Friday, May 05, 2017

This is a biggie, so pay attention! 
After years of warnings, mobile network hackers exploit SS7 flaws to drain bank accounts
   O2-Telefonica in Germany has confirmed to Süddeutsche Zeitung that some of its customers have had their bank accounts drained using a two-stage attack that exploits SS7.
In other words, thieves exploited SS7 to intercept two-factor authentication codes sent to online banking customers, allowing them to empty their accounts.  The thefts occurred over the past few months, according to multiple sources.
In 2014, researchers demonstrated that SS7, which was created in the 1980s by telcos to allow cellular and some landline networks to interconnect and exchange data, is fundamentally flawed.  Someone with internal access to a telco – such as a hacker or a corrupt employee – can get access to any other carrier's backend in the world, via SS7, to track a phone's location, read or redirect messages, and even listen to calls.

Future job security for my Computer Security students?
Security company G Data says that a new piece of Android malware is discovered every 10 seconds.  At this rate, the company is predicting that there will be 3,500,000 new malicious Android files by the end of the year.
The company said that the risk was heightened by the fact that only a small minority of users are on the latest version of Android …

Not a surprise.
Eyragon Eidam reports:
Young and old alike, Facebook is where millions of people around the world share details of their lives that might have gone unshared 13 years ago.  And if the recently released Facebook report on government requests for this data is any indication, law enforcement agencies within the United States are very interested in what the public is doing.
The biannual look at the nuts and bolts of these requests, published by the social media company April 27, tells us that authorities are more aware than ever of the value that social media data holds.
Read more on GovTech.

“We can, therefore we must!”
Joe Cadillic writes:
An article in Muckrock reveals that the California Department of Justice (CDOJ) is using facial recognition cameras to spy on everyone.
The CDOJ spent close to one million dollars ($850K) to install NEC’s NeoFace system everywhere.
According to the article, the CDOJ has been spying on everyone since April 26th., 2016.
What’s even worse is the CDOJ is paying NEC $650,000 every year in ‘support fees’.  Which means Calif. taxpayers are paying $650K a year for the privilege of being spied on.
Read more on MassPrivateI.
[From the MassPrivateI article:  
According to page 8 of NEC's, ICJIS document, when the contractors were finished with the installation they had to destroy all evidence (documents) of their collaboration with the CDOJ.

“Friendly” surveillance?  “Useful” surveillance?  “Surveillance by any other name would stink!” (With apologies to Shakespeare)  How would my students do it? 
Wal-Mart Wants to Know When Your Milk Is About to Expire
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is thinking about using sensor technologies to track how much detergent a family has used or when milk is about to expire, according to a patent application made public Thursday, a sign the retailer is exploring new ways to fend off Inc.
The system proposed by the retailer could use sensors in homes and attached to products like toothpaste, milk or razors to trigger automatic delivery of another box or suggest related products to buy, all while collecting consumer behavior data to tailor marketing, says the application on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website.

(Related).  “We don’t need those little recorders auto insurers plug into your dashboard to see how safely you drive.  You face records and displays everything.” 
How your selfie could affect your life insurance
A selfie reveals more than whether it's a good hair day.  Facial lines and contours, droops and dark spots could indicate how well you're aging, and, when paired with other data, could someday help determine whether you qualify for life insurance.
   Several life insurance companies are testing Lapetus technology that uses facial analytics and other data to estimate life expectancy, he says.  (Lapetus would not disclose the names of companies testing its product.)  Insurers use life expectancy estimates to make policy approval and pricing decisions.  Lapetus says its product, Chronos, would enable a customer to buy life insurance online in as little as 10 minutes without taking a life insurance medical exam.

When it comes to finding and removing propaganda, how much effort is appropriate? 
Victims from the 2015 San Bernardino shooting are suing tech companies for neglect
Surviving relatives of three people killed in the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, are taking Facebook, Twitter, and Google to court, alleging they failed to clamp down on terrorist propaganda on their sites.
According to court documents cited by KABC-TV, the lawsuit alleges that the companies allowed people who sympathized with terror groups to spread propaganda, raise funds, and help recruit others.  
   Facebook defended its policies in a statement to KABC: "There is no place on Facebook for groups that engage in terrorist activity or for content that expresses support for such activity, and we take swift action to remove this content when it's reported to us," a statement read.
Twitter also claims that nearly 380,000 accounts were suspended for terrorist-related violations in the last six months of 2016, KABC reported.

