Please try the URL privacy information feature enabled by clicking the flashlight icon above. This will reveal two icons after each link the body of the digest. The shield takes you to a breakdown of Terms of Service for the site - however only a small number of sites are covered at the moment. The flashlight take you to an analysis of the various trackers etc. that the linked site delivers. Please let the website maintainer know if you find this useful or not. As a RISKS reader, you will probably not be surprised by what is revealed…
Janet Morrissey, *The New York Times* 14 Feb 2019, via ACM TechNews, 20 Feb 2019 A growing number of companies are using Internet of Things technology to create new medical treatments facilitated by connected, customized devices. One example is the One Drop diabetes self-management system, which combines sensors, an app, and a Bluetooth glucose meter to track and monitor blood glucose levels, food, exercise, and medication. One Drop uses artificial intelligence to predict a patient's blood glucose level over the next 24 hours, and suggests strategies for controlling fluctuations. Other new medical innovations range from implants to help paralysis victims walk to smart pills that detect when patients fail to comply with their drug regimens. Another emerging technology uses three-dimensional printers to manufacture patient-tailored medical devices, such as knee joints and spinal implants, based on the patient's magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography scans. https://orange.hosting.lsoft.com/trk/click?ref=znwrbbrs9_6-1e7a7x21a571x069423& [However, will we trust IoT that is likely to be riddled with security flaws and reliability problems, with risks to human safety? PGN]
[via Dave Farber's IP list; PGN-ed] A big story here in the UK today is the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee's report on Disinformation and `fake news' - see for example: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/feb/18/facebook-regulation-fake-news-mps-deepfake https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-47255380 https://www.itv.com/news/2019-02-18/social-media-ethics-and-regulation-all-you-need-to-know/ https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/02/17/facebook-has-behaved-like-digital-gangster-say-mps-accuse-firms/ However, these articles tend not to provide a link to the actual 109-page report—which in fact is online at https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmcumeds/1791/1791.pdf This is the Final Report in an inquiry on disinformation that has spanned over 18 months, covering individuals' rights over their privacy, how their political choices might be affected and influenced by online information, and interference in political elections both in this country and across the world—carried out by malign forces intent on causing disruption and confusion. We have used the powers of the Committee system, by ordering people to give evidence and by obtaining documents sealed in another country's legal system. We invited democratically-elected representatives from eight countries to join our Committee in the UK to create an `International Grand Committee', the first of its kind, to promote further cross-border co-operation in tackling the spread of disinformation, and its pernicious ability to distort, to disrupt, and to destabilise. Throughout this inquiry we have benefitted from working with other parliaments. This is continuing, with further sessions planned in 2019. This has highlighted a worldwide appetite for action to address issues similar to those that we have identified in other jurisdictions. This is the Final Report in our inquiry, but it will not be the final word. We have always experienced propaganda and politically-aligned bias, which purports to be news, but this activity has taken on new forms and has been hugely magnified by information technology and the ubiquity of social media. In this environment, people are able to accept and give credence to information that reinforces their views, no matter how distorted or inaccurate, while dismissing content with which they do not agree as `fake news'. This has a polarising effect and reduces the common ground on which reasoned debate, based on objective facts, can take place. Much has been said about the coarsening of public debate, but when these factors are brought to bear directly in election campaigns then the very fabric of our democracy is threatened. [...]
