Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hey, it's lots cheaper than bombing their facilities...”
Report: US and Israel Behind Flame Espionage Tool
The United States and Israel are responsible for developing the sophisticated espionage rootkit known as Flame, according to anonymous Western sources quoted in a news report.
The malware was designed to provide intelligence about Iran’s computer networks and spy on Iranian officials through their computers as part of an ongoing cyberwarfare campaign, according to the Washington Post.
The program was a joint effort of the National Security Agency, the CIA and Israel’s military, which also produced the Stuxnet worm that is believed to have sabotaged centrifuges used for Iran’s uranium enrichment program in 2009 and 2010.
This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action,” a former high-ranking US intelligence official told the Post. “Cyber collection against the Iranian program is way further down the road than this.”

Try your hand at intelligence? What did we know and when did we know it?
June 19, 2012
National Security Archive: Top Secret CIA Documents on Osama bin Laden Declassified
News release: "The National Security Archive today is posting over 100 recently released CIA documents relating to September 11, Osama bin Laden, and U.S. counterterrorism operations. The newly-declassified records, which the Archive obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, are referred to in footnotes to the 9/11 Commission Report and present an unprecedented public resource for information about September 11. The collection includes rarely released CIA emails, raw intelligence cables, analytical summaries, high-level briefing materials, and comprehensive counterterrorism reports that are usually withheld from the public because of their sensitivity. Today's posting covers a variety of topics of major public interest, including background to al-Qaeda's planning for the attacks; the origins of the Predator program now in heavy use over Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran; al-Qaeda's relationship with Pakistan; CIA attempts to warn about the impending threat; and the impact of budget constraints on the U.S. government's hunt for bin Laden. Today's posting is the result of a series of FOIA requests by National Security Archive staff based on a painstaking review of references in the 9/11 Commission Report."

Busy little beavers...
June 19, 2012
Report - Applications Made to FISA Court During Calendar Year 2011
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legislative Affairs, Applications Made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court During Calendar Year 2011, submitted pursuant to sections 107 and 502 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, as amended, 50 U.S.C. Sec. 1801 et seq., and section 118 of USA PATRIOT Improvement Act and Reauthorization Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-177 (2006)

Change is the most difficult thing an organization can do.
"In his essay 'Capitalists Who Fear Change,' author Jeffrey Tucker takes on 'wimps who don't want to improve.' From DMCA take-downs on 3D printing files to the constant refrain that every new form of music recording will 'kill music,' Mr. Tucker observes, 'Through our long history of improvement, every upgrade and every shift from old to new inspired panic. The biggest panic typically comes from the producers themselves who resent the way the market process destabilizes their business model.' He analyzes how the markets move the march of technology ever forward. He takes on patents, copyrights, tariffs, and protectionism of entrenched interests in general, with guarded optimism: 'The promise of the future is nothing short of spectacular — provided that those who lack the imagination to see the potential here don't get their way.'"

I am amused... Still, it is an interesting argument.
Free Speech for Computers?
DO machines speak? If so, do they have a constitutional right to free speech?
… In today’s world, we have delegated many of our daily decisions to computers. On the drive to work, a GPS device suggests the best route; at your desk, Microsoft Word guesses at your misspellings, and Facebook recommends new friends. In the past few years, the suggestion has been made that when computers make such choices they are “speaking,” and enjoy the protections of the First Amendment.
This is a bad idea that threatens the government’s ability to oversee companies and protect consumers.

For my Business Continuity class: Remember that “highly improbable” is not “impossible.”
Annals of bad luck: when primary, backup, and second backup power fail
A new root cause analysis describes an Amazon outage that occurred last week in Amazon's East Coast data centers. The report shows a series of problems resulted in virtual machines and storage volumes losing primary, backup, and secondary backup power. A cable fault took down the main service, a defective cooling fan messed up a backup generator, and finally an incorrectly configured circuit breaker caused secondary backup to fail.

For my Website design class. A supplement to
The project is completely web-based, and it is designed to help users with writing basic code in both HTML and CSS. Thimble is part of Mozilla’s Webmaker Project, which is designed to encourage people to create their own content on the web.

Just in time for my statistics class...
June 19, 2012
Early beta version of Zanran - search for 'semi-structured' data on the web
"Zanran helps you to find ‘semi-structured’ data on the web. This is the numerical data that people have presented as graphs and tables and charts. For example, the data could be a graph in a PDF report, or a table in an Excel spreadsheet, or a barchart shown as an image in an HTML page. This huge amount of information can be difficult to find using conventional search engines, which are focused primarily on finding text rather than graphs, tables and bar charts... Zanran doesn't work by spotting wording in the text and looking for images – it's the other way round. The system examines millions of images and decides for each one whether it's a graph, chart or table – whether it has numerical content. The core technology is patented computer vision algorithms that decide whether an image is numerical – and they're accurate (about 98%). But the huge majority of images on the internet are not graphs etc. So even though the accuracy is high, you will still get some non-numerical images. In comparison, looking for tables is relatively simple. Once we've found a table we then have to decide whether it's essentially numerical - and we have algorithms for that."

(Related) Finding those on the left of the curve (because sometimes you don't want the 'best and the brightest.'
"'Nigerian scams' (also known as '419 scams' but more accurately called 'advance fee fraud') continue to clog up inboxes with tales of fantastic wealth for the recipient. The raises the question: Do people still fall for this rubbish? The emails often outline ridiculous scenarios but promise millions if a person offers to help get money out of a country. The reason for the ridiculous scenarios seems obvious in retrospect: According to research by Cormac Herley at Microsoft, scammers are looking for the most gullible people, and their crazy emails can help weed out people who are savvy enough to know better. Contrary to what people believe, the scams aren't 'free' for the scammers (PDF): sending an email might have close to zero cost attached, but the process of getting money out of someone can be quite complicated and incurs costs (for example, recruiting other parties to participate in the scam). So at the end of the day, the scammer wants to find people who will almost certainly fall for the scam and offer a good return."

Research for free!
June 19, 2012
Beta version Directory of Open access Books
"The primary aim of DOAB is to increase discoverability of Open Access books. Academic publishers are invited to provide metadata of their Open Access books to DOAB. [Currently there are 1098 Academic peer-reviewed books from 27 publishers.] Metadata will be harvestable in order to maximize dissemination, visibility and impact. Aggregators can integrate the records in their commercial services and libraries can integrate the directory into their online catalogues, helping scholars and students to discover the books. The directory will be open to all publishers who publish academic, peer reviewed books in Open Access and should contain as many books as possible, provided that these publications are in Open Access and meet academic standards."

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