Tag Archives: research

Google: With No Fair Use, It’s More Difficult to Innovate

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-with-no-fair-use-its-more-difficult-to-innovate-170223/

With Fair Use Week now in full swing, people around the world are celebrating the freedom to use copyrighted content in certain contexts without fear of prosecution, thereby enabling creativity and inspiring innovation.

The legal freedom offered by fair use is a cornerstone of criticism, research, teaching and news reporting, one that enables the activities of thousands of good causes and enriches the minds of millions. However, not all countries fully embrace the concept.

Perhaps surprisingly, Australia is currently behind the times on this front, a point not lost on Google’s Senior Copyright Counsel, William Patry.

Speaking with The Australian (paywall), Patry describes local copyright law as both arcane and not fit for purpose, while acting as a hindrance to innovation and productivity.

“We think Australians are just as innovative as Americans, but the laws are different. And those laws dictate that commercially we act in a different way,” Patry told the publication.

“Our search function, which is the basis of the entire company, is authorized in the US by fair use. You don’t have anything like that here.”

Australia currently employs a more restrictive “fair dealing” approach, but it’s certainly possible that fair use could be introduced in the near future.

Last year, Australia’s Productivity Commission released a draft report covering various aspects of the country’s intellectual property system. One of its key recommendations was to adopt fair use legislation.

“The Australian Government should amend the Copyright Act 1968 to replace the current fair dealing exceptions with a broad exception for fair use,” the Commission wrote in its report.

“The new exception should contain a clause outlining that the objective of the exception is to ensure Australia’s copyright system targets only those circumstances where infringement would undermine the ordinary exploitation of a work at the time of the infringement.”

Unfortunately, the concept of fair use is not universally welcomed. Local anti-piracy and royalty organizations are opposing its introduction, claiming that it will undermine their ability to make money.

Interestingly, broadcaster Foxtel says that the deployment of fair use would introduce “significant and unnecessary uncertainty into Australian law.” This is the exact opposite of Google’s position.

The search giant says that Australia’s current exceptions fail to offer legal certainty and that a US-style fair use system would be much more predictable.

“If you are a company like Google who wants to store information in the cloud, or internet searches or text and data mining, we can do that safely in the US. We can’t do it here,” Patry concludes.

In its final inquiry paper, Australia’s Productivity Commission renewed its calls for the introduction of fair use, noting that in the US, where fair use is long established, “creative industries thrive.”

Whether fair use will ever hit Aussie shores remains to be seen, but yet again there is a division between how technology companies and entertainment groups would like copyright law to develop. It’s a battle that’s set to continue well into the future.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Online Piracy Can Boost Comic Book Sales, Research Finds

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/online-piracy-can-boost-comic-book-sales-research-finds/

yenResearch into online piracy comes in all shapes and sizes, with equally mixed results. Often the main question is whether piracy hurts legitimate revenue streams.

In recent years we have seen a plethora of studies and most are focused on the effects on movies, TV-shows and music revenues. But what about comic books?

Manga in particular has traditionally been very popular on file-sharing networks and sites. These are dozens of large sites dedicated to the comics, which are downloaded in their millions.

According to the anti-piracy group CODA, which represents Japanese comic publishers, piracy losses overseas are estimated to be double the size of overseas legal revenue.

With this in mind, Professor Tatsuo Tanaka of the Faculty of Economics at Keio University decided to look more closely at how piracy interacts with legal sales. In a natural experiment, he examined how the availability of pirated comic books affected revenue.

The research uses a massive takedown campaign conducted by CODA in 2015, which directly impacted the availability of many pirated comics on various download sites, to see how this affected sales of 3,360 comic book volumes.

Interestingly, the results show that decreased availability of pirated comics doesn’t always help sales. In fact, for comics that no longer release new volumes, the effect is reversed.

“Piracy decreases sales of ongoing comics, but it increases sales of completed comics,” Professor Tanaka writes.

“To put this another way, displacement effect is dominant for ongoing comics, and advertisement effect is dominant for completed comics,” he adds.

For these finished comic seasons, the promotional element weighs heavier. According to the Professor, this suggests that piracy can effectively be seen as a form of advertising.

“Since completed comics series have already ended, and publishers no longer do any promotion for them, consumers almost forget completed comics. We can interpret that piracy reminds consumers of past comics and stimulates sales.”

The question that remains is whether the overall effect on the industry is positive or negative. The current study provided no answer to this effect, as it’s unknown how big the sales share is for ongoing versus completed comics, but future research could look into this.

Professor Tanaka stresses that there is an important policy implication of his findings. Since piracy doesn’t affect all sales the same (it’s heterogeneous), anti-piracy strategies may have to be adapted.

“If the effect of piracy is heterogeneous, it is not the best solution to shut down the piracy sites but to delete harmful piracy files selectively if possible,” Professor Tanaka adds

“In this case, deleting piracy files of ongoing comics only is the first best strategy for publishers regardless of whether the total effect is positive or negative, because the availability of piracy files of completed comics is beneficial to both publishers and consumers,” he adds.

The research shows once again that piracy is a complex phenomenon that can have a positive or negative impact depending on the context. This isn’t limited to comics of course, as previous studies have shown similar effects in the movie and music industries.

The full paper titled The Effects of Internet Book Piracy: The Case of Japanese Comics is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Pirate Site With No Traffic Attracts 49m Mainly Bogus DMCA Notices

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-with-no-traffic-attracts-49m-mainly-bogus-dmca-notices-170219/

As reported in these pages on many occasions, Google’s Transparency Report is a goldmine for anyone prepared to invest time trawling its archives.

The report is a complete record of every DMCA notice Google receives for its ‘search’ function and currently lists more than two billion URL takedowns spread over a million websites. Of course, most of those websites will remain faceless since there’s far too many to research. That said, the really big ‘offenders’ are conveniently placed at the top of the list by Google.

The most-reported sites, according to Google

As we can see, the 4shared file-hosting site is at the top of the list. That isn’t a big surprise since the site has been going for years, attracts massive traffic, and stores countless million files.

There are a number of other familiar names too, but what is the site in second place? MP3Toys.xyz has a seriously impressive 49.5m takedown requests logged against it. We’ve never even heard of it.

Checking the site out, MP3Toys is clearly a pirate platform that allows users to download and stream unlicensed MP3s from thousands of artists. There are hundreds of these kinds of sites around, probably pulling content from YouTube and other web sources.

But here’s the problem. According to Google, MP3Toys.xyz (which also uses a .tech extension) has only been appearing in its databases since Jun 30, 2016. During this short time, Google has received requests to remove 49.5 million URLs from its indexes. That’s about 1.6 million URLs for each of the 31 weeks MP3Toys has been online.

No site in history has ever achieved these numbers, it’s completely unprecedented. So MP3Toys must be huge, right? Not exactly.

According to Alexa, the site’s .xyz domain is ranked the 25 millionth most popular online, while its .tech domain is currently ranked 321,614 after being introduced in January 2017.

In loose terms, this site has no significant traffic yet will soon be the most-infringing site on the whole Internet. How can this be? Well, it’s all down to an anti-piracy company making things up and MP3Toys going along with the charade.

As seen in the image below, along with outfits such as the BPI and BREIN, anti-piracy outfit APDIF do Brasil has an unusual fascination with MP3Toys. In fact, it’s sent the vast majority of the notices received by Google.

However, while some of the notices are undoubtedly correct, it appears a huge number are absolutely bogus. Instead of scanning the site and sending an accurate takedown notice to Google, APDIF tries to guess the URLs where MP3Toys stores its content. A sample list is shown below.

The problem here is that in real terms, none of these URLs exist until they’re requested. However, APDIF’s guesses are entertained by the site, which creates a random page of music for every search. The content on these auto-generated pages cycles, but it never relates to the searches being put in. As shown below, even TorrentFreak’s Greatest Hits Volume 77 is a winner (Test it yourself here)

So in summary, APDIF makes up its own URLs, MP3Toys randomly generates a page of music that has nothing to do with the URL input, APDIF logs it as an infringement of its clients’ rights, and sends a complaint to Google.

