Friday, November 05, 2010

We can, therefore we must!” Motto of too many Big Brother wanna-bes

We can, therefore we hack!” Motto of my Ethical Hackers

Scariest speed camera of all… It checks your insurance, tax and even whether you are tailgating or not wearing a seatbelt

November 5, 2010 by Dissent

Luke Salked reports:

Even the most law-abiding driver might feel a shiver down the spine when spotting this speed camera at the roadside.

For as well as detecting speeding, it is packed with gizmos that check number plates to make sure insurance and tax are up to date. It also measures the distance between vehicles to spot tailgating and takes pictures of the inside of the car – to make sure you are wearing a seat belt.

Read more in the Daily Mail

Perhaps we could make this mandatory for some people?

EU to create ‘right to be forgotten’ online

November 5, 2010 by Dissent

Bob Sullivan reports:

Just days after U.S. voters threw overboard one of their top privacy advocates in Congress, the European Commission announced Thursday that it will push for creation of a Web users’ “right to be forgotten.”

The commission, which is the executive body of the European Union, plans to update 15-year-old laws governing collection and use of consumer information to reflect the age of Google and Facebook. Changes could come early next year.

“Strengthening individuals’ rights so that the collection and use of personal data is limited to the minimum necessary,” the commission said in a statement.

Read more on Red Tape.

Just in case you assumed regulators (or their political bosses) wanted to be informed about the facts...

The Future of Privacy: How Privacy Norms Can Inform Regulation

November 4, 2010 by Dissent

The following is a rough version of a talk given by Danah Boyd at the 32nd International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Jerusalem, October 29, 2010

… Given the “Generations” theme at the conference this year, I’ve been asked to talk with you today about my research on teens’ understandings of social norms with respect to privacy. I am an ethnographer, a sociologist. My work focuses on how everyday people engage with social media as part of their everyday lives. And so I’ve been spending a lot of time talking with teens about their notions of privacy, in part because the notion that kids don’t care about privacy is completely inaccurate.

I’m completely baffled by the persistent assumption that social norms around privacy have radically changed because of social media. This rhetoric is pervasive and is often used to justify privacy invasions. There is little doubt that the Internet is restructuring social interactions, but there is no radical shift in social norms because of social media. Teenagers care _deeply_ about privacy. But they also want to participate in public life and they’re trying to find ways to have both. Privacy is far from dead but it is definitely in a state of flux.

The goal of my talk today is to help you understand engagement with social media through the eyes of young people, exploring social norms around privacy. I believe that understanding the cultural logic of people who are engaged with technology can help you think critically about technology and policy.

Read the rest of her outstanding talk on her web site. And if you’re a parent, definitely read this talk as it may give you greater insights into how your child’s generation views things.

...and the pendulum swings yet again...

Federal Judge Finds Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking Unconstitutional

November 4, 2010 by Dissent

The ACLU blogs about a court opinion mentioned previously on this blog. The opinion is now available online and I expect that EFF will also have something to say about this case:

In August, we blogged about a court decision from the federal court in the Eastern District of New York that held that law enforcement agents are constitutionally obligated to get a warrant based on probable cause before obtaining historical cell phone location information. And in September, we wrote about an opinion from the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals holding that judges may order the government to get a warrant based on probable cause for historical cell phone location information. However, the 3rd Circuit also held that judges are not obligated to require probable cause, and cautioned that they should only require the government to meet this high standard on rare occasions. Now another court has joined the fray. In a detailed opinion (PDF) citing documents obtained through litigation by the ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation, Judge Stephen Smith of the Southern District of Texas held that “warrantless disclosure of cell site data violates the Fourth Amendment.”

Read more on the ACLU’s blog.

Because the RIAA wasn't enough?

Data Protectionism Begins In Earnest

Our post earlier tonight about Google shutting down Facebook’s access to Gmail data exports makes me think two things. First, I’m not sure there’s much data that Facebook doesn’t already have with it’s 600 million users (although 1.3 billion people visit Google sites a week, so they’re not exactly slumming). And second, the data protectionist era has now begun in earnest.

I’m seeing all the signs of a “data war” beginning now. It’s not among nations, though. The players are the big Internet companies who have lots of user data today, and want more (all of it) tomorrow.

For a long while the webmail companies have generally been lenient about exporting user data via an API to other applications. It’s what the user wants, and most everyone is reciprocal. Or, they’re too small to matter yet. This is a “free data trade” type situation with the best economic consequences.

Well, everyone but Facebook. They’ve just pretty much refused to let users export social graph data, even though they import it like crazy from every source they can get their hands on.

