[All quotes below are attributable to Assoc. Prof. Xavier Boyen, at the Queensland University of Technology, who has received an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship worth almost $800,000 to build user-owned passwords. PGN] HUMAN-POWERED cryptographic protocols could be used to secure online transactions and electronic voting following a new research project. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/technology/human-cryptography-the-key-to-online-voting/story-e6frgakx-1227028546184 Cryptography provides unbreakable data security between computer nodes, but leaves human owners helpless. “The problem is cryptography, in order to be secure, requires heavy computer-assisted calculations to make it efficient and is very impractical for humans to do. We have a lot of new techniques that would be much more amenable to human operations while retaining the proven security that we seek in terms of mathematical cryptography. [...] The goal is to come up with a fairly simple but secure way to get the person involved in the very act of authenticating with a remote server or something like that.'' The project aims to build public-key ciphers that can be operated manually from a mental key in seconds to let users regain their Internet privacy, even defending against spyware and malware lurking on their very own mobiles and computers. It would also build security protocols with full end-to-end coverage all the way to the human users. “It could be the case that when you authenticate to a bank, instead of typing in your password the bank will send you a list of numbers and you know that you have to pick the second, the fourth and the fifth of those numbers and add them together. Using these kinds of techniques, as one example, it is possible to actually hide from the phone—which may not be working in your best interests—what your password is, what your secret is.'' Electronic voting provides a strong motivation for the research. “There is a concern that the voting machines might confirm one vote to the voter, but secretly record another one. This could be prevented by binding the vote to some little secret piece of information known only to the voter.'' [Interesting approach to passwords, although still may not address the Internet voting problems with respect to vote selling/buying/coercion. PGN]
*TIME* via PRIVACY Forum http://time.com/money/3117303/vote-lottery-cash-prizes/ To get people more involved—and prevent further embarrassment—the city is now considering a pilot program that would use lottery-type cash prizes as enticement to get locals to participate in elections. The Los Angeles Times reported that on Thursday night, the Los Angeles Ethics Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the city council begin offering cash prizes to voters randomly as soon as next year. "Maybe it's $25,000 maybe it's $50,000," said [Ethics] Commission President Nathan Hochman. "That's where the pilot program comes in—to figure out what ... number and amount of prizes would actually get people to the voting box." ... "Wouldn't we get a lot of people who know nothing about politics or the candidates jumping in and voting and just checking the box so they could get a million bucks?" the radio host asked Guerra. "Absolutely," Guerra responded. But, he added, that might not be a bad thing. "That might produce better results. There is no data to show that uninformed voters make worse decisions than informed voters." The technical term for this proposal is IDIOTIC. And the technical term for Mr. Guerra is IDIOT.
*The Atlantic* via NNSquad http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/08/why-email-will-never-die/375973/ Yet, despite all the prognosticators predicting it will--choose the violence level of your metaphor--go out of style, be put out to pasture, or taken out back and shot, e-mail grinds on. You can't kill e-mail! It's the cockroach of the Internet, and I mean that as a compliment. This resilience is a good thing. "There isn't much to sending or receiving e-mail and that's sort of the point," observed Aaron Straup Cope, the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum's Senior Engineer in Digital and Emerging Media. "The next time someone tells you e-mail is 'dead,' try to imagine the cost of investing in their solution or the cost of giving up all the flexibility that e-mail affords." E-Mail is actually a tremendous, decentralized, open platform on which new, innovative things can and have been built. In that way, e-mail represents a different model from the closed ecosystems we see proliferating across our computers and devices.
http://www.bgpmon.net/what-caused-todays-internet-hiccup/ Geoff.Goodfellow@iconia.com http://geoff.livejournal.com
Caroline Craig | InfoWorld, 15 Aug 2014 AI's promise has been dangled for decades, but a startup founded by the creators of Siri may be poised to finally deliver http://www.infoworld.com/t/mobile-apps/smarter-siri-viv-promises-truly-intelligent-assistant-248405 selected text: The company wants Viv to be not only smart but omnipresent, embedded in a plethora of Internet-connected objects and helping to power a million different apps. "Wouldn't it be nice if you could talk to everything, and it knew you, and it knew everything about you, and it could do everything?" Kittlaus said. Ah, no. 1) Security risks. 2) What does "truly intelligent" mean? Would I be able to understand why it decided a particular way, or will this be opaque? Would it be reliably correct *for me*? 3) Whose life is it anyway?
