January 10, 2017
From emails to Netflix and Uber account information to other personally identifiable information has long been for sale on the Dark Web. A recent article from Fast Company, On The Dark Web, Medical Records Are A Hot Commodity, shares that medical records are the latest offerings for sale on the Dark Web. Medical records sold in these marketplaces usually include an individual’s name, birthdate, social security number and medical information. They fetch the relatively high price of $60 a piece, in comparison to social security numbers at $15. The article explains more,
On the dark web, medical records draw a far higher price than credit cards. Hackers are well aware that it’s simple enough to cancel a credit card, but to change a social security number is no easy feat. Banks have taken some major steps to crack down on identity theft. But hospitals, which have only transitioned en masse from paper-based to digital systems in the past decade, have far fewer security protections in place.
Cybercrime of medical records is potentially life-threatening because oftentimes during the theft of medical records, data showing allergies and other vital information is erased or swapped. Hopefully, the amount of time it took the medical industry to transition from paper to electronic health records is not representative of the time it will take the industry to increase security measures.
Megan Feil, January 10, 2017
December 15, 2016
Incidences of law enforcement agencies arresting criminals for selling their services on Dark Web are increasing. However, their success can be attributed to the foolishness of the criminals, rather than technological superiority.
Cyber In Sight in a news report titled IcyEagle: A Look at the Arrest of an Alleged Dark Web Vendor, the reporter says:
the exact picture of how law enforcement has managed to track down and identify Glende remains unclear, the details released so far, provide an interesting behind the scenes view of the cybercrime-related postings we often highlight on this blog.
The suspect in this case inadvertently gave details of his service offerings on AlphaBay. Cops were able to zero on his location and managed to put him under arrest for drug peddling. The report reveals further:
An undercover officer purchased stolen bank account information from IcyEagle in March and April 2016, according to the indictment. Interestingly, Glende was also arrested by local police for selling drugs around the same time. A tip from U.S. Postal Inspectors led to police officers finding a “trove” of drugs at his Minnesota home in March.
It is thus apparent that the criminals, in general, are of the opinion that since they are selling on Dark Web, they are untraceable, which clearly is not the case. The trace, however, was possible only because the suspect handed it over himself. Hackers and real cyber criminals are still out of the ambit of law enforcement agencies, which needs to change soon.
Vishal Ingole, December 15, 2016
December 14, 2016
Google‘s dominance on our digital lives cannot be refuted. The tech giant envisages that the future of computing will be Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the search engine leader is all set to dominate it once again.
Arabian Business in a feature article titled Inside Google’s Brave New World, the author says:
The $500bn technology giant is extending its reach into hardware and artificial intelligence, ultimately aiming to create a sophisticated robot that can communicate with smart-device users to get things done.
The efforts can be seen in the form of company restructuring and focus on developing products and hardware that can host its sophisticated AI-powered algorithms. From wearable devices to in-home products like Google Home, the company is not writing powerful algorithms to answer user queries but is also building the hardware that will seamlessly integrate with the AI.
Though these advances might mean more revenue for the company and its shareholders, with Google controlling every aspect of our working lives, the company also needs to address the privacy concerns with equal zeal. As the author points out:
However, with this comes huge responsibility and a host of ethical and other policy issues such as data privacy and cybersecurity, which Google says its teams are working to resolve on a day-to-day basis.
Apart from Google, other tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple too are in the race for AI dominance. However, the privacy concerns remain there too as the end user never knows, how and where the data collected will be used.
Vishal Ingole, December 14, 2016
December 13, 2016
Paranoid internet users and people with weird secretive fetishes alike, rejoice! DuckDuckGo will soon be vastly improved. The article does not state an exact date for this new functionality to be revealed, but it is coming soon.
Chelsea Kerwin, December 13, 2016
December 13, 2016
Tor users have nil or very limited options to surf Underground Web anonymously as Android-powered phones still manage to scrape user data. The Tor Project intends to beat Google at its own game with Tor-enabled smartphone.
An article that appeared on arsTechnica and titled Tor Phone Is Antidote to Google “Hostility” Over Android, Says Developer, says:
The prototype is meant to show a possible direction for Tor on mobile. We are trying to demonstrate that it is possible to build a phone that respects user choice and freedom, vastly reduces vulnerability surface, and sets a direction for the ecosystem with respect to how to meet the needs of high-security users.
