Editor’s Note: Please be aware that items are presented here sequentially, based on the date they were originally published, not on when the link was added to this page. New links to published articles are added frequently, but they do not always appear at the top of the list. If you want to keep abreast of new additions, please scan through the list to check for them. Thank you for your interest!
February 28, 2015
Feb. 28, 2015, BostInno: Why Traditional Sex Could Be on Its Way Out, by Rebecca Strong – Robots, remote controls and wearables—oh my. We talk a lot about how technology is transforming our lives. And why shouldn’t we? Mobile devices, social networks, artificial intelligence and other innovations are completely changing the way we communicate, perform our jobs, date people and even raise our families. But we don’t talk as much about how technology is causing a shift in the bedroom—by way of remote-controlled couples’ vibrators, virtual reality Oculus Rift porn and performance-measuring apps. Hell, one expert even claimed in a recent Pew Research AI study that robotic sex partners will be commonplace by 2025. Honestly, does traditional intercourse stand a chance?
Feb . 28, 2015, Dallas Morning News: 3 Texans in Congress take lead roles on cybersecurity issues, by Michael Marks – Recent high-profile Internet attacks on companies such as Sony and the insurance giant Anthem have made cybersecurity policy a bipartisan priority in Congress. But unlike many issues that lawmakers tackle, the problem isn’t overhauling current policy — it’s plotting a new course through largely uncharted territory. Three Texas Republicans have been charged with considering everything from how to respond to attacks sponsored by a foreign government to who would face legal liability for damage caused by a computer attack. “It’s all very cutting edge, kind of a new frontier. A wild West if you will,” said Rep. Michael McCaul of Austin. “It has not been addressed by Congress, and it needs to be.”
McCaul, along with freshman Reps. Will Hurd of San Antonio and John Ratcliffe of Heath, will head committees or subcommittees related to cybersecurity during the 114th Congress. Their task is first to simply identify the most pressing needs on the topic. … The capabilities of cyber-criminals have escalated beyond identity theft or credit card fraud. Rogue states and “hacktivists” threaten critical infrastructure such as power grids and water supplies as well as any other system that uses the Internet. “There have been significant events, but there are far worse scenarios that could happen to us … where you’re really talking about people’s lives immediately at risk,” Ratcliffe said. Hurd asked what would happen, for instance, if cyber-criminals hacked into a wireless network for medical devices. “You tap that network, you alter someone’s insulin shots, boom. You kill a lot of people,” he said. And the U.S. has yet to grapple with the appropriate response for attacks, said Hurd, a former CIA agent. “If North Korea launched a missile into San Francisco Bay, the North Koreans and the American people know how we would respond,” Hurd said. “But what’s a digital-on-digital attack? And what are the appropriate responses?”
February 27, 2015
Feb. 27, 2015, Anadolu Agency (Ankara): Cyber warfare threat rapidly increasing: Experts, by Andrew Jay Rosenbaum – Cyber warfare is on the rise, experts warn. “Cyber warfare is increasing in frequency, scale, and sophistication,” the U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress on Thursday. Clapper said Russia is among the most sophisticated cyber warfare states. “While I can’t go into detail here, the Russian cyber threat is more severe than we’ve previously assessed,” he added. Chinese advanced cyber espionage is “a major threat” and is continuing despite U.S. pressure on Beijing, Clapper said. But not only governments are threatened by cyber weapons. The financial industry, Clapper said, is facing increasing threats from cyber criminals. “Criminals were responsible for cyber intrusions in 2014 in JPMorgan, Home Depot, Target, Neiman Marcus, Anthem, and other U.S. companies,” he said. This year has seen a critical increase in the creation of cyber weapons, Oguz Yilmaz, chief technology officer of the Ankara-based Labris Networks, told The Anadolu Agency on Friday. “We can say cyber weaponization has started and will continually increase in 2015,” Yilmaz said. He also said that terrorists, too, are getting cyber weapon technology.
“The Syrian Electronic Army and ISIS groups are examples, they have claimed responsibility for such incidents,” Yilmaz said, using an abbreviation for the militant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as Daesh. “At the moment, these incidents are at the level of getting control of some web pages and Twitter accounts; these and other non-governmental groups may increase the depth of attacks,” he said. “We see that specially crafted espionage malware and malware-based surveillance operations started to address countries other than the U.S., U.K., China, and Russia,” Yilmaz warned. “We expect cyber espionage will be a standard method for non-war interstate espionage relations. The geopolitical landscape will interfere with cyberspace more.” (Posted on A.T. Feb. 28, 2015)
Feb. 27, 2015, Wall Street Journal: Uber Breach Exposes 50,000 Driver Names and License Numbers, by Scott Austin – The names and drivers-license numbers of about 50,000 Uber drivers were taken in a computer-security breach last year, the company said Friday. The car-hailing service said it discovered the breach of an Uber database in September, determining it occurred in May, and immediately restricted access to the database. The company said it has started notifying affected drivers, but it hasn’t received reports of misuse as a result of the incident.
Feb. 27, 2015, The Diplomat: Iran and the United States Locked in Cyber Combat, by Franz-Stefan Gady – This month the news website The Intercept revealed a new National Security Agency document outlining the ongoing battle between Iran and the United States in cyberspace. The memo, dated from April 2013, was prepared for then N.S.A. director and head of U.S. Cyber Command General Keith B. Alexander and contains a number of talking points for the general’s interaction with the head of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) — the British equivalent to the American N.S.A. Most importantly, the document outlines a cycle of escalating cyberattacks and counter-attacks, first initiated by the Israeli-American Stuxnet attack against Iranian computers:
“Iran continues to conduct distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks against numerous U.S. financial institutions, and is currently in the third phase of a series of such attacks that began in August 2012. SIGINT [signals intelligence] indicates that these attacks are in retaliation to Western activities against Iran’s nuclear sector and that senior officials in the Iranian government are aware of these attacks.”
The memo also outlines what can only be described as a cyber-arms race between the two nations: “NSA expects Iran will continue this series of attacks, which it views as successful, while striving for increased effectiveness by adapting its tactics and techniques to circumvent victim mitigation attempts.”
February 26, 2015
Feb. 26, 2015, Bloomberg Business: Bridgewater Is Said to Start Artificial-Intelligence Team, by Kelly Bit – The world’s largest hedge fund manager is banking on machines. Ray Dalio’s $165 billion Bridgewater Associates will start a new, artificial-intelligence unit next month with about half a dozen people…. The team will report to David Ferrucci, who joined Bridgewater at the end of 2012 after leading the International Business Machines Corp. engineers that developed Watson, the computer that beat human players on the television quiz show “Jeopardy!” The unit will create trading algorithms that make predictions based on historical data and statistical probabilities …. The programs will learn as markets change and adapt to new information, as opposed to those that follow static instructions. … Machine learning gives hedge funds a competitive advantage …, according to Gustavo Dolfino, chief executive officer of recruitment firm WhiteRock Group. “Machine learning is the new wave of investing for the next 20 years and the smart players are focusing on it,” Dolfino said.
Feb. 26, 2015, TechWorld: Google DeepMind advances AI with deep Q-network algorithm, by Rebecca Merrett – DeepMind, which became Google’s subsidiary last year, has taken another step forward in artificial intelligence with an algorithm that can master several games. The algorithm, deep Q-network (DQN), combines deep neural networks and reinforcement learning…. AI developers to date have not fully been able to build an algorithm for machines to master a variety of tasks or disciplines…. DeepMind, however, has found a way for machines to learn a variety of challenging tasks from scratch using a single algorithm, advancing artificial intelligence. It used games as a way to test and demonstrate what its algorithm can do. The algorithm learnt to play 49 Atari 2600 arcade or retro games starting out as a newbie and progressing up to the level of an expert human gamer, without having to modify or re-adjust it each time it learns a new game.
