Tag Archives: data breaches

The Apocalypticon ~ Reprehensible Facebook, data breaches, underhand Uber, Zoomy, Russian Brexit, Putin, Venezuela, iTunes, cyclone Idai, temperatures rise, Jacinda Ardern


Facebook can’t be all profit and no responsibility — In my 101st Apocalpyticon, New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, gave a powerful speech expressing solidarity with the victims of Friday’s terrorist attack that left 50 dead and dozens injured. Ardern also had strong words for the social media companies that enabled the shooter to broadcast his massacre around the world. [But isn’t ‘all profit, no responsibility’ the American dream?]
The gunman explained he targeted New Zealand because Muslims feel safe here and explicitly mentioned President Donald Trump.
Arden has also called for a global fight against racism. [If I am bigoted against racists, what then am I?]
Facebook at first said only 200 people had seen the video the Christchurch gunman streamed, but later admitted it was seen at least 4000 times[I wonder how viewing that affected people’s ad algorithms?]
Of course, countless more views occurred in the hours afterward, as copies of the video proliferated online.
Facebook also recently admitted it was concerned about Cambridge Analytica well before it had previously admitted knowing about it. [Have I not been warning about Facebook for ages, now, along with many others?] The new information could suggest Facebook has consistently misled British lawmakers about what it knew and when about Cambridge Analytica. [Surprise!]
Facebook caves on discriminatory ads, then tries to sell it as a ‘triumph’ — After an 18-month court battle and years of fierce criticism, Facebook says it will stop allowing housing, jobs, and credit advertisers to show ads to only users of specific races, genders, or age groups.
Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg went on to thank the groups that sued Facebook for “showing leadership” … [Gah!]

But wait, there’s more —  It’s scary how much personal data people leave on old devices. A recent experiment by Josh Frantz, a senior security consultant at Rapid7, suggests users are taking few if any steps to protect their private information before releasing their used devices back out into the wild.
Underhand Uber — Uber used a secret spyware program, codenamed Surfcam, to steal drivers from an Australian competitor with the aim of putting that company out of business. [I won’t use Uber, I use Zoomy, a NZ startup that pays its drivers better.]
Russian collusion on Brexit — Arron Banks was a British businessman who funded the most extreme end of the pro-Brexit Leave campaign, and he possibly did so with help from Russia. [Coz Russia benefits from a destabilised Europe and a destabilised US.]
President Vladimir Putin recently tightened his grip on the Russian internet by signing two censorship bills into law. One bans ‘fake news’ [except for his, anyway] while the other makes it illegal to insult public officials. [Vlad, maybe it’s time to grow that little moustache you’ve been dreaming of, hey?]
Venezuelan soldiers escape over the border — Over the past month, nearly 1000 Venezuelan troops have fled to Colombia to avoid arrest back home, according to the Colombian Foreign Ministry, which recognises Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president.
Crashed Boeings had safety features available — but you had to purchase them as extras! The recent Boeing 737 MAX crashes involving an Ethiopian Airlines flight and a Lion Air flight may have been a result of two missing safety features that Boeing charged airlines extra for. [OK, I have to admit that’s as cynical as Facebook.]
Apple’s encryption for iTunes Store hacked — All 24 movies from the iTunes exclusive 4K James Bond Collection have leaked online,  further evidence suggesting pirates have found a way to decrypt 4K source files from the iTunes store. [Gold…finger …]

Cyclone Idai crashed into Mozambique and caused dramatic flooding

Natural disasters — Flash! Bang! Meteor! A meteor explosion over the Bering Sea late last year unleashed 10 times as much energy as the Hiroshima atomic bomb, scientists have revealed.
And again — The second-largest asteroid to hit Earth in the last 30 years went undetected, until now. Measuring several metres in size, the space rock exploded 25.6km above the Earth’s surface with an impact energy of 173 kilotons (about 40% of the above meteor).
Sharp and potentially devastating temperature rises of 3C to 5C in the Arctic are now inevitable even if the world succeeds in cutting greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris agreement.
Africa’s Cyclone Idai — Rescue workers are continuing the search for survivors of Cyclone Idai, which swept through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe last week, destroying towns and villages in its path. Floods of up to six metres (19ft) deep caused incredible devastation over a huge area of Mozambique.

