http://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/20/opinion/medical-device-approval.html 'The bar for approval of medical devices is too low. There is no reason we shouldn't require, as we almost always do for drugs, a randomized placebo-controlled trial showing improvements in "hard" outcomes like mortality before approving them. 'Unfortunately, the United States may soon make it even easier for medical devices to reach the patient's bedside. The Food and Drug Administration is considering requiring less upfront research and instead adding increased oversight after a device has been introduced into the market. The argument is that this will spur technological innovation and perhaps help terminally ill patients. However, loosening regulations could extract a steep cost from patients and the health system.' Greater release frequency with less rigorous pre-production qualification criteria and test coverage is NOT a recipe for safe and viable embedded software stacks that drive these gizmos. Suppressing production defect escape potential is challenging. Proactive techniques that facilitate early and rapid software defect discovery capability—such as continuous integration and high-speed regression—are effective when capable test authors challenge software stack authors. Alas, industry (not just embedded medical implants, cars, cellphones, etc.) often economize on qualification product life cycle stages. There are "too many bits" to test quickly and thoroughly. Governance decisions and gut judgment is sometimes applied with impunity. It appears that the FDA has gone rogue, and off-the-rails via regulatory capture. A business-friendly administration promoting "caveat emptor" as standard operating procedure also intensifies medical device implantation risks. Refer to "The Danger Within Us: America's Untested, Unregulated Medical Device Industry and One Man's Battle to Survive It" by Jeanne Lenzer for an expose' of the implantable medical device industry. If you are confronted with a "hard sell" to "go" for implantation, ask a few questions of your physician and the device salesperson: Are there any randomized control trials and non-industry funded studies that evaluate the candidate device's effectiveness in humans? Were the studies performed by a non-profit? Or a university? Does the entity reporting the study's results receive funding from the device manufacturer? Do any of the study's authors disclose industry ties? If so, a report that is published might possess skewed findings. Is the raw data from these studies available for inspection? If so, try to find a consultant to review it for you and render an opinion. Will the device manufacturer share their software and system test plans for inspection? If so, try to locate a person "skilled in the art of embedded software test" to evaluate the test plan, and the firmware test results released with the implanted device. Try to gain access to the manufacturer's defect tracking system to explore defect density and discovery rates and repair history. Does the device have a special mechanism to disable it, should it misbehave? If so, try to learn about how this is accomplished and ensure there are backup sources—other physicians or facilities that possess this mechanism. How many implants have been performed in the past year? How many patient deaths occurred post-implantation? Never mind if the deaths were attributed to the device or not, find the raw count of deaths. For each post-implant death, was an FDA MAUDE report filed? How many of these reports where filed by medical practitioners? How many by the device manufacturer? Confront the salesperson to learn why, or if, there's a huge discrepancy between the number of deaths and the number of FDA MAUDE reports they or practitioners reported. That discrepancy is apparently a clue that the manufacturer is or has concealed important evidence about device capability or side-effects that can injure or kill you. Has the device been the subject of prior recalls? If so, why? Has the manufacturer been sued for product liability previously? Are they currently under litigation for liability? These questions can provide insight into their organization's maturity and ability to pro-actively act on lessons-learned. Is the device implantation under consideration being applied for "an off-label" application in your case? If so, why?
Liam Tung | 18 May 2018 http://www.zdnet.com/article/ex-intel-security-expert-this-new-spectre-attack-can-even-reveal-firmware-secrets/ Ex-Intel security expert: This new Spectre attack can even reveal firmware secrets; A new variant of Spectre can expose the contents of memory that normally can't be accessed by the OS kernel. opening text: Yuriy Bulygin, the former head of Intel's advanced threat team, has published research showing that the Spectre CPU flaws can be used to break into the highly privileged CPU mode on Intel x86 systems known as System Management Mode (SMM).
http://www.zdnet.com/article/this-malware-is-harvesting-saved-credentials-in-chrome-firefox-browsers/ This malware is harvesting saved credentials in Chrome, Firefox browsers Researchers say the new Vega Stealer malware is currently being used in a simple campaign but has the potential to go much further. By Charlie Osborne for Zero Day | May 14, 2018—07:42 GMT (00:42 PDT) | Topic: Security selected text: Vega Stealer is also written in .NET and focuses on the theft of saved credentials and payment information in Google Chrome. These credentials include passwords, saved credit cards, profiles, and cookies. When the Firefox browser is in use, the malware harvests specific files—"key3.db" "key4.db", "logins.json", and "cookies.sqlite" -- which store various passwords and keys. However, Vega Stealer does not wrap up there. The malware also takes a screenshot of the infected machine and scans for any files on the system ending in .doc, .docx, .txt, .rtf, .xls, .xlsx, or .pdf for exfiltration. According to the security researchers, the malware is currently being utilized to target businesses in marketing, advertising, public relations, retail, and manufacturing.
