Thursday, November 04, 2010

Cyber war? A cautionary tale at least... No indication in the article as to who might be behind the attack. Some are claiming the government is doing it to ensure they can manipulate the elections on Nov 7th.

DDoS: Myanmar attacks larger than those against Estonia and Georgia

Starting towards the end of October, the nation of Myanmar (previously known as Burma) has suffering through a massive Denial of Service attack, leaving Web access at a crawl when it is available. According to Arbor Networks, the Myanmar attack is producing far more traffic than what was observed during the DDoS attacks on Estonia and Georgia.

“Papers, citizen” After all, they need to be able to identify “political dissidents” (anyone who voted for the other guy) in order to “reeducate” them.

Germany’s new e-ID cards raise hackles over privacy

November 3, 2010 by Dissent

Michelle Martin reports:

Germany has introduced electronic identity cards that store personal data on microchips, raising fears over data protection in a country especially wary of surveillance due to its Nazi and Stasi past.

The so-called eIDs enable owners to identify themselves online and sign documents with an electronic signature, which the government says should “increase the safety and convenience of e-business and e-commerce.”

Read more on Reuters.

Where do you draw the line between religion and politics? As we become an increasingly global society, whose laws apply?

UK Pressures the US To Takedown Extremist Videos

Posted by samzenpus on Wednesday November 03, @05:43PM

"BBC News and the Telegraph are reporting that the British government has pressured the US government to take down privately hosted extremist web sites and videos, particularly on YouTube. The request follows the conviction of a 21 year old woman who attempted to murder MP Stephen Timms after watching YouTube videos of radical American Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. YouTube hosts more than 5,000 videos featuring al-Awlaki, but has begun to remove them following the British government's complaints. The issue obviously raises First Amendment issues in the US, but Security minister Baroness Neville-Jones has said 'Those websites would categorically not be allowed in the UK. They incite cold-blooded murder and as such are surely contrary to the public good. If they were hosted in the UK then we would take them down but this is a global problem. Many of these websites are hosted in America and we look forward to working even more closely with you to take down this hateful material.'"

“...because you don't actually own the phone you bought, so we should still be allowed to control what you can do with it.”

“Hey! Great idea! We have computers in our cars now, so we should be able to turn them off if you drive too fast!” Car Companies

“We're going to put computers in our refrigerators, and turn them off if you store anything less healthy than broccoli!”

Microsoft Outlines Windows Phone 7 Kill Switch

Posted by samzenpus on Wednesday November 03, @02:12PM

"Microsoft has outlined how it might use the little publicized 'kill switch' in Windows Phone 7 handsets. 'We don't really talk about it publicly because the focus is on testing of apps to make sure they're okay, but in the rare event that we need to, we have the tools to take action,' said Todd Biggs, director of product management for Windows Phone Marketplace. According to Biggs, Microsoft's strict testing of apps when they are submitted for inclusion in Marketplace should minimize kill switch use, but he explained how the company could remove apps from the marketplace or phones, when devices check-in to the system. 'We could unpublish it from the catalog so that it was no longer available, but if it was very rogue then we could remove applications from handsets - we don't want things to go that far, but we could.'"

[From the article:

Apple's iPhone and Google's Android phone software also have kill switches built-in to cover the evetuality that they need to remove malware, or even just apps that break guidelines,...

“From a high-level perspective, phones check in to see if there are any downloads or updates available and it will also check if there are any apps that shouldn't be on there,” he said. “There might be instances where we would remove the app.”

Microsoft was reluctant to give examples of situations that would warrant app deletion, but agreed privacy and security concerns would be on the list.

(Related) Or, you could just cover up your failures...

Skyfire's iPhone browser 'sells out' due to shaky bandwidth

Skyfire for iPhone ($2.99) may be one of the shortest-lived apps in the iPhone App Store, surviving only five hours today before Skyfire pulled it from the marketplace after noticing strain on their servers that resulted in poor user experience.

"The servers haven't crashed," a Skyfire spokesperson said, but they did stutter as customers who bought the browser streamed Flash video. The Webkit-based Skyfire app (also available for Android) delivers Flash video to users--ordinarily forbidden by Apple--by streaming it through their own servers first in a process known as proxy browsing.

Skyfire issued a press release earlier tonight declaring that the app has "sold out," and that the company will issue "a new batch" of downloads once Skyfire increases its server capacity

(Related) Extending “Behavioral Advertising” tools to fight negative comments?

Cisco Social Software Lets You "Stalk" Customers

Posted by samzenpus on Wednesday November 03, @10:24PM

"Cisco this week unveiled software designed to let companies track customers and prospects on social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other public forums and sites. Cisco SocialMiner allows users to monitor status updates, forum posts and blogs of customers so they can be alerted of conversations related to their brand. The software is designed to not only enable enterprises to monitor the conversations of their customers but to engage those that require service, Cisco says."

[From the article:

If discussions included information of a sensitive matter they would then be taken offline, Hernandez says. [This may mean the discussion would move to email or phone, but since the activity must pass through Cisco servers to be detected in the first place, what keeps them from 'blocking' the offending user? Bob]

You watch and we watch you watch, so watch out!

Going to the movies? Prepare to be watched while you watch

November 4, 2010 by Dissent

wconeybeer writes:

Gaining entry to some movie theaters lately gives patrons an experience that is on par with going through a TSA security checkpoint at the airport. Then once you’ve gained access, there are cameras strategically positioned that record your every move. Unfortunately, the extent to which these companies monitor movie-goers is only going to get worse.

In an effort to further combat piracy, some cinemas have incorporated the use of an infrared scanning system that detects recording devices in the audience and if detected, sounds an alarm to alert management. Now the company that offers those services, Aralia Systems, is working to enhance the system by incorporating technology which will scan and read the audiences’ physical expressions and emotions.

Aralia Systems is teaming up with Machine Vision Lab of the University of the West of England to develop the technology to turn their anti-piracy devices into a dual-purpose system that will gather data about how the crowd reacts to what they’re seeing at any particular moment.

Read more on myce.

As Ernesto writes on TorrentFreak:

The main question that comes to mind is how far these systems can go without specifically asking for consent from theater visitors. What was once a relaxing evening out might be turning into an interactive consumer research lab, with cameras carefully analyzing, recording and storing your every move – while you’re being charged for the privilege

I have no idea how to characterize this one other than “Huh?”

Do Firefox Users Pay More For Car Loans?

Posted by CmdrTaco on Thursday November 04, @09:21AM

"Someone wrote in to The Consumerist to report an interesting discovery: while shopping online for a car loan, Capital One offered him different rates, depending on the browser he used! Firefox yielded the highest rate at 3.5%, Opera took second place with 3.1%, Safari was only 2.7%, and finally, Google's Chrome browser afforded him the best rate of all: 2.3%! A commenter on the article claims to have been previously employed by Capital One, and writes: If you model the risk and revenue of applicants, the type of browser shows up as a significant variable. Browsers do predict an account's performance to some degree, and it will affect the rates you will view. It isn't a marketing test. I was still a bit dubious, but at least one of her previous comments backs up her claims to have worked for a credit card company. Considering the outcry after it was discovered that Amazon was experimenting with variable pricing a few years back, it seems surprising that consumers would be punished (or rewarded), based solely on the browser they happen to be using at the time!"

Easy money for my Ethical Hackers?

November 03, 2010

SEC Proposes New Whistleblower Program Under Dodd-Frank Act

News release: "The Securities and Exchange Commission today voted unanimously to propose a whistleblower program to reward individuals who provide the agency with high-quality tips that lead to successful enforcement actions. The SEC’s proposed rule under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act maps out a simple, straightforward procedure for would-be whistleblowers to provide critical information to the agency. It conveys how would-be whistleblowers can qualify for an award through a transparent process that provides them a meaningful opportunity to assert their claim to an award."

I wonder if they also look at Amazon's “people who bought this book also bought...” feature?

How Google Is Solving Its Book Problem

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday November 04, @07:57AM

"Alexis Madrigal writes in the Atlantic that Google's famous PageRank algorithm can't be deployed to search through the 15 million books that Google has already scanned because books don't link to each other in the way that webpages do. Instead Google's new book search algorithm called 'Rich Results' looks at word frequency, how closely your query matches the title of a book, web search frequency, recent book sales, the number of libraries that hold the title, how often an older book has been reprinted, and 100 other signals. 'There is less data about books than web pages, but there is more structure to it, and there's less spam to contend with,' writes Madrigal. Yet the focus on optimizing an experience from vast amounts of data remains. 'You want it to have the standard Google quality as much as possible,' says Matthew Gray, lead software engineer for Google Books. '[You want it to be] a merger of relevance and utility based on all these things.'"

You know you've become iconic when...

'Sesame Street' skit slaps 'an app for that' concept

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