Then, putting the icing on an already confused cake, Google ‘removes’ every URL from its search results, even though it appears they were never in them in the first place. And that’s how a site with virtually no traffic received more DMCA complaints than The Pirate Bay. Unbelievable.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Duqu Malware Techniques Used by Cybercriminals

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/02/duqu_malware_te.html

Duqu 2.0 is a really impressive piece of malware, related to Stuxnet and probably written by the NSA. One of its security features is that it stays resident in its host’s memory without ever writing persistent files to the system’s drives. Now, this same technique is being used by criminals:

Now, fileless malware is going mainstream, as financially motivated criminal hackers mimic their nation-sponsored counterparts. According to research Kaspersky Lab plans to publish Wednesday, networks belonging to at least 140 banks and other enterprises have been infected by malware that relies on the same in-memory design to remain nearly invisible. Because infections are so hard to spot, the actual number is likely much higher. Another trait that makes the infections hard to detect is the use of legitimate and widely used system administrative and security tools­ — including PowerShell, Metasploit, and Mimikatz — ­to inject the malware into computer memory.


The researchers first discovered the malware late last year, when a bank’s security team found a copy of Meterpreter — ­an in-memory component of Metasploit — ­residing inside the physical memory of a Microsoft domain controller. After conducting a forensic analysis, the researchers found that the Meterpreter code was downloaded and injected into memory using PowerShell commands. The infected machine also used Microsoft’s NETSH networking tool to transport data to attacker-controlled servers. To obtain the administrative privileges necessary to do these things, the attackers also relied on Mimikatz. To reduce the evidence left in logs or hard drives, the attackers stashed the PowerShell commands into the Windows registry.

BoingBoing post.

AWS Marketplace Adds Healthcare & Life Sciences Category

Post Syndicated from Ana Visneski original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/aws-marketplace-adds-healthcare-life-sciences-category/

Wilson To and Luis Daniel Soto are our guest bloggers today, telling you about a new industry vertical category that is being added to the AWS Marketplace.Check it out!


AWS Marketplace is a managed and curated software catalog that helps customers innovate faster and reduce costs, by making it easy to discover, evaluate, procure, immediately deploy and manage 3rd party software solutions.  To continue supporting our customers, we’re now adding a new industry vertical category: Healthcare & Life Sciences.


This new category brings together best-of-breed software tools and solutions from our growing vendor ecosystem that have been adapted to, or built from the ground up, to serve the healthcare and life sciences industry.

Within the AWS Marketplace HCLS category, you can find solutions for Clinical information systems, population health and analytics, health administration and compliance services. Some offerings include:

  1. Allgress GetCompliant HIPAA Edition – Reduce the cost of compliance management and adherence by providing compliance professionals improved efficiency by automating the management of their compliance processes around HIPAA.
  2. ZH Healthcare BlueEHS – Deploy a customizable, ONC-certified EHR that empowers doctors to define their clinical workflows and treatment plans to enhance patient outcomes.
  3. Dicom Systems DCMSYS CloudVNA – DCMSYS Vendor Neutral Archive offers a cost-effective means of consolidating disparate imaging systems into a single repository, while providing enterprise-wide access and archiving of all medical images and other medical records.

Life Sciences

  1. National Instruments LabVIEW – Graphical system design software that provides scientists and engineers with the tools needed to create and deploy measurement and control systems through simple yet powerful networks.
  2. NCBI Blast – Analysis tools and datasets that allow users to perform flexible sequence similarity searches.
  3. Acellera AceCloud – Innovative tools and technologies for the study of biophysical phenomena. Acellera leverages the power of AWS Cloud to enable molecular dynamics simulations.

Healthcare and life sciences companies deal with huge amounts of data, and many of their data sets are some of the most complex in the world. From physicians and nurses to researchers and analysts, these users are typically hampered by their current systems. Their legacy software cannot let them efficiently store or effectively make use of the immense amounts of data they work with. And protracted and complex software purchasing cycles keep them from innovating at speed to stay ahead of market and industry trends. Data analytics and business intelligence solutions in AWS Marketplace offer specialized support for these industries, including:

  • Tableau Server – Enable teams to visualize across costs, needs, and outcomes at once to make the most of resources. The solution helps hospitals identify the impact of evidence-based medicine, wellness programs, and patient engagement.
  • TIBCO Spotfire and JasperSoft. TIBCO provides technical teams powerful data visualization, data analytics, and predictive analytics for Amazon Redshift, Amazon RDS, and popular database sources via AWS Marketplace.
  • Qlik Sense Enterprise. Qlik enables healthcare organizations to explore clinical, financial and operational data through visual analytics to discover insights which lead to improvements in care, reduced costs and delivering higher value to patients.

With more than 5,000 listings across more than 35 categories, AWS Marketplace simplifies software licensing and procurement by enabling customers to accept user agreements, choose pricing options, and automate the deployment of software and associated AWS resources with just a few clicks. AWS Marketplace also simplifies billing for customers by delivering a single invoice detailing business software and AWS resource usage on a monthly basis.

With AWS Marketplace, we can help drive operational efficiencies and reduce costs in these ways:

  • Easily bring in new solutions to solve increasingly complex issues, gain quick insight into the huge amounts of data users handle.
  • Healthcare data will be more actionable. We offer pay-as-you-go solutions that make it considerably easier and more cost-effective to ingest, store, analyze, and disseminate data.
  • Deploy healthcare and life sciences software with 1-Click ease — then evaluate and deploy it in minutes. Users can now speed up their historically slow cycles in software procurement and implementation.
  • Pay only for what’s consumed — and manage software costs on your AWS bill.
  • In addition to the already secure AWS Cloud, AWS Marketplace offers industry-leading solutions to help you secure operating systems, platforms, applications and data that can integrate with existing controls in your AWS Cloud and hybrid environment.

Click here to see who the current list of vendors are in our new Healthcare & Life Sciences category.

Come on In
If you are a healthcare ISV and would like to list and sell your products on AWS, visit our Sell in AWS Marketplace page.

– Wilson To and Luis Daniel Soto

Research into the Root Causes of Terrorism

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/02/research_into_t_1.html

Interesting article in Science discussing field research on how people are radicalized to become terrorists.

The potential for research that can overcome existing constraints can be seen in recent advances in understanding violent extremism and, partly, in interdiction and prevention. Most notable is waning interest in simplistic root-cause explanations of why individuals become violent extremists (e.g., poverty, lack of education, marginalization, foreign occupation, and religious fervor), which cannot accommodate the richness and diversity of situations that breed terrorism or support meaningful interventions. A more tractable line of inquiry is how people actually become involved in terror networks (e.g., how they radicalize and are recruited, move to action, or come to abandon cause and comrades).

Reports from the The Soufan Group, International Center for the Study of Radicalisation (King’s College London), and the Combating Terrorism Center (U.S. Military Academy) indicate that approximately three-fourths of those who join the Islamic State or al-Qaeda do so in groups. These groups often involve preexisting social networks and typically cluster in particular towns and neighborhoods.. This suggests that much recruitment does not need direct personal appeals by organization agents or individual exposure to social media (which would entail a more dispersed recruitment pattern). Fieldwork is needed to identify the specific conditions under which these processes play out. Natural growth models of terrorist networks then might be based on an epidemiology of radical ideas in host social networks rather than built in the abstract then fitted to data and would allow for a public health, rather than strictly criminal, approach to violent extremism.

Such considerations have implications for countering terrorist recruitment. The present USG focus is on “counternarratives,” intended as alternative to the “ideologies” held to motivate terrorists. This strategy treats ideas as disembodied from the human conditions in which they are embedded and given life as animators of social groups. In their stead, research and policy might better focus on personalized “counterengagement,” addressing and harnessing the fellowship, passion, and purpose of people within specific social contexts, as ISIS and al-Qaeda often do. This focus stands in sharp contrast to reliance on negative mass messaging and sting operations to dissuade young people in doubt through entrapment and punishment (the most common practice used in U.S. law enforcement) rather than through positive persuasion and channeling into productive life paths. At the very least, we need field research in communities that is capable of capturing evidence to reveal which strategies are working, failing, or backfiring.

