"privacy" entries

Four short links: 31 July 2014

Four short links: 31 July 2014

OCR in Javascript, Insecure IoT, USB Considered Insecure, and Use AdBlock Plus

  1. Ocrad.js — open source OCR in Javascript, a port of GNU Ocrad software.
  2. HP’s IoT Security Research (PDF) — 70% of devices use unencrypted network services, 90% of devices collected at least one piece of personal information, 60% of those that have UIs are vulnerable to things like XSS, 60% didn’t use encryption when downloading software updates, …
  3. USB Security Flawed From Foundation (Wired) — The element of Nohl and Lell’s research that elevates it above the average theoretical threat is the notion that the infection can travel both from computer to USB and vice versa. Any time a USB stick is plugged into a computer, its firmware could be reprogrammed by malware on that PC, with no easy way for the USB device’s owner to detect it. And likewise, any USB device could silently infect a user’s computer. “It goes both ways,” Nohl says. “Nobody can trust anybody.” […] “In this new way of thinking, you can’t trust a USB just because its storage doesn’t contain a virus. Trust must come from the fact that no one malicious has ever touched it,” says Nohl. “You have to consider a USB infected and throw it away as soon as it touches a non-trusted computer. And that’s incompatible with how we use USB devices right now.”
  4. AdBlock vs AdBlock Plus — short answer: the genuinely open source AdBlock Plus, because AdBlock resiled from being open source, phones home, has misleading changelog entries, …. No longer trustworthy.
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Four short links: 30 July 2014

Four short links: 30 July 2014

Offline First, Winograd Schemata, Jailbreaking Nest for Privacy, and Decentralised Web Cache

  1. Offline First is the New Mobile First — Luke Wroblewski’s notes from John Allsopp’s talk about “Breaking Development” in Nashville. Offline technologies don’t just give us sites that work offline, they improve performance, and security by minimizing the need for cookies, http, and file uploads. It also opens up new possibilities for better user experiences.
  2. Winograd Schemas as Alternative to Turing Test (IEEE) — specially constructed sentences that are surface ambiguous and require deeper knowledge of the world to disambiguate, e.g. “Jim comforted Kevin because he was so upset. Who was upset?”. Our WS [Winograd schemas] challenge does not allow a subject to hide behind a smokescreen of verbal tricks, playfulness, or canned responses. Assuming a subject is willing to take a WS test at all, much will be learned quite unambiguously about the subject in a few minutes. (that last from the paper on the subject)
  3. Reclaiming Your Nest (Forbes) — Like so many connected devices, Nest devices regularly report back to the Nest mothership with usage data. Over a month-long period, the researchers’ device sent 32 MB worth of information to Nest, including temperature data, at-rest settings, and self-entered information about the home, such as how big it is and the year it was built. “The Nest doesn’t give us an option to turn that off or on. They say they’re not going to use that data or share it with Google, but why don’t they give the option to turn it off?” says Jin. Jailbreak your Nest (technique to be discussed at Black Hat), and install less chatty software. Loose Lips Sink Thermostats.
  4. SyncNet — decentralised browser: don’t just pull pages from the source, but also fetch from distributed cache (implemented with BitTorrent Sync).
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Four short links: 25 July 2014

Four short links: 25 July 2014

Public Private Pain, Signature Parsing, OSCON Highlights, and Robocar Culture

  1. What is Public? (Anil Dash) — the most cogent and articulate (and least hyperventilated dramaware) rundown of just what the problem is, that you’re ever likely to find.
  2. talon — mailgun’s open sourced library for parsing email signatures.
  3. Signals from OSCON — some highlights. Watching Andrew Sorensen livecode synth playing (YouTube clip) is pretty wild.
  4. Two Cultures of Robocars (Brad Templeton) — The conservative view sees this technology as a set of wheels that has a computer. The aggressive school sees this as a computer that has a set of wheels.
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Four short links: 9 July 2014

Four short links: 9 July 2014

Developer Inequality, Weak Signals, Geek Feminism Wiki, and Reidentification Risks

  1. Developer Inequality (Jonathan Edwards) — The bigger injustice is that programming has become an elite: a vocation requiring rare talents, grueling training, and total dedication. The way things are today if you want to be a programmer you had best be someone like me on the autism spectrum who has spent their entire life mastering vast realms of arcane knowledge — and enjoys it. Normal humans are effectively excluded from developing software. (via Slashdot)
  2. Signals From Foo Camp (O’Reilly Radar) — useful for me (aka “the stuff I didn’t get to see”), hopefully useful to you too. Companies outside of Silicon Valley badly want to understand it and want to find ways to truly collaborate with it, but they’re worried that conversations can turn into competition. “Old industry” has incredible expertise and operates in very complex environments, and it has much to teach tech, if tech will listen. Silicon Valley isn’t an IT department for the world, it’s the competition.
  3. Feminist Point of View: Lessons from Running the Geek Feminism Wiki — deck from Alex’s OS Bridge session. Today’s awareness and actions around sexism in tech resulted from their actions, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly.
  4. Big Data Should Not Be a Faith-Based Initiative (Cory Doctorow) — Re-identification is part of the Big Data revolution: among the new meanings we are learning to extract from huge corpuses of data is the identity of the people in that dataset. And since we’re commodifying and sharing these huge datasets, they will still be around in ten, twenty and fifty years, when those same Big Data advancements open up new ways of re-identifying — and harming — their subjects.
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Where did the issue of health data exchange disappear to?