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/02/18/private-mossad-for-hire And the recent mention of the NSO Group here: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2019/02/17/undercover-spy-exposed-in-nyc-was-1-of-many/ Previous reference to Black Cube here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/28/world/black-cube-nso-citizen-lab-intelligence.html
>From CRYPTO-GRAM, 15 Feb 2019 [For back issues, or to subscribe, visit Crypto-Gram's web page (https://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram.html)] In a daring move that placed his life in danger, the I.T. consultant eventually gave the F.B.I. his system's secret encryption keys in 2011 after he had moved the network's servers from Canada to the Netherlands during what he told the cartel's leaders was a routine upgrade. A Dutch article says that it's a BlackBerry system. https://www.volkskrant.nl/nieuws-achtergrond/nederlandse-politie-tapte-anderhalf-jaar-lang-alle-communicatie-van-mexicaanse-drugsbaron-el-chapo-~bab33a30/ El Chapo had his IT person install "...spyware called FlexiSPY on the 'special phones' he had given to his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, as well as to two of his lovers, including one who was a former Mexican lawmaker." That same software was used by the FBI when his IT person turned over the keys. Yet again we learn the lesson that a backdoor can be used against you. And it doesn't have to be with the IT person's permission. A good intelligence agency can use the IT person's authorizations without his knowledge or consent. This is why the NSA hunts sysadmins. [https://theintercept.com/2014/03/20/inside-nsa-secret-efforts-hunt-hack-system-administrators/]
Moscow, Russia: The entire country of Russia is planning to temporarily disconnect from the Internet as part of a test to gauge its cybersecurity capabilities, with the long-range goal of keeping all internal web traffic on its own servers and out of reach form foreign hackers. Russian news site RBC reported that the move will analyze the country's preparedness for legislation mandating a sovereign Internet. The stated goal of the legislation is to protect Russia from cyber attacks from countries like the U.S., “The project was developed taking into account the U.S. national cybersecurity strategy adopted in 2018, which declares the principle of `maintaining peace by force,'' and Russia, along with Iran and North Korea, is accused of hacker attacks, RBC reported. The exercises are expected to determine what amendments need to be made to the draft law and what costs. will be required for its implementation. https://www.rbc.ru/technology_and_media/08/02/2019/5c5c51069a7947bef4503927 Hope to see you again soon.
Lime ” which has received hefty investments from Uber and Alphabet ” has been valued at more than $1 billion, according to Bloomberg News https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-09/uber-will-rent-scooters-through-its-app-in-partnership-with-lime despite the company admitting that some of its models have caught on fire and broken in half while people are riding them. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/11/10/electric-scooter-giant-lime-launches-global-recall-one-its-models-amid-fears-scooters-can-break-apart/?utm_term=.991f7575d237 At the same time investment money was pouring into Lime, injured scooter riders began pouring into emergency rooms nationwide, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/scooter-use-is-rising-in-major-cities-so-are-trips-to-the-emergency-room/2018/09/06/53d6a8d4-abd6-11e8-a8d7-0f63ab8b1370_story.html?utm_term=.daec840de0a1 leading some doctors to accuse companies such as Bird and Lime of spawning a public health crisis. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/01/25/electric-scooters-send-more-people-hospital-than-bicycles-walking-new-study-finds/?utm_term=.d8663ef33c30 https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/02/11/lime-scooter-accident-left-ashanti-jordan-vegetative-state-now-her-mother-is-suing-company-her-behalf/
Nick Bastone, Business Insider, 20 Feb 2019 Google: 'Nest' microphone was on 'double-secret probation' https://www.businessinsider.com/nest-microphone-was-never-supposed-to-be-a-secret-2019-2 Google says the built-in microphone it never told Nest users about was 'never supposed to be a secret' In early February, Google announced that its home security and alarm system Nest Secure would be getting an update. Users, the company said, could now enable its virtual-assistant technology, Google Assistant. The problem: Nest users didn't know a microphone existed on their security device to begin with. The existence of a microphone on the Nest Guard, which is the alarm, keypad, and motion-sensor component in the Nest Secure offering, was never disclosed in any of the product material for the device. On Tuesday, a Google spokesperson told Business Insider the company had made an `error'. “The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part. The microphone has never been on and is [activated only] when users specifically enable the option.'' Google also said the microphone was originally included in the Nest Guard for the possibility of adding new security features down the line, like the ability to detect broken glass. Still, even if Google included the microphone in its Nest Guard device for future updates—like its Assistant integration—the news comes as consumers have grown increasingly wary of major tech companies and their commitment to consumer privacy. For Google, the revelation is particularly problematic and brings to mind previous privacy controversies, such as the 2010 incident in which the company acknowledged that its fleet of Street View cars "accidentally" collected personal data transmitted over consumers' unsecured WiFi networks, including emails. If @Google's @Nest Secure devices really had secret microphones that they hid from consumers, those consumers should probably be forgiven if they don't trust the company's after-the-fact promises that it never spied on them. [A Fortune article on this subject drew this response from Gabe Goldberg: “Simple error, could happen to anyone.'' Perhaps facetious? PGN]