Charlie Osborne for Zero Day | 22 May 2018 http://www.zdnet.com/article/google-awards-researcher-36000-for-remote-execution-flaw-in-google-app-engine/ The discovery was made by a university student who was not aware of how dangerous the vulnerability was. opening text: Google has awarded a young cybersecurity researcher $36,337 for disclosing a severe vulnerability in the Google App Engine. The 18-year-old student from Uruguay's University of the Republic discovered a critical remote code execution (RCE) bug in the system, which is a framework and cloud platform used for the hosting and development of web applications in Google data centers.
Danny Palmer | 17 May 2018 http://www.zdnet.com/article/this-cryptocurrency-phishing-attack-uses-new-trick-to-drains-wallets/ This cryptocurrency phishing attack uses new trick to drain wallets Campaign uses automation to empty cryptocurrency wallets and produce lucrative returns. ... the phishing campaign mimics the front end of the MyEtherWallet website for the purpose of stealing credentials, while also deploying what the authors call an "automated transfer system" to process the details captured by the fake page and transfer funds. The attack injects scripts into active web sessions and silently and invisibly executes bank transfers just seconds after the user logs into their cryptocurrency account. Researchers note that MyEtherWallet is an appealing target for attackers because it is simple to use, but its lack of security compared to other banks and exchanges make it a prominent target for attack. After that, the crooks look to drain accounts when the victim decrypts their wallet. The scam uses scripts which automatically create the fund transfer by pressing the buttons like a legitimate user would, all while the activity remains hidden—it's the first time an attack has been seen to use this automated tactic.
Baldet, who most recently served as the bank's blockchain program lead, is cofounding a new startup, Clovyr, that aims to help consumers, developers, and businesses explore the nascent, albeit burgeoning, world of blockchain-based, decentralized technologies, she tells Fortune. She is joined by Nielsen, former lead developer of Quorum, a JPMorgan Chase-built blockchain for business, who will serve as the concern's chief technologist. Baldet unveiled a Clovyr demo at the Consensus conference in Manhattan on Monday afternoon. The company is in the process of fundraising. Clovyr's product, now under development, is slated to take the form of something akin to an app store, where people and businesses can experiment with a multitude of decentralized apps and services, developer toolsets, and underlying distributed ledgers. The cofounders envision the platform serving as a neutral ground, offering a browser-like dashboard for the blockchain-curious, through which Clovyr can provide support and other services to customers according to their needs. http://fortune.com/2018/05/14/blockchain-jpmorgan-chase-amber-baldet-clovyr/ Just what consumers need. What could go wrong? Also, what's with "Clovyr" name?
Immigration officials originally wanted artificial intelligence that could continuously track foreign visitors' social media. They're giving the job to humans instead. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/05/17/ice-just-abandoned-its-dream-of-extreme-vetting-software-that-could-predict-whether-a-foreign-visitor-would-become-a-terrorist/
There is no "security" problem with either PGP or S/MIME encrypted and signed messages. The problem is, as it has been since the introduction of the ability to embed executable code into e-mail messages (aka, Web Pages and Rich Text via SMTP), the shoddy and useless security state of almost all e-mail clients. If you turn off the [expletive deleted] (HTML code execution, etc) then there is no problem. In other words, the only problem that exists is that which you created yourself. So if you do something utterly stupid, you deserve whatever you get in return.
Throughout the many arguments over encrypted communications, there has been at least one constant: the venerable tools for strong email encryption are trustworthy. That may no longer be true. On Tuesday, well-credentialed cybersecurity researchers will detail what they call critical vulnerabilities in widely-used tools for applying PGP/GPG and S/MIME encryption. According to Sebastian Schinzel, a professor at the Münster University of Applied Sciences in Germany, the flaws could reveal the plaintext that email encryption is supposed to cover up—in both current and old emails. The researchers are advising everyone to temporarily stop using plugins for mail clients like Microsoft Outlook and Apple Mail that automatically encrypt and decrypt emails—at least until someone figures out how to remedy the situation. Instead, experts say, people should switch to tools like Signal, the encrypted messaging app that's bankrolled by WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton. http://fortune.com/2018/05/14/email-encryption-tool-vulnerability-cybersecurity-warning/
Erica Portnoy, Danny O'Brien, and Nate Cardozo, EFF, 14 May 2018 http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/05/not-so-pretty-what-you-need-know-about-e-fail-and-pgp-flaw-0 Don't panic! But you should stop using PGP for encrypted email and switch to a different secure communications method for now. A group of researchers released a paper today that describes a new class of serious vulnerabilities in PGP (including GPG), the most popular email encryption standard. The new paper includes a proof-of-concept exploit that can allow an attacker to use the victim's own email client to decrypt previously acquired messages and return the decrypted content to the attacker without alerting the victim. The proof of concept is only one implementation of this new type of attack, and variants may follow in the coming days. Because of the straightforward nature of the proof of concept, the severity of these security vulnerabilities, the range of email clients and plugins affected, and the high level of protection that PGP users need and expect, EFF is advising PGP users to pause in their use of the tool and seek other modes of secure end-to-end communication for now. Because we are awaiting the response from the security community of the flaws highlighted in the paper, we recommend that for now you uninstall or disable