Saturday, January 17, 2015

For my Ethical Hackers. Think there would be a market here?
Want to Hire a Hacker? Find One on Hacker's List
… The new site Hacker's List has only been operating for less than three months yet has been flooded with over 500 hacking jobs that are waiting for a successful bidder.
… compared to popular freelancing sites such as Odesk and Elance where both the bidder and buyer need to build a credible profile, the identities of those involved in a project at Hacker's List are kept anonymous.
… The site, which is registered in New Zealand, contains a 10-page terms and conditions section. The most important message it conveys is that users are not allowed to "use the service for any illegal purposes."
… Hacking jobs that are offered on the site have prices that range from $100 to $5,000. The hackers' hourly rates would go between $28 and $300. One woman who hails from California is offering $500 to anyone who can successfully hack into the Gmail and Facebook accounts of her boyfriend under the suspicion that he's cheating on her. A man from Sweden is willing to pay as much as $2,000 to anyone who can gain access to his landlord's website.

NOT in Denver! Note the very typical “we had no clue” language.
Maura Lerner reports:
Metro State University is investigating a computer security breach that may have exposed personal information about students, faculty and staff.
In a campuswide e-mail Friday, interim president Devinder Malhotra wrote that a computer hacker apparently got “unauthorized access” to the university database in mid-December, and that investigators are still trying to determine the scope of the data breach.
We do not believe this server contained any financial data or credit card information,” he wrote, but he said some of the databases included employee Social Security numbers.
Officials say they learned about the problem Jan. 2, when a cybersecurity service notified them about a blog posting “by a computer hacker” who claimed to have hacked into 75 websites. “We were just one of those,” said Anne Sonnee, the interim vice president for communications.
Read more on Star Tribune.
A statement on the university’s web site states:
… To date, we have established the validity of the claimed attack, disabled the vulnerability that we believe permitted this breach, isolated the risk from other servers, and notified law enforcement. The university is also taking additional measures to minimize future security risks.
… While our investigation may take several weeks to establish the nature and scope of the possible breach, out of an abundance of caution and with the goal of full transparency, we are communicating what we do know about this situation as soon as possible.
… While we are not yet able to determine who the affected individuals are, in the interim it may be prudent to take precautions
There is a related Q & A about the breach on the university’s web site.
A search of Pastebin discloses a post on December 31st by “Abdilo” (@abdilo_ on Twitter), a self-described teenage hacker from Australia. The paste references having allegedly hacked Metro State in December: broke into you cause i like 22 jump street, thanks for the 22k ssns)
If that claim is true, at least 22,000 people may have had their Social Security numbers stolen.

Computer Security managers: How will you deal with this when it happens to you? Note that headlines like these are easily disproved because of the easy access to news.
Twitter hackers declare World War III
HACKERS took over Twitter accounts of the New York Post and United Press International, writing bogus messages, including about hostilities breaking out between the US and China.
One tweet posted under the UPI account on Friday quoted Pope Francis as saying, “World War III has begun”. Another message delivered on the Post account said the USS George Washington, an aircraft carrier, was “engaged in active combat” against Chinese warships in the South China Sea.

Interesting new law.
Canada Prohibits Installation of Software, Updates Without Consent
A new provision in Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) prohibiting the installation of software without consent from the device’s owner came into effect on Thursday.
According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the new rule applies when someone installs or causes the installation of software on another individual’s device in the course of commercial activity.

I try not to post about “potential” legislation or “proposed” rules because the change so much before becoming reality. But this is just dumb!
Obama backs call for tech backdoors
President Obama wants a backdoor to track people’s social media messages.
… “Social media and the Internet is the primary way in which these terrorist organizations are communicating,” Obama said during a press conference with Cameron on Friday.
“That’s not different from anybody else, but they’re good at it and when we have the ability to track that in a way that is legal, conforms with due process, rule of law and presents oversight, then that’s a capability that we have to preserve,” he said. [“Preserve” all you want. Change technology at your peril! Bob]

Interesting. Sort of the opposite of Elon Musk's concern that AI will take over the world?
Facebook open-sources new AI smarts
Facebook has released as open source some software modules that can speed image recognition, language modeling and other machine learning tasks, in a move to advance computer artificial intelligence for itself and others.
Such modules could be used by startups or other companies that want to build AI-based products and services, but may not have the "deep engineering" expertise on hand to develop such capabilities in-house, said Soumith Chintala, a Facebook research engineer who works for the Facebook AI Research (FAIR) lab.
Facebook does not yet incorporate AI technologies into its social networking service, Chintala said, though the techniques being developed at FAIR may one day be used to improve customer experience.
… The new modules run on Facebook's Torch, an open source development framework for building deep learning applications. Google, Twitter, Nvidia, Intel, and Nvidia have used this framework for their projects.

