Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Anything that will attract an email recipient’s attention; targeting victims is merely one example.
OPM-Impersonating Spam Emails Distribute Locky Ransomware
   Recently, Locky’s operators decided to impersonate the US Office of Personnel Management in a new distribution campaign. 
The messages distributed as part of this spam campaign claim alleged “suspicious movements” in the victim’s bank account, supposedly detected by OPM.  The emails come with a ZIP archive attached, with JavaScript code packed inside.  The JavaScript is meant to download and run the Locky ransomware, similar to many other distribution campaigns.
According to PhishMe, because the emails in this campaign appear to have been sent by the OPM, they are likely to trick government workers and employees of government contractors.  Moreover, they are also highly likely to appeal to individuals who have been impacted by last year’s high-profile OPM breach.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  Epic does?
From EPIC.org:
EPIC has filed a FOIA lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation for information about the agency’s plans to transfer biometric data to the Department of Defense.  The FBI maintains one of the world’s largest biometric databases, known as the “Next Generation Identification” system, but the FBI has resisted maintaining privacy safeguards.  The Bureau previously proposed to exempt the database from many of the safeguards in the federal Privacy Act, which EPIC opposed.  Then EPIC, following a FOIA lawsuit, obtained documents that revealed an error rate up to 20% for facial recognition searches in the FBI database.  Now EPIC has filed an open government lawsuit to obtain a secret document that details the transfer of personal data in the FBI system to the Department of Defense.

Privacy made public.
Federal Privacy Council Online Law Library
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Nov 14, 2016
“The Federal Privacy Council is the principal interagency forum to improve the privacy practices of agencies and entities acting on their behalf.
   The Law Library is a compilation of information about and links to select Federal laws related to the creation, collection, use, processing, storage, maintenance, dissemination, disclosure, and disposal of personally identifiable information (PII) by departments and agencies within the Federal Government.  The Law Library does not include all laws that are relevant to privacy or the management of PII in the Federal Government.  The Law Library only includes laws applicable to the Federal Government.

I wonder if this is more common in Washington and the surrounding area?
Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt reports:
For about $50, you can get a smartphone with a high-definition display, fast data service and, according to security contractors, a secret feature: a backdoor that sends all your text messages to China every 72 hours.
Security contractors recently discovered preinstalled software in some Android phones that monitors where users go, whom they talk to and what they write in text messages.  The American authorities say it is not clear whether this represents secretive data mining for advertising purposes or a Chinese government effort to collect intelligence.
Read more on the New York Times.

Never touch your touch screen without wearing Bob’s genuine non-latex gloves!  Only $29.95 a pair!  Guaranteed to fit any hand, even OJ’s!   
The Grime on Your Smartphone Can Reveal Your Secrets
   By taking just a quick swab of the chemical residue on a smartphone, scientists at the University of California, San Diego, could construct a lifestyle sketch of the phone's owner, including his or her diet, health status, locations visited and even preferred hygiene products.
The researchers said they see a range of possible uses for such an analysis, from criminal profiling and forensics to health studies that monitor a person's exposure to toxins or adherence to a medicine regimen.
   He said the technique can become more powerful as more molecules are added to the reference database, which his group has developed and expanded via crowdsourcing.  Dorrestein added that the researchers are interested in the molecules of the most common foods, clothing materials, carpets, wall paints and anything else people come into contact with.

Could this be easily spoofed?  It’s only a color ‘flag.’  Perhaps a customer name would be better insurance against hackers? 
Lyft Sees Cash in Dashboard Flash
   About the size of a remote control, Lyft’s new “Amp” device can display six different colors to passengers awaiting a ride.  Once a rider has entered the vehicle, an inward-facing LED screen can display a preset greeting, such as “Happy New Year.”
   The new device is a blunt instrument in the war with Uber to attract more drivers and passengers after Lyft’s chief rival rolled out an overhauled app earlier this month.  It could also be a savvy, albeit expensive, way for Lyft to get a piece of hardware into cars it doesn’t own, if, say, it one day wants to show advertising or anything else it might dream up.  

Dick Tracy technology is finally here!
WhatsApp Adds Video Calling to iOS, Android and Windows Phones
WhatsApp, the massively popular messaging app owned by Facebook Inc., is adding video calling to its smartphone app across three operating systems: Apple Inc.’s iOS, Alphabet Inc.’s Android and Microsoft Corp.’s Windows smartphone OS.
   Like Apple’s FaceTime and iMessage apps, WhatsApp offers a security feature called end-to-end encryption that’s turned on by default for text, voice and now video messaging.  End-to-end encryption means the transmission is encrypted even on WhatsApp’s own servers, so it would be equally obscured from hackers and government agencies, and would be hard for WhatsApp to divulge, even with a court order. [Nothing unique…  Bob]   

(Related)  When you feel someone gaining on you, release some new features!
You can now use Skype without an account
Microsoft is making Skype a little easier to use without the need for a full account.  While Skype has allowed group chats with guests, Microsoft is now enabling all of Skype's audio and video calling features to be used without an account.  Skype users can create a special conversation that link that can now be shared with anyone to enable messaging, voice / video calling, and screen sharing, all free without an account.
Skype without an account works on the web, and up to 300 people can participate in a Skype group chat, with up to 25 people on a voice or video call.