your PGP email plug-in. These steps are intended as a temporary, conservative stopgap until the immediate risk of the exploit has passed and been mitigated against by the wider community. There may be simpler mitigations available soon, as vendors and commentators develop narrower solutions, but this is the safest stance to take for now. Because sending PGP-encrypted emails to an unpatched client will create adverse ecosystem incentives to open incoming emails, any of which could be maliciously crafted to expose ciphertext to attackers. While you may not be directly affected, the other participants in your encrypted conversations are likely to be. For this attack, it isn't important whether the sender or the receiver of the original secret message is targeted. This is because a PGP message is encrypted to both of their keys. At EFF, we have relied on PGP extensively both internally and to secure much of our external-facing email communications. Because of the severity of the vulnerabilities disclosed today, we are temporarily dialing down our use of PGP for both internal and external email. Our recommendations may change as new information becomes available, and we will update this post when that happens. How The Vulnerabilities Work PGP, which stands for Pretty Good Privacy, was first released nearly 27 years ago by Phil Zimmermann. Extraordinarily innovative for the time, PGP transformed the level of privacy protection available for digital communications, and has provided tech-savvy users with the ability to encrypt files and send secure email to people they've never met. Its strong security has protected the messages of journalists, whistleblowers, dissidents, and human rights defenders for decades. While PGP is now a privately-owned tool, an open source implementation called GNU Privacy Guard (GPG) has been widely adopted by the security community in a number of contexts, and is described in the OpenPGP Internet standards document. The paper describes a series of vulnerabilities that all have in common their ability to expose email contents to an attacker when the target opens a maliciously crafted email sent to them by the attacker. In these attacks, the attacker has obtained a copy of an encrypted message, but was unable to decrypt it. The first attack is a direct exfiltration attack that is caused by the details of how mail clients choose to display HTML to the user. The attacker crafts a message that includes the old encrypted message. The new message is constructed in such a way that the mail software displays the entire decrypted message—including the captured ciphertext—as unencrypted text. Then the email client's HTML parser immediately sends or exfiltrates the decrypted message to a server that the attacker controls. The second attack abuses the underspecification of certain details in the OpenPGP standard to exfiltrate email contents to the attacker by modifying a previously captured ciphertext. Here are some technical details of the vulnerability, in plain-as-possible language: When you encrypt a message to someone else, it scrambles the information into ciphertext such that only the recipient can transform it back into readable plaintext. But with some encryption algorithms, an attacker can modify the ciphertext, and the rest of the message will still decrypt back into the correct plaintext. This property is called malleability. This means that they can change the message that you read, even if they can't read it themselves. To address the problem of malleability, modern encryption algorithms add mechanisms to ensure integrity, or the property that assures the recipient that the message hasn't been tampered with. But the OpenPGP standard says that it's ok to send a message that doesn't come with an integrity check. And worse, even if the message does come with an integrity check, there are known ways to strip off that check. Plus, the standard doesn't say what to do when the check fails, so some email clients just tell you that the check failed, but show you the message anyway. ... http://dewaynenet.wordpress.com/feed/
Zack Whittaker for Zero Day | 24 May 2018 http://www.zdnet.com/article/tmobile-bug-let-anyone-see-any-customers-account-details/ T-Mobile bug let anyone see any customer's account details Exclusive: The exposed lookup tool let anyone run a customer's phone number—and obtain their home address and account PIN, used to contact phone support. selected text: A bug in T-Mobile's website let anyone access the personal account details of any customer with just their cell phone number. The flaw, since fixed, could have been exploited by anyone who knew where to look—a little-known T-Mobile subdomain that staff use as a customer care portal to access the company's internal tools. Although the API is understood to be used by T-Mobile staff to look up account details, it wasn't protected with a password and could be easily used by anyone. The returned data included a customer's full name, postal address, billing account number, and in some cases information about tax identification numbers. The data also included customers' account information, such as if a bill is past-due or if the customer had their service suspended. The data also included references to account PINs used by customers as a security question when contacting phone support. Anyone could use that information to hijack accounts. [Gene also contributed a previous item from Zack Whittaker om 17 May on the same subject: http://www.zdnet.com/article/cell-phone-tracking-firm-exposed-millions-of-americans-real-time-locations/ I think the more recent one suffices here. PGN]
Zack Whittaker for Zero Day | May 11, 2018 http://www.zdnet.com/article/securus-police-cell-phones-warrantless-tracking/ Senator wants to know how police can locate any phone in seconds without a warrant. Real-time location data was accessible by police under "the legal equivalent of a pinky promise," said a senator who is demanding that the FCC investigate why a company, contracted to monitor calls of prison inmates, also allows police to track phones of anyone in the US without a warrant. The bombshell story in *The New York Times& revealed Securus, a Texas-based prison technology company, could track any phone "within seconds" by obtaining data from cellular giants—including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon—typically reserved for marketers.
