Saturday, January 08, 2011

Unfortunately, 4 million is nowhere close to a record. But this surely make the “top ten most incomprehensible security failures” list...

Mobile security outrage: private details accessible on net

January 8, 2011 by admin

Natalie O’Brien reports:

The personal details of millions of Vodafone customers, including their names, home addresses, driver’s licence numbers and credit card details, have been publicly available on the internet in what is being described as an ”unbelievable” lapse in security by the mobile phone giant.

The Sun-Herald is aware of criminal groups paying for the private information of some Vodafone customers to stand over them.

Other people have apparently obtained logins to check their spouses’ communications.

Personal details, accessible from any computer because they are kept on an internet site rather than on Vodafone’s internal system, include which numbers a person has dialled or texted, plus from where and when.

The full extent of the privacy breach is unknown but The Sun-Herald has learnt that possibly thousands of people have logins that can be passed around and used by anyone to gain full access to the accounts of about 4 million Vodafone customers.

Read more in the Sydney Morning Herald.

[From the article:

Vodafone retailers have said each store has a user name and password for the system. That access is shared by staff and every three months it is changed. Other mobile dealers who sell Vodafone products also get full access to the database.

Anyone with full access can look up a customer's bills and make changes to accounts.

(Related) What good is all that information without a simple exploit? For my Ethical Hackers

'SMS of Death' Could Crash Many Mobile Phones

"Research presented at a conference in Germany last week shows that phones don't even have to be smart to be vulnerable to hackers. Using only Short Message Service (SMS) communications, a pair of security researchers were able to force low-end phones to shut down abruptly and knock them off a cellular network. The trick works for handsets made by Nokia, LG, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and Micromax, a popular Indian cell-phone manufacturer."

Interesting that they ask for some data by Username (assuming that it is an individual of interest?) and some by name (assuming they have Twitter accounts?) Which is more likely to result in an unrelated individual's information being hoovered up with the “persons of interest?” What is the impact of asking for the records of a member of Iceland's parliament? (Is there Diplomatic Immunity on the Internet?)

WikiLeaks Supporters' Twitter Accounts Subpoenaed

"The US Justice Department has served Twitter with a subpoena for the personal information and private messages of WikiLeaks supporters. There's a copy of the subpoena here (PDF); boing boing has a detailed article. Twitter has 3 days to turn over the information."

Imagine every Internet service demanding “ePapers, Citizen!”

Internet Freedom Alert: Obama Admin Pushing Ahead Today with Dangerous “Internet Trusted Identity” Scheme

January 7, 2011 by Dissent

Lauren Weinstein sounds the alert:

Greetings. At this moment — as I type this — the Obama administration is pushing forward with its horrendous DHS-linked “Trusted Internet Identity” scheme (formally – “NSTIC”: “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace”) via a meeting and announcements today at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

As I’ve discussed in Why the New Federal “Trusted Internet Identity” Proposal is Such a Very Bad Idea and postings linked within that article, NSTIC is an incredibly dangerous concept fraught with all manner of major direct and collateral risks to individuals, organizations, freedom of speech, and civil rights in general.

In contrast to the benign concepts of Net Neutrality — which despite right-wing claims to the contrary will not result in a government “takeover” of the Internet or the muzzling of free speech — NSTIC in fact carries very much those actual risks.

Read more on Lauren Weinstein’s Blog.

[From the blog:

NSTIC will never remain "voluntary" as its proponents claim. It will ultimately put the government firmly into every networked computing device that we use, and become the key mechanism to track users, control access to information, eliminate legitimate anonymity, and otherwise convert the Internet into a tool more suited for future oppression than open communication.

For my Data Mining and Analysis students Note the application to measuring the rise (and fall) of specific memes and technologies

January 06, 2011

Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books

Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books, Published Online 16 December 2010, Jean-Baptiste Michel et al. Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1199644.

  • "We constructed a corpus of digitized texts containing about 4% of all books ever printed. Analysis of this corpus enables us to investigate cultural trends quantitatively. We survey the vast terrain of “culturomics”, focusing on linguistic and cultural phenomena that were reflected in the English language between 1800 and 2000. We show how this approach can provide insights about fields as diverse as lexicography, the evolution of grammar, collective memory, the adoption of technology, the pursuit of fame, censorship, and historical epidemiology. “Culturomics” extends the boundaries of rigorous quantitative inquiry to a wide array of new phenomena spanning the social sciences and the humanities...We report the creation of a corpus of 5,195,769 digitized books containing ~4% of all books ever published. The corpus has emerged from Google’s effort to digitize books."

See also Geoffrey Nunberg, Chronicle of Higher Education - Counting on Google Books

For my Small Business Management students.

LotR Online's Free-To-Play Switch Tripled Revenue

Last June, Turbine made the decision to switch Lord of the Rings Online from a subscription-based business model to a free-to-play model supported by microtransactions. In a podcast interview with Ten Ton Hammer, Turbine executives revealed that the switch has gone well for the company, with game revenues roughly tripling. The active player base has also grown significantly in that time. Executive Producer Kate Paiz said, "This really echoes a lot of what we've seen throughout the entertainment industry in general. It's really about letting players make their choices about how they play."

Interesting – like an interactive PowerPoint...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Interactive Guides to Global Issues

The Council on Foreign Relations has a nice collection of interactive guides to contemporary global political and economic issues. In all there are twenty-three guides in the collection. Some of the topics the guides cover are nuclear energy, the Iraq War, tensions in the Korean Peninsula, the global economy, and climate change. Each guide is divided into chapters. Each chapter contains videos, graphics, text, and timelines to help viewers understand the many layers of each issue.

Quelle surprise

College Students Lack Scientific Literacy

An anonymous reader writes with news of research into the scientific literacy of college biology students. Earlier studies found that students tended to "rely on mainly informal reasoning derived from their personal experiences," so the researchers derived a new instructional framework that explicitly taught principle-based reasoning. While the number of students who used this method did increase, more than half continued to use informal reasoning, which the researchers say points to a flaw in the way biology is taught (PDF). "Most college-level instruction presents students with complicated narratives about the details of key processes (e.g., cellular respiration), but does not explicitly reinforce the use of key principles to connect those processes. Therefore, students are understandably occupied with memorizing details of processes without focusing on the principles that govern and connect the processes. ... As a result, students may leave an introductory biology course with the ability to recite the reactions in the Calvin cycle but still believing that plants obtain most of their mass from the soil rather than from the atmosphere, that plants photosynthesize but do not respire, or that the mass of a decomposing organism will primarily return to the soil."

No comments: