Tuesday, February 16, 2016

An increasingly common problem. (And remember, all lawyers are rich!)
Max Marbut reports:
You might think the data stored on your computer at home or work is relatively safe from theft or even tampering.
You would be wrong.
No one knows that better than attorney Thomas Brown of The Brown Firm.
The culprits left behind a digital message: Give them $2,500 and they would provide a key that would open the files.
Long story, short: they paid the ransom. Read more on Jax Daily Record.

(Related) For the toolbox.
How To Restore Lost Files From CrypBoss Ransomware
There’s great news for anyone affected by the CrypBoss, HydraCrypt, and UmbreCrypt ransomware. Fabian Wosar, a researcher at Emsisoft, has managed to reverse-engineer them, and in the process has released a program that is able to decrypt files that would otherwise be lost.

This should help us frame our privacy policies to get the most out of our users.
Pew – How Americans balance privacy concerns with sharing personal information
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Feb 15, 2016
“Many Americans are in an “It depends” frame of mind when they consider a central trade-off of the digital era: Will you share personal information in return for a product, service or other benefit? A new report from Pew Research Center explores six different scenarios where Americans might encounter that privacy-related question. It finds that people consider a variety of things in making their decisions, such as the value of the benefit they are being offered, the circumstances of their lives, how they feel about the organization that is collecting the data, what happens to their personal data after it is captured and how long the data are retained. This report builds on other recent Pew Research Center survey results showing the emotions Americans feel as they struggle to understand the terms that govern sharing personal information with companies.”

Is this an election promise?
Bruce Vielmetti reports:
In a 4-3 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has again broadened an exception to allow police to seize and use evidence obtained from private places without the owner’s consent to a search warrant.
The dissent called the majority’s interpretation so broad as to “swallow the Fourth Amendment,” which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The decision Wednesday was also notable in that Justice Rebecca Bradley joined the majority that reversed the Court of Appeals, even though she had not heard arguments in the case, which occurred before her appointment Oct. 9 by Gov. Scott Walker.
Read more on JSonline.

For my Computer Security class. How much Privacy is too much?
Allan Loudell writes:
It’s certainly not the first time the Delaware Division of Public Health has done this, and it’s absolutely frustrating.
A day after announcing the first confirmed case of the Zika virus here in Delaware, health officials released a very few additional details. It was a wasted exercise.
We still don’t know where the woman traveled, the nature of her symptoms, her age, or her hometown. All in the name of privacy. Really? Hogwash.
Not hogwash at all, Allan.
Read more on WDEL.

A Computer Security class resource.
5 Sites to Learn the History of Malware
Have you ever wondered what computer viruses looked like before the Internet, and how they spread? Do you wish you could get a hands-on look at some of the most notorious malware in history?

Data for my data analysis students.
New on LLRX – Web Data Extractors 2016
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Feb 15, 2016
Via LLRX.comWeb Data Extractors 2016 – Extracting data from the internet has become an increasingly high priority for organizations with teams that focus on mining and leveraging huge amounts of data as part of an effective, collaborative and actionable work product. Tools and protocols to extract content rich information are in demand as researchers seek to discover new knowledge at an ever increasing rate. As robots (bots) and intelligent agents are at the heart of many extraction tools, Marcus Zillman has created a compilation of a wide range of free, fee and collaborative sources, services and sites that offer users a range of approaches to extract information from the web.

You be the judge.
Search Hillary Clinton’s Emails
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Feb 15, 2016

I wonder what this will morph into?
John Vibes writes:
The federal government spent $1 million to create an online database that will collect “suspicious” memes and track “misinformation.” The project, which is known as the “Truthy Database” is being funded by The National Science Foundation, but it seems as if the operation has some powerful political motivations.
Ironically enough, the project takes its name from a term that was popularized by television personality, Stephen Colbert.
Read more on Activist Post.

(Related) Chilling? Slippery slope?
Pre-Crime Is Here: How Police Assign a Facebook “Threat Score”
A recent story from The Washington Post gave the public a rare inside view of the social media monitoring capabilities of the Fresno police department, which is trialling a controversial piece of software called Beware. The piece has caused quite a stir over the software’s supposed proclivity for civil liberties violations.
… Law enforcement officers have likely been using social media for intelligence gathering since it became mainstream – even back in 2006, police arrested an underage boy in Colorado after he posted pictures of himself on MySpace with a number of firearms.
Social media’s use in investigations has only become more commonplace since then, and there are a number of stories testifying to its efficacy. In 2014, New York police seized over 250 illegally sold guns after an extensive investigation that started when officers noticed an aspiring rapper had posted images of guns in his studio on Instagram.
… Beware, when given an individual’s information, calculates a “threat score” based on, according to Intrado’s website,
billions of [publicly]-available commercial records in a matter of seconds—alerting responders to potentially dangerous situations while en route to, or at the location of, a 9-1-1 request for assistance.
The billions of points of data come from social media posts, arrest and other public records, commercial databases, and many other types of data, though exactly where they come from and how they’re translated into a green, yellow, or red threat score is a trade secret guarded by Intrado, the maker of the software.