Zack Whittaker, Zero Day, 14 May 2018 http://www.zdnet.com/article/us-cell-carriers-selling-access-to-real-time-location-data/ US cell carriers are selling access to your real-time phone location data The company embroiled in a privacy row has "direct connections" to all major US wireless carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint—and Canadian cell networks, too. Four of the largest cell giants in the US are selling your real-time location data to a company that you've probably never heard about before. In case you missed it, a senator last week sent a letter demanding the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigate why Securus, a prison technology company, can track any phone "within seconds" by using data obtained from the country's largest cell giants, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint, through an intermediary, LocationSmart.
http://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/05/19/technology/phone-apps-stalking.html 'KidGuard is a phone app that markets itself as a tool for keeping tabs on children. But it has also promoted its surveillance for other purposes and run blog posts with headlines like *How to Read Deleted Texts on Your Lover's Phone.* 'A similar app, mSpy, offered advice to a woman on secretly monitoring her husband. Still another, Spyzie, ran ads on Google alongside results for search terms like *catch cheating girlfriend iPhone*. 'As digital tools that gather cellphone data for tracking children, friends or lost phones have multiplied in recent years, so have the options for people who abuse the technology to track others without consent.' Surveillance capitalism is booming. These apps are e^(to the creepy).
http://www.csoonline.com/article/3273929/security/voice-squatting-attacks-hacks-turn-amazon-alexa-google-home-into-secret-eavesdroppers.html Voice squatting attacks: Hacks turn Amazon Alexa, Google Home into secret eavesdroppers. Researchers devise new two new attacks—voice squatting and voice masquerading—on Amazon Alexa and Google Home, allowing adversaries to steal personal information or silently eavesdrop. Ms. Smith, CSO | 17 May 2018 Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. opening text: Oh, goody, Amazon Alexa and/or Google Home could be hit with remote, large-scale "voice squatting" and "voice masquerading" attacks to steal sensitive user information or eavesdrop on conversations.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/so-umm-google-duplexs-chatter-is-not-quite-human/ "Google's Duplex voice assistant drew applause last week at the company's annual I/O developer conference after CEO Sundar Pichai demonstrated the artificially intelligent technology autonomously booking a hair salon appointment and a restaurant reservation, apparently fooling the people who took the calls. But enthusiasm has since been tempered with unease over the ethics of a computer making phone calls under the guise of being human. Such a mixed reception has become increasingly common for Google, Amazon, Facebook and other tech companies as they push AI's boundaries in ways that do not always seem to consider consumer privacy or safety concerns."
via NNSquad http://www.thewrap.com/henry-kissinger-is-scared-of-unstable-artificial-intelligence/ The former U.S. secretary of state is warning against the threat of "unstable" artificial intelligence in a new essay in The Atlantic -- fearing the rapid rise of machines could lead to questions humanity is not ready to tackle.
http://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/10/technology/cellphone-tracking-law-enforcement.html A company catering to law enforcement and corrections officers has raised privacy concerns with a product that can locate almost anyone's cellphone across the United States.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gunshot-sensors-pinpoint-destructive-fish-bombs/ "Rogue fishers around the world toss explosives into the sea and scoop up bucketloads of stunned or dead fish, an illegal practice in many nations that can destroy coral reefs and wreak havoc on marine biodiversity. Catching perpetrators amid the vastness of the ocean has long proved almost impossible, but researchers working in Malaysia have now adapted acoustic sensors”originally used to locate urban gunfire”to pinpoint these marine blasts within tens of meters." Example of dual-use technology for public and environmental safety maintenance.
