Chilling Tales Of Lost Passwords

Bizarro cartoon - Alibaba forgets his password

Here’s a scary story about the government’s preparations for the 2020 census and how it was exposed to “potentially catastrophic risk” when it lost some passwords.

Costs for the census have soared in the last few decades. After the 2010 census, the Census Bureau decided to embrace technology in 2020 to make the count more accurate and keep costs down. […] continued

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If You’re Worried About FaceApp Sending Your Photo To Russia, You’re Missing The Big Picture

FaceApp - Beatles

FaceApp is a popular phone app that uses AI on selfies to make you look older. It’s cute. It had a resurgence recently when some celebrities posted photos of themselves with wrinkles and grey hair, and then a lot of people freaked out because they realized the app does its work by uploading your picture to Russia. […] continued

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Security Tip: Google’s Lessons About Media Literacy Aren’t Just For Kids

Google's lessons about media literacy aren't just for kids

Media literacy – being able to recognize phishing messages, disinformation, and scams – has become one of the most important skills needed to survive in the 21st century. Your children may take classes in media literacy before long; lawmakers and educators are working to elevate the issue in legislatures and schools. […] continued

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Huawei And The Dog That’s Not Barking

Huawei and the dog that's not barking

“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

  — “Silver Blaze,” The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The United States is spearheading a multinational effort to destroy Huawei Technologies. […] continued

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The Mueller Report, Obsolete Technology, And Inferior PDFs

CD & DVD optical drives - obsolete technology

The Justice Department hand-delivered Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report to Congress on Thursday morning – on CD-ROMs. Isn’t that the cutest thing? House Judiciary Committee staff looked in the closets and found a computer with a working CD-ROM drive.

The report was then posted to the Department of Justice website as a 139Mb PDF file. […] continued

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We Believe In Free Speech Until People Exercise It

Freedom of speech and content moderation

We believe in freedom of speech in the US, except when people actually exercise it. Then we discover there are lots of people who should be seen but not heard – and a fair number that we wish we couldn’t see, either.

Governments, regulators and large tech companies are launching into a debate about content moderation that will be long, messy, and unsatisfying. […] continued

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Breaking News: February 18, 2019

Hot off the press! Breaking news!

I’m trying to get my thoughts in order for a couple of long articles about how to think about privacy in our world of surveillance by giant tech companies. That’s not quite ready yet. Now, now, don’t be disappointed, get a grip on yourself – it won’t be long before you have a chance to read four or five thousand words about things that I’m poorly qualified to talk about, and won’t that be fun? […] continued

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Bloomberg And Chinese Spies: The Strangest Technology Story Of The Year

Bloomberg Businessweek - The Big Hack

The Chinese government has put secret spy chips on US government servers. They’re stealing secrets from Apple and Amazon. And the US government is engaged in a massive effort to prevent us from learning anything about it, for unknown reasons.

Maybe.

How about this: the US government is