8/26/2015 - Taser Drones for Cops
August 27, 2015 – The Daily Beast
North Dakota police will be free to fire ‘less than lethal’ weapons from the air thanks to the influence of Big Drone.
By Justin Glawe
It is now legal for law enforcement in North Dakota to fly drones armed with everything from Tasers to tear gas thanks to a last-minute push by a pro-police lobbyist.
With all the concern over the militarization of police in the past year, no one noticed that the state became the first in the union to allow police to equip drones with “less than lethal” weapons. House Bill 1328 wasn’t drafted that way, but then a lobbyist representing law enforcement—tight with a booming drone industry—got his hands on it.
The bill’s stated intent was to require police to obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to use a drone to search for criminal evidence. In fact, the original draft of Representative Rick Becker’s bill would have banned all weapons on police drones.
Then Bruce Burkett of the North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association was allowed by the state house committee to amend HB 1328 and limit the prohibition only to lethal weapons. “Less than lethal” weapons like rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers are therefore permitted on police drones.
Becker, the bill’s Republican sponsor, said he had to live with it.
“This is one I’m not in full agreement with. I wish it was any weapon,” he said at a hearing in March. “In my opinion there should be a nice, red line: Drones should not be weaponized. Period.”
Even “less than lethal” weapons can kill though. At least 39 people have been killed by police Tasers in 2015 so far, according to The Guardian. Bean bags, rubber bullets, and flying tear gas canisters have also maimed, if not killed, in the U.S. and abroad.
Becker said he worried about police firing on criminal suspects remotely, not unlike U.S. Air Force pilots who bomb the so-called Islamic State, widely known as ISIS, from more than 5,000 miles away.
“When you’re not on the ground, and you’re making decisions, you’re sort of separate,” Becker said in March. “Depersonalized.” (read full article…)
8/15/2015 - Cyber warfare: Deterrence for defense
August 15, 2015 – Trib Live News
By Andrew Conte
The United States’ best defense against a crippling cyber attack could be a more visible offense, military leaders and other experts recently suggested at the Army War College in Carlisle. Then they stopped talking.
The nation’s cyber attack capabilities are so cloaked in secrecy that they could not say anything specific in an unclassified forum — even an invitation-only, closed-door strategy session.
That mystery could be a problem for deterring adversaries, Mark Troutman, a participant in the forum and director of the Center for Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., later told the Tribune-Review.
“If you want a deterrent effect, the capability has to be known,” Troutman said, “and there has to be the perception that the resolve is there to use it.”
Or as Dr. Strangelove put it in Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War thriller: “The whole point of the doomsday machine is lost if you keep it a secret. Why didn’t you tell the world, eh?”
Increasingly, top security officials worry about computer attacks that could shut down the nation’s systems for energy, banking, communications and more. A computer problem last month — which might or might not have been triggered by Anonymous hackers — closed the New York Stock Exchange for more than three hours.
Many former Cold War warriors believe prevention should start with the computer-age equivalent of nuclear deterrence and a promise of mutually assured destruction.
“The deterrence issue here is harder,” said Paul Kaminski, chairman of the Defense Science Board. “We have to give this more thought. As complicated as nuclear deterrent was, this is more complicated because there’s less clarity in the actions.”
He and some others interviewed for this story were not at the war college talks.
After World War II, no one doubted that the United States possessed atomic power and would use it with devastating effect, experts said.
“Remember, the nuclear deterrent involved catastrophic weapons, and so nobody was fooling around with nuclear weapons, not even in tiny wars,” said Patrick Morgan, former Tierney Chair for Peace & Conflict at the University of California, Irvine. “But in cyber, we get attacks all the time. … The rate at which cyber attacks go on is just astronomical.” (read full article …)
4/14/2015 - Why aren’t businesses building impossible products?
August 14, 2015 – IDG Connect
By Jon Collins
When the Human Genome Project was first initiated in 1990, its budget was set at a staggering $3bn and the resulting analysis took over four years. Just over two decades later, a device costing just $50,000 was used, aptly, to sequence Intel co-founder Gordon Moore’s DNA in a matter of hours. This time last year, the costs had dropped to $1,000.
How can businesses ever keep up, or even hope to become more than also-rans? While the information revolution is having an undeniably profound impact on how we work, rest and play, its continued progress is not that hard to understand. …
In layman’s terms, as we use more electronics the electronics become cheaper and more usable. The resulting tendency is for initial innovations to become commodity items, as generations of proprietary IP are displaced by ‘open’ standards and software, each driving down costs still further.
Such gradually reducing constraints have guided the progression of the information revolution, and continue to set the scene for what is practical. Examples are literally everywhere, a backdrop to 50 years of progress, from the number of sensors in an engine to the fact we now carry mainframe-class processing in our pockets.
Compromises still have to be made, inevitably. We cannot “boil the ocean” and nor can we attach sensors to every molecule in the universe (not yet, anyway). What businesses can do, however, is recognise that the thresholds are falling — there is money to be made in doing so.
