Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Something for my Computer Security students to ponder. How do you check third party source code?
FBI Software For Analyzing Fingerprints Contains Russian-Made Code, Whistleblowers Say
In a secret deal, a French company purchased code from a Kremlin-connected firm, incorporated it into its own software, and hid its existence from the FBI, according to documents and two whistleblowers. The allegations raise concerns that Russian hackers could compromise law enforcement computer systems.
… Cybersecurity experts said the danger of using the Russian-made code couldn’t be assessed without examining the code itself.

How will they do this? Lots of “fake news?”
Vietnam unveils 10,000-strong cyber unit to combat 'wrong views'
HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam has unveiled a new, 10,000-strong military cyber warfare unit to counter “wrong” views on the Internet, media reported, amid a widening crackdown on critics of the one-party state.
… The number of staff compares with the 6,000 reportedly employed by North Korea. However, the general’s comments suggest its force may be focused largely on domestic internet users whereas North Korea is internationally focused because the internet is not available to the public at large.
… Cyber security firm FireEye Inc said Vietnam had “built up considerable cyber espionage capabilities in a region with relatively weak defenses”.
… “Cyber espionage is increasingly attractive to nation states, in part because it can provide access to a significant amount of information with a modest investment, plausible deniability and limited risk,” he added.

Interesting. Too much data?
The Library of Congress will no longer archive every tweet
The Library of Congress just announced some changes to its long-running plan to archive all of Twitter. On December 31st, 2017, it will stop archiving all tweets and instead choose certain tweets to archive on a “very selective basis,” Gizmodo reports. The decision was announced in a recently published white paper that reads “the tweets collected and archived will be thematic and event-based, including events such as elections, or themes of ongoing national interest, e.g. public policy.”
The LOC first announced its plans to create a single searchable archive of every public tweet more than seven years ago, but the project has stalled for a few years. In 2013, the organization published a white paper attributing the delay to budget issues and a lack of software. Twitter’s terms of agreement also prohibits “substantial proportions” of its website from being made downloadable.
By 2016, the archive still hadn’t launched. At the time, The Atlantic reported that no engineers had been assigned to the project, which was massive and messy. And as the number of tweets posted daily grew from 55 million in 2010 to 500 million in 2012, the project grew even more unwieldy, according to The Atlantic.
In this month’s white paper, the LOC attributes the decision to narrow the project’s scope to the fact that “the nature of Twitter has changed over time.” As Gizmodo points out, the LOC also had only been collecting text, which renders a large number of tweets with photo and video essentially worthless to the archive.

This is a joke, right? Please?
Seen on Twitter:
My aunt got a google home for Xmas & she already has “Alexa”. This morning we were messing around with the google home and asked, “okay google what do you think of Alexa” and it answered “I like her blue light” and from across the room Alexa turned on and said “thanks”. im scared
You can read more of the thread that tweet started here.

So, at some point, I may need a phone or one of those wrist band fitness thingies to pay?
Is it legal for a business in US to refuse cash as a form of payment?
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System: Is it legal for a business in the United States to refuse cash as a form of payment? [Useful information – I generally pay with cash and have increasingly encountered the response – we take credit/debit cards or you can use an app]
“Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled “Legal tender,” states: “United States coins and currency [including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks] are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues.” This statute means that all United States money as identified above is a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether to accept cash unless there is a state law which says otherwise.”
See also The New York Times – Cash Might Be King, but They Don’t Care. [h/t Pete Weiss]

Another trend I’m not following. Not sure if that’s because I don’t care or just because I’m old. I’m going with “don’t care.”
The Echo Dot was the best-selling product on all of Amazon this holiday season

...and it looks like I’m still using another obsolete technology. Dang!
The Rise and Fall of the Blog
New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof was one of the first to start blogging for one of the most well-known media companies in the world. Yet on December 8th, he declared his blog was being shut down, writing, “we’ve decided that the world has moved on from blogs—so this is the last post here.”
The death knell of blogs might seem surprising to anyone who was around during their heyday. Back in 2008, Daniel W. Drezner and Henry Farrell wrote in Public Choice, Blogs appear to be a staple of political commentary, legal analysis, celebrity gossip, and high school angst.” A Mother Jones writer who “flat out declared, ‘I hate blogs’…also admitted, ‘I gorge myself on these hundreds of pieces of commentary like so much candy.'”
Blogs exploded in popularity fast. According to Drezner and Farrell, in 1999, there were an estimated 50 blogs dotted around the internet. By 2007, a blog tracker theorized there were around seventy million.

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