Feb. 26, 2015, The Business Times: Cyber thugs taking data hostage – Marriage therapist Valerie Goss turned on her computer one day and found that all of her data was being held hostage. Malicious code referred to as “ransomware” had encrypted her files and locked them away. Cyber criminals demanded US$500 in hard-to-trace virtual currency Bitcoin to give her the key. The ransom would jump to US$1,000 in Bitcoin if Ms Goss took more than a day to pay. “I felt shocked; like I had been robbed,” the Northern California therapist said. “And, I felt pressed for time to make a rational decision. It felt so surreal.” After online research by her son revealed that in a quarter of more of ransomware cases victims never see their files again even if they pay, Ms Goss refused to pay.
February 25, 2015
Feb. 25, 2015, The Intercept: Canadian Spies Collect Domestic Emails in Secret Security Sweep, by Ryan Gallagher and Glenn Greenwald – Canada’s electronic surveillance agency is covertly monitoring vast amounts of Canadians’ emails as part of a sweeping domestic cybersecurity operation, according to top-secret documents. The surveillance initiative, revealed Wednesday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept, is sifting through millions of emails sent to Canadian government agencies and departments, archiving details about them on a database for months or even years. The data mining operation is carried out by the Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, Canada’s equivalent of the National Security Agency. Its existence is disclosed in documents obtained by The Intercept from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The emails are vacuumed up by the Canadian agency as part of its mandate to defend against hacking attacks and malware targeting government computers. It relies on a system codenamed PONY EXPRESS to analyze the messages in a bid to detect potential cyber threats.
Feb. 25, 2015, InfoSecurity: APT Sophistication Outstripping Cyber-preparedness, by Tara Seals – Even though organizations are increasingly being targeted by hackers that use a snowballing amount of sophistication in their attacks, businesses are just as unprepared to detect and protect against malicious activity as they were a year ago. FireEye’s Mandiant M-Trends report found that notably, the tools and tactics of advanced persistent threat (APT) actors have evolved significantly over the last year. For instance, threat actors impersonating the IT department has become an even more popular tactic. IT-posing phishing emails comprised 78% of observed phishing schemes that it saw in 2014, versus just 44% in 2013. Also, attackers are becoming smarter about hiding in the most complex parts of the operating system. Just as they are also getting smarter about accessing the most complex parts of hardware, more attackers are now utilizing several complex tactics, including using Windows Management Instrumentation to avoid detection and carry out broad commands on a system. “WMI-based persistence poses several challenges to forensic analysts,” Mandiant said in the report. “Attackers can create filters and consumers executed both locally and remotely using PowerShell commands. Unlike many persistence mechanisms, they leave no artifacts in the registry.”
Feb. 25, 2015, BBC News: Brain-controlled drone shown off by Tekever in Lisbon, by Dave Lee – Technology that allows a drone to be piloted from the ground using only a person’s brainwaves has been demonstrated in Portugal. The company behind the development, Tekever, said the technology could in the short term be used to enable people with restricted movement to control aircraft. Longer term the firm said piloting of larger jets, such as cargo planes, could be controlled in this way without the need for a crew on board. However, one aviation expert told the BBC he thought the industry would be unlikely to adopt such technology due to a perception of being potentially unsafe. … Drone specialist Tekever, which works with security firms, police forces and the military, adapted existing Electroencephalography (EEG) technology so it could issue instructions to the software used to give the unmanned drone instructions. … “We believe people will be able to pilot aircraft just like they perform everyday activities like walking or running,” said Ricardo Mendes, Tekever’s chief operating officer. … Mr Mendes said the technology would incorporate safety measures to counteract the effects of someone having, for example, a seizure while piloting. “There are algorithms on board that prevent bad things from happening,” he told the BBC.
February 24, 2015
Feb. 24, 2015, IDG Connect: The rise of ‘Telepathic Tech’ in 2015, by Kathryn Cave – “Using the headset, I was able to manoeuvre a car across a short racetrack just by imagining the car moving in my brain. What what whaaaaat?!?!” wrote Mike Chan in his blog entry on the three most impressive products he interacted with at CES 2015. “First, after putting the headset on, the Emotiv employee captured my brain activity at baseline – when I was thinking about nothing. Then he captured my brain activity when thinking about the car moving along the track. After the setup, I was ready to roll. When the Emotiv employee said ‘Go!’ I concentrated on the image of the car moving, and then it moved. Mind…blown.” And Chan wasn’t the only one who commented on Emotiv Insight, the new consumer device which “records your brainwaves and translates them into meaningful data you can understand”. “Emotiv Insight headset gives you Jedi powers,” wrote Cherlynn Low in Tom’s Guide while on a slightly odder note, Brain scientist DJ Jacques Lavoisier used ‘crowd brainwaves’ during music events at the World Economic Forum to “change the atmosphere” in the venue. At the moment the uses for EEG headsets are still pretty inane. But this is all just the tip of the iceberg. And the whole industry of wearable brain headset, ‘Brainwear’, ‘Telepathic Tech’ and brain data analysis looks likely to explode with uses in healthcare, wellness, gaming, marketing and beyond.
Feb. 24, 2015, Tech Times: Human Brains Are Hardwired To Ignore Web Security Warnings, by Fergal Gallagher – How often do you completely ignore web security warnings because you’re in too much of a rush to access the content that your computer is warning you about? Google recently overhauled their Chrome security warnings, but studies suggest that our brains might be hardwired to ignore these regular threats. The research says that “habituation” is to blame for the phenomenon. When a person gets used to seeing warnings they no longer read or even really see the alert and bypass it by instinct. A study from Utah’s Brigham Young University, in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh and Google, used MRI imaging to show that the visual processing part of the brain stopped analysing the warnings after the first viewing. “The first time that your brain experiences a stimulus, it devotes attention to it, but then for subsequent exposures, it relies on memory, and the response is far less,” Anthony Vance of Brigham Young University told The Guardian. “Some people think that users are lazy and inattentive but this is simply fundamental to our own biology.”
Feb. 24, 2015, Detroit Free Press: Hacker attacks besieging Michigan’s computer network, by Kathleen Gray – LANSING MI — The number of daily attacks on the state government’s computer systems is staggering and growing in both incidents and cost. Every day, the state stops about 730,000 attacks on its IT network, ranging from spam and phishing e-mails to malicious bots designed to slow or shut a computer network down. The House Communications and Technology Committee heard from David Behen, director of the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, Tuesday about the efforts made by the state, in concert with the Michigan State Police and Michigan National Guard, to ensure the state’s massive computer network stays safe. The state already spends about $22 million a year on cyber security, and Gov. Rick Snyder has asked for a bump of $7 million in the 2015-16 budget year, which begins Oct. 1. That money will go toward strengthening the state’s hardware and software systems, Behen said, as well as continuously monitoring the systems by 50 state employees, as well as private partners. … “Thankfully, we block the majority of attacks, but some get through,” he said, noting hackers have succeeded in shutting down the state’s computer systems three or four times in the last year for a couple of hours. “It’s just going to increase. Last year, it was 540,000 attacks a day and now we’re at 730,000,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s just a part of business today. It’s something we have to keep a constant eye on.”
Feb. 24, 2015, ComputerWeekly.com: PrivDog SSL compromise potentially worse than Superfish, by Warwick Ashford – Some versions of PrivDog software, which is designed to block online ads from untrusted sources, compromises internet security in a similar way to Superfish but could be a greater threat, according to security researchers. Like the Superfish software that was pre-installed on some Lenovo computers, PrivDog compromises the secure sockets layer (SSL) protocol used to secure online transactions. Researchers found that in the process of replacing untrusted advertisements with ads from trusted sources, some versions of PrivDog make users vulnerable to attack. While Superfish uses the same root certificate across all deployments, PrivDog does not validate certificates and will therefore accept rogue certificates that would normally raise security alerts.
