Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Deny first, investigate later?
Database of California Electric Utility Exposed Online
MacKeeper researcher Chris Vickery, who has spent the past months identifying misconfigured databases that had been publicly accessible online, said the PG&E database he discovered appeared to be part of an asset management system and it contained information on 47,000 computers, servers, virtual machines and other devices belonging to the company.
The exposed information, which could have been accessed by anyone without authentication, included IP addresses, hostnames, MAC addresses, locations, operating system data, and over 100 employee passwords. While some of the passwords were hashed, the expert also found ones stored in clear text.
PG&E told Vickery that the unprotected database was fake, but the researcher doubts this is the case, especially since it also included more than 688,000 unique log entries.
… The researcher said the database was quickly taken down on May 26 after he notified PG&E, but he made a copy of the data, which he plans on providing to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The DHS is interested in incidents involving electric utilities since these types of organizations are considered part of the country’s critical infrastructure.
It’s okay to read them (after all, they have been using the old mark one eyeball for years) it’s the “forever database” they really don’t like. In other words, if you are looking for a particular plate, that process still works. If you want to see if a plate was at the scene (in the neighborhood) of a series of crimes committed over many years, that’s out. Because there is no way to ensure a search of this database is ethical?
Massachusetts House Committee Passes Bill To Restrict ALPR Use; Help Block National License Plate Tracking Program
Mike Maharrey reports:
A Massachusetts House committee has passed a bill that would put limitations on the storage and sharing of information collected by law enforcement agencies using Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs) in the state, and place significant roadblocks in the way of a federal program using states to help track the location of millions of everyday people through pictures of their license plates.
The Joint Committee on Transportation created House Bill 4322 (H.4322) after considering several bills that would limit the use of ALPRs.
Read more on Activist Post.
I guess it’s worth a try. Would his lawyers also accept payment in Bitcoin?
Miami money-laundering case may define whether Bitcoin is really money
In a Miami money-laundering case that is being closely watched around the world, an economics professor took to the witness stand Friday to offer a tutorial on the widely known, if poorly understood, virtual currency known as Bitcoin.
The takeaway: Bitcoin isn’t really money, professor Charles Evans said.
No central government or bank backs Bitcoin, like the United States does the dollar. Government regulation of Bitcoin remains a messy hodgepodge from state to state, country to country. The IRS considers Bitcoin deals no more than bartering, he said.
“Basically, it’s poker chips that people are willing to buy from you,” said Evans, a Barry University economics professor who, yes, was paid $3,000 worth of Bitcoins for his appearance as a defense witness.
… The hearing unfolded in the case of Michell Espinoza, who is accused of illegally selling and laundering $1,500 worth of Bitcoins to undercover detectives who claimed they wanted to use them to buy stolen credit card numbers.
His lawyers, Prieto and Rene Palomino, are asking a court to dismiss the case against him, arguing that Bitcoin isn’t technically money under Florida law so laundering charges don’t apply.
… The prosecution of Espinoza is being watched closely, especially in financial and tech circles, because it is believed to be the first money-laundering case against someone for dealing in Bitcoins. As the currency has gained in popularity, law enforcement has struggled to figure out how it fits into illegal activities.
The political equivalent of “It is more important to look good than to feel good” is “It is important to ‘do something now!’ even if it makes little sense.”
Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft Sign Hate Speech Agreement
Some of the biggest U.S. tech firms have signed up to a code of conduct formulated by the European Commission, in which they agree to help fight against the spread of hate speech in Europe.
Online rights groups have reacted with outrage, saying they have no confidence in the agreement because they were left out of the discussions leading up to it (a point now being investigated by an EU watchdog) and they think the deal fails to protect free speech rights.
… Based on a 2008 piece of legislation, the code of conduct describes the illegal material as “all conduct publicly inciting to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, color, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.”
… “The ‘code of conduct’ downgrades the law to a second-class status, behind the ‘leading role’ of private companies that are being asked to arbitrarily implement their terms of service,” the groups said in a statement. “This process, established outside an accountable democratic framework, exploits unclear liability rules for companies. It also creates serious risks for freedom of expression as legal but controversial content may well be deleted as a result of this voluntary and unaccountable take down mechanism.”
“It will, in practical terms, overturn case law of the European Court of Human Rights on the defense of legal speech,” they added.
In every class, I try to convince my students that I am not perfect and therefore do not know everything there is to know about every subject. I encourage them to find additional resources – free ones if possible.
A Large Collection of Free eTextbooks for High School & College Students
Bookboon is a service that offers free etextbooks to high school and college students. The textbook section of Bookboon offers more than 500 digital textbooks. On Bookboon there are etextbooks available in ten core subject areas with additional subtopics with each subject area. The bulk of the etextbooks are focused on economics, engineering, and IT. You can browse the title lists to find a book you want or you can search Bookboon by keyword. Bookboon hosts books written in five languages. All of the books are free to download. The only catch is that you have to provide an email address before you can download the books.
Applications for Education
Bookboon's books are targeted to university students, but that doesn't mean that some of the books couldn't be used with high school students. And since the books are free it wouldn't hurt to download one that you think might work for your class and use excerpts of it to supplement other materials that you are already using in your classroom.
Since we’re encouraging our students to start putting their work online, this may be useful.
Rubrics for Assessing Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts, and Digital Portfolios
The University of Wisconsin, Stout has organized a nice collection of rubrics for assessing digital projects. In the collection you will find rubrics for assessing student blogging, student wikis, podcasts, and video projects. Beyond the rubrics for digital projects there are rubrics for activities that aren't necessarily digital in nature. For example, you can find rubrics for writing, research, and oral presentations.