[Singapore Airlines: Hmmmm... Why am I not surprised? Lemme see...] [This item is a comment on an earlier item. PGN-ed] Linda Poon, CityLab, 21 Apr 2017 Singapore, City of Sensors [what, no Censors? PGN] https:/www.citylab.com/life/2017/04/singapore-city-of-sensors/523392/ They're on buses, atop buildings, in parks, and inside drains as part of the island's “vision to become the world's first `Smart Nation'.'' But what do they mean for privacy? In short, Singapore is a city—and nation—of sensors, barely noticeable to the average citizen. ... The engineers behind it have dubbed the plan `E3A', for “Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, All the Time.'' https://www.reuters.com/article/us-singapore-surveillance/singapore-to-test-facial-recognition-on-lampposts-stoking-privacy-fears-idUSKBN1HK0RV 1. Aradhana Aravindan, John Geddie Singapore to test facial recognition on lampposts, stoking privacy fears In the not too distant future, surveillance cameras sitting atop over 100,000 lampposts in Singapore could help authorities pick out and recognize faces in crowds across the island-state. https://boingboing.net/2019/02/20/singapore-airlines-says-seatba.html 2. Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing, 20 Feb 2019 Singapore Airlines says seatback cameras are "disabled". https://boingboing.net/2019/02/20/singapore-airlines-says-seatba.html
Laura Hautala, CNet, 14 Feb 2019, via ACM TechNews, 20 Feb 2019 International Computer Science Institute researchers estimated that about 17,000 Android apps collect identifying information, creating a permanent record of the activity on the owner's device. This practice apparently violates Google's policy on collecting data that can be used for targeted advertising. The apps track users by linking their Advertising ID number with other identifiers on the phone that are hard or impossible to reset, such as the phone's media access control address, International Mobile Equipment Identity, and Android ID. Fewer than 33% of identifier-collecting apps accept only the Advertising ID, as recommended by Google's best developer practices. The researchers noted the apps have been installed on at least 100 million devices. Google said it has investigated their findings, and taken remedial action on certain apps. https://orange.hosting.lsoft.com/trk/click?ref=znwrbbrs9_6-1e7a7x21a579x069423&
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/out-of-the-way-human-delivery-robots-want-a-share-of-your-sidewalk/ "Starship's robots operate almost entirely autonomously in mapped areas, but remote human operators monitor them in case they need to intervene. Still, even Starship previously admitted people have occasionally given its $5,500 robots a kick in passing." Sidewalk-based delivery-bots must navigate like an autonomous vehicle on a highway or in congested city street conditions. Given their reduced mass and velocity, these delivery bots do not appear too threatening from a collision perspective. They must avoid obstacles including people on crutches, animals out for a stroll, furniture movers, sidewalk repairs, etc. Wise to have have carbon-based oversight when incidents arise.
Pallab Ghosh, BBC News, 15 Feb 2019, via ACM TechNews, 20 Feb 2019 A scientific coalition is urging a ban on the development of weapons governed by artificial intelligence (AI), warning they may malfunction unpredictably and kill innocent people. The coalition has established the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots to lobby for an international accord. Said Human Rights Watch's Mary Wareham, autonomous weapons "are beginning to creep in. Drones are the obvious example, but there are also military aircraft that take off, fly, and land on their own; robotic sentries that can identify movement." Clearpath Robotics' Ryan Gariepy advocates for a ban, and cautions that AI's abilities "are limited by image recognition. It ... does not have the detail or context to be judge, jury, and executioner on a battlefield." The New School in New York's Peter Asaro adds that illegal killings by autonomous weaponry raise issues of liability, which would likely make the weapon's creators accountable. https://orange.hosting.lsoft.com/trk/click?ref=znwrbbrs9_6-1e7a7x21a56fx069423&
https://techcrunch.com/2019/02/16/vision-system-for-autonomous-vehicles-watches-not-just-where-pedestrians-walk-but-how/ "The University of Michigan, well known for its efforts in self-driving car tech, has been working on an improved algorithm for predicting the movements of pedestrians that takes into account not just what they're doing, but how they're doing it. This body language could be critical to predicting what a person does next." Risk: Human movement extrapolation based on a finite set of initial conditions or movements may compel collision. Would like to see how this AV vision platform performs against a Michael Jackson Moon Walk or a break dance sequence.