Feb. 24, 2015, International Business Times: AI should be ‘human-like’ and capable of empathy to avoid existential threat to mankind, by Anthony Cuthbertson – The idea that a computer could be conscious is an unsettling one. It doesn’t seem natural for a man-made machine to be able to feel pain, to understand the depths of regret, or be capable of experiencing an ethereal sense of hope. But some experts are now claiming that this is exactly the type of artificial intelligence (AI) we will need to develop if we are to quell the existential threat that this nascent technology poses. Speaking in Cambridge on Friday (20 February) Murray Shanahan, professor of cognitive robotics at Imperial College London, said that in order to nullify this threat any “human-level AI” – or artificial general intelligence (AGI) – should also be “human-like”. Shanahan suggested that if forces driving us towards the development of human-level AI are unstoppable, then there are two options. Either a potentially dangerous AGI based on a ruthless optimisation process with no moral reasoning is developed, or an AGI is created based on the psychological and perhaps even neurological blueprint of humans. [Related: Artificial Times article Robot Love]
Feb. 24, 2015, ComputerWeekly.com: Business disruption cyber attacks set to spur defence plans, says Gartner, by Warwick Ashford – By 2018, 40% of large organisations will have formal plans to address aggressive cyber-security business disruption attacks, up from 0% in 2015, according to research firm Gartner. Business disruption attacks require a higher priority from chief information security officers (CISOs) and business continuity management (BCM) leaders, the Gartner said. “Gartner defines aggressive business disruption attacks as targeted attacks that reach deeply into internal digital business operations, with the express purpose of widespread business damage,” said Paul Proctor, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “Servers may be taken down completely, data wiped and digital intellectual property released on the internet by attackers. Victim organisations could be hounded by media inquiries for response and status, and government reaction and statements may increase the visibility and chaos of the attack.” Employees may not be able to fully function normally in the workplace for months, and attacks may expose embarrassing internal data via social media channels – which Proctor said could have a longer media cycle than a breach of credit card or personal data.
February 23, 2015
Feb. 23, 2015, CNN News: The future of war will be robotic, by Peter Warren Singer – The rise of the robot on the modern battlefield has happened so fast, it is almost breathtaking — that is, if you are not a robot yourself. When the U.S. military invaded Iraq just over a decade ago, it only had a handful of unmanned systems, aka drones, in the air, and zero deployed into the ground forces. Today, its inventory in the air numbers well over 7,000, ranging from the now famous Predator and Reaper to the Navy’s new MQ-8 Fire Scout, a helicopter drone that just completed a series of autonomous takeoffs and landing tests from the back of a guided-missile destroyer. On the ground, the inventory numbers some 12,000, ranging from iRobot’s PackBots, used to search for roadside bombs in Afghanistan, to the U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Lab’s tests with Qinetiq’s Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System, a tracked robot that mounts cameras and a machine gun. This revolution is by no means just an American one. At least 87 other countries have used military robotics of some sort, ranging from the UK to China, which has an especially fast-growing drone fleet, as shown off at its recent arms trade show. A number of nonstate actors have added robots to their wares as well, including most recently both sides of the Syrian civil war, as well as ISIS. Both sides in the Ukraine conflict are also using them. These robots, though, are just the start. If this was 100 years ago, they would be the equivalent of the Bristol TB 8, the first bomber plane, or the Mark I, the first tank used in battle. A host of changes awaits us. Their size, shape and form will move in wild and, for many, quite scary new directions.
Feb. 23, 2015, New York Times: Outing A.I.: Beyond the Turing Test, by Benjamin H. Bratton – Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is having a moment, albeit one marked by crucial ambiguities. Cognoscenti including Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Bill Gates, among others, have recently weighed in on its potential and perils. After reading Nick Bostrom’s book “Superintelligence,” Musk even wondered aloud if A.I. may be “our biggest existential threat.”
Our popular conception of artificial intelligence is distorted by an anthropocentric fallacy.
Positions on A.I. are split, and not just on its dangers. Some insist that “hard A.I.” (with human-level intelligence) can never exist, while others conclude that it is inevitable. But in many cases these debates may be missing the real point of what it means to live and think with forms of synthetic intelligence very different from our own. That point, in short, is that a mature A.I. is not necessarily a humanlike intelligence, or one that is at our disposal. If we look for A.I. in the wrong ways, it may emerge in forms that are needlessly difficult to recognize, amplifying its risks and retarding its benefits.
This is not just a concern for the future. A.I. is already out of the lab and deep into the fabric of things. “Soft A.I.,” such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon recommendation engines, along with infrastructural A.I., such as high-speed algorithmic trading, smart vehicles and industrial robotics, are increasingly a part of everyday life — part of how our tools work, how our cities move and how our economy builds and trades things. … There are many ways that an A.I. might harm us that that have nothing to do with its malevolence toward us, and chief among these is exactly following our well-meaning instructions to an idiotic and catastrophic extreme. Instead of mechanical failure or a transgression of moral code, the A.I. may pose an existential risk because it is both powerfully intelligent and disinterested in humans.
Feb. 23, 2015, Defense One: Spy Research Agency Is Building a Machine To Predict Cyber Attacks, by Aliya Sternstein – Imagine if IBM’s Watson — the “Jeopardy!” champion supercomputer — could answer not only trivia questions and forecast the weather, but also predict data breaches days before they occur. That is the ambitious, long-term goal of a contest being held by the U.S. intelligence community. Academics and industry scientists are teaming up to build software that can analyze publicly available data and a specific organization’s network activity to find patterns suggesting the likelihood of an imminent hack. The dream of the future: A White House supercomputer spitting out forecasts on the probability that, say, China will try to intercept situation room video that day, or that Russia will eavesdrop on Secretary of State John Kerry’s phone conversations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. IBM has even expressed interest in the “Cyber-attack Automated Unconventional Sensor Environment,” or CAUSE, project. Big Blue officials presented a basic approach at a Jan. 21 proposers’ day.
February 15-21, 2015
Feb. 20, 2015, The Guardian: What will happen when the internet of things becomes artificially intelligent? by Stephen Balkam – When Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Elon Musk all agree on something, it’s worth paying attention. All three have warned of the potential dangers that artificial intelligence or AI can bring. The world’s foremost physicist, Hawking said that the full development of artificial intelligence (AI) could “spell the end of the human race”. Musk, the tech entrepreneur who brought us PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX described artificial intelligence as our “biggest existential threat” and said that playing around with AI was like “summoning the demon”. Gates, who knows a thing or two about tech, puts himself in the “concerned” camp when it comes to machines becoming too intelligent for us humans to control. … Running parallel to the extraordinary advances in the field of AI is the even bigger development of what is loosely called, the internet of things (IoT). This can be broadly described as the emergence of countless objects, animals and even people with uniquely identifiable, embedded devices that are wirelessly connected to the internet. These ‘nodes’ can send or receive information without the need for human intervention. There are estimates that there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020. Current examples of these smart devices include Nest thermostats, wifi-enabled washing machines and the increasingly connected cars with their built-in sensors that can avoid accidents and even park for you.
