Thursday, June 23, 2016

"Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics."  It makes you wonder what could be more valuable than disrupting communications (and recruiting)?
US Military's Cyber Force Reluctant to Cut Internet in Syria
The US military is wary of cutting Internet connections to Islamic State strongholds such as Raqa in Syria, even though the Pentagon is waging cyber-war against the jihadists, officials said Wednesday.
   CYBERCOM deputy leader Lieutenant General Kevin McLaughlin said the Pentagon has gained important experience fighting the IS group online.
"It's given us the opportunity to learn and mature and kind of plow back in lessons learned in a real circumstance that it might have taken us several years to learn," McLaughlin told lawmakers.

For my Computer Security students.
Goodbye, Password. Banks Opt to Scan Fingers and Faces Instead.
   Millions of customers at Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo routinely use fingerprints to log into their bank accounts through their mobile phones.  This feature, which some of the largest banks have introduced in the last few months, is enabling a huge share of American banking customers to verify their identities with biometrics.  And millions more are expected to opt in as more phones incorporate fingerprint scans.
Other uses of biometrics are also coming online.  Wells Fargo lets some customers scan their eyes with their mobile phones to log into corporate accounts and wire millions of dollars.  Citigroup can help verify 800,000 of its credit card customers by their voices.  USAA, which provides insurance and banking services to members of the military and their families, identifies some of its customers through their facial contours.
Some of the moves reflect concern that so many hundreds of millions of email addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and other personal identifiers have fallen into the hands of criminals, rendering those identifiers increasingly ineffective at protecting accounts.  And while thieves could eventually find ways to steal biometric data, banks are convinced they offer more protection.

(Related). Part of what banks are up against.
GozNym Trojan Targets Major US Banks
The GozNym banking Trojan has been observed targeting the customers of some of the largest financial institutions in the United States, IBM Security warned on Wednesday.
   In a redirection attack, the malware hijacks the victim’s browsing session and takes them to a fake website that looks exactly like the legitimate site.  On these phishing sites, victims are instructed to provide personal and financial information that cybercriminals can use to conduct fraud.
In GozNym’s case, the redirection attacks are designed to trick both users and security researchers.  The fake bank webpages are made to look like they are hosted on the targeted organization’s genuine URL and they even display the SSL certificate in the browser’s address bar.

Even as an avid science fiction fan, this seems farfetched and illogical.
Robots May Pay Taxes Under European Proposals
Robots in Europe may soon be given legal rights and considered “electronic persons,” following a draft report from the European Parliament that aims to address the rise of automated workers.
Under the plans, bosses would be required to pay social security on their robot workers’ behalf, as well as adhere to new taxation rules and legal liability frameworks.  
   Speculation surrounding how robots may evolve into advanced artificial intelligence machines in the future is also included in the report, which it warns may have severe consequences for humanity.
“Ultimately, there is a possibility that within the space of some decades artificial intelligence might surpass human intellectual capacity [I’d say that has already happened in at least one case…  Bob] 
The draft report.  [Note: This is a “.do” file.  Change the extension to “.PDF” to open it.  Bob]   

Misusing technology for fun and profit?
The Perils of Using Technology to Solve Other People's Problems
I found Shane Snow’s essay on prison reform — “How Soylent and Oculus Could Fix the Prison System” — through hate-linking.
Friends of mine hated the piece so much that normally-articulate people were at a loss for words.
   In Snow’s essay about prison reform, he identifies violence, and particularly prison rape, as the key problem to be solved, and offers a remedy that he believes will lead to cost savings for taxpayers as well: all prisoners should be incarcerated in solitary confinement, fed only Soylent meal replacement drink through slots in the wall, and all interpersonal interaction and rehabilitative services will be provided in Second Life using the Oculus Rift virtual reality system.

Blockchain, my students would do well to learn all about it.
Blockchain Payments Company Raises $60 Million for Push Into China
Circle Internet Financial Ltd., maker of an app that lets people send money to each other via bitcoin’s blockchain—the Internet network underlying the digital currency—says it is heading to China.
   Circle has already secured licenses in the U.S. and U.K. to swap dollars, pounds, euros and bitcoins via the Blockchain.

