Monday, May 21, 2018
Are there devices that are not being used by the police?
Potential Spy Devices Which Track Cellphones, Intercept Calls Found All Over DC MD VA
NBC News4 I-Team – Washington, DC – “The technology can be as small as a suitcase, placed anywhere at any time, and it’s used to track cell phones and intercept calls. The News4 I-Team found dozens of potential spy devices while driving around Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia. “While you might not be a target yourself, you may live next to someone who is. You could still get caught up,” said Aaron Turner, a leading mobile security expert. The device, sometimes referred to by the brand name StingRay, is designed to mimic a cell tower and can trick your phone into connecting to it instead. The News4 I-Team asked Turner to ride around the capital region with special software loaded onto three cell phones, with three different carriers, to detect the devices operating in various locations. “So when you see these red bars, those are very high-suspicion events,” said Turner. If you live in or near the District, your phone has probably been tracked at some point, he said. A recent report by the Department of Homeland Security called the spy devices a real and growing risk. And the I-Team found them in high-profile areas like outside the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue and while driving across the 14th Street bridge into Crystal City. The I-Team got picked up twice while driving along K Street — the corridor popular with lobbyists. “It looks like they don’t consider us to be interesting, so they’ve dropped us,” Turner remarked looking down at one of his phones. Every cellphone has a unique identifying number. The phone catcher technology can harness thousands of them at a time. DHS has warned rogue devices could prevent connected phones from making 911 calls, saying, “If this type of attack occurs during an emergency, it could prevent victims from receiving assistance.” “Absolutely. That’s a worry,” said D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh, adding that the spy technology should be a concern for all who live and work in the District. The I-Team’s test phones detected 40 potential locations where the spy devices could be operating, while driving around for just a few hours…”
I had not considered the benefits to this ‘industry.’
WaPo – Technology has made the repo man ruthlessly efficient
Washington Post – “Technology has made the repo man ruthlessly efficient, allowing this familiar angel of financial calamity to capitalize on a dark corner of the United States’ strong economy: the soaring number of people falling behind on their car payments.”
“…Derek Lewis works for Relentless Recovery, the largest repo company in Ohio and its busiest collector of license plate scans. Last year, the company repossessed more than 25,500 vehicles — including tractor trailers and riding lawn mowers. Business has more than doubled since 2014, the company said. Even with the rising deployment of remote engine cutoffs and GPS locators in cars, repo agencies remain dominant. Relentless scanned 28 million license plates last year, a demonstration of its recent, heavy push into technology. It now has more than 40 camera-equipped vehicles, mostly spotter cars. Agents are finding repos they never would have a few years ago. The company’s goal is to capture every plate in Ohio and use that information to reveal patterns… “It’s kind of scary, but it’s amazing,” said Alana Ferrante, chief executive of Relentless… Repo agents are responsible for the majority of the billions of license plate scans produced nationwide. But they don’t control the information. Most of that data is owned by Digital Recognition Network (DRN), a Fort Worth company that is the largest provider of license-plate-recognition systems. And DRN sells the information to insurance companies, private investigators — even other repo agents. DRN is a sister company to Vigilant Solutions, which provides the plate scans to law enforcement, including police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Both companies declined to respond to questions about their operations… For repo companies, one worry is whether they are producing information that others are monetizing…”
I wonder if I could integrate Fakey into my Computer Security class. (Probably, yes.)
