Friday, August 14, 2015

It's not that individually they had so much money, it's that it's just so easy to take it.
Reuters reports:
A data broker operation sold payday loan applicants’ financial information to scammers, who took in millions of dollars by debiting bank accounts and charging credit cards without authorization, the Federal Trade Commission charged Wednesday.
The data brokers bought “hundreds of thousands of consumer payday loan applications” and, instead of passing them to legitimate payday lenders, sold them to non-lending third parties, the FTC charged in a complaint. Among the companies, was Ideal Financial Solutions Inc., which bought 500,000 applications and raided the accounts for at least $7.1 million, the FTC said.
Read more on NBC.
The FTC’s press release on the Sequoia One case can be found here.

Another way to misuse technology. Was this intended to push ads to people walking in or by a store?
iPhone cyber-flashing: What is it and how to stop it happening to you
Security experts have begun issuing advice on how to prevent iPhone users from becoming the victims of a new phenomenon known as cyber-flashing. The advice has started to appear online in the wake of a woman contacting the police after she was sent explicit and unsolicited photos from a stranger in her close vicinity on a train in London.
Using AirDrop - a feature on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac computers where users can send files, such as images, to each other at close range - the cyber flasher can request to send photographs to any fellow iPhone users within the range of a Bluetooth connection - usually around 10m. Even if the receiver rejects the photo, they are still shown an uncensored preview of the image.
To avoid being the victim of cyber-flashing over AirDrop, iPhone users should follow these instructions, published by security specialist Mark James on the blog of fellow computer expert Graham Cluley: "AirDrop is not turned on by default, but it's easy to set AirDrop to receive from Everyone, and then forget all about it.
"The real blame here lies with those who are sending the dirty pics. To block receiving files from complete strangers, iPhone users would be wise to change their AirDrop settings to receive from no one or just those people listed in the contacts list."

For my Intro to Computer Security students.
8 Tips for Online Safety Used by Security Experts

One of the guideline I worked under was, “What would the impact be if this data becomes public.” By that rule, Hillary should have classified everything “Tippity-Top Secret.” If you look at it from a “should this be public knowledge” perspective, would you want to “CC” the New York Times (or Congress)?
Clinton emails reveal murky world of ‘top secret’ documents
What makes an email classified? 

… However, the classified determination doesn’t end once an email has been sent.
Information in a message can be declared classified years after it was initially sent. And the State Department and Intelligence Community can also look at the same text and come to opposite conclusions over whether it contains secret information.
And that’s where the discrepancies are arising between the Office of the Inspector General (IG) of Intelligence Community, Clinton’s campaign and the State Department.
… Not only is each side entitled to different standards of classification, but information can become classified almost retroactively, as situations and guidelines change over the years.

And I expected the IRS to “kick 'em while they're down!” Shame on me.
Joe Lazzarotti writes:
When an employer is responding to a breach of their employees’ personal information, one of the last things they may think about is whether the value of the credit monitoring or other identity protection services they make available to affected employees should be considered taxable to the employees and reported as such. In Announcement 2015-22, the Internal Revenue Service clarified that it will not consider the value of such services provided by the employer to employees to be gross income or wages to the employees. The IRS also stated it will not take the position that the employees should include the value of such services as gross income on their personal income tax returns.

Useful for my students who apparently find lots of websites that “disappear” just before I try to find them. Would this work to “preserve evidence?”
The Best Tools for Saving Web Pages, Forever
… There are quite a few ways to save web pages permanently and your choice of the tool will depend on the kind of web content that you are trying to archive.

Perspective. Squeezing years into days.
Periscope is growing fast with 10 million users
According to the blog post, Periscope users now watch over 40 years of video each day.
… Periscope, Twitter’s live-streaming video app, now has 10 million accounts. And that’s just on iOS and Android – web streams aren’t yet included in the count.

(Related) Where do you put all that data? (You do the math, I don't have a math class so I can't assign this as homework.)
'World's biggest hard drive' will store more than two years of video
Get ready hoarders. Samsung has unveiled a solid-state hard drive that stores 15.36 terabytes of data.
The 2.5-inch drive - the size used in conventional laptops - was unveiled at the Flash Memory Summit in California.
… At 1.5GB for a two-hour standard-definition movie (the approximate size given by the iTunes store), the hard drive could (in theory) store 10,240 two-hour movies. That's 853 days, or two years and four months.
For HD video, around 4.5GB for two hours, 15.36TB equates to 3,413 movies, or 284 days of footage. A 4K movie - the type we'll probably all be watching by the time 16TB disks become commonplace - can be over 100GB in size, however.
You could also store 3.8 million 4MB songs.

