Friday, October 23, 2015

Small, but impactive.
TALKTALK HACKED: 4 million customers affected, stock plummeting, 'Russian jihadist hackers' claim responsibility
British broadband provider TalkTalk has been hacked for the third time, the company announced late Thursday, and customers' data — including credit card details — may have been stolen.
In a statement, TalkTalk called the attack "significant and sustained." Up to 4 million customers may be affected, according to the Financial Times. [See below. Did they get every account? Bob]
… TalkTalk shares have plummeted 9% on the news. [Unusual, Bob]
It's not clear who is behind the hack yet, but a group claiming to be a Russian jihadist cyberterrorist group is claiming responsibility. BuzzFeed has spoken to a TalkTalk customer included in an apparent preliminary dump of customer data, and it appears to be legitimate — although the hacker's stated political affiliation could well be false.
The company has around 4 million UK customers.
The BBC is reporting that TalkTalk's website was targeted by a DDoS attack — overwhelming servers with traffic. This on its own wouldn't give the attacker access to internal data, however.
… It's not yet clear whether the hackers gained access to customers' full credit card details, or if they were at least partially encrypted (if they weren't, it'd be a major security issue). The company says that "not all of the data was encrypted" — had it been, it would be very difficult for the attacker to make any sense of.

Better late than never? The original collector of Big Data has finally realize they can use all that data they insist on gathering! But of course since they have never done anything with that data, they don't know what to do with it. (This is apparently so obvious that it only take 2 pages to report everything they already knew?)
Federal Investment in Big Data Applications Heads for Liftoff
U.S. government agencies appear to have gotten the memo: Big data is good for you.
Federal agencies' acquisition, storage, processing and management of almost unimaginably large chunks of information will drive the government to use big data technologies, according to a recent survey of federal information technology managers.
In addition, the use of big data analytics to productively maximize the value of all this information will become a major goal of government agencies, the survey showed.
To accomplish those goals, federal IT managers increasingly are seeking the support of the private sector.
Forty-six percent of respondents planned to increase use of third-party contractors or consultants to assist with big data projects, according to the survey, which was sponsored by Unisys Federal. Another 52 percent intended to maintain their current level of engagement with outside providers.
[The 2 page “report”:

(Related) “Hackathon” sounds really cool, but this looks more like a technology showcase – buy my product/service because it will make your life easier! No staffers will be writing code.
Overnight Tech: House gears up for ‘hackathon’
House leaders are hosting a "hackathon" on Capitol Hill intended to find ways for technology to help congressional staffers with their jobs.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) are hosting the event Friday, which follows a similar gathering in late 2011 that was summarized in an 18-page report.
Tech company employees are scheduled to meet with congressional staff and other open government advocates to "brainstorm" ideas to modernize hearings, as well as ease legislative workflow, constituent services and outreach.
The Open Government Foundation recently estimated about 12 percent of the government's budget goes to tech spending, including IT staff, technical support, maintenance and software. Still many have criticized Congress, and the government in general, for being far behind the private sector in adopting new technology.

Because humans don't think like a computer? Will that be a good thing? I'd like some say on how machine learning reorganizes my life.
Google says it's 'rethinking everything' around machine learning
… New Google CEO Sundar Pichai took part in his first earnings call, and in between discussing the numbers he revealed how important Google thinks machine learning is to its future.
”Machine learning is a core, transformative way by which we’re rethinking everything we’re doing,” he said.
He was putting the spotlight on a branch of artificial intelligence that’s getting more attention lately. It involves using computer algorithms that can “learn” over time. A common example is its use in email, where machine learning figures out from watching users’ behavior which emails are spam and which should be let through.
… He didn’t give examples, but it’s not hard to imagine where it might turn up. He mentioned machine learning in the context of mobile, for example, where machine learning could determine if a user is at work, at home or in their car, so that their phone can deliver information accordingly.

Probably unethical.
How to Get Free Access to Academic Papers on Twitter
Most academic journals charge expensive subscriptions and, for those without a login, fees of $30 or more per article. Now academics are using the hashtag #icanhazpdf to freely share copyrighted papers.
Scientists are tweeting a link of the paywalled article along with their email address in the hashtag—a riff on the infamous meme of a fluffy cat’s “I Can Has Cheezburger?” line. Someone else who does have access to the article downloads a pdf of the paper and emails the file to the person requesting it. The initial tweet is then deleted as soon as the requester receives the file.
Andrea Kuszewski, a San Francisco-based cognitive scientist who started the hashtag, tells Quartz that “the biggest rule is that you don’t thank people.” Those who willingly share papers are, in most cases, breaking copyright laws. But Kuszewski says it’s an important act of “civil disobedience,” adding “it’s not an aggressive act but it’s just a way of saying things need to change.”

For my Statistics (and Marketing) students. Correlation.
Customers Who Like Santa Also Like…Nicotine Gum?
Social media is a limitless focus group. Each tweet, like, post, or comment represents an active decision by a person to interact with another person, brand, or TV program culminating in a detailed individual profile. The data provides marketers the opportunity to observe people in their native environments — their own social groups and with brands — while also tracking shifts in taste and behavior over time. Combining trillions of these data points provides unprecedented insight into consumer interests and predictive associations.
… it turns out that social media turns up all sorts of unpredictable and unexpected correlations.
In addition to providing a more holistic understanding of a brand’s consumers, these non-obvious relationships enable marketers to reach untapped consumers in an addressable way and at a reduced cost. For ambitious marketers, this means tailoring campaigns around each high priority interest.

(Related) Try it yourself?
Facebook is unleashing universal search across its entire social network
… Because Facebook commands the lion's share of our time spent online, it hosts a huge percentage of the links we share from around the web and the discussions we have around news, personal interests, and other moments in our lives. Facebook's search team is now turning that firehose of human interaction, which already generates 1.5 billion daily searches, into a vast repository of discussion, searchable by anyone.

Is this Wall Street Journal column pro-Republican or merely anti-Hillary? (Worst case? They she is being completely neutral.)
She Knew All Along
Thanks to Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi testimony on Thursday, we now understand why the former secretary of state never wanted anyone to see her emails and why the State Department sat on documents. Turns out those emails and papers show that the Obama administration deliberately misled the nation about the deadly events in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012.

(Related) These GIFs are more likely to do Hillary harm. Are these the reactions of a serious politician or an amateur actor?

Free phone service for my students? (I'm still waiting for them to pay me.)
The 10 Cheapest Mobile Phone Plans in the US Right Now [Cheat Sheet Included]
… Two quick notes: first, for the purposes of this article, I’ll only be looking at plans that include at least some mobile data. If you’re looking for a plan that only includes calling and texting, or just calling, you can find even cheaper plans than these. Second, many of these plans are based around an idea called “Wi-Fi first” which means that if you’re connected to Wi-Fi, your calls and messages will be routed via the Wi-Fi instead of through your cellular network.

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