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Books

Book Review: Future Crimes 23

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes Technology is neutral and amoral. It's the implementers and users who define its use. In Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It, author Marc Goodman spends nearly 400 pages describing the dark side of technology, and those who use it for nefarious purposes. He provides a fascinating overview of how every major technology can be used to benefit society, and how it can also be exploited by those on the other side. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
United Kingdom

Europol Chief Warns About Computer Encryption 155

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-can't-read-this dept.
An anonymous reader writes The law enforcement lobbying campaign against encryption continues. Today it's Europol director Rob Wainwright, who is trying to make a case against encryption. "It's become perhaps the biggest problem for the police and the security service authorities in dealing with the threats from terrorism," he explained. "It's changed the very nature of counter-terrorist work from one that has been traditionally reliant on having good monitoring capability of communications to one that essentially doesn't provide that anymore." This is the same man who told the European Parliament that Europol is not going to investigate the alleged NSA hacking of the SWIFT (international bank transfer) system. The excuse he gave was not that Europol didn't know about it, because it did. Very much so. It was that there had been no formal complaint from any member state.
Security

Startups Increasingly Targeted With Hacks 49

Posted by Soulskill
from the waiting-for-the-easy-marks-to-ripen dept.
ubrgeek writes: Slack, makers of the popular communications software, announced yesterday that they'd suffered a server breach. This follows shortly after a similar compromise of Twitch.tv, and is indicative of a growing problem facing start-up tech companies. As the NY Times reports, "Breaches are becoming a kind of rite of passage for fledgling tech companies. If they gain enough momentum with users, chances are they will also become a target for hackers looking to steal, and monetize, the vast personal information they store on users, like email addresses and passwords."
Communications

How Professional Russian Trolls Operate 260

Posted by Soulskill
from the bridge-related-employment dept.
New submitter SecState writes: Hundreds of full-time, well-paid trolls operate thousands of fake accounts to fill social media sites and comments threads with pro-Kremlin propaganda. A St. Petersburg blogger spent two months working 12-hour shifts in a "troll factory," targeting forums of Russian municipal websites. In an interview, he describes how he worked in teams with two other trolls to create false "debates" about Russian and international politics, with pro-Putin views always scoring the winning point. Of course, with the U.S. government invoking "state secrets" to dismiss a defamation case against the supposedly independent advocacy group United Against a Nuclear Iran, Americans also need to be asking how far is too far when it comes to masked government propaganda.
Facebook

Facebook Makes Messenger a Platform 48

Posted by samzenpus
from the stand-on-your-own-two-feet dept.
Steven Levy writes At Facebook's F8 developer conference, the ascension of the Messenger app was the major announcement. Messenger is no longer just a part of Facebook, but a standalone platform to conduct a wide variety of instant communications, not only with friends, but with businesses you may deal with as well. It will compete with other messaging services such as Snapchat, Line and even Facebook's own WhatsApp by offering a dizzying array of features, many of them fueled by the imagination and self-interest of thousands of outside software developers.
Hardware Hacking

Hack Air-Gapped Computers Using Heat 122

Posted by timothy
from the oh-baby-you're-so-communicative dept.
An anonymous reader writes Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers have discovered a new method to breach air-gapped computer systems called "BitWhisper," which enables two-way communications between adjacent, unconnected PC computers using heat. BitWhisper bridges the air-gap between the two computers, approximately 15 inches apart that are infected with malware by using their heat emissions and built-in thermal sensors to communicate. It establishes a covert, bi-directional channel by emitting heat from one PC to the other in a controlled manner. Also at Wired.
The Courts

First Lawsuits Challenging FCC's New Net Neutrality Rules Arrive 316

Posted by Soulskill
from the early-bird-gets-to-throttle-the-worm's-bandwidth dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A small ISP based in Texas and an industry trade group have become the first to file lawsuits challenging the FCC's recent net neutrality rules. The trade group, USTelecom, argues that the regulations are not "legally sustainable." Alamo Broadband claims it is facing "onerous requirements" by operating under Title II of the Communications Act. Such legal challenges were expected, and are doubtless the first of many — but few expected them to arrive so soon. While some of the new rules were considered "final" once the FCC released them on March 12, others don't go into effect until they're officially published in the Federal Register, which hasn't happened yet.
Security

Nobody Is Sure What Should Count As a Cyber Incident 49

Posted by Soulskill
from the playing-by-hundreds-of-different-rulebooks dept.
chicksdaddy writes: Despite a lot of attention to the problem of cyber attacks against the nation's critical infrastructure, The Christian Science Monitor notes that there is still a lot of confusion about what, exactly, constitutes a "cyber incident" in critical infrastructure circles. The result: many incidents in which software failures affect critical infrastructure may go unreported.

