Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lesson to learn: If you are going to rely on your Security procedures, make certain they are reliable. (How would anyone gain access to your offsite backups without your knowledge? They write blank “backups” and over time older backups are deleted.)
Victim Company Refuses to Pay DDoS Extortion Fee and Is Permanently Forced Out of Business
… Code Spaces experienced a DDoS attack accompanied by a ransom demand. Code Spaces assumed it could handle the attack on its systems, which were hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS). When the attackers didn’t get their payoff to end the DDoS attack, it is presumed they directed their vengeance toward gaining access to Code Spaces’s Amazon EC2 control panel and then deleting most of the company’s data, backups, machine configurations and offsite backups.

That's 100,000 won more than US breach victims typically get. I wonder how they did it?
Yonhap News reports:
South Korea’s No. 2 mobile carrier KT Corp. was ordered by a local district court Friday to pay 100,000 won (US$97) in compensation to each customer who had personal data leaked in 2012.
The Seoul Central District Court’s ruling came after some 28,000 KT users filed a lawsuit against the mobile carrier for the leak of sensitive personal information, demanding compensation of 500,000 won per person.
Read more on Global Post.

I expect nothing less. Why would the NSA have all that data and no way to search for the specific bits they need? (The “Intercept” link has some great images for your next presentation, specifically the one illustrating “billions and billions of records”)
NSA built 'Google-like' search engine for metadata
The National Security Agency built a "Google-like" search engine to give domestic and international government agencies access to details of billions of calls, texts and instant messages sent by millions of people, according to The Intercept.
The search engine, called ICReach, had behind it roughly 850 billion pieces of metadata in 2007 on calls made largely but not exclusively by foreign nationals, the report said.
Metadata is the data the surrounds a communication but not the contents of the message or telephone call itself. In the case of ICReach, the program includes the date, time and duration of calls, the number of the caller and destination, and, in the case of a mobile telephone, the unique IMEI number of the handset being used, according to a document published earlier this year by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Do you suppose everyone knew they could be monitored at this level?
Jawbone Looks At UP Data To See How Many Were Woken Up By The Napa Earthquake
Jawbone has shown one of the more interesting ways data gathered on its platform might be used for large-scale population studies: The fitness tracker company looked at its cumulative UP data to find out where wearers of its fitness bands were woken up by the South Napa earthquake that happened yesterday morning, and where people slept through the ground shaking.
Jawbone found that, unsurprisingly, those living closest to the epicenter of the quake were the ones who woke up most reliably, at around 3:20 AM when it originally struck. 93 percent of UP wearers in Napa, Sonoma, Vallejo and Fairfield woke up almost instantly, while just over half of UP wearers in San Francisco and Oakland were awoken.

At some point, failure to check your facts with Google (or similar repositories of the accumulated wisdom of mankind) will be considered an indication that the speaker/writer is either certifiably crazy or a politician.
Google’s fact-checking bots build vast knowledge bank – New Scientist
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Aug 25, 2014
“GOOGLE is building the largest store of knowledge in human history – and it’s doing so without any human help. Instead, Knowledge Vault autonomously gathers and merges information from across the web into a single base of facts about the world, and the people and objects in it. The breadth and accuracy of this gathered knowledge is already becoming the foundation of systems that allow robots and smartphones to understand what people ask them. It promises to let Google answer questions like an oracle rather than a search engine, [With vague language, subject to multiple interpretations? Bob] and even to turn a new lens on human history. Knowledge Vault is a type of “knowledge base” – a system that stores information so that machines as well as people can read it. Where a database deals with numbers, a knowledge base deals with facts. When you type “Where was Madonna born” into Google, for example, the place given is pulled from Google’s existing knowledge base. This existing base, called Knowledge Graph, relies on crowdsourcing to expand its information. But the firm noticed that growth was stalling; humans could only take it so far. So Google decided it needed to automate the process. It started building the Vault by using an algorithm to automatically pull in information from all over the web, using machine learning to turn the raw data into usable pieces of knowledge. Knowledge Vault has pulled in 1.6 billion facts to date. Of these, 271 million are rated as “confident facts”, to which Google’s model ascribes a more than 90 per cent chance of being true. It does this by cross-referencing new facts with what it already knows… Google’s Knowledge Graph is currently bigger than the Knowledge Vault, but it only includes manually integrated sources such as the CIA Factbook. Knowledge Vault offers Google fast, automatic expansion of its knowledge – and it’s only going to get bigger. As well as the ability to analyse text on a webpage for facts to feed its knowledge base, Google can also peer under the surface of the web, hunting for hidden sources of data such as the figures that feed Amazon product pages, for example. Tom Austin, a technology analyst at Gartner in Boston, says that the world’s biggest technology companies are racing to build similar vaults. “Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and IBM are all building them, and they’re tackling these enormous problems that we would never even have thought of trying 10 years ago,” he says.”

