Thursday, December 16, 2010

For my Criminal Justice students. Ubiquitous surveillance just got a new tool! Perhaps this tool will allow you to identify the bad guys from those video images of a bank robbery? Perhaps I could tag politicians as “Left” or “Right?” Let your imagination run wild, as I'm certain the taggers will.

Facial recognition comes to Facebook photo tags

Taking yet another step in the ongoing process of upgrading its photo-sharing service, Facebook announced today that it will soon enable facial-recognition technology--meaning that when members upload photographs and are encouraged to "tag" their friends, they will be able to choose from a list of suggestions.

Thanks to its treasure trove of user photos that have already been tagged, not to mention personal profile photos, Facebook has built up a huge base of data for gauging exactly who's in what photo. There are now 100 million photo uploads per day, according to Facebook, and 100 million "tags" each day as well. Tagging is also a hallmark of Facebook's photo product, which was otherwise bare-bones, difficult to use, and lagged behind competitors at its launch. Being able to annotate each photo with friends' names was largely what propelled Facebook Photos forward.

"Tagging is actually really important for control, because every time a tag is created it means that there was a photo of you on the Internet that you didn't know about," Facebook Vice President of Product Chris Cox told CNET. "Once you know that, you can remove the tag, or you can promote it to your friends, or you can write the person and say, 'I'm not that psyched about this photo.'"

Of course, there will be someone out there who cries foul with regard to how Facebook handles users' personal information or wonders whether this is a sign that Facebook knows too much about us all. Cox explained that there will be an opt-out for the new feature so that if a member does not want to show up in his or her friends' tagging suggestions, they won't.

For my Ethical Hackers

Lessons Learned From the Gawker Hack

The numbers were impressive: 1.3 million user accounts exposed, 405 megabytes of source code lost, and perhaps more important to some, the identity of those leaving anonymous comments potentially revealed. For Gawker, there is a loss of trust that will be difficult to regain. Users are already clamoring for the ability to delete their accounts. [Apparently, this “feature” is not normally built into user-facing systems. Bob] And, on the technical side, all Gawker’s systems will need to painstakingly audited or rebuilt entirely from scratch to prevent the same thing from happening again.

1. First and foremost, DO NOT poke the bear. By taunting the hacker community, especially the vigilante types, Gawker made itself a target unnecessarily. Never claim to be “unhackable.” The hackers outnumber you by several orders of magnitude, and they have more free time. Respect their capabilities. Not to mention the odds are always stacked against defenders. The attackers only have to find one little crack in wall to bring the castle crumbling down.

2. Learn the fundamentals of incident response. Don’t pretend everything is OK when it’s not.

3. Make sure your organization is doing basic security blocking and tackling.

4. Have a knowledgeable security professional in place.

5. Hack yourself first or the bad guys will do it for you.

6. NEVER use the same passwords across online accounts.

… Perhaps the most important lesson is that it will happen again, so everyone needs to be prepared.

Bad enough when Google started watching you from satellites. Then they drove a camera-car down your street. No doubt that now they will want to ride a Segway through your building. What's next? If they can convince realtors to photograph homes, eventually they will have a floor plan for every home.

Beyond The Street, Bing Will Add Interior Views Of Local Businesses From EveryScape

I can't see people running into the street chanting “We're number 25! We're number 25!”

U.S. ranks 25th in the world for Internet connection speed

(Related) What's worse is that there is no technological reason for the US to be so far behind other than the lack of competition (read: free market)

Not So Fast LTE, HSPA Could Become 100 Times Speedier!

Nokia Siemens Networks today promoted a new wireless broadband standard that could offer peak downloads speeds of 672 Mbps, or roughly 100 times faster than the average 3G speeds of today.

Similar to the Sixth Circuit's ruling?

EFF Location Privacy Victory at Third Circuit Stands, With Implications Far Beyond Your Cell Phone

December 15, 2010 by Dissent

Kevin Bankston shares the great news:

In EFF’s second major privacy victory in as many days, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals today denied the government’s request that it reconsider its September decision regarding government access to cell phone company records that reveal your past locations. That means the court’s original opinion — holding that federal magistrates have the discretion to require the government to get a search warrant based on probable cause before obtaining cell phone location records — is now the settled law of the Third Circuit, assuming the government doesn’t seek review by the Supreme Court. Importantly, this victory won’t just provide greater protection for the privacy of your cell phone records but for all other communications records that the government currently obtains without warrants.


