Monday, May 01, 2017

Academics should know better?
Nick Vlahos reports:
A cyberattack last weekend has been forcing students, teachers and administrators at Pekin Community High School to forgo its computer systems.
That hasn’t been easy.
“You really quickly realize how much you rely on technology when you don’t have access to it for a couple of days,” Danielle Owens, the District 303 superintendent, said Wednesday.
Pekin officials discovered the problem Monday.  Sometime Sunday, a hacker apparently used malware to infect the school’s computers.  Pekin officials have no idea who it was; Owens believed it might even be a non-American entity.
The hacker used encryption to make it impossible for Pekin representatives to access information stored in the system.  In return for unlocking it, the saboteur demanded a ransom — $37,000, according to Owens.  It was not paid.
Read more on Journal Star.

How to steal Billions.
Hackers Ran Through Holes in Swift's Network
The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication has James Bond-level security at the facilities it uses to move millions of bank-payment orders around the world every day.
Visitors to a Swift operations center in Culpeper, Va., say their car trunks were inspected upon arrival by armed guards, who used mirrors to check under the chassis.  Security inside included a fingerprint scan, a test for chemical weapons and an iris scanner in the most restricted areas.
“It’s like Fort Knox,” says Mohan Murali, chief executive of Axletree Solutions Inc., which helps banks and companies connect to Swift.
That isn’t where the thieves hit.  In the past year, a spate of cyberattacks has penetrated banks along Swift’s less-defended perimeter, shaking confidence in the dominant network used by banks for cross-border transactions.  While Swift diligently locked down that network’s core, customers were left mostly responsible for their own security, creating an opportunity for hackers.
Targets included banks in India, Vietnam, Ecuador and Bangladesh.  Thieves made off with a total of about $90 million from Bangladesh’s central bank and a commercial bank in Ecuador.  The other cyberattacks were unsuccessful.
   Swift will likely need more time to fully win back confidence.  The New York Fed stopped making payments on the strength of Swift messages alone and adopted a policy of double-confirming orders from Bangladesh by phone.
A New York Fed official complained last June that the arrangement “is not sustainable,” according to a letter reviewed by the Journal.  It isn’t clear if the policy is still in effect.  The New York Fed declined to comment.

Another collection.
2017 Data Breach Investigations Report
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Apr 30, 2017
Verizon: “Welcome to the 10th anniversary of the Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR).  We sincerely thank you for once again taking time to dig into our InfoSec coddiwomple that has now culminated in a decade of nefarious deeds and malicious mayhem in the security world.  2016 was an extremely tumultuous year, both in the United States and abroad.  Political events, such as a divisive presidential election and the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum (aka Brexit), raised many a blood pressure reading, while memes focused on getting through the year without the loss of another beloved celebrity flooded social media.  Despite the tumult and clamor, cybercrime refused to take a year off, and added to the feelings of uncertainty with numerous breaches being disclosed to the public—thereby debunking the “no such thing as bad publicity” myth…”

For my Computer Security students.
New on LLRX – The Challenges of a Workplace Bring Your Own Device Policy
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Apr 30, 2017
Via LLRXThe Challenges of a Workplace Bring Your Own Device PolicyJohn Hawthorne lays out the pros and cons of BYOD policies in the workplace as well as reviewing challenges that arise between employees and IT regarding securing operational data, the lack of clearly articulated and managed use of devices for non work related activities and risks associated with employee activities conducted on personal devices.

Like Security, Ethics is not an early consideration in new technologies.
The Internet of Things Needs a Code of Ethics
In October, when malware called Mirai took over poorly secured webcams and DVRs, and used them to disrupt internet access across the United States, I wondered who was responsible.  Not who actually coded the malware, or who unleashed it on an essential piece of the internet’s infrastructure—instead, I wanted to know if anybody could be held legally responsible.  Could the unsecure devices’ manufacturers be liable for the damage their products?
Right now, in this early stage of connected devices’ slow invasion into our daily lives, there’s no clear answer to that question.  That’s because there’s no real legal framework that would hold manufacturers responsible for critical failures that harm others.  As is often the case, the technology has developed far faster than policies and regulations.
But it’s not just the legal system that’s out of touch with the new, connected reality.  The Internet of Things, as it’s called, is also lacking a critical ethical framework, argues Francine Berman, a computer-science professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a longtime expert on computer infrastructure.  Together with Vint Cerf, an engineer considered one of the fathers of the internet, Berman wrote an article in the journal Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery about the need for an ethical system.

