Sunday, November 23, 2014

This could impact my students, so I may need to unleash my Ethical Hackers!
Marshall Zelinger reports:
RTD [Regional Transportation District] customer credit card information has been stolen with the use of a skimmer that the transit company didn’t know about until recently.
Read more on TheDenverChannel.
[From the article:
On Nov. 4, RTD discovered three skimmers on light rail ticket machines at the Dry Creek Station, County Line Station near Park Meadows Mall and the Mineral station near Aspen Grove shopping center.
At the time, no customer information was stolen because whoever placed the skimmers would need to pick them up to get the information.
On Nov. 8, a light rail customer who bought a ticket at the Belleview station a day earlier, called police when he spotted money missing from his bank account.
… "We did go back and look for video for a long period of time, and were able to find on October 13, that there was a situation where someone did install a skimmer that was not discovered immediately," said Reed.

Oh great! Lung cancer AND a computer virus!
Alex Hern reports:
E-cigarettes may be better for your health than normal ones, but spare a thought for your poor computer – electronic cigarettes have become the latest vector for malicious software, according to online reports.
Many e-cigarettes can be charged over USB, either with a special cable, or by plugging the cigarette itself directly into a USB port. That might be a USB port plugged into a wall socket or the port on a computer – but, if so, that means that a cheap e-cigarette from an untrustworthy supplier gains physical access to a device.
Read more on The Guardian.

Continuing yesterday's question: Do defense lawyers never ask about warrants or subpoenas?
Dave Maass writes:
The National Security Agency isn’t the only agency that’s willing to flout the laws of the land in order to obtain your telephone records. As we’re learning from a case out of New Mexico, local prosecutors may be to willing to ignore rights enshrined in the Constitution for an unfair advantage in criminal cases.
The case at hand involves the office of the District Attorney for the Eight District of New Mexico, which covers three counties in Northern New Mexico, including Taos. D.A. Donald Gallegos and one of his subordinates are facing disciplinary charges after they were caught issuing at least 91 bogus subpoenas to eight telephone companies for customer call records.
Read more on EFF.
See also coverage on Albuquerque Journal.

If this works as advertised, everyone (in law enforcement) is going to want one. It's like a digital fingerprint device for DNA.
Shane Bauer reports that rapid-DNA technology makes it easier than ever to grab and store your genetic profile. G-men, cops, and Homeland Security can’t wait to see it everywhere. Read more on MotherJones.

How to gain loyalty? How to use it.
Loyalty Program Leaders Leverage Data Analytics
Most people have wallets loaded with loyalty program cards and/or smartphones loaded with loyalty apps. Yet most companies are not capitalizing on this trend, hints a study from the International Institute for Analytics (IIA). Just 16 percent of companies surveyed by the IIA rated their loyalty programs as highly effective.
… The IIA study examined key loyalty program challenges experienced by companies, as well as best practices of companies that viewed their programs as "extremely effective."
The top four challenges were:
  • Offering rewards that customers value, cited by 45 percent of respondents
  • Measuring program effectiveness, also mentioned by 45 percent
  • Differentiating the program (42 percent)
  • Coordinating the program across all points of customer contact (42 percent)
… As marketing spend on social channels increases, companies have yet to identify metrics that help them determine the value of their spending, Phillips said. "What is a like or a tweet worth? Marketers are still looking for the kind of common currency that they use for traditional channels like TV and print."
Loyalty Program Best Practices
The research also highlighted five characteristics that differentiate highly effective loyalty programs from less effective ones:
  • Dedicated customer loyalty function/department to manage the program
  • Greater emphasis on customer experience as a key goal
  • Rewards that are personalized for different customers
  • Social media leveraged to manage customer relationships
  • Data analytics valued and employed as a core program component

So my student who used “SillyPsychoGirl” may have reformed? That can't be bad.
Natasha Singer reports:
Admissions officers at Morehouse College in Atlanta were shocked several years ago when a number of high school seniors submitted applications using email addresses containing provocative language.
Some of the addresses made sexual innuendos while others invoked gangster rap songs or drug use, said Darryl D. Isom, Morehouse’s director of admissions and recruitment.
But last year, he and his staff noticed a striking reversal: Nearly every applicant to Morehouse, an all-male historically black college, used his real name, or some variation, as his email address.
Read more on NY Times.