Survey Data on Americans and Cybersecurity

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/02/survey_data_on_.html

Pew Research just published their latest research data on Americans and their views on cybersecurity:

This survey finds that a majority of Americans have directly experienced some form of data theft or fraud, that a sizeable share of the public thinks that their personal data have become less secure in recent years, and that many lack confidence in various institutions to keep their personal data safe from misuse. In addition, many Americans are failing to follow digital security best practices in their own personal lives, and a substantial majority expects that major cyberattacks will be a fact of life in the future.

Here’s the full report.

De-Anonymizing Browser History Using Social-Network Data

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/02/de-anonymizing_1.html

Interesting research: “De-anonymizing Web Browsing Data with Social Networks“:

Abstract: Can online trackers and network adversaries de-anonymize web browsing data readily available to them? We show — theoretically, via simulation, and through experiments on real user data — that de-identified web browsing histories can\ be linked to social media profiles using only publicly available data. Our approach is based on a simple observation: each person has a distinctive social network, and thus the set of links appearing in one’s feed is unique. Assuming users visit links in their feed with higher probability than a random user, browsing histories contain tell-tale marks of identity. We formalize this intuition by specifying a model of web browsing behavior and then deriving the maximum likelihood estimate of a user’s social profile. We evaluate this strategy on simulated browsing histories, and show that given a history with 30 links originating from Twitter, we can deduce the corresponding Twitter profile more than 50% of the time. To gauge the real-world effectiveness of this approach, we recruited nearly 400 people to donate their web browsing histories, and we were able to correctly identify more than 70% of them. We further show that several online trackers are embedded on sufficiently many websites to carry out this attack with high accuracy. Our theoretical contribution applies to any type of transactional data and is robust to noisy observations, generalizing a wide range of previous de-anonymization attacks. Finally, since our attack attempts to find the correct Twitter profile out of over 300 million candidates, it is — to our knowledge — the largest scale demonstrated de-anonymization to date.

The grsecurity “RAP” patch set

Post Syndicated from corbet original https://lwn.net/Articles/713808/rss

The grsecurity developers have announced the
first release of the “Reuse Attack Protector” (RAP) patch set, aimed at
preventing return-oriented programming and other attacks. “RAP is
our patent-pending and best-in-breed defense mechanism against code reuse
attacks. It is the result of years of research and development into Control
Flow Integrity (CFI) technologies by PaX. The version of RAP present in the
test patch released to the public today under the GPLv2 is now

Friday Squid Blogging: Whale Mistakes Plastic Bags for Squid

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/02/friday_squid_bl_563.html

A whale recently died in Norway because there were thirty plastic bags in its stomach.

Researchers believe it may have mistaken the plastic bags for squid.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven’t covered.

…or, how I learned not to be a jerk in 20 short years

Post Syndicated from Michal Zalewski original http://lcamtuf.blogspot.com/2017/02/or-how-i-learned-not-to-be-jerk-in-20.html

People who are accomplished in one field of expertise tend to believe that they can bring unique insights to just about any other debate.
I am as guilty as anyone: at one time or another, I aired my thoughts on anything from
CNC manufacturing, to
electronics, to
emergency preparedness, to
Today, I’m about to commit the same sin – but instead of pretending to speak from a position of authority, I wanted to share a more personal tale.

The author, circa 1995. The era of hand-crank computers and punch cards.

Back in my school days, I was that one really tall and skinny kid in the class. It wasn’t trying to stay this way; I preferred computer games to sports, and my grandma’s Polish cooking was heavy on potatoes, butter, chicken, dumplings, cream, and cheese. But that did not matter: I could eat what I wanted, as often as I wanted, and I still stayed in shape. This made me look down on chubby kids; if my reckless ways had little or no effect on my body, it followed that they had to be exceptionally lazy and must have lacked even the most basic form of self-control.

As I entered adulthood, my habits remained the same. I felt healthy and stayed reasonably active, walking to and from work every other day and hiking with friends whenever I could. But my looks started to change:

The author at a really exciting BlackHat party in 2002.

I figured it’s just a part of growing up. But somewhere around my twentieth birthday, I stepped on a bathroom scale and typed the result into an online calculator. I was surprised to find out that my BMI was about 24 – pretty darn close to overweight.

“Pssh, you know how inaccurate these things are!”, I exclaimed while searching online to debunk that whole BMI thing. I mean, sure, I had some belly fat – maybe a pizza or two too far – but nothing that wouldn’t go away in time. Besides, I was doing fine, so what would be the point of submitting to the society’s idea of the “right” weight?

It certainly helped that I was having a blast at work. I made a name for myself in the industry, published a fair amount of cool research, authored a book, settled down, bought a house, had a kid. It wasn’t until the age of 26 that I strayed into a doctor’s office for a routine checkup. When the nurse asked me about my weight, I blurted out “oh, 175 pounds, give or take”. She gave me a funny look and asked me to step on the scale.

Turns out it was quite a bit more than 175 pounds. With a BMI of 27.1, I was now firmly into the “overweight” territory. Yeah yeah, the BMI metric was a complete hoax – but why did my passport photos look less flattering than before?

A random mugshot from 2007. Some people are just born big-boned, I think.

Well, damn. I knew what had to happen: from now on, I was going to start eating healthier foods. I traded Cheetos for nuts, KFC for sushi rolls, greasy burgers for tortilla wraps, milk smoothies for Jamba Juice, fries for bruschettas, regular sodas for diet. I’d even throw in a side of lettuce every now and then. It was bound to make a difference. I just wasn’t gonna be one of the losers who check their weight every day and agonize over every calorie on their plate. (Weren’t calories a scam, anyway? I think I read that on that cool BMI conspiracy site.)

By the time I turned 32, my body mass index hit 29. At that point, it wasn’t just a matter of looking chubby. I could do the math: at that rate, I’d be in a real pickle in a decade or two – complete with a ~50% chance of developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease. This wouldn’t just make me miserable, but also mess up the lives of my spouse and kids.

Presenting at Google TGIF in 2013. It must’ve been the unflattering light.

I wanted to get this over with right away, so I decided to push myself hard. I started biking to work, quite a strenuous ride. It felt good, but did not help: I would simply eat more to compensate and ended up gaining a few extra pounds. I tried starving myself. That worked, sure – only to be followed by an even faster rebound. Ultimately, I had to face the reality: I had a problem and I needed a long-term solution. There was no overnight cure.

I started looking for real answers. My world came crumbling down; I realized that a “healthy” burrito from Chipotle packed four times as many calories as a greasy burger from McDonald’s. That a loaded fruit smoothie from Jamba Juice was roughly equal to two hot dogs with a side of mashed potatoes to boot. That a glass of apple juice fared worse than a can of Sprite, and that bruschetta wasn’t far from deep-fried butter on a stick. It didn’t matter if it was sugar or fat, bacon or kale. Familiar favorites were not better or worse than the rest. Losing weight boiled down to portion control – and sticking to it for the rest of my life.

It was a slow and humbling journey that spanned almost a year. I ended up losing around 70 lbs along the way. What shocked me is that it wasn’t a painful experience; what held me back for years was just my own smugness, plus the folksy wisdom gleaned from the covers of glossy magazines.

A really hip bathroom selfie, December 2016.

I’m not sure there is a moral to this story. I guess one lesson is: don’t be a judgmental jerk. Sometimes, the simple things – the ones you think you have all figured out – prove to be a lot more complicated than they seem.

Month in Review: January 2017

Post Syndicated from Derek Young original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/big-data/month-in-review-january-2017/

Another month of big data solutions on the Big Data Blog!

Take a look at our summaries below and learn, comment, and share. Thank you for reading!