How not to train your AI?
Someone scraped 40,000 Tinder selfies to make a facial dataset for AI experiments
   A user of Kaggle, a platform for machine learning and data science competitions which was recently acquired by Google, has uploaded a facial data set he says was created by exploiting Tinder’s API to scrape 40,000 profile photos from Bay Area users of the dating app — 20,000 apiece from profiles of each gender.
The data set, called People of Tinder, consists of six downloadable zip files, with four containing around 10,000 profile photos each and two files with sample sets of around 500 images per gender.
   The creator of the data set, Stuart Colianni, has released it under a CC0: Public Domain License and also uploaded his scraper script to GitHub.

They may need this as part of their “suicide warning” promise, but passing it to advertisers probably does not help their image.  They have the ability to determine most emotional states.  Should they ignore this or find more appropriate responses? 
Facebook targets ‘insecure’ young people
Facebook is using sophisticated algorithms to identify and exploit Australians as young as 14, by allowing advertisers to target them at their most vulnerable, including when they feel “worthless” and “insecure”, secret internal documents ­reveal.
A 23-page Facebook document seen by The Australian marked “Confidential: Internal Only” and dated 2017, outlines how the social network can target “moments when young people need a confidence boost” in pinpoint detail.
By monitoring posts, pictures, interactions and internet activity in real-time, Facebook can work out when young people feel “stressed”, “defeated”, “overwhelmed”, “anxious”, “nervous”, “stupid”, “silly”, “useless”, and a “failure”, the document states.
After being contacted by The Australian, Facebook issued an apology, and said it had opened an investigation, admitting it was wrong to target young children in this way.
   “Anticipatory emotions are more likely to be expressed early in the week, while reflective emotions increase on the weekend,” the document discloses.  “Monday-Thursday is about building confidence; the weekend is for broadcasting achievements.”

Everyone is now equipped with an evidence gathering device.
Instagram and Twitter posts become evidence in Fyre Festival $100 million class action lawsuit
   “Defendants promoted their ‘Fyre Festival’ as a posh, island-based music festival featuring ‘first-class culinary experiences and a luxury atmosphere.'”
But: “Instead, festival-goers were lured into what various media outlets have since labeled a ‘complete disaster’, ‘mass chaos’, and a ‘post-apocalyptic nightmare.'”  And: “The festival’s lack of adequate food, water, shelter, and medical care created a dangerous and panicked situation among attendees — suddenly finding themselves stranded on a remote island without basic provisions — that was closer to The Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies than Coachella.”
   Fortunately, in the face of hellish conditions, the uber rich still managed to post their experience on Instagram and Twitter.  And so the chief eyewitness in this case will be social media.
Jung’s lawsuit draws on those real-time posts to bolster his claim.  Of course, the number of postings about the disaster on Twitter is limitless at this point.  The lawsuit includes several posts from the account of William N. Finley IV‏, who chronicled hilariously and scarily his ordeal while on the island, trying to find food and shelter, and then trying to get home:

Have we reached a tipping point?  Will all new startups need an Artificial Intelligence component?
In Europe’s Election Season, Tech Vies to Fight Fake News
In the battle against fake news, Andreas Vlachos — a Greek computer scientist living in a northern English town — is on the front lines.
Armed with a decade of machine learning expertise, he is part of a British start-up that will soon release an automated fact-checking tool ahead of the country’s election in early June.  He also is advising a global competition that pits computer wizards from the United States to China against each other to use artificial intelligence to combat fake news.
   “Algorithms will have to do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to fighting misinformation,” said Claire Wardle, head of strategy and research at First Draft News, a nonprofit organization that has teamed up with tech companies and newsrooms to debunk fake reports about elections in the United States and Europe.  “It’s impossible to do all of this by hand.”