Simple analytics for my Statistics class.
Global Disease Monitoring and Forecasting with Wikipedia
Global Disease Monitoring and Forecasting with Wikipedia by Nicholas Generous, Geoffrey Fairchild, Alina Deshpande, Sara Y. Del Valle, Reid Priedhorsky. Published: November 13, 2014.
“Infectious disease is a leading threat to public health, economic stability, and other key social structures. Efforts to mitigate these impacts depend on accurate and timely monitoring to measure the risk and progress of disease. Traditional, biologically-focused monitoring techniques are accurate but costly and slow; in response, new techniques based on social internet data, such as social media and search queries, are emerging. These efforts are promising, but important challenges in the areas of scientific peer review, breadth of diseases and countries, and forecasting hamper their operational usefulness. We examine a freely available, open data source for this use: access logs from the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Using linear models, language as a proxy for location, and a systematic yet simple article selection procedure, we tested 14 location-disease combinations and demonstrate that these data feasibly support an approach that overcomes these challenges. Specifically, our proof-of-concept yields models with up to 0.92, forecasting value up to the 28 days tested, and several pairs of models similar enough to suggest that transferring models from one location to another without re-training is feasible. Based on these preliminary results, we close with a research agenda designed to overcome these challenges and produce a disease monitoring and forecasting system that is significantly more effective, robust, and globally comprehensive than the current state of the art.”

The longer I follow this case, the more I think it is a sure loser. The Copyright Cops seem desperate, and I wonder why they are getting so much support from the government(s).
It’s been nearly three years since Megaupload was taken down by the U.S. authorities but it’s still uncertain whether Kim Dotcom and his fellow defendants will be extradited overseas.
Two months ago the U.S. Government launched a separate civil action in which it asked the court to forfeit the bank accounts, cars and other seized possessions of the Megaupload defendants, claiming they were obtained through copyright and money laundering crimes.
… According to Megaupload’s lawyers the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) is making up crimes that don’t exist.
In addition, Dotcom and his co-defendants claimed ownership of the assets U.S. authorities are trying to get their hands on. A few days ago the DoJ responded to these claims, arguing that they should be struck from the record as Dotcom and his colleagues are fugitives.
In a motion (pdf) submitted to a Virginia District Court the U.S. asks for the claims of the defendants to be disregarded based on the doctrine of fugitive disentitlement.
… Since Kim Dotcom and his New Zealand-based Megaupload colleagues are actively fighting their extradition they should be seen as fugitives, the DoJ concludes.
… The recent DoJ filing also highlights another aspect of the case. According to a declaration by special FBI agent Rodney Hays, the feds have obtained “online conversations” of Julius Bencko and Sven Echternach, the two defendants who currently reside in Europe.
These conversations were obtained by law enforcement officers and show that the authorities were ‘spying’ on some of the defendants months after Megaupload was raided.

Interesting. Useful?
Leanne O’Donnell (@MsLods) has a helpful table on the status of data retention in different countries. Her chart includes information on the length of the retention period, what type of authorization is required under their laws to access metadata, and the current status of telecom retention requirements.
You can access her chart here.

Sometimes technology just leaps past me so fast I never even notice. I had to go to Amazon and search for “selfie stick” to find out what they were.
South Korea is threatening to jail selfie stick retailers
The South Korean government is going after sellers of uncertified camera extenders, threatening fines of up to 30 million won ($27,000) and prison time of as long as three years. According to Korea’s Ministry of Science, “selfie sticks” that have bluetooth functionality should be classified as frequency-emitting communications equipment and go through rounds of testing before being approved for commercial sale. On Thursday, the government asked citizens to help “root out” the distribution of these unapproved bluetooth-equipped selfie sticks by reporting on such sales. On Friday, authorities said they would begin doing checks on retailers.
The government appears to be worried about the health effects of electromagnetic radiation, also created by mobile phones, though at low levels it is generally not seen as harmful. Under Korea’s “Wireless Telegraphy Act” all devices that give off electromagnetic waves must be certified for national security and civilian use.

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