How Google Translate squeezes deep learning onto a phone
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Aug 13, 2015
Google Research Blog – [July 28, 2015] “we announced that the Google Translate app now does real-time visual translation of 20 more languages. So the next time you’re in Prague and can’t read a menu, we’ve got your back. But how are we able to recognize these new languages? In short: deep neural nets. When the Word Lens team joined Google, we were excited for the opportunity to work with some of the leading researchers in deep learning. Neural nets have gotten a lot of attention in the last few years because they’ve set all kinds of records in image recognition. Five years ago, if you gave a computer an image of a cat or a dog, it had trouble telling which was which. Thanks to convolutional neural networks, not only can computers tell the difference between cats and dogs, they can even recognize different breeds of dogs. Yes, they’re good for more than just trippy art—if you’re translating a foreign menu or sign with the latest version of Google’s Translate app, you’re now using a deep neural net. And the amazing part is it can all work on your phone, without an Internet connection. Here’s how…”

Or you could use it to trim your shag carpeting...
iRobot's robotic lawn mower gets U.S. regulatory approval
The future of free-wheeling automated yard work took a step closer to American consumers on Wednesday after U.S. regulators gave robot maker iRobot Corp Inc technical clearance to make and sell a robotic lawn mower.
The Bedford, Massachusetts-based company, known for its robot vacuum cleaner Roomba, has designed a robot lawn mower that would wirelessly connect with stakes in the ground operating as signal beacons, rising above the ground by as much as 24 inches (61 cm).
… IRobot's stake design, however, required a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission to make sure that transmissions between its machines and the antennas wouldn't interfere with other devices using the same frequencies.
… The National Radio Astronomy Observatory had fought iRobot's waiver request, saying the lawn mowers would interfere with its telescopes. But the regulators waived the rules for iRobot, saying its beacon design should be safe with the promised limitations on height, signal strength and use in residential areas.

(Related) While we're talking robots...
Is a Cambrian Explosion Coming for Robotics?
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Aug 13, 2015
Pratt, Gill A. 2015. “Is a Cambrian Explosion Coming for Robotics?Journal of Economic Perspectives, 29(3): 51-60. DOI: 10.1257/jep.29.3.51
“About half a billion years ago, life on earth experienced a short period of very rapid diversification called the “Cambrian Explosion.” Many theories have been proposed for the cause of the Cambrian Explosion, one of the most provocative being the evolution of vision, allowing animals to dramatically increase their ability to hunt and find mates. Today, technological developments on several fronts are fomenting a similar explosion in the diversification and applicability of robotics. Many of the base hardware technologies on which robots depend—particularly computing, data storage, and communications—have been improving at exponential growth rates. Two newly blossoming technologies—”Cloud Robotics” and “Deep Learning”—could leverage these base technologies in a virtuous cycle of explosive growth. I examine some key technologies contributing to the present excitement in the robotics field. As with other technological developments, there has been a significant uptick in concerns about the societal implication of robotics and artificial intelligence. Thus, I offer some thoughts about how robotics may affect the economy and some ways to address potential difficulties.”

My weekly smiles (and head shakes)
Hack Education Weekly News
Via The Guardian: “Lawyers representing Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk have filed a motion demanding the entire sexual history of a student who is suing the school after reporting being drugged and raped on her third day of freshman orientation.” [Where and how would this be documented? Bob]
… “Five retired NBA players are receiving scholarships to attend Kaplan University and study online to earn certificates, bachelor’s or master’s degrees,” says Inside Higher Ed. [Probably need a course in Money management. Bob]
… The University of Illinois released some 1100 pages of emails pertaining to the hiring/firing last year of professor Steven Salaita. It turns out that Chancellor Phyllis Wise used her personal email account in order to – she hoped, eh – avoid scrutiny. “Email scandal plunges U. of Illinois into turmoil.” The university’s board of trustees voted to reject a deal in which Wise would receive $400,000 after resigning as chancellor. More legal battles to follow
Via Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy: “Career Education Corporation's plan to transform its business was simple: stop providing career education. And so far, it seems to be working: in the first quarter of the company's ‘transformation plan,’ it beat analyst estimates, sending its stock shooting up more than 30% on Friday after results were announced.”
… “A Peek at a ‘Smart’ Classroom Powered by the Internet of Things,” via Edsurge, which looks at a study from the University of Belgrade about sensors in the lecture hall. “The researchers used sensors to measure different aspects of the classroom environment – including temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels – and attempted to link these factors to student focus.”

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