More for our classroom debate.
How Facebook Lost Face in India
… Today, a few months later, Zuckerberg finds himself estranged from his Indian constituency. His Free Basics initiative has been banned by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Zuckerberg’s dream of being a pivotal part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India program has received a severe setback. And his target of “the next one billion” Facebook users – the first one billion was reached on August 24, 2015 – may have been postponed by months, if not years.
… “I am surprised that any country would be dumb enough to homogenize the Internet with no evidence of any benefit,” says Gerald Faulhaber, Wharton professor emeritus of business economics and public policy. “I’m afraid India has made a colossal economic blunderTwitter.
“I am not now and never have been a fan of network neutrality,” Faulhaber continues. “To me and many others in Internet space, it has been a solution looking for a problem. There is no evidence that such a problem exists, but here we are regulating the Internet — just like we regulated the old monopoly telephone system — with no evidence that there is a market failure that would justify such regulation.

Something for our Criminal justice students to watch for.
Law, Order and Algorithms
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Feb 15, 2016
“A team of engineers uses computational analysis tools to scrape information from police-related incidents to reveal discrimination and reduce crime…. The project is led by computational social scientist Sharad Goel, an assistant professor of management science and engineering. He also teaches a course at Stanford Engineering that explores the intersection of data science and public policy issues revolving around policing. Among other activities, Goel’s team is building a vast open database of 100 million traffic stops from cities and towns around the nation. The researchers have already gathered data on about 50 million stops from 11 states, recording basic facts about the stop – time, date and location – plus any available demographic data that do not reveal an individual’s identity. These demographics might include race, sex and age of the person…”

For the Movie Club.
5 Ways You Can Buy or Rent Movies Cheaper Than Amazon

Why do I get the feeling that this won't go over with the folks at the MPAA?
Popcorn Time lets you pirate from a browser window, and its creators want it legal
… If you’re not familiar, Popcorn Time was a streaming entertainment platform that looked a lot like Netflix to the end-user, but in reality was a sort of front for a torrent system. In other words, Popcorn Time made what many consider an illegal activity — downloading copy-protected content — look as legit as streaming Netflix.
… now Popcorn Time is back, this time eschewing dedicated apps for the relative comfort of web browsers. This version of the service uses a browser plugin called Torrents Time to allow users to stream movies and TV shows by interacting with a remarkably simple browse-and-click interface. As of now, the platform is compatible with Windows PCs and Macs, and is open source, clearing a path for anyone to step in and create their own versions.
… To avoid entanglements, Previous Popcorn Time forks advised users to employ VPNs (virtual private networks) to mask their IP addresses and evade any civil action. Some VPN services specifically refuse to function with any active torrent traffic, whereas others operate with no such restrictions. The most widely suggested option was Anonymous VPN, which our source told us is still a good idea.
… “We believe that other than literature and poetry copyrights, any industrial work should be given a much more limited protection. The film and TV producers should be allowed a ‘novelty monopoly’ that allows them to recover their investment and make a profit, as high as they can,” he told Digital Trends via email. “But as soon as they are off the big screen, they must allow free access to the works. An alternative could be a small ‘token’ payment per view.

We should probably push this article to all of our students.
How to Get a Distraction-Free Computer in 10 Easy Steps
… If you have a lot of distractions, your attention is necessarily reduced.
This article will show you practical ways to eliminate each of the distractions that your computer (Mac or Windows) is responsible for.
Almost all distractions that our computers throw at us are useless or at best irrelevant at the time they crop up.
Each distraction serves as a trigger. It’s a trigger designed to take you away from what you should be doing, and convincing you to do something else.
Unless you have a good reason not to, it’s far best to remove these distractions (triggers) completely.

Things for my students to consider. (Infographic)
How the Heck Does an App Stand Out From the Crowd?
How does an app actually become successful? It’s hard out there for an app, as the infographic below demonstrates.

I've been wondering what to do with the schools large format printer…
NASA's New Posters and the Retro Travel Ads That Inspired Them
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is out with a new collection of dazzling, retro-inspired tourism posters. They’re colorful odes to other worlds, designed in the spirit of WPA-era travel posters from the 1930s.

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