Feb. 19, 2015, AlterNet: The Access Govt and Corporations Have to Our Thoughts Is Beyond Orwell’s Wildest Dreams, by Robert Scheer – For democracy, privacy is the ball game. Without the assurance of a zone of inviolate space, both physical and mental, that a citizen can inhabit without fear of observation by others, there is no guarantee of the essential sovereignty of the individual promised in the First and Fourth Amendments to the US Constitution. That should be clear, as it is to most people who have been oppressed by the tyranny of authoritarian regimes. Indeed, as Aldous Huxley and George Orwell brilliantly established in their classic writing on this subject, the totality of societal observation over the individual is the defining antithesis of freedom, even when that observation is gained through hidden and subtle persuasion. That much used to be obvious, particularly after the starkly revealing experiences in the last century with overtly totalitarian regimes; Germany under both fascism and communism offers the most startling example. In both instances, the advanced educational level of the population provided no significant barrier to the population’s surrender of freedom and its accommodation of total surveillance of individual activity. Unfortunately, with the sudden dominance of the Internet—which has come upon us worldwide and with more crushing, and yes, liberating consequences—we have been overwhelmed with the illusion that surveillance and freedom are compatible. That is because the culture of the Internet, driven by its core economic model, has succeeded in equating privacy with anonymity. In reality, that is not the case. Privacy is a matter of individual choice as to what to reveal about one’s behavior to others, whereas anonymity, in the modern commercialized celebrity-driven world, is assumed to represent a harsh societal dismissal of individual worth.
Feb. 19, 2015, The Intercept: The Great SIM Heist – How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle, by Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley – American and British spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data. The company targeted by the intelligence agencies, Gemalto, is a multinational firm incorporated in the Netherlands that makes the chips used in mobile phones and next-generation credit cards. Among its clients are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world. The company operates in 85 countries and has more than 40 manufacturing facilities. One of its three global headquarters is in Austin, Texas and it has a large factory in Pennsylvania.
Feb. 19, 2015, Christian Science Monitor: DHS official: Hackers will ‘stop dancing in the streets’ once companies share more threat info (+video), by Sara Sorcher and Jared Gilmour – The Department of Homeland Security’s top cybersecurity official says hackers and rogue nations targeting the country’s critical infrastructure and businesses will “stop dancing in the streets” if the Obama administration’s plan to share information on cyberthreats succeeds. If the companies start sharing more information with each other and the government about the threats they face, it will give them an advantage over their attackers, Phyllis Schneck said an event on Thursday hosted by Passcode and the Center for National Policy. Information-sharing, she said, is “the one thing [adversaries] can’t do.”
Feb. 19, 2015, Peace & Conflict Monitor: Is Cyberwar Really War?, by Thomas Wagner-Nagy – Cyberspace – or rather control over it – has become an important aspect of international relations. But just how dangerous is our ever intensifying dependence on the digital and virtual world? Some scholars argue that cyberwar is one of the new major threats to international peace. Others state that the harmful potential of cyber operations is being overestimated, and still others hold that they can be beneficial in preventing physical violence in conflict situations.
Feb. 19, 2015, Wall Street Journal: Three Months Later, State Department Hasn’t Rooted Out Hackers, by Danny Yadron – Three months after the State Department confirmed hackers breached its unclassified email system, the government still hasn’t been able to evict them from the department’s network, according to three people familiar with the investigation. Government officials, assisted by outside contractors and the National Security Agency, have repeatedly scanned the network and taken some systems offline. But investigators still see signs of the hackers on State Department computers, the people familiar with the matter said. Each time investigators find a hacker tool and block it, the intruders tweak it slightly to attempt to sneak past defenses. … The episode illustrates the two-way nature of high-technology sleuthing. For all of the U.S. government’s prowess at getting into people’s computers through the NSA and the military’s Cyber Command, the government faces challenges keeping hackers out of its own networks. The discrepancy points to a commonly cited problem with defending computers: Playing offense is almost always easier than playing defense.
Feb. 19, 2015, Washington Post: What President Obama is getting wrong about encryption, by Andrea Peterson – President Obama tried to walk a very fine line on encryption, the technology that secures much of the communications that occur online, during his recent visit to Silicon Valley — saying that he is a supporter of “strong encryption,” but also understands law enforcement’s desire to access data. “I lean probably further in the direction of strong encryption than some do inside of law enforcement,” Obama said during an interview with tech news site re/code. “But I am sympathetic to law enforcement because I know the kind of pressure they’re under to keep us safe. And it’s not as black and white as it’s sometimes portrayed.” But the technical aspects of encryption actually are quite black and white, experts say, adding that the example Obama used to illustrate the risks of encryption doesn’t match up with how tech companies are deploying the security measure for customers. Obama suggested that the FBI might be blocked from discovering who a terrorist was communicating with by tech companies’ recent efforts to beef up encryption. But that type of data would still remain available, technical experts say.
Feb. 19, 2015, Inside Counsel: 5 cybersecurity questions in-house counsel should consider in light of the Sony breach, by David Fagan, James Garland, Kurt Wimmer – In the wake of the much publicized North Korean cyber-attacks against Sony — as well as recent favorable rulings for the plaintiffs in class action lawsuits pending against Target — cybersecurity is at the forefront of many corporate boards’ and general counsels’ agendas for the coming year. The focus is only likely to increase in light of the legislative proposals recently announced by President Obama and featured in his State of the Union address. Here are five foundational questions that every in-house counsel should understand when evaluating his or her organization’s legal and business cybersecurity risk profile:
- What actions has your company taken to reduce the likelihood and impact of potential cyber intrusions? …
- Has your company established and tested an incident response plan? …
- What resources are in place to assist incident response? …
- Do your company’s insurance policies cover data security incidents? …
- Is your company prepared for litigation arising out of a cybersecurity incident?
Feb. 19, 2015, Inside Counsel: Employee and customer privacy in an era of ‘Big Data’ monitoring, by Bill Schiefelbein, Anthony J. Diana – It’s no surprise that the National Security Agency’s surveillance of social media sites and telecommunications, and several recent high-profile data breaches, are fueling an environment of mistrust regarding how companies collect and use the personal information of their customers and employees. At the same time, organizations are looking to accelerate their monitoring, collection and analysis of data not only to gather business intelligence but also to improve risk management and data security practices. That means great scrutiny of both the organization’s networks and its employees. And as organizations move toward true real-time monitoring of their employees’ every electronic move, legal has a role to play in managing the risks associated with these monitoring activities. [Part 3 of a 3-part series; also see the first and second parts.]
Feb. 17, 2015, Redmond Magazine: Microsoft Targets IBM Watson with Azure Machine Learning in Big Data Race, by Jeffrey Schwartz – Nearly a year after launching its Hadoop-based Azure HDInsight cloud analytics service, Microsoft believes it’s a better and broader solution for real-time analytics and predictive analysis than IBM’s widely touted Watson. Big Blue this year has begun commercializing its Watson technology, made famous in 2011 when it came out of the research labs to appear and win on the television game show Jeopardy. Both companies had a large presence at this year’s Strata + Hadoop World Conference in New York, attended by 5,000 Big Data geeks. At the Microsoft booth, Eron Kelly, general manager for SQL Server product marketing, highlighted some key improvements to Microsoft’s overall Big Data portfolio since last year’s release of Azure HDInsight including SQL Server 2014 with support for in-memory processing, PowerBI and the launch in June of Azure Machine Learning. In addition to bolstering the offering, Microsoft showcased Azure ML’s ability to perform real-time predictive analytics for the retail chain Pier One. “I think it’s very similar,” in terms of the machine learning capabilities of Watson and Azure ML, Kelly said. “We look at our offering as a self-service on the Web solution where you grab a couple of predictive model clips and you’re in production. With Watson, you call in the consultants. It’s just a difference fundamentally [that] goes to market versus IBM. I think we have a good advantage of getting scale and broad reach.”
Feb. 17, 2015, Washington Post: Obama administration to allow sales of armed drones to allies, by Missy Ryan – The Obama administration will permit the widespread export of armed drones for the first time, a step toward providing allied nations with weapons that have become a cornerstone of U.S. counterterrorism strategy but whose remotely controlled power to kill is intensely controversial. The new policy, announced Tuesday after a long internal review, is a significant step for U.S. arms policy as allied nations from Italy to Turkey to the Persian Gulf region clamor for the aircraft. It also is a nod to U.S. defense firms scrambling to secure a greater share of a growing global drone market. But in a reflection of the sensitivity surrounding sales of the lethal technology to allied countries, some of which have troubling records on human rights and political freedoms, the new policy lays out principles that foreign governments must embrace to receive the aircraft.