More visible at Health Privacy Summit than Health Datapalooza.

On the first morning of the biggest conference on data in health care–the Health Datapalooza in Washington, DC–newspapers reported a bill allowing the Department of Veterans Affairs to outsource more of its care, sending veterans to private health care providers to relieve its burdensome shortage of doctors.

There has been extensive talk about the scandals at the VA and remedies for them, including the political and financial ramifications of partial privatization. Republicans have suggested it for some time, but for the solution to be picked up by socialist Independent Senator Bernie Sanders clinches the matter. What no one has pointed out yet, however–and what makes this development relevant to the Datapalooza–is that such a reform will make the free flow of patient information between providers more crucial than ever.

Read more…

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Four short links: 12 June 2014

Four short links: 12 June 2014

Our New Robot Overlords, Open Neuro, Anti-Surveillance Software, and LG's TV Made of Evil and Tears

  1. Norbert Weiner (The Atlantic) — His fears for the future stemmed from two fundamental convictions: We humans can’t resist selfishly misusing the powers our machines give us, to the detriment of our fellow humans and the planet; and there’s a good chance we couldn’t control our machines even if we wanted to, because they already move too fast and because increasingly we’re building them to make decisions on their own. To believe otherwise, Wiener repeatedly warned, represents a dangerous, potentially fatal, lack of humility.
  2. Open Ephys — open source/open hardware tools for neuro research. (via IEEE)
  3. Startups Selling Resistance to Surveillance (Inc) — growing breed of tools working on securing their customers’ communications from interception by competitors and states.
  4. Not-So-Smart TV (TechDirt) — LG’s privacy policy basically says “let us share your viewing habits, browsing, etc. with third parties, or we will turn off the `smart’ features in your smart TV.” The promise of smart devices should be that they get better for customers over time, not better for the vendor at the expense of the customer. See Weiner above.
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Four short links: 5 June 2014

Four short links: 5 June 2014

Open Autopilot, Record Robot Sales, NSA Myths Busted, and Informative Errors

  1. beaglepilot (Github) — open source open hardware autopilot for Beagleboard. (via DIY Drones)
  2. IFR Robot Sales Charts (PDF) — 2013: all-time high of 179,000 industrial robots sold and growth continues in 2014. (via Robohub)
  3. The Top 5 Claims That Defenders of the NSA Have to Stop Making to Remain Credible (EFF) — great Mythbusting.
  4. Netflix’s New Error Message — instead of “buffering”, they point the finger at the carrier between them and the customer who is to blame for slow performance. Genius!
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Four short links: 4 June 2014

Four short links: 4 June 2014

Swift on GitHub, HTTP APIs, PGP in Gmail, and Comments vs Community

  1. Swift on GitHub — watch a thousand projects launch.
  2. HTTP API Design Guideextracted from work on the Heroku Platform API.
  3. End-to-End PGP in Gmail — Google releases an open source Chrome extension to enable end-to-end OpenPGP on top of gmail. This is a good thing. As noted FSF developer Ben Franklin wrote: Those who would give up awkward key signing parties to purchase temporary convenience deserve neither.
  4. Close Your Comments; Build Your Community (Annemarie Dooling) — I am rarely sad when a commenting platform collapses, because it usually means the community dissolved long before.
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Four short links: 28 May 2014

Four short links: 28 May 2014

Targeted Breakage, Driverless Cars, BitCoin Bigness, and IoT Approaching

  1. Maciej Ceglowski on Our Internet — If you haven’t already read this because someone pushed it into your hands, read it now. If these vast databases are valuable enough, it doesn’t matter who they belong to. The government will always find a way to query them. Who pays for the servers is just an implementation detail.
  2. Design Changes Possible With Robot Cars (Brad Templeton) — While a nice windshield may be good for visibility for forward-facing passengers, there is no need to have a large unobstructed view for safety. The windshield can be reinforced with bars, for example, allowing it to be much stronger in the case of impacts, notably impacts with animals. Other than for passenger comfort, the windshield barely has to be there at all. On behalf of everyone who has ever driven in Australia at dusk … I for one welcome our new robot chauffeurs. (via The Atlantic)
  3. Bitcoin Set to Overtake Paypal Transaction Volumes“In the next one or two years, Bitcoin can surpass the dollar transaction volumes of other established payment companies including Discover, and even American Express, MasterCard, and Visa,” said SmartMetric CEO Chaya Hendrick. (via Hamish McEwan)
  4. 1 in 5 Americans Has Their Physical Environment on the Internet (Quartz) — One in five adult American internet users already has a device at home that connects the physical environment to the internet, according to a Forrester Research report (paywall) out last week.
Comment: 1
Four short links: 19 May 2014

Four short links: 19 May 2014

Surveillance Devices, Economic Apologies, Logo Trends, and Block Chain API

  1. Your Coffee Machine is Watching You (Mary Beard) — the future of surveillance isn’t more CCTV cameras, it’s every device ratting you out, all the time.
  2. Economics of Apologiesapologies work to restore relationships but are costly for the apologiser.
  3. Logo TrendsDimension and detail are necessarily removed so that these logos read properly on mobile screens. Designs have become more and more flat. Surfaces are plain and defined by mono-weight lines. Great examples.
  4. Chainthe Block Chain API for developers.
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