The premise seems to be that machine learning is causing irreproducible results to be reported because the algorithms are finding patterns that aren't there. These algorithms are being used to mine large datasets that have already been collected. I think this concern may be misplaced. The actual problem may be relying too much on a _post_hoc_ analysis, though with these datasets you often don't have a choice. The worst example that comes to mind is Lilly's Alzheimer's drug solanezumab. After failing two Phase III clinical trials, Lilly hired an outside data analysis firm to study the data. I don't know how they analyzed the data, but you don't need machine learning to do a _post_hoc_ analysis. They found an effect in a subgroup of the dataset—subjects who had the very earliest symptoms. So now, Lilly is working on a third Phase III clinical trial, this time only with subjects at the earliest detectable stage. I can't recall any other drug that actually had a third PIII trial, but Lilly has thrown so many billions into this project that the glimmer of hope provided by the _post_hoc_ subgroup analysis means they can't give up now. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47267081
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47267081 'The "reproducibility crisis" in science refers to the alarming number of research results that are not repeated when another group of scientists tries the same experiment. It means that the initial results were wrong. One analysis suggested that up to 85% of all biomedical research carried out in the world is wasted effort. 'But, according to Dr Allen, the answers they come up with are likely to be inaccurate or wrong because the software is identifying patterns that exist only in that data set and not the real world. 'Often these studies are not found out to be inaccurate until there's another real big dataset that someone applies these techniques to and says 'oh my goodness, the results of these two studies don't overlap',' she said. A worrisome trend, given that dataset analysis may be applied to influence regulatory approvals for new medical devices and pharmaceuticals. Other industries and their outputs may also be subject to dataset bias that erroneously attributes ready for sale or use. Caveat emptor.
The following story is appalling. Why would anyone want to spend their lives doing something so evil? At least people in the past, like those in the Manhattan Project, understood they were in an ethical quandary and there were some reasonable arguments for upsides in what they were doing. I can't see any upsides to this. Why would they bother to do it at all? Another reason I left computer science and AI --- there seemed to be no appreciation for the difference between machines and humans nor any thoughts for the ethics of what they were doing. Evil is often done simply because nobody thought about the results of their behavior, not just because they didn't care. I'm not sure I would want to live in the world that is coming. We now have all the technological tools for 1984, and even 1984 looks relatively benign. An Elon Musk-backed AI firm is keeping a text-generating tool under wraps, amid fears it's too dangerous. Business Insider Elon Musk is cofounder of OpenAI, which has made] an AI tool that can generate fake text. The Guardian's Alex Hern played with the system, generating a fake article on Brexit and a new paragraph for George Orwell's "1984." The company isn't open-sourcing the system because it fears it could be misused, for example to infinitely generating negative or positive reviews. AI research nonprofit OpenAI has created a system that can generate fake text. https://apple.news/AnxgN-f-_TOyRak8do1D-cA
'OpenAI said its new natural language model, GPT-2, was trained to predict the next word in a sample of 40 gigabytes of Internet text. The end result was the system generating text that "adapts to the style and content of the conditioning text," allowing the user to "generate realistic and coherent continuations about a topic of their choosing." The model is a vast improvement on the first version by producing longer text with greater coherence. 'But with every good application of the system, such as bots capable of better dialog and better speech recognition, the non-profit found several more, like generating fake news, impersonating people, or automating abusive or spam comments on social media.' Should all content be required to carry an authentication label to discriminate carbon v. silicon authorship: (A)rtificially Composed or (B)ot Authored in addition to a (C)opyright stamp? How to establish content authentication without imposing censorship on free expression rights or press freedoms? Maliciously deployed GPT-2 capabilities can accelerate public trust erosion in traditional news services. GPT-2 may already embody the perfect propaganda machine awaiting exploitation ala Orwell's 1984. April Fools Recursion Risk: GPT-2 authors best-seller on how to write Ph.D. dissertations.