Can my students learn to work with AI?
How artificial intelligence will affect your job
   Consider just a few of the AI-driven options already available:
A company can provide a job description, and AI will collect and crunch data from a variety of sources to find people with the right talents, with experience to match—candidates who might never have thought of applying to the company, and whom the company might never have thought of seeking out.
Another AI service lets companies analyze workers’ email to tell if they’re feeling unhappy about their job, so bosses can give them more attention before their performance takes a nose dive or they start doing things that harm the company.
Meanwhile, if companies are worried about turnover, they can use AI to find employees who may be likely to jump ship based on variables such as the length of time they’ve been in the job, their physical distance from teammates or how many managers they’ve had.
   These systems are fairly new, and we really don’t know yet whether they make decisions that are as good as or better than human managers.  And it would be difficult to devise a foolproof way to test that.
And the biggest caveat: The AI systems’ thirst for data can lead employers to push the boundaries of workers’ privacy.  It is incumbent upon managers to use them wisely.

Because we desperately need another social network? 
   Mastodon, a new open-source social network that is focused on the user.  What you want to see, what you want to ignore, what you want to share — these things are all governed by granular controls, meaning you retain complete control over what is seen.
If you head to to sign up, you’ll find that there’s more than one Mastodon.  While they’re all connected, the various instances of Mastodon (all running on separate servers, administered by volunteers donating spare server resources) offer different experiences.

I’m not sure what this means.  Should I be amused or worried?  Is laptop usage similar? 
Report: Smartphone owners are using 9 apps per day, 30 per month
Smartphone users are spending more time in apps than in years past, and now access over 30 apps on a monthly basis, according to a new report from App Annie out this week.  These 30 apps work out to being roughly one-third to one-half of the apps users have installed on their smartphones.  And using those apps is a daily habit, as people now launch an average of at least 9 apps per day, the report found.

Perspective.  “What’s good for General Bullmoose is good for the U.S.A.”  So, what does Amazon think is good for it? 
Drone home: Amazon to triple R&D staff at Cambridge base
Amazon is to more than triple its research and development team in Cambridge working on tech innovations such as its Alexa digital assistant, delivery drones and Echo smart speaker.
The US online retailer is opening a new building in the city with room for 400 experts in mathematical modelling, speech science, machine learning and “knowledge engineering”.

More Than Half of Americans Have Cut Landline Phone Service
The trend to drop landlines has been growing over the last decade alongside the growth in mobile phone use, according to semi-annual surveys performed by the Centers for Disease Control, which wants to monitor how to contact people for future surveys.  But it wasn't until the end of 2016 that a majority of all households relied solely on mobile phones.
In the CDC survey for the second half of 2016, 50.8% of households had only mobile service, up from 48.3% a year earlier.  Another 39.4% of households had both types of service and 6.5% had landlines only.  The survey, released on Thursday, found 3.2% of homes had no phone connection of any kind.

Perspective.  Or, as my wife said, “Huh.”
Crooks Are After the Grease From Your French Fries
   Stealing old vegetable oil that’s been used to cook chicken nuggets and french fries sounds a little gross.  But a black market for the golden gunk is growing as U.S. refiners process record amounts of grease to comply with government mandates for renewable fuels.  Last year, 1.4 billion pounds (635,000 metric tons) were turned into biodiesel -- or 3.84 million pounds a day.
   All that demand growth has impacted prices.  The benchmark for yellow grease this week was around 25 cents a pound, which is more than triple what it was in April 2000, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show.  The commodity got as high as 47.75 cents in 2011, when crude oil was over $100 a barrel and the pump price of gasoline was almost $4 a gallon.

For my students.  This concept seems to confuse them.  They think any company they’ve heard of must be profitable.

One for the toolkit.  
There are many ways to watch online videos, but this post isn’t about watching YouTube or Vimeo videos in the normal way.  Instead, we’re going to watch them frame-by-frame and in slow motion.  There are two free web services that make this possible.  It’s up to you which one you use.

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