Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Not very encouraging...


FinCEN report: Identity Theft Trends, Patterns, and Typologies Reported in Suspicious Activity Reports Filed by Depository Institutions January 1, 2003 – December 31, 2009

October 25, 2010 by admin

From the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network report, Identity Theft Trends, Patterns, and Typologies Reported in Suspicious Activity Reports Filed by Depository Institutions January 1, 2003 – December 31, 2009, the Executive Summary:

Identity theft was the sixth most frequently reported characterization of suspicious activity within the period of the study, behind structuring/money laundering, check fraud, mortgage loan fraud, credit card fraud, and counterfeit check fraud. Based upon analysis of the study sample, the number of identity theft-related depository institution SAR filings submitted during calendar year (CY) 2009 was 123 percent higher than the number reported in CY 2004. This compares with an 89 percent increase in the numbers of all depository institution SAR filings made in CY 2004 versus CY 2009.

… Victims reportedly discovered identity theft through review of their own account activity in about 28 percent of filings in the sample. Filers credited routine financial institution account monitoring with uncovering identity theft in nearly another 21 percent of sample filings, [So they missed it 79% of the time? Shame on them! Bob] and checks of commercial databases at account set-up in 14.5 percent of sample filings. Credit reports, law enforcement investigations, collection agencies, and credit monitoring services were responsible for revealing identity theft in a decreasing percentage of sample filings.

Keep an eye on this one...


White House Unveils Internet Privacy Committee

October 25, 2010 by Dissent

Elizabeth Montalbano reports:

The White House council on technology has formed a new subcommittee to develop principles that will attempt to balance the Internet’s economic opportunity with people’s right to privacy.

The National Science and Technology Council’s new Subcommittee on Privacy and Internet Policy also will aim to synchronize the practices of federal agencies with policy being considered and developed by lawmakers, according to a White House blog post unveiling the committee.

Read more on InformationWeek.


The (Very) Unofficial Facebook Privacy Guide [DOWNLOAD]

Like Facebook, but wish your information wasn’t so public? Time to lock your settings down. Facebook doesn’t make this easy, however; features are constantly added and the default for each new one seems to favor transparency instead of privacy.

The result: there are hundreds of little changes you need to make to truly control where your information goes.

Enter “The (Very) Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual”. This handy guide outlines everything you could ever want to know about locking down your privacy on Facebook, and a few things you probably didn’t even know you wanted to know.

If you use Facebook you should read this guide, if only to understand how public most of your information is.

Download: The (Very) Unofficial Privacy Guide Or Read online at Scribd

Probably inevitable. They just haven't convinced a judge that “everyone is a terrorist” yet.


Amazon wins fight to keep customer records private

In a victory for the free speech and privacy rights of Amazon.com customers, a federal judge ruled today that the company would not have to turn over detailed records on nearly 50 million purchases to North Carolina tax collectors.

The state had demanded sensitive information including names and addresses of North Carolina customers--and information about exactly what they had purchased between 2003 and 2010.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman in Washington state said that request went too far and "runs afoul of the First Amendment." She granted Amazon summary judgment.

The Tar Heel State's tax collectors have "no legitimate need" for details about the literary, music, and film habits of so many Amazon customers," Pechman wrote. "In spite of this, (North Carolina) refuses to give up the detailed information about Amazon's customers' purchases, while at the same time requesting the identities of the customers and, arguably, detailed records of their purchases, including the expressive content."

Amazon has provided the state tax collectors with anonymized information about which items were shipped to which ZIP codes. But North Carolina threatened to sue if the retailer did not agree to divulge the names and addresses linked to each order--in other words, by providing personally identifiable information that could be used to collect additional use taxes that might be owed by state residents.

Pechman's opinion did leave open the possibility of North Carolina tax collectors deleting the data they currently have and firing off a narrower request to the online retailer: "Issuing the declaratory relief as phrased does not prohibit (N.C. tax collectors) from issuing a new request for information as to only the names and addresses of Amazon's customers and general product information, assuming that (the state) destroys any detailed information that it currently possesses."

For my Ethical Hackers and Computer Forensic students


Secret Button Sequence Bypasses iPhone Security

A security flaw in the iPhone allows strangers to bypass the handset’s lock screen with a few button presses.

