An anecdote on risks to patients when anti-virus software goes awry in Health Information Technology (HIT). "Our hospital fetal monitoring devices interface with our general HIT system. We had found some viruses that were missed by our previous antivirus software and we replaced it one month ago with a new product. This morning the new antivirus software identified the fetal monitor file as malware and deleted it. We have not able to recover the lost file, which contains about 7 hours of fetal monitor data." "Betrayed by Your Allies", May 2012 http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/250140/86af97f052/ Similar AV risks for HIT have been reported in the past. An incident in April 2010 caused an outage by an errant anti-virus DAT file update. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126168997 The risks? Technical components for malware mitigation are not without their own risks that manifest at the system level. Malware mitigation has obvious importance for software-based medical devices and HIT, but systems engineering thinking needs to be front and center. My interpretation: "Don't throw out the baby with the malware." The overarching goal should remain better outcomes for public health. Thanks to Ross Koppel at UPenn for bringing this anecdote to my attention.
High school salutatorian may not be back in country in time for graduation because BOTH systems her lawyer's firm used to track dates didn't know that 2012 was a leap year. http://www.fox59.com/news/wxin-high-school-salutatorian-may-not-be-back-in-country-in-time-for-graduation-20120530,0,1077029.column
Posts on social media raise risks of mistrial; state's judges told to spell out rules Milton J. Valencia, *The Boston Globe*, 14 May 2012 In the state's first decision involving juries and social media, the Massachusetts Appeals Court has called on judges to better police jurors' use of the Internet to make sure they do not discuss cases online, and thus risk a mistrial. The court said judges need to do more to explain to jurors that refraining from conversations about a case also means not posting anything about it on Facebook or Twitter, common practice in today's technology-driven world. "Jurors must separate and insulate their jury service from their digital lives,'' the court said in a ruling involving a Plymouth Superior Court case in which several jurors made comments on Facebook during a trial. Those posts in turn elicited responding posts from friends. "Instructions not to talk or chat about the case should expressly extend to electronic communications and social media,'' the court added in its little-noticed ruling two weeks ago. ... http://articles.boston.com/2012-05-14/metro/31690554_1_social-media-jurors-courts-and-media http://bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/05/13/judges-told-keep-jurors-off-facebook-and-twitter/iWSpYg9CRFeQsyfcu4hJTP/story.html
"That could mean the Web might look drastically different in other countries than it does in the United States, opponents of the proposals say. An Internet user in Uzbekistan could be more easily tracked by government officials and might get access to only a portion of the Google search results seen in the United States, for example. In a rare coordinated effort to knock down the proposals, Google, Microsoft, Verizon and Cisco also warn of financial risks to their businesses if new rules are adopted. They say some nations may push for laws on Internet firms that could lead to tariffs on Internet service providers such as Verizon, or even Web firms such as Facebook that enable people to communicate over the Internet.That could mean the Web might look drastically different in other countries than it does in the United States, opponents of the proposals say. An Internet user in Uzbekistan could be more easily tracked by government officials and might get access to only a portion of the Google search results seen in the United States, for example." http://j.mp/LHNSd1 (Washington Post) Let me put it this way. A UN/ITU "takeover" of the Net would make SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA look like cream puffs.
