Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The joys of academic research.
Zack Whittaker reports:
A security research firm has released details of a “critical” flaw in a security tool, despite being threatened with legal threats.
Munich-based ESNC published a security advisory last week detailing how a remotely exploitable bug in a security tool, developed by auditing and tax giant PwC, could allow an attacker to gain unauthorized access to an affected SAP system.
The corporate giant argued that ESNC shouldn’t have had access to the software in the first place, as it wasn’t a licensed partner.
“ESNC did not receive authorized access or a license to use this software.  The software is not publicly available and was only properly accessed by those with licenses, such as PwC clients working with trained PwC staff,” said the spokesperson.
Read more on ZDNet.
This is yet another reminder of why the federal statute, CFAA, needs to be updated and to include protection for researchers.

Interesting, if true.  I would wager that the courts would not be amused. 
Uber encrypts its computers from afar when the government raids its offices, a lawsuit claims
When government agents raid Uber's offices, the company springs into action with an immediate response: it shuts everything down and encrypt all its computers. 
That's according to a court declaration by former employee Ward Spangenberg, who served as Uber's forensic investigator until last February.  Spangenberg was fired by Uber and is now suing the ride-hailing startup for age discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, and defamation. 

WWTD: What will Trump do?
Google Signs Deal With Cuba to Speed Services
Alphabet Inc.’s Google completed a deal with Cuba to place computer servers on the island to speed Google services there, a pact that officials hurried to complete before President Barack Obama leaves office next month.
   The Google servers in Cuba will store content such as popular YouTube videos, allowing the content to be delivered more quickly to Cuban users.  The move is the latest to improve internet access for the country of 11.2 million people, which has long been one of the world’s most isolated nations.
   Google, which has long had an obsession with the speed of its internet services, operates servers around the globe to accelerate speeds for local users, including in Greenland, Somalia, Yemen and the Gaza Strip, said Doug Madory, an internet-infrastructure analyst at Dynamic Network Services Inc.  The shortlist of countries without Google servers includes China, Iran, Syria and North Korea, among others, Mr. Madory said.

An amusing question, but I don’t think it’s a very serious threat.
Is Trump's Twitter account a national security threat?
Intelligence and defense specialists believe the president-elect's use of the popular and powerful social media network is already being used by foreign agencies to analyze his personality, track his habits and detect clues about what to expect from a Trump-led American government.

I’ll tuck this one away for my Computer Security students.
Careers in security, ethical hacking and advice on where to get started

Not sure I want my toaster talking back to me. 
Microsoft is bringing Cortana to fridges, toasters, and thermostats
Microsoft is planning to allow fridges, toasters, thermostats, and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices to access Cortana.
   “This will enable you to build devices with displays, so you get that immersive Cortana experience,” explains Microsoft program manager Carla Forester.  Any kind of smart device with a screen can now take advantage of Cortana.”  Microsoft wants device makers to use a screen to get the full Cortana UI, and the company is providing fridges, thermostats, and toasters as example devices that we’ll likely see in the future.

Short answer?  No.
Bulletproofing America
According to a recent poll by the Associated Press, 60 percent of Americans worry that they or a family member might die in a mass shooting.  Statistically speaking, we’d do better to fret about septicemia and car accidents, but it’s not hard to find the source of the outsize concern: From 2000 to 2006, an average of six “active-shooter incidents” took place in the United States each year; in the following seven years, that number nearly tripled—with one occurring, on average, every three weeks.

Am I reading this right?  “We can tell you’re a crook just by looking at you?”  Will they be looking at members of Congress? 
Automated Inference on Criminality using Face Images
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Dec 12, 2016
Automated Inference on Criminality using Face Images, Xiaolin Wu, Xi Zhang (Submitted on 13 Nov 2016 (v1), last revised 21 Nov 2016 (this version, v2)) arXiv:1611.04135 [cs.CV] (or arXiv:1611.04135v2 [cs.CV] for this version)
“We study, for the first time, automated inference on criminality based solely on still face images.  Via supervised machine learning, we build four classifiers (logistic regression, KNN, SVM, CNN) using facial images of 1856 real persons controlled for race, gender, age and facial expressions, nearly half of whom were convicted criminals, for discriminating between criminals and non-criminals.  All four classifiers perform consistently well and produce evidence for the validity of automated face-induced inference on criminality, despite the historical controversy surrounding the topic.  Also, we find some discriminating structural features for predicting criminality, such as lip curvature, eye inner corner distance, and the so-called nose-mouth angle.  Above all, the most important discovery of this research is that criminal and non-criminal face images populate two quite distinctive manifolds.  The variation among criminal faces is significantly greater than that of the non-criminal faces.  The two manifolds consisting of criminal and non-criminal faces appear to be concentric, with the non-criminal manifold lying in the kernel with a smaller span, exhibiting a law of normality for faces of non-criminals.  In other words, the faces of general law-biding public have a greater degree of resemblance compared with the faces of criminals, or criminals have a higher degree of dissimilarity in facial appearance than normal people.”  [If you don’t look like us, you’re a criminal?  Bob]

A resource for us non-lawyers too.  Good on ya, Sabrina!
BeSpacific joins ABA Top 100 Blawgs 2016
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Dec 12, 2016
BeSpacific NEW: “No one better has her finger on the pulse of the legal information world than Sabrina Pacifici, law librarian and author of the blog BeSpacific,” writes blogger Robert Ambrogi.  “Launched in 2002, BeSpacific is one of the longest-running legal blogs and, remarkably, Sabrina seems more prolific today than ever.  She posts multiple items every day, covering the gamut of law, technology and knowledge discovery and topics ranging from cybersecurity to legal research to government regulation to civil liberties to IP and more.  For me, BeSpacific is one of my daily must-reads and has been for 14 years straight.”  
Many thanks to the American Bar Association, to master legal tech blogger Bob Ambrogi, and to the readers of beSpacific.  I look forward to sharing another 14 years of research through my site.  And I hope to hear from you as well –  – please send me your news, idea, links and information that will help us contribute positive impact on issues the encompass law and technology during these most turbulent and challenging of times.

Yep, that’s just how the Martians do it!
The Map That Lets You Listen to the Radio Everywhere
   Radio Garden, which launched today, is a similar concept—a way to know humanity through its sounds, through its music.  It’s an interactive map that lets you tune into any one of thousands of radio stations all over the world in real time.  Exploring the site is both immersive and a bit disorienting—it offers the sense of lurking near Earth as an outsider.  In an instant, you can click to any dot on the map and hear what’s playing on the radio there, from Miami to Lahore to Berlin to Sulaymaniyah and beyond.

My students will probably love this.  Not sure I will.
New Wikipedia mobile and desktop reader
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Dec 12, 2016
Yes everyone uses Wikipedia, so try this: “An award-winning beautiful interface for Wikipedia.  Used by over 100,000 people worldwide, Wikiwand overhauls Wikipedia’s interface, making it more convenient, powerful and beautiful.”  It will surprise you – try it – available for iPhone, Android, Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

Future employment for my students?  Only if they do better at math!  A Jersey boy makes good?
A hot $1 billion hedge fund is building computers to predict how human traders will act
   Quant funds have historically analyzed data using mathematical techniques to search for patterns of trends.  The idea here is that quants can pick up on relationships between financial assets that human traders miss out on.
That model is outdated, according to Narang.  Quants funds don't generate returns by being smarter, and picking out trends before everyone else, but by predicting what everyone else is going to do.

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