Reed Abelson and Eric Lichtblau, *The New York Times*, 15 Aug 2014 (via DF) http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/16/business/uncovering-health-care-fraud-proves-elusive.html The ordinary looking office building in a suburb of Baltimore gives no hint of the high-tech detective work going on inside. A $100 million system churns through complicated medical claims, searching for suspicious patterns and posting the findings on a giant screen. Hundreds of miles away in a strip mall north of Miami, more than 60 people -- prosecutors, F.B.I. agents, health care investigators, paralegals and even a forensic nurse—sort through documents and telephone logs looking for evidence of fraudulent Medicare billing. A warehouse in the back holds fruits of their efforts: wheelchairs, boxes of knee braces and other medical devices that investigators say amount to props for false claims. The Obama administration's declared war on health care fraud, costing some $600 million a year, has a remarkable new look in places like Baltimore and Miami. But even with the fancy computers and expert teams, the government is not close to defeating the fraudsters. And even the effort designed to combat the fraud may be in large part to blame. An array of outside contractors used by the government is poorly managed, rife with conflicts of interest and vulnerable to political winds, according to interviews with current and former government officials, contractors and experts inside and outside of the administration. Authority and responsibilities among the contractors are often unclear and in competition with one another. Private companies—like insurers and technology companies—have responsibility for enforcement, often with little government oversight. Fraud and systematic overcharging are estimated at roughly $60 billion, or 10 percent, of Medicare's costs every year, but the administration recovered only about $4.3 billion last year. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is responsible for overseeing the effort, manually reviews just three million of the estimated 1.2 billion claims it receives each year. “It's pretty dysfunctional because the contractors don't communicate with each other,'' said Orlando Balladares, a fraud investigator who has worked for both the government and private firms. Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, who oversees Medicare's antifraud center, the Center for Program Integrity, said the administration had made fighting fraud a top priority. “The focus is higher than it ever has been,'' said Dr. Agrawal, an emergency medicine physician and former McKinsey consultant who took the Medicare job this year. But even some of the administration's successes shed light on the crackdown's limitations. So-called recovery audit contractors, hired to reduce hospital overbilling, have an unparalleled record of returning money to Medicare, accounting for $8 billion in returned money since 2009. But hospital resistance to the contractors and an overburdened appeals process have largely stopped the recovery efforts. “They've been brought to a halt by their very success,'' said Marsha Simon, an expert on health policy and legislative strategy in Washington. Just this summer, Medicare shut down a successful hotline in fraud-plagued South Florida, saying it was no longer necessary. The hotline is credited with leading to more than 1,000 fraud investigations and identifying tens of millions of dollars in questionable payments in the last five years. Trained staff members hired by an outside contractor answered calls and passed relevant tips to investigators within 48 hours. [...]
Dave, two things came across my radar in the last couple of days that will no doubt interest IPers: "Humans Need Not Apply" is a fifteen minute video describing the rise of the robots. Fairly intelligently put together, if unyielding in its point of view. Sort of intermediate in terms of depth in both technology and philosophy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU&list=UU2C_jShtL725hvbm1arSV9w The video asserts that 45% of the U.S. workforce is in jobs that are vulnerable to replacement by robots in the very near future, with transportation being at the top of the list but white collar, professional and even many creative jobs not so far behind. This is from CGP Grey (http://www.cgpgrey.com/), who list Tyler Cowen's book as `further reading' on their front page. I'm deeply skeptical of the level of scholarship on Cowen's book, which I've articulated here on IP before, but the issues are decidedly worth discussing. Second, Harvard's Self Organizing Systems Group has released a fantastic video of a *thousand* small robots organizing themselves on a plane: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKCmhGbVd-o I saw a far more primitive version of something like this, oh, a decade ago, from Seth Copen Goldstein's group there at CMU. It has taken a while to get to here, but this is amazing, and I'm sure only the tip of the iceberg. It reminds me of MIT's self-assembling cubes from last year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?vjZbJS6LZbs and the nano-quadrotors from Penn from the year before: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQIMGV5vtd4 We live in amazing times, and getting more amazing every day.
ReadWrite via NNSquad http://readwrite.com/2014/08/15/medium-public-followers What if the parents of a teenager discover that she's following That's So Gay, a collection of articles on "unstraight issues by unstraight people," and thereby deduce her sexual orientation before she's disclosed it to them? Though its founder created Twitter, Medium is nothing like it. As sharing everything with everyone becomes the standard across the Web, there are fewer places where people can be themselves, without every action disclosing some portion of their identity. Before this latest move, Medium was a quiet, well-lit place where you could explore ideas with some sense of privacy. Now, in the name of "discovery," we've been exposed.