http://arstechnica.com/security/2012/06/spy-softwares-bluetooth-capabilty-allowed-stalk-of-iranian-victims/ Espionage software that was recently found targeting Iranian computers contains advanced Bluetooth capabilities, taking malware to new heights by allowing attackers to physically stalk their victims, new analysis from Symantec shows. The Flame malware, reported earlier this week to have infiltrated systems in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries, is so comprehensive that security experts have said it may take years for them to fully document its inner workings. In a blog post published Thursday, Symantec researchers dangled an intriguing morsel of information concerning one advanced feature when picking apart a module that the binary code referred to as BeetleJuice.**** <http://arstechnica.com/security/2012/05/spy-malware-infecting-iranian-networks-is-engineering-marvel-to-behold/> <http://www.symantec.com/connect/blogs/flamer-recipe-bluetoothache> The component scans for all Bluetooth devices in range and collects the status and unique ID of each one found, presumably so that it can be uploaded later to servers under the control of attackers, the Symantec report said. It also embeds an encoded fingerprint into each infected device with Bluetooth capabilities. The BeetleJuice module gives the attackers the ability to track not only the physical location of the infected device, but the coordinates of smartphones and other Bluetooth devices that have been in range of the infected device. [There is lots more to this story. See also: Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran David E. Sanger, *The New York Times*, 1 Jun 2012 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/world/middleeast/obama-ordered-wave-of-cyberattacks-against-iran.html Also http://www.securityweek.com/anti-censorship-tool-used-syria-and-iran-compromised PGN]
A shortage of skilled cyber experts is driving some contract decisions. http://shar.es/qwZ26
"People over the age of 55 pick passwords double the strength of those chosen by people under 25 years old. That's according to the largest ever study of password security, which also found that most of us choose passwords that are less secure than security experts recommend." http://j.mp/KAsARU (New Scientist)
Funny, but the DCS project that we did in 1970s under NSF funding used a "content-centric" Local network and it yielded many important advantages. Unfortunately the techniques used were eliminated by those who picked up parts of the effort since they saw no need for it :-)—Farber, D.J., J. Feldman, F.R. Heinrich, M.D. Hopwood, K.C. Larson, D.C. Loomis, and L.A. Rowe. "The Distributed Computing System." Proc. Seventh Annual IEEE Computer Society International Conference, (Feb. 1973), pp. 31-34. "Next month, a little more than a year after the National Science Foundation (NSF) launched the Future Internet Architecture (FIA) program, 100 researchers will gather in Palo Alto, CA, to discuss the progress in `content-centric networking' (CCN)—a new direction for organizing Internet traffic that aims to provide greater security and faster connectivity. Content-centric networking represents a shift from today's focus on using network addresses to find content. Instead it proposes a protocol that specifically defines and tracks content. Backers say it represents an evolutionary change similar to IP forwarding. “We think it's definitely a concept that will change how people design high performance hardware,'' said Jim Thornton, a principal engineer who leads a dozen researchers at PARC working in the area.
My. Bill Snyder thinks that we are in for much more privacy trouble from Facebook. Bill Snyder, *InfoWorld*, 31 May 2012 Facebook's mobile desperation will threaten your privacy Facebook's only way to grow is via mobile—and once the crazy schemes fail, Facebook will resort to its old tricks http://www.infoworld.com/d/the-industry-standard/facebooks-mobile-desperation-will-threaten-your-privacy-194448
[More on the brief item by Karen Haslam in RISKS-26.86. PGN] According to Katy McCaffrey, she was on a cruise when her iPhone was stolen. But she had set it up so that photos taken with it would be automatically transmitted to her own computer. It didn't take long after that for a suspect to be identified as a cruise line employee, and the phone to be recovered. http://www.komonews.com/news/va?vaid05e478b0cbcbdd3a7c2c011bbd4f24a http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/apple/9289306/any.html
While the sleuthing is impressive - there have been a number of these - I'm curious if there are ethical or legal issues. Being able to tap into your own property makes perfect sense, but in a way also resembles wiretap and hacking into computer systems. For example. if the stolen property were transferred to a good-faith purchaser who then made proprietary business or, er, explicit marital videos which the theft victim in turn publicized on the web—well, I think there are some privacy boundaries to ponder, even with an underlying illegality and righteous pursuit of justice.
Somini Sengupta, 31 May 2012, *The New York Times* [PGN-truncated for RISKS] On Valentine's Day, Nick Bergus came across a link to an odd product on Amazon.com: a 55-gallon barrel of ... personal lubricant. He found it irresistibly funny and, as one does in this age of instant sharing, he posted the link on Facebook, adding a comment: "For Valentine's Day. And every day. For the rest of your life." Within days, friends of Mr. Bergus started seeing his post among the ads on Facebook pages, with his name and smiling mug shot. Facebook - or rather, one of its algorithms - had seen his post as an endorsement and transformed it into an advertisement, paid for by Amazon. ... http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/technology/so-much-for-sharing-his-like.html [Nice item. Worth reading. PGN]
(Alina Tugend) Alina Tugend, *The New York Times*, 1 Jun 2012 Sometimes I just don't know when a column is going to hit a nerve. But judging from the response to my May 19 piece, annoying telemarketing calls and robo-calls rank high among the miserable irritants of everyday life. Readers said the calls, particularly those that offer lower interest rates for credit cards and mortgages, are becoming more frequent, despite using every tool available to block them. Reporting such calls to the Federal Trade Commission, as I suggested, was an exercise in frustration and futility, many readers told me. "I have all four of my phone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry," one reader, John Dingman, of Dallas, told me in an e-mail. "When I report such calls, the F.T.C. site thanks me and there is no other discernible response. The calls continue, perhaps from other companies, perhaps from the same companies with a new gambit and/or phone number. Who knows?" Readers told me that the Do Not Call Registry seemed to work just fine at blocking calls when it began in 2003 and for several years after that. But the number of unwanted calls has steadily increased. ... http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/02/your-money/telemarketing-calls-keep-mounting-up-along-with-consumer-irritation.html
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/05/29/no_microsoft_class_actions/ Microsoft forbids class actions in new Windows licence: You're on your own now Gavin Clarke, *Business*, 29 May 2012 opening text: Microsoft will make it harder for customers to club together with lawyers to file lawsuits against its products. The company is rolling out new End User License Agreements (EULAs) that forbid punters from joining class-action proceedings.
