Security in the Cradle of High-Technology Yip Yap

June 30, 2020

DarkCyber spotted this story:

How Hackers Extorted $1.14m from University of California, San Francisco

One would think that UCSF, an educational institution with tech savvy professionals located in the cradle of the US high-technology industry would have effective security systems in place. Wouldn’t one?

The write up reports:

The Netwalker criminal gang attacked University of California San Francisco (UCSF) on 1 June. IT staff unplugged computers in a race to stop the malware spreading. And an anonymous tip-off enabled BBC News to follow the ransom negotiations in a live chat on the dark web.

The article is one of those “how to be a bad actor” write ups which DarkCyber often finds discomfiting. Do these “real” news people want to provide information, or is there an inner desire to step outside the chummy walls of reporting? DarkCyber does not know.

The BBC points out:

Most ransomware attacks begin with a booby-trapped emaiI and research suggests criminal gangs are increasingly using tools that can gain access to systems via a single download. In the first week of this month alone, Proofpoint’s cyber-security analysts say they saw more than one million emails with using a variety of phishing lures, including fake Covid-19 test results, sent to organizations in the US, France, Germany, Greece, and Italy.

DarkCyber has a few questions; to wit:

  1. What vendors’ products are safe guarding UCSF?
  2. Who is in charge of anti phishing solutions at UCSF?
  3. What specific gaps exist at UCSF?
  4. What is the total amount of money UCSF spends on cyber security?
  5. How much “value” has been lost due to direct payment and down time, staff time, and running around not knowing what’s going on time?
  6. How about some quotes from the cyber security providers’ marketing material regarding the systems’ anti-phishing effectiveness?

Skip the how to, please. Focus on the facts that create the vulnerability. Just a thought.

Stephen E Arnold, June 30, 2020

Turkey Day: Forgetting a Murderer?

November 28, 2019

Who knows if one can forget a murder or a murderer? If the information is not available, then the murderer may not be a murderer. The logic seems a bit hippy dippy, almost millennial, but it is turkey day with time to ponder “German Ex-Con Wins Right to Have Any Murders He May Have Committed Forgotten” reports:

Although the case stretches back to the early Eighties, the issue really emerged when German magazine Der Spiegel published some archive articles about the case in 1999. In 2002, Gunther The Ripper was released from jail, and in 2009 became aware that the articles were floating about. Gunther argued that the news articles were inhibiting his “ability to develop his personality,” and went to federal court.

If a murder were committed and the victim a child, will the parents forget? What if this story is accurate and the murderer wants to work coaching a youth football team, would the alleged murderer forget he may have killed before?

Ah, forget it.

Stephen E Arnold, November 28, 2019

Free Music Samples

August 27, 2019

Short honk: Looking for free music samples? A collection of samples is available on “Free Sound Samples.” Queries via search engines for samples produces some wonky results. Worth noting.

Stephen E Arnold, August 27, 2018

Grover and Real Fake News

August 27, 2019

The Next Web reported, “This Terrifying AI Generates Fake Articles from Any News Site.” Now, the point here is to create an AI that can easily detect fake news, but researchers at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence began with one that could generate such content. Basically, it takes one to know one. We learn:

“A team of researchers at the institute recently developed Grover, a neural network capable of generating fake news articles in the style of actual human journalists. In essence, the group is fighting fire with fire because the better Grover gets at generating fakes, the better it’ll be at detecting them. … Most fake news is generated by humans and then spread on social media. But the rise of robust systems such as OpenAI’s controversial GPT-2 point toward a future where AI-generated articles are close enough to the real thing to obfuscate nearly any issue. While it’s easy enough to search a website to see if an article is legitimate, not everyone is going to do that. And if an article goes viral, no matter how false it is, some people will be convinced.”

Writer Tristan Greene shares some passages Grover wrote, so see the article if you wish to read those. They are pretty convincing, especially if one just skims the text (as many readers do).. One example aptly mimics President Obama’s writing/ speaking style, while another seems to spook Greene with how well it captures his own writing essence. The article concludes with this link, where each of us can take Grover for a test drive. Modern life is fun.

Cynthia Murrell, August 27, 2019

Online Fraud in Asia

July 1, 2019

Data are often difficult to locate. Once located, verfication is a great deal of work. Nevertheless, you may find the “numbers” in “Examining Online Fraud in Southeast Asia (Infographic),” a useful reference point. Some data are in paragraphs like this one:

In 2018, the region’s internet economy hit US$72 billion in 2018 – double what it was in 2015. Southeast Asia is well on its way to exceed Google’s prediction of hitting US$200 billion by 2025, with ecommerce players such as Lazada, Shopee, and Tokopedia expanding their efforts in the region to meet the demands of consumers.

Others appear in graphics. Here a single item:

fraud

DarkCyber will comment on the methods used by fraudsters in an upcoming DarkCyber video.