This victory is particularly gratifying because the Third Circuit’s decision has implications far beyond cell phone location privacy. The main holding of the case was a general ruling about the federal Stored Communications Act (“SCA”), the portion of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 that regulates communications providers disclosure of communications content and records. That statute is regularly used by the government to secretly obtain a broad range of content and records, not just cell phone location records, based not a probable cause warrant but on a much easier to obtain court order that doesn’t require probable cause (often called a “D Order” since they are authorized in subsection (d) of section 2703 of the SCA). For example, the government routinely obtains email content using D orders instead of warrants (you may remember we joined with Yahoo! to beat back such a request just this summer).

The key holding in this case affects the basic operation of the SCA for D Orders. What the Third Circuit held was that, when the government applies for a D Order, the judge has the discretion to deny that application and instead require a warrant in order to avoid potential Fourth Amendment problems. This is an incredibly powerful pro-privacy ruling, especially compared to the government’s position that courts must grant D orders when the government meets the minimal, non-probable cause factual showing that the statute requires. The Third Circuit has clarified that judges can deny D Order applications — for cell phone records, for emails, or anything else — so long as they have reason to believe that the order might violate the Fourth Amendment.

Read more on EFF.

Cyber war: Cheaper than bombing. Makes me wonder what other areas of infrastructure have been target and are just waiting for the “trigger” to be pulled.

Stuxnet Virus Set Back Iran’s Nuclear Program by 2 Years

"The Jpost article states: 'The Stuxnet virus, which has attacked Iran's nuclear facilities and which Israel is suspected of creating, has set back the Islamic Republic's nuclear program by two years, a top German computer consultant who was one of the first experts to analyze the program's code told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. Widespread speculation has named Israel's Military Intelligence Unit 8200, known for its advanced Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) capabilities, as the possible creator of the software, as well as the United States.'"

Let the lawsuits begin!

OnLive Awarded Patent For Cloud-Based Gaming

"Cloud gaming provider OnLive has secured a patent for an 'apparatus and method for wireless video gaming.' The patent gives substantial leverage for OnLive over competing brands in the cloud-based gaming market. 'Hundreds of people have worked incredibly hard for more than eight years to bring OnLive technology from the lab to the mass market, not just overcoming technical and business challenges, but overcoming immense skepticism,' said OnLive CEO Steve Perlman. 'It is gratifying to not only see people throughout the world enjoying OnLive technology in the wake of so many doubters, but also receive recognition for such a key invention.'"

For my Computer Security students. Base you decision on the type/amount of information you had to provide.

The Case For Lousy Passwords

"Since the Gawker and McDonald's hack attacks, the web has been overrun with admonishments for using weak passwords. But weak passwords have their place too, says blogger Peter Smith. Like, for example, on Gawker, where he really doesn't care if it gets cracked. 'Life is too short to be worrying about 24 character passwords for trivial sites,' says Smith. And, to put things in perspective, your good passwords are pretty weak too. In a 2007 Coding Horror article, Jeff Atwood points out that the password "Fgpyyih804423" was cracked in 160 seconds by the Ophcrack cracker."

[Get Ophcrack:

Perhaps I'll make my students submit their papers in e-Reader format...

How To Make An ePub File For The iPad, Nook, Kobo & More

With the advent of e-ink devices, and tablets like the iPad, more and more people are doing their reading digitally. If you want your writing to reach a broader audience, you should know how to create files for these devices.

Creating From Scratch Or Editing

Jeffry highlighted two cross-platform tools for creating iBooks earlier this year: Sigil and eCub. Both of these tools are handy if you’re looking to create an ePub from scratch, so read that article, but know Sigil has a key advantage Jeffry didn’t mention: it can edit existing ePub files.

... Lexcycle has a great guide on creating and editing ePub files from scratch, so consider checking that out before getting too deep.

… If none of this is working for you, check out Calibre, the ultimate ebook manager. This program can convert many different formats to ePub, so it’s a great tool to have in your kit.

Very handy way to answer “computer” questions from anyone!

Google launches Teach Parents Tech site

Google has produced 54 how-to videos produced and hosted by Google employees, each of which runs for just under a minute.

Topics covered include such basics as "how to attach a file to an email" or "how to copy and paste" through to "how to find cheap flights."

the YouTube link

This site does not (yet) have very broad coverage but it is definitely one to watch. Try searching for you favorite magazine. Who decided that 1500 words was “Long?” My students would say 15 words is TLTT (too long to text)

Longreads: A Long-Form Content Aggregator

Do you like to read long-form content – articles that are usually more than 1,500 words, and can extend up to a few 1,000 words, from your favorite publications? If you do, then you are sure to like this simple tool called Longreads.

It links to such content every day and archives them in its database which is searchable. So, if you are looking for some gems from NY Times, then you just need to type “New York Times” on the Longreads search bar and hit search.

Similar tools: Sendmeastory, DailyLit, and MaYoMo.

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