What was once prohibitively expensive can become, quite literally, as cheap as chips — in six, 12, 18 months’ time a whole number of things will become predictably possible and affordable. Business cases become feasible, price points achievable.
So far, so obvious. What is downright weird, however, is that this shifting horizon of opportunity is rarely taken into account in product and service design. And this is the case even though product cycles often operate across a similar time period.
How could things be done differently? The alternative is to ask the impossible of technology — to design products and services as though they would be both practical and cost-effective, even though they are not today.
All businesses should be asking questions. What would I do if I had unlimited technology budget? What if I could engage with every one of my customers, directly, as individuals? What if I could scan all patients for all conditions on entry to the hospital, or even the surgery? What if I could talk to a holographic image of my team members, wherever they are? What if I could 3D print an entire car, or a whole different form of vehicle? On the other side of the world? (read full article …)
4/13/2015 - Baby AIs That Improve With Each Generation
August 13, 2015 – Apex Tribune
By Jeffrey Rowland
A revolutionary step forward in real life artificial intelligence is making Sci-Fi movies seem more and more like future documentaries. A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed a mother AI (artificial intelligence) that builds her own baby AIs using mechanized blocks.
What’s more, each new generation is a little more advanced than the previous ones. The study has pretty much proven that Hollywood AIs aren’t really all that fictional as these new robots evolve on their own, exactly like humans and animals.
And they’re better at it than we are. The mother robot will look for the best traits and skills in her children, and once she finds them, she actively chooses which ones to give to future children and which ones need to be modified so that future children will be better at performing certain tasks. She is not a slave to genes that determine such things independently of her will.
For their study, the researchers from Cambridge set the mother robot to build children five (5) separate times and noticed that all of a baby’s best traits were passed down to its siblings. The fifth generation baby robots were capable of performing tasks twice as fast than their siblings from the first generation.
The findings were published in the journal PLOS One and concluded that each of the baby robots carried a certain “genome” that was made out of different genes. As this genetic information passed down from generation to generation, it deleted or merged with other genes so that each new generation would be better than the previous ones. (read full article …)
4/4/2015 - Q&A With Black Hat & DEF CON Founder Jeff Moss
August 4, 2015 – TechWeek Europe
By Chris Preimesberger
Jeff Moss, consultant and former hacker offers his takes on trends, privacy, machine learning – and why you should always keep your keys in your pocket
The Black Hat professional security conference is under way in Las Vegas through Aug. 6, and several thousand software developers, security administrators, vendors, government operatives, analysts and military officials are communing in Sin City to exchange ideas and sip a brew — or a few.
As soon as Black Hat ends, DEF CON — which attracts some of the above people plus a horde of mysterious hacker-type characters — starts and continues through the weekend, ending Aug. 9.
Both of these celebrated international events were founded by the same man, Jeff Moss also known as The Dark Tangent. Moss is a noted American hacker, computer security and Internet security expert. In 2005 Moss sold Black Hat to CMP Media, a subsidiary of UK-based United Business Media, for a reported $13.9 million. DEF CON was not included in the sale.
Moss is a graduate of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He worked for Ernst & Young in its Information System Security division and was a director at Secure Computing Corp., where he helped establish the Professional Services Department in the United States, Asia, and Australia.
Moss, 40, is currently based in Seattle, where he works as a security consultant for a company that is hired to test other companies’ computer systems. He has been interviewed on issues including the Internet situation between the United States and China, spoofing and other e-mail threats and the employment of hackers in a professional capacity, including in law enforcement.
In 2011, Moss was named Vice President and Chief Security Officer of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the multinational non-profit organization working for a secure, stable and unified global Internet.
Moss is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. The Council on Foreign Relations is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher. In 2009, Moss was asked to join the White House’s Homeland Security Advisory Council.
Moss, who did a personal speaking appearance for Vectra Networks at the RSA Security Conference, and eWEEK’s Chris Preimesberger met earlier this year in San Francisco. …
[Preimesberger]: The attack surfaces are increasing all the time.
[Moss]: You might need to have five or 10 people in a room to even understand what your exposures are. The access control system is now plugged in, the video surveillance system is plugged in; smart locks, the ticketing system — everything’s getting plugged in. Sometimes they don’t realize that they are inheriting each others’ vulnerabilities.
In the old days, you could get two or three people together and understand what your exposures are. Now, especially with cloud and SaaS, you’re inheriting whole chains of risk that you didn’t even know you were inheriting. If you outsource your email, does your email provider ever tell you when they’re being attacked? They never tell us. Is that because nobody ever attacks them, or because they don’t know? I don’t know the answer to that. Users just figure, ‘I bought it, therefore I assume it is secure.’
Do you realize that you have no Fourth Amendment protection once you outsource something? [The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.] What does your general counsel say to that? I don’t think he knows! Okay then!