(Related) Why encryption is increasingly common.
Silencing the Messenger: Communication Apps Under Pressure
·         Internet freedom around the world declined in 2016 for the sixth consecutive year.
·         Two-thirds of all internet users – 67 percent – live in countries where criticism of the government, military, or ruling family are subject to censorship.
·         Social media users face unprecedented penalties, as authorities in 38 countries made arrests based on social media posts over the past year.  Globally, 27 percent of all internet users live in countries where people have been arrested for publishing, sharing, or merely “liking” content on Facebook.
·         Governments are increasingly going after messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram, which can spread information quickly and securely.

Mess with your paper money, drive people to e-money?
Paytm hits record 5 mn transactions a day
Buoyed by a sudden surge in demand for digital transaction, India’s largest mobile payments platform Paytm said it has touched a figure of five million payment transactions per day. 
Following the ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, mobile wallets, debit and credit cards, online money transfers have seen a rise of 200%, industry experts have observed.

Interesting.  Can Walmart control workers outside the store or in their homes?
Wal-Mart Tells Workers: Don’t Download Labor Group’s Chat App
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is warning store workers not to download a smartphone app designed by OUR Walmart, an organization that advocates for higher pay and other benefits, as the battle between employers and labor groups increasingly shifts to social media.
The app, released on Android phones Monday, allows Wal-Mart store employees to chat among themselves and receive advice on workplace policies or legal rights, said leaders from OUR Walmart on a conference call.
Wal-Mart has instructed store managers to tell their employees that the app wasn’t made by the company and described it as a scheme to gather workers’ personal information, [Well, is it?  Bob] according to a document viewed by The Wall Street Journal.
   OUR Walmart developed the WorkIt app with Quadrant 2, a New York City-based software development company that has designed products for companies and activist organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union.
The app uses International Business Machines Corp.’s Watson artificial-intelligence technology to build a set of answers to employee questions over time, said Jason Van Anden, founder of Quadrant 2.  If Watson is stumped “there is a peer network of experts that will interact with the users,” said Mr. Van Anden.  

I wonder what took them so long?  You would think they would want to be seen as defenders of their sellers and buyers…
Amazon files its first-ever lawsuits against alleged sellers of counterfeit goods
   The suits, filed in King County Superior Court in Seattle, are believed to be the first time Amazon has sued third-party sellers over the alleged sale of counterfeit goods on its site.
In the past, Amazon itself has been sued by sellers who alleged that the company was partially responsible for enabling the sale of counterfeit goods infringing on their intellectual property.
Here are the lawsuits as filed by the company.

Like many of the second tier credit cards. 
Samsung Pay Rewards Program Brings Unprecedented Incentives For A Digital Wallet: Here's How It Works
   The new Samsung Pay rewards program, aptly named Samsung Rewards, offers various perks whenever users pay for stuff using the service online or at retail stores in the United States.
   The rewards program is pretty straightforward and easy to grasp, functioning in a way similar to regular banking cards that give users points whenever they make a purchase.  Buying more stuff with Samsung Pay earns more points, which can then be used toward bonuses such as other Samsung products, gift cards for select stores and a Visa prepaid card.

“Yeah we hate him, but now that he’s been elected…”
Here's what 40 internet companies want Trump to do
In July, 145 tech leaders called Donald Trump "a disaster for innovation."  But now that he's been elected president, some of those companies are trying to appeal to his good graces.
The Internet Association -- a group of 40 top internet companies including Airbnb, Amazon, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Netflix, Twitter, Uber and Yahoo -- issued an open letter on Monday that congratulates Donald Trump on his victory and offers a long list of policy positions they hope he'll consider during his time as president.

Perspective.  I too believe the perfect hamburger is more important than trivial matters like curing cancer or world peace.  
A Perfect Burger: The Holy Grail of Food Delivery
   With flourishes like truffle butter, veal jus, slabs of bacon and soft pretzel buns, fast-casual and higher-end restaurants have elevated the once humble burger to cult status.  But fancier ingredients also up the risks of a burger gone wrong, creating challenges for delivery services.
As food delivery services explode, so have burger cravings.  On GrubHub, one of the largest digital food delivery companies in the U.S., the average price per burger is $9.52 in New York, $9.44 in Los Angeles and $8.40 in Dallas, according to Stan Chia, the company’s senior vice president of operations.
   In the U.S., GrubHub says it sees hundreds of thousands of orders a month, while burgers were the second-most popular item in 2015, behind french fries, purchased on DoorDash, a delivery company that operates in several U.S. states.
And in London, burgers are the most-searched item on UberEATS, says Toussaint Wattinne, general manager of the delivery service app from transportation company Uber.  Deliveroo says burgers are among the top three cuisines in 90% of over 110 cities where it operates in Europe, Asia and Australia.

Does this mean they will ban The Onion?  http://www.theonion.com/
Facebook Joins Google With Updated Policy Restricting Ads on Fake News Sites

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