Monday, April 09, 2018

Never a good idea. Leave this to the pros.
Cisco Switches in Iran, Russia Hacked in Apparent Pro-US Attack
Cisco devices belonging to organizations in Russia and Iran have been hijacked via their Smart Install feature. The compromised switches had their IOS image rewritten and their configuration changed to display a U.S. flag using ASCII art and the message “Don’t mess with our elections…”
The hackers, calling themselves “JHT,” told Motherboard that they wanted to send a message to government-backed hackers targeting “the United States and other countries.” They claim to have only caused damage to devices in Iran and Russia, while allegedly patching most devices found in countries such as the U.S. and U.K.
Iran’s Communication and Information Technology Ministry stated that the attack had impacted roughly 3,500 switches in the country, but said a vast majority were quickly restored.

Kicking around some scenarios with my Computer Security class.
The Moscow Midterms
The following is a rendering of what a worst-case Election Day scenario could look like, based on FiveThirtyEight’s interviews with voting and cybersecurity experts and state election officials, along with news reports and documents in the public record.

(How) Will Facebook Self-Regulate “Issue Ads” Intended to Affect U.S. Elections? The Details Matter a Lot
Via the NY Times comes news that Facebook will not only support passage of the Honest Ads Act (currently pending in committee where it may stay), but will also self-regulate “issue ads.” The self-regulation is important, because it may be that some government regulation in this area is unconstitutional.
… But Facebook is not a government actor, and it can choose to exclude these ads if paid for by foreign governments, or require disclosure of them. There’s no First Amendment problem with that at all, but it’s not clear exactly how this will work.

Free is good!
Berkeley offers its fastest-growing course – data science – online, for free
Berkeley News: “The fastest-growing course in UC Berkeley’s history — Foundations of Data Science — is being offered free online this spring for the first time through the campus’s online education hub, edX. Data science is becoming important to more and more people because the world is increasingly data-driven — and not just science and tech but the humanities, business and government. “You’ll learn to program when studying data science — but not for the primary purpose of building apps or games,” says Berkeley computer science Professor John DeNero. “Instead, we use programming to understand the world around us.” The course — Data 8X (Foundations of Data Science) — covers everything from testing hypotheses, applying statistical inferences, visualizing distributions and drawing conclusions, all while coding in Python and using real-world data sets. One lesson might take economic data from different countries over the years to track global economic growth. The next might use a data set of cell samples to create a classification algorithm that can diagnose breast cancer. (Learn more from a video on the Berkeley data science website.)

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