I think we’re at a psychological tipping point, where the human way of responding to this onslaught of complexity is that they sort of shut down. I hear people saying: ‘Well, they’re going to get the data anyway,’ or, ‘There’s no such thing as privacy anymore,’ or ‘You can never keep them (hackers) out.’ Well, s–t, if you’re not even going to try, then I guess they win. That dismissive, defeatist attitude — that to me is the most troubling. They’ve accepted the fact that they’ve lost before they’ve even started. (read full article …)
8/2/2015 - Artificial intelligence and real stupidity
August 2, 2015 – Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette
By Dick Meyer (Scripps Washington Bureau)
It is the great philosophic debate of the computer age: Artificial intelligence: good or evil?
The optimists, some might call them utopians, argue that the computational power of machines—their intelligence—inevitably will become greater than human intelligence.
Some AI believers call this mega-intelligence by a godly name: The Singularity.
The dystopians don’t disagree that AI might have superhuman intelligence some day, but they think it is irrational and mystical to believe it inevitably will be a force of good.
It could be neutral, like most technology. Or it could be evil. The Singularity could control us dumb humans in mean and nasty ways. Volumes and volumes of science fiction play with this nightmare scenario.
Obviously, my natural and wholly organic intelligence is too tiny to really understand any of this, much less have a strong opinion. But there is a third camp, I’ve discovered, that I am tempted to join. Their great worry isn’t artificial intelligence; it’s artificial stupidity, or AS.
An example of AS might be faulty programming that crashes the U.S. power grid. Seems plausible, almost likely, right? An example of artificial super-stupidity, or ASS, would be a global Internet crash—no Web, nowhere, no way can we survive that for long.
Everything in my personal history with computers and smart devices leads me to paranoia about AS. It’s scarier when you factor in interaction with us featherless bipeds and our limited computational capacities. The logarithm is something like: AS x IQ = hot mess.
As a case study, let’s look at a common technological de vice: the “smart thermostat.” In my house, we call it the “dumb thermostat.”
I read with great interest a story in the Washington Post recently about an important new study in the journal Energy Research and Social Science.
If I may summarize: Most people don’t know how to use their programmable (smart) thermostat, use it improperly, or have given up trying. Homeowners tend to leave them in the “hold” position, rendering them dumb, not smart.
As I understand it, the smart thermostat is a less complex system than, say, the computers that control nuclear plants and air traffic. Yet interactions between the devices (AS) and their human masters (IQ) succeed little more than half the time.
We recently installed what was billed as the simplest of all the smart thermostats. The instruction booklet was terrific unless you require pictures that match the actual thermostat and sentences that use words in some type of syntax.
I waddled through all that and eventually the little screens indicated it was all set to minimize our energy use. The system then did what the screens said—fairly often. Sometimes.
The thermostat’s interactions with other members of our homestead were somewhat less successful. Casting no blame at all, the combination of AS and IQ appeared to be less than the sum of the two.
It is possible, as the company’s customer service people suggested, that a nefarious Albanian hacker ring had infiltrated our thermostat. But I think it is an AS issue.
I find this ample cause to worry about the future of the species and the planet. (read full article …)
8/2/2015 - Smart gadgets from guns to cars ripe for hacking
August 2, 2015 – AFP
Hackers are not just after your computer: connected devices from cars to home security systems to sniper rifles are now targets for actors looking to steal or cause mischief.
The rapid growth in the “Internet of Things” has opened up new opportunities for cyber attacks and new markets for cyber defenders.
This is among the hot topics at a Black Hat computer security conference that kicks off in Las Vegas on Sunday and an infamous Def Con hacker gathering that follows.
Early glimpses have been provided of scheduled presentations about how to commandeer control of some Chrysler Fiat vehicles or accurately retarget self-aiming sniper rifles.
“The Internet of Things is definitely one of the big new frontiers,” said Christopher Kruegel, co-founder of cyber security firm Lastline and a professor of computer science at a state university in Southern California.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles issued a safety recall for 1.4 million US cars and trucks in July after hackers demonstrated that they could take control of their systems while they are in operation.
The recall came after cybersecurity experts Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek of the firm IOActive Labs remotely commandeered a Jeep Cherokee, made by Chrysler, to demonstrate the vulnerability of the vehicles’ electronic systems.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles issued a safety recall for 1.4 million US cars and trucks in July after hackers demonstrated that they could take control of their systems while they are in operation
As reported in Wired magazine and elsewhere, working from laptop computers at home, the two men were able to enter the Jeep’s electronics via its online entertainment system, changing its speed and braking capability and manipulating the radio and windshield wipers.
After the report, Chrysler issued a free software patch for vulnerable vehicles even while saying it had no first-hand knowledge of hacking incidents.
Miller and Valasek are to reveal more about their Jeep hack at Black Hat.
“The ambiguous nature of automotive security leads to narratives that are polar opposites: either we’re all going to die or our cars are perfectly safe,” read a description of a scheduled briefing by the researchers.
“In this talk, we will show the reality of car hacking by demonstrating exactly how a remote attack works against an unaltered, factory vehicle.”
Intel security vice president Raj Samani told AFP of an earlier demonstration of using hacks to take control of accelerators of cars, one of which was crashed into a wall.
“Cyber threats have been real threats for a while,” Samani told AFP.
“Stuxnet should have been the wake-up.” (read full article …)