Feb. 17, 2015, Washington Post: The NSA has reportedly found ways to avoid even the strongest security measures, by Andrea Peterson – The U.S. intelligence community has found ways to avoid even the strongest of security measures and practices, a new report from Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab suggests, demonstrating a range of technological accomplishments that place the nation’s hackers as among the most sophisticated and well resourced in the world. Hackers who are part of what the cybersecurity researchers call “Equation Group” have been operating under the radar for at least 14 years, deploying a range of malware that could infect hard drives in a way almost impossible to remove and cold hide code in USB storage devices to infiltrate networks kept separate from the Internet for security purposes.
Feb. 17, 2015, NakedSecurity: Artificial Intelligence could make us extinct, warn Oxford University researchers, by Mark Stockley -Researchers at Oxford University have produced the first list of global risks ‘that pose a threat to human civilisation, or even possibly to all human life.’ The report focuses on risks with ‘impacts that for all practical purposes can be called infinite’. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on it. And while human extinction might be a horrific, accidental side effect of climate change, a metorite impact or a super volcano, the report warns that AI might decide to cause our extinction deliberately (my emphasis):
…extreme intelligences could not easily be controlled (either by the groups creating them, or by some international regulatory regime), and would probably act to boost their own intelligence and acquire maximal resources for almost all initial AI motivations. And if these motivations do not detail the survival and value of humanity, the intelligence will be driven to construct a world without humans. This makes extremely intelligent AIs a unique risk, in that extinction is more likely than lesser impacts.
AI is included, along with nanotechnology and synthetic biology, in a category of emerging risks. The emerging risks are poorly understood but also have the potential to solve many of the other problems on the list. The threat of AI comes from its potential to run away from us – it’s just possible that AI will end up working on itself and evolve beyond our understanding and control. At which point we’d better hope it likes us. [Ed. Note: The Oxford report is available for download at no cost.]
Feb. 17, 2015, Inside Counsel: Data breach incidents up by nearly 50 percent in 2014, by Zach Warren – 2013 may have had Target, but it seems that 2014 truly was the Year of the Data Breach — and the problem may be getting worse. The Breach Level Index (BLI), compiled by digital security company Gemalto, has found that there were 1,541 breach incidents in 2014, a 49 percent increase over the year before. In addition, more than one billion total records were breached, an increase of 78 percent over 2013. Of those records breached, a large majority were of American companies. Nearly 800 million of the breached records were based in the U.S., and 1,107 of the total breached incidents were U.S. organizations.
Feb. 16, 2015, New York Times: U.S. Embedded Spyware Overseas, Report Claims, by Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger – The United States has found a way to permanently embed surveillance and sabotage tools in computers and networks it has targeted in Iran, Russia, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and other countries closely watched by American intelligence agencies, according to a Russian cybersecurity firm. In a presentation of its findings at a conference in Mexico on Monday, Kaspersky Lab, the Russian firm, said that the implants had been placed by what it called the “Equation Group,” which appears to be a veiled reference to the National Security Agency and its military counterpart, United States Cyber Command.
Feb. 16, 2015, The CyberWire: The President’s Cyber Security Summit – President Obama met at Stanford University with industry leaders to outline his plans for enhancing cyber security, to push for more industry cooperation with the Government, and to make a plea for more effective cyber-threat information sharing. … The President was particularly concerned with threat information sharing, casting it as important to both economic and national security … . The centerpiece of his appearance was signing an Executive Order, “Promoting Private Sector Cybersecurity Information Sharing.” The Order’s key elements are:
- Creation of “information hubs,” more formally “Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations” or “ISAOs.” …
- A directive that the Secretary of Homeland Security will “strongly encourage” formation of ISAOs. …
- Authority for the NCCIC and the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC) to share data with the ISAOs. …
- A call to the ISAOs to develop and abide by appropriate privacy protections.
Feb. 15, 2015, The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney): Australia declares cyber war on Islamic State’s social media propagandists, by Samantha Maiden, National Political Editor – AUSTRALIA will declare a cyber war on Islamic State in the wake of a warning from the top spy boss that radicalisation of Muslims online is now his greatest fear. The Sunday Telegraph can reveal that intelligence agencies are examining the work of the British Home Office which has authorised “take-downs’’ of IS websites and developed rapid response units to develop “counter narratives’’ to terrorist propaganda. In an exclusive interview, ASIO director general Duncan Lewis said it was now clear that radicalisation online among young Australian Muslims was as great a threat as the risk of returning foreign fighters. … “These young people don’t need to go overseas to become radicalised. They are able to do it and they are doing it in their lounge rooms,’’ Mr Lewis said.
Feb. 15, 2015, Bloomberg: Online Bank Robbers Steal as Much as $1 Billion, Says Kaspersky, by Ilya Khrennikov – A hacker group has stolen as much as $1 billion from banks and other financial companies worldwide since 2013 in an “unprecedented cyber-robbery,” according to computer security firm Kaspersky Lab. The gang targeted as many as 100 banks, e-payment systems and other financial institutions in 30 countries including the U.S, China and European nations, stealing as much as $10 million in each raid, Kaspersky Lab, Russia’s largest maker of antivirus software, said in a report. The Carbanak gang members came from Russia, China, Ukraine and other parts of Europe, and they are still active, it said. The criminals infected bank employees’ computers with Carbanak malware, which then spread to internal networks and enabled video surveillance of staff. That let fraudsters mimic employee activity to transfer and steal money, according to Kaspersky Lab, which said it has been working with Interpol, Europol and other authorities to uncover the plot. “These bank heists were surprising because it made no difference to the criminals what software the banks were using,” said Sergey Golovanov, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab’s global research and analysis team. “It was a very slick and professional cyber-robbery.”
February 8-14, 2015
Feb. 14, 2015, The Saturday Paper: I, wormbot: the next step in artificial intelligence, by Gillian Terzis – Even before they began to stake a claim on our jobs, our boardrooms, our battlefields and our bedrooms, robots have long activated our existential anxieties, forcing us mortals to ponder our own planned obsolescence. Advances in artificial intelligence deepen these feelings. Supercomputers with artificial intelligence such as IBM’s Watson and Deep Blue have declared emphatic victories on Jeopardy and against world chess champion Garry Kasparov. And just a few weeks ago it was announced that a program created by scientists at the University of Alberta is invincible at heads-up limit Texas hold ’em poker. Not only can the program bluff – a seemingly cognitive trait – but it is said to “learn” from its mistakes through an algorithmic process known as “counterfactual regret minimisation”.
Feb. 13, 2015, CBC Radio: Rise of the machines: Q&A on smart devices and ethics – Transcript of Brent Banbury’s interview with Bart Selman, AI researcher and professor of computer science at Cornell University – Q: How confident are you that next generation of artificial intelligence for consumer use will do what we want them to do? A: When it comes to self-driving cars or household robots — in the physical domain, I actually think things will be quite safe. I’m more worried about the consequences of companies having all your data. What AI will bring is the fact that you can understand the data. It’s one thing to collect hundreds of millions of hours of video, that’s not so much a problem when you can’t really search it. It does become a problem when the data becomes searchable and understandable by machines, then I think the risk is much bigger.
Feb. 13, 2015, Scientific American Blog: Is AI Dangerous? That Depends…, by Caleb A. Scharf – Somewhere in the long list of topics that are relevant to astrobiology is the question of ‘intelligence’. Is human-like, technological intelligence likely to be common across the universe? Are we merely an evolutionary blip, our intelligence consigning us to a dead-end in the fossil record? Or is intelligence something that the entropy-driven, complexity-producing, universe is inevitably going to converge on? All good questions. An equally good question is whether we can replicate our own intelligence, or something similar, and whether or not that’s actually a good idea.
