Saturday, March 28, 2015

For my Computer Security students. Something for the toolkit.
Detekt – free tool that scans your Windows computer for traces of commercial surveillance spyware
Via FastCoExit: “Spyware like FinFisher contributes to a multi-billion dollar business. But until last week, activists had few ways to defend themselves, aside from the well-placed bit of duct tape over the computer camera and rigorous digital hygiene practices. That’s why Amnesty International, Privacy International, Digitale Gesellschaft, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation rolled out a new tool, called Detekt, that lets you know when you’ve been hacked. “If the last 10 to 15 years of spying has been interception, search and seizure, and detaining, this is the future of government spying,” says Privacy International deputy director Eric King. “Detekt has only been up for a day, and I know there’s already been hundreds of thousands of hits on the website. My inbox is full of people who have been infected.” Anyone can freely download Detekt’s open-source software, but if the tool does detect spyware, getting rid of it is another matter entirely. The Detekt website does link to instructions to help people clear their machines, but it’s also no safeguard against the NSA or GCHQ’s sophisticated mass surveillance methods, the likes of which were revealed by Edward Snowden in June of 2013.”

How to look completely innocent.
Fidgeting, whistling, sweaty palms. These are just a few of the suspicious signs that the Transportation Security Administration directs its officers to look out for in airport travelers, according to a confidential document obtained exclusively by The Intercept.
Read more on The Intercept.
In related news, Joe Cadillic discusses the new use of biometric iris and fingerprint scans at airports.

My students seem to put everything on the credit cards, including stuff from the school vending machines.
Mark Wilson reports:
It’s disconcerting when you consider just how much your bank or credit card company can see without even really trying: everywhere you shop, eat, and play—right down to how much you spend and when. (Suddenly, even Uber’s God View doesn’t seem so scary.)
Capital One is developing an app called Ideas—an optional stand-alone app from their main one—that mines customers’ spending histories to offer them relevant deals and events (for which Capital One takes no cut). Each day, it produces a short, personalized list of coupons (like save 10% at J. Crew) and things to do (like check out The Book of Mormon), all translated to a short, image-forward list you swipe through, kind of like Tinder. If a customer likes an event, she can save it to be reminded later. If a customer likes a deal, he can virtually clip the coupon. And if that coupon goes unspent, then shortly before it expires, Ideas will SMS the customer to warn him about it.
Read more on FastCompany.

Eventually, this will lead to “self-driving” scalpels.
Google Moves to the Operating Room in Robotics Deal With J&J
… The search giant is pooling resources and intellectual property with Johnson & Johnson to develop robots to assist surgeons. No financial terms were disclosed. J&J said in a statement that the deal is expected to close in the second quarter and has to be reviewed by antitrust authorities.
Google reckons it can use its machine-vision and image-analysis software to help surgeons see better as they operate or make it easier for them to get information that’s relevant to the surgery.

Perspective. Lest you think all drones are the size of model airplanes.
Facebook's Internet-Beaming Aquila Drone Has Wingspan Of A Boeing 737, Will Take Flight This Summer
… The drones are capable of cruising at an altitude of 60,000 to 90,000 feet, and can stay aloft for months at a time thanks to solar panels embedded in the massive wings and onboard lithium-ion batteries. Each drone will be capable of “[beaming] down backbone Internet access” to people across the globe — those who otherwise wouldn’t have easy access to Internet connectivity — as part of the Facebook’s efforts. According to Facebook’s estimates, there are anywhere from between 1.1 billion to 2.8 billion people on the planet that don’t have access to the Internet.

This could be very interesting. Imagine replacing the redacted text with you own words (a la Woody Allen's “What's up tiger lilly?”)
FCC Releases Redacted Manual for Mobile Surveillance
Follow up to previous posting – StingRay surveillance device intercepts a cellphone signals, capture texts, calls, emails and other data – via Slate, via TheBlot: A heavily redacted copy of the 2010 manual for StingRay and KingFish mobile data surveillance equipment was released by the FCC in response to a FOIA request by TheBlot over the strong objections of the equipment manufacturer. Matthew Keys for TheBlot: “On March 23 — more than six months after the request had been filed and two months after the January call — the FCC delivered a heavily redacted user manual covering the StingRay, StingRay II and KingFish devices. The manual, which appears to be the same copy submitted to the FCC by Harris in 2010, reveals the StingRay and KingFish equipment are likely individual components that comprise a cellphone surveillance kit marketed and sold to police. The manual indicates the StingRay and KingFish devices are sold as part of a larger surveillance kit that includes third-party software and laptops. Tables that contain the names of the other equipment is redacted in the copy provided by the FCC, but other records reviewed by TheBlot indicate the laptops are manufactured by Dell and Panasonic, while the software is designed by Pen-Link, a company that makes programs for cellphone forensics. Numerous warnings note that the manual is “confidential,” “not for public inspection” and contains information that falls under the purview of the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), a federal statute that prohibits certain defense information and equipment from being distributed outside the United States. Harris also warns that the manual “may be provided only to … government law enforcement agencies or communication service providers,” and that the document contains material related to a “restricted use item” that is “associated with the monitoring of cellular transmissions.” (The latter phrasing appears clearly in one section of the manual, despite being redacted on other pages.) None of the redactions made to the document were explained by the FCC as information withheld pursuant to national security interests. Instead, the FCC explained its redactions through Exemption 4 of the FOIA law, which protects the release of trade secrets and certain confidential business information submitted to the government.”

Well blogged, every week.
Hack Education Weekly News
… Enrollment at the University of Phoenix is down by over 50% over the past 5 years, reports CNN.
According to a report released by the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics, “After taking grants into account, the average full-time undergraduate in 2011–12 paid a net price of $11,700 to attend a public two-year college and $18,000 for public four-year college. Include loans, work-study and other forms of aid and the out-of-pocket costs come in at $9,900 and $11,800, respectively.”
… “In Defense of Snow Days” – according to research published by Education Next, school closures due to bad weather have little or no effect on student achievement. [Who paid for that study? Bob]
… From the American Association of University Women: “Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women's Success in Engineering and Computing.”

An infographic for my students. May they become rich and famous (and hire me as a consultant)
30 Inspirational Quotes for Entrepreneurs (Infographic)

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