Saturday, December 31, 2016

Several things in this article strike me as odd.  
Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say
A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials.
While the Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt operations, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a security matter, the discovery underscores the vulnerabilities of the nation’s electrical grid.  And it raises fears in the U.S. government that Russian government hackers are actively trying to penetrate the grid to carry out potential attacks.  
   Burlington Electric said in a statement that the company detected a malware code used in the Grizzly Steppe operation in a laptop that was not connected to the organization’s grid systems.  The firm said it took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alert federal authorities.
Friday night, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) called on federal officials “to conduct a full and complete investigation of this incident and undertake remedies to ensure that this never happens again.” [Do the Feds have any responsibility (or capability) to fix problems like this?  Bob]

(Related).  I wanted to know when this happened, but all I could find was a note on their website that says they were notified by DHS on the 29th.  Sounds like a general advisory, not a “you have been hacked” notice.  Good on Burlington if that caused an immediate scan of their computers, but something still sounds “off” to me.   
Burlington Electric Department
On Thursday night, December 29th, the Burlington Electric Department was alerted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of a malware code used in Grizzly Steppe, the name DHS has applied to a Russian campaign linked to recent hacks.  We acted quickly to scan all computers in our system for the malware signature.  We detected the malware in a single Burlington Electric Department laptop not connected to our organization’s grid systems.

Why it is good to have degrees in technology.
Wharton – Why the Coming Jobs Crisis Is Bigger Than You Think
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Dec 30, 2016
Podcast and Transcript via Wharton – “The incoming Trump administration has made job creation a national priority . But here is a sobering prediction: No matter which political party holds the White House or Congress, over the next 25 years, 47% of jobs will likely be eliminated by technology and globalization, according to WorkingNation.  It’s a phenomenon called “structural unemployment” and it affects nearly all industries and even white-collar workers.  Venture capitalist Art Bilger founded WorkingNation to sound the alarm about the coming crisis and to spark discussions about potential solutions.  Bilger believes the nature of employment is fundamentally changing and cannot be reversed.  But workers, businesses and the government can prepare for it if they work together — starting with stepped up infrastructure spending that has bipartisan support.  He recently joined the Knowledge@Wharton Show, which airs on Sirius XM channel 111, to discuss his prescription for ameliorating the coming jobs crisis, and what his organization and others have tried so far.”

There’s an Office of Government Ethics?  Who knew? 
Email reveals Government Ethics director ordered tweets praising Trump
The director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics personally ordered tweets praising President-elect Donald Trump for claims he would leave his business to avoid conflicts of interest.
In emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by dozens of media organizations, agency director Walter M. Shaub asked for the tweets to be posted on the OGE’s official Twitter account, approving of the specific wording of each tweet.
   After the tweets, many initially speculated that the agency's account had been hacked.  A statement from the agency's spokesman confirmed that the tweets were legitimate.

Because once you are addicted, no amount of data is enough.
Facebook buys data on users' offline habits for better ads
At this point, it's well-known that Facebook is as much an advertising company as it is a social network.  The company is probably second only to Google in the data it collects on users, but the info we all share on the Facebook site just isn't enough.  A report from ProPublica published this week digs into the vast network of third-party data that Facebook can purchase to fill out what it knows about its users.  The fact that Facebook is buying data on its users isn't new -- the company first signed a deal with data broker Datalogix in 2012 -- but ProPublica's report nonetheless contains a lot of info on the visibility Facebook may have into your life.
   To be clear, the majority of the information that Facebook gathers comes directly from how its users interact with the site: ProPublica found that of the 29,000 categories Facebook provides to ad buyers, only 600 of them came from third-party data providers

Perspective.  Can we generalize from this for other industries?
BMW is one of the best car makers on the planet.  It is also thinking seriously about what digital transformation means for the car business.
   And yet BMW is still not making full use of digital business strategy – nor are any other car makers.
Consider: BMW charges €360 to unlock the ability to access the apps on the Connected Drive.  Some apps (e.g. Remote Services) cost €80 and others (e.g. Real Time Traffic Information) can be rented for €45 over 6 months.  If one spends a hefty amount of money on a new car, paying €80 or €45 for an app doesn’t seem too expensive, but needing to pay €360 to just activate the ability to download the apps seems totally wrong.

For my geeks.
Today, we’re going to look at two massive course bundles that you can name your own price to get.  Pay as little as a dollar, and you’ll get a few of the courses.  If you beat the average, you’ll get them all.
First, we have a bundle that’ll get you into the world of ethical hacking.  It features seven massive courses.  There’s also a bundle that’ll get you started writing code.  It features a staggering 10 courses on everything from JavaScript to Python!

Cardboard is the simplest and most affordable way to try virtual reality today.  There’s already so much content for Android devices (it works on iPhone too), and it’s getting better all the time.

I need something like these for my students, but aimed a bit higher.
A Cute Video About Email Etiquette for Students
   One good example of this can be found in Emailing Your Teacher, With Captain Communicator.  The short video features two students demonstrating how to write an email to a teacher.  It's cute and well worth 90 seconds of your time.

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