Sunday, February 01, 2015

Not communicating fully is really bad communications. Wouldn't this make you nervous?
This is an odd one. Brook Self reports:
The entire Victor Valley College Information Technology Department has been placed on paid administrative leave while campus police and an outside company investigate a breach in security protocol, President Roger Wagner said Thursday.
While emphasizing that no private student or employee information had been compromised, Wagner said what began as an administrative investigation became a police matter on Friday.
There is noting in the news report, however, that really suggests why this might be a police matter:
“We don’t have any reason to believe we’ve been hacked by outside hackers,” Wagner said. “There’s been a breach of protocol in how our internal security systems are set and who has access to our different servers and passwords. It’s an internal procedural issue. We felt it was important to put everyone on administrative leave for their protection, really, so we can track down to see if there was any internal violation.”
So I ask again: why rush to bring the police in? The college has retained a forensics firm, which is fine, but what exactly are the police supposed to be doing? The only description of the “breach” was:
Wagner said network issues first began on Monday when certain activities occurred that were “not normal.”
There’s no statement on the college’s web site that would make clear why you would bring the police in if you think this is an internal protocol issue.
Read more on Victorville Daily Press and see if you can figure this out. If you can, leave me a comment in the Comments section.

It's only so they can bill you later.
Suzy Strutner reports:
There’s something utterly delicious about hotel beds… and towels… and robes. They’re so decadently fluffy and epically cozy, we’d totally steal them if we could.
And much of the time, we do. Towels are among the most-stolen items in hotels, The Telegraph reports. We could’ve guessed that.
But we never would’ve guessed that hotels can tell when you’ve stolen a towel (or robe or duvet cover for that matter). It’s all thanks to a tiny, M&M-sized tracking device that thousands of hotels have embedded in their linens — a device that lets them know where their towels, robes and bedsheets are at all times.
Read more on Huffington Post.

For my Ethical Hackers. So that's why all those BMWs are parked in the lot. Note: OTA = Over the air – you don't need to be next to the car.
BMW Pushes OTA Update To 2 Million Vehicles, Prevents Hackers From Unlocking Doors
You think getting an OTA update for your smartphone to prevent someone from being able to remotely access it is notable? Imagine getting an update for your car to prevent someone from being able to access it! That's what the owners of some BMW vehicles are dealing with, as the Bavarian overlord has just issued updates to over 2.2 million vehicles.
The issue here is related to BMW's ConnectedDrive feature, which allows owners to communicate with their vehicle via their mobile phone. While ConnectedDrive offers some rich functionality, it's the door unlock mechanism that became an issue. BMW says that there's been no reports of the flaw being exploited, which is actually a little surprising.
A little over two-years-ago, the BBC conducted a test in which it purchased a device used to reconfigure the security key in a BMW auto that would ultimately let them gain access to it. Even with no experience, anyone equipped with that machine would have been able to drive off with someone else's car. Amazing, isn't it?

Perhaps the pendulum of justice is starting back to the center? Not everyone can be found guilty (without notice, let alone a trial) of “terrorist-like thinking” and sentenced to “never fly again!”
Matthew Barakat reports:
A federal judge expressed skepticism Friday about the constitutionality of the government’s no-fly list, suggesting that those who find themselves on it ought to be allowed a meaningful opportunity to clear their names.
The lawsuit challenging the no-fly list, filed by Alexandria resident Gulet Mohamed, has been winding its way through federal court for four years, and U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga has consistently rejected government efforts to get the suit tossed out.
Read more of this AP story on ABC.

Volumes seem quite low.
Reddit hands over user data in over half of government requests
… Within Reddit's first-ever transparency report (.PDF), the popular link-sharing website's team says that 55 requests for user information were received in 2014 by "outside parties." The requests, which include account registration data, log data and content uploaded by users, were made by government and federal agencies.
… While Reddit was able to successfully appeal and fight back against two civil subpoenas that "sought to unmask more than a dozen anonymous users," the website produced user information for 58 percent of all overall government & civil requests and 64 percent of all US state & federal government requests for data.
… Reddit requires a subpoena if a government agency wants the website to share subscriber information, and a search warrant is necessary to force the company to release user private messages and deleted content. Reddit also states within the transparency report it "may produce information" in emergency circumstances, "when we believe it's necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily harm to a person."

