Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Is this a Cold War FBI policy? We know the targets, we know some of the techniques, are we ready for the next round?
Cynthia McFadden, William M. Arkin, Kevin Monahan, and Ken Dilanian report:
The U.S. intelligence community developed substantial evidence that state websites or voter registration systems in seven states were compromised by Russian-backed covert operatives prior to the 2016 election — but never told the states involved, according to multiple U.S. officials.
Top-secret intelligence requested by President Barack Obama in his last weeks in office identified seven states where analysts — synthesizing months of work — had reason to believe Russian operatives had compromised state websites or databases.
Three senior intelligence officials told NBC News that the intelligence community believed the states as of January 2017 were Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin.
Read more on NBC, as their coverage goes beyond just these seven states, and they are reporting on a very concerning issue, even if, as they report, “All state and federal officials who spoke to NBC News agree that no votes were changed and no voters were taken off the rolls.” At least for those seven states. But what about the others? So far, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence of successful penetration much less data tampering, but was 2016 just a test run for something more in 2018?

No honesty among thieves?
Thanatos Ransomware Makes Data Recovery Impossible
A newly discovered ransomware family is generating a different encryption key for each of the encrypted files but saves none of them, thus making data recovery impossible.
Dubbed Thanatos, the malware was discovered by MalwareHunterTeam and already analyzed by several other security researchers.
When encrypting files on a computer, the malware appends the .THANATOS extension to them. After completing the encryption, the malware connects to a specific URL to report back, thus allowing attackers to keep track of the number of infected victims.
The malware also generates an autorun key to open the ransom note every time the user logs in. In that note, the victim is instructed to send $200 to a listed crypto-coin address. Victims are also instructed to contact the attackers via email to receive a decryption program.
Thanatos’ operators allow victims to pay the ransom in Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Bitcoin Cash, thus becoming the first ransomware to accept Bitcoin Cash payments, Bleeping Computer’s Lawrence Abrams points out.
The issue with the new ransomware is that it, because it doesn’t save the encryption keys, files cannot be decrypted normally. However, victims don’t know that and might end up paying the ransom in the hope they can recover their files.

Something my Data Management students should kick around for a while.
Epic failure of data integration allowed 17 people to be murdered in Parkland
Leaving the gun debate to others, I propose that we focus on something more easily fixable about the Florida shooting: the epic failure of data integration that allowed this tragedy to happen.
“Every single red flag was present. If this kid was missed, there is no system.”
Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein is right – there was a staggering amount of information available in multiple databases about Nikolas Cruz. But it wasn’t connected.

Minority Report” is already here.
About to Break the Law? Chinese Police Are Already On To You
Authorities in China’s troubled, heavily surveilled region of Xinjiang are deploying a platform that marshals the troves of data being collected to identify and pre-emptively detain potential troublemakers, according to a rights group.
Human Rights Watch said Tuesday the “predictive policing” platform combines feeds from surveillance cameras with other personal data such as phone use, travel records and religious orientation, and then analyzes the information to identify suspicious individuals.

(Related) ...and not just in China.
Palantir has secretly been using New Orleans to test its predictive policing technology
Palantir deployed a predictive policing system in New Orleans that even city council members don’t know about
… According to Ronal Serpas, the department’s chief at the time, one of the tools used by the New Orleans Police Department to identify members of gangs like 3NG and the 39ers came from the Silicon Valley company Palantir. The company provided software to a secretive NOPD program that traced people’s ties to other gang members, outlined criminal histories, analyzed social media, and predicted the likelihood that individuals would commit violence or become a victim. As part of the discovery process in Lewis’ trial, the government turned over more than 60,000 pages of documents detailing evidence gathered against him from confidential informants, ballistics, and other sources — but they made no mention of the NOPD’s partnership with Palantir, according to a source familiar with the 39ers trial.

Another step toward automating the legal business?
New on LLRX – From Judging Lawyers to Predicting Outcomes
Via LLRXFrom Judging Lawyers to Predicting OutcomesItai Gurari discusses Judicata’s latest technology solution – Clerk – that evaluates briefs filed in court, grading them on three dimensions: Arguments, Drafting, and Context. The grading reflects factors like how strong the brief’s arguments are, how persuasive the relied upon cases are, and the extent to which the brief cites precedent that supports the desired outcome.

We could do this here. Just saying…
From IDF to Inc: The Israeli Cybersecurity Startup Conveyor Belt

Perspective. Big tech companies see opportunity in Health Care?
Google sister-company Verily is plotting a move into a fast-growing corner of the health insurance industry
  • Verily's new hires and partnerships point to a move into health insurance.
  • The company is looking to take on risk for patient populations and sharing in the upside if it can bring down health-care costs, sources tell CNBC.
  • The opportunity is currently in the tens of billions, with the potential to grow into a trillion dollar market.

What is it worth to Amazon to be able to enter your home?
Amazon To Purchase Video Doorbell Maker Ring For Over $1 Billion

(Related) Cheaper than an ambulance?
Passengers Who Call Uber Instead Of An Ambulance Put Drivers At Risk
A recent (yet to be peer-reviewed) study found that, after Uber enters new markets, the rates of ambulance rides typically go down, meaning fewer people call professionals in favor of the cheaper option. People have always taken taxis to the hospital — there’s the classic example of the woman going into labor in the back of a cab — but ride-hail technology makes it much easier, especially in less densely populated cities. This money-saving tactic might make sense for people in noncritical condition, but it puts ride-hail drivers in an uncomfortable position. They’re forced to choose between assuming potential legal liability if something goes wrong, or dealing with a sense of guilt and the fear of getting a lower rating if they decline or cancel the ride.

Perspective. And you thought only their brains were atrophying,,,
Children struggle to hold pencils due to too much tech, doctors say
The “Children are increasingly finding it hard to hold pens and pencils because of an excessive use of technology, senior paediatric doctors have warned. An overuse of touchscreen phones and tablets is preventing children’s finger muscles from developing sufficiently to enable them to hold a pencil correctly, they say. “Children are not coming into school with the hand strength and dexterity they had 10 years ago,” said Sally Payne, the head paediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England foundation NHS Trust. “Children coming into school are being given a pencil but are increasingly not be able to hold it because they don’t have the fundamental movement skills….”
“It’s easier to give a child an iPad than encouraging them to do muscle-building play such as building blocks, cutting and sticking, or pulling toys and ropes. Because of this, they’re not developing the underlying foundation skills they need to grip and hold a pencil.”
I cannot help but say, I told you so – it is not only kids who cannot hold pencils or pens and actually write on paper anymore – it is adults as well. And how many people do you know (excluding librarians please) who actually type – with two hand over a keyboard, using all their respective fingers (I am raising my hand but you cannot see me) – and I own so many pens that I am afraid of being shamed for what is considered an odd collection of otherwise “useless objects.” I actually use them daily to write real cards – to people I know – and to take notes – every day – but then – I am a librarian/researcher/knowledge manager – who does not own a phone that I can “swipe.” I have an 8 year old “smartphone” with whom I have an increasingly contentious relationship – but I digress. If people do not use the muscles in their hands, will they eventually be of no use (an unimaginable fate for some, most..of us?).

For my techies.
A funny look at the unintended consequences of technology | Chuck Nice
Technology should work for us, but what happens when it doesn't? Comedian Chuck Nice explores the unintended consequences of technological advancement and human interaction -- with hilarious results.

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