Thursday, June 04, 2015

A noble or at least notable effort.
WSJ – Level 3 Tries to Waylay Hackers
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Jun 3, 2015
Drew Fitzgerald – – “Earlier this month, Brett Wentworth took Level 3 Communications Inc. into territory that most rivals have been reluctant to enter. The director of global security at the largest carrier of Internet traffic cut off data from reaching a group of servers in China that his company believed was involved in an active hacking attack. The decision was reached after a broad internal review. The Broomfield, Colo., company is taking an aggressive—and some say risky approach—to battling criminal activity. Risky because hackers often hijack legitimate machines to do their dirty work, raising the risk of collateral damage by sidelining a business using the same group of servers. Such tactics also run against a widely held belief that large carriers should be facilitating traffic, not halting it. And carriers are reluctant to create the expectation that they will police the Internet. Yet with attacks on the rise, Level 3 three years ago decided it is worth the risks. At a rate of about once every few weeks, the carrier is shutting down questionable traffic that doesn’t involve any of its clients. When the source of the trouble is hard to pinpoint, it often casts a wide net and intercepts traffic from large blocks of Internet addresses. Recently, that meant stopping traffic from a powerful network of computer servers controlled by a group of hackers that security researchers dubbed SSHPsychos. The group used rented machines in a data center to hack other computers that could bring down target websites by flooding them with junk traffic. Level 3 blocked a broad swath of the Hong Kong-registered data center’s IP addresses from the Internet.”

It can't be because management is doing such a fine job of controlling their organizations. Perhaps it is because politicians don't like to be second guessed? More likely because they don't know how to use the IG to their advantage.
Watchdogs Needed: Top Government Investigator Positions Left Unfilled for Years
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Jun 3, 2015
“At their best, Offices of Inspector General (OIG) are essential to a well-functioning federal government. IG offices recover billions of dollars in wasted taxpayer funds and make improvements to federal programs that keep us healthy, safe, and secure. IGs wear two hats, reporting to their agency heads and to Congress. As a result of this dual-reporting structure, IGs are uniquely positioned to serve as your eyes and ears within the executive branch, giving you the information you need to conduct effective oversight and pass meaningful legislation. POGO has worked for years to study and improve the IG system, and we have supported legislation to make IGs more independent and accountable. As such, we are deeply troubled to find that many senior IG officials are allegedly currying favor with the very agency leaders they’re supposed to oversee, and taking other inappropriate actions that would cause any reasonable person to question the IG’s independence. Among the most pervasive threats to IG independence and effectiveness are the long-standing vacancies that have languished at IG offices throughout the federal government. POGO believes it is no coincidence that so many long-time acting IGs have found their independence called into question on front pages of newspapers across the country—especially when those acting officials make it known they are auditioning for the role of permanent IG. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that the opening of an IG vacancy can occur for a perfectly appropriate reason—such as removing a permanent IG who fails to uphold her office’s mission.”

Are they worried that they might embarrass politicians?
Twitter abruptly shuts down tool tracking lawmakers' deleted tweets
The Sunlight Foundation’s tool to track lawmakers’ deleted tweets appears crippled after a three-year run.
Twitter said Wednesday it will no longer allow the Sunlight Foundation to have access to the company's API, which allows the foundation’s Politwoops to automatically track deleted tweets.
Twitter said it pulled the plug because it violated the company’s developer agreement related to privacy.
… Politwoop’s most recently tracked deleted tweet is from May 15.

Perhaps we should invite Tim to speak at The Privacy Foundation?
Apple’s Tim Cook Delivers Blistering Speech On Encryption, Privacy
Yesterday evening, Apple CEO Tim Cook was honored for ‘corporate leadership’ during EPIC’s Champions of Freedom event in Washington. Cook spoke remotely to the assembled audience on guarding customer privacy, ensuring security and protecting their right to encryption.
… Cook was characteristically passionate about all three topics. A theme that has persisted following his appearance on Charlie Rose late last year to define how Apple handled encryption, his public letter on Apple’s new security page in the wake of the celebrity nude hacking incidents and his speech earlier this year at President Obama’s Summit on Cybersecurity at Stanford — an event which was notably not attended by other Silicon Valley CEOs like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt.

