchers built a device that could be concealed in pita bread that collects electromagnetic signals from 50 centimeters away.

They dubbed the device PITA, which stands for Portable Instrument for Trace Acquisition. It consists of a copper unshielded loop antenna with a capacitor designed to pick up frequencies around the 1.7MHz range at which encryption key information leaks.

With the signals collected on an internal microSD card, offline analysis can then be used to deduce the keys in just a few seconds.

As part of the attack, the PITA device sends a few carefully crafted ciphertexts, or encrypted content, to a computer. When the content is decrypted by a computer, it gives off observable electromagnetic signals.

“The secret key can be deduced from these fluctuations, through signal processing and cryptanalysis,” they wrote.

The researchers also built a second device to collect the signals. Since the 1.7MHz frequency is in the same range as AM radio, they used a commercial-grade radio receiver called the Road Master.

“We then recorded the signal by connecting it to the microphone input of an HTC EVO 4G smartphone,” they wrote.

It’s hard to defend against these kinds of side-channel attacks aside from making sure any suspicious aluminum foil packages containing pita bread are checked for electronic devices.

However, electromagnetic signals can be blocked using Faraday cages, which are enclosures that use metal to dissipate electronic signals. Few people, however, work in windowless metal boxes. PC manufacturers are also unlikely to address the problem in their hardware since it’s just too expensive.

Re-engineering the software is a better approach. Algorithms and software could be changed to ensure the leaked signals are not distributing useful information. Work is already under way to make such changes, the researchers wrote.

“In fact, side-channel resistance of software implementations is nowadays a major concern,” the paper said.

The paper was co-authored by Lev Pachmanov, Itamar Pipman and Era Tromer, all of Tel Aviv University; and Daniel Genkin who is associated with both the university and Technion. It will be presented at the Workshop on Cryptographic Hardware and Embedded Systems in Saint-Malo, France, in September

Via: computerworld

Microsoft gives away Windows 10 to anyone who asks

Yes, Microsoft is giving Windows away for free to people who don’t technically qualify for the upgrade. That’s a good deal, but it’s not that big a deal. Here’s why.



This PC gets a free Windows 10 upgrade, no questions askedIn the always confusing world of Microsoft licensing, there are two sets of rules.

One is written down in license agreements, drafted by Microsoft’s large legal team, with separate terms for PC makers and end users. These combined terms are extremely specific about the rights and responsibilities of every party to the license agreement. They are aimed primarily at Microsoft’s commercial customers and its PC-building partners, who account for more than 98 percent of all revenue from Windows desktop licenses.

The other set of rules is unwritten, for the most part. But its terms are fairly easy to deduce. They are intended for hobbyists, enthusiasts, and IT pros who like to tinker with Windows and PC hardware. Microsoft’s TechNet program was a long-running gift to this group, offering thousands of dollars’ worth of Microsoft software for a few hundred bucks.

The Windows Insider program is being run in that same spirit.

Every once in a while, Microsoft actually makes a public statement tacitly (and carefully) acknowledging those unwritten rules. That happened this week, with an announcement on Microsoft’s official Windows blog outlining what’s next for registered members of Microsoft’s Windows Insider program:

Windows Insiders running the Windows 10 Insider Preview (Home and Pro editions) with their registered MSA connected to their PC will receive the final release build of Windows 10 starting on July 29th. This will come as just another flight. I’ve gotten a lot of questions from Windows Insiders about how this will work if they clean installed from ISO. As long as you are running an Insider Preview build and connected with the MSA you used to register, you will receive the Windows 10 final release build and remain activated. Once you have successfully installed this build and activated, you will also be able to clean install on that PC from final media if you want to start over fresh.

One thing you’ll notice if you read that section carefully is that it doesn’t contain any legal language. In fact, the word license doesn’t appear anywhere in the post.

Update, June 21: Via Twitter, Tom Warren of the Verge points out that the post was edited overnight to change the wording, removing both references to activation. Here’s a comparison of the changes:


Those edits, of course, simply muddle the description and were clearly added at the insistence of one or more of the aforementioned lawyers. In fact, the last sentence contradicts everything that came before it in the paragraph. I am confident that no change is going to be made to the delivery and activation servers for Windows 10. But at least the folks in L&C are now happy.

It’s also worth noting comments on that post are closed, which prevents customers from asking for clarification.

Update 2, June 21 12:15PM PDT: On Twitter today, a day after these legalese changes were made, Microsoft’s Gabe Aul confirmed that registered members of the Windows Insider program who upgrade from a clean install of the preview edition will end up with a fully activated copy of Windows 10.