The phone is powered by custom-made CopperHead OS and can be run only on Google Nexus or Pixel hardware phones. Of course due to high technicalities involved, it is recommended only for Linux geeks.
For voice calls, according to the article:
To protect user privacy, the prototype runs OrWall, the Android firewall that routes traffic over Tor, and blocks all other traffic. Users can punch a hole through the firewall for voice traffic, for instance, to enable Signal.
Google’s Android is an Open Source platform that OEMs can customize. This creates multiple security threats enabling hackers and snoopers to create backdoors. CopperHead OS, on the other hand, plugs these security holes with verified boot and also stops Google Play Store from overriding native apps. Seems the days of mobile Tor are finally here.
Vishal Ingole, December 13, 2016
December 12, 2016
Peer-to-peer file sharing gets a boost with AlphaReign, a new torrent sharing site that enables registered users to share files anonymously using Distributed Hash Table.
TorrentFreak in an article titled Alphareign: DHT Search Engine Takes Public Torrents Private says:
AlphaReign.se is a new site that allows users to find torrents gathered from BitTorrent’s ‘trackerless’ Distributed Hash Table, or DHT for short. While we have seen DHT search engines before, this one requires an account to gain access.
The biggest issue with most torrent sites is The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which prohibits the sites (if possible) and the search engines from displaying search results on the search engine result page. As content or torrent indexes on AlphaReign are accessible only to registered users, seeders and leechers are free to share files without risking themselves.
Though most files shared through torrents are copyrighted materials like movies, music, software and books, torrents are also used by people who want to share large files without being spied upon.
AlphaReign also manages to address a persistent issue faced by torrent sites:
AlphaReign with new software allows users to search the DHT network on their own devices, with help from peers. Such a system would remain online, even if the website itself goes down.
In the past, popular torrent search engines like YTS, KickAssTorrents, The Pirate Bay, Torrentz among many others have been shut down owing to pressure from law enforcement agencies. However, if AlphaReign manages to do what it claims to, torrent users are going to be the delighted.
Vishal Ingole, December 12, 2016
December 9, 2016
I love Google. You love Google. Everyone loves Google so much that it has become a verb in practically every language. Google does present many problems, however, especially in the inclusion of paid ads in search results and Google searches are not academically credible. Researchers love the ease of use with Google, but there a search engine does not exist that returns results that answer a simple question based on a few keywords, NLP, and citations (those are extremely important).
It is possible that a search engine designed for academia could exist, especially if it can be subject specific and allows full-text access to all results. The biggest problem and barrier in the way of a complete academic search engine is that scholarly research is protected by copyright and most research is behind pay walls belonging to academic publishers, like Elsevier.
Elsevier is a notorious academic publisher because it provides great publication and it is also expensive to subscribe to it digitally. The Mendeley Blog shares that Elsevier has answered the academic search engine cry: “Introducing Elsevier DataSearch.” The Elsevier DataSearch promises to search through reputable information repositories and help researchers accelerate their work.
DataSearch is still in the infant stage and there is an open call for beta testers:
DataSearch offers a new and innovative approach. Most search engines don’t actively involve their users in making them better; we invite you, the user, to join our User Panel and advise how we can improve the results. We are looking for users in a variety of fields, no technical expertise is required (though welcomed). In order to join us, visit https://datasearch.elsevier.com and click on the button marked ‘Join Our User Panel’.”
This is the right step forward for any academic publisher! There is one thing I am worried about and that is: how much is the DataSearch engine going to cost users? I respect copyright and the need to make a profit, but I wish there was one all-encompassing academic database that was free or had a low-cost subscription plan.
Whitney Grace, December 9, 2016
December 8, 2016
People like to think that their lives are not always monitored, especially inside their domiciles. However, if you have installed any type of security camera, especially a baby monitor, the bad news is that they are easily hacked. Malware can also be downloaded onto a computer to spy on you through the built-in camera. Mark Zuckerberg coves his laptop’s camera with a piece of electrical tape. With all the conveniences to spy on the average individual, it is not surprising that the rich one percent are literally buying their privacy by disappearing. FT.com takes a look about, “How The Super-Rich Are Making Their Homes ‘Invisible.’”
