Thursday, October 24, 2013
Surely, I'm not the only one to notice this. It's one thing to use your computer to automate trading. Being faster than the other guy is just a form of arbitrage. (and trading computers are very fast.) Jumping the gun is at least conspiracy. Imaging what it would be if this was a hack by a foreign power.
Futures spike just before US jobs data raises eyebrows
Call it a Tuesday morning market mystery – why did so many futures prices seem to move before the Department of Labor released the jobs report this morning?
According to Eric Hunsader of Nanex, a wide range of futures moved before the 8:30 a.m. release time of the jobs report.
Some of them moved as much as 500 milliseconds before the news – plenty of time for high-speed computer traders to rake in profits before the rest of the market.
Traders may have gotten last week’s Fed news 7 milliseconds early
Reporting from CNBC and Quartz points to strong circumstantial evidence that one or more traders received an early leak of the Federal Reserve's surprise decision last week not to slow down its bond purchases.
Markets swung rapidly on the 2 p.m. announcement last Wednesday, with stocks, bonds, and the price of gold all skyrocketing. Somebody placed massive orders for gold futures contracts betting on exactly that outcome within a millisecond or two of 2 p.m. that day -- before the seven milliseconds had passed that would allow the transmission of the information from the Fed's "lock-up" of media organizations who get an early look at the data and the arrival of that information at Chicago's futures markets (that's the time it takes the data to travel at the speed of light. A millisecond is a thousandth of a second). CNBC's Eamon Javers, citing market analysis firm Nanex, estimates that $600 million in assets could have changed hands in that fleeting moment.
There would seem to be three possibilities: 1) Some trader was extraordinarily lucky, placing a massive bet just before a major announcement that would make that bet highly profitable. 2) There was a leak, either by a media organization with early access to the data or even someone at the Fed. Or 3) The laws of physics have been violated as the information traveled from Washington to Chicago faster than the speed of light.
You can see why Option 2 looks the most plausible.
Took them long enough...
If you thought the FTC was done with Aaron’s Rent-to-Own when they approved a final order settling charges against rent-to-own companies in April, think again. The FTC just issued this press release yesterday:
Aaron’s, Inc., a national, Atlanta-based rent-to-own retailer, has agreed to settle FTC charges that it knowingly played a direct and vital role in its franchisees’ installation and use of software on rental computers that secretly monitored consumers including by taking webcam pictures of them in their homes.
According to the FTC’s complaint, Aaron’s franchisees used the software, which surreptitiously tracked consumers’ locations, captured images through the computers’ webcams – including those of adults engaged in intimate activities – and activated keyloggers that captured users’ login credentials for email accounts and financial and social media sites.
The software was the subject of related FTC actions earlier this year against the software manufacturer and several rent-to-own stores, including Aaron’s franchisees, that used it. It included a feature called Detective Mode, which, in addition to monitoring keystrokes, capturing screenshots, and activating the computer’s webcam, also presented deceptive “software registration” screens designed to get computer users to provide personal information.
Additional files on the complaint and consent order can be found on the FTC’s web site. And unless I’m missing something, the consent agreement does not require Aaron’s or its franchisees to actually notify customers that their personal data was acquired via the webcam activation.
So how will this consent order impact a potential class action lawsuit filed by Crystal and Brian Byrd against Aaron’s in 2011? Previous coverage of the lawsuit on this blog is linked from here. The lawsuit is ongoing and Aaron’s has moved for dismissal of the third amended complaint. Take a look at the docket for the lawsuit.
Bigger is rarely gooder.
Healthcare.gov code allegedly two times larger than Facebook, Windows, and OS X combined
… The latest controversy revolves around The New York Times' reporting that roughly 1 percent of Healthcare.gov -- or 5 million lines of code -- would need to be rewritten, putting the Web site's total size at a mind-boggling 500 million lines of code -- a scale that suggests months upon months of work.
Some are naturally skeptical of that ridiculous-sounding number -- as well as the credibility of The New York Times' source, who remains unnamed. Forums of programmers on sites like Reddit have postulated that, if true, it would have to involve mounds of bloated legacy code from past systems -- making it one of the largest Web systems ever built. One developer, Alex Marchant of Orange, Calif., decided to draw an interesting comparison to point that out.