Feb. 13, 2015, Wired: Obama’s New Order Urges Companies to Share Cyber-Threat Info With the Government, by Kim Zetter – President Barack Obama announced a new Executive Order today aimed at facilitating the sharing of information about cyber-threats between private sector companies and the government. Speaking at a cybersecurity summit convened by the White House at Stanford University, Obama signed the order on stage to promote information sharing both within the private sector and between the private sector and the government. The order, he said, “calls for a common set of standards, including protection for privacy and civil liberties” and is intended to make it easier for companies to get the classified cyber-threat information that they need to protect themselves. “Classified threat information can often provide valuable context to network defenders and enhance their ability to protect their systems,” the order reads.
Feb. 13, 2015, Eurasia Review: Sony, The Internet Of Things, And The Evolving Cyber-Threat, by Christopher Bronk – Because of their great frequency and increasing significance, cyber security events continue to rise on the policy and national security agendas of national governments and international organizations. While computer security efforts were once primarily concerned with general threats and non-specific actions such as widely propagated computer viruses or email phishing campaigns, … attacks have grown increasingly sophisticated and precisely targeted. Efforts to compromise systems are now often tied to economic or political espionage efforts or even covert action designed to produce specific outcomes. … Cyber attacks can now break physical things, and most organizations are woefully unprepared for that development.
Feb. 13, 2015, Center for Democracy and Technology Blog: Improve Cybersecurity by Allowing Vulnerability Research, by Erik Stallman – Today, the White House is bringing together executives of major U.S. technology companies and leaders of technology policy organizations … for a summit on cybersecurity and consumer protection. … Unfortunately, one basic issue not on the agenda is removing unnecessary barriers to computer security research. Throughout the country, academics, engineers, and “white hat” hackers are working to uncover and repair security vulnerabilities in software and networks, and to understand and defang the malicious code that exploits those vulnerabilities. Paradoxically, some of this work may be illegal under current law.
Feb. 13, 2015, FCW: Obama expands info sharing with executive order, by Sean Lyngaas – President Barack Obama on Feb. 13 signed an executive order to further encourage the sharing of cyber-threat information between the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector. It is the latest push by the administration to foster a clearer view among corporations and federal agencies of malicious cyber threats that officials say have intensified in recent months. “This has to be a shared mission,” Obama said in a speech at Stanford University. “So much of our computer networks and critical infrastructure are in the private sector, which means government cannot do this alone.”
Feb. 13, 2015, The Hill: Obama aide to hackers: We will find you, by Elise Viebeck – President Obama’s chief homeland security adviser warned Friday that the government is serious about punishing hackers and cybercriminals. “Those who seek to harm us either online or in the physical world need to know that we will find them and we will hold them to account,” Lisa Monaco said at a White House summit on cybersecurity held at Stanford University. … “The cyber threat is becoming more diverse, sophisticated and dangerous,” Monaco said. “The actions we take today or those that we fail to take will determine whether cyberspace remains a great international realm of opportunity and asset … or whether it becomes frankly a strategic vulnerability.”
Feb. 13, 2015, NPR: The Black Market For Stolen Health Care Data, by Aarti Shahani – President Obama is at Stanford University today, hosting a cybersecurity summit. He and about a thousand guests are trying to figure out how to protect consumers online from hacks and data breaches. Meanwhile, in the cyber underworld, criminals are trying to figure out how to turn every piece of our digital life into cash. The newest frontier: health records. I grab a chair and sit down with Greg Virgin, CEO of the security firm RedJack. “There are a lot of sites that have this information, and it’s tough to tell the health records from the financial records,” he says.
Feb. 12, 2015, ZDNet: Anthem data breach cost likely to smash $100 million barrier, by Charlie Osborne – The financial consequences of Anthem’s massive data breach could reach beyond the $100 million mark, according to reports. The US health insurance provider’s cyber insurance policy, led by the American International Group, covers losses of up to $100 million. However, when a company has up to 80 million current and previous customers, staff and investors to contact, reassure and notify, this amount may not be enough. Last week, Anthem confirmed a security breach which resulted in the exposure and theft of up to 80 million records. Using a stolen password, hackers were able to break into a database which contained the personal information of former and current clients, as well as employees.
Feb. 12, 2015, TechRepublic: Big data redefines the traditional scientific methods used in medicine, byMary Shacklett -Healthcare professionals are applying big data and analytics to clinical challenges. This is just the beginning of a redefinition in the traditional scientific methods used in medicine. Stanford University will host a big data in biomedicine conference May 20-22, 2015 for medical researchers hailing from colleges and universities, hospitals, government, and industry. The goals are to encourage collaboration, address challenges, and identify actionable steps for harnessing big data in healthcare. There are plenty of incentives. Whether through mega-scientific computing projects that process petabytes of data or through more informal ways of looking at data and analyzing it in new ways to reach outcomes that were previously unattainable, medicine is marching forward in applying big data and analytics to clinical challenges.
Feb. 12, 2015, Reuters: Cybersecurity prep seen as mounting task for small U.S. advisers, by Suzanne Barlyn – At least 88 percent of securities brokerages and 74 percent of investment advisory firms have been targets of cyberattacks, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said in a Feb 3 report. The SEC and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) have made checking up on firms’ cybersecurity practices a priority for their examiners this year. Even the largest firms, with armies of technology professionals at their disposal, can struggle to answer examiners’ queries about cyber-preparedness. The task is an even bigger challenge at smaller firms, where preparations fall to a handful of individuals, and sometimes one.
Feb. 11, 2015, CSO: Newsweek Twitter hack is a sign of the times, by Zach Miners (IDG News Service) – The Twitter accounts of two more companies — Newsweek and the International Business Times — were compromised on Tuesday, showing Twitter’s attractiveness to hackers despite its cybersecurity features. The account, which has more than 2.5 million followers, was compromised for nearly 15 minutes, during which time messages were tweeted threatening First Lady Michelle Obama and praising “cyber jihad,” according to an account of the incident published by Newsweek. The account’s profile picture and banner were changed to images of a masked man and the Black Standard flag typically flown by ISIS.
Feb. 11, 2015, Washington Post: Privacy is following chivalry to the grave. Here’s why that’s a good thing, by Dominic Basulto – In the digital era, it’s not only government agencies and Silicon Valley companies spying on us or attempting to monetize our data — it’s our smart TVs and our futuristic cars. And, once the Internet of Things gets fully connected, you can finally say goodbye to privacy, as just about any device will have the ability to eavesdrop on our conversations and report data in real-time. Privacy, once a right, is now not even a social norm. In many ways, the end of the age of privacy bears a resemblance to the passing of another great value — chivalry. We all claim to mourn the passing of chivalry – and perhaps at no time more than during the run-up to Valentine’s Day — but consider what chivalry gave us: a patriarchal, hierarchical and class-based society that was literally medieval. Chivalry may have given us honor, nobility and courtly graces, but it also gave us income disparity, gender-specific roles, and a male-dominated boardroom. In short, society outgrew chivalry — just like society is about to outgrow traditional notions of privacy.
Feb 10, 2015, Daily Journal: Softbank to use IBM artificial intelligence ‘Watson’ in its empathetic Pepper robot, by Yuri Kageyama (TOKYO) – Japanese mobile carrier Softbank said Tuesday it will incorporate artificial intelligence technology from IBM into its empathetic robot Pepper that will be available to Japanese consumers around midyear. The AI engine “Watson” is already used in health care, travel and insurance services in English, but an adaptation was needed to make it work and think in Japanese, said Steve Gold, Vice President, IBM Watson Group. Unlike other cognitive technology that responds rather mechanically, Watson can learn over time like a human brain, and understands the concept of probability, which makes it sophisticated and more human-like for applications, according to IBM.