Technology for advanced automatic text generation being held back because of fear of malicious applications. http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/archives/2019/02/17/2003709852 More details below, including samples of input and resulting output. At first I thought it was producing clever crap, but after reflection I see this as a remarkable achievement. It reminds me of Wernicke's aphasia, a brain dysfunction that causes people to produce language in complete sentences that are syntactically correct, but nonsense sometimes referred to as a "word salad". The text produced by the AI is not this incoherent by any means. It's defect is far more subtle, not seen in human language. I'd call it a "coherent idea salad". Any human capable of producing language of such syntactic quality and coherence would also have a clearer line of thought. But for a large part of what people use language for, this technology may have already achieved what would satisfy many people. Most people are not writing a legal brief, technical manual, or patent application where every word counts. I would guess far more written language is used for thank-you notes, letters describing my vacation, complaints to Citibank, and other prose which is much more flexible with regard to the thinking behind it. A large number of people, perhaps a majority, cannot compose even these more mundane writings. For these people, this software could greatly expand the reach of what they can express. We're still in the early days of this technology, and with a few years of further development it could greatly change how people use language. It may be revolutionary. https://blog.openai.com/better-language-models/
Fake news may not exactly be news. And we've got (deep) fake videos, and even fake faces. Open AI has created a fake news generator that scares even itself. Given an initial sentence, the system will generate a complete article, with fake, but convincing and realistic sounding, facts, experts, institutions, and quotes. Unusually, for an "open" enterprise, they are not releasing the full system, but only an earlier limited version. https://blog.openai.com/better-language-models/ Or, maybe the email@example.com account is attached to an AI experiment gone horribly wrong, and generating fake news email messages ...
Received email: I have been made aware of several instances in North Carolina where NARFE members received letters from Nationwide Insurance, which is a NARFE Affinity Partner, where the recipients' names have been different than the address where the letter was delivered. I mentioned these letters to National President Ken Thomas and checked with the employee who coordinates all NARFE contracts with our Affinity Partners. A "glitch" was discovered in the system that is used to coordinate the mailing labels used for Affinity mailings. The "glitch" created a shift in the spreadsheet used which caused some of the cells to shift thereby placing recipients' names on different lines as the addresses. NARFE HQ is looking into the system to be certain that these occurrences are not repeated. [Similar cases have been reported in RISKS in the past. Nothing new here, but it is just one more reminder that not enough people are reading RISKS? PGN]
ALEXANDRIA, VA. Sandwiched between Interstate 395 and Interstate 495 and fed up with cut-through commuter traffic, residents of central Alexandria are asking the city for help. Residents say navigation apps like WAZE have increased traffic in their neighborhoods ” Seminary Hill, Seminary Ridge, Clover College Park and Taylor Run ” where streets are narrow and children play. Roughly 44 percent of the traffic in our neighborhood originates outside the neighborhood and ends outside the neighborhood. They don't stop, they're just coming through the neighborhood. [...] The city is pressing ahead with short, medium and long term goals aimed at encouraging traffic to remain on the main arteries and out of the neighborhoods. If we can keep cars on the arterials, hopefully they'll cut through the neighborhoods less, said Hillary Orr, Deputy Director of Transportation, City of Alexandria. http://www.localkicks.com/community/news/navigation-apps-sending-heavy-traffic-through-quiet-alexandria-neighborhoods
Most people think of a microwave as a device to reheat food or pop up a bag of popcorn for family movie night. https://www.lifewire.com/smart-microwave-4159823 If that's the Jeopardy answer, the question is: A bad idea.