It’s no accident that the post, even as edited, makes no mention of the Windows license. Instead, it’s a reflection of the fact that those unwritten rules have to remain unwritten. So, with a wink and a nod, here’s what it means to individuals who aren’t PC builders or part of an enterprise network:

  • Yes, anyone who signs up for the Windows Insider program and installs a preview build will receive the final release build automatically, with no hassles and no registration required. (Anyone running Windows 7 or 8.1 should see the “Get Windows 10” prompt.)
  • Yes, that copy of Windows 10 will remain activated, even if it was installed clean with no trace of any previous Windows version to be found.
  • Yes, you will be able to clean install Windows 10 on that PC from the official media if you want to start over fresh.
  • And if there’s a technical conflict with the license agreement terms, you can relax. Microsoft is happy to have you on Team Windows.

    Why is Microsoft doing this? I can think of a billion reasons.

    Microsoft’s stated goal is to have Windows 10 running on a billion devices within the first three years after this summer’s launch. To reach that huge number, they need to convince hundreds of millions of current Windows users to upgrade.

    Asking people to pay means most will say no. So the upgrade is free to the overwhelming majority of current PC users.

    You could think of it as a reward for the millions of people who have participated in the Windows Insider program, but there’s really a much more practical reason: It simply isn’t possible to do any kind of meaningful license check on individual PCs, and any attempt to do so would just cause friction. Likewise, activation hassles cause friction.

    Friction means people get frustrated and cancel the upgrade. Friction is not consistent with getting a billion Windows 10 users in the next few years.

    So the new rules are written with the expectation that activation will be ridiculously easy. If that allows a very small number of Windows enthusiasts to get free copies of Windows 10 that they’re not technically entitled to, that’s a fair exchange for absolutely minimizing the friction on those upgraders who meet the technical qualifications.

    How many “freeloaders” will be able to use this so-called loophole? The number is downright tiny, a fraction of a blip on Microsoft’s balance sheets. (See the chart in this article if you don’t believe me.)

    Any homebrew computer builder who puts together his own PC and has been running the Windows 10 preview on it gets a nice little gift. Happy Birthday!

    Likewise, Microsoft is offering every Mac owner an opportunity to try out Windows 10 and keep it for free if they like it. Just install a preview release now, either in Boot Camp or in a virtual machine, and you will get an automatic, fully activated upgrade to the final edition when it is released. No strings attached.

    If you like to tinker with virtual machines, you can do so with ease as well.

    Microsoft is leaving some money on the table, obviously. But the amount is, quite literally, a rounding error for its Windows business, and having a gargantuan user base is more important than that puny revenue.

    So why not just say, “Windows 10 is free”?

    Because it’s not.

    Businesses still have to pay for their Windows Enterprise edition licenses. PC builders still have to pay for their OEM copies. End users pay, indirectly, when they buy a new PC from one of those OEMs.

    Yes, in theory a business could pick up a hundred “naked” PCs (no operating system installed) from a local system builder, install the Windows 10 Pro preview edition on each one, and then drop out of the Insider program after the final, fully activated version arrives. At $140 per copy, that’s a pretty fair chunk of change. But while those machines would be properly activated, they would not have valid licenses. And when (not if) Microsoft shows up to conduct a licensing audit at that company, the consequences will be unpleasant.

    I suspect Microsoft’s lawyers will include language in the final license agreement that prevents those “creative” deals from cutting into the core Windows business.

    License terms for a new Windows edition don’t typically appear until the very last minute. The broad outlines rarely change, but Redmond’s lawyers like to throw in one oddball change just to mix things up.

    At the moment, there’s only a preview license agreement in place, so there’s no telling what surprises we’ll find this time around.


    Via: zdnet


Back in April, Tone Deaf ran a story about a NSW Police proposal that would see cops jettisoning their sniffer dog program in favour of high-flying sniffer drones. The drones would sniff out drugs and then take snaps of the offenders, sharing the data with officers on the ground.

It was, as most of our readers managed to gather, an April Fool’s Day prank. There is, as far as we know, no NSW Police drone program and if there is, they haven’t unveiled any plans to deploy it at music festivals, and they certainly have no plans for getting rid of their sniffer dog program.

However, it appears there really is no longer a need for satire, because the world does just ridicule itself. As Gizmodo reports, police in the UK recently used facial recognition technology to scan the faces of thousands of attendees at the Download music festival without their knowledge.

Leicestershire Police used Download to do a test run of their new facial recognition technology in an attempt to nab “organised criminals” who specifically target music festivals to “steal mobile phones”, according to a report in Police Oracle.

The footage collected by the facial recognition tech is then compared against a database of custody images to identify the criminals. Before you ask, no, we’re not making this up. ThePolice Oracle story caught the attention of the BBCTechDirt, and Noisey.

It’s nothing new. Facial recognition is becoming increasingly commonplace in law enforcement. In the US, it’s being used by the FBI and a number of local police departments, though generally in more limited settings specific to an ongoing investigation, such as a department store.

Download Festival marks one of the first times the technology has been used in such a broad, outdoor setting. As Noiseynotes, facial recognition technology had previously been employed by authorities during Boston Calling festival in 2013, which came shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing.