This happens when you think of your customers as “sources of revenue” rather than people. I'm thinking of starting an “Advertising Advisory Service.” I'll load my social networking pages will all kinds of “interests” and charge anyone who “opts in” to my service (by sending me an ad) a very reasonable $100 per review. I figure I can review about 200 ads per day, as soon as I get the program written.
PayPal Changes User Agreement To Send Ads On Numbers You Didn’t Provide
Today, PayPal announced a few upcoming changes to its user agreement, which will affect a lot of users so read the fine print once you’re agreeing to the soon-to-be-updated terms. The main clause discovered in the agreement gives the company rights to contact you via text or call to your personal number which you didn’t provide to the service in the first place.
According to the Washington Post, an updated clause in the agreement allows the company to send "autodialed or prerecorded calls and text messages," on phone numbers; which if you didn’t provide yourself, the company has "otherwise obtained" from other sources.
While the new clause may seem as a dire violation of your privacy, under the previous agreement, PayPal already had the authority to scour various sources in order to keep a repository of phone numbers belonging to its clients.

(Related) Soon, everyone will do this.
Instagram is going to start showing you ads based on information in your Facebook profile
Instagram ads are about to get a lot more personal.
But soon advertisers will know if you're a 20-something living in Brooklyn who likes cats. How? Your Facebook profile.

Another method of ensuring “Open Government?” What happened to the wisdom behind “Double Secret Probation?”
WikiLeaks offers $100,000 bounty for Asian trade pact pushed by Obama
Whistleblower website WikiLeaks offered a $100,000 bounty for copies of a Pacific trade pact that is a central plank of President Barack Obama's diplomatic pivot to Asia on Tuesday.
WikiLeaks, which has published leaked chapters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiating text before, started a drive to crowdsource money for the reward, just as U.S. unions launched a new push to make the text public.
… Nine hours after the campaign was launched, WikiLeaks' website was showing $25,835 pledged by more than 100 people.

(Related) Who really runs the government when your PAC contributors know more that congressmen in your own party?
Dem: Tech knows more about trade deal than Congress does

...and here I was thinking that we had already reached ubiquity.
Ericsson: Smartphones Nearly Ubiquitous In Five Years
Ericsson’s latest mobility report is out this morning, and it finds, perhaps unsurprisingly, that we’ll be swamped in smartphones by 2020. Even taking into account the company’s obvious interest in this finding, it’s still a shock to realize that the recently acquired cultural posture of bending over a small shiny object while swiping away at the glass will become nearly universal in just five more years.
The company predicts that the world’s population will support 6.1 billion smartphone subscriptions in 2020. Accepting a population estimate from Population Pyramids of the World of 7.7 billion yields a proportion of 79%. In its report, Ericsson gives a figure of 70%.
… Including all phones, the report says, not just smart ones, phone penetration will reach 90% of the world’s population by 2020.

Darn, I was going to try this. But if it's legal, why was he suspended? Can he sue?
A science teacher was suspended without pay for using a signal jammer to block his students' phones
A teacher in Florida has been suspended without pay for five days after he used a signal jammer to stop his students' phones from working, Ars Technica reports.
Science teacher Dean Liptak affixed a jammer to a cell tower located on campus, which enabled him to jam mobile phones in order to stop students from getting distracted during lessons.
Liptak said that he had an override button for the device in case of emergencies, and also claimed that he checked with a local police officer who told him that using a jammer was legal.

Alarmist or realistic? Clearly US “happy news” does not cover this. Not as important as National Donut Day.
Ukraine's Poroshenko warns of 'full-scale' Russia invasion
President Petro Poroshenko has told MPs the military must prepare to defend against a possible "full-scale invasion" from Russia, amid a surge of violence in eastern Ukraine.
Russia has denied that its military is involved in Ukraine, but Mr Poroshenko said 9,000 of its troops were deployed.
Clashes involving tanks took place in two areas west of Donetsk on Wednesday.

(Related) Of course we have plans, but have we updated them since the Berlin wall came down? Yeah, probably but are we ready to implement it?
Start of WW3? Putin could force the West to use NUCLEAR WEAPONS against Russia, warns NATO
Europe and the United States are "embarrassingly" unprepared for Russian aggression, claimed General Petr Pavel.
… Czech general Pavel, next chairman of the NATO Military Committee, issued a warning to Western leaders expressing his concern they are not ready for military action by Putin.
He said: "Russia could seize the Baltic countries in two days.
"NATO wouldn't be able to react to the situation in that time."
The Alliance would be forced to "weigh its positions regarding whether it would start a war - maybe even a nuclear war - against Russia for the Baltic states," he said.

