Saturday, February 20, 2016

Another victory for the hijackers. (And some really bad reporting?)
WBTW reports that a South Carolina school district is paying a ransom demand because they have no way to access 25 servers with elementary school data after their system was locked up by ransomware:
The Horry County school system remains locked out of several servers after a ransom computer virus got into the system last week.
Charles Hucks is the executive director of technology for Horry County Schools, he’s had non-stop 20 hour days this past week to try to restore locked up data. The virus was discovered last Monday. Servers were immediately shut down to stop the malware from spreading further, and that did interrupt some online services.
Hucks says HCS was not targeted to gain access to data, but a high-level encryption was used to lock up the data on the schools’ servers. As far as they can tell, nothing was stolen or removed, and staff and student information is safe.
Hucks says they have been able to back up most of the lost data, but 25 servers with information for elementary schools are still encrypted with no way to get in.
“And the only way we’ll get it back is to pay,” said Hucks.
Read more on WBTW.
[From the article:
Administrators approved an $8,500 ransom to unlock the servers, but they’ve had trouble making the payment. Hucks says the ransom had to be paid in Bitcoins, but purchasing them is more difficult than going to your local bank.
… “In the next few days we should know. We’re going server by server, back up by back up, to see exactly what we have and the time that it takes to back up, so that will be a business decision,” said Hucks.
Hucks says they’re willing to pay because it’s a small amount compared to the man hours already lost trying to solve the problem.
Even if the ransom is paid, and the data restored, there’s no guaranteed way to stop the same kind of thing from happening again, although Hucks says a repeat attack is highly unlikely.

Interesting what trickles out over time. Did someone change the password and now forgets what it is?
Apple-U.S. Escalate Battle Over San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone
… Apple executives said on Friday that they tried to help law enforcement unlock the phone, including sending engineers to San Bernardino. Apple employees attempted to help investigators reconnect the handset to a Wi-Fi network that Farook had used in the past, a move that would allow the data to be available because the phone would automatically back up and move outside Apple’s encryption barriers. But the effort wasn’t possible because the iPhone’s Apple ID password had been reset by a county official after the shooting.
Had the password not been changed, Apple said the court battle wouldn’t have been necessary.
… The confrontation shows no signs of a quick ending. Apple faces a Feb. 26 deadline to file its rebuttal to the government’s argument in court, with a hearing scheduled for March 22. Apple and FBI officials have been asked to testify in at least two congressional hearings.
… Apple has previously complied with prosecutors when they had a court order under the All Writs Act, a law that compels third parties to take “non-burdensome” steps to help law enforcement carry out search warrants. Apple’s cooperation changed recently when a judge in Brooklyn, in a case involving the iPhone of an accused drug dealer, questioned whether the government can still rely on that law.
… In the Farook case, the data the investigators are after is stored locally on the iPhone -- Apple has already provided the information that was backed up. The government doesn’t have the password and said it can’t keep entering random codes in hopes of eventually breaking in because that would trigger a security feature that automatically erases all the content on the phone.

(Related) Go to Harvard, learn how to state the obvious? Still, it is amusing.
Apple vs. the FBI Is Really, Really Complicated
… The lock-swapping mechanism required in this case would require Apple’s engineers to sit down at a computer and start writing. And that action, as courts recognized long ago, is speech. In Bernstein v. Department of Justice, the Electronic Frontier Foundation successfully argued that David Bernstein, then a graduate student at Berkeley, had a constitutionally protected right to publish his source code, despite the government’s efforts to block it. (Fittingly enough, the code was for encryption software, which the government tried to suppress on the theory that encryption software is a munition subject to export controls.) If code is speech, and the government is compelling Apple to code, then it looks an awful lot like the government is compelling speech. That does not resolve the issue, of course, but it opens up a new field for debate – one that has not receive enough attention.

(Related) John may be a bit delusional. Read and judge for yourself.
Why John McAfee’s offer to unlock San Bernardino iPhone makes sense
… Yesterday he posted an op-ed on Business Insider that explained his position on this matter, and why he thinks his solution would appease all parties involved.