This is a game theory situation. One party isn’t playing ball, but’s reaping the benefits of open data policies by all it’s big competitors. That forces competitors to protect their data as well (Google’s done it in a surgical way to avoid fallout with other non-Facebook companies).

I am amazed and amused! Let's hope he can put up with the bureaucracy long enough to have an impact.

FTC Taps Ed Felten As First Chief Technologist

Posted by timothy on Thursday November 04, @03:20PM

"Looks like the Federal Trade Commission got its first choice of Chief Technologist, because it's hard to think of anyone better to serve in that capacity than Princeton computer science professor Ed Felten, a guy whose CV makes everyone from Microsoft to Diebold shudder in embarrassment."

Not the actions of a naive teenager. Much more like a military team.

Zeus Attackers Turned the Tables On Researchers

Posted by CmdrTaco on Thursday November 04, @09:59AM

"The attackers behind a recent Zeus Trojan exploit that targeted quarterly federal taxpayers who file electronically also set up a trap for researchers investigating the attack as well as their competing cybercrime gangs. They fed them a phony administrative panel with fake statistics on the number of Zeus-infected machines, as well as phony 'botnet' software that actually gathers intelligence on the researcher or competitor who downloads it."

Definitions of “thoroughly tested” vary greatly.

Firm finds security holes in mobile bank apps

A security firm disclosed holes today in mobile apps from Bank of America, USAA, Chase, Wells Fargo and TD Ameritrade, prompting a scramble by most of the companies to update the apps.

Specifically, viaForensics concluded that: the USAA's Android app stored copies of Web pages a user visited on the phone; TD Ameritrade's iPhone and Android apps were storing the user name in plain text on the phone; Wells Fargo's Android app stored user name, password, and account data in plain text on the phone; Bank of America's Android app saves a security question (used if a user was accessing the site from an unrecognized device) in plain text on the phone; and Chase's iPhone app stores the username on a phone if the user chose that option, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the iPhone apps from USAA, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Vanguard and PayPal's Android app all passed the security tests and were found to be handling data securely.

This is becoming common – “We know more than you, so we'll just make a few 'improvements'”

CDN Optimizing HTML On the Fly on Friday

Posted by timothy on Friday November 05, @04:57AM

"Cotendo, which is a content distribution network, has taken to altering HTML as it passes through their CDN to optimize web pages for faster rendering. This is essentially a repackaging of the Apache mod mod_pagespeed (from Google), with the critical difference being that the rewriting of HTML occurs inline rather than at the web server. We all know that well-written HTML can result in much better rendering of whatever your content is; the questions are 'Will this automatic rewriting cause other problems, i.e. browser quirks?' and 'Assuming that only the web pages of Cotendo's customers are altered, are there nonetheless potential legal troubles with someone rewriting HTML before delivery to a browser?'"

I am always looking for ways to improve the performance of my Math students. I'm thinking that if a milliamp is good, running a 220 line into the classroom should allow me to create Einsteins!

The electrical zap that makes you better at math

researchers in Britain have discovered, at least according to the Telegraph, that if you aim a low-level zap at just the right part of a math-deficient's brain, you might improve their numerical ability.

In this study, if the charge--one milliamp--went from the right side of the parietal lobe to the left, then mathematical skills appear to have been doubled.

If you go the other way, the recipient will struggle to add 1 and 0. I exaggerate. Slightly. The participants who were charged in this direction seemed to suddenly have the math skills of a 6-year-old. Which might make them look a little silly on "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?"

Tools & Techniques If the school would add this to their website, my students could download files like: Large computer logs (Computer Security) Detailed Census data (Statistics) All the records of Swiss banks (Ethical Hackers)

BurnBit: Create A Torrent For Large Downloads

You find that awesome video on RapidShare but downloading a 300 MB video with your unreliable internet connection is a pain. BurnBit is a tool that can help in such situations by creating a torrent file for the download so you can download it using your favorite torrent client at your pace.

The fact that you will be downloading from an actual server as well as your peers makes BurnBit a better option than traditional downloads.

BurnBit can also be used by webmasters to allow users to download files as torrents by embedding a torrent button. Registration is not required but gives you access to many additional features.

Tools & Techniques

Read Free Books From Google On Your PC With Blio eBook Reader

One of the most recent eBook readers to come about is the Blio eReader, an underdog rising to challenge the Kindle Store, iBooks and others.

What is cool is the Free Books section, which is tied to Google Books. Using Blio you can search through the huge number of publicly available works listed on Google. This includes many classic titles in various genres of literature, science and philosophy.

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