Galen Gruman, *InfoWorld*, 01 Jun 2012 Videoconferencing, unified communications, and shared editing don't work the way people do http://www.infoworld.com/d/consumerization-of-it/the-fallacy-of-collaboration-technology-194531 This article does a great job of deconstructing collaboration and showing why collaboration technology does not fit very well. The risk is of a round-peg solution in a round-hole problem.
Siri has been on my "list of things to avoid" pretty much from before I obtained the new iPhone. Although I generally like the phone, there are some features that I disabled/changed the moment I received it. Siri is part of those features that are killed - here is the complete list: 1- iCloud. No thank you. I have a legal obligation (and, more importantly, an ethical one) to protect the privacy of my clients and friends, so I will not give an uncontrolled 3rd party access to their data.. 2 - Location services: only enabled for apps that really have a need for it, which excludes most weather programs (the risk of data leaks is high). There is an interesting gotcha here: without the "find my phone" location service enabled you will not have a remote kill switch for the phone - even if you don't want to locate it first. Let me translate that: a knowledgeable thief or less than honest finder just has to disable location services to prevent remote kill. Not good - should be a separate, protected function (assuming the theft was for the hardware rather than the content). 3 - Simple passwords - I opted for complex ones (or at least longer ones). Needs no elaboration :). 4 - Siri. An iPhone doesn't have the local power to process voice commands, so it sends them to a US hosted service. In the process it thus provides pristine, digital quality voice prints of clearly identifiable users to an untrusted 3rd party. Biometrics are biometrics, whatever form they take.. 5 - iMessage, the Apple version of WhatsApp. iMessage and WhatsApp give providers access to all user messages, especially since they also carry images. While I'm on WhatsApp - it also exports the *entire* address book to WhatsApp's servers (the iPhone version will not even permit access to *configuration* until it has received permission to run off with that data). Personally, I am in awe of these services. I have never seen a global intercept implemented so smoothly and inexpensively, ever..
Regarding the "end of the world" rhetoric about the spent fuel pool at Fukushima reactor #4, this nonsense has been thoroughly debunked by a special post at the blog of the American Nuclear Society. http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2012/05/16/spent-fuel-at-fukushima-not-dangerous/ For starters, critics claim there are 10,893 spent fuel assemblies at Fukushima. In fact, there are only 2,724 spent fuel assemblies and all of them are in conditions which are below the temperature at which fuel cladding could oxidize. The technical details are laid out in the ANS Cafe article. Then there are claims, in particular, that if the spent fuel in pool #4 were to lose its cooling water, that the zirconium cladding on the fuel would oxidize and that all of the curies of radioactivity in the fuel would simultaneously be ejected into the open air. This sequence isn't possible based on the current condition of the spent fuel at reactor #4 nor is it possible for the other spent fuel stored at Fukushima. First, the spent fuel isn't hot enough. It has been out of the reactor long enough that even if all the water was lost, the remaining decay heat would still be below the point of ignition which is 900C for the cladding and 2,880C for the uranium oxide in the fuel. Second, the fuel has been out of the reactor for more than a year. The fuel has been out of the reactor longer than the point at which it could catch on fire. Scare the socks off people propaganda is never a substitute for engineering reality. You might just as well try to build railroads on snow drifts.
Indeed, but I feel that it also applies the other way round, i.e., authorities are using the Internet to monitor what we're up to and taking action against unacceptable behaviour, under the pretext of maintaining law and order, of course. The audit trail left by digital communications enables anything that you say (or write) to be taken down and used in evidence against you later. And apart from CCTV, in public places there's usually someone nearby with a smartphone incorporating a movie camera to catch any lapses (and maybe post them on YouTube).
Comment from a Brit: yes, it's irritating how the authorities make a big fuss about "don't worry, we won't read your e-mails or record your telephone conversations, we just want access to traffic records (which ISPs and phone companies keep anyway), so no threat to your privacy or anything..." while as RISKS readers will know, details of who you're communicating with are hugely revealing, and if this is available in real time then your movements can be tracked as well. Usual justification is "we need to do this, or you'll be blown up by terrorists!" Yeah, right...
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