|Hot Links to Hell Town|
Thu Sep 12, 2013"FBI spokesperson Christopher Allen told Mashable, "We are only talking about lawful, court-ordered intercepts in on-going investigations, the FBI might explain what obligations a company may have to comply with a court order and what is required pursuant to each order, but it is the responsibility of the company named in the court order to develop the means to perform the lawful intercept."
Mon Jul 8, 2013"The security agreement for Global Crossing, whose fiber-optic network connected 27 nations and four continents, required the company to have a “Network Operations Center” on U.S. soil that could be visited by government officials with 30 minutes of warning. Surveillance requests, meanwhile, had to be handled by U.S. citizens screened by the government and sworn to secrecy — in many cases prohibiting information from being shared even with the company’s executives and directors."
Sun May 26, 2013"Fox News Channel president Roger Ailes wrote a letter to employees on Thursday saying "the administration's attempt to intimidate Fox News and its employees will not succeed and their excuses will stand neither the test of law, the test of decency, nor the test of time.""
Florida quietly shortened yellow light standards & lengths, resulting in more red light camera tickets
Wed May 15, 2013"A subtle, but significant tweak to Florida's rules regarding traffic signals has allowed local cities and counties to shorten yellow light intervals, resulting in millions of dollars in additional red light camera fines."
Thu Jan 10, 2013"The "connected shooter" goal of the PGF system in many ways lines up with the Army's limping, on-again-off-again Land Warrior program. However, the very nature of the government contract and procurement process ensures that any technology developed for military use must go through an incredibly lengthy and convoluted development process, meeting shifting and sometimes outdated design goals along the way. TrackingPoint said that its goal is to produce the technology first, and then find the market and applications once it actually had something ready to go—and this is what it has done."
Fri Dec 7, 2012"Founded in 2010, Drawbridge is using statistical methods that rely on anonymous data to track people as they move between their smartphones, tablets and PCs. The company’s technology has attracted attention both because of its high-profile backers—Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital, two top Silicon Valley funders, have invested $6.5 million—and because it claims its approach will protect an individual’s privacy while also filling an important gap in the still-nascent mobile advertising technology market."
Fri Dec 7, 2012"There's been a push from government agencies, navigation equipment companies, and smartphone manufacturers to wring additional accuracy and performance out of the Global Positioning System's network of satellites. Part of that effort has included using a network of GPS-fixed reference stations to build an ever-improving model of satellite orbit data, which can be used to help GPS systems pick the right satellites to connect to get a quicker fix."
Sun Nov 18, 2012"High-speed wireless data networks are vulnerable to a simple jamming technique that could block service across much of a city, according to research findings provided to a federal agency last week. The high-bandwidth mobile network technology LTE (long-term evolution) is rapidly spreading around the world. But researchers show that just one cheap, battery-operated transmitter aimed at tiny portions of the LTE signal could knock out a large LTE base station serving thousands of people. If LTE networks were to be compromised, existing 3G and 2G networks would still operate—but those older networks are gradually being phased out."
Wed Oct 31, 2012"Police are allowed in some circumstances to install hidden surveillance cameras on private property without obtaining a search warrant, a federal judge said yesterday. U.S. District Judge William Griesbach ruled that it was reasonable for Drug Enforcement Administration agents to enter rural property without permission -- and without a warrant -- to install multiple "covert digital surveillance cameras" in hopes of uncovering evidence that 30 to 40 marijuana plants were being grown. This is the latest case to highlight how advances in technology are causing the legal system to rethink how Americans' privacy rights are protected by law. In January, the Supreme Court rejected warrantless GPS tracking after previously rejecting warrantless thermal imaging, but it has not yet ruled on warrantless cell phone tracking or warrantless use of surveillance cameras placed on private property without permission."
Wed Oct 31, 2012"Tests have been carried out to see whether military drones can mix safely in the air with passenger planes. The tests involved a Predator B drone fitted with radio location systems found on domestic aircraft that help them spot and avoid other planes. The tests will help to pave the way for greater use of drones in America's domestic airspace. The flight tests took place off the coast of Florida in early August, but details have only just been released."
Fri Oct 19, 2012"The new Wi-Fi-only Chromebook comes in at $250, which is great value. Now it appears that an $80 supplement will secure 3G connectivity, along with up to 100MB of free data per month from Verizon. Otherwise it all looks the same."