However, the police operation at Donnington Park came seemingly without justification, or for that matter, explanation. According to The Register, police claimed the public would have been informed after the conclusion of the event. You didn’t know, so it wasn’t intrusive, right?

Also interesting to note is the fact that Outbreak Festival, which was to take place in the same location as Download, was mysteriously canceled at the last minute three weeks ago. According to Noisey, there was no facial recognition planned for the site.

The entire festival had been set up, but safety concerns raised by Leicestershire police reportedly prevented the event from going ahead. Whether Download Festival had much of a choice in becoming the guinea pig for the police’s new technology is not known.

As Gizmodo notes, it’s a classic slippery slope situation. A massive amount of data on innocent members of the public could now be sitting on a police hard drive somewhere, despite their insistence that all footage was destroyed after the festival.


Via: tonedeaf

Your Ex Doesn’t Have to be Dead to Get His Social Security

Q: In your Social Security guide for women, I think you made a mistake. You said a divorced woman can get Social Security from her ex-husband while he is still living. But I was told by friends, who know these things, that the only way a divorcee can get Social Security is when her ex dies. Do you need to make a correction?

A: You need to go back and correct the “friends who know these things.” Tell them that your ex-husband does not have to be dead in order for you to get any of his Social Security. And if my e-mail inbox is any indication of the public’s knowledge of this issue, then you and your friends are not alone in thinking incorrectly about a divorced woman’s possible eligibility for Social Security from an ex-husband.

Just as some currently married women might be eligible for a wife’s benefit on their alive-and-well husband’s Social Security account, a divorced woman also can qualify for similar benefits from the still-breathing ex — assuming she meets all the eligibility rules. Here are some of those rules:

— A divorced woman must have been married to her ex for at least 10 years.

— She must be currently unmarried (even if she remarried after the divorce, she would still be eligible for benefits if the subsequent marriage has ended).

— She must be at least 62 years old.

— She must not be due higher benefits on her own Social Security record.

There are also a couple rules that apply to the ex-husband. He must be at least 62 years old, meaning he is old enough to qualify for Social Security. But he does not have to be actually getting Social Security benefits. In other words, a divorced wife (unlike a currently married wife) can receive Social Security from her ex, even if he isn’t receiving Social Security himself. That rule was put in place to prevent a man from not claiming Social Security benefits just to keep his ex-wife from drawing anything on his account. Amazingly, these kinds of shenanigans actually used to happen. (I guess more than a few couples end their marriages very bitterly — and that bitterness carried over to attempts to get revenge by trying to withhold Social Security benefits.)

Another part of the eligibility rules concerning the ex pleasantly surprises many divorced women. And that is the fact that it doesn’t matter if the ex has remarried. A divorced woman claims her benefits from the ex-husband independently of any other activity on his account. A guy could potentially have two or three women getting benefits on his Social Security record, and each would qualify for full benefits.

Payments to each divorced wife do not offset any other payments made on the account.

And on a related note, here’s a bit of good news for some of the divorced men out there. Anything paid to your ex-wife (or wives) does not reduce your Social Security benefits in any way. I’ve mentioned before that throughout my 32-year career with the Social Security Administration, I ran into many situations where a man had a clause similar to this inserted into his divorce decree: “I don’t want my ex-wife to get a nickel of my Social Security benefits.” That clause isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

One final note: Many women, whose ex is still alive, don’t qualify for Social Security divorced wife’s benefits for the same reason that many currently married women don’t get a regular wife’s benefit from their husband’s account. And that’s because they are often due higher benefits on their own Social Security record. Because the benefit rate payable to a wife (or ex-wife) can only be as high as one-half of the husband’s Social Security — and is frequently as low as one-third (depending on the age at which a woman starts her benefits) — a woman who has worked any decent amount of time outside the home will generally get a Social Security retirement benefit that exceeds any spousal benefits she is due.

In other words, if you’re a working woman, your husband (or ex-husband) usually isn’t worth much to you — from a Social Security perspective. That is while he is alive. But once he dies, and much higher widow’s benefits kick in, he finally can mean real bucks to you.

Q: My ex-husband, to whom I was married for about 15 years, has remarried three times since our divorce. And he’s currently living with yet another woman. Because I never remarried, I know I am eligible for some of his Social Security. But can all these other women get money from him, too?

A: It’s possible but unlikely. If some of those subsequent marriages didn’t last 10 years, the ex-wives involved won’t qualify for benefits. Those women who remarried (and are still married) won’t qualify. If any have worked and earned higher benefits on her own record, she won’t qualify. So again, the chances are pretty slim that all of these women will get benefits on your ex’s Social Security account.

Because of the prevalence of divorces and remarriages, people always say, “No wonder Social Security is going broke. They’re paying all those benefits to so many ex-wives.” But as I tried to illustrate above, benefit payments to multiple divorcees are not as common as people think.

If you have a Social Security question, Tom Margenau has the answer. Contact him at To find out more about Tom Margenau and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at


Via: creators