NNSquad http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/may/21/gdpr-emails-mostly-unnecessary-and-in-some-cases-illegal-say-experts The vast majority of emails flooding inboxes across Europe from companies asking for consent to keep recipients on their mailing list are unnecessary and some may be illegal, privacy experts have said, as new rules over data privacy come into force at the end of this week. AND EVEN WORSE: "Warning: New European Privacy Law Has Become a Jackpot for Internet Crooks" - http://lauren.vortex.com/2018/05/01/warning-new-european-privacy-law-has-become-a-jackpot-for-internet-crooks
The plan grew out of efforts to modernize the Defense Department's ID cards. The Defense Department is funding a project that officials say could revolutionize the way companies, federal agencies and the military itself verify that people are who they say they are and it could be available in most commercial smartphones within two years. The technology, which will be embedded in smartphones' hardware, will analyze a variety of identifiers that are unique to an individual, such as the hand pressure and wrist tension when the person holds a smartphone and the person's peculiar gait while walking, said Steve Wallace, technical director at the Defense Information Systems Agency. Organizations that use the tool can combine those identifiers to give the phone holder a "risk score," Wallace said. If the risk score is low enough, the organization can presume the person is who she says she is and grant her access to sensitive files on the phone or on a connected computer or grant her access to a secure facility. If the score's too high, she'll be locked out. http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2018/05/pentagon-has-big-plan-solve-identity-verification-two-years/148280/
[Thanks to Phil Porras] http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/05/amazon-confirms-that-echo-device-secretly-shared-users-private-audio/ Amazon confirmed an Echo owner's privacy-sensitive allegation on Thursday, after Seattle CBS affiliate KIRO-7 reported that an Echo device in Oregon sent private audio to someone on a user's contact list without permission. ...."Unplug your Alexa devices right now," the user, Danielle (no last name given), was told by her husband's colleague in Seattle after he received full audio recordings between her and her husband, according to the KIRO-7 report. The disturbed owner, who is shown in the report juggling four unplugged Echo Dot devices, said that the colleague then sent the offending audio to Danielle and her husband to confirm the paranoid-sounding allegation. (Before sending the audio, the colleague confirmed that the couple had been talking about hardwood floors.) After calling Amazon customer service, Danielle said she received the following explanation and response: "'Our engineers went through all of your logs. They saw exactly what you told us, exactly what you said happened, and we're sorry.' He apologized like 15 times in a matter of 30 minutes. 'This is something we need to fix.'" ... Ya think?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-repeatedly-overstated-encryption-threat-figures-to-congress-public/2018/05/22/5b68ae90-5dce-11e8-a4a4-c070ef53f315_story.html The FBI has repeatedly provided grossly inflated statistics to Congress and the public about the extent of problems posed by encrypted cellphones, claiming investigators were locked out of nearly 7,800 devices connected to crimes last year when the correct number was much smaller, probably between 1,000 and 2,000, The Washington Post has learned. [They've actually been triple-counting! PGN] Over a period of seven months, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray cited the inflated figure as the most compelling evidence for the need to address what the FBI calls Going Dark—the spread of encrypted software that can block investigators' access to digital data even with a court order. The FBI first became aware of the miscount about a month ago and still does not have an accurate count of how many encrypted phones they received as part of criminal investigations last year, officials said. Last week, one internal estimate put the correct number of locked phones at 1,200, though officials expect that number to change as they launch a new audit, which could take weeks to complete, according to people familiar with the work. [...] [See EFF's take on this: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/05/fbi-admits-it-inflated-number-supposedly-unhackable-devices PGN]
[In other news, your local second-level (province, state, prefecture, etc.) government announced plans to remove those curve speed caution signs to make the roads safer. Well, not actually. They have a bit more sense than Google. GW] http://www.zdnet.com/article/google-to-remove-secure-indicator-from-https-pages-on-chrome/ Stephanie Condon, ZDNet, 17 May 2018 Google to remove "secure" indicator from HTTPS pages on Chrome Users should expect the web to be safe by default, Google explained. As part of its push to make the web safer, Google on Thursday said it will stop marking HTTPS pages as "secure." The logic behind the move, Google explained, is that "users should expect that the web is safe by default." It will remove the green padlock and "secure" wording from the address bar beginning with Chrome 69 in September.
Google has built a multibillion-dollar business out of knowing everything about its users. Now, a video produced within Google and obtained by The Verge offers a stunningly ambitious and unsettling look at how some at the company envision using that information in the future. The video was made in late 2016 by Nick Foster, the head of design at X (formerly Google X), and a co-founder of the Near Future Laboratory. The video, shared internally within Google, imagines a future of total data collection, where Google helps nudge users into alignment with their goals, custom-prints personalized devices to collect more data, and even guides the behavior of entire populations to solve global problems like poverty and disease. When reached for comment on the video, an X spokesperson provided the following statement to The Verge: "We understand if this is disturbing—it is designed to be. This is a thought-experiment by the Design team from years ago that uses a technique known as 'speculative design' to explore uncomfortable ideas and concepts in order to provoke discussion and debate. It's not related to any current or future products." http://www.theverge.com/2018/5/17/17344250/google-x-selfish-ledger-video-data-privacy
Zack Whittaker for Zero Day | 17 May 2018 http://www.zdnet.com/article/flaw-connected-alarm-system-exposed-vehicles-remote-hacking/ The researchers said it was easy to locate a nearby car, unlock it, and drive away. opening text: A bug that allowed two researchers to gain access to the backend systems of a popular Internet-connected vehicle management system could have given a malicious hacker everything they needed to track the vehicle's location, steal user information, and even cut out the engine. In a disclosure this week, the researchers Vangelis Stykas and George Lavdanis detailed a bug in a misconfigured server run by Calamp, a telematics company that provides vehicle security and tracking, which gave them "direct access to most of its production databases."
The pair used phishing schemes to compromise news organizations. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/syrian-hackers-who-allegedly-tricked-reporters-indicted/2018/05/17/069ef328-59e7-11e8-858f-12becb4d6067_story.html
Liam Tung, ZDNet, 17 May 2018 http://www.zdnet.com/article/cisco-critical-flaw-warning-these-1010-severity-bugs-need-patching-now/ Cisco critical flaw warning: These 10/10 severity bugs need patching now Cisco's software for managing software-defined networks has three critical, remotely exploitable vulnerabilities.