Decreasing Game Churn: How Upopa used ironSource Atom and Amazon ML to Engage Users
Ever wondered what it takes to keep a user from leaving your game or application after all the hard work you put in? Wouldn’t it be great to get a chance to interact with the users before they’re about to leave? In this post, learn how ironSource worked with gaming studio Upopa to build an efficient, cheap, and accurate way to battle churn and make data-driven decisions using ironSource Atom’s data pipeline and Amazon ML.

Create a Healthcare Data Hub with AWS and Mirth Connect
Healthcare providers record patient information across different software platforms. Each of these platforms can have varying implementations of complex healthcare data standards. Also, each system needs to communicate with a central repository called a health information exchange (HIE) to build a central, complete clinical record for each patient. In this post, learn how to consume different data types as messages, transform the information within the messages, and then use AWS services to take action depending on the message type.

Call for Papers! DEEM: 1st Workshop on Data Management for End-to-End Machine Learning
Amazon and Matroid will hold the first workshop on Data Management for End-to-End Machine Learning (DEEM) on May 14th, 2017 in conjunction with the premier systems conference SIGMOD/PODS 2017 in Raleigh, North Carolina. DEEM brings together researchers and practitioners at the intersection of applied machine learning, data management, and systems research to discuss data management issues in ML application scenarios. The workshop is soliciting research papers that describe preliminary and ongoing research results.

Converging Data Silos to Amazon Redshift Using AWS DMS
In this post, learn to use AWS Database Migration Service (AWS DMS) and other AWS services to easily converge multiple heterogonous data sources to Amazon Redshift. You can then use Amazon QuickSight, to visualize the converged dataset to gain additional business insights.

Run Mixed Workloads with Amazon Redshift Workload Management
It’s common for mixed workloads to have some processes that require higher priority than others. Sometimes, this means a certain job must complete within a given SLA. Other times, this means you only want to prevent a non-critical reporting workload from consuming too many cluster resources at any one time. Without workload management (WLM), each query is prioritized equally, which can cause a person, team, or workload to consume excessive cluster resources for a process which isn’t as valuable as other more business-critical jobs. This post provides guidelines on common WLM patterns and shows how you can use WLM query insights to optimize configuration in production workloads.

Secure Amazon EMR with Encryption
In this post, learn how to set up encryption of data at multiple levels using security configurations with EMR. You’ll walk through the step-by-step process to achieve all the encryption prerequisites, such as building the KMS keys, building SSL certificates, and launching the EMR cluster with a strong security configuration.


Powering Amazon Redshift Analytics with Apache Spark and Amazon Machine Learning
In this post, learn to generate a predictive model for flight delays that can be used to help pick the flight least likely to add to your travel stress. To accomplish this, you’ll use Apache Spark running on Amazon EMR for extracting, transforming, and loading (ETL) the data, Amazon Redshift for analysis, and Amazon Machine Learning for creating predictive models.

Want to learn more about Big Data or Streaming Data? Check out our Big Data and Streaming data educational pages.

Leave a comment below to let us know what big data topics you’d like to see next on the AWS Big Data Blog.

Security and the Internet of Things

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/02/security_and_th.html

Last year, on October 21, your digital video recorder ­- or at least a DVR like yours ­- knocked Twitter off the internet. Someone used your DVR, along with millions of insecure webcams, routers, and other connected devices, to launch an attack that started a chain reaction, resulting in Twitter, Reddit, Netflix, and many sites going off the internet. You probably didn’t realize that your DVR had that kind of power. But it does.

All computers are hackable. This has as much to do with the computer market as it does with the technologies. We prefer our software full of features and inexpensive, at the expense of security and reliability. That your computer can affect the security of Twitter is a market failure. The industry is filled with market failures that, until now, have been largely ignorable. As computers continue to permeate our homes, cars, businesses, these market failures will no longer be tolerable. Our only solution will be regulation, and that regulation will be foisted on us by a government desperate to “do something” in the face of disaster.

In this article I want to outline the problems, both technical and political, and point to some regulatory solutions. Regulation might be a dirty word in today’s political climate, but security is the exception to our small-government bias. And as the threats posed by computers become greater and more catastrophic, regulation will be inevitable. So now’s the time to start thinking about it.

We also need to reverse the trend to connect everything to the internet. And if we risk harm and even death, we need to think twice about what we connect and what we deliberately leave uncomputerized.

If we get this wrong, the computer industry will look like the pharmaceutical industry, or the aircraft industry. But if we get this right, we can maintain the innovative environment of the internet that has given us so much.


We no longer have things with computers embedded in them. We have computers with things attached to them.

Your modern refrigerator is a computer that keeps things cold. Your oven, similarly, is a computer that makes things hot. An ATM is a computer with money inside. Your car is no longer a mechanical device with some computers inside; it’s a computer with four wheels and an engine. Actually, it’s a distributed system of over 100 computers with four wheels and an engine. And, of course, your phones became full-power general-purpose computers in 2007, when the iPhone was introduced.

We wear computers: fitness trackers and computer-enabled medical devices ­- and, of course, we carry our smartphones everywhere. Our homes have smart thermostats, smart appliances, smart door locks, even smart light bulbs. At work, many of those same smart devices are networked together with CCTV cameras, sensors that detect customer movements, and everything else. Cities are starting to embed smart sensors in roads, streetlights, and sidewalk squares, also smart energy grids and smart transportation networks. A nuclear power plant is really just a computer that produces electricity, and ­- like everything else we’ve just listed -­ it’s on the internet.

The internet is no longer a web that we connect to. Instead, it’s a computerized, networked, and interconnected world that we live in. This is the future, and what we’re calling the Internet of Things.

Broadly speaking, the Internet of Things has three parts. There are the sensors that collect data about us and our environment: smart thermostats, street and highway sensors, and those ubiquitous smartphones with their motion sensors and GPS location receivers. Then there are the “smarts” that figure out what the data means and what to do about it. This includes all the computer processors on these devices and ­- increasingly ­- in the cloud, as well as the memory that stores all of this information. And finally, there are the actuators that affect our environment. The point of a smart thermostat isn’t to record the temperature; it’s to control the furnace and the air conditioner. Driverless cars collect data about the road and the environment to steer themselves safely to their destinations.

You can think of the sensors as the eyes and ears of the internet. You can think of the actuators as the hands and feet of the internet. And you can think of the stuff in the middle as the brain. We are building an internet that senses, thinks, and acts.

This is the classic definition of a robot. We’re building a world-size robot, and we don’t even realize it.

To be sure, it’s not a robot in the classical sense. We think of robots as discrete autonomous entities, with sensors, brain, and actuators all together in a metal shell. The world-size robot is distributed. It doesn’t have a singular body, and parts of it are controlled in different ways by different people. It doesn’t have a central brain, and it has nothing even remotely resembling a consciousness. It doesn’t have a single goal or focus. It’s not even something we deliberately designed. It’s something we have inadvertently built out of the everyday objects we live with and take for granted. It is the extension of our computers and networks into the real world.

This world-size robot is actually more than the Internet of Things. It’s a combination of several decades-old computing trends: mobile computing, cloud computing, always-on computing, huge databases of personal information, the Internet of Things ­- or, more precisely, cyber-physical systems ­- autonomy, and artificial intelligence. And while it’s still not very smart, it’ll get smarter. It’ll get more powerful and more capable through all the interconnections we’re building.

It’ll also get much more dangerous.


Computer security has been around for almost as long as computers have been. And while it’s true that security wasn’t part of the design of the original internet, it’s something we have been trying to achieve since its beginning.

I have been working in computer security for over 30 years: first in cryptography, then more generally in computer and network security, and now in general security technology. I have watched computers become ubiquitous, and have seen firsthand the problems ­- and solutions ­- of securing these complex machines and systems. I’m telling you all this because what used to be a specialized area of expertise now affects everything. Computer security is now everything security. There’s one critical difference, though: The threats have become greater.