For The First Time, More People Will Watch MLB.tv Streams On Devices Than Desktops
On August 26, 2002, Major League Baseball streamed its first live MLB.tv video of a game to the web — a tiny, grainy little player that looks laughable in comparison to today’s HD streams you hold in your palm.
This month, 12 years later, the MLB says that it projects that over 51 percent of its monthly live streams will be watched on ‘connected’ and mobile devices in August. It says that this is a first for any live sports video product on the Internet.

The future looks bright for my Computer Security students.
Global Cybersecurity Spending to Reach $76.9 Billion in 2015: Gartner
As organizations worldwide become more and more aware of the risks posed by the lack of protection against cyber threats, information security spending will continue to increase, Gartner forecasts.
According to the IT research and advisory firm, global IT security spending will reach $71.1 billion this year, which represents an increase of 7.9% compared to 2013. Next year, spending will grow even more, reaching $76.9 billion.
The use of security solutions will be driven in the next couple of years by the rapid adoption of mobile, cloud, social and information technologies, which often interact with each other, Gartner said.

(Related) The same for my Data Analysis students. Perhaps our students could volunteer at some of these nonprofits as interns?
Recruiting Data Scientists to Do Social Good
We know that data scientists are a hot commodity. Businesses can’t get enough of them. That’s great for tech companies that attract talent with stock and benefits, but less so for social initiatives and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who could use their talent too. Short of asking nonprofits to drain their coffers to make expensive hires, can we find a way to staff their projects? I think so, if we can create a better mechanism to connect people to opportunities.
The going rate for data scientists has obviously soared.

It's not that strange. For years I have been explaining fractions using pizza.
Proper Punctuation Explained With Bacon
… So how can you learn to use punctuation marks properly without making dumb grammar mistakes? Simple. Bacon is the answer.

Always interesting to see how they plan to “solve” education.
How Computer Technology Will Transform Schools Of The Future
In the 1800′s, students sat in a classroom, listened to a teacher and took tests. In 2014, students do exactly the same thing, with maybe the addition of a pocket calculator and some slides.
Nearly every other industry has been changed beyond recognition by the invention of computers. Why not education, arguably one of the industries with the most to gain?
… Today, we’re going to be talking about the five biggest ideas that are going to change education more than you’d believe.

(Related) Clever, but very tricky.
Digital textbooks adapt to your level as you learn
… "We want to be able to create the perfect book for every person," says Richard Baraniuk, director of the OpenStax project at Houston's Rice University, which is behind the books. "Ultimately, we want a system that turns reading the book into an exploration of knowledge."
OpenStax already offers an array of online and printed textbooks on subjects including economics, biology and history. For the past three years, researchers have tracked how students in 12 US schools use the books in their studies, including information on how they scored on questions.
That work is now being used to train machine-learning algorithms that give OpenStax's biology and physics textbooks the ability to adapt to individuals. If a reader seems to be struggling with a particular topic – acceleration, say – the book will slot in additional explanations and practice questions, and increase emphasis on related subjects, such as centripetal force, that could otherwise trip that person up.
Salt Lake Community College, which has more than 60,000 students and is the largest higher-education institution in Utah, wants to pilot OpenStax's algorithm-enhanced textbooks next year in political science, business and mathematics classes. Jason Pickavance, director of educational initiatives at the college, says he is curious to see whether the books improve student performance.
… Whether the books are successful will depend on teachers, says Ben du Boulay, who works on artificial intelligence at the University of Sussex, UK. They are the ones who will ensure that students make the most of their books – for instance, by working out what to do when the books identify a common problem area among their students.

I post this for my female students with absolutely no comment.
Women Surpass Men as Kickstarter Fundraisers
Women may be heavily underrepresented in the start-up world, but they’re doing well on Kickstarter. In one study, two-thirds of technology ventures led by women reached their fundraising goals on the crowdfunding site, compared with 30% of those led by men, according to the Wall Street Journal. Female-founded start-ups attract support from women who are activists and want to help other women, the researchers say.

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