And the good news? New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has shown other world leaders how to lead, with love and understanding and firm resolution.
Thank goodness I am a citizen of her country!

The Apocalypticon ~ The rich will eat us, facial recognition, surveillance, Google, Facebook, jobs, data breaches, all-time heat records


Yes, hello, I’m back from a  three-week holiday, sorry about that folks, but sometimes I just have to have a break. Still, the world keeps churning …
The wealthy are plotting to leave us behind, writes Douglas Rushkoff, describing what he learned from a high-paying speaking gig about the future of technology for “five super-wealthy guys…from the upper echelon of the hedge fund world.”The Event was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus or Mr Robot that takes everything down. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader…? This is the possible Survival of the Richest.
A new paper from the Center for Global Development says we are spending too much time discussing whether robots can take your job and not enough time discussing what happens next
Facial recognition ad surveillance — After all the concern, British Police have admitted no one was arrested during a trial of controversial facial recognition technology, which sparked privacy and human rights concerns.
But you can beat it. Die-hard fans of the rap group Insane Clown Posse have become accidental heroes for people concerned about facial recognition tech: according to Twitter user @tahkion, a computer science blogger for WonderHowTo, Juggalo makeup outmatches the machine learning algorithms that govern facial recognition technology.
One of many futuristic ideas Walmart has sought to patent is worker surveillance tech that ‘listens’ to them. There’s no guarantee that Walmart will ever build this technology, but the patent shows the company is thinking about using tech not just to facilitate deliveries or make its warehouses more efficient, but also to manage its workforce, which is the largest in the United States. [I prefer to call it ‘Apallmart, myself.]
Two privacy-focused organizations have accused German police of carrying out raids at their offices and members’ private homes on some pretty shoddy reasoning that makes no sense and hints at the police’s abuse of power. [Police abusing over? N-e-v-e-r…]

Jobs — Microsoft may move jobs abroad since Trump’s policies stop it finding the right workers: The Trump Administration’s tough stance on immigration has attracted a lot of criticism from big technology firms, which rely heavily on skilled foreign workers from around the world. Smith previously spoke out against efforts to stop the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – an Obama-era policy that provides legal protection for young immigrants brought to the US illegally as children. Microsoft has advocated the protection of DACA and more broadly supported immigration as a way to make sure US companies are hiring talented people. [The problem with DACA is simply Obama’s touch as far as the sensitive bully that Trump is concerned – but worthiness has never been a sop to him cutting off his orange nose to spite his orange face.]

Once more into the (data) breach – and hacks: The information operatives who worked out of the Internet Research Agency in Saint Petersburg, Russia did not stop at posing as American social media users or spreading false information from purported news sources, according to new details. They also created a number of Twitter accounts that posed as sources for Americans’ hometown headlines.
And another for the curse that is Google: According to The Wall Street Journal, hundreds of app developers have access to millions of inboxes belonging to Gmail users. The developers reportedly receive access to messages from Gmail users who signed up for things like price-comparison services or automated travel-itinerary planners. Some of these companies train software to scan the email, while others enable their workers to pore over private messages. [Honestly, Gmail users, do you need any more reasons not to use Google services? OK, here’s another …]
A user on Medium named Punch a Server says you should not use Google Cloud due to the no-warnings-given, abrupt way the plug is pulled on your entire system if they (or the machines) believe something is wrong. The user has a project running in production on Google Cloud (GCP) that is used to monitor hundreds of wind turbines and scores of solar plants scattered across 8 countries.
Apple is more secure, you know? And the free iCloud email that every Apple user can have FOR FREE is end-to-end encrypted by default. Apple just released iOS 11.4.1, and while most of us are already looking ahead to all the new stuff coming in iOS 12, this small update contains an important new security feature: USB Restricted Mode. Apple has added protections against the USB devices being used by law enforcement and private companies that connect over Lightning to crack an iPhone’s passcode and evade Apple’s usual encryption safeguards.

