You are under surveillance right now.
Your cell phone provider tracks your location and knows who’s with you. Your online and in-store purchasing patterns are recorded, and reveal if you’re unemployed, sick, or pregnant. Your e-mails and texts expose your intimate and casual friends. Google knows what you’re thinking because it saves your private searches. Facebook can determine your sexual orientation without you ever mentioning it.
The powers that surveil us do more than simply store this information. Corporations use surveillance to manipulate not only the news articles and advertisements we each see, but also the prices we’re offered. Governments use surveillance to discriminate, censor, chill free speech, and put people in danger worldwide. And both sides share this information with each other or, even worse, lose it to cybercriminals in huge data breaches.
Much of this is voluntary: we cooperate with corporate surveillance because it promises us convenience, and we submit to government surveillance because it promises us protection. The result is a mass surveillance society of our own making. But have we given up more than we’ve gained? In Data and Goliath, security expert Bruce Schneier offers another path, one that values both security and privacy. He shows us exactly what we can do to reform our government surveillance programs and shake up surveillance-based business models, while also providing tips for you to protect your privacy every day. You’ll never look at your phone, your computer, your credit cards, or even your car in the same way again.
Bruce Schneier - author and security technologist - is joined by moderator Jonathan Zittrain, and panelists, Joseph Nye, Sara Watson, Melissa Hathaway, and Yochai Benkler.
More info on this event here: cyber.law.harvard.edu
China attacks the biggest code repository in the world.
After battling a distributed denial of service attack for four days, GitHub on Monday was able to restore normal service levels.
The primary target of the assault is greatfire.org, which is hosted on GitHub. GreatFire has attracted the ire of the Chinese government for offering anticensorship tools, including access to uncensored versions of The New York Times.
“Very clearly, the Cyberspace Administration of China is behind both of the recent DDoS attacks,” GreatFire Co-founder Charles Smith told TechNewsWorld.
With video streaming site Twitch paying lucrative wages to celebrity gamers, it was inevitable—botnet-for-hire services that use hacked computers to fraudulently inflate viewership.
According to a report published Friday by security firm Symantec, underground markets and, in some cases, sites on the open Web host several services promising to generate large viewing audiences on Twitch and other streaming sites. One such service claims that each infected computer can be commandeered to open five separate streams carried on a selected broadcaster’s Twitch channels. (To keep owners of the compromised computers in the dark, the streams are hidden and muted.) Premium services also offer automated “chatters” that interject users’ comments live during the streaming.
Two vendors on a relatively new Dark Web marketplace are selling active Uber usernames and passwords.
On Saturday, Ars verified that “Courvoisier” is claiming to sell these logins for $1 each on the AlphaBay Market, which launched in late 2014. Another vendor, “ThinkingForward,” sells the same items for $5 each.
As Courvoisier writes: “The credentials provided will be a valid login for the Uber website for which you can use to order phones from completely free. (You can find the guide in our store if you’re unaware on the how-to).”
On Friday, Slack, the communications startup, said it had been breached by hackers. That made it the second young company to step forward this week - following Twitch, the hugely popular video streaming service - and disclose it was hacked.
The breaches at the two companies were not as severe as recent attacks at major retailers like Home Depot, or at banks like JPMorgan Chase, but they underscore how young companies are just as much of a target.
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. Such data can fetch as much or in some cases more on the black market than a credit card number.
Whilst oil companies and conservatives fight solar power tooth and claw, in Europe they are literally making hay while the sun shines:
Or close to nothing. When the moon hid the sun for a few hours, the backup natural gas and coal plants switched on. The price of electricity rose briefly. That was it. Solar again showed itself to be a reliable energy source under a tough challenge.
This makes me want to gag. While the article emphasizes the way solar power is being fought in the US, the same could be said for Canada. Utility companies, Big Oil, and of course, the Koch brothers are doing their best to throw up roadblock after roadblock to stop solar power from becoming a reality. In Canada, we have PM Harper and Big Oil doing their best to make the mere concept of renewable energy go away. The fact that they’re literally endangering the planet in the pursuit of profit doesn’t even register.
Robots already stand in for humans in some of the dullest and most dangerous jobs there are, handling everything from painting cars to drilling rocks on Mars. And if you listen to the hype about the potential of drones and autonomous vehicles, it’s just a matter of time before robots do more. These future autonomous handymen and handywomen will deliver packages, take us to the airport, or handle less romantic tasks like shuffling freight containers and helping bedridden patients.
There’s just one problem: robots are dumb.
Despite all of the science fiction over the past half-century that has foretold the coming of intelligent, autonomous mechanical beings that attain consciousness—Neil Blomkamp’s Chappie being the latest—robots generally remain limited to the most basic of programmed tasks. Even the most advanced and deadliest of unmanned aerial vehicles depend heavily on their network tethers back to human beings. Otherwise, they’re nothing more than glorified model aircrafts on autopilot.
Last month, SpaceX launched its first deep space mission when the Falcon 9 rocket carried the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite into orbit.
The mission resulted in some remarkable images being made public, but it also led some commentators to note a possible downside to the new era of privately-funded space exploration. Unlike the photos produced by every NASA mission, all SpaceX photos wouldn’t be in the public domain. NASA photos are generally public domain by default, since works created by the US federal government or its employees can’t be copyrighted.
At the time, Mike Masnick at Techdirt wrote an open letter to Elon Musk, suggesting the best solution would be for the owner of SpaceX to simply put the images in the public domain. Musk has recognized the value of a robust public domain in other contexts, such as when he pledged not to enforce any of Tesla’s patents on electric car technology.
My take? The USTelecom argument falls flat because the companies that are actually innovating broadband services aren’t the ones that are going to sue. The companies who will sue are the reactionary business as usual ISP’s and content aggregates who feel their fiefdoms threatened.
US companies are filing lawsuits against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s recent net neutrality ruling.
The order, which has not taken effect yet, is already being challenged by firms across the United States. As reported by Reuters, the first wave of lawsuits was filed on Monday by companies under the USTelecom umbrella, which argued that the new net neutrality rules are “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.”
The filing argues that the US regulator’s rules also break federal laws, local laws, the constitution and 1934 Communications Act.
Net neutrality, proposed by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, forces Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to grant customers equal broadband and traffic speeds with no regard to the type of traffic which flows through a network — by reclassifying Internet access as a utility in the United States. Under these terms, for example, Comcast is banned from charging Netflix more than Amazon for Internet access or “fast lanes.”
A good post to bookmark because the robots really are coming and there are multiple good speculative articles linked. Save it for a Sunday reading binge.
In the midst of an international freakout about what is to become of us as robots learn to do for free the things humans do to make a living, it’s easy to feel lost in the flurry of papers and panels and general pontification on how terrified we ought to feel about it.
We at Wonkblog have created a repository of evidence on all sides of the debate, and will maintain it as a public service as long as automation anxiety continues to be a thing. To that end, please send worthy contributions to email@example.com.