From a digitized JFK speech that he never gave to colorized Lincoln and Holocaust photos, scholars are debating a wave of historical re-creation and manipulation. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/05/10/is-technology-bringing-history-to-life-or-distorting-it/
http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2018/05/22/grocery-store-censors-cake-with-request-for-summa-cum-laude/npFzLAzg2b7w54247o3MIO/story.html [I won't insult long-time RISKS readers with pointers to the predecessors of this item. There are too many. PGN]
New technology and bad auto loans mean more cars are being taken back. http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/the-surprising-return-of-the-repo-man/2018/05/15/26fcd30e-4d5a-11e8-af46-b1d6dc0d9bfe_story.html
Report: President Trump clings to his Twitter phone, reluctant to allow security checks. http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2018/05/trump-feels-presidential-smartphone-security-is-too-inconvenient/ Security ... inconvenient. Who knew?
NNSquad http://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/19/us/politics/trump-jr-saudi-uae-nader-prince-zamel.html%3Fsmid%3Dtw-nytimes%26smtyp%3Dcur Three months before the 2016 election, a small group gathered at Trump Tower to meet with Donald Trump Jr., the president's eldest son. One was an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation. Another was an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes. The third was a Republican donor with a controversial past in the Middle East as a private security contractor.
PGN cites Bruce Schneier: "Elections serve two purposes. The first, and obvious, purpose is to accurately choose the winner. But the second is equally important: to convince the loser. To the extent that an election system is not transparently and auditably accurate, it fails in that second purpose. Our election systems are failing, and we need to fix them." Elections serve a third purpose, one which I think is much more important than accurately choosing a winner and convincing the loser: US elections are intended to make people think that they have a say in government when they don't. Some of the framers of the Constitution were concerned about the possibility of the "mob and rabble" eventually getting the vote and using it to obtain a voice in government. So they made no Constitutional provision that the popular vote had to be counted (Bush v. Gore 2000). They also took other precautions. They made Congress the sole judge of the "Elections, Returns, and Qualifications" of its Members, and the only venue where the loser of a rigged election could appeal. But by the time they file that appeal, the "winner" has usually already been sworn into office, and Congress doesn't like to remove sitting members, so if anyone is aware of an appeal that has been successful, I'd like very much to know about it. We are so accustomed to a losing candidate taking office, that it isn't even noteworthy these days. The Supreme Court can intervene to seat the loser, or the winner can concede and throw the election to the loser. In a democratic system, such events would result in a new election, not in handing over office to somebody who wasn't elected. These realizations and others led me to informally poll the groups of election integrity activists I was part of at that time, with shocking results. I asked if they would still vote if the only permissible voting machine was a flush toilet. Approximately 50% stated that they would continue to vote, even if they knew for a fact that their vote would not be counted and would be flushed away as soon as they cast their ballot. Some angrily accused me to trying to take away their precious right to vote, for which their ancestors had fought and died. So I repeated the poll online and got the same result. About 50% of voters appear to be concerned with casting their votes, not about whether their votes are actually counted, no less counted accurately. They associate democracy with elections, so they believe that if they vote, whether or not their votes are counted accurately (or at all), they are participating in democracy. If votes are not counted, or are not counted accurately, voters are not electing anyone. But for a political system to be called democratic, voters would have to have a way to hold their elected officials accountable. Our system does this by allowing voters to cast more uncounted, miscounted, or overruled ballots once the incumbent's term of office is over. So if someone is elected, whether legitimately or fraudulently, and then decides to destroy the country (perhaps by nuking a few cities to end the homelessness and poverty problems, or some other ill-conceived ventures), the voters can do nothing but wait until their term in office is over, if anyone has survived, to try to hold them "accountable" by "electing" another unaccountable official. There is no right of recall at the federal level, therefore no means of holding "elected" officials accountable in a timely way. With mail-in ballots, which seem to predominate these days, there is no chain-of-custody possible. The offices of election officials are closed to the public between the election and the certification, and official observers aren't always notified when votes are counted, so corrupt elections officials have plenty of time to manufacture phantom votes, stuff the electronic "ballot boxes," and manipulate the actual results to match the results they want. As for audits, you can't ask for an audit until after the election has been certified (election officials certify only that an election was held in accordance with law, not that it was accurate), by which time the fraudulent "winner" has usually already been sworn into office and cannot be removed except by Congress. Many Members of Congress, like Nancy Pelosi, believe that it is more important that constituents be represented, than that they be represented by the person they voted for. Members of Congress are very well aware that voters have no way to hold them accountable, so they see no difference between people being "represented" by candidates who will and candidates who won't actually represent their interests. Once you vote (and hopefully donate to the campaign war chests of a few billionaires), your job is done and the elections have been a success. People who vote believe, at a minimum, that there might be a slight chance that their vote could be counted and that someone willing to represent them might be elected, so the primary purpose of elections, to make people think that they have a voice in government when they don't, has been achieved. Even if we could somehow manage to get them, transparent, auditable elections wouldn't eliminate risks to democracy. Our system, under a Constitution where the votes don't have to be counted, the Supreme Court can intervene to change the outcome, and those elected can't be held accountable, isn't electoral democracy, it is electoral tyranny, and your vote is your consent.