The article opens with a description about how an entire high-end California neighborhood exists, but it is digitally “invisible” on Google Street View. Celebrities live in this affluent California neighborhood and the management company does not even give interviews. Privacy is one of the greatest luxuries one can buy in this age and the demand will grow as mobile Internet usages increases. The use of cameras is proportional to Internet usage.
People who buy privacy by hiding their homes want to avoid prying eyes, such a paparazzi and protect themselves from burglars. The same type of people who buy privacy are also being discreet about their wealth. They do not flaunt it, unlike previous eras. In the business sector, more and more clients want to remain anonymous so corporations are creating shell businesses to protect their identities.
There is an entire market for home designs that hide the actual building from prying eyes. The ultimate way to disappear, however, is to live off the grid:
For extra stealth, property owners can take their homes off the grid — generating their own electricity and water supply avoids tell-tale pipes and wires heading on to their land. Self-sufficient communities have become increasingly popular for privacy, as well as ecological, reasons; some estimates suggest that 180,000 households are living off the grid in the US alone.
Those people who live off the grid will also survive during a zombie apocalypse, but I digress.
It is understandable that celebrities and others in the public eye require more privacy than the average citizen, but we all deserve the same privacy rights. But it brings up another question: information needs to be found in order to be used. Why should some be able to disappear while others cannot?
Whitney Grace, December 8, 2016
December 8, 2016
Kaspersky Lab researchers exposed a massive global underground market selling more than 70,000 hacked servers from government entities, corporations and universities for as little as $6 each.
The cybersecurity firm said the newly discovered xDedic marketplace currently has a listing of 70,624 hacked Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) servers for sale. It’s reported that many of the servers either host or provide access to consumer sites and services, while some have software installed for direct mail, financial accounting and POS processing, Kaspersky Lab confirmed.
Kapersky’s Costin Raiu notes the study is evidence that “cybercrime-as-a-service” is growing, and has been developing its own, well-organized infrastructure. He also observes that the victims of these criminals are not only the targets of attack, but the unwitting server-owners. xDedic, he says, represents a new type of cybercriminal marketplace.
Kapersky Lab recommends organizations take these precautions:
*Implement multi-layered approach to IT infrastructure security that includes a robust security solution
*Use of strong passwords in server authentication processes
*Establish an ongoing patch management process
*Perform regular security audits of IT infrastructures
*Invest in threat intelligence services”
Stay safe, dear readers.
Cynthia Murrell, December 8, 2016
December 6, 2016
I found this write up interesting. No philosophy or subjective comment required. The title of the write up is “Partnering to Help Curb Spread of Online Terrorist Content.” This is what is called “real” news, but that depends upon one’s point of view.
I highlighted this passage:
Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube are coming together to help curb the spread of terrorist content online. There is no place for content that promotes terrorism on our hosted consumer services. When alerted, we take swift action against this kind of content in accordance with our respective policies.
The idea is to use “digital fingerprints” in the manner of Terbium Labs and other companies to allow software to match prints and presumably take action in an automated, semi automated, or manual fashion. The idea is to make it difficult for certain content to be “found” online via these services.
The write up adds:
As we continue to collaborate and share best practices, each company will independently determine what image and video hashes to contribute to the shared database. No personally identifiable information will be shared, and matching content will not be automatically removed. Each company will continue to apply its own policies and definitions of terrorist content when deciding whether to remove content when a match to a shared hash is found. And each company will continue to apply its practice of transparency and review for any government requests, as well as retain its own appeal process for removal decisions and grievances. As part of this collaboration, we will all focus on how to involve additional companies in the future.
I noted the word “collaborate” and its variants.
The filtering addresses privacy in this way:
Throughout this collaboration, we are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and their ability to express themselves freely and safely on our platforms. We also seek to engage with the wider community of interested stakeholders in a transparent, thoughtful and responsible way as we further our shared objective to prevent the spread of terrorist content online while respecting human rights.
Fingerprints in the world of law enforcement are tied to an individual or, in the case of Terbium, to an entity. Walking back from a fingerprint to an entity is a common practice. The business strategy is to filter content that does not match the policies of certain organizations.
Stephen E Arnold, December 6, 2016