Traditionally, computer security is divided into three categories: confidentiality, integrity, and availability. For the most part, our security concerns have largely centered around confidentiality. We’re concerned about our data and who has access to it ­- the world of privacy and surveillance, of data theft and misuse.

But threats come in many forms. Availability threats: computer viruses that delete our data, or ransomware that encrypts our data and demands payment for the unlock key. Integrity threats: hackers who can manipulate data entries can do things ranging from changing grades in a class to changing the amount of money in bank accounts. Some of these threats are pretty bad. Hospitals have paid tens of thousands of dollars to criminals whose ransomware encrypted critical medical files. JPMorgan Chase spends half a billion on cybersecurity a year.

Today, the integrity and availability threats are much worse than the confidentiality threats. Once computers start affecting the world in a direct and physical manner, there are real risks to life and property. There is a fundamental difference between crashing your computer and losing your spreadsheet data, and crashing your pacemaker and losing your life. This isn’t hyperbole; recently researchers found serious security vulnerabilities in St. Jude Medical’s implantable heart devices. Give the internet hands and feet, and it will have the ability to punch and kick.

Take a concrete example: modern cars, those computers on wheels. The steering wheel no longer turns the axles, nor does the accelerator pedal change the speed. Every move you make in a car is processed by a computer, which does the actual controlling. A central computer controls the dashboard. There’s another in the radio. The engine has 20 or so computers. These are all networked, and increasingly autonomous.

Now, let’s start listing the security threats. We don’t want car navigation systems to be used for mass surveillance, or the microphone for mass eavesdropping. We might want it to be used to determine a car’s location in the event of a 911 call, and possibly to collect information about highway congestion. We don’t want people to hack their own cars to bypass emissions-control limitations. We don’t want manufacturers or dealers to be able to do that, either, as Volkswagen did for years. We can imagine wanting to give police the ability to remotely and safely disable a moving car; that would make high-speed chases a thing of the past. But we definitely don’t want hackers to be able to do that. We definitely don’t want them disabling the brakes in every car without warning, at speed. As we make the transition from driver-controlled cars to cars with various driver-assist capabilities to fully driverless cars, we don’t want any of those critical components subverted. We don’t want someone to be able to accidentally crash your car, let alone do it on purpose. And equally, we don’t want them to be able to manipulate the navigation software to change your route, or the door-lock controls to prevent you from opening the door. I could go on.

That’s a lot of different security requirements, and the effects of getting them wrong range from illegal surveillance to extortion by ransomware to mass death.


Our computers and smartphones are as secure as they are because companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google spend a lot of time testing their code before it’s released, and quickly patch vulnerabilities when they’re discovered. Those companies can support large, dedicated teams because those companies make a huge amount of money, either directly or indirectly, from their software ­ and, in part, compete on its security. Unfortunately, this isn’t true of embedded systems like digital video recorders or home routers. Those systems are sold at a much lower margin, and are often built by offshore third parties. The companies involved simply don’t have the expertise to make them secure.

At a recent hacker conference, a security researcher analyzed 30 home routers and was able to break into half of them, including some of the most popular and common brands. The denial-of-service attacks that forced popular websites like Reddit and Twitter off the internet last October were enabled by vulnerabilities in devices like webcams and digital video recorders. In August, two security researchers demonstrated a ransomware attack on a smart thermostat.

Even worse, most of these devices don’t have any way to be patched. Companies like Microsoft and Apple continuously deliver security patches to your computers. Some home routers are technically patchable, but in a complicated way that only an expert would attempt. And the only way for you to update the firmware in your hackable DVR is to throw it away and buy a new one.

The market can’t fix this because neither the buyer nor the seller cares. The owners of the webcams and DVRs used in the denial-of-service attacks don’t care. Their devices were cheap to buy, they still work, and they don’t know any of the victims of the attacks. The sellers of those devices don’t care: They’re now selling newer and better models, and the original buyers only cared about price and features. There is no market solution, because the insecurity is what economists call an externality: It’s an effect of the purchasing decision that affects other people. Think of it kind of like invisible pollution.


Security is an arms race between attacker and defender. Technology perturbs that arms race by changing the balance between attacker and defender. Understanding how this arms race has unfolded on the internet is essential to understanding why the world-size robot we’re building is so insecure, and how we might secure it. To that end, I have five truisms, born from what we’ve already learned about computer and internet security. They will soon affect the security arms race everywhere.

Truism No. 1: On the internet, attack is easier than defense.

There are many reasons for this, but the most important is the complexity of these systems. More complexity means more people involved, more parts, more interactions, more mistakes in the design and development process, more of everything where hidden insecurities can be found. Computer-security experts like to speak about the attack surface of a system: all the possible points an attacker might target and that must be secured. A complex system means a large attack surface. The defender has to secure the entire attack surface. The attacker just has to find one vulnerability ­- one unsecured avenue for attack -­ and gets to choose how and when to attack. It’s simply not a fair battle.

There are other, more general, reasons why attack is easier than defense. Attackers have a natural agility that defenders often lack. They don’t have to worry about laws, and often not about morals or ethics. They don’t have a bureaucracy to contend with, and can more quickly make use of technical innovations. Attackers also have a first-mover advantage. As a society, we’re generally terrible at proactive security; we rarely take preventive security measures until an attack actually happens. So more advantages go to the attacker.

Truism No. 2: Most software is poorly written and insecure.

If complexity isn’t enough, we compound the problem by producing lousy software. Well-written software, like the kind found in airplane avionics, is both expensive and time-consuming to produce. We don’t want that. For the most part, poorly written software has been good enough. We’d all rather live with buggy software than pay the prices good software would require. We don’t mind if our games crash regularly, or our business applications act weird once in a while. Because software has been largely benign, it hasn’t mattered. This has permeated the industry at all levels. At universities, we don’t teach how to code well. Companies don’t reward quality code in the same way they reward fast and cheap. And we consumers don’t demand it.

But poorly written software is riddled with bugs, sometimes as many as one per 1,000 lines of code. Some of them are inherent in the complexity of the software, but most are programming mistakes. Not all bugs are vulnerabilities, but some are.

Truism No. 3: Connecting everything to each other via the internet will expose new vulnerabilities.

The more we network things together, the more vulnerabilities on one thing will affect other things. On October 21, vulnerabilities in a wide variety of embedded devices were all harnessed together to create what hackers call a botnet. This botnet was used to launch a distributed denial-of-service attack against a company called Dyn. Dyn provided a critical internet function for many major internet sites. So when Dyn went down, so did all those popular websites.

These chains of vulnerabilities are everywhere. In 2012, journalist Mat Honan suffered a massive personal hack because of one of them. A vulnerability in his Amazon account allowed hackers to get into his Apple account, which allowed them to get into his Gmail account. And in 2013, the Target Corporation was hacked by someone stealing credentials from its HVAC contractor.

Vulnerabilities like these are particularly hard to fix, because no one system might actually be at fault. It might be the insecure interaction of two individually secure systems.

Truism No. 4: Everybody has to stop the best attackers in the world.

One of the most powerful properties of the internet is that it allows things to scale. This is true for our ability to access data or control systems or do any of the cool things we use the internet for, but it’s also true for attacks. In general, fewer attackers can do more damage because of better technology. It’s not just that these modern attackers are more efficient, it’s that the internet allows attacks to scale to a degree impossible without computers and networks.

This is fundamentally different from what we’re used to. When securing my home against burglars, I am only worried about the burglars who live close enough to my home to consider robbing me. The internet is different. When I think about the security of my network, I have to be concerned about the best attacker possible, because he’s the one who’s going to create the attack tool that everyone else will use. The attacker that discovered the vulnerability used to attack Dyn released the code to the world, and within a week there were a dozen attack tools using it.

Truism No. 5: Laws inhibit security research.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a terrible law that fails at its purpose of preventing widespread piracy of movies and music. To make matters worse, it contains a provision that has critical side effects. According to the law, it is a crime to bypass security mechanisms that protect copyrighted work, even if that bypassing would otherwise be legal. Since all software can be copyrighted, it is arguably illegal to do security research on these devices and to publish the result.