In the video below, a Brazilian iPhone customer demonstrates the quick method to circumvent an iPhone’s passcode-protected lock screen: tap the “Emergency call” button, then enter three pound signs, hit the green call button and immediately press the lock button. That simple procedure gives a snoop full access to the Phone app on the iPhone, which contains the address book, voicemail and call history.

Good surveillance?


Improving Phones through Surveillance

A cell-phone application that logs everything the phone's user does--from sending e-mail to playing games--may not sound so desirable. But researchers are deploying the software to see if they can determine the best ways to improve the battery life of phones and uncover network dead spots.

… "By studying how people use [the phones], we can find ways to match devices and networks to people."

For my Computer Security students


New Programming Language Weaves Security Into Code

Posted by Soulskill on Monday October 25, @05:47PM

"Until now, computer security has been reactive. 'Our defenses improve only after they have been successfully penetrated,' says security expert Fred Schneider. But now Dr. Dobb's reports that researchers at Cornell are developing a programming platform called 'Fabric,' an extension to the Java language that builds security into a program as it is written. Fabric is designed to create secure systems for distributed computing, where many interconnected nodes — not all of them necessarily trustworthy — are involved, as in systems that move money around or maintain medical records. Everything in Fabric is an 'object' labeled with a set of policies on how and by whom data can be accessed and what operations can be performed on it. Even blocks of program code have built-in policies about when and where they can be run. The compiler enforces the security policies and will not allow the programmer to write insecure code (PDF). The initial release of Fabric is now available at the Cornell website."

One University in Denver has already done this. Student reaction is mixed. The next step would be to require students to find their own information on the Internet and ignore a structured textbook entirely.


Colleges May Start Forcing Switch To eTextbooks

Posted by Soulskill on Monday October 25, @03:41PM

"Here's the new approach under consideration by college leaders and textbook manufacturers: 'Colleges require students to pay a course-materials fee, which would be used to buy e-books for all of them (whatever text the professor recommends, just as in the old model).' That may be 'the best way to control skyrocketing costs and may actually save the textbook industry from digital piracy,' proponents claim."

For my Math students... One of my recommended sites just got easier to search.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Khan Instant - Instant Search for Khan Academy

Khan Academy is famous for the fantastic educational videos produced by Salman Khan. Khan's mathematics and science videos are available on YouTube, on iTunes, and on Khan Academy.org. This morning I discovered Khan Instant. Khan Instant is an instant search engine (like Google or YouTube instant) for Khan Academy videos. Just to clarify, Khan Instant was developed by Ben Jacobson not by Khan Academy.

Applications for Education

Khan Instant could be a good tool for quickly locating outstanding mathematics and science videos to supplement your classroom instructions. Searching with Khan Instant is much faster than trying to browse through the YouTube channel for the video that meets your needs.

For all my students.


Take Notes & Annotate PDFs The Easy Way With Jarnal [Cross-Platform]

I thought that college students get heavy discounts on commercial software but I just recently found out that students can get commercial software completely free (including Visual Studio, Expression Encoder, etc), which is a nice perk. However, the perks of being a student don’t end there as there are actually quite a few student-friendly applications, which may even be useful to wider audiences and not just students.

You can use Delicious to organize your student life, Evernote to help you reduce your paper clutter and more! Evernote, in particular, can definitely be considered a giant when it comes to the many platforms it has apps for and how versatile it is.

Jarnal is also a great note-taking application that can run in Windows, Mac and Linux and deserves a mention, without a doubt, for its extensive features.

Getting Jarnal

Jarnal is an open-source note-taking and sketching application that you can run without installing it [i.e. from your thumb drive Bob] (as the program is bundled in a zipped file), but there are also installable versions for Windows and Mac on the official wiki and SourceForge page.

A tool for serious researchers.


TouchGraph: Visual Search for “Similar” Results

We have already mentioned some tools and tricks to help you search without words: we have listed some Google search tricks that allow you to find something when you really don’t know what you are looking for. We have also seen some image search tools that search by color and / or similarity (instead of words).

Today we are looking at another alternative way to do a visual search – Touch Graph which is based on Google’s RELATED: search operator.

… How it really works is a mystery but the general (educated and proved by tests) theory is that it is based on two main factors:

  1. Co-citation: if two pages have similar backlinks, they are related. It means that if several pages all cite and link to pages A and B, the latter are considered to be “similar”.

  2. Thematic relevance: it seems like Google has also started to apply some thematic relevance when it comes to filtering pages with common backlinks.

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