Feb. 10, 2015, Full-Time Whistle: Supercomputer can predict traffic, floods, and sickness – Governments will soon be able to utilise the predictive capabilities of data analytical tools to eliminate traffic jams, ensure public safety or prevent outbreak of diseases, said Bernard S. Meyerson, vice president of innovation at IBM USA, on the second day of the annual Government Summit in Dubai Tuesday. … Meyerson said technology was driving a huge surge in data which could no longer by handled by human beings. “The current volume of data is exceedingly large. Interestingly, 90 percent of this data did not exist just two years back.” Meyerson said. IBM’s Watson, an artificial intelligence computer system, is capable of utilising the vast data to make predictive analysis like never before. What makes Watson special is that it is capable of cognitive learning, which means that the system is capable of getting trained, much like a human being. … Cognitive system as displayed by Watson can be useful in provision of services in the public sector such as citizen self-service, law enforcement, litigation support as well as in medical support and scientific research, Meyerson said.
Feb. 10, 2015, Upstart Business Journal: Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence wants computers to be smarter than a fourth grader, by Rachel Lerman – There have been huge leaps in the last five years — think driverless cars — toward complete artificial intelligence, but fundamentals have to be put in place first. That’s why [Microsoft co-founder] Paul Allen created AI2, an institute that is funded entirely by him. … The 30-person team at AI2 is aggressively researching the fundamentals of artificial intelligence to advance the field. AI2 focuses on semantics, or teaching computers to understand what they’re reading. The organization has a project called Semantic Scholar, for example, that will allow researchers to immediately find specific results in a catalog of millions of scientific papers.
Feb. 10, 2015, CyberheistNews: New Ransomware Strain Encrypts Files From RAM, by Stu Sjouwerman – Security researchers at venture-backed Invincea have discovered a new Russian ransomware strain they called “Fessleak”. It delivers its malicious code straight into system memory and does not drop any files on disk. That means almost all antivirus software is not able to catch this. The infection vector is malicious ads on popular websites. The cybercriminals are able to display these ads by bidding on the adspace through legit ad networks. … Clicking that one link is enough to get confronted with a full screen that announces all personal or business files, photos and videos have been encrypted and to get them back you need to pay a ransom in Bitcoin.
Feb. 10, 2015, Dark Reading: Nation-State Cyber Espionage, Targeted Attacks Becoming Global Norm, by Kelly Jackson Higgins – New report shows 2014 as the year of China’s renewed resiliency in cyber espionage–with Hurricane Panda storming its targets–while Russia, Iran, and North Korea, emerging as major players in hacking for political, nationalistic, and competitive gain.
Feb. 10, 2015, Hospitals & Health Networks: Hospitals Battle Data Breaches With a Cybersecurity SOS, by Mark Taylor – A series of highly publicized data breaches at U.S. health care organizations have led to multimillion-dollar settlements, public mistrust and the possibility of increased government oversight — and have elevated the need to protect patient information from basement cubicles to C-suite offices. Health & Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights … estimates that personal health data of 30 million Americans has been compromised since 2009. The OCR lists nearly 1,000 data breaches, each involving more than 500 individuals, on a section of its website known as the “Wall of Shame.”
Feb. 9, 2015, NPR: Victims Of Social Security Number Theft Find It’s Hard To Bounce Back, by Brian Naylor – Tens of millions of people may have had information stolen, including their names, Social Security numbers and birth dates, when health insurer Anthem’s database was hacked. Having your identity stolen is a frustrating, panic-inducing prospect. Just ask Brandy Freeman, an adult care provider in Jacksonville, Fla. She found out one day when she got a phone call from her boss. “He was kind of shocked and he was like, ‘Have you filed for unemployment?’ and I was like, ‘No, what are you talking about?’ ” Freeman says her employer told her she had “a big problem” because the Florida unemployment office contacted him wondering why, since she was employed, she was filing for unemployment benefits.
Feb. 9, 2015, CyActive: From Zero to Your Credit Card, by Sariel Moshe – A recent blog post by Nick Hoffman highlights the efficiency of reusing malware techniques and just how easy it is to develop a credit card data stealing malware. The malware that he notes consists in fact of the basic processes that every PoS malware uses. This malware doesn’t have a name, and probably served as a Proof-Of-Concept. It is tiny (4k) and as of April 2014 was undetected by most Antivirus. Yet, bottom line, it can steal your credit card data.
Feb. 9, 2015, VentureBeat: Microsoft researchers say their newest deep learning system beats humans — and Google, by Jordan Novet – Microsoft Research has outdone itself again when it comes to a trendy type of artificial intelligence called deep learning. In a new academic paper, employees in the Asian office of the tech giant’s research arm say their latest deep learning system can outperform humans. … “To the best of our knowledge, our result surpasses for the first time the reported human-level performance on this visual recognition challenge,” Microsoft researchers … wrote in the paper, which is dated Feb. 6. That’s the sort of thing that should get artificial intelligence watchers paying attention. … Deep learning involves training artificial neural networks on lots of information derived from images, audio, and other inputs, and then presenting the systems with new information and receiving inferences about it in response.
Feb. 9, 2015, Reuters: Beyond the breach: Cyberattacks force a defense strategy re-think – A barrage of damaging cyberattacks is shaking up the security industry, with some businesses and organizations no longer assuming they can keep hackers at bay, and instead turning to waging a guerrilla war from within their networks.
Feb. 8, 2015, The Hill: DARPA: Cyberattacks against US military ‘dramatically increasing’, by Kyle Balluck – The head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s software innovation division said in an interview broadcast Sunday night that cyberattacks against the U.S. military are increasing in frequency and sophistication. Dan Kaufman, the head of DARPA’s Information Innovation Office in Arlington, Va., said on “60 Minutes” that cyberattacks against the U.S. military are common, occurring “every day.” “The number of attacks is dramatically increasing,” he said. “The sophistication of the attacks is increasing.” … Kaufman said half his office deals with cyber warfare.
Feb. 8, 2015, San Francisco Chronicle: Cybersecurity should be everyone’s concern, by Hitesh Sheth – We can’t keep skilled, determined hackers “out” of your network. Our nontech media still seem to think we can. The fact is, the hackers probably are already inside a corporate computer network. (Doubt that? I’ll send one of my guys over to give you a look inside your own network.) “Perimeter security” may keep out simple malware, or deter kids who use the basic hacking tools readily available on the Internet. More sophisticated hackers, however, brush right past these outer defenses. The public doesn’t understand this.
Feb. 8, 2015, Newsweek: The Case Against Artificial Intelligence by Kevin Maney – It’s time to have a serious conversation about artificial intelligence. AI has crossed a threshold similar to the earliest triumphs in genetic engineering and the unleashing of nuclear fission. We nudged those discoveries toward the common good and away from disaster. We need to make sure the same happens with AI. Progress toward making machines that “think” has become so significant, some of the world’s smartest people are getting scared of what we might be creating. Tesla chief Musk said we might be “summoning the demon.” Hawking turned up the apocalyptic knob to 11, saying that AI “could spell the end of the human race.” Gates recently chimed in that he’s spooked too.
February 1-7, 2015
Feb. 5, 2015, Wired: Health Insurer Anthem Is Hacked, Exposing Millions of Patients’ Data – “Apparently the data breaches of Target, Sony, Home Depot and a host of others weren’t sufficient to convince Anthem to encrypt patient Social Security numbers. … The health insurer, billed as the second largest in the country, announced late Wednesday that it had suffered a breach that may have exposed data on as many as 80 million current and former customers, including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and income data. Data for employees of Anthem Blue Cross were also in the database the hackers breached. The company said it believed no medical information was accessed.”
