The New York Times, 7 Jun 2019 The world's top artificial intelligence labs are honing technology that can mimic how humans write, which could one day help disinformation campaigns go undetected by generating huge amounts of subtly different messages. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/06/07/technology/ai-text-disinformation.html
Blog Editor's Note: Even as a Presidential Advisory Board was discussing GPS as the Gold Standard for satellite-based navigation last week, the system may have been operating in a degraded mode. On Sunday the Federal Aviation Administration held a teleconference to discuss the issue that seems to have persisted for several days. While not `failing', GPS signal quality seems to have degraded and this is impacting some equipment and services. Specifically, the aviation safety Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast system has been impacted across much of the United States. FAA has posted the following map depicting the areas impacted: These problems have delayed and canceled flights, possibly by the thousands. The FAA seems to have addressed some of this problem by issuing waivers for some aircraft to fly without operable ADS-B safety systems, as long as they stay on pre-planned routes and below 28,000 ft altitude. Speculation on some on-line forums point to specific manufacturers' equipment and aircraft that are primarily effected. Previous degradation in GPS signal quality, such as the SVN-23 caused problem in January 2016, have shown that equipment from different vendors react differently to the problem. Some are unaffected, some go offline, and some just perform poorly. The January 2016 SVN-23 degradation caused much of the nation's ADS-B system to be unavailable for much of the day. Other receivers and systems were impacted also. Cellular networks, first responder systems, digital broadcast, and numerous other systems were impacted. Watchstanders at the U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center seemed unaware of the problem early Monday morning, but promised to investigate and respond. Much of the information for this post was gleaned from the below posting on Hackaday.com... [...] https://rntfnd.org/2019/06/10/gps-degraded-across-much-of-us-ads-b-impacted/
Brian Barrett, wired.com, 8 Jun 2019 Google's big outage also blocked access to the tools Google needed to fix it. Excerpt: Which is exactly what played out on Sunday. Google says its engineers were aware of the problem within two minutes. And yet! “Debugging the problem was significantly hampered by failure of tools competing over use of the now-congested network,'' the company wrote in a detailed postmortem. “Furthermore, the scope and scale of the outage, and collateral damage to tooling as a result of network congestion, made it initially difficult to precisely identify impact and communicate accurately with customers.'' https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2019/06/the-catch-22-that-broke-the-internet/ [Source: https://www.wired.com/story/google-cloud-outage-catch-22/ ??? PGN]
Catalin Cimpanu for Zero Day | June 7, 2019 It was China Telecom, again. The same ISP accused last year of "hijacking the vital Internet backbone of western countries." https://www.zdnet.com/article/for-two-hours-a-large-chunk-of-european-mobile-traffic-was-rerouted-through-china/ opening text: For more than two hours on Thursday, June 6, a large chunk of European mobile traffic was rerouted through the infrastructure of China Telecom, China's third-largest telco and Internet service provider (ISP). The incident occurred because of a BGP route leak at Swiss data center colocation company Safe Host, which accidentally leaked over 70,000 routes from its internal routing table to the Chinese ISP. The Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), which is used to reroute traffic at the ISP level, has been known to be problematic to work with, and BGP leaks happen all the time. However, there are safeguards and safety procedures that providers usually set up to prevent BGP route leaks from influencing each other's networks. [So why have I read multiple articles about BGP problems? I remember when we covered BGP during my BCS degree, and it seemed to me at the time to be somewhat questionable security-wise. Regarding BGP, I am pleased to be right and would rather be wrong.]