Perspective.  Competition for President Trump or simply ‘follow the leader?’
Twitter to launch 24/7 news streaming service with Bloomberg
Twitter’s transformation into a TV network is edging ever closer with the company’s announcement that it is teaming up with Bloomberg to create a 24/7 news streaming service directly on the social network.
The move comes as little surprise given Twitter’s recent escapades in the video-streaming realm.  The company announced last week that 800 hours of live premium video were watched by 45 million viewers in Q1 2017, up 31 percent on the previous quarter, with myriad video partnerships over the past 12 months helping drive new users to the platform.  Last year, Twitter won the rights to stream Thursday night NFL games, and it also partnered with BuzzFeed for a U.S. presidential election livestream and nabbed some PGA golf coverage.  More recently, it has signed video deals across sports, esports, and politics, and it’s also preparing to begin producing original content. 

Perspective.  You mean it’s not just Western Union? 
...   For a long time, economists tended to overlook these dollars, but recently they’ve come to appreciate their importance.  Remittances, which totaled $429 billion in 2016, are worth three times as much as all the foreign aid doled out by governments worldwide, and it’s likely the money is more effective dollar-for-dollar.  Unlike aid, which is notorious for passing through corrupt middlemen and inefficient bureaucracies, remittances go directly to recipients, where they pay for schooling, medical expenses, and new fridge-freezers.  In some poor countries, like Somalia or Haiti, remittances make up more than a quarter of national income.
   Currently, it’s expensive to send money overseas, which is especially damaging for the immigrants sending small savings home to the developing world.  The World Bank says transaction fees average 7.45% globally, and, in many remittance corridors, they’re a lot higher than that.  Sending money to Africa from the U.S. or Europe sometimes costs an extra 15%, and within Africa, the fees can be stupendous.  To transfer 33,000 Angola Kwanza (about $200) from Luanda to Namibia costs about $50, according to the World Bank’s price database.

Real books are back. E-book sales plunge nearly 20%
New data suggest that the reading public is ditching e-books and returning to the old fashioned printed word.
Sales of consumer e-books plunged 17% in the U.K. in 2016, according to the Publishers Association.  Sales of physical books and journals went up by 7% over the same period, while children's books surged 16%.
The same trend is on display in the U.S., where e-book sales declined 18.7% over the first nine months of 2016, according to the Association of American Publishers.  Paperback sales were up 7.5% over the same period, and hardback sales increased 4.1%.  
   Experts say that many people are also trying to limit their screen time.
U.K. regulator Ofcom found that one third of adults had attempted a "digital detox" in 2016 by limiting their use of smartphones, tablets and other devices.
   According to the Pew Research Center, 65% of Americans reported reading a printed book in the past year, compared to only 28% who read an e-book.
A quarter of the population hadn't read a book of any kind, whether in print, electronic or audio form.

Perhaps my one of my students will start a “Geeks Only” social media site. 
Elite social media: where the internet’s 1 percent hangs out
On the internet, no one can see your Rolex
The social network Best of All Worlds is five years old (ancient by Silicon Valley standards) and has just a tiny fraction of the users its contemporaries like Facebook and Twitter have.  But Best of All Worlds isn’t failing.  In fact, the social network’s founder doesn’t really want any more members.  Best of All Worlds (or BOAW, as its members call it) is one of several exclusive social networks for the internet’s 1 percent — an elite, close-knit group that most likely does not include you.
   The company is not yet profitable, but Wachtmeister says he expects to break even by partnering with commercial sponsors (who will advertise on the app, as well as offer deals and host events for members) for the launch of Best of All Worlds’ new iOS app in the coming weeks.  The app’s tagline will be “Hang out with people you can trust.”  
   BOAW’s promises of trust and escape are echoed by Andrew Wessels, founder of the UK-based social media platform The Marque.  The Marque is mostly an online directory, where members can meet like-minded (and like-bank-accounted) people.  The website is a jumping-off point for IRL connections: members usually organize events where they can talk freely among people of a similar social tier — without interruption from outsiders looking to elevator pitch their way to success.
The price of relaxation? £1,000 per year.

But all my students want to watch is more comic book movies.
There are quite a few movie recommendation platforms out there, but one of the newer sites, Movix, uses artificial intelligence and deep learning to suggest the next movie you should watch.
With Movix, all you have to do is click a few movie titles you wouldn’t mind watching right now, and the site will offer up recommendations.  Rather than tailoring itself to a profile of your tastes, Movix bases its recommendations only on those few clicks.  This means you don’t have to sign up for an account.

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