Thu Oct 11, 2012"Applied Research Associates, has just launched a public website as part of an effort, sponsored by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (Iarpa), to understand the potential knowledge benefits of crowdsourcing for predicting future events. Like Darpa, its better-known counterpart in the Pentagon, Iarpa funds research ideas that could eventually transition to the greater intelligence community."
Fri Sep 28, 2012"For what it's worth, we hear from Google haters all the time that it somehow refuses to take down Ads on "pirate sites." This experience seems to suggest the exact opposite: that Google is overly aggressive in trying to block ads showing up in any way, shape or form, near sites that it has deemed to be problematic, even if the content is 100% guaranteed legal and authorized. Combine that with Google's horrendous customer service-by-bot, and you have an unfortunate situation where an author is being punished for doing something perfectly legal and can't seem to find a human at Google who will actually take the time to understand what's going on. These are the reasons why we get so nervous when Google cranks up its "automation" at the insistence of Hollywood. The collateral damage is very real."
Mon Sep 24, 2012"In January, New Jersey launched new face recognition software that forbids license applicants from smiling widely or making other exaggerated facial expressions that might confuse the computer. The goal is to catch fraudsters. If a new photo, for example, matches an old one that carries a different name, a red flag goes up, and investigators step in. Said Mike Horan, spokesman for the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, "This helps us weed out fraud. If facial expressions vary greatly in photos of the same person, the software could incorrectly signal a problem. Slight smiles are OK. Hey-I-won-the-lottery-type smiles" are not", Horan said. "To get an accurate photo, you don't want an excessively expressive face in the photo." Most states use the face-recognition technology - and some even require fingerprints, according to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators."
Sun Sep 23, 2012"The FBI is renewing its request for new Internet surveillance laws, saying technological advances hinder surveillance and warning that companies should be required to build in back doors for police. "We must ensure that our ability to obtain communications pursuant to court order is not eroded," FBI director Robert Mueller told a U.S. Senate committee this week. Currently, he said, many communications providers "are not required to build or maintain intercept capabilities."
Tue Sep 11, 2012"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel harshly criticized the Obama administration on Tuesday over recent statements that the United States would not set deadlines or draw “red lines” for Iran over its disputed uranium enrichment activities, calling such comments a signal to the Iranians that they could build atomic bombs with impunity. Mr. Netanyahu’s remarks laid bare a thinly disguised disagreement between the United States and Israel over how to deal with Iran, and they threatened to elevate the Iranian uranium enrichment program as a virulent campaign issue less than two months before the American presidential elections."
Mon Sep 10, 2012"Shalf had always thought that the Google’s of the world needed to connect their servers to a lot of different computers all over the internet. But as Koley described it, Google’s traffic patterns were a lot more like Lawrence Berkeley’s. In fact, the vast majority of traffic on Google’s networks doesn’t go to the outside world. It’s routed between computers inside the data center. “When he said that 80 percent of their traffic was internal-facing, that just was like a lighting bolt through my brain that, wow, they’re starting to look like us."
Mon Sep 10, 2012"In an effort to curb online piracy, the search giant is censoring Web sites in its Instant and Autocomplete feature "that are frequently used to find content that infringes copyrights." On Google's Autocomplete help page, it says, "While we always strive to algorithmically reflect the diversity of content on the web (some good, some objectionable), we also apply a narrow set of removal policies for pornography, violence, hate speech, and terms that are frequently used to find content that infringes copyrights."
Sat Sep 8, 2012"We've never see a group use so many zero-days," said Cox in an interview today. "We were amazed when Stuxnet used four zero-days, but this group has been able to discover eight zero-days. More, the fact that they have prepared [their attacks] and are ready to go as soon as they have a new zero-day, and the speed with which they use these zero-days, is something we've not seen before." The Elderwood gang specializes in finding and exploiting zero-days in Microsoft's IE browser and Adobe's Flash Player."
Sat Sep 8, 2012"Whatever happened to the group of attackers that successfully hacked into Google in 2009? That attack, first disclosed by Google in January 2010 and later dubbed "Operation Aurora"--for the Aurora (a.k.a. Hydraq) Trojan horse application used--was described at the time by Google as "a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google." The attack became the basis for what's now generally referred to as the advanced persistent threat (APT), meaning an exploit that's been launched by a technologically astute as well as patient attacker. Three years later, it turns out that the gang behind the Aurora attacks is still at large, and apparently more technologically advanced than ever."
