Saturday, August 24, 2013

Articles like this make me wonder how many centuries it took humans to realize that closing and locking a door reduced theft? Somewhere these people must have heard about encrypting data or storing it on a more secure server locked in a more secure room. Here's a simple idea. Ask your neighbors, competitors, auditors, even you local police department about security. Hell, you can even Google it!
Peter Frost and Julie Wernau of the Chicago Tribune report than 4 million patients of Advocate Medical Group may be at risk of ID theft after four computers were stolen during a burglary last month at Advocate’s administrative building on West Touhy Avenue in Park Ridge. Advocate Medical Group is part of Advocate Health Care.
In its statement on, a web site it created about the breach, Advocate explains that the burglary, which occurred overnight, was discovered on July 15.
Our investigation confirmed that the computers contained patient information used by Advocate for administrative purposes and may have included patient demographic information (for example, names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers) and limited clinical information (for example, treating physician and/or departments, diagnoses, medical record numbers, medical service codes, health insurance information). Patient medical records were not on the computers and patient care will not be affected. [Aren't “diagnoses'” and “medical service codes” (tests or treatments they plan to bill for) “medical records?” Bob]
That sounds like more than enough information for ID theft and possibly medical ID theft if the insurance information included policy numbers. Although the burglars may have stolen the hardware for its non-content value, will someone discover what is on it and try to misuse the patient information?
And did Advocate have enough security in place? The Chicago Tribune reports:
The building was not equipped with an alarm, but it had a security camera and a panic button, Golson said. Advocate has since installed continuous security staffing at the office and is re-evaluating its security systems and practices systemwide.
The lack of encryption is probably the most glaring security failure. Did their policies require encryption but the policies weren’t followed or did they not have an encryption policy in place? And will HHS see this as insufficient physical security and insufficient technical security?
What will HHS do? And what will the state attorney general do?
A copy of Advocate’s patient notification letter has been uploaded to the California Attorney General’s breach reporting site, here (pdf).

The early poster boy for illegal surveillance?
New Zealand appears to have used NSA spy network to target Kim Dotcom
A new examination of previously published affidavits from the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB)—the New Zealand equivalent of the National Security Agency (NSA)—appears to suggest that the GCSB used the “Five Eyes” international surveillance network to capture the communications of Kim Dotcom, the founder of Megaupload.
The new analysis was posted by New Zealand journalist Keith Ng in a Thursday blog post. If the link proves to be true, it would seem that the NSA’s vast international surveillance capability can be turned against individuals unrelated to the NSA’s stated mission to aid military, counterintelligence, or counterterrorism objectives.
… At the time of the surveillance against Dotcom, the GCSB was only allowed to engage in surveillance of non-resident foreigners. However, earlier this week, the New Zealand parliament voted 61-59 to expand the GCSB’s powers to encompass citizens and legal residents.

What “privacy controls” need to be applied at what points in the surveillance process?
International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on August 23, 2013
“As technologies that facilitate State surveillance of communications advance, States are failing to ensure that laws and regulations related to communications surveillance adhere to international human rights and adequately protect the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. This document attempts to explain how international human rights law applies in the current digital environment, particularly in light of the increase in and changes to communications surveillance technologies and techniques. These principles can provide civil society groups, industry, States and others with a framework to evaluate whether current or proposed surveillance laws and practices are consistent with human rights. These principles are the outcome of a global consultation with civil society groups, industry and international experts in communications surveillance law, policy and technology.
Preamble: Privacy is a fundamental human right, and is central to the maintenance of democratic societies. It is essential to human dignity and it reinforces other rights, such as freedom of expression and information, and freedom of association, and is recognised under international human rights law. Activities that restrict the right to privacy, including communications surveillance, can only be justified when they are prescribed by law, they are necessary to achieve a legitimate aim, and are proportionate to the aim pursued.
Before public adoption of the Internet, well-established legal principles and logistical burdens inherent in monitoring communications created limits to State communications surveillance. In recent decades, those logistical barriers to surveillance have decreased and the application of legal principles in new technological contexts has become unclear. The explosion of digital communications content and information about communications, or “communications metadata” — information about an individual’s communications or use of electronic devices — the falling cost of storing and mining large sets of data, and the provision of personal content through third party service providers make State surveillance possible at an unprecedented scale. Meanwhile, conceptualisations of existing human rights law have not kept up with the modern and changing communications surveillance capabilities of the State, the ability of the State to combine and organize information gained from different surveillance techniques, or the increased sensitivity of the information available to be accessed.”

Clearly, I'm not the only one who sees this as a good thing.
Steve Ballmer just made $625 million by firing himself
Since Steve Ballmer’s announcement this morning that he’s stepping down as CEO of Microsoft in the next 12 months, the company’s stock has popped more than 8%. Ballmer is Microsoft’s second-largest individual shareholder, with 333,252,990 shares, which means his $16 billion net worth just appreciated $625 million. Bill Gates, Microsoft’s largest individual shareholder, just added $741 million to his $71.3 billion kitty.

For my website students.
– helps you to test web fonts on any website on the fly. Enter the site URL, and when you click on a font, you will be taken to that website with all of the text changed to the font you chose. This will allow you to see right away what a font would look like on your site without having to actually change anything. You can go back and choose another font until you find one you like.

Something for my website students (who have adequate legal representation)
– is a site that lists, catalogues, and embeds YouTube videos which are full length feature movies, uploaded by other people. You can break down the selection by decade, genre, and movie score, and when you click on a movie poster, that film will be embedded on the page. The site breaks no laws [Always a “red flag” phrase Bob] because it is only listing what others have uploaded, and they give a link if anyone wants to file a copyright violation with YouTube.

What amusements await?
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asked this week if “connectivity is a human right?” launching, as part of his company’s mission to “make the world more open and connected,” a new organization,, to bring the Internet to those in the world without access to it. UC Berkeley grad student Jen Schradie has a wonderful response in which she thoroughly trounces the “Silicon Valley ideology” driving the announcement, which certainly seems much less about humanitarianism and much more about monetizing a new market.
… It’s the time of year for the Beloit Mindset list, which Beloit College publishes each fall to characterize the “mindset” of incoming freshmen. But even better, I’d say, was the unveiling of the Benoit Mindlessness site this week, “dedicated to the mockery and eventual destruction of the Beloit mindset list.” Also fairly awesome: the #2170BeloitMindset hashtag on Twitter, with such gems as “the planet earth has always been uninhabitable.”
… According to a survey by CarringtonCrisp, “fifty per cent of employers would not consider recruiting someone who had studied for their degree wholly online.” Other findings suggest that students are “suspicious of MOOCs,” although less so about online education in general. The (Pearson-owned) Financial Times, in reporting this “research,” calls it a “blow to MOOCs.”
The Computer Science Teachers Association has released a report about CS teacher certification in the US, which finds only two states (Arizona and Wisconsin) require teachers to be certified or licensed to teach computer science.
… Lots of facts and figures in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Almanac of Higher Education 2013”: what professors make, what colleges cost, what students think about digital textbooks, and more.

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