Paul Vixie (CEO, Farsight Security), I Want a New Drug, 3 Jun 2019 Infosec https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/infosec/i-want-a-new-drug-1-1-1/ [Included in totality, with permission at my request. Possible lessons regarding legal risks. PGN] Slightly over 20 years ago, I co-founded the first anti-spam company, called MAPS. It was 'spam' spelled backwards, and also the Mail Abuse Prevention System. My co-founder was Dave Rand, and we were quite sure that the low cost of sending e-mail would cause an explosion of network abuse, where unethical advertisers would cheerfully externalize their costs onto the overall economy, and equally sure that spam would be like a noxious weed that overruns its ecosystem, because nothing eats it. We were, sadly, correct. Even more sadly, lawsuits against us by unethical advertisers cost millions of dollars, such that we ultimately had to sell the company just to pay our own lawyers. Lessons learned? First, no good deed goes unpunished. Second, check the water temperature before diving in. Somewhere along the line we started to joke that spam was like a drug, and spammers were addicts, and they would do anything, up to and including selling their own children to sex traffickers, if it meant they could spam for one more day. This may seem overly severe if you weren't in the security business at the time and you didn't see the depths of depravity to which unethical advertisers swam in order to bypass any and all controls against their work. With two decades of perspective, I can certainly see it as `gallows humor' and maybe not as darkly funny today as it seemed at the time. I share this story with you to give you a glimpse into the minds of a couple of perennial do- gooders as we lost the Internet's first culture war. But also to familiarize you with the meme, `X is like a drug.' Because, data is like a drug. It's not as some say, `the new oil,' because while oil moves nations, it won't pivot an entire economy from top to bottom. Only a handful of megacorporations and their supply chains thrive or die on changes in the market for oil. Data, by comparison, affects everybody. Like a drug, it can reform and pervert what were stable systems or morality, literally making good people do bad things, which they somehow justify. Also, there is no escape for the non-addicts; we are at constant risk in every zone of our personal and professional lives due to the insatiable need for more data by addicts and their enablers. They will take our data no matter what depths of depravity they must swim to, and their justification for it will sound like cheap equivocations to the non-addicts who are their victims. In the new virtual economy, value chains are not anchored by physical assets, and what a company can deliver is quite a bit more diverse than what they can get paid for. When I first heard that if I wasn't paying for a product, then I was the product, I knew it was so. I've tried to find some friend at Google who can charge me money to remember everything they know about me and use it to provide me services but never share that data with anyone else. Unfortunately, there is no amount of money I could pay to Google that would be worth as much to them as the many uses they can make of my personal information. There won't be a Private Google for me or for any of us, any more than the online news and other services I pay subscription fees for can offer me an ad-free experience or keep my personal information entirely private. However, unopposed trends accelerate, and right now the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the only thing slowing the world's sell-off of whatever actual privacy any of us still have left, and I am not at all sanguine about Ireland's slow-rolling protection of the American technical industry's anti-privacy practices. We must, every person, every family, every company, every state and every nation, diligently notice and defend against every data predator and every privacy abuse no matter how benign it may seem. If you're shredding your junk mail to defend your family against identity theft but then playing Pokemon Go during idle times as you go about your daily business, then you're hugging a tree without noticing the fire engulfing the forest around you. Many of the companies who can observe your activities will leverage your data to constrain your future choices in small ways which add up to a form of `digital serfdom' for you in the aggregate. Closer to home and immediately to hand, I am dumping my company's online expense reporting platform, after warning them several times, and getting only lame and misleading answers each time. They've turned on what they call `Smart Scan' for all our employees, and have removed any control for turning it off again, and this has been called a `policy change.' What this means is that the personally identifiable information of our employees as they travel the world was simply too valuable for them to leave in our hands -- they can't compete in the global data marketplace if they don't extract every possible one or zero from any information that comes into their orbit. Note that this is a paid commercial service, and I would pay more to keep our employees' privacy safe, but that option has not been and will not be offered to us. For the moment, this means we'll go back to e-mailed spreadsheets, while we audit the privacy policies of potential new online expense reporting services. Sadly, last time we did a search with such