Wednesday, January 21, 2015

This is more than a bit concerning. I like to think I know a bit more about securing my computers than the average user and I hope my students complete their Computer Security classes as “above average” also. Will than mean they automatically become suspected terrorists? What happens if their security is better than the FBI's hacking? Can the FBI call in air strikes?
DOJ wants to give the FBI permission to hack into PCs of Tor and VPN users
When people use anonymizing tech such as Tor or a VPN, then that should not imply they are trying to “hide” because they are up to no good. It does make it challenging for law enforcement to know the location of the person trying to protect his or her anonymity as well as to know what district has legal jurisdiction to issue a warrant. However, the DOJ has proposed changes to Rule 41 that would allow U.S. law enforcement to hack into computers of people using anonymizing services without needing to first know the location of those computers. According to law professor Ahmed Ghappour, the proposed amendment could result in “possibly the broadest expansion of extraterritorial surveillance power since the FBI’s inception.”
While that doesn’t mean the FBI would use malware to infect the PCs of all people using anonymizing services, it could mean the government would legally be allowed to secretly deploy malware for remote searches on PCs. That malware would allow the FBI to go through and covertly upload files, photos, emails, or do anything the computer is capable of doing, such as turning on the webcam and microphone. It also means the location of the PC doesn’t matter, be it domestic or on foreign soil.
The DOJ said (pdf) it is not looking for the power to search electronic storage in foreign countries, as the Fourth Amendment does not apply to non-U.S. persons, but Ghappour argues, "the practical reality of the underlying technology means doing so is almost unavoidable."

(Related) If my students write their own secure Apps, the FBI would have to capture and analyze all communications in order to “isolate” those they believe are trying to protect communications.
Forget WhatsApp: 6 Secure Communication Apps You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

(Related) Just a reminder of how well the DOJ's ideas of what is acceptable have worked in the past.
DOJ to pay $134K over fake Facebook profile
The Justice Department will pay $134,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a woman who was impersonated online by a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officer without her knowledge.
The settlement was revealed in a court filing made available on Tuesday. It was first reported by the Associated Press.
The woman, Sondra Arquiett, was arrested as part of a drug case in 2010. An agent with the DEA used her name and images from her phone to create a sham Facebook profile designed to target others they suspected were involved in the case while she was awaiting trial.

Analyzing the Internet of Things. If you had this information, could you build a business around it?
Snowplow tracking apps hold cities accountable for cleanup
As another storm flung snow at Chicago, Alexandra Clark wondered how she'd get to work. Like an increasing number of snowbound city dwellers, she had a ready tool at hand: an app that tracks hundreds of city snowplows in close to real time.
But something seemed out of whack.
"Plow tracker said my street was plowed an hour ago - Pull the other leg," the 31-year-old video producer tweeted at the mayor's office, including a photo of her snowed-in street.
Across the country, local leaders have made plow-tracking data public in free mobile apps, turning citizens into snow watchdogs and giving them a place to look for answers instead of clogging phone lines at city call centers to fume.
… The apps tap into GPS data already collected by the city to direct plows, so no extra money is spent in the creation. It's a politically deft move by cities where bungled storm responses have cost officials their jobs, and a way to show skeptics that plow drivers are working hard — and not just clearing the streets of the wealthy and well-connected.

Looks like we're already doing most of this...
Training Students to Extract Value from Big Data
“As the availability of high-throughput data-collection technologies, such as information-sensing mobile devices, remote sensing, internet log records, and wireless sensor networks has grown, science, engineering, and business have rapidly transitioned from striving to develop information from scant data to a situation in which the challenge is now that the amount of information exceeds a human’s ability to examine, let alone absorb, it. Data sets are increasingly complex, and this potentially increases the problems associated with such concerns as missing information and other quality concerns, data heterogeneity, and differing data formats. The nation’s ability to make use of data depends heavily on the availability of a workforce that is properly trained and ready to tackle high-need areas. Training students to be capable in exploiting big data requires experience with statistical analysis, machine learning, and computational infrastructure that permits the real problems associated with massive data to be revealed and, ultimately, addressed. Analysis of big data requires cross-disciplinary skills, including the ability to make modeling decisions while balancing trade-offs between optimization and approximation, all while being attentive to useful metrics and system robustness. To develop those skills in students, it is important to identify whom to teach, that is, the educational background, experience, and characteristics of a prospective data-science student; what to teach, that is, the technical and practical content that should be taught to the student; and how to teach, that is, the structure and organization of a data-science program. Training Students to Extract Value from Big Data summarizes a workshop convened in April 2014 by the National Research Council’s Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics to explore how best to train students to use big data. The workshop explored the need for training and curricula and coursework that should be included. One impetus for the workshop was the current fragmented view of what is meant by analysis of big data, data analytics, or data science. New graduate programs are introduced regularly, and they have their own notions of what is meant by those terms and, most important, of what students need to know to be proficient in data-intensive work. This report provides a variety of perspectives about those elements and about their integration into courses and curricula.”