Wed Sep 5, 2012"Imagine you're on the board of directors of a company having a CEO who is not meeting his numbers and suffering a declining popularity with his customers. You want to help this CEO recover, but then learn he doesn’t want your help. He is smarter than you and eager to tell you this. Confidence or misplaced arrogance? If the company was performing well, you’d ignore it. But the company is performing poorly, so you can’t. With some digging, you learn, to your horror, that the troubled CEO spends a lot of time on — what the hell? — bowling? Golf? Three point shots? While the company is going south? What do you do? You fire that CEO. Clint Eastwood was right. You let the guy go."
Wed Sep 5, 2012"Its algorithm weighs your personal tastes and repurchasing habits against those of your peers: if the code senses you'll be relatively stingy, you'll get a better discount. The analysis could even factor in the nature of the content itself. A thoughtful movie, ownership of the soundtrack or just a lot of related searches could lead to a repurchase at the usual price, while a simple action flick with no previous interest may bring the discount into effect."
Tue Sep 4, 2012"The Android operating system enables Google to gain a considerable amount of personal information and usage data from those that carry smartphones and tablets running the operating system. It is not a huge surprise then that Russia has stripped down Android to make it a viable proposition for its government and military. According to Dmitry Mikhailov, the operating system's project manager, Russia isn't necessarily afraid of Google or the US government stealing data but of leaks. "There is nothing like this operating system on the market. It is hack-proof. There are people who are clamouring for this." While Google doesn't earn significant revenue directly from Android, the data it can access makes the millions shoveled into its development worthwhile."
Tue Sep 4, 2012"While there are certainly highly-skilled and in-demand professionals who are able to parlay their hired-gun status into big paydays or renaissance workers who are mashing up day jobs and dream jobs, those who benefit financially from the gig economy are in the minority. With low-wage occupations set to keep growing – even in economic hotspots such as Silicon Valley – most young workers may be destined to either cycle through a number of temporary positions in search of better wages and working conditions or resign themselves to juggling multiple low-wage jobs in order to support themselves if they aren’t able to find an entry point to the career track before they age out of their recent grad status."
Sun Sep 2, 2012"As Bushnell observes, “Google is a target Everyone wants to hack us.” So some programs that are part of the Ubuntu distribution are banned as potential security risks. These include any program “that calls home” to an outside server. On top of that Google uses its own proprietary in-house user PC network authentication that Bushnell says is “pushing the state of the art in network authentication, because we're such a high profile security target.” Put it all together: the need for top-of-the-line security, high-end PC performance, and the flexibility to meet the desktop needs of both genius developers and newly-hired sales representatives, and it's no wonder that Google uses Ubuntu for its desktop operating system of choice. To quote, Bushnell, “You'd be a fool to use anything but Linux."
Tue Aug 28, 2012"Sometimes the world takes an unfortunate sidestep in the long journey for women's equality. Bic, maker of pens and lighters, just stubbed its toe with Bic for Her, a misguided attempt at making pens appeal to the womanly masses. Bic for Her pen box The pens come in vibrant shades of pink and purple with a grip that is "designed to fit comfortably in a woman's hand." There could have been an outpouring of distaste for this marketing attempt gone awry, but instead Amazon reviewers have rushed to the rescue, pouring out reviews on par with the famous Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon incident."
Tue Aug 28, 2012"Security researcher and blogger Nadim Kobeissi has uncovered evidence that Windows 8 doesn’t just keep a local log of installed programs — it phones home to tell Microsoft every time you install an application. This is a significant expansion of a technology Microsoft introduced in Internet Explorer 9, called SmartScreen. Security advocates, thinking people, and everyone who isn’t Microsoft naturally find this troubling. For one thing, MS now has a database of what every IP is installing. Even if the company takes steps to make that information anonymous, there’s no way the government will ignore a centrally maintained database of activity once it believes it can link an IP address to particular users. This strikes at one of the problems with so-called anonymous data — it’s not actually anonymous. If I know your IP, the apps you install, and the websites you visit, I know an awful lot about you. I may not retain that data, but you can bet that governments and corporations will both want to get their hands on it. The earnings from monetizing the information, and the associated temptation, are potentially huge."