audits, every single provider we evaluated, failed, usually for more than one cause. This may help explain why I've lost my capability to be astonished by the findings in this year's Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR). It's a stunning piece of work and should be compelling in its own right. However, the data we're losing piecemeal due to surveillance capitalism is of gargantually greater magnitude than the data we're losing due to criminal breaches of our online infrastructure, and should concern all of us far more. I fear that we are all numb, and if we ponder the circumstances of our privacy it's to wonder where it will end or how it can end. Perhaps a motorcycling holiday in Scotland will restore my capacity for outrage. I'll try that and get back to you.  https://www.politico.com/story/2019/04/24/ireland-data-privacy-1270123  https://enterprise.verizon.com/resources/reports/dbir/2019/introduction/
Ring, Amazon's doorbell company, posted a video of a woman suspected of a crime and asked users to call the cops with information. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/pajm5z/amazon-home-surveillance-company-ring-law-enforcement-advertisements
An interim report on Project ExplAIn, from the Alan Turing Institute and the UK Information Commissioner's Office, has been released. https://ico.org.uk/media/2615039/project-explain-20190603.pdf The purpose of this project, according to the ICO, is to develop `practical guidance' for organizations on complying with UK data protection law when using artificial intelligence decision-making systems. This report is potentially very important, and probably deserves more attention than one, quick, reactionary post in reply. However, at a first glance: I am somewhat heartened by the realization, and emphasis, right up front, that one size definitely does not fit all with regard to artificial intelligence, even in regard to generic guidance and policy. But that does put into question the value of a 30 page report. Under the subheading of "Why is The Alan Turing Institute working on this?", the issue of "Explainability" is raised. Explainability is fairly easy in programs using expert system approaches. However as one gets into areas such as genetic programming and neural networks explainability becomes much more difficult to assess with any certainty. These are areas where we, essentially, *expect* the machines to surprise us with programs and decisions that we couldn't come up with on our own. (A later mention of this in regard to the "citizen juries" seems to amount to an opinion survey. In addition, the choice of "accuracy" over explainability seems to indicate a misunderstanding that explainability is one of the only measures we have for the reliability of accuracy. Still later in the report the issue of this dichotomy is raised but dismissed.) Under the subheading of "What is an AI decision?", there is an acknowledgment that AI is a catch-all term for a range of technologies. However, the section then goes on to emphasize machine learning, which may limit the overall scope and outcome. The document then goes on to discuss GDPR, seemingly without directly raising the issue of privacy. However, at this point it does not address the technical issue of the danger of using unedited masses of "real" data for the development and testing of AI systems, specifically those using machine learning technologies. The lack of this consideration is concerning, in regard to the overall value of the final outcomes of the report. Ultimately, this interim report is a disappointment. The methodology seems to be little more than an opinion survey, and a number of important areas in regard to guidance on pursuing work with AI systems seems to be either out of scope or dismissed.
This week my daughter's school became the first in the nation to pilot facial-recognition software. The technology's potential is chilling. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/07/opinion/lockport-facial-recognition-schools.html
UAB Planner5D "spent years and millions of dollars compiling the dataset" which was made too-easily accessible on its site, protected only by their TOS. They're suing the company who scraped the data and Facebook, who funded that company and also used the data. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/06/07/facebook_ai_3d_models_princeton_lawsuit/
Remember that new spam / blackmail form that sent you one of your old passwords and said that your machine had been hacked and you had been recorded while visiting a porn site, and demanded a payment in bitcoin? Not surprisingly, spam filters started blocking all that garbage immediately; the threat is always written in the same way, so one can assume Bayes works reasonably well. Of course, the next step to try to avoid this is to replace the entire text with an image containing the text itself. An image that says that the bitcoin address to which the payment needs to be sent is case-sensitive, so one would rather copy and paste it. But how am I supposed to pay now?
https://community.isc2.org/t5/Industry-News/Google-has-warned-US-of-security-risks-from-banning-Huawei/m-p/23408 'Google said that by stopping it from doing business with Huawei, the U.S. risks creating two kinds of Android operating system—the genuine version and a hybrid one, said the FT report, adding, "The hybrid one is likely to have more bugs in it than the Google one, and so could put Huawei phones more at risk of being hacked, not least by China."'