(Related) And she's still employed? I guess it wouldn't be “FAIR” to fire incompetent managers... Even Dilbert wouldn't believe a manager would let this happen.
Sebelius: Obamacare website problems blindsided the President
President Barack Obama knew there would be "glitches" and said ahead of time there would be problems in the October 1 rollout of a key part of his health care initiative, but "there is no question that we did not anticipate the scale of problems with the website," White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Wednesday.
… Before it even launched, red flags went up about the Obamacare website. Health insurance companies complained about it, and the site crashed during a test run. But nobody told the President of any of it, the nation's health chief told CNN.
“Who knows what evil lurks in Directive 54?”
In EPIC v. NSA, Court Rules Presidential Directives are Not Subject to FOIA but Orders Release of Additional Documents to EPIC
From the good folks at EPIC:
A federal court has issued an opinion in EPIC v. NSA, EPIC’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit concerning the government’s policy for the security of American computer networks. As a result of the lawsuit, EPIC obtained documents that the National Security Agency had withheld from the public. The documents concern NSPD 54, a presidential policy directive outlining the scope of the NSA’s authority over computer networks in the US. EPIC also challenged the NSA’s decision to withheld several other records including the National Security Presidential Directive 54. A federal district court has now ruled that NSPD 54 is not subject to the FOIA because it was not under “the control” of the National Security Agency and the other federal agencies and officials who received the presidential directive. The Court also ordered to the NSA to identify and release other documents to EPIC. For more information, see: EPIC v. NSA – Cybersecurity Authority.
Of course they are. It is much more important to avoid any kind of terrorist incident that to protect your privacy.
… The TSA already checks travelers against a terrorist watch list, but the The New York Times reports that the agency will now begin profiling travelers based on their past travel itineraries, property records, car registrations and employment information. The result is a full background check, directing some towards lighter screenings and others towards more invasive bag checks and pat-downs.
The TSA's stated goal is to qualify one in four passengers for lighter screening, which would forgo the typical shoe removal and lighten the agency's workload, but privacy advocates worried the result
Does using cash have an impact on Insurance rates?
Legal, but intrusive and creepy?
David Lazarus reports:
Think you can keep a medical condition secret from life insurers by paying cash for prescription meds? Think again.
A for-profit service called ScriptCheck exists to rat you out regardless of how diligent you are in trying to keep a sensitive matter under wraps.
ScriptCheck, offered by ExamOne, a subsidiary of Quest Diagnostics, is yet another example of data mining — using sophisticated programs to scour databases in search of people’s personal information and then selling that info to interested parties.
Read more on the Los Angeles Times.
US government releases draft cybersecurity framework
The aim of NIST's framework (PDF) is to create guidelines that companies can use to beef up their networks and guard against hackers and cybersecurity threats. Adopting this framework would be voluntary for companies.
We want it now!
– Do people turn to piracy when the movies they want to watch are not available legally? That is the question posed by PiracyData which lists the top 10 most pirated movies of the week, and then researches into whether those movies are available for legal rental, purchase, or streaming. Most movies on the list are currently not available legally which may explain why people turn to illegal methods.
Attention Ethical Hackers! Henceforth you shall be called “Fluffy Kitten Watchers” because apparently you can judge a book by its cover.
Dale Peterson reports on a disturbing court ruling:
The US District Court for the State of Idaho ruled that an ICS product developer’s computer could be seized without him being notified or even heard from in court primarily because he states on his web site “we like hacking things and don’t want to stop”.
Read about the case on Digital Bond.
For my researching students... Also useful for Bloggers?
News Gathering Gets A Fresh Break As Google Launches Google Media Tools
News and media organizations have been using Google for a long time. Google has taken things a bit further by giving journalists a rich set of tools in one centralized hub called Google Media Tools. Google Media Tools is a collection of all Google resources that can help journalists enhance their reporting. Common tools like Google Drive, Google Maps, and Google Search Trends along with many others find a place in the suite. The idea is not to be just a diving-board platform for the Google tools journalists need and use most often. Rather, Google wants this one-stop shop to be a learning center as well so that journalists of all hues and skill levels can create compelling stories with all the tools Google has to offer.
Google Media Tools is designed to cover everything from research to developing to publishing,
I'm always looking for real world applications...
Mathematician works out formula for perfect pizza