I never had any problem getting COBOL to interact with other languages, from PL/I to FORTRAN, C, and assembler. If you Read the Fine Manual and followed the guidance it worked even before IBM Language Environment united them into a single run time environment. Legacy COBOL didn't have function calls, but those could be replaced by a parameterized subroutine call with the output variables as named arguments in the call parameter list. At the 2014 IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution I was struck by the absence of any interest or work in applying the very effective techniques developed for refactoring C and Java code to COBOL. I would have thought that there is a huge market for something that can process legacy COBOL code and refactor it into COBOL or newer languages, recovering and improving the design along the way. COBOL is a relatively orthogonal language. There is usually only one obvious or builtin way to do something, In PL/I there are usually 10 different ways, few of which give optimal performance. Once you have considered ADD GIN TO VERMOUTH GIVING MARTINI; there aren't a lot of other options beyond COMPUTE MARTINI = VERMOUTH + GIN; http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/mostRecentIssue.jsp%3Fpunumber%3D6969845 Working with Honeywell COBOL was something of a challenge, because byte size varied from 4 to 9 bits, depending on the Data Type. That could give some surprising 4 bit to 8 or 9 bit text conversion results when Group moves were interpreted as text based moves of a number of bytes. Packed Decimal data fields were considered to be 4 bit text, with every 9th bit a slack bit to restore alignment on a 9 or 36 bit boundary on those 36 bit word machines. Going through an IBM structured EBCDIC, binary and decimal tape master file deciding how to convert series of bytes to an appropriate HIS COBOL ASCII, binary or decimal format, depending on the context and data segment prefix was challenging, but doable. Ditto for the reverse process creating a tape to send back to the IBM computer in the same data centre.
The article noted by Wendy Grossman says things like "COBOL has to evolve" and implies that interoperation with new systems is especially different. COBOL *has* evolved. The current standard is from 2014. If you want to interoperate with Java, there are COBOL compilers that do that (like Elastic COBOL). If you want to interoperate with .Net, there's NetCOBOL to do that. And since standard COBOL has been an OO language since 2002, those are better fits than you might think. Modern compilers are catching up with the standards, but it always takes time. What if you want to interoperate using XML or JSON? IBM's COBOL for z/OS, release 6.2 supports XML and has JSON PARSE and JSON GENERATE statements. Of course modern COBOL is still COBOL underneath and while I'm OK reading it, I would have to be paid large sums of money to write it. Though the various Eclipse plugins that exist for COBOL should make that a lot easier than it used to be. So if COBOL *has* evolved and *does* interoperate and *does* have modern development tools, what's the problem? Well, COBOL has evolved, for one thing. I rather liked the compatibility remark in the Brand X documentation: a certain aspect used to be incompatible with the standard, but the standard has changed, and now we are compatible. And COBOL interoperates: if you have a COBOL program that used DMS II or IMS adapting it to a different data base system won't be easy. There's one large COBOL system I'm aware of where out of (operating system, data base system, programming language) COBOL is the *best* known part today. As for training, COBOL is verbose in the extreme and the standards and reference materials combine long-windedness with less precision than I'm comfortable with, BUT it's really not that hard to learn. And if people succeeded in writing useful programs that are still running decades later, that says *something* positive about the language. I suspect the problems are mostly mundane ones of poor documentation, inadequate test sets, institutional knowledge lost when people resigned, retired, or died, all of which have nothing to do with the language.
http://patch.com/virginia/mclean/fitness-app-leads-arrest-attack-mclean-cyclist Not quite a risk to the user—more a public service finding him as violent assailant. But more details would have been nice, e.g., how police identified tracker used, then person wearing it.
http://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/10/nyregion/hacker-west-point-nyc-comptroller.html The man, who is thought to have hacked thousands of sites around the world, was arrested in California and could face up to 21 years in prison. "But some social media watchers said they were still surprised at the speed with which the Santa Fe shooting descended into information warfare. Sampson said he watched the clock after the suspect was first named by police to see how long it would take for a fake Facebook account to be created in the suspect's name: less than 20 minutes." If, as a hypothetical, Facebook required formal authentication of identity for account creation, such as confirmation of applicant's existence via a national birth registry, bona fide biometric comparison, and revenue/tax authority check, fake users would approach zero. This assumes these credentials are not stolen, or these government entities are not man-in-the-middle attack subjects. Internet anonymity would become harder to achieve along with criticism and free discussion of important global, national, and local issues that anonymity often promotes. Authentication, in a democracy, appears strongest for convicted criminals and individuals possessing security clearances. Expense and the law forestall establishment of mandatory, nation-wide authentication identification franchise. Will future political expedience compel adoption? An informed electorate should possess the wisdom and exclusive right to decide on this ominous subject.