I bet this will cost much more than they estimate.
Truckmakers Ordered by U.S. to Add Anti-Rollover Technology
Makers of heavy-duty trucks in two years must add electronic stability-control systems to new vehicles, an effort by the U.S. government to prevent rollover crashes that kill about 300 drivers a year and injure 3,000 others.
The technology uses engine torque and computer-controlled braking to help truckers maintain control in emergencies by keeping the wheels on the ground and the trailers from swinging. The regulatory requirement, proposed in 2012, is estimated to cost $585 per truck

Once again we see that the world does not work as the MPAA would like it to.
New Zealand court: Megaupload founder can hold on to property
A judge in New Zealand has said that Kim Dotcom, the founder of now-defunct file-sharing service Megaupload, who is facing federal charges, does not have to forfeit his property, despite the order of a U.S. judge.
It’s a blow to federal prosecutors, who were hoping to force Dotcom to comply with the order of a federal judge in Virginia, Ars Technica reported on Wednesday.
The Virginia judge ruled in March that Dotcom had lost the case over forfeiting his property by default. But a judge on the High Court of New Zealand, Auckland Registry, found the legal theory being used by American authorities was not recognized in New Zealand.

Teaching in the 21st Century should be even easier than learning.
Teaching Mathematics With a Surface Pro Tablet
For the last 6 years I have done all of my teaching on a tablet Windows PC. I have really liked using the tool for these reasons. I can have a digital copy of all of my lessons sync to all of my computers and be instantly searchable. Since my lesson was already digital I could easily upload it to my website. I could use any computer program (graphing utilities, geometric or algebraic drawing utilities, Excel, and more) in my lesson seamlessly.
But up until last year there was a drawback. I could never leave my podium for a couple of reasons. First, the computer did not have a way to wirelessly stream the video output to the projector. Also, the computer was not small enough to just pick up and walk around with using only one hand.
One of the best things about technology is how the tools we use are constantly changing. Last year I updated my school computer to a Surface Pro 2. The portability of this computer is incredible! I was inspired to look into ways of untethering myself from my podium. I originally used the software program AirParrot to send the video to my Apple TV. And while that solution was good, it was rather processor intensive and would drain the battery pretty quickly. Just recently I started using a Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter, which Windows 8 natively supports (the streaming stick uses the Miracast wireless streaming protocol). This setup has a much smaller drain on my battery which means more time away from my podium!

For my Statistics students. Is this greater than random? What data do you need to answer this question?
Shootings are on the rise this year in New York City, and the trends are raising questions about whether Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to cut down on stop-and-frisk tactics has made it easier to carry guns in New York.
… In 2012, the NYPD made more than 532,000 stops, each of which could progress to a frisk or to a full search. The police found guns only 715 times.1 In other words, guns were found during 0.1 percent of stops.
… The NYCLU data set shows that 23 percent of all stops and searches were prompted by concerns about a possible weapon.2 The police did find guns more often in these cases (36 of every 10,000 weapon-related stops compared with seven of every 10,000 non-weapon-related stops). However, this still seems like a low success rate, and it may be skewed. Police officers write up their reasons for a stop afterward and can retroactively claim gun-related causes after finding the weapon, even if they weren’t the true reason for the stop.

A paper my Data Management students might find interesting. (Yes, that is what I call a “hint.”)
Navigating a World of Digital Disruption
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Jun 3, 2015
Navigating a World of Digital Disruption by Philip Evans & Patrick Forth: “Digital disruption is not a new phenomenon. But the opportunities and risks it presents shift over time. Competitive advantage flows to the businesses that see and act on those shifts first. We are entering the third, and most consequential, wave of digital disruption. It has profound implications not only for strategy but also for the structures of companies and industries. Business leaders need a new map to guide them. This article explains the factors underlying these disruptive waves, outlines the new strategic issues they raise, and describes a portfolio of new strategic moves that business leaders need to master.”

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