Monday, December 29, 2014

Not all downtimes are due to enemy action.
Twitter Back Up After Strange Downtime
Twitter is recovering from a prolonged period of downtime which affected Android and desktop users. For around five hours on Sunday (Dec 28), anyone trying to log in via the official apps was hit with an error message. The iOS Twitter apps remained unaffected by the issue throughout.
Tweetdeck users were hit with a different issue whereby all tweets were dated one year into the future. This could explain the problem, with the premature date change leading to session tokens instantaneously expiring. Either way, Twitter has now fixed the issue… at least until the real 2015 rolls around.

For my Ethical Hackers. For your toolkit.
German Defense Minister von der Leyen's fingerprint copied by Chaos Computer Club
A speaker at the yearly conference of the Chaos Computer Club has shown how fingerprints can be faked using only a few photographs. To demonstrate, he copied the thumbprint of the German defense minister.
… Krissler explained that he didn't even need an object that von der Leyen had touched to create the copy. Using several close-range photos in order to capture every angle, Krissler used a commercially available software called VeriFinger to create an image of the minister's fingerprint.
Along with fellow hacker Tobias Fiebig, Krissler has been working at the Technical University of Berlin on research into weaknesses of biometric security systems. Krissler pulled a similar stunt in 2008 with a fingerprint of then interior minister and current Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.
Krissler intends to show how systems which use these prints or iris scans to verify identity, which are becoming more prevalent and popular, can be outsmarted. He gave the example of facial recognition software that can be fooled by a person's photograph, as well as showing how his fake fingerprint can trick the iPhone fingerprint sensor.

Perhaps a project for my Ethical Hackers. How to safeguard victims of amuse. (How to make anyone less surveilable?)
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
The use of surveillance software by abusive spouses to monitor the phones and computers of their partners secretly has reached “epidemic proportions” and police are ill-equipped to tackle it, domestic violence campaigners have warned.
… A survey by Women’s Aid, the domestic violence charity, found that 41 per cent of domestic violence victims it helped had been tracked or harassed using electronic devices. A second study this year by the Digital Trust, which helps victims of online stalking, found that more than 50 per cent of abusive partners used spyware or some other form of electronic surveillance to stalk their victims.
… “However, in many cases the police are not trained to recognise and understand the impact of online abuse, including tracking, and action is rarely taken against abusers.”

Will this spur new laws?
The data breach payment fight heats up
The spat between retailers and banks over who foots the bill and bears the responsibility following a data breach is ramping up heading into 2015.
A group of retail trade groups on Monday fought back against what they call a misleading survey from the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), which alleged banks are shelling out millions of dollars because retailers can’t secure their networks.
… The ICBA survey, released Dec. 18, said community banks had to reissue nearly 7.5 million credit and debit cards at a cost of $90 million in the wake of the massive Home Depot data breach, which exposed 56 million customers’ payment card information.
“We continue to advocate that the costs associated with data breaches be borne by the party that experiences the breach,” ICBA Chairman John Buhrmaster said at the time. “Communities and customers should not suffer for the faults of retailers.”
… Retailers bear equal or greater costs after a data breach, they argued, pointing to a 2013 Federal Reserve study of debit card fraud.
Banks are also disingenuous about their switch to chip-enabled cards, the retailers said.
“While ICBA supports the movement to embedded-chip technology for credit and debit cards, the organization appears to only do so grudgingly, questioning its efficacy against data breaches,” they said.

Does this report tell us anything we did not already know?
Competition Among U.S. Broadband Service Providers
“More than one quarter of American homes have not adopted Internet service, many citing cost as their primary reason.
… Looking at Internet service options available to households in December 2013, using data from the Census Bureau and National Telecommunications and Information Administration, we find that more service providers offer lower-speed than higher-speed service. [Duh! Bob] At download speeds of 3 megabits per second (Mbps), which is the Federal Communications Commission’s current approximate standard for basic broadband service, 98 percent of the population had a choice of at least two mobile ISPs and 88 percent had two or more fixed ISPs available to them. However, as multiple household members increasingly consume video streaming services music streaming, and online games, the adequate broadband speed bar has been raised.
To understand just how slow 3 Mbps is, it takes about 2.25 hours to download a 6 gigabyte movie. The same movie would only take 16 minutes to download at 25 Mbps.
… only 37 percent of the population had a choice of two or more providers at speeds of 25 Mbps or greater; only 9 percent had three or more choices. Moreover, four out of ten Americans did not live where very-high-speed broadband service – 100 Mbps or greater – is available.
… The report examines both fixed and mobile ISPs. We separate our analysis of these two types of Internet access because some groups consider them to be imperfect substitutes, especially for higher-bandwidth applications.
Mobile ISPs typically charge high fees if consumers exceed data usage limits. Furthermore, the service is less reliable, companies have not fully deployed newer generation technologies with higher download speeds and reduced latency, and mobile service is virtually non-existent at download speeds of 25 Mbps or greater.
In sum, the report finds that the number of ISPs from which consumers can choose varies by speed; there are multiple providers of lower speed broadband but this number dwindles at higher speeds. All else equal, having fewer competitors at a given speed is likely to drive up prices. As a result, some consumers will decide not to adopt Internet access at all, some will choose a slower speed that otherwise, and some will economize in other ways.”

I want to develop a “Math in the 21st Century” course, using tools like this. These tools are already available to my students, why not teach them the proper way to use them? No. it doesn't do everything for you, any more than power tools will build a house for you. These Apps are available for iPhones, Droid, etc.
Wolfram|Alpha Apps and Math Course Apps for Windows—Just Released
… We’re also happy to announce the release of several of our Course Assistant Apps on Windows 8.1 devices:
These apps also feature our custom keyboards for the quick entry of your homework problems. View Step-by-step solutions to learn how to solve complex math queries, plot 2D or 3D functions, explore topics applicable to your high school and college math courses, and much more.

For my students. Get in the habit now. (Why only paper planners?)
How To Create A Custom Planner To Meet Your Goals In 2015

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