Mr. Putin's vision: Same Soviet Union, different name?
Russia's Central Bank Makes 'Risky Move' As Economy Suffers From Ukraine Crisis
The Russian Central Bank has reversed course, as expected. Following the surprise interest rate hikes in mid-December from 10% to a 17%, the bank’s monetary policy committee has opted to risk worsening inflation by cutting rates to 15%.
… “On balance, we interpret (Friday’s) rate cut largely as a partial reversal of an emergency rate hike in December, rather than an immediate start of the cutting cycle,” Eldar Vakhitov, an emerging markets analyst for Barclays Capital in London wrote in a note to clients. Vakhitov called it a “risky move”.
… Russia’s Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev forecast GDP to contract by 3% this year, with inflation peaking at 12%. Capital flight from Russia is estimated to be $115 billion.

(Related) Gobble up countries by “liberating” them. Hey. It worked for Stalin.
East Ukraine death toll mounts after peace talks fail
[Interesting photo of separatists riding a tank.]

For my Business students.
Jeff Bezos' brilliant advice for anyone running a business
If you want to build a successful, sustainable business, don't ask yourself what could change in the next ten years that could affect your company.
Instead, ask yourself what won't change, and then put all your energy and effort into those things.
… Bezos suggests that you should build a business strategy around the things you know are stable in time — like that customers will always prefer lower prices — and then invest heavily in ensuring you are providing those things and improving your delivery of them all the time.

For my Business Intelligence students: Pay off your student loans by wining at Fantasy Football?
How IBM is bringing front-office data analysis to Super Bowl fans
… Especially in recent years, sports fans have gotten even more obsessed with statistics, as fantasy sports have grown from a niche pastime into a multi-billion dollar industry.
But while advanced "Moneyball"-style number-crunching is all the rage in back rooms and front offices, [Told ya... Bob] the vast majority of fans don't have the specialized training necessary to analyze giant batches of numbers like the statisticians employed by their favorite teams.
Enter IBM's Watson Analytics, a new cloud-based platform that finds patterns in data and uses that information to make predictions about the future.
Its primary purpose is to help businesses of all kinds make informed decisions, but anyone who'd like to use it can experience the Watson Analytics freemium version. This gives fans access to similar tools that executives of pro sports teams consult to understand, say, how many yards Marshawn Lynch averages after first contact, or in which situations Tom Brady is most likely to throw to Rob Gronkowski.
… In order to help sports fans get started, IBM uploaded a slew of offensive statistics from the 2014 NFL season (provided by SportsData LLC) into its database. For instructions and a demo of what you can do with NFL stats in Watson Analytics, visit the Watson Analytics Storybook.
From there, fans can explore data visualizations of how certain trends played out during the season — like a weekly breakdown of interceptions thrown by the home and visiting teams — and even ask the system predictive questions like, "Which factors lead to rushing touchdowns?"
Not surprisingly, Hearne says most fans have been using the platform to try to get a leg up on their friends in fantasy football.

Also for Business Intelligence, this is a partial answer to this weeks question.
Is Incomplete Twitter Data Skewing Social Analytics?
… The Twitter Streaming API doesn’t allow access to the “firehose,” the total data pool, but rather to a peculiar 1% of total streams, a data bank generally called the “spritzer.” A recent research study found biased results when comparing the spritzer alongside a random 1% taken from the firehose, without clear methods as to how these samples were generated.
The Twitter Search API is problematic for additional reasons. Researchers can’t query a specific date in the past; they can only view posts from the previous week.

Dilbert illustrates the perfect lie.

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