Monday, June 27, 2016

Regardless of their motive, I can use breaches like this to show my Computer Security students that no one is invulnerable. 
Google CEO's Quora account briefly hijacked by Mark Zuckerberg hackers
Google CEO Sundar Pichai had his Quora account hacked last night, becoming the latest in a list of major tech figures to have their social media presences hijacked by a group calling itself "OurMine."  The breach comes less than a month after both Mark Zuckerberg and Spotify boss Daniel Ek suffered a similar fate.
   Speaking to Mic, OurMine claimed to be a three-person team.  Some experts suggest the group is breaching big-name accounts using older databases of passwords available to nefarious actors: a method may explain why it was Pichai's Quora account hijacked in this case, rather than far more frequently trafficked networks like Twitter or Facebook.  Earlier this month, Mark Zuckerberg's Pinterest account was hacked alongside his Twitter account, with OurMine clearly stating that it had gained access using the password "dadada," revealed as part of the 2012 LinkedIn hack.
   It's not clear whether Pichai paid to regain access to his Quora account, but both the comments and the auto-tweets were deleted a few hours after they were posted.

Another IRS security failure.  Perhaps they should hire someone who knows how to do it?  (If the IRS could deny attackers as easily as it denies deductions, they would be security gods!) 
IRS Shuts Down e-File PIN Tool After More Attacks
   The e-File PIN tool on allowed taxpayers to generate PINs that they could use to file tax returns online.  The agency reported in February that identity thieves had obtained more than 100,000 PINs by launching an automated bot attack against the tool.
Fraudsters had used names, addresses, dates of birth, filing statuses and social security numbers obtained from other sources to abuse the e-File PIN tool.  The IRS kept the application online – at the time it had been used by most commercial tax software products – but implemented additional security features.
The agency recently detected another round of automated attacks at an increasing frequency and despite only a small number of PINs being affected, it has decided to shut down the program as a safety measure.  The IRS believes only a small segment of taxpayers are affected because most users don’t actually need the PIN to electronically file tax returns.

You can never underestimate stupid.
This is one of those stories that may be best read if you’ve had a bit of caffeine first.  Otherwise, you may just wind up shaking your head for quite a while.
Andrea McCarren reports that a DC man who was supposed to be monitored by a GPS tracking device while confined to his home escaped surveillance by…. wait for it… simply taking off the prosthetic limb it had been attached to and using his spare prosthetic limb.
Why a contractor’s employee attached a GPS device to a prosthetic limb and not a real one is one of those questions where you’re likely to get a “Human Error” catch-all explanation.
The story might be a bit of a chuckler were it not for the fact that the 34-year-old suspect, Quincy Green, allegedly gunned down a man while he was supposedly at home being monitored.
McCarren explains:
After a gun possession charge in April, Dana Hamilton’s alleged killer was confined to his home while awaiting trial.  He was equipped with a GPS tracking device.  But somehow, the technician from Sentinel, the California-based government contractor, placed it on Green’s prosthetic leg.
“Here you have a company [Sentinel] that comes along and working with DC government, doesn’t even follow their own protocols,” said Russ Mullins, an Executive Shop Steward at the Fraternal Order of Police.
Read more on WUSA.

Will this upset their partners? 
Finally, the rumor we’ve been waiting for: Google is working on its own line of smartphones that could be available by the end of the year.
Google’s Android operating system already runs on several phones, and it’s partnered with companies like Huawei to license the Nexus phone. But sources tell The Telegraph that the company wants to release its own handset and venture further into hardware. This would allow it to control everything about Android, just like a certain other company controls everything about the iPhone.

(Related)  Is this what is driving the Google entry into smartphones?
This $4 smartphone finally has a ship date after sparking investigations
Chances are, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
That seemed to be the case for the Freedom 251, the world's cheapest smartphone, announced in February.  Ringing Bells, the Indian company behind the phone, sparked controversy when it claimed the smartphone would sell for just $4. 
   The ICA also accused Ringing Bells of potentially fraudulent claims saying even the cheapest build-of-materials would cost about $40 for a phone with barebone specs such as Android 5.1, a 4-inch screen, 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, 1,450 mAh battery, and a 3.2-megapixel back and 0.3-megapixel front camera.
Furthermore, there was no clear wireless carrier backing the $4 phone and providing subsidies on it to offer savings to customers.
Just when things couldn't get any worse, it was discovered that the Freedom 251 was actually an illegally rebadged version of China's Adcom Ikon 4, which sells for about $54.  Oh, and the app icons were basically ripped right off iOS.
   Fast forward a couple of months and 70 million registrations for the device later and Ringing Bells is finally gearing up to ship the first $4 Freedom 251 phones to customers on June 30, according to IANS.
   The company plans to fulfill 2.5 million orders by the end of the month and ship 200,000 units per month afterwards.