Stephen E Arnold, July 1, 2019

Factualities for April 24, 2019

April 24, 2019

Ah, data, big and small, are everywhere. Believe ’em or not:

5. Number of US airports with facial recognition systems. Source: Quartz

2. Number of towns in Kansas which gave Facebook-infused educational program an F. Source: New York Times

12,000. Number of factoids the UK government added to Alexa. Source: The Inquirer

10 percent. Percentage of Americans who do not use the Internet. Source: Pew Research Center

$2.7 billion. FBI’s calculation of the losses to cyber crime in 2018. Source: DarkReading

$30 million. Amount Apple spends for Amazon services. Source: Apple Insider

1 million. Number of robotaxis Elon Musk promises in 2020. Source: Engadget

48 percent. Percentage of Canadians who would be broke if they had to come up with more than $200. Source: BNN Bloomberg

90 minutes. Length of time it took The Weather Channel to recover rom a ransomeware attack. Source: ZDNet

33 percent. Percentage of companies using open source to reduce costs. Source: Enterprisers Project

23 million, Number of people in the US using 123456 as a password. Source: Slashdot

40 million. Number of cyber attacks on Ecuador since forcing Wikileaks’ founder out of the UK Ecuador embassy. Source: The Inquirer

28 percent. Number of US drivers who ignore the road due to mobile phone use. Source: CNet

50 percent. Amount of alcohol 10 percent of Australian drinkers imbibe. Source: Online Library Wiley

Stephen E Arnold, April 24, 2019

 

 

 

 

Search for a Person in China: Three Seconds and You Are Good to Go

December 26, 2018

I read “Welcome to Dystopia : China Introduces AI Powered Tracking Uniform in Schools.” The article explains that “China has started to introduce school uniforms which track pupils all the time.”

The “all” is problematic. A student equipped with the new uniform has to take it off, presumably for normal body maintenance and the inevitable cleaning process.

The overstatement, I assume, is designed to make the point that China is going to keep social order using smart software and other tools.

The new uniform  “comes with two chips embedded in the shoulder areas and works with an AI-powered school entrance system, which is equipped with facial recognition cameras.”

Combined with other monitoring gizmos, the question, “Where’s Wong? can be answered in a jiffy. The write up explains:

The entrance system, powered by facial recognition camera, can capture a 20-second-long video of each pupil going in or coming out of the school. The footage will be uploaded onto an app in real time for teachers and parents to watch.An alarm will go off if the school gate detects any pupil who leaves the school without permission,

The article suggests that location and identification takes seconds.

One presumes the search results will be objective and ad free.

Stephen E Arnold, December 26, 2018

Visual Social Media Gaining Traction Outside US

June 22, 2018

Text-based social media tools, such as Twitter and Facebook remain the kings of social media in English-speaking countries like the United States and Great Britain. However, this is not the case around the world, where visual social media tools are overtaking them. We learned more from a recent ZD Net story, “What’s Driving Middle East’s Rush to Social Media?”

According to the story, Facebook is very popular in Saudi Arabia and UAE, but Snapchat, Instagram and the like are absolutely exploding.

“However, in some Middle East countries, Facebook use has dropped substantially, by up to -20 percent, since 2013. Reasons for this decline aren’t clear but may include privacy concerns and preferences to use newer and more visually orientated social networks.”

The Middle East is not the only place where visual social media is really gaining traction. The marketing world is already hip to this trend. Many wise ad agencies and brand-centric marketers are touting the power of visual social media to construct a company’s narrative and brand. This is not just a blip on a radar, but a global phenomenon that is poised to leave text-based social media in the dust. Keep your eyes peeled as this trend catches on across other nations and businesses.

Patrick Roland, June 22, 2018

Microsoft Chasing Voice Search

June 21, 2018

Maybe it has to do with a need for innovation and maybe it has to do with a need for Bing market share, but no matter what the motivation for Microsoft to kick its voice search program in to high gear was, we like it. Big changes are coming for the company and we discovered exactly what from a recent ZdNet story, “Microsoft Moves Toward Consolidating Its Many Speech Services.”

According to the story:

“Microsoft has some ambitious goals for its coming unified Speech Service, which falls under its Microsoft Cognitive Services umbrella.

“The new unified Speech Service “unites several Azure speech services that were previously available separately: Bing Speech (comprising speech recognition and text to speech), Custom Speech, and Speech Translation. Like its precursors, the Speech service is powered by the technologies used in other Microsoft products.”

Still skeptical? Microsoft recently reported a 346 percent increase in voice search in regards to hotel searches using its products. Flight searches were nearly as high. That is obviously a big huge arrow pointing toward the future and its interesting to see Microsoft grabbing the bull by the horns so quickly. Time will tell if it pans out, but we know Microsoft continues to plug away despite Google, without a mobile phone success, and in Amazon’s backyard.

Patrick Roland, June 21, 2018

 

Google Does Not Play Hardball, Certainly Not in Australia

June 20, 2018

Google has eagerly held its stronghold on the market and many of its tough exploits have been documented. Recently, their tactics seem to have reached a new level of seriousness, as we discovered in a recent Business Insider story, “Unlockd is Blaming Google for Going Into Administration.”

According to the story:

“The Unlockd app, which is backed by Rupert Murdoch’s son Lachlan, lets mobile users view ads, content, and offers based on their interests in exchange for rewards. It is only available on Android…“The company said it was planning to go public when Google threatened to ban its service from Google Play.”

This was a big blow to a company that was valued at $180 Million. However, it is appearing that Google is perhaps not the villain many are making them out to be in this scenario. Recently, Google has been giving users an option to turn off advertisements that know too much of their information. So, what once looked like a strong arm tactic to ruin a startup is now beginning to seem like Google turning a corner and helping users protect their information.

Patrick Roland, June 20, 2018

 

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