Monday, December 17, 2012

A question for the lawyers or the insurers?
AU: Hackers’ extortion bid on schools
December 16, 2012 by admin
I don’t recall ever seeing an media report on an extortion/ransom attempt on a school, but here’s a case out of Australia, where they also seem to have more media reports of ransomware in the healthcare and small business sectors than we do. As reported by the Herald Sun:
Schools have emerged as a new cybercrime battleground, after a north coast community school had its records seized by hackers.
Byron Bay Community School had its student records and accounts seized by hackers who demanded payment in return for access to files.
Police advised the school not to pay up and the NSW Police Cybercrime squad is investigating the attempted extortion.
Are market forces at work here, too? Do hackers demand as much from schools as from medical practices or businesses? The paper doesn’t disclose the amount demanded, but the problem of ransomware seems to be mushrooming globally.

...but you knew that. Didn't you?

Not everyone is ignoring the mentally ill, although I don't think this is the best way to do it....
"The Westboro Baptist Church stated earlier this week that they would be picketing the funerals of the victims of Newtown Connecticut's tragic shooting in an effort to bring awareness to their hate messages. In response, the Anonymous hacker collective has hacked their website and posted the personal information of all of its members."

Using this model, what other industries are dead or dying?
December 16, 2012
Post Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present
Post Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present, a report by C.W. Anderson, Emily Bell, Clay Shirky. Columbia Journalism School, Tow Center for Digital Journalism
  • "This essay is part survey and part manifesto, one that concerns itself with the practice of journalism and the practices of journalists in the United States. It is not, however, about “the future of the news industry,” both because much of that future is already here and because there is no such thing as the news industry anymore. There used to be one, held together by the usual things that hold an industry together: similarity of methods among a relatively small and coherent group of businesses, and an inability for anyone outside that group to produce a competitive product. Those conditions no longer hold true. If you wanted to sum up the past decade of the news ecosystem in a single phrase, it might be this: Everybody suddenly got a lot more freedom. The newsmakers, the advertisers, the startups, and, especially, the people formerly known as the audience have all been given new freedom to communicate, narrowly and broadly, outside the old strictures of the broadcast and publishing models. The past 15 years have seen an explosion of new tools and techniques, and, more importantly, new assumptions and expectations, and these changes have wrecked the old clarity."

Talking points for the coming debate...
Gun” “Control”
Please note that this is a post about technology, not politics.
… What is a gun? A barrel is not a gun, nor is a stock, or a sight, or a trigger. But at some point you put these and a few other objects together and you have a gun. As it turns out, strictly speaking, the receiver is how such things end up being defined in this country, at least as a rule of thumb. Buying, selling, and creating the receiver, into which a cartridge passes from the magazine and is prepared for discharge, is buying, selling, and creating a gun.
You may have read that there is already a 3D model of an AR receiver that can be printed, combined with other parts, and turned into a working firearm. The most recent news on that front was such a gun failing after firing just six rounds, leading to no small amount of derision online regarding the possibility of printed guns.
This allows people to ignore the issue, since if they aren’t making real guns, it’s not a real problem. In fact, some reading this probably consider the issue a little silly.
This skepticism is misplaced for two reasons.
First, the problem is strictly technical, and the team that made the gun was already analyzing and correcting for the problem by the end of the day. If they had a high-quality printer, they could have the improved part overnight, which is a capability that is changing other industries as well.
Second, the problem is not a problem. They created a working firearm. In World War II, the U.S. manufactured one million FP-45 Liberator handguns. These crude, single-shot pistols were designed to be dropped from the air by the thousand over occupied territory, to give the resistance there the advantage of a firearm, be it only for one shot. The fundamental difference was not between six shots and a hundred shots, but between zero shots and any shots at all.
A 3D-printed gun, were it only to fire one shot before melting or failing, is still a gun. After that, the difference is only in what kind of gun it is.
… if you were to discuss a law that allows or restricts the creation and distribution of firearms, would you attempt to do so without acknowledging the existence of 3D-printed weapons and the ability to transfer blueprints for them online?
Here’s the problem, though. Like the digitization of music, the digitization of objects, guns or otherwise, is a one-way street. Every step forward is ineffaceable. Once you can make an MP3 and share it online, that’s it, there’s no going back — the industry is changed, just like that.

(Related) It's a law, but I'm not sure what it means... Is it designed to keep guns out of certain areas or only concealed guns?
Bill allowing concealed weapons in schools approved by House committee
… Michigan now prohibits people licensed for concealed weapons from carrying them in schools, day care centers, sports arenas, bars, places of worship, hospitals, dorms and casinos. They can, however, openly carry their guns in schools and all other places except federal buildings, courthouses and casinos.
The bill would let CPL holders apply for an exemption so they could carry concealed guns in those gun-free zones, though they no longer could openly carry there under the legislation.

(Related) Try to be factual..
December 16, 2012 provides evidence-based, public health-oriented information on armed violence around the globe
"The international bulletin of firearm injury prevention since 1997, Gun Policy News provides daily global and regional bulletins of small arms policy, armed violence prevention and gun control news published in mass media. is hosted by the Sydney School of Public Health, the University of Sydney. The School provides internationally recognised leadership in public health by advancing and disseminating knowledge — in this case, supporting global efforts to prevent gun injury. With its partners and contributors, promotes the public health model of firearm injury prevention, as adopted by the United Nations Programme of Action on illicit small arms." Users may Search Gun Policy News by Keyword or Phrase, News by Country, News by Region

Stuff I find interesting...
Georgetown has joined edX. (edX member institutions now includes Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley, the University of Texas system, Wellesley College, and Georgetown.)
Straighterline has launched “Professor Direct” — something that Fast Company’s Anya Kamenetz describes as an “eBay for professors” — which will allow individual professors to offer their own online courses, set their own tuition, and offer (ACE) credit.
… More international test score data — the TIMSS (the Trends in International Math and Science Study) and PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) — were released this week, providing lots of fuel for the ol’ “American education is broken” narratives. The U.S. scores are “unacceptable if our schools are to live up to the American promise of giving all children a world-class education,” [Who promised that? Bob] said Arne Duncan. But University of Oregon education professor Yong Zhao has the best response to this handwringing and notes wryly “The fact the U.S. as a nation is still standing despite of its abysmal standing on international academic tests for over half a century begs two questions: Is education as important to a nation’s national security and economy as important as believed? If it is, are the numbers telling the truth about the quality of education in the U.S. and other nations?”

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