David A. Graham, *The Atlantic*, 7 Jun 2019, via Dave Farber It's not just making people believe false things—a new study suggests it's also making them less likely to consume or accept information. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/fake-news-republicans-democrats/591211/ The rise of fake news in the American popular consciousness is one of the remarkable growth stories in recent year—a dizzying climb to make any Silicon Valley unicorn jealous. Just a few years ago, the phrase was meaningless. Today, according to a new Pew Research Center study, Americans rate it as a larger problem than racism, climate change, or terrorism. But remarkable though that may seem, it's not actually what's most interesting about the study. Pew finds that Americans have deeply divergent views about fake news and different responses to it, which suggest that the emphasis on misinformation might actually run the risk of making people, especially conservatives, less well informed. More than making people believe false things, the rise of fake news is making it harder for people to see the truth. Pew doesn't define what it calls `made-up news', which is a reasonable choice in the context of a poll, but matters a great deal in interpreting it. The term has come to mean different things to different people. It was coined to describe deliberately false articles created by Potemkin news sites and spread on social media. But in a deliberate effort to muddy the waters, President Donald Trump began labeling news coverage that was unfavorable to him `fake news'. (Indeed, Pew finds that Americans blame politicians and their aides, more than the press, activist groups, or foreign actors, for the problem of made-up news.) Now when Trump's supporters refer to `fake news', they often seem to mean mainstream news they dislike, whereas when others do so, they mean bogus information spread by fringe actors. If Pew's data are taken to mean that people find this latter category more dangerous than climate change, that is almost certainly an overreaction. As the political scientist Brendan Nyhan wrote in February, summarizing the state of research in the field: Relatively few people consumed this form of content directly during the 2016 campaign, and even fewer did so before the 2018 election. Fake news consumption is concentrated among a narrow subset of Americans with the most conservative news diets. And, most notably, no credible evidence exists that exposure to fake news changed the outcome of the 2016 election. Pew finds a significant gap between Democrats' and Republicans' views on the seriousness of the problem with made-up news, though: This looks a lot like a split over the definition of fake news, rather than the actual problem. Put differently, Republicans may well be responding not to out-and-out fakery, but to bias—real or perceived—in news coverage. It would make sense that conservatives would be primed to accept the idea of widespread bias in the press after a decades-long campaign against the credibility of the mainstream press. Indeed, Republicans are about three times more likely than Democrats (58 percent versus 20 percent) to say that journalists create a lot of fake news, though they still assign more blame to both politicians and activist groups. How do people respond when they sense fake news? Here again, the partisan splits are notable. [...]
[Also via Dave Farber] It's not just making people believe false things—a new study suggests it's also making them less likely to consume or accept information. Consider the possibility that the Atlantic article is, itself, fake news about research done by Pew. As always, the Pew folk did a careful bit of survey research and used appropriate language in describing it. Surveys mostly are good for finding out about people's feelings and attitudes. They are almost always terrible at determining "cause" and as we regularly see, can be challenging at predicting actual behavior. I quoted the Atlantic's summary of the article, above, because Pew doesn't say anything about "making people believe". And because the Atlantic perpetuates the myth that consumers of information are relatively passive, whereas the reality is that we choose what we consume. (The Atlantic does note that people report doing more fact-checking.) There is always plenty of legitimate information available. And there is plenty of legitimate information about information sources that regularly produce fake news. So if someone regularly sees fake news, it's because they choose to. Most of us, most of the time, decide what we want to believe and then seek confirmation of it. It's actually hard work and significant angst to look for diverse sources of serious information, thoughtfully consider what is provided, and then judge it flexibly. We need to understand why folk choose to consume fake news and we aren't going to find that out with a survey.
It seems that this question on the visa request form has the same role of other questions, such as "are you a Nazi / Communist"—They do not really want an answer, since the true answer is rather easy to obtain, and is not really a solid reason to deny a visa; but it's a question that real criminals and terrorists are likely to lie on, so they can charge them with lying on a federal form if caught.
The other day my wife got a call very similar to what Rob describes. She hung up too, of course, logged on to the bank's site, and found a slew of charges from a supermarket chain in another state, all in different stores, all under $100. The problem is robocalls crying wolf.
All Visa cards start with 4 but the second digit varies depending on the bank. Mine start with 40, 46, and 49. There's a 10% chance that any particular card starts with 45, so they got lucky. This is typical for robophish, make up details and crank out the calls until the details match those of a sucker.
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