Although the exact contours of the law are arguable, many companies are using this provision of the DMCA to threaten researchers who expose vulnerabilities in their embedded systems. This instills fear in researchers, and has a chilling effect on research, which means two things: (1) Vendors of these devices are more likely to leave them insecure, because no one will notice and they won’t be penalized in the market, and (2) security engineers don’t learn how to do security better.
Unfortunately, companies generally like the DMCA. The provisions against reverse-engineering spare them the embarrassment of having their shoddy security exposed. It also allows them to build proprietary systems that lock out competition. (This is an important one. Right now, your toaster cannot force you to only buy a particular brand of bread. But because of this law and an embedded computer, your Keurig coffee maker can force you to buy a particular brand of coffee.)

In general, there are two basic paradigms of security. We can either try to secure something well the first time, or we can make our security agile. The first paradigm comes from the world of dangerous things: from planes, medical devices, buildings. It’s the paradigm that gives us secure design and secure engineering, security testing and certifications, professional licensing, detailed preplanning and complex government approvals, and long times-to-market. It’s security for a world where getting it right is paramount because getting it wrong means people dying.

The second paradigm comes from the fast-moving and heretofore largely benign world of software. In this paradigm, we have rapid prototyping, on-the-fly updates, and continual improvement. In this paradigm, new vulnerabilities are discovered all the time and security disasters regularly happen. Here, we stress survivability, recoverability, mitigation, adaptability, and muddling through. This is security for a world where getting it wrong is okay, as long as you can respond fast enough.

These two worlds are colliding. They’re colliding in our cars -­ literally -­ in our medical devices, our building control systems, our traffic control systems, and our voting machines. And although these paradigms are wildly different and largely incompatible, we need to figure out how to make them work together.

So far, we haven’t done very well. We still largely rely on the first paradigm for the dangerous computers in cars, airplanes, and medical devices. As a result, there are medical systems that can’t have security patches installed because that would invalidate their government approval. In 2015, Chrysler recalled 1.4 million cars to fix a software vulnerability. In September 2016, Tesla remotely sent a security patch to all of its Model S cars overnight. Tesla sure sounds like it’s doing things right, but what vulnerabilities does this remote patch feature open up?

Until now we’ve largely left computer security to the market. Because the computer and network products we buy and use are so lousy, an enormous after-market industry in computer security has emerged. Governments, companies, and people buy the security they think they need to secure themselves. We’ve muddled through well enough, but the market failures inherent in trying to secure this world-size robot will soon become too big to ignore.

Markets alone can’t solve our security problems. Markets are motivated by profit and short-term goals at the expense of society. They can’t solve collective-action problems. They won’t be able to deal with economic externalities, like the vulnerabilities in DVRs that resulted in Twitter going offline. And we need a counterbalancing force to corporate power.

This all points to policy. While the details of any computer-security system are technical, getting the technologies broadly deployed is a problem that spans law, economics, psychology, and sociology. And getting the policy right is just as important as getting the technology right because, for internet security to work, law and technology have to work together. This is probably the most important lesson of Edward Snowden’s NSA disclosures. We already knew that technology can subvert law. Snowden demonstrated that law can also subvert technology. Both fail unless each work. It’s not enough to just let technology do its thing.

Any policy changes to secure this world-size robot will mean significant government regulation. I know it’s a sullied concept in today’s world, but I don’t see any other possible solution. It’s going to be especially difficult on the internet, where its permissionless nature is one of the best things about it and the underpinning of its most world-changing innovations. But I don’t see how that can continue when the internet can affect the world in a direct and physical manner.


I have a proposal: a new government regulatory agency. Before dismissing it out of hand, please hear me out.

We have a practical problem when it comes to internet regulation. There’s no government structure to tackle this at a systemic level. Instead, there’s a fundamental mismatch between the way government works and the way this technology works that makes dealing with this problem impossible at the moment.

Government operates in silos. In the U.S., the FAA regulates aircraft. The NHTSA regulates cars. The FDA regulates medical devices. The FCC regulates communications devices. The FTC protects consumers in the face of “unfair” or “deceptive” trade practices. Even worse, who regulates data can depend on how it is used. If data is used to influence a voter, it’s the Federal Election Commission’s jurisdiction. If that same data is used to influence a consumer, it’s the FTC’s. Use those same technologies in a school, and the Department of Education is now in charge. Robotics will have its own set of problems, and no one is sure how that is going to be regulated. Each agency has a different approach and different rules. They have no expertise in these new issues, and they are not quick to expand their authority for all sorts of reasons.

Compare that with the internet. The internet is a freewheeling system of integrated objects and networks. It grows horizontally, demolishing old technological barriers so that people and systems that never previously communicated now can. Already, apps on a smartphone can log health information, control your energy use, and communicate with your car. That’s a set of functions that crosses jurisdictions of at least four different government agencies, and it’s only going to get worse.

Our world-size robot needs to be viewed as a single entity with millions of components interacting with each other. Any solutions here need to be holistic. They need to work everywhere, for everything. Whether we’re talking about cars, drones, or phones, they’re all computers.

This has lots of precedent. Many new technologies have led to the formation of new government regulatory agencies. Trains did, cars did, airplanes did. Radio led to the formation of the Federal Radio Commission, which became the FCC. Nuclear power led to the formation of the Atomic Energy Commission, which eventually became the Department of Energy. The reasons were the same in every case. New technologies need new expertise because they bring with them new challenges. Governments need a single agency to house that new expertise, because its applications cut across several preexisting agencies. It’s less that the new agency needs to regulate -­ although that’s often a big part of it -­ and more that governments recognize the importance of the new technologies.

The internet has famously eschewed formal regulation, instead adopting a multi-stakeholder model of academics, businesses, governments, and other interested parties. My hope is that we can keep the best of this approach in any regulatory agency, looking more at the new U.S. Digital Service or the 18F office inside the General Services Administration. Both of those organizations are dedicated to providing digital government services, and both have collected significant expertise by bringing people in from outside of government, and both have learned how to work closely with existing agencies. Any internet regulatory agency will similarly need to engage in a high level of collaborate regulation -­ both a challenge and an opportunity.

I don’t think any of us can predict the totality of the regulations we need to ensure the safety of this world, but here’s a few. We need government to ensure companies follow good security practices: testing, patching, secure defaults -­ and we need to be able to hold companies liable when they fail to do these things. We need government to mandate strong personal data protections, and limitations on data collection and use. We need to ensure that responsible security research is legal and well-funded. We need to enforce transparency in design, some sort of code escrow in case a company goes out of business, and interoperability between devices of different manufacturers, to counterbalance the monopolistic effects of interconnected technologies. Individuals need the right to take their data with them. And internet-enabled devices should retain some minimal functionality if disconnected from the internet

I’m not the only one talking about this. I’ve seen proposals for a National Institutes of Health analog for cybersecurity. University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo has proposed a Federal Robotics Commission. I think it needs to be broader: maybe a Department of Technology Policy.

Of course there will be problems. There’s a lack of expertise in these issues inside government. There’s a lack of willingness in government to do the hard regulatory work. Industry is worried about any new bureaucracy: both that it will stifle innovation by regulating too much and that it will be captured by industry and regulate too little. A domestic regulatory agency will have to deal with the fundamentally international nature of the problem.

But government is the entity we use to solve problems like this. Governments have the scope, scale, and balance of interests to address the problems. It’s the institution we’ve built to adjudicate competing social interests and internalize market externalities. Left to their own devices, the market simply can’t. That we’re currently in the middle of an era of low government trust, where many of us can’t imagine government doing anything positive in an area like this, is to our detriment.

