[This is a poignant delicious wonderful RISKS-worthy satirical item (truncated here, because you really should read the original on Alex's website). Alex apparently wrote it for a less-techie audience that does not understand many of the past election fiascoes covered in RISKS and elsewhere. Many of them actually appear in the context of Alex's piece -- which is more than timely (in that it is dated 1 Jan 2021!). Some of the URLs have strangely disappeared from my conversion of pdf to ascii here, so I urge you to go to the complete text in this URL: https://www.lawfareblog.com/topic/election-security PGN] Alex's indroduction (excerpted): Below is a potential *Lawfare* piece from New Year's Day 2021, following a not-quite-worst-case scenario of election interference using real vulnerabilities in U.S. electoral systems, as well as social media, traditional media and the political sphere. For a more thorough discussion of weaknesses and recommended mitigations, please see the *election security report* <https://cyber.fsi.stanford.edu/securing-our-cyber-future> from my colleagues and me at Stanford's *Cyber Policy Center* <https://cyber.fsi.stanford.edu>. [Alex] 1 Jan 2021 New Year' Day is traditionally spent recovering from the previous night's revelry. This year, the United States awakens to the greatest New Year's hangover in the country's almost 245-year history: a crisis of constitutional legitimacy as all three branches of government continue to battle over who will take the presidential oath of office later this month. This coming Wednesday, Jan. 6, a joint session of Congress will meet for what is a *traditionally perfunctory counting* <https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/3/15> of the Electoral College votes. With lawsuits still pending in seven states, both major-party candidates claiming victory via massive advertising campaigns and the president hinting that he might not accept the outcome of the vote, it's time to reflect on how everything went so very wrong. The first signs of external interference were seen in the spring of 2020. As the Democratic primary field narrowed, a group of social media accounts that had voiced strong support for particular candidates early on pivoted from supporting their first-choice candidates to alleging that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had unfairly rigged the primary. The uniform nature of these complaints raised eyebrows, and an investigation by Twitter, Google and Facebook *traced the accounts back to American employees of a subsidiary of the Sputnik News Agency* <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/business/facebook-misinformation-russia.htm\l> -- an English-language media entity owned by the Russian state. Yet as these groups were careful not to run political ads and to use U.S. citizens to post the content, there was no criminal predicate for deeper law enforcement investigations. The activity around the election intensified in the summer, when medical records for the son of the presumptive Democratic nominee were stolen from an addiction treatment center and seeded to the partisan online media. But that wasn't all: Less than 24 hours later, *embarrassing photos* <https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/pennsylvania-man-arrested-will-plead-gu\ilty-celebrity-hacking-n539166> from the phone of the incumbent president's single, Manhattanite daughter were released on the dark web. While the FBI has remained silent on the matter, citing an ongoing investigation, the New York Times recently quoted anonymous NSA officials attributing the first leak to Russia's SVR intelligence service and the latter to the Chinese Ministry of State Security. As to why Russia and China appear to be backing opposing candidates, America's adversaries do not necessarily share the same geopolitical goals, and it is clear that the Chinese are no longer willing to sit on the sidelines of U.S. politics while the Russians interfere. This multi-sided foreign interference dominated the headlines throughout the last half of the campaign, drawing the media's attention away from substantive policy debates and priming the U.S. electorate for the coming catastrophe. Election Day 2020 started quietly, with the familiar television spots showing images of early lines at polling places, interviews with proud citizens wearing `I Voted' footage of volunteers canvassing neighborhoods. The first signs of trouble appeared in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Akron and Cleveland, as poll workers were surprised by the unusually large number of mismatches between the voting rolls they had been provided and the ID shown by people intending to vote. [...] [The rest of this keeps getting better, and ever more scary. It is highly recommended. The pithy final paragraph cuts to the chase: “We couldn't have known,'' voices on Capitol Hill have argued again and again in the months since the election—including the Senate majority leader. If only there was a way to go back in time and help them understand the risks of their inaction. Remember, this is a visionary perspective from January 2021. It really seems like 20-20 foresight. PGN]
Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/09/04/an-artificial-intelligence-first-voice-mimicking-software-reportedly-used-major-theft/ "Thieves used voice-mimicking software to imitate a company executive's speech and dupe his subordinate into sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to a secret account, the company's insurer said, in a remarkable case that some researchers are calling one of the world's first publicly reported artificial-intelligence heists. The managing director of a British energy company, believing his boss was on the phone, followed orders one Friday afternoon in March to wire more than $240,000 to an account in Hungary, said representatives from the French insurance giant Euler Hermes, which declined to name the company." Hmmm. And no other feedback channel was used to verify this - especially since the request was deemed "rather strange"?
