Friday, August 08, 2014

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? “Security Theater”
Airport security devices can be hacked, says researcher
… On his own time, Billy Rios of Qualys Security said he purchased some of the hardware and software used by the Transportation Security Administration.
At a talk at this year’s Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, he revealed details about several vulnerabilities he was able to find, most notably in the device entrusted to detect trace levels of drugs and explosives.
The machine, the Morpho Itemiser, is set up so that the technician level password is hardcoded in.
It’s a common practice for a range of devices, one aimed at making it easier for technicians to get in and do maintenance, but it’s become taboo among security advocates because it also makes it easier for machines to be hacked.
… His findings, he said, show TSA is not properly vetting the products it uses for security.

What does this have to do with academics? Will they monitor what the kids had for breakfast? Have they had their shots or been treated for cuts and bruises that indicate abuse? How long was the TV on last night? Where does it stop? Can parents make it stop?
Diane Cho reports:
Washington County public school officials announced that, with the start of the new school year in just two weeks, they will be using new software to monitor students’ social media posts.
The county will be one of only four school districts in the nation to enlist a new software program called Social Sentinel that tracks social media accounts for certain keywords.
To those that question the legality of such monitoring in the face of privacy rights, school officials said the software uses “geofencing” protocol to only track posts that are made while the student is on school property.
Read more on WJLA.
[From the article:
School officials said the goal is to protect student safety. Examples of such posts that will be tracked include those that feature keywords like "kill," "bomb" and others.
School officials said they will also be consulting with parents and members of student government for feedback on what additional keywords should be added to the watch-list.
Threats will be flushed out, officials added - if a keyword is caught, the post will be read to check for threats of violence, bullying or harassment, reference to using drugs or alcohol, references to weapons, and the like.

“Take my picture, feel my wrath!” It's merely paranoia, but in this case the paranoids have guns.
Tim Cushing writes:
Here’s what exercising your First Amendment rights gets you in certain parts of the US. Photographer Jeff Gray has been filming cops and photographing public structures, as well as documenting the reactions of law enforcement to his activities.
The Department of Homeland Security apparently felt Gray was enough of a “threat” that it opened an investigation on him. After scrutinizing publicly-available information (like Gray’s own YouTube account), it came to the conclusion that his activities were completely protected… it just didn’t like the way he acted.
Read more on TechDirt.

I have driven through Massachusetts – they do drive like terrorists. (Colorado shares this information too according to the “document.”)
sosadmin writes:
The state of Massachusetts is one of fifteen states sharing drivers’ license images and data with federal agencies including the CIA and Department of Defense, a newly disclosed federal government document shows.
The document, which boasts about “strategic accomplishments” of the National Counterterrorism Center’s Directorate of Terrorist Identities, is published to support a new story on The Intercept about the government’s bloated watch-listing and terror database systems.
Read more on PrivacySOS.

This sounds worse than our sanctions.
Moscow bans Western food imports; Russian quits as Ukraine rebel chief
… Moscow imposed a one year ban on all meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables from the United States, the 28 European Union countries, Canada, Australia and non-EU member Norway.
Russia has become by far the biggest consumer of EU fruit and vegetables, the second biggest buyer of U.S. poultry and a major global consumer of fish, meat and dairy products.

Does this really surprise anyone?
$619 billion missed from federal transparency site
A government website intended to make federal spending more transparent was missing at least $619 billion from 302 federal programs, a government audit has found.
And the data that does exist is wildly inaccurate, according to the Government Accountability Office, which looked at 2012 spending data. Only 2% to 7% of spending data on is "fully consistent with agencies' records," according to the report.
… The Department of the Interior did not report spending for 163 of its 265 assistance programs because, the department said, its accounting systems were not compatible with the data formats required by
The White House itself failed to report any of the programs it's directly responsible for. At the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is part of the White House, officials said they thought HHS was responsible for reporting their spending.
For more than 22% of federal awards, the spending website literally doesn't know where the money went. The "place of performance" of federal contracts was most likely to be wrong.

For my geeky students. Please do not drool on the keyboards.
IBM Unveils a ‘Brain-Like’ Chip With 4,000 Processor Cores
… Most efforts to mimic the brain have focused on software, but in recent years, some researchers have ramped up efforts to create neuro-inspired computer chips that process information in fundamentally different ways from traditional hardware. This includes an ambitious project inside tech giant IBM, and today, Big Blue released a research paper describing the latest fruits of these labors. With this paper, published in the academic journal Science, the company unveils what it calls TrueNorth, a custom-made “brain-like” chip that builds on a simpler experimental system the company released in 2011.
TrueNorth comes packed with 4,096 processor cores, and it mimics one million human neurons and 256 million synapses, two of the fundamental biological building blocks that make up the human brain.

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