Here’s the thing: Governments will get involved, regardless. The risks are too great, and the stakes are too high. Government already regulates dangerous physical systems like cars and medical devices. And nothing motivates the U.S. government like fear. Remember 2001? A nominally small-government Republican president created the Office of Homeland Security 11 days after the terrorist attacks: a rushed and ill-thought-out decision that we’ve been trying to fix for over a decade. A fatal disaster will similarly spur our government into action, and it’s unlikely to be well-considered and thoughtful action. Our choice isn’t between government involvement and no government involvement. Our choice is between smarter government involvement and stupider government involvement. We have to start thinking about this now. Regulations are necessary, important, and complex; and they’re coming. We can’t afford to ignore these issues until it’s too late.

We also need to start disconnecting systems. If we cannot secure complex systems to the level required by their real-world capabilities, then we must not build a world where everything is computerized and interconnected.

There are other models. We can enable local communications only. We can set limits on collected and stored data. We can deliberately design systems that don’t interoperate with each other. We can deliberately fetter devices, reversing the current trend of turning everything into a general-purpose computer. And, most important, we can move toward less centralization and more distributed systems, which is how the internet was first envisioned.

This might be a heresy in today’s race to network everything, but large, centralized systems are not inevitable. The technical elites are pushing us in that direction, but they really don’t have any good supporting arguments other than the profits of their ever-growing multinational corporations.

But this will change. It will change not only because of security concerns, it will also change because of political concerns. We’re starting to chafe under the worldview of everything producing data about us and what we do, and that data being available to both governments and corporations. Surveillance capitalism won’t be the business model of the internet forever. We need to change the fabric of the internet so that evil governments don’t have the tools to create a horrific totalitarian state. And while good laws and regulations in Western democracies are a great second line of defense, they can’t be our only line of defense.

My guess is that we will soon reach a high-water mark of computerization and connectivity, and that afterward we will make conscious decisions about what and how we decide to interconnect. But we’re still in the honeymoon phase of connectivity. Governments and corporations are punch-drunk on our data, and the rush to connect everything is driven by an even greater desire for power and market share. One of the presentations released by Edward Snowden contained the NSA mantra: “Collect it all.” A similar mantra for the internet today might be: “Connect it all.”

The inevitable backlash will not be driven by the market. It will be deliberate policy decisions that put the safety and welfare of society above individual corporations and industries. It will be deliberate policy decisions that prioritize the security of our systems over the demands of the FBI to weaken them in order to make their law-enforcement jobs easier. It’ll be hard policy for many to swallow, but our safety will depend on it.


The scenarios I’ve outlined, both the technological and economic trends that are causing them and the political changes we need to make to start to fix them, come from my years of working in internet-security technology and policy. All of this is informed by an understanding of both technology and policy. That turns out to be critical, and there aren’t enough people who understand both.

This brings me to my final plea: We need more public-interest technologists.

Over the past couple of decades, we’ve seen examples of getting internet-security policy badly wrong. I’m thinking of the FBI’s “going dark” debate about its insistence that computer devices be designed to facilitate government access, the “vulnerability equities process” about when the government should disclose and fix a vulnerability versus when it should use it to attack other systems, the debacle over paperless touch-screen voting machines, and the DMCA that I discussed above. If you watched any of these policy debates unfold, you saw policy-makers and technologists talking past each other.

Our world-size robot will exacerbate these problems. The historical divide between Washington and Silicon Valley -­ the mistrust of governments by tech companies and the mistrust of tech companies by governments ­- is dangerous.

We have to fix this. Getting IoT security right depends on the two sides working together and, even more important, having people who are experts in each working on both. We need technologists to get involved in policy, and we need policy-makers to get involved in technology. We need people who are experts in making both technology and technological policy. We need technologists on congressional staffs, inside federal agencies, working for NGOs, and as part of the press. We need to create a viable career path for public-interest technologists, much as there already is one for public-interest attorneys. We need courses, and degree programs in colleges, for people interested in careers in public-interest technology. We need fellowships in organizations that need these people. We need technology companies to offer sabbaticals for technologists wanting to go down this path. We need an entire ecosystem that supports people bridging the gap between technology and law. We need a viable career path that ensures that even though people in this field won’t make as much as they would in a high-tech start-up, they will have viable careers. The security of our computerized and networked future ­ meaning the security of ourselves, families, homes, businesses, and communities ­ depends on it.

This plea is bigger than security, actually. Pretty much all of the major policy debates of this century will have a major technological component. Whether it’s weapons of mass destruction, robots drastically affecting employment, climate change, food safety, or the increasing ubiquity of ever-shrinking drones, understanding the policy means understanding the technology. Our society desperately needs technologists working on the policy. The alternative is bad policy.


The world-size robot is less designed than created. It’s coming without any forethought or architecting or planning; most of us are completely unaware of what we’re building. In fact, I am not convinced we can actually design any of this. When we try to design complex sociotechnical systems like this, we are regularly surprised by their emergent properties. The best we can do is observe and channel these properties as best we can.

Market thinking sometimes makes us lose sight of the human choices and autonomy at stake. Before we get controlled ­ or killed ­ by the world-size robot, we need to rebuild confidence in our collective governance institutions. Law and policy may not seem as cool as digital tech, but they’re also places of critical innovation. They’re where we collectively bring about the world we want to live in.

While I might sound like a Cassandra, I’m actually optimistic about our future. Our society has tackled bigger problems than this one. It takes work and it’s not easy, but we eventually find our way clear to make the hard choices necessary to solve our real problems.

The world-size robot we’re building can only be managed responsibly if we start making real choices about the interconnected world we live in. Yes, we need security systems as robust as the threat landscape. But we also need laws that effectively regulate these dangerous technologies. And, more generally, we need to make moral, ethical, and political decisions on how those systems should work. Until now, we’ve largely left the internet alone. We gave programmers a special right to code cyberspace as they saw fit. This was okay because cyberspace was separate and relatively unimportant: That is, it didn’t matter. Now that that’s changed, we can no longer give programmers and the companies they work for this power. Those moral, ethical, and political decisions need, somehow, to be made by everybody. We need to link people with the same zeal that we are currently linking machines. “Connect it all” must be countered with “connect us all.”

This essay previously appeared in New York Magazine.

Researchers Issue Security Warning Over Android VPN Apps

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/researchers-issue-security-warning-over-android-vpn-apps-170125/

warningThere was a time when the Internet was a fairly straightforward place to navigate, with basic software, basic websites and few major security issues. Over the years, however, things have drastically changed.

Many people now spend their entire lives connected to the web in some way, particularly via mobile devices and apps such as Facebook and the countless thousands of others now freely available online.

For some users, the idea of encrypting their traffic has become attractive, from both a security and anti-censorship standpoint. On the one hand people like the idea of private communications and on the other, encryption can enable people to bypass website blocks, wherever they may occur and for whatever reason.

As a result, millions are now turning to premium VPN packages from reputable companies. Others, however, prefer to use the all-in-one options available on Google’s Play store, but according to a new study, that could be a risky strategy.

A study by researchers at CSIRO’s Data 61, University of New South Wales, and UC Berkley, has found that hundreds of VPN apps available from Google Play presented significant security issues including malware, spyware, adware and data leaks.

Very often, users look at the number of downloads combined with the ‘star rating’ of apps to work out whether they’re getting a good product. However, the researchers found that among the 283 apps tested, even the highest ranked and most-downloaded apps can carry nasty surprises.

“While 37% of the analyzed VPN apps have more than 500K installs and 25% of them receive at least a 4-star rating, over 38% of them contain some malware presence according to VirusTotal,” the researchers write.

The five types of malware detected can be broken down as follows: Adware (43%), Trojan (29%), Malvertising (17%), Riskware (6%) and Spyware (5%). The researchers ordered the most problematic apps by VirusTotal AV-Rank, which represents the number of anti-virus tools that identified any malware activity.

The worst offenders, according to the reportvpn-worst

The researchers found that only a marginal number of VPN users raised any security or privacy concerns in the review sections for each app, despite many of them having serious problems. The high number of downloads seem to suggest that users have confidence in them, despite their issues.