*Tengai is said to be "bias free" and will only hire the best person for the job regardless of ethnicity, age or gender* A robot has hired a human being for the first time in history as an AI was left to do job interviews. Robotic head Tengai has been commissioned to carry out recruitment in the Upplands Bro Municipality, Sweden. Tengai resembles a head on a stick, with a friendly looking face beamed onto a screen which wraps around his plastic skull. The robot was developed by recruitment company TNG together with the tech firm Furhat Robotics. He is reported to have hired a man called Anders Ornhed, from Jarfalla. Anders has the honour of becoming the first person ever to hired by an AI. Swedish radio reported Anders got through the interview process with Tengai. He was given the job as digital coordinator at the municipality office. Tengai is boasted to be `bias free'. The robot is not affected by the jobseeker=E2=80=99s age, gender of ethnicity—he just wants the best person for the job. [...] https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/world-news/robot-hires-human-being-world-1= 9572551
A Twitter user known only as "Dorothy," 15, was banned from her phone by her mom in early August after becoming distracted while cooking and starting a fire, but that didn't stop her, reported The Guardian. First she tweeted from a Nintendo 3DS gaming device, but Mom caught on quickly and posted that the account would be shut down. The next day, Dorothy tweeted from her Wii U, assuring followers that while Mom was at work, she'd be looking for her phone. Finally, on Aug. 8, with no other options left, Dorothy reached out to Twitter from an unlikely source: her family's LG smart refrigerator. "I am talking to my fridge what the heck my Mom confiscated all of my electronics again," she posted. The post went viral, even prompting LG to tweet about it with the hashtag #FreeDorothy. [The Guardian, 8/13/2019]
https://www.straitstimes.com/world/europe/voice-mimicking-software-used-in-heist-in-ai-first The precise voice impersonation synthesis method is not identified. The incident affirms an emerging business risk, supplementing the ever-growing list of CxO fraud techniques and exploits. Voice impersonation might be thwarted by multi-factor authentication, including face-to-face verification, before payment approval authorization completes. Each authentication factor introduced into the payment approval life cycle adds transactional friction to business effectiveness. Business fraud losses rise as technologically-enabled theft becomes more sophisticated than carbon-based operators can detect and deter. Can a silicon-based operator successfully replace humans at fraud detection with an superior AUCROC (area-under-curve, receiver operating characteristic) false-positive/negative result? Insurance companies are noticing these incidents, and will raise premiums as various fraud losses accrue. https://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks/31/26#subj14.1 identifies one voice simulator. https://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks/31/34#subj11.1 affirms the risk magnitude to business and government operations.
[Thanks to Ray Perrault. PGN] William Fleshman, 3 Sep 2019 Evading Machine Learning Malware Classifiers for fun and profit! https://towardsdatascience.com/evading-machine-learning-malware-classifiers-ce52dabdb713 In this post, I¢m going to detail the techniques I used to win the Machine Learning Static Evasion Competition announced at this year¢s DEFCON AI Village. The goal of the competition was to get 50 malicious Windows Portable Executable (PE) files to evade detection by three machine learning malware classifiers. Not only did the files need to evade detection, but they also had to maintain their exact original functionality and behavior. [...] [Nice Work. Beautifully presented. This is indeed a winner! PGN]
[I thought these "learning" systems were rather more sophisticated than what appears to be the case presented here. Is this actually a house of cards?] Tiernan Ray, ZDNet, 5 Sep 2019 Researchers at the Allen Institute for AI have engineered a brilliant mash-up of natural language processing techniques that gets high scores on Regents exam questions for high school science, but the software is not really learning science in the sense most people would think, it's just counting words. https://www.zdnet.com/article/no-this-ai-hasnt-mastered-eighth-grade-science/ One of the most mindless features of modern education are standardized tests, which require pupils to regurgitate information usually committed to memory in rote fashion. Fortunately, a machine has now been made that can complete questions on a test about as well as the average student, perhaps freeing humans for more worthwhile types of learning. Just don't be confused that it has anything to do with learning as you typically think of it.
The CEO and founder of Yubico, a startup that designs online account-securing fobs, says as much as she enthusiastically slaps a package on a table at Fortune's offices. Inside the plastic container: Her latest product. It's the first Lightning-port compatible hardware security key. Translation: the first security fob that works with Apple's latest iPhones, generations 5 and later. Hardware security keys come highly recommended by security experts. They offer an additional layer of protection—a second-factor, in the parlance -- over passwords alone. They're generally more secure than sending a one-time code to your phone, or using a random number generating application to produce the codes. Services such as Twitter, Facebook, and Dropbox support the keys. Before one dismisses the notion—why am I going to stick this dongle into my phone every time I want to log into one of my accounts?—Stina anticipates the objection. You only have to stick in the key every so often. Google lets you have a 30-day grace period. Other services give you more leniency. Besides: What's a minor inconvenience for so much peace of mind? https://fortune.com/2019/09/07/hardware-security-keys-a-seatbelt-for-the-internet-cyber-saturday/
FALLS CHURCH, Va.—A convicted hacker who's serving 10 years in prison for breaking into computer systems of security firms and law-enforcement agencies has been called to testify to a federal grand jury in Virginia. Supporters of Jeremy Hammond, part of the Anonymous hacking group, say he's been summoned to testify against his will to a grand jury in Alexandria on Tuesday. Hammond, who admitted leaking hacked data to WikiLeaks, believes the subpoena is related to the investigation of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. Assange is under indictment in Alexandria and the U.S. is seeking extradition. Prosecutors declined comment. Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was also called to testify to the WikiLeaks grand jury. She refused and is now serving a jail sentence of up to 18 months for civil contempt. Hammond's supports say he'll also refuse to testify. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/convicted-hacker-called-to-testify-to-grand-jury-in-virginia/2019/09/03/297a7596-ce5f-11e9-a620-0a91656d7db6_story.html
This seems to be a cultural thing. In Israel (and I guess many other countries) this is quite acceptable behavior, especially among good old friends. Technology just seems to bring the world together in many ways.
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