3 new tools to study and counter online disinformation
Indiana University Bloomington: “Researchers at CNetS, IUNI, and the Indiana University Observatory on Social Media have launched upgrades to two tools playing a major role in countering the spread of misinformation online: Hoaxy and Botometer. A third tool Fakey — an educational game designed to make people smarter news consumers — also launches with the upgrades. Hoaxy is a search engine that shows users how stories from low-credibility sources spread on Twitter. Botometer is an app that assigns a score to Twitter users based on the likelihood that the account is automated. The two tools are not integrated so that one can now easily detect when information is spreading virally, and who is responsible for its spread. Hoaxy and Botometer currently process hundreds of thousands of daily online queries. The technology has enabled researchers, including a team at IU, to study how information flows online in the presence of bots. Examples are a study on the cover of the March issue of Science that analyzed the spread of false news on Twitter and an analysis from the Pew Research Center in April that found that nearly two-thirds of the links to popular websites on Twitter are shared by automated accounts. Fakey is a web and mobile news literacy game that mixes news stories with false reports, clickbait headlines, conspiracy theories and “junk science.” Players earn points by “fact-checking” false information and liking or sharing accurate stories. The project, led by IU graduate student Mihai Avram, was created to help people develop responsible social media consumption habits. An Android app is available, and an iOS versions will launch shortly…”
Soon, all chatbot speech will be indistinguishable from human speech.
Microsoft acquires conversational AI startup Semantic Machines to help bots sound more lifelike
Microsoft announced today that it has acquired Semantic Machines, a Berkeley-based startup that wants to solve one of the biggest challenges in conversational AI: making chatbots sound more human and less like, well, bots.
Perspective. What is a good number? How much do we spend to predict/prevent school shootings?
The Unknown Cost of America’s Counterterrorism Efforts
A Stimson Center working group released a study last week on the costs of America’s counterterrorism efforts, and it found about what you’d expect: nearly 17 years after 9/11, we still don’t know exactly how much we have spent, but it’s a ton. Over $2.8 trillion, at least. The staggering numbers grabbed headlines on Wednesday, as they should. With this struggle closing in on the two-decade mark, we need to have a frank accounting of the threats we face and how much spending is enough to keep Americans safe. But beyond the matter of raw dollars spent, the report raises deeper questions about what counts as counterterrorism and whether our funding matches our strategy.
… What at first glance might appear to be a bean counting exercise is anything but. At a deeper level, this is about our strategy and priorities in what we once aptly called the long war. For example, my working group colleague John Mueller sees the terrorist threat as dramatically less severe than I do, but he nonetheless makes strong points, grounded in economic analysis, to argue that we are overspending compared to the threat. In Mueller’s estimation, our counterterrorism efforts would need to have saved at least 250,000 lives to justify the expenditures we have made. These are direct costs only. Mueller goes further in arguing that the indirect economic costs of, for example, longer lines at airports and border crossings and increased security at high profile venues have cost us many billions more dollars.
Perspective. The latest infographic.
How Much Data Do We Create Every Day? The Mind-Blowing Stats Everyone Should Read
The amount of data we produce every day is truly mind boggling. There are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day at our current pace, but that pace is only accelerating with the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). Over the last two years alone 90 percent of the data in the world was generated.
(Related) and this is just the UK.
Public can now search UK government’s entire digital archive
BusinessCloud: “The British government’s entire online presence comprising billions of web pages has been indexed and digitally archived to the cloud for the first time. Manchester tech firm MirrorWeb has devised an all-new indexing to create an accessible, searchable and user-friendly resource for the public. The National Archives’ gigantic 120TB web archive encompasses billions of web pages – from every government department website and social media account – from 1996 to the present. It took MirrorWeb – named among our 101 Rising Stars of the UK Start-up Scene last year – just two weeks to transfer the data from 72 hard drives at The National Archives to internal hard drives before transferring and digitally archiving more than two decades of government internet history to the cloud. As part of a four-year contract, MirrorWeb was tasked with both moving the data to the cloud using Amazon Web Services as well as indexing it. Indexing the data meant that MirrorWeb had to write a complete replacement for the UK Government Web Archives’ previous search functionality. As a result, 1.4bn documents were indexed and are now accessible and searchable to researchers, students and the members of the public who need to use them, enabling them to view websites and social media content in their original form as well as search for content on specific topics. John Sheridan, digital director of The National Archives, said: “We are preserving 1,000 years of British history and a big part of that is preserving the digital record of government today…”
One must choose nicknames carefully…