The FBI's job is completely impossible – or am I too optimistic?
'Ricochet', the Messenger That Beats Metadata, Passes Security Audit
Although users are now saturated with options on mobile and desktop for encrypted messaging, very few of the tools available deal with the core problem of metadata. Even if the content of your messages is kept from prying eyes, it may still be possible for a resourceful attacker to see who you are, and who you're talking to.
Now, one program designed to tackle that problem head-on has passed its first professional security audit, signaling that it is on the right track for wider use. Ricochet, which is available for Windows, Mac and Linux, announced the audit results on Monday.

No doubt we (the university) will want to look into this. (There is an Education membership)
Microsoft, Intel, Samsung, & others launch IoT standards group: Open Connectivity Foundation
The Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) is touted as an open IoT standards group to unify standards, expedite innovation, and “create IoT solutions and devices that work seamlessly together,” according to a press release. Founding members include Microsoft, Cisco, Electrolux, General Electric, Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung, ARRIS, and CableLabs, who will work together to create specifications and protocols to ensure devices from a myriad of manufacturers work in harmony.

Worth watching the video?
A Crash Course on Philosophy
Last fall I shared more than 100 animated lessons about philosophy. This week, through Open Culture, I learned about a new Crash Course in philosophy. The new video course stars Hank Green talking about the origins of philosophical thinking. As I've come to expect with Hank and John Green there is a fair amount of sarcasm in the videos. So far two segments of the course have been published. Both segments are included in the playlist embedded below.

Tools & Techniques Because we no longer teach cursive? I'll mention this to my students because I still pretend they take notes in my classes.
Microsoft fields another notetaking app: Plumbago
… Plumbago "is a digital notebook with technology that smooths out handwriting so your scribbles are easier to read later," explained Microsoft execs. The "handwriting beautification" technology involves matching strokes across the thousands written by a user in order to create more consistent handwriting.

Not just templates…
5 Sites with Microsoft PowerPoint Templates, & Other Tools
Participoll (Windows): Poll Your Audience During Your PowerPoint Presentation
Office Mix (Windows): Turn PowerPoint Presentations into Interactive Websites

Not just a screenshot.
The Instructional Technology Tool I Recommend in Email More Than Any Other
Every week I receive at least a handful of emails from readers who have watched one of my Practical Ed Tech tutorial videos and wanted to know how I created the video. Often those people want to know how I get the yellow circle to appear around my cursor in my videos. The answer to both questions is, I use Screencast-o-Matic to create my instructional videos.
Screencast-O-Matic is available in a free version and a pro version. The free version allows you to record for up to fifteen minutes at a time (that is plenty of time for most screencasts), publish to YouTube in HD, and save videos to your computer as MP4, AVI, and FLV files. The pro version ($15/year) includes video editing tools, unlimited recording lengths, a script tool, and removal of the Screencast-O-Matic watermark. Both versions of Screencast-O-Matic include a highlighted circle around your cursor so that viewers can easily follow your movements on the screen. A webcam recording option is included in the free and pro versions of Screencast-O-Matic.
… Screencast videos can be helpful in delivering instruction on how to use a program on a computer or how to use a website. You can also use screencasting tools to create short flipped lessons by capturing yourself talking over a set of slides that you display on your screen.

Ah good. It must be Saturday.
Hack Education Weekly News
Via Education Week: “CoSN Calls Broadband Access Outside School a ‘Civil Right’ for Students.”
The report, which calls the matter an issue of "civil rights," indicated that 75 percent of school district leaders have no data on their students' Internet access outside of school, while 70 percent of teachers nationally report assigning homework that requires access.
Via the Independent: “Pirate website offering millions of academic papers for free refuses to close despite lawsuit.”
… “MOOC provider Coursera claims it can identify test takers uniquely through its patented keystroke biometrics system.” Paul-Olivier Dehaye looks “under the hood.”
Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study suggests acceptance of online education still lags among high school students.”
Via the Daily Camera: “Conflict between Shakespeare and the Dead will cost CU athletics $100K.” (That’s the surviving members of the Grateful Dead, to be clear.) [Colorado kulture? Bob]

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