Thursday, December 31, 2015

Their “reasons” seem to fall short.
Joseph Menn reports on some poor decision-making by Microsoft that left hacking victims in the dark that their communications had been intercepted:
Microsoft Corp experts concluded several years ago that Chinese authorities had hacked into more than a thousand Hotmail email accounts, targeting international leaders of China’s Tibetan and Uighur minorities in particular – but it decided not to tell the victims, allowing the hackers to continue their campaign, according to former employees of the company.
On Wednesday, after a series of requests for comment from Reuters, Microsoft said it will change its policy and in the future tell its email customers when it suspects there has been a government hacking attempt.
Read more on Reuters.
[From the article:
The first public signal of the attacks came in May 2011, though no direct link was immediately made with the Chinese authorities. That's when security firm Trend Micro Inc announced it had found an email sent to someone in Taiwan that contained a miniature computer program.
The program took advantage of a previously undetected flaw in Microsoft's own web pages to direct Hotmail and other free Microsoft email services to secretly forward copies of all of a recipient's incoming mail to an account controlled by the attacker.
Trend Micro found more than a thousand victims, and Microsoft patched the vulnerability before the security company announced its findings publicly.

For my Computer Security students.
The Biggest Cybersecurity Threat at Your Office Could Be You (Infographic)

...and likely Google isn't the only one.
Andrea Peterson reports:
Google is a major player in U.S. education. In fact, in many public schools around the country, it’s technically a “school official.” And that designation means parents may not get a chance to opt out of having information about their children shared with the online advertising giant.
Read more on Washington Post.

Perspective. Size isn't everything.
A Billion Users May Not Be Enough for India's Phone Industry
India just signed up its billionth mobile-phone customer, joining China as the only countries to cross that milestone.
Yet that 10-digit base may not be enough to keep the industry from struggling. Asia’s third largest economy is crowded with a dozen wireless carriers -- more than in any other country -- spectrum is hard to come by and regulatory risks are high. Add it all up and it’s no wonder they deliver lower profitability than phone operators in other parts of Asia, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

Census Bureau Projects U.S. and World Populations on New Year’s Day
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Dec 30, 2015
“As our nation prepares to ring in the new year, the U.S. Census Bureau today projected the United States population will be 322,762,018 on Jan. 1, 2016.
… The Census Bureau’s U.S. and World Population Clock simulates real-time growth of the U.S. and world populations.”

Egypt joins India? What is the concern?
Free Internet service for over 3 million Egyptians shut down
… It was not immediately clear why the program was halted. Neither Etisalat nor Egyptian officials could immediately be reached for comment. The program was recently highlighted at an entrepreneurship fair in Cairo.
Facebook and other social media sites are extremely popular in Egypt, and were used to organize protests during the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

“When you're a government you waste money. It's what you do.” You also claim success before you do anything else.
DHS Claims Success with Fifth Attempt to Virtually Secure the Border
… The largest attempt to bridge these gaps began in 2006 under the umbrella of the Secure Border Initiative, known as SBInet. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began a project nicknamed the “virtual fence” that would link decades-old underground sensors, radar towers, and communications networks into an integrated invisible surveillance system.
The contract with Boeing was supposed to be completed in two years and cost roughly $220 million. However, cost increases, time delays, and general human incompetence caused the virtual fence project to get pushed back to 2011 and costs to skyrocket to almost $1 billion.
… However, after two years of searching for a solution provider and crafting a strategy, DHS believes the current iteration of its virtual barrier is the final answer. Arizona is currently the test bed for the Integrated Fixed Tower project—formally known as the Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan—which aims to erect 52 sensor-laden towers along the southwest border by the year 2020.
… Why DHS officials are so confident the Arizona plan will work better than previous solutions is unclear, and there are already signs of delays and management problems.

Global Warming?
Record breaking North Pole Storm Pushes Temps to [sic] 50 degrees
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Dec 30, 2015
Washington Post: “A powerful winter cyclone — the same storm that lead to two tornado outbreaks in the United States and disastrous river flooding — has driven the North Pole to the freezing point this week, 50 degrees above average for this time of year. From Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning, a mind-boggling pressure drop was recorded in Iceland: 54 millibars in just 18 hours. This triples the criteria for “bomb” cyclogenesis, which meteorologists use to describe a rapidly intensifying mid-latitude storm. A “bomb” cyclone is defined as dropping one millibar per hour for 24 hours. NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center said the storm’s minimum pressure dropped to 928 millibars around 1 a.m. Eastern time, which likely places it in the top five strongest storms on record in this region…”

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