Community Health Systems, which operates over 206 hospitals in 28 states reports that their network was infiltrated by hackers, believed to be operating from the People's Republic of China. The hackers are believed to have gained access to their names, Social Security numbers, physical addresses, birthdays and telephone numbers of patients who had contact with hospital network during the last five years. The Money article can be found at: http://money.cnn.com/2014/08/18/technology/security/hospital-chs-hack/index.html Bob Gezelter, http://www.rlgsc.com
[Long item truncated for RISKS. PGN] https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/08/cell-phone-guide-protesters-updated-2014-edition With major protests in the news again, we decided it's time to update our cell phone guide for protestors. A lot has changed since we last published this report in 2011, for better and for worse. On the one hand, we've learned more about the massive volume of law enforcement requests for cell phone—ranging from location information to actual content—and widespread use of dedicated cell phone surveillance technologies. On the other hand, strong Supreme Court opinions have eliminated any ambiguity about the unconstitutionality of warrantless searches of phones incident to arrest, and a growing national consensus says location data, too, is private. Protesters want to be able to communicate, to document the protests, and to share photos and video with the world. So they'll be carrying phones, and they'll face a complex set of considerations about the privacy of the data those phones hold. We hope this guide can help answer some questions about how to best protect that data, and what rights protesters have in the face of police demands.
The ethics of randomized medical trials is not a new subject of discussion. As always, the care providers involved must be in a state of equipoise: they must be genuinely uncertain as to which of two treatments is better. When one of the two treatments has been in long use, some care providers may be diffident about randomized, blinded trials. Often enough, that diffidence has delayed abandonment of interventions now known to be useless (gastric freezing for ulcers, internal-mammary artery ligation for angina) or even harmful (look up flecainide, encainide, and lidocaine for arrhythmias after heart attacks). The ethics of resuscitation trials, in which informed consent cannot be obtained, has also been discussed in the ethical and medical literature for many years (for example, see Abramson NS, Safar P, et al, Annals of Emergency Medicine 19(7):781-784 (1990) or http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&vedCMQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fda.gov%2Fohrms%2Fdockets%2Fac%2F04%2Fbriefing%2F2004-4073b1_01_IDE%2520presentation.ppt&ei'3tU4vfPKOcjALE0oCgAw&usg¯QjCNGVdMfaTogQyH27oqKzWm_DjWsP8A&sig2=jzR6NMx6DxNmShLLfawdSQ&bvm=bv.73231344,d.cGE (2004)). In the United States, FDA guidelines covering such studies have been in place since about 2000, with ongoing revision. The physicians who initiated these discussions were concerned that the only alternative to proper trials in unresponsive patients was to proceed in ignorance, possibly doing harm as they had long been doing, or possibly doing harm in an appealing new way. In the absence of magical interventions of self-evident benefit, the alternative to randomized trials is ignorant guesswork. As to the specific matter of the UK study, looking at the use of adrenaline (called epinephirine in some parts of the world, including the US) in cardiac arrest: I don't know exactly what is being done in the UK, but the story suggests that the study was screened by medical experts, ethicists, and first responders, and that there was at least some attempt at public notice. That's about as good as it gets in outpatient resuscitation. It seems from the story --- I no longer follow the literature of advanced cardiac life support, but I assume that those who proposed the study do follow it --- that when people say that they *know* that it's better to use adrenaline in cardiac arrest than to avoid it, they don't know what they're talking about, nor do those who say they *know* the opposite. If I were in the target population, I'd opt in. In the event of my cardiac arrest, the experts believe that I'd be better off with adrenaline, or that I'd be better off without it, but they don't know which, and my expected outcome is therefore the same in the two arms, with confidence limits they'd like to tighten. The only consequential choice I might make would be to opt out; then I could guarantee that the public-health consequence of my cardiac arrest would be zero.