Feb. 4, 2015, The Japan Times: Malware targets users seeking info on Islamic State group – “The Tokyo-based Cyber Defense Institute said Wednesday that several Arabic-language blogs offering apparently independent analysis of issues around the Islamic State contain hidden code which gets injected into the user’s computer when the text is translated using an automated online translation tool. … “Although it’s difficult to identify the attacker, we believe it’s a cyberattack targeted specifically toward firms or individuals who are now doing research on counterterrorism,” said Toshio Nawa, the director of the institute, which is located in Chiyoda Ward.”
Feb. 3, 2015, IBM Security Intelligence: The Growing Problem of Medical Identity Theft – Unlike financial fraud, MIT is potentially a life-or-death situation at its most extreme. When others use a victim’s medical identity to obtain medical services or prescription drugs, that information may be commingled with the victim’s electronic health record (EHR). … The Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (MIFA), highlighted an example in which an elderly man visiting his local emergency room for a back injury was nearly administered penicillin, to which he had a life-threatening allergy. The issue was caused after the victim lost his medical ID card and did not immediately report it. In the intervening months, someone else used his medical ID at the same emergency room in which he was treated. The victim’s medical records were corrupted with the addition of the fraudster’s medical conditions. There are several factors that contribute to the recent increase in MIT, such as a conversion to digital records, the black market value of medical records, friendly fraud and insider threats and Affordable Care Act (ACA) fraud.
Feb. 3, 2015, DoD News: Worldwide Threat Scope, Complexity on the Rise – Taken in aggregate, recent political, military, social and technological developments have created security challenges more diverse and complex than any the nation has ever experienced, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told Congress today. … Space, Cyber Threats – General Stewart said that The space and cyber domains are increasingly threatened. For the Defense Department, the cyber threat is particularly alarming because of the interconnected nature of weapons, communications and networks. At low cost, with limited technical expertise, our adversaries have the potential to cause severe damage and disruption to U.S. systems, leaving little or no footprint behind. And the speed and influence of mobile communications and social media have the potential to magnify international crises and shorten an already compressed decision-making cycle.
Feb. 2, 2015, CySense: Al-Qaeda’s Electronic Jihad – Al-Qaeda (AQ) announced on its official video that they have established a new branch, Qaedat al-Jihad al-Electroniyya that will be responsible for performing electronic jihad under the command of AQ member Yahya al-Nemr. According to our research, his deputy is another AQ member, Mahmud al-Adnani.
Feb. 2, 2015, Mail & Guardian Thought Leader: Can artificial intelligence be controlled beyond a certain point?, by Bert Olivier- Just as, during the medieval period, all questions and answers were approached with reference to the fundamental assumption that there is an omnipotent God who created everything in existence, and were hence answered in terms of the horizon of belief anchored in this assumption, today technology as “enframing” has become such a fundamental assumption. When problems crop up no one asks whether God would condone such-and-such an approach to solve them; instead one turns to the latest technology to resolve them.
Feb. 2, 2015, Good Magazine: Not Worried About Artificial Intelligence? These Geniuses Think You Should Be – Ordinarily, if someone were to start lecturing me on the dangers of artificial intelligence, I’d smile, nod, and maybe mumble something about how how Disney’s Wall-E was “still pretty great though,” before politely excusing myself and blocking the entire conversation from my memory. That said, when it’s someone considered by many to be one of the smartest men on the planet doing the talking… well, I’m a little more inclined to pay attention.
Feb. 2, 2015, IDG Connect: Looking beyond Big Data: Are we approaching the death of hypocrisy? – The race is on: researchers and scientists, governments and corporations, media companies and lobby groups, fraudsters and terrorists are working out how to reveal similar needles hidden in the information haystack. Consulting firm McKinsey estimates that Western European economies could save more than €100bn ($118bn) making use of Big Data to support government decision-making.
Feb. 1, 2015, Tripwire: Cyberterrorists Attack on Critical Infrastructure Could Be Imminent – The premise of a January 27, 2015, article by CNBC is that there is good evidence that a cyber attack against nearly any country’s critical infrastructure could be imminent. This kind of reporting has become so commonplace, but this doesn’t seem like just more FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) journalism.
Jan. 28, 2015, Washington Post: Bill Gates on dangers of artificial intelligence: ‘I don’t understand why some people are not concerned’ – One word, Mr. Gates: Denial.
Jan. 26, 2015, TechRepublic: Air-gapped computers are no longer secure, by Michael Kassner – Ever since Edward Snowden released documents outlining government overwatch of the internet, security pundits have insisted the only way to ensure privacy, anonymity, and security when using computers is to unplug them (air-gap) from any kind of network infrastructure, especially the internet. Well, Robert Callan, Alenka Zajic, and Milos Prvulovic, researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology, beg to differ. The team explains in this paper how keystrokes can be captured from a computer that is disconnected network-wise by receiving side-channel signals from the computer.
Jan. 18, 2015, New York Times: N.S.A. Breached North Korean Networks Before Sony Attack, Officials Say – just in case you doubt that the US government is engaged in cyber espionage
Jan. 15, 2015, Defense One: The US Military Is Building Gangs of Autonomous Flying War Bots – The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency, DARPA, … is looking to build packs of flying machines that communicate more with one another as with their operator, which, in turn, would allow a single operator to preside over a unit of six or more drones. Together, the flying robot pack would “collaborate to find, track, identify and engage targets,” according to a press release.
Dec. 2, 2014, BBC News: Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind – Mr. Hawking warns: “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”
Dec. 2, 2014, BBC News: Does rampant AI threaten humanity?, by Charles Stross – We’re already living in the early days of the post-AI world, and we haven’t recognised that all AI is is a proxy for our own selves – tools for thinking faster and more efficiently, but not necessarily more benevolently.
December 2014, The E15 Initiative: How will new technology change geopolitics?, by Kristel van der Elst and Natalie Hatour – Not so far in the future, resources might no longer be closely linked to territories, it might be possible to visualise another person’s thoughts and predict the actions and decisions of world leaders before they act. What would this mean for our geopolitical landscape? Here are the four main questions that emerged from participants’ discussions at the World Economic Forum:
- Will technology be the future gold? …
- Will we transcend cultures? …
- What about political representation, Big Brother, and so forth? …
- Will we stop talking? …
Nov. 12, 2014, Scientific American: 5 Hard Questions about Emerging Technologies We Can’t Afford Not to Ask, by Kristel van der Elst – In the near future access to information and new technology may make profits and privacy obsolete, and force us to redefine the boundaries between humanity and machines. In a few years manufacturing and resource exploitation might be highly localized, services automated, employee productivity and consumer sentiment highly transparent and predictable, and human enhancement widespread. What would this really mean for “us” as individuals and for our economy?
- Will robots be our peers? …
- Will schools become implanted? …
- Will technology determine social class? …
- Will “prosumers” oust companies? …
- Will there be anything left to transport? …
Nov. 5, 2014, NY Times: Artificial Intelligence as a Threat, by Nick Bilton – Ebola sounds like the stuff of nightmares. Bird flu and SARS also send shivers down my spine. But I’ll tell you what scares me most: artificial intelligence.
Sept. 11, 2014, The Chronicle of Higher Education: Is Artificial Intelligence a Threat?, by Angela Chen – An excellent review of current writing and academic discussion regarding the question asked by the article’s title.
May 2014, Atlantic: The Military Wants to Teach Robots Right From Wrong, by Patrick Tucker – Are robots capable of moral or ethical reasoning? It’s no longer just a question for tenured philosophy professors or Hollywood directors. … The Office of Naval Research will award $7.5 million in grant money … to explore how to build a sense of right and wrong and moral consequence into autonomous robotic systems.
December 23, 2011: New York Times: The Future of Moral Machines, by Colin Allen – A robot walks into a bar and says, ‘I’ll have a screwdriver.’ A bad joke, indeed. But even less funny if the robot says ‘Give me what’s in your cash register.’
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