… And I’m Back

After finishing up my final year of law school, studying for the Bar, and recovering from said studying, I have returned. Hold on to your seats.

Because I Know You Missed Tom
Tool Makes It Easier to Evade Online Censors, MIT Technology Review, Aug. 25, 2015
“New software makes Web traffic that’s banned in places like China or Iran appear as ordinary Internet use.. . . Marionette helps Internet traffic that would normally be blocked masquerade as ordinary, permitted online behavior. It can be configured to make your activity emulate just about any type of “innocent” activity, such as online gaming or Skype, by analyzing samples of that kind of traffic. Marionette can even be programmed to respond in the right way to maintain its cover if actively probed by a censorship computer system, a tactic China sometimes uses to investigate suspicious connections before blocking them.”
Note: In a day where nearly all communication is done online, there is a lot of discussion regarding whether there is a “Human Right to Privacy”. (See Report on encryption, anonymity, and the human rights framework, United Nations Human Rights). Marionette simply provides another option for those interested in pursuing this path.

Let’s Get Down To Business
What If You Had An Employee Data Breach?, IAPP, Aug. 25, 2015
[A]n employee data breach tied to a government agency could allow someone to create a synthetic ID to steal sensitive government information, including patents and trade secrets. Organizations also need to recognize that an employee data breach carries legal risk similar to the breach of customer data. If an organization’s response to a data breach is handled incorrectly, employees could file a class action lawsuit.
Note: This article is definitely at least worth a thorough skim. To anyone on the fence about taking security seriously, it deserves an in-depth read.

Daily Report: Educational Software Gets Attention from State Politicians, New York Times, Aug. 31, 2015
“In just the last year, 182 bills intended to protect student information have been introduced in 46 states, according to a report from Data Quality Campaign, a nonprofit group that supports the use of student data in education. Fifteen of those states have produced 28 laws. It is a significant change from just two years ago, when only Oklahoma had such laws on the books.”
Note: This article pretty much speaks for itself. Companies offer discounted (and even free) technology to students. But often, when a product is “free”, it’s because the consumer is really the product. In this case, “much of this software collects data about individual students to customize what they are learning.” In light of that, transparency about the use of the data is key.

Digital Scarlet Letters
Of course, Ashley Madison has to be mentioned. But I’m not writing to make judgments about those who use it. It’s none of my business.

Why you shouldn’t download the Ashley Madison database, USA Today, Aug. 22, 2015
“The Ashley Madison databases were initially only available via Tor browsers, or Internet browsers that allow users to access information without making visible their Internet addresses. Since being posted, the databases have also been shared via the file-sharing system BitTorrent. It’s a legitimate way to move large files around, but users who aren’t familiar with it, and with the Dark Web, could potentially expose themselves to malicious software without realizing it. “If you know what you’re doing, it’s probably not dangerous. If you don’t, it could be,” said Jonathan Cran, vice president of operations at Bugcrowd, a San Francisco-based computer security company.”
Note: If you’re thinking about accessing the list, using BitTorrent is like asking for a virus. As for leaking the list to begin with, who gets to decide when information needs to be released and when it needs to be kept secure? After talking it out with some other folks, I decided that anyone against Automatic License Plate Readers (including myself) has every reason to oppose something like the Ashley Madison list getting released. Yeah, I agree, not the greatest list to be a part of. But unless you’re involved with someone on the list, it’s also none of your business.

If you really can’t resist the notion of downloading it, then at least consider this article:
What happens when the Internet shame machine gets names and zip codes, Fusion, Aug. 28 2015
“Stories like the Ashley Madison leak make a good case for the right to be forgotten, for a need to allow people to escape their own past on the web. But that past may be impossible to escape once the data has made its way offline into the collective hive mind of small town America. The internet might be able to forget, but rural Alabama probably won’t.”

Maybe The Jail Cell Isn’t So Bad
Malware infecting jailbroken iPhones stole 225,000 Apple account logins, Ars Technica, Aug. 31, 2015
“Some targeted phones also held for ransom, researchers say.. . . The KeyRaider discovery provides a cautionary tale about the risks of jail-breaking iPhones. Most security experts discourage the practice unless it’s done by highly experienced people who know exactly what code they’re using to circumvent Apple engineers’ safeguards and, once that’s done, what alternative apps they’re installing.”
Note: The way I see it, using an iPhone means you give up a fair amount of your independence – but the trade-off is nearly zero viruses. Jail-breaking an iPhone is risky. Don’t do it unless you know what you’re doing.

4 Fun
One in 7 people on the entire planet logged onto Facebook Monday, The Washington Post, Aug. 27, 2015
“Facebook began largely as a way for randy college students to meet and hook up. Now its mission is to connect the world to the Internet and itself, making Facebook a very wealthy company in the process. The company has invested in beaming Internet access down to underserved areas with drones and satellites. It’s embroiled in big debates over privacy, online harassment and the future of publishing. And it’s at the heart of cultural arguments about technology and its role in society. In other words, Facebook’s future is incredibly complicated and messy.”
Note: So Facebook went off to work in the big city, and its status with its college sweetheart is officially “it’s complicated”.

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