> Personally, I think if you've got to trust that an automated system will > "hack back" in faster-than-human cycles, you're playing with fire. It appears lessons learned in an already existing environment -the stock markets with their algorithmic trading- are enthusiastically ignored. I agree, this is a seriously dangerous idea - just imagine someone spoofing the attack origin. Personally, I have always preferred a human in or near any sensor-to-shooter link, even though it is not always clear if that has a positive or negative influence on the overall intelligence of the system. :)
The Dartford River Crossing is a very busy toll bridge and tunnel road crossing the River Thames to the east of London, UK. Currently drivers generally pay cash at toll booths, but to reduce long lines of waiting vehicles, work is under way to change to a cashless system: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/dart-charge-dartford-crossing-remote-payment > From October 2014 we are changing the way you pay the Dartford Crossing > charge. You will no longer pay at the barriers; instead you'll be able to > pay in advance, or before midnight the day after crossing. Drivers who > don't pay will face a penalty charge. The new scheme is known as Dart > Charge and will help to reduce congestion at the crossing. It will still > be free to use the crossing between 10pm and 6am. There will be lots of > ways to pay: with a pre-pay account online by text at retail outlets over > the phone by post. Vehicles will be identified by number (license) plate recognition cameras (as with the London Congestion Charge). This appears to have similar risks to the E-ZPass scheme, such as surveillance and incorrect charging, but one potential problem could be timing your payment; if you buy a ticket well in advance but then don't make your journey you will have wasted the money, while if you cross but are then unable to pay within the deadline you will pick up a fine. At least with cash you just pay for what you use, and you know that your payment has been accepted (though cashless systems can be a convenience for regular users). PS: I've only used the Dartford crossing a few times in my entire life, but a cashless system would be an advantage for me; my car is a left-hand-drive Chevrolet Caprice station wagon, so the driver's seat is on the wrong side for UK tollbooths... :o)
I am one of the "hard liners" the article refers to. My reasons are the potential for invasions of privacy and other erosions of rights. The obvious attempts by some toll authorities to increase E-ZPass use by deliberately inconveniencing cash toll payers (observed for several years on the NJ Garden State Parkway and elsewhere—those practices do seem to have diminished lately on the GSP) have only cemented my determination to avoid E-ZPass—I am by nature extremely stubborn. I hang a conductor style coin changer on my dash when I drive long distances. The funny thing is that each denomination of Federal Reserve Note in my wallet still bears the promise "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private'. Maybe someone should sue for fraud.
At least one of the commentaries I read on this said not to keep your passwords in a file on your computer. Well, I've taken to using long, randomly-generated passwords (24 characters). Typing those would be incredibly error-prone, so I keep them in a non-obvious file. After reading that, I started working on a "password vault": a piece of custom software that would let me store passwords, associated with a specific site (by whatever name or mnemonic I choose). The file would be encrypted with a common cryptosystem (e.g., Twofish or AES). I figured that should be safe enough. Sure, somebody could build software to do a flow analysis of the program, find the crypto-calls, and extract the key. But it's custom software, so there aren't a lot of good targets to make it worthwhile for crackers. I got partway through all that, then realized that the whole idea was flawed: If somebody can put malware on your system that scans your disk and finds where you've stored your passwords, they can *also* put a keytracker into the OS. So even if you kept them on a sheet of paper or memorized them, the crackers could _still_ obtain the password when you type it into the browser or other application. Screw this. I'm going back to storing them in a Word file.
As a lecturer in a Computer Science department, I clearly have some bias here. The claim that "Computer programming is now a trade that someone can develop a basic proficiency in within weeks or months" contains two propositions and implies two others: (1) Computer programming is now a trade. (2) You can develop a basic proficiency very quickly. (3) Trades are "banausic" and therefore contemptible. (4) As mere artisans with very little skill, programmers should be produced in large numbers and paid little. I have to say, therefore, that the image of a "trade" as something for thickos to pick up in weeks to months could not be further from the truth. Quoting, as an act of filial piety (because my father used to boast of being the only qualified plumber and drainlayer in the Law Society, from http://www.careers.govt.nz/jobs/construction/plumber-gasfitter-and-drainlayer/how-to-enter-the-job "To become a qualified drainlayer, you need to complete a drainlaying apprenticeship and gain a National Certificate in Drainlaying Level 4, which takes about 18 months to two years. This involves on-the-job training and completing block courses at a polytechnic." And "to become registered as a licensed plumber and gasfitter you must: do an apprenticeship and complete a National Certificate in Plumbing and Gasfitting (this usually takes four years); and sit and pass the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board examinations." That is, it can take LONGER to get a decent trade qualification than to get a BSc in Computer Science (which takes 3 years). But maybe programming really *is* unskilled compared with plumbing (a proposition that could be argued in earnest either way). Let's see what a reputable "trade school" actually does with it. In my city there are three ways to get NZQA-approved qualifications in programming: - in the Information Science department at the University (part of Commerce) - in