There must be an App to help shareholders dig out information like this.  If not, can we create one? 
How Bad Management Led to American Express' Costco Disaster
On Feb. 15, 2015, American Express CEO Ken Chenault announced that the company was walking away from its co-branded credit card partnership with Costco.  The market responded immediately, sending the stock down 6%.  This month, as Costco completes its transition to Visa, American Express' stock has continued its downward spiral.  Amex stock today is down over 21% since the announcement.
Blame for this fiasco is squarely on the shoulders of American Express management.  The company knowingly created large customer concentrations, ignored the risks of this overreliance, and ultimately erased over $40 billion in shareholder value as key customers walked away from the company over the last 18 months.
When American Express first disclosed the end of its Costco partnership last year, management told shareholders for the first time that 10% of the 112 million American Express cards in circulation were co-branded with Costco.  For a company of American Express' size and sophistication, that is a shocking concentration to have in any one customer.

Uber Data And Leaked Docs Provide A Look At How Much Uber Drivers Make
Uber says that its drivers are as much its customers as its passengers are, and that its ride-hail platform is a path to personal freedom and financial independence.  In 2013, the company told the Wall Street Journal that the “typical” Uber driver takes in more than $100,000 in annual gross fares.  (Uber now disputes this characterization.)
More recently, Uber chief adviser and board member David Plouffe has touted the ride-hail platform as a pathway to a modest, more attainable American dream.  But according to leaked internal price modeling data, and Uber’s own calculations provided to BuzzFeed News in response to that leak, drivers in some markets don’t take home much more than service workers at major chains like Walmart when it comes to net pay.
   Based on these calculations, it’s possible to estimate that Uber drivers in late 2015 earned approximately $13.17 per hour after expenses in the Denver market (which includes all of Colorado), $10.75 per hour after expenses in the Houston area, and $8.77 per hour after expenses in the Detroit market, less than any earnings figure previously released by the company.

Amazon leapfrogs to third biggest video streamer by traffic
   Amazon Video accounted for 4.3 percent of downstream internet traffic during peak evening viewing hours in North America, according to network equipment maker Sandvine in its twice-yearly Global Internet Phenomena Report Wednesday.
That's still far behind the 35.2 percent of traffic that Netflix gobbles up, and the 17.5 percent commanded by YouTube.  But Amazon's No. 3 ranking is a leap from eighth place a year ago.

This too seems to be a management error but it raises the question: Are chargers really cheap enough to add to disposable packaging?  What is next?  Wheaties chargers?
KFC India Debuts Takeout Box That Doubles As A Greasy, Craptastic Smartphone Charger
   KFC India has debuted a limited edition version of its 5-in-1 combo, which comes in what’s called a Watt a Box.  Besides the greasy chicken and sides that you’d usually find inside your meal box, there’s also a 6100 mAh power bank that can be used to recharged your Android smartphone or iPhone (both microUSB and Lightning cables are included).

For my geeky students?
Want to develop an app but have no expertise? Google now has a course for you
   The company on Wednesday launched an app-development course with online university Udacity, aimed specifically at the building of apps for its Android operating system.  The difference between this and other Google-approved programs is that this one is aimed at people with no previous development experience.
   The course outline says that it takes 165 hours to complete -- that's around 21 days of full-time study (for 8 hours per day).  It also adds that the "base salary" of an Android developer falls between $52,400 and $136,000 in the US.

(Related).  Perhaps we could create an App to run these Apps?
13 Ways to Earn Extra Money With Your Smartphone
Are Money-Making Apps Worth It?
The definition of “worth it” depends on what you’re expecting. For a college student or a stay-at-home parent, these apps may be the difference between living like a pauper or a king.
Here are three things to keep in mind:
1.      It’s pocket change at best.  Even if you sink in full-time hours, you won’t be earning a full-time income.  These apps can be used to fund hobbies or help you get out of debt, but that’s about it.
2.      Time-value is low.  Are you willing to spend 10 hours on your phone to earn $50?  For some people, an hour of leisure is worth more than that, even if the cash is low-effort.  Figure out how much one hour is worth to you before diving in.
3.      Payout thresholds.  Most apps require you to earn a certain amount of dollars before you can request a payout — and these thresholds can be as high as $50 or $100 sometimes.  That’s a big commitment, and many don’t make it that far.
If you’re still interested, great!  Here are some of the better ones we’ve found.  Even if you don’t like all of them, we’re sure you’ll find at least one or two that intrigue you.

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