OK, you've all heard about VFEmail.net. https://thehackernews.com/2019/02/vfemail-cyber-attack.html http://www.itpro.co.uk/security/32972/us-email-provider-wiped-out-by-hacker The fact that no ransom was demanded is a possible indicator of "disgruntled employee" along with the fact that the different servers had different authentications. Which brings me to my recommendation for ransomware and many, many other forms of attack: backup. Backup, backup, backup. The oldest protection in the book, possibly the most effective, and the one that everyone has (mostly invalid) reasons that they don't use. Yes, I know the backup servers were formatted as well. That just means you use other forms of backup. I've got an external drive that's semi-permanently attached and running a Windows backup program. It's supposed to backup any changes every fifteen minutes. I don't really trust it, but I've recovered stuff off it occasionally. I don't really trust it because it's attached. Like in the VFEmail case, I figure if I can get at it without plugging in cables, so can the bad guys. I figure the same goes for other machines on the LAN or online or cloud drives or storage systems. I do keep my "current" presentations on Google Drive, just in case. The one I really rely on is an old Passport drive. I have to plug it in to make a backup. I do it sporadically, and probably not as frequently as I should, but it's been surprisingly effective. That drive is, itself, backed up on to external and non- connected laptops. (Well, at this point, laptop. It's on the Windows laptop. It used to be on the Mac as well, but the Mac had a corruption breakdown recently, and I replaced the drive. Since I keep all my old drives [hey, I'm an old malware researcher, and I've got samples and zoos all over the place, so just sending them to recycling would be a bit irresponsible] then I guess it is still backed up on a very external drive.) I got a "credit card" USB drive at a show, recently, and I keep it in my wallet. It's pig slow, so I don't do backups on it as much, but I do keep my current presentations on it, and, at the moment as I writing this, I'm backing up all my email onto it. OK, this is all just to back up my own stuff, and I couldn't keep masses of corporate data in my wallet. (Although it's surprising how much of the most important stuff you can put on there.) But the point is the same: backups can save your backside, and a little thought and imagination is more important than million dollar contracts on remote hot sites.
A common tactic of authoritarian regimes is to make laws which are next to impossible to abide by, then not enforce them. This creates a culture where it's perfectly acceptable to ignore such laws, yet the regime may use selective enforcement to punish dissenters—since legally, everyone is delinquent. Now try to teach humorless AI to work in such an "everyone does it" atmosphere...
As someone who unfortunately has a fair bit of experience in the system, I notice two things in particular about dealing with doctors. Firstly, speaking the same language is important - most of my bad experiences have been with foreign doctors, no matter how good their English. And secondly, *experience counts*! Doctors, like the rest of us, make mistakes when outside their comfort zone. I remember an article from a computer mag in the 80s where a GP had written a simple diagnostic program in, iirc, Logo or Prolog, which was easily extensible as new patients with new illnesses and symptoms came in. And the doctor said that many patients liked using it - it was easier to be honest with it :-) But from the doctor's point of view, it showed him the questions the program had asked and the patient's responses, and which illnesses were ruled in/out by those answers. The really crucial aid the program gave the doctor was that it didn't forget, and quite often prompted the doctor to check out an illness that wouldn't have crossed his mind without the program. A Silicon-based Physician Assistant that can explain what conclusion it has come to, and why, could be a massive help to a Carbon-based Physician, especially a junior one gaining experience. Even if said explanation is pretty simplistic.
These are all excellent points, all of which already exist to some extent with current medical technology. Sadly though, in the U.S. at least, the most important question might be: Who will get sued when something gives a wrong diagnosis or treatment? It is sad that important life-saving technology is delayed and even denied based on the fact that it's not "perfect" despite "perfection" not being achievable. People will always be more suspicious of automation and machinery than they are of other people. Witness the debates over self-driving cars and the Trolley Problem.
Many families face this sort of problem, too - the standard security advice never to share passwords is really inappropriate for these situations.
Of course, if Waze is forbidden to post this info, other applications to do that would pop up; even if the state somehow manages to block all of these, groups on any messaging system or special sharable sites could do the same (such sites had been used since before Waze existed). They'd never learn.
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