Thursday, May 11, 2017

Now something every candidate in every election must consider?  
Hackers Came, but the French Were Prepared
Everyone saw the hackers coming.
The National Security Agency in Washington picked up the signs.  So did Emmanuel Macron’s bare-bones technology team.  And mindful of what happened in the American presidential campaign, the team created dozens of false email accounts, complete with phony documents, to confuse the attackers.
The Russians, for their part, were rushed and a bit sloppy, leaving a trail of evidence that was not enough to prove for certain they were working for the government of President Vladimir V. Putin but which strongly suggested they were part of his broader “information warfare” campaign.
   The phishing mails were “high quality,” said Mr. Macron’s digital director, Mounir Mahjoubi: They included the actual names of members of the campaign staff, and at first glance appeared to come from them.  Typical was the very last one the campaign received, several days before the election on Sunday, which purported to have come from Mr. Mahjoubi himself.
“It was almost like a joke, like giving us all the finger,” Mr. Mahjoubi said in an interview on Tuesday.  The final email enjoined recipients to download several files “to protect yourself.”

Unfortunately, this is too common.  Read the entire article. 
Yesterday, reported on a misconfigured rsync backup that had been detected by Kromtech Security.  The security firm had contacted for notification assistance on May 3 after unsuccessfully trying to notify iHealth Innovations that patient data from Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center could be accessed and downloaded without any login required.
One week later, we still do not have answers to some pretty basic questions – like why iHealth Innovations actually needs all those sensitive records and details, but Mary Emily O’Hara of NBC News estimates that at least 7,000 patients had their data exposed.
Last night, a spokesperson for iHealth Innovations contacted and asked that we report the following statement:
iHealth Innovations and Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center recently became aware that a single individual gained unapproved access to certain Bronx-Lebanon Hospital data.
[ … ]
Note that on the one hand, iHealth does not blatantly “shoot the messenger” by claiming that Kromtech Security “hacked” them, but by the same token, iHealth does not actually admit that they made a mistake and left the data open to anyone who wished to download it.  For its part, the hospital, which had declined to give any kind of substantive statement, reportedly told NBC News via email that their vendor had been “hacked:”

Something my Computer Security students need to understand.  And an illustration that you need to be the best at everything you do. 
Amazon trounces rivals in battle of the shopping 'bots'
Earlier this year, engineers at Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) who track rivals' prices online got a rude surprise: the technology they were using to check several million times a day suddenly stopped working.
Losing access to Inc's (AMZN.O) data was no small matter.  Like most big retailers, Wal-Mart relies on computer programs that scan prices on competitors' websites so it can adjust its listings accordingly.  A difference of even 50 cents can mean losing a sale.
But a new tactic by Amazon to block these programs - known commonly as robots or bots - thwarted the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer.
   Dexterity with bots allows Amazon not only to see what its rivals are doing, but increasingly to keep them in the dark when it undercuts them on price or is quietly charging more.
   According to one U.S. patent application, Amazon is working on encryption technology that would force bots, but not humans, to solve a complicated algorithm to gain access to its Web pages.  [For full patent record - click]

Data Centers are expensive.  Reno is giving 8-to-5 odds that it won’t be the last expansion. 
Apple Plans $1 Billion Expansion At Data Center in Nevada
Apple announced plans Wednesday for a $1 billion expansion of its massive data center east of Reno, doubling its investment and roughly tripling its workforce at the technology campus where company officials expect to hire 100 additional workers.
The announcement came as the Reno City Council approved Apple's plans to build a $4 million shipping and receiving warehouse on a vacant lot in downtown Reno that will make it eligible for millions of dollars in tax breaks. 

Another perspective.
McKinsey – What’s new with the Internet of Things?
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on May 10, 2017
“..Although some analysts are excited about the IoT’s potential, others have argued that it is overhyped.  We take a more balanced view, based on our extensive research as well as our direct work with IoT application developers and their customers.  Like the optimists, we believe that the IoT could have a significant, and possibly revolutionary, impact across society.  But we also think that the lead time to achieve these benefits, as well as the widespread adoption of IoT applications, may take longer than anticipated.  The uptake of IoT applications could be particularly slow in the industrial sector, since companies are often constrained by long capital cycles, organizational inertia, and a shortage of talented staff that can develop and deploy IoT solutions…”

Have we become so used to technology that we don’t notice the impact?  Is checking email on a smartphone easy compared to walking to your desktop computer and signing on? 
Gallup – Email Outside of Working Hours Not a Burden to US Workers
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on May 10, 2017
“Checking email outside of normal business hours does not appear to be a burden for U.S. workers.  About six in 10 workers say they check email outside of normal business hours.  Of these, few claim the amount of emails they have to respond to during off hours is unreasonable, or that it negatively affects their personal well-being or relationships with friends and family.”  So working all the time is the new normal.

Perception is everything.  Apparently, the world does not see what he sees. 
Edward Lampert: Sears' Troubles Are Everyone's Fault But Mine
In a somewhat hard-to-believe interview with the Chicago Tribune, Lampert gave many reasons for the company’s continued downward spiral.  His claim: he is going to “...[turn] Sears into a 21st-century merchant focused on catering to its best customers.”  It remains a mystery how that will be supported after selling off iconic brands, running the company without a seasoned merchant at the helm, and spinning off parts of the business that actually added value (Lands End).
Yet Lampert seems to think he’s made great progress.
   Fellow analyst Cathy Hotka has repeatedly called the Sears Holdings situation “the world’s longest liquidation sale.”  It’s very hard to disagree.

To help my students select the next programming language to learn. 
Introducing Stack Overflow Trends
On a typical day, developers ask over 8,000 questions on Stack Overflow about programming problems they run into in their work.  Which technologies are they asking about, and how has that changed over time?
Today, we’re introducing the Stack Overflow Trends tool to track interest in programming languages and technologies, based on the number of Stack Overflow questions asked per month.
   Don’t see your favorite language, technology, or framework in this post?  Use the Stack Overflow Trends tool to create your own graphs, and see what you can learn about how the developer ecosystem is changing and where it might be going in the future.

Anyone can be President, or anyone can keep Trump from a second term?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson considering run for White House
After conquering Hollywood, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson may have his sights set on the White House.
The actor and former pro wrestler tells GQ that he thinks a presidential run is "a real possibility."

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