Passcode speaks to security experts like Joe Weiss, who claims to have a list of around 400 incidents in which failures in software and electronic communications lead to a failure of confidentiality, integrity or availability (CIA) — the official definition of a cyber incident. Few of them are considered cyber incidents within critical infrastructure circles, however. His list includes some of the most deadly and destructive public sector accidents of the last two decades. Among them: a 2006 emergency shutdown of Unit 3 at the Browns Ferry nuclear plant in Alabama, the 1999 Olympic Gas pipeline rupture and explosion in Bellingham Washington that killed three people and the 2010 Pacific Gas & Electric gas pipe explosion in San Bruno, Calif., that killed eight people and destroyed a suburban neighborhood.

While official reports like this one about the San Bruno pipeline explosion (PDF) duly note the role software failure played in each incident, they fail to characterize them as 'cyber incidents' or note the cyber-physical aspects of the adverse event. Weiss says he has found many other, similar omissions that continue even today. He argues that applying an IT mindset to critical infrastructure results in operators overlooking weaknesses in their systems. "San Bruno wasn't malicious, but it easily could have been," Weiss notes. "It's a nonmalicious event that killed 8 people and destroyed a neighborhood."
Canada

Leaked Snowden Docs Show Canada's "False Flag" Operations 202

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-wasn't-us dept.
An anonymous reader writes Documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and The Intercept show the extent to which Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) cooperates with the NSA — and perhaps most interestingly details CSEC's "false flag" operations, whereby cyberattacks are designed and carried out with the intention of attribution to another individual, group or nation state. The revelations come in the midst of Canadian controversy regarding the C-51 anti-terrorism bill.
United Kingdom

UK Government Admits Intelligence Services Allowed To Break Into Any System 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the whenever-we-feel-like-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes Recently, Techdirt noted that the FBI may soon have permission to break into computers anywhere on the planet. It will come as no surprise to learn that the U.S.'s partner in crime, the UK, granted similar powers to its own intelligence services some time back. What's more unexpected is that it has now publicly said as much, as Privacy International explains: "The British Government has admitted its intelligence services have the broad power to hack into personal phones, computers, and communications networks, and claims they are legally justified to hack anyone, anywhere in the world, even if the target is not a threat to national security nor suspected of any crime." That important admission was made in what the UK government calls its "Open Response" to court cases started last year against GCHQ.
Communications

How To Encode 2.05 Bits Per Photon, By Using Twisted Light 91

Posted by timothy
from the isn't-that-a-slayer-album? dept.
Thorfinn.au writes Researchers at the University of Rochester and their collaborators have developed a way to transfer 2.05 bits per photon by using "twisted light." [Abstract here.]This remarkable achievement is possible because the researchers used the orbital angular momentum of the photons to encode information, rather than the more commonly used polarization of light. The new approach doubles the 1 bit per photon that is possible with current systems that rely on light polarization and could help increase the efficiency of quantum cryptography systems.
Communications

Taxi Apps Accused of Facilitating Sexual Harassment In Brazil 49

Posted by timothy
from the just-need-you-to-complete-this-form dept.
New submitter André Costa writes The companies responsible for taxi apps Easy Taxi and 99Taxis are being accused of making it too easy for taxi drivers to harass female customers (some news reports — in Portuguese — can be found here, here and here). These apps currently disclose informations such as the client's name, cell phone and address to the driver. One customer that started being harassed through offensive text messages after a ride started an online petition demanding that the companies take effective measures to protect female customers. The petition already collected more than 27,000 signatures, and both Easy Taxi and 99Taxis already announced that they will implement features that will protect clients' privacy. At first, users will be allowed to choose if they want their phone numbers to be disclosed. Within a couple of months, both companies said they will provide VOIP calls, which will eliminate the need to exchange phone numbers.
Communications

Internet of Things Endangered By Inaccurate Network Time, Says NIST 166

Posted by Soulskill
from the turn-left-in-+/-3-minutes dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Current standards of network timekeeping are inadequate to some of the critical systems that are being envisaged for the Internet of Things, according to a report (PDF) by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The report says, "A new economy built on the massive growth of endpoints on the internet will require precise and verifiable timing in ways that current systems do not support. Applications, computers, and communications systems have been developed with modules and layers that optimize data processing but degrade accurate timing." NIST's Chad Boutin likens current network accuracy to an attempt to synchronize watches via the postal system, and suggests that remote medicine and self-driving cars will need far higher standards in order not to put lives at risk. He says, "modern computer programs only have probabilities on execution times, rather than the strong certainties that safety-critical systems require."
Communications