Mon Aug 27, 2012"The big problem is that Windows 8 is configured to immediately tell Microsoft about every app you download and install," Kobeissi wrote. "This is a very serious privacy problem, specifically because Microsoft is the central point of authority and data collection/retention here and therefore becomes vulnerable to being served judicial subpoenas or National Security Letters intended to monitor targeted users." To make matters worse, the install logs are sent to Microsoft and can be snooped by third-parties, the researcher claims, since the mechanism supports the SSLv2 protocol which is known to be breakable. While it's possible to turn off SmartScreen, it's not easy, and the OS will remind you periodically to turn it back on."
Wed Aug 15, 2012"Tiburon, a small but wealthy town just northeast of the Golden Gate Bridge, has an unusual distinction: it was one of the first towns in the country to mount automated license plate readers (LPRs) at its city borders—the only two roads going in and out of town. Effectively, that means the cops are keeping an eye on every car coming and going.The scanners can read 60 license plates per second, then match observed plates against a "hot list" of wanted vehicles, stolen cars, or criminal suspects. Today, tens of thousands of LPRs are being used by law enforcement agencies all over the country—practically every week, local media around the country report on some LPR expansion. But the system's unchecked and largely unmonitored use raises significant privacy concerns. License plates, dates, times, and locations of all cars seen are kept in law enforcement databases for months or even years at a time. In the worst case, the New York State Police keeps all of its LPR data indefinitely."
Sat Aug 11, 2012"Kaspersky security analysts have identified another cyber-threat targeting the Middle East as part of ongoing research into Flame. Named Gauss, it displays all the hallmarks of being part of the same family as Flame (Stuxnet, Duqu) and is compromising financial account and log in information from computer users accessing Lebanese banks, as well as reporting hardware configurations to its creators. "Gauss is a nation state sponsored banking Trojan which carries a warhead of unknown designation. Besides stealing various kinds of data from infected Windows machines, it also includes an unknown, encrypted payload which is activated on certain specific system configurations," said Kaspersky."
Sat Aug 11, 2012"We are young adults, citizens of the United States of America and are deeply concerned about the recent developments with Julian Assange and his attempt at asylum in Ecuador," said the group's self-proclaimed leader, who calls himself Diet Pepsi. The attack comes as WikiLeaks is trying to distribute more emails from the hacking of private security group Stratfor Global Intelligence. This latest batch, released in the last few days, concern the existence of a US-based monitoring system called Trapwire. Trapwire was set up by the Abraxis Corporation, a private security operation fun by former intelligence officers and headed by ex-CIA man Richard Helms."
Sat Aug 11, 2012"Google's nod to Hollywood with its decision to demote in its search results sites accused of copyright infringement raises questions about fairness and the ability of suspected violators to challenge the move. The Motion Picture Association of America has praised the Internet search leader's announcement on Friday, while some advocates of Internet freedom have panned it or had a lukewarm response. Every so often, Google changes its search algorithms and when it does everyone wonders how search results will change. The company says that starting next week, sites with high numbers of removal notices for infringing copyright may appear lower in search results."
Thu Aug 9, 2012"Utilities must hand over customer records — which include credit card numbers, phone numbers and power consumption data — to the authorities without court warrants if drug agents believe they are “relevant” to an investigation, a federal appeals court says. The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 allows the authorities to make demands for that data in the form of an administrative subpoena, with no judicial oversight. In this instance, the Drug Enforcement Administration sought the records of three Golden Valley Electric Association customers in Fairbanks, Alaska suspected of growing marijuana indoors."
Sat Jul 28, 2012"A German judge today found that Motorola's Android-based devices infringe on a Microsoft-held File Allocation Table (FAT) patent. Judge Andreas Voss found that Motorola gadgets infringe on Microsoft's patent for a "common name space for long and short filenames."
Thu Jul 26, 2012"Skype has expanded its cooperation with law enforcement in the United States, making text chats and user information more available to police, according to a new report in the Washington Post. Many have blamed Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype in May 2011, and subsequent technical changes to the VoIP app’s architecture. Citing an anonymous source, The Post said that police surveillance of online chats “had been made since last year.” Skype has not officially confirmed the timeline of the changes, although Microsoft filed for a patent in 2009 that would provide for a means of “legal intercept.” That patent was accepted and published in June 2011."
Tue Jul 17, 2012"We're at a unique time in the history of surveillance: the cameras are everywhere, and we can still see them. Fifteen years ago, they weren't everywhere. Fifteen years from now, they'll be so small we won't be able to see them. Similarly, all the debates we've had about national ID cards will become moot as soon as these surveillance technologies are able to recognize us without us even knowing it."