It has become a familiar pattern in the all-too-common aftermath of American school shootings: A barrage of online misinformation, seemingly designed to cloud the truth or win political points. But some were still surprised at the speed with which the Santa Fe shooting descended into information warfare. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/05/18/fake-facebook-accounts-and-viral-lies-multiply-in-hours-after-santa-fe-school-shooting/ [See also: Russian Trolls Instantly Spread Fake News Online About Alleged Santa Fe School Shooter (Dimitrios Pagourtzis), http://www.inquisitr.com/4905300/dimitrios-pagourtzis-russian-trolls-facebook-santa-fe-school-shooter/ PGN]
I am to some extent involved (in that I have some minimal legal liability) in the implementation of the GDPR, and all I can say is that whole-heartedly approve. In Europe we seem to have this belief - apparently unheard of to Americans - that openness and fair dealing is much better all round. The GDPR enshrines good practice in law. It merely forces organisations to do what they should have been doing anyway. It also outlaws a bunch of sharp practices - which is why it's causing so much grief because those sharp practices were also common practice. The law divides into two groups, data USERS and data SUBJECTS. It places an obligation on data users to obtain *informed* consent. It also places an obligation to have a *record* of such consent. Which is why you're getting all these emails and letters to opt back in. Because so many permissions were granted by data SUBJECTS who didn't realise that the data USER had kindly pre-ticked a bunch of permission boxes giving the data user permission to do pretty much anything they wanted to. This sharp practice is now illegal. It also reinforces the right of the data SUBJECT to have any data the data user holds about them to be corrected or deleted (subject to other legal constraints, of course). In summary, if you are a decent organisation (the law doesn't apply to individuals), doing things properly, and keeping a decent paper trail, this legislation is pretty much a non-event. Of course, this summary does not account for incompetent implementation of the directive by politicians (par for the course, sadly), or incompetent CxO's who don't understand the legislation (sadly also par for the course). And sadly also apparently true for the person in charge of the directive at my organisation :-(
I have such a car myself (not a Toyota, but another brand with "keyless" operation). It does have an audible and visual warning when I exit the running car and take the key with me. But, I've exited the car, so what good is the warning? I don't actually see and hear it until I get back into the car. What I do hear is the engine running, both before I exit and after I start walking. Was this model perhaps a hybrid that was in silent electric mode at the time? And if so, wouldn't a better check be to not re-start the engine without the keyfob sensed?
Nothing new there. Back in the USSR it was the subject of many jokes, e.g. a foreign spy asking a local about some landmark marked on his map that isn't there. The local answers "these maps are garbage, see that top-secret `nucular' missile plant over there?—it's right next to that".
During WWII, the Russians trained dogs to hide under tanks when they heard gunshots. Then they tied bombs to their backs and sent them to blow up German tanks. Or so was the plan. What the Russians did not take into account, was that the dogs were trained with Russian tanks, which used diesel, but the German tanks used gasoline, and smelled different. So when hearing gunshots, the dogs immediately ran under the nearest *Russian* tank. This tale is about natural intelligence, which we're suppose to understand. The problem with AI, especially *learning machines*, is that we can try to control what they do, but cannot control how they do it. So we never know, even when we get correct answers, whether the machine had found some logic path to the answer, or maybe the answer just *smells right*. In the latter case, we might be surprised when asking questions we do not know the right answer to.
http://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/17/health/emergency-contacts-genetic-research.html?rref=collection/sectioncollection/health "Will you be my emergency contact? "When you're dating, the question is a sign that you've made it to the this-is-really-serious category. When you're friends, it's a sign that you're truly beloved or truly responsible. And if you're related, it may mean that you will now be entered into a medical study together so scientists can figure out if sinus infections or anxiety run in your family. "What? That's right. Researchers have begun experimenting with using emergency contacts gathered from medical records to build family trees that can be used to study the heritability of hundreds of different attributes, and possibly advance research into diseases and responses to medications." HIPPA-restricted information becomes patient-surrendered anonymized information for research purposes with a right-to-use disclosure form. Networks of contacts await discovery for correlation with other reference sources. Medical insurance industry should take note enhance patient database surveillance activities.
John Zhang produced a three-parent baby, implanted abnormal embryos and wants to help 60-year-old women have children. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/this-fertility-doctor-is-pushing-the-boundaries-of-human-reproduction-with-little-regulation/2018/05/11/ea9105dc-1831-11e8-8b08-027a6ccb38eb_story.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/14/science/biohackers-gene-editing-virus.html After researchers created a virus from mail-order DNA, geneticists sound the alarm about the genetic tinkering carried out in garages and living rooms.
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