Saturday, November 28, 2015

Ah that Christmas hacking spirit.
Major Toy Maker VTech Hacked: 4.8 Million Parents And 200,000 Children Exposed
Electronic toy maker VTech's Learning Lodge, the company's app store database, has been compromised. The security breach, which occurred earlier this month, has been deemed among the biggest hacks ever documented.
The incident exposed the private information of nearly 5 million parents and more than 200,000 children.
According to Motherboard, the hacked personal information of the Chinese company's customers include names, passwords, email addresses and home addresses of 4,833,678 parents as well as the first names, birthdays and genders of their children.
… The hacker told Motherboard of the security breach, and even handed over files containing the confidential data. Motherboard then reached out to VTech.
The toy maker confirmed the breach over an email it sent out to Motherboard on Thursday, Nov. 26, indicating that an illegal party accessed VTech customer data on its Learning Lodge app store customer database last Nov. 14.
"We were not aware of this unauthorized access until you alerted us," said Grace Pang, VTech's spokesperson.
When asked about the real purpose in obtaining the data, the hacker said "nothing." The hacker even said that the data has only been shared with Motherboard, albeit a possibility exists that the data could have been sold to someone else.

Covers Computer Security and Statistics. My students will hate it
… There are many interesting examples that illustrate the concept. I’ll reproduce one of those here:
“In a city of 1 million inhabitants let there be 100 terrorists and 999,900 non-terrorists. To simplify the example, it is assumed that all people present in the city are inhabitants. Thus, the base rate probability of a randomly selected inhabitant of the city being a terrorist is 0.0001, and the base rate probability of that same inhabitant being a non-terrorist is 0.9999. In an attempt to catch the terrorists, the city installs an alarm system with a surveillance camera and automatic facial recognition software.
The software has two failure rates of 1%:
  • The false negative rate: If the camera scans a terrorist, a bell will ring 99% of the time, and it will fail to ring 1% of the time.
  • The false positive rate: If the camera scans a non-terrorist, a bell will not ring 99% of the time, but it will ring 1% of the time.

Very amusing. Would make a good lecture!
It’s not just images – there’s text and quotes from historians that accompany this interesting piece on Medium.

(Related) Do you suppose my students care? Will they bother with preventive measures?
Porn Viewing Habits Could Be the Next Big Leak: Here’s What To Do

We'll have to lock down our printer…
Want a Ford GT? Print it yourself
You’re unlikely to find a new Ford GT in your garage this holiday, but the automaker is giving you a chance to build one yourself. All you’ll need is a 3D printer and some plans provided by Ford.
With 3D printers predicted to become household appliances in the near future, Ford is celebrating its own use of the technology (at least, a very refined version thereof) with detailed printable versions of its cars. Tech-savvy makers can simply download and manufacture more than 1,000 models in miniature, and the rest of us can have a 6-inch-long pre-printed version delivered. The GT (rather, the “Ford GT E3 2015 Forza Motorsport 6”) is offered as a $230, limited-edition full-color rendition shipped in a wooden gift box, while the others — $39 printed or $4.99 for the 3D-printer-ready .STL file — are a solid colour.

(Related) Perhaps self-driving slot-cars?
Formula E is planning the first racing series for driverless cars

Interesting. Perhaps a “revolving door” App to connect businesses with professors?
Business Professors Need to Spend Time in Companies

Not as bizarre as you might think.
Tech Tats, A New Biowearable Technology In the Form of Temporary Circuit Board Tattoos
Tech Tats are a new category of biowearable technology in the form of temporary circuit board tattoos that are applied directly to the skin. Designer Eric Schneider explains the Tech Tat wearables being developed at Chaotic Moon Studios in a video produced by the company.

A turkey of a week.
Hack Education Weekly News
… Via Politico, a look at the worst school system in the US, those on Native American reservations: “How Washington created some of the worst schools in America.” [A useful bad example? Bob]
Via The Columbus Dispatch: “The state has ordered the entire administrative and teaching staff at a Columbus middle school to undergo training in identifying warning signs for behavioral disabilities among students after they suspended an unruly sixth-grader for 70 days last school year.” [“Why? We don't care why!” Bob]
… The BBC looks at “merger madness” – that is, the consolidation of European universities.
… The world’s largest OER collection has been released by the Smithsonian.
… “Children are becoming more trusting of what they see online, but sometimes lack the understanding to decide whether it is true or impartial,” according to a study by Ofcom, which uses the phrase “digital natives” in its headline. Ugh. Don’t do that. Here’s a better headline, from Motherboard: “Only 31% of Preteens Can Distinguish Paid Ads from Real Search Results.”

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