Will other industries be as resistant to change? 
New on LLRX – Bots, Big Data, Blockchain, and AI – Disruption or Incremental Change?
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Jun 26, 2016
Via LLRX.comBots, Big Data, Blockchain, and AI – Disruption or Incremental Change?Ron Friedmann discusses the potential, likely and unlikely impact of high profile disruptive technologies on Big Law – including Bid Data. blockchain, AI and bots.

Something for my Architecture students.
IoT and Implications for Organizational Structure
In the classic structure, a business is divided into functional units, such as R&D, manufacturing, logistics, sales, marketing, after-sale service, finance, and IT.  These functional units enjoy substantial autonomy.  Though integration across them is essential, much of it tends to be relatively episodic and tactical.
With the emergence of smart, connected products, however, this classic model breaks down.  On June 9, 2016 James Heppelmann, president and CEO of PTC and co-author of the Harvard Business Review article “How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Companies,” discussed the new need for companies to coordinate across product design, cloud operation, service improvement, and customer engagement.

An Amazon win or a consumer befuddlement?  (Or both)
Amazon to Add Dozens of Brands to Dash Buttons, but Do Shoppers Want Them? Inc. is doubling down on its Dash push-button ordering devices, getting consumer-products makers to invest in the gadgets even amid evidence that consumers are cool to them.
   Mistaken by some as an April Fool’s joke when Amazon rolled them out in the spring of 2015, the thumb-drive-sized devices enable shoppers to order things like Tide detergent and Cottonelle toilet paper simply by pressing a button.  Customers are encouraged to put the wireless devices by their refrigerators and washing machines for quick reordering.
But fewer than half of people who bought a Dash button since March 2015 have used it to place an actual order, estimates Slice Intelligence, which conducts market research based on emailed consumer receipts.  Those consumers who do order make a purchase roughly once every two months, Slice found.
   Companies pay Amazon $15 for each button sold and 15% of each Dash product sale, atop the normal commission, which typically ranges from 8% to 15%, the people familiar with the matter said.
For their part, consumers pay $5 per button, though Amazon sweetens the deal by offering a $5 rebate for every button.  The rebate is good toward the first purchase using that button.  Only members of Amazon’s $99-per-year Prime membership are eligible to use the Dash buttons.

Can police demand a breathalyzer test of anyone at any time, driving or not? 
Supreme Court Verdict: Refusing Breathalyzer Is A Crime
Justice Samuel Alito delivered the 5-to-3 decision in Thursday's case, saying that breath tests do not implicate "significant" concerns in privacy.

The race for bragging rights?
U.S. To Field 200 Petaflop ‘Summit’ Supercomputer In 2018 Doubling Performance Of Chinese Rivals
There is one constant in the world of supercomputers: no one is going to be 'fastest' for long.  In fact, some supercomputers can seem downright slow after only a couple of years, as hardware continues to become faster and more dense.
Take for example Oak Ridge's TITAN supercomputer.  Launched in 2013, this supercomputer managed to push about 20 petaFLOPs of throughput (17.59 pFLOPs LINPACK; 27 pFLOPs theoretical).  At the time, that was downright mind-blowing. But consider TaihuLight, China's latest supercomputer, coming in at 93 petaFLOPs.  For those who don't want to grab a calculator or exercise simple math, that means that in a mere three years, China managed to push out a supercomputer 5x faster than ORNL's TITAN.
   ORNL's next supercomputer is going to be called Summit, and it's expected that it will launch with 200 petaFLOPs capabilities.  For a system that's set to launch in early 2018, a literal doubling of China's new TaihuLight is downright mind-boggling.

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