Something to add to our programming language catalog?
Apple's Swift is on fire
To make the lives of iOS developers easier — and to discourage them from bolting to Google’s Android — Apple in June introduced Swift, describing it grandly as “the first industrial-quality systems programming language that is as expressive and enjoyable as a scripting language.”
Half a year later, how’s Swift doing?
Pretty well, judging from the latest rankings from Red Monk’s Stephen O’Grady, who predicted last summer that Swift was going to be “a lot more popular, and very soon.”
Even so,” O’Grady wrote Thursday, “the growth that Swift experienced is essentially unprecedented in the history of these rankings.

Uber was able to shake up this quasi-monopolistic industry. Now taxis are being forced to do what they could have done on their own several years ago.
For my Business Intelligence class: This is equally “substitutes” and “new entrants”
Riders May Soon Be Able To ‘E-Hail’ A Regular Taxi Using A Smartphone
Los Angeles wants taxi drivers to get on board with a mobile app that will allow customers to hail a taxi from their smartphones.
If and when implemented, taxi drivers who don’t use the app “e-hail” could face fines of up to $200 a day, starting in August.

Is this now accurate or still too high?
Here Is AT&T's Epic $8 Billion Friday-Night News Dump
The running joke in news is that companies dump news when people aren't looking, like before holidays or on Friday nights before long weekends.
AT&T met the latter criteria this week.
On Friday night, AT&T disclosed that in the fourth quarter, it will take a $7.9 billion noncash, pretax loss related to an adjustment in assumptions made for its pension plan.
The company announced that on Dec. 31, it adjusted its assumed discount rate for its pension obligation to 4.3%. Previously, the company had used a 5% discount rate, according to its most recent 10-K filed with the SEC.
… The company also said that contributing to the loss were "updated mortality assumptions," which means that people covered under AT&T's pension plan are now living longer.

For my researching students?
Google – Still in the Search
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Jan 16, 2015
In-depth reporting and writing about the continuing evolution of Google search from both a tactical and strategic perspective. For consumers, researchers, librarians, lawyers and educators, this is a must read. It takes time, focus and mindfulness to read long articles in this increasingly rapid fire burst of bits of information that shoot at us every waking moment. The concept of information overload has seemingly long ago given way to the deluge as the new normal. This article is a reminder why we need to stay engaged in all facets of future developments in the realm of search, discovery and knowledge sharing. Enjoy and keep being “the best.”

A Glimpse of the Future: The ‘Oscars of Innovation in Higher Education’
When it comes to modern higher education, a few things are universally clear. First, there is no one right answer for every student. Second, everyone involved is still learning what methods will work best in the 21st century. But some clear winners do stand out for their effective, outside-the-box approaches, and a few of them were honored at the recent inaugural Reimagine Education Conference.
… The Overall Winner award, which carried a grand prize of $50,000, was split between two teams: PaGamO from National Taiwan University, and PhET Interactive Simulations from the University of Colorado, Boulder. (See a complete list of the winners in different categories here.)

Every week, amusement!
Hack Education Weekly News
… The Obama Administration announced $25,000,000 in grants to 13 HBCUs to develop cybersecurity programs.
Indonesia plans to replace textbooks with tablets, reports Edukwest.
Via the AP: “Arizona became the first state in the nation on Thursday to enact a law requiring high school students to pass the U.S. citizenship test on civics before graduation.”
Ed-tech is in its infancy, according to The New York Times. Despite the role of universities in its development, education has not been “touched by Internet technology.”
UMass is outsourcing textbook sales to Amazon.
Once again, a study finds that college students prefer print books to e-books.
OverDrive says e-book checkouts from libraries are up 33%.

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