For my Analytics students. Same techniques used for judging “significant” scientific papers, in far less than 25 years.
Big data tops humans at picking 'significant' films: study
The most accurate predictions of which movies the U.S. Library of Congress will deem "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" are not the views of critics or fans but a simple algorithm applied to a database, according to a study published on Monday.
The crucial data, scientists reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are what the Internet Movie Database ( calls "Connections" - films, television episodes and other works that allude to an earlier movie.
… The 1972 classic "The Godfather," for instance, is referred to by 1,323 films and television episodes, which as recently as 2014 quoted the "offer he can't refuse" line, referred to the famous horse-head scene, or played the theme music, for instance. "Godfather" made the registry in 1990.

For my students.
Intellectual Property and Trust in the Age of Digital Media
“The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals a new formula for building trust, one in which engagement carries a multiplier effect. Engagement and ongoing communication and dialogue with multiple stakeholders are both more critical than ever, but also more difficult to execute well. Today’s reality is that CEOs are not trusted to be credible spokespersons for their organization (only 43 percent believe CEOs have credibility) and more people now look for business information on search engines (31 percent) than television (22 percent) or newspapers (21 percent). Businesses and other institutions need a new strategy for starting and influencing conversations about their organization or industry, one in which the creation and stewardship of intellectual property plays a key role. Today’s media landscape is vastly different compared to 15 years ago, when the Trust Barometer was first fielded. For the first time in 2015, search engines are now the most trusted source for general news and information among the informed public, surpassing traditional media by two percentage points among the global informed public, and by eight percentage points among Millennials. Social media has risen to a trust level of 48 percent (59 percent among Millennials). Today, it’s all about starting peer-to-peer conversations and making sure that your content is easy to find.”

(Related) It's one thing to “know” about social tools, it's quite another to implement them.
Transforming the business through social tools
“After years of rapid and increasing adoption, the use of social technologies has become a common business practice. [Really? Bob] Now the responses to McKinsey’s latest survey on these technologies indicate that in certain functions (namely, sales and marketing), companies are applying social tools extensively and becoming more digital organizations overall. We asked executives about their companies’ use of social tools in 18 specific business processes. Among them, social technologies are the least integrated into the work flow for operations processes, such as order to cash and demand planning. They are the most integrated into public-relations, customer-relationship-management (CRM), and marketing processes—where these technologies are a natural extension of existing tools. As a result, executives say the use and integration of social tools have had the most significant impact on the day-to-day work for many customer-facing activities.”

Something to motivate my students? Better than mowing lawns or shoveling snow... (Remember, your professor gets one percent.)
How one boy grew a popular Instagram feed into a social media empire
Tanner Zagarino is a typical 16-year-old boy. He goes to public high school on Long Island, where he competes for the school wrestling team. He likes clothes and posting selfies with his friends. He jokes around with his mom, who gets roped into those selfies sometimes. He’s typical in every way but one: Zagarino rakes in more than $10,000 a month from social media.
His Instagram photos have attracted 439,000 fans. His tweets have drawn more than 93,000 followers. Judging from the comments on his posts, most of his fans are teen and tween girls. Advertisers consider him an “influencer,” a guy who can get people to buy stuff. Zagarino already has a fashion blog and is establishing a YouTube presence. He just started a year-long stint as a “Hot Guy” panelist for Seventeen magazine. He can pull in up to $35,000 a month from all this work, says manager Kyle Santillo.

Just because I like books...
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For my next Intro to Computer Security class.
Which Web Browser Is The Most Secure?

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