Feds Fine Verizon $3.4 Million Over 911 Service Outage Issues 65

Posted by timothy
from the can't-get-through-to-you dept.
itwbennett writes The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has fined Verizon $3.4 million over its failure to notify police and fire departments during a 911 service outage last year. Under the commission's rules, Verizon and other carriers were required to notify emergency call centers of a six-hour outage that occurred in April. The outage involved multiple carriers and affected over 11 million people in seven states.
Communications

Twitter Adds Tool To Report Tweets To the Police 79

Posted by timothy
from the but-first-this-detour-to-fort-meade dept.
itwbennett writes Twitter is ramping up its efforts to combat harassment with a tool to help users report abusive content to law enforcement. The reports would include the flagged tweet and its URL, the time at which it was sent, the user name and account URL of the person who posted it, as well as a link to Twitter's guidelines on how authorities can request non-public user account information from Twitter. It is left up to the user to forward the report to law enforcement and left up to law enforcement to request the user information from Twitter.
Communications

Full-Duplex Radio Integrated Circuit Could Double Radio Frequency Data Capacity 47

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-use-two-of-them-it's-even-better dept.
Zothecula writes Full-duplex radio communication usually involves transmitters and receivers operating at different frequencies. Simultaneous transmission and reception on the same frequency is the Holy Grail for researchers, but has proved difficult to achieve. Those that have been built have proven complex and bulky, but to be commercially useful in the ever-shrinking world of communications technology, miniaturization is key. To this end, engineers at Columbia University (CU) claim to have created a world-first, full-duplex radio transceiver, all on one miniature integrated circuit.
The Almighty Buck

Global Learning XPRIZE Senior Director Matt Keller Answers Your Questions 4

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-they-are dept.
A couple of weeks ago you had a chance to ask former Vice President of One Laptop per Child, and current Senior Director of the Global Learning XPRIZE Matt Keller about education and the competition. The XPRIZE challenges teams from around the world to develop open source software that will allow children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic with a Grand Prize of $10 million. Below you will find his answers to your questions.
Facebook

This App Lets You Piggyback Facebook's Free Internet To Access Any Site 67

Posted by timothy
from the bits-is-bits dept.
sarahnaomi writes In countries like Zambia, Tanzania, or Kenya, where very few have access to the Internet, Facebook is bringing its own version of the net: Internet.org, an app that gives mobile users free access to certain sites such as Google, Wikipedia and, of course, Facebook. While the initiative has clearly positive goals, it's also been criticized as an "imperialistic" push for Facebook colonies, where novice Internet.org users will grow up thinking their restricted version of the web is the real internet. To fight against that possibility, a 20-year-old developer from Paraguay is working on an app that tunnels the "regular" internet through Facebook Messenger, one of the services free to use on Internet.org's app. This allows Internet.org users to establish a link to the outside, unrestricted internet, circumventing restrictions.
Yahoo!

Yahoo Debuts End-To-End Encryption Email Plugin, Password-Free Logins 213

Posted by Soulskill
from the from-one-end-of-the-internet-to-the-other dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Yahoo has released the source code for a plugin that will enable end-to-end encryption for their email service. They're soliciting feedback from the security community to make sure it's built properly. They plan to roll it out to users by the end of the year.

Yahoo also demonstrated a new authentication system that doesn't use permanent passwords. Instead, they allow you to associate your Yahoo account with your phone, and text you a code on demand any time you need to log in. It's basically just the second step of traditional two-step authentication by itself. But Yahoo says they think it's "the first step to eliminating passwords."
Communications

Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Proper English' 667

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-feel-free-to-continue-screaming-at-random-internet-commenters dept.
Pikoro writes: A recent article in the Wall Street Journal explains why the concept of a "proper" English isn't realistic. Quoting: "It's a perpetual lament: The purity of the English language is under assault. These days we are told that our ever-texting teenagers can't express themselves in grammatical sentences. The media delight in publicizing ostensibly incorrect usage. ... As children, we all have the instinct to acquire a set of rules and to apply them. ... We know that a certain practice is a rule of grammar because it’s how we see and hear people use the language. ... That’s how scholarly linguists work. Instead of having some rule book of what is “correct” usage, they examine the evidence of how native and fluent nonnative speakers do in fact use the language. Whatever is in general use in a language (not any use, but general use) is for that reason grammatically correct. The grammatical rules invoked by pedants aren’t real rules of grammar at all. They are, at best, just stylistic conventions.