the Computer Science department at the University (part of Science, and where I am) - in the Business, Tourism, and IT unit at Otago Polytechnic. The Polytechnic (www.op.ac.nz/) is where you would go to learn to be a motor mechanic, an electrician, a plumber, &c, so it's not unfair to call it a school of trades. They are right across the road from the building I work in. They put a huge amount of effort into looking after their students. I respect them a lot. Their offerings include Certificate in Information Technology (Level 3), 1 semester. This is what you would have got at school, roughly. Certificate in Information Technology (Level 4), 1 semester. This covers how to use Word, how to use Excel, blogs, wikis, what's an operating system, what's inside the box, and introductory programming (again, roughly school level). Certificate in IT Service and Support (Level 4). This is "how to be a technician" + "professional communication". It takes a year. People with this qualification are valuable, no question. They are the IT equivalent of "roadies". You can go and look for a job, or you can convert it to Bachelor of IT (Level 7). Level 7 means it's an honest-to-goodness Bachelor's degree. It takes 3 years. Not "weeks to months". YEARS. How does their BIT compare with our BSc? They'd be the same amount of effort. They're comparable prices. We have AI and bioinformatics, the Polytechnic have PC maintenance. Their graduates would probably have done as much programming as ours. I personally would call the skill level they come out with 'basic proficiency'. They have a heck of a lot yet to learn, but they have the foundations and have demonstrated willingness and ability to learn. If that's what 3 years does, "weeks to months" is not going to produce *good* programmers. Mr Mims, in short, appears to be calling for the bulk production of not-yet-competent programmers. He is of course right that the qualification programmers get does not have to be a degree of the kind currently on offer. Some sort of apprenticeship scheme could well be a good way to go. To the best of my belief, the main obstacle is the way businesses want to hire programmers who need no further training. Change *that*, and we can do interesting things.
Dan Geer wrote: > 7. Right to be forgotten—YES [...] I agree with most of what Dan wrote. Only this one section gives me heartburn, and most of that is with the title. A "right to be forgotten" as implemented in the European Community, is a really bad idea. First, it destroys the essential distinction between public and private. If you want to be private, do it indoors in your own home or somewhere else that you have the right to control. What you do in public is public, and the public has the right to know about it. Second, it transfers the costs to the wrong party. The EC demands that Google and other search engines and indexing systems maintain an infrastructure—at their own expense—to allow people to "be forgotten" by having specific pages removed from search results. In the old days, you could move to a new town, change your name, and start over. But it was _not_ cheap. Travel was expensive. You had to sell whatever you couldn't carry, and that usually meant losing some of the value. And then you arrived in a new place where everybody looked suspiciously at you, because they know one of the reasons people move is to get away from what they've done in the past. So you have to start all over building a reputation. The EC wants the index services to pay for that privilege. It is not surprising that Google's response has been to make it virtually useless: * If you ask Google to remove something about you, they will remove it only when the search terms include your name or other PII. * When they do this, they notify people that results have been redacted. [Error 451: not available for legal reasons] * They remove only the page(s) identified (how else are they to identify what should be removed?) So, third, It seems inevitable to me that this will result in a new version of the Streisand effect. Somebody demands that some page(s) be removed from search results. Other people see the 451 notification and find alternate search terms to see the page(s) in question. Then they multiple copies of them appear all over the Internet. But a right to mislead, that makes sense. At least, in the sense that you should be able to create a new online identity. And, really, all we need for that to happen is for the government to get out of the way. A lot of the rules about identification come from the government, wanting to make sure you don't get benefits you're not entitled to, or that you don't "launder" money from something the government has made illegal which it really should keep its nose out of. So that's what we need. A right to change your name and start over, possibly in a new place or at least a new website and/or ISP. Yes?
This sounds a bit like TheLastOne project, see: http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?TheLastOne
>> Why do you immediately rule out the obvious and completely effective >> fix of having Google stop conducting what appear to be searches of >> my private e-mail for potential criminal activity? ... > There's a very simple reason why not: Google isn't scanning every > e-mail message for child porn. It isn't even scanning them for spam. > It is scanning them for targeted advertising, which is where it gets > its money from. Spam detection, or child porn detection are the > side-effects. I call bogus. *Of course* Google is scanning e-mail messages for child porn. They probably do not have to compute hashes of images to further their advertising business model, and they certainly don't have to spend CPU cycles comparing those hashes to hashes of known child porn images in order to make advertising dollars. Scanning for spam, on the other hand, does further their advertising business. If they didn't do it, Google mail accounts would become unusable. No users == no advertisers == no money. Sadly, this is a case of camel, nose, tent. I agree that child pornography is reprehensible as well as illegal. I happen to think that use of illicit drugs is reprehensible as well as illegal. Should Google be looking for drug deals, too?
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