IBM and the cost of data breaches — IBM Security has released a report examining the costs and impact associated with data breaches. The findings paint a grim portrait of what the clean up is like for companies whose data becomes exposed – particularly for larger corporations that suffer so-called mega breaches, a costly exposure involving potentially tens of millions of private records.
Fracking companies use Facebook to ban protests — Facebook is being used by oil and gas companies to clamp-down on protest. Three companies are currently seeking injunctions against protesters: British chemical giant INEOS, which has the largest number of shale gas drilling licenses in the UK; and small UK outfits UK Oil and Gas (UKOG), and Europa Oil and Gas. Among the thousands of pages of documents submitted to British courts by these companies are hundreds of Facebook and Twitter posts from anti-fracking protesters and campaign groups, uncovered by Motherboard in partnership with investigative journalists at DeSmog UK. They show how fracking companies are using social media surveillance carried out by a private firm to strengthen their cases in court by discrediting activists using personal information to justify banning their protests.

All-time heat records have been set all over the world during the past week — So reports the Washington Post in the article Red-Hot Planet which was updated throughout the week with new all-time heat records.
From the normally mild summer climes of Ireland, Scotland and Canada to the scorching Middle East to Southern California, numerous locations in the Northern Hemisphere have witnessed their hottest weather ever recorded over the past week… [I know, as I was just in Canada – over 30°C for seven days in a row, who would have thought?]

And the good news? I had a break! A real break! But I’m back! (But goodness, isn’t it cold in New Zealand?!)

The Apocalypticon ~ It’s all about phones, data breaches, Facebook hate, maps, move more, sheltering with Kristen Bell


Trump administration sued over phone searches at US borders — The Trump administration has engaged in an unconstitutional practice of searching without a warrant the phones and laptops of Americans who are stopped at the border, a lawsuit filed last week alleged. From a report:Ten US citizens and one lawful permanent resident sued the Department of Homeland Security in federal court, saying the searches and prolonged confiscation of their electronic devices violate privacy and free speech protections of the US Constitution. DHS could not be immediately reached for comment. The lawsuit comes as the number of searches of electronic devices has surged in recent years, alarming civil rights advocates. One approach is to encrypt your phone data, of course, and it’s not that hard (but proceed cautiously as I have heard of people locking themselves out of their own devices irretrievably).
And what do do about ‘mega-breaches‘ like the Equifax debacle? This put 143 million US consumers’ personal data at risk, including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and even some drivers license and credit card numbers. For safer email, maybe the only answer is to write text-only messages.

Facebook enabled hard of Jews — ProPublica is reporting that Facebook “enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2300 people who expressed interest in the topics of ‘Jew hater,’ ‘How to burn jews,’ or, ‘History of why jews ruin the world.'” The organization even went so far as to test these ad categories by paying $30 to target those groups with three “promoted posts” – in which a ProPublica article or post was displayed in their news feeds. Facebook reportedly approved all three ads within 15 minutes.

Mapping errors — the mountains of Kong form a magnificent, impassable mountain range in West Africa. Luckily it’s not real. But that didn’t stop 19th-century writers from waxing poetic about its formidable, snow-capped peaks, or illustrious cartographers from including it in historical maps. Old maps, though, also show how humans have wrecked the Florida reefs.

Aliens might save us yet — A fascinating new paper theorises that alien civilizations could reshape their homeworlds in predictable and potentially detectable ways like we have. The authors are proposing a new classification scheme that measures the degree to which planets been modified by intelligent hosts.

Spilled salmon — Last month, a pen in Washington State holding hundreds of thousands of fish broke, sending swarms of silver Atlantic salmon swimming to the south and north. As you’re no doubt aware, Washington State is not on the Atlantic. Now, these invasive fish have been reported as far as 240km away in Canada.

An alarming study indicates why some bacteria is more resistant to antibiotics in space — To learn more about why some germs seem harder to kill in near-weightless conditions, scientists aboard the ISS recently doused a batch of bacteria with antibiotics – an experiment which resulted in a series of startling physical changes that may be helping the bacteria to survive and thrive in space.

But wait, this is moving! Well, it should be. Moving your body at least every half hour could help to limit the harmful effects of desk jobs and other sedentary lifestyles, research has revealed. The study found that both greater overall time spent inactive in a day, and longer periods of inactivity were linked to an increased risk of death. So t’s relatively easy for most of us to stave that off.

And finally, if that’s not good enough news, actor Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, Scream 4,  FrozenBad Moms etc) songs from Frozen to people sheltering from Hurricane Irma in Orlando. Among those sheltering was actor Kristen Bell, who helped cheer up gathered Floridians by performing Frozen hits at a shelter.
Cool, or what?