“According to the number of installs of these apps, millions of users appear to trust VPN apps despite their potential maliciousness. In fact, the high presence of malware activity in VPN apps that our analysis has revealed is worrisome given the ability that these apps already have to inspect and analyze all user’s traffic with the VPN permission,” the paper reads.

The growing awareness of VPNs and their association with privacy and security has been a hot topic in recent years, but the researchers found that many of the apps available on Google Play offer neither. Instead, they featured tracking of users by third parties while demanding access to sensitive Android permissions.

“Even though 67% of the identified VPN Android apps offer services to enhance online privacy and security, 75% of them use third-party tracking libraries and 82% request permissions to access sensitive resources including user accounts and text messages,” the researchers note.

Even from this low point, things manage to get worse. Many VPN users associate the product they’re using with encryption and the privacy it brings, but for almost one-fifth of apps tested by the researchers, the concept is alien.

“18% of the VPN apps implement tunneling protocols without encryption despite promising online anonymity and security to their users,” they write, adding that 16% of tested apps routed traffic through other users of the same app rather than utilizing dedicated online servers.

“This forwarding model raises a number of trust, security, and privacy concerns for participating users,” the researchers add, noting that only Hola admits to the practice on its website.

And when it comes to the handling of IPv6 traffic, the majority of the apps featured in the study fell short in a dramatic way. Around 84% of the VPN apps tested had IPv6 leaks while 66% had DNS leaks, something the researchers put down to misconfigurations or developer-induced errors.

“Both the lack of strong encryption and traffic leakages can ease online tracking activities performed by inpath middleboxes (e.g., commercial WiFi [Access Points] harvesting user’s data) and by surveillance agencies,” they warn.

While the study (pdf) is detailed, it does not attempt to rank any of the applications tested, other than showing a table of some of the worst offenders. From the perspective of the consumer looking to install a good VPN app, that’s possibly not as helpful as they might like.

Instead, those looking for a VPN will have to carry out their own research online before taking the plunge. Sticking with well-known companies that are transparent about their practices is a great start. And, if an app requests access to sensitive data during the install process for no good reason, get rid of it. Finally, if it’s a free app with a free service included, it’s a fair assumption that strings may be attached.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Hello World – a new magazine for educators

Post Syndicated from Philip Colligan original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/hello-world-new-magazine-for-educators/

Today, the Raspberry Pi Foundation is launching a new, free resource for educators.

Hello World – a new magazine for educators

Hello World is a magazine about computing and digital making written by educators, for educators. With three issues each year, it contains 100 pages filled with news, features, teaching resources, reviews, research and much more. It is designed to be cross-curricular and useful to all kinds of educators, from classroom teachers to librarians.

Hello World is a magazine about computing and digital making written by educators, for educators. With three issues each year, it contains 100 pages filled with news, features, teaching resources, reviews, research and much more.

It is designed to be cross-curricular and useful to all kinds of educators, from classroom teachers to librarians.  While it includes lots of great examples of how educators are using Raspberry Pi computers in education, it is device- and platform-neutral.

Community building

As with everything we do at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Hello World is about community building. Our goal is to provide a resource that will help educators connect, share great practice, and learn from each other.

Hello World is a collaboration between the Raspberry Pi Foundation and Computing at School, the grass-roots organisation of computing teachers that’s part of the British Computing Society. The magazine builds on the fantastic legacy of Switched On, which it replaces as the official magazine for the Computing at School community.

We’re thrilled that many of the contributors to Switched On have agreed to continue writing for Hello World. They’re joined by educators and researchers from across the globe, as well as the team behind the amazing MagPi, the official Raspberry Pi magazine, who are producing Hello World.

print (“Hello, World!”)

Hello World is available free, forever, for everyone online as a downloadable pdf.  The content is written to be internationally relevant, and includes features on the most interesting developments and best practices from around the world.

The very first issue of Hello World, the magazine about computing and digital making for educators

Thanks to the very generous support of our sponsors BT, we are also offering the magazine in a beautiful print version, delivered for free to the homes of serving educators in the UK.

Papert’s legacy 

This first issue is dedicated to Seymour Papert, in many ways the godfather of computing education. Papert was the creator of the Logo programming language and the author of some of the most important research on the role of computers in education. It will come at no surprise that his legacy has a big influence on our work at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, not least because one of our co-founders, Jack Lang, did a summer internship with Papert.

Seymour Papert

Seymour Papert with one of his computer games at the MIT Media Lab
Credit: Steve Liss/The Life Images Collection/Getty Images

Inside you’ll find articles exploring Papert’s influence on how we think about learning, on the rise of the maker movement, and on the software that is used to teach computing today from Scratch to Greenfoot.

Get involved

We will publish three issues of Hello World a year, timed to coincide with the start of the school terms here in the UK. We’d love to hear your feedback on this first issue, and please let us know what you’d like to see covered in future issues too.

The magazine is by educators, for educators. So if you have experience, insights or practical examples that you can share, get in touch: contact@helloworld.cc.

The post Hello World – a new magazine for educators appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Capturing Pattern-Lock Authentication

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/01/capturing_patte.html

Interesting research — “Cracking Android Pattern Lock in Five Attempts“:

Abstract: Pattern lock is widely used as a mechanism for authentication and authorization on Android devices. In this paper, we demonstrate a novel video-based attack to reconstruct Android lock patterns from video footage filmed u sing a mobile phone camera. Unlike prior attacks on pattern lock, our approach does not require the video to capture any content displayed on the screen. Instead, we employ a computer vision algorithm to track the fingertip movements to infer the pattern. Using the geometry information extracted from the tracked fingertip motions, our approach is able to accurately identify a small number of (often one) candidate patterns to be tested by an adversary. We thoroughly evaluated our approach using 120 unique patterns collected from 215 independent users, by applying it to reconstruct patterns from video footage filmed using smartphone cameras. Experimental results show that our approach can break over 95% of the patterns in five attempts before the device is automatically locked by the Android system. We discovered that, in contrast to many people’s belief, complex patterns do not offer stronger protection under our attacking scenarios. This is demonstrated by the fact that we are able to break all but one complex patterns (with a 97.5% success rate) as opposed to 60% of the simple patterns in the first attempt. Since our threat model is common in day-to-day lives, our work calls for the community to revisit the risks of using Android pattern lock to protect sensitive information.

News article.

How the Media Influences Our Fear of Terrorism

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/01/how_the_media_i.html

Good article that crunches the data and shows that the press’s coverage of terrorism is disproportional to its comparative risk.

This isn’t new. I’ve written about it before, and wrote about it more generally when I wrote about the psychology of risk, fear, and security. Basically, the issue is the availability heuristic. We tend to infer the probability of something by how easy it is to bring examples of the thing to mind. So if we can think of a lot of tiger attacks in our community, we infer that the risk is high. If we can’t think of many lion attacks, we infer that the risk is low. But while this is a perfectly reasonable heuristic when living in small family groups in the East African highlands in 100,000 BC, it fails in the face of modern media. The media makes the rare seem more common by spending a lot of time talking about it. It’s not the media’s fault. By definition, news is “something that hardly ever happens.” But when the coverage of terrorist deaths exceeds the coverage of homicides, we have a tendency to mistakenly inflate the risk of the former while discount the risk of the latter.

Our brains aren’t very good at probability and risk analysis. We tend to exaggerate spectacular, strange and rare events, and downplay ordinary, familiar and common ones. We think rare risks are more common than they are. We fear them more than probability indicates we should.

There is a lot of psychological research that tries to explain this, but one of the key findings is this: People tend to base risk analysis more on stories than on data. Stories engage us at a much more visceral level, especially stories that are vivid, exciting or personally involving.

If a friend tells you about getting mugged in a foreign country, that story is more likely to affect how safe you feel traveling to that country than reading a page of abstract crime statistics will.

Novelty plus dread plus a good story equals overreaction.

It’s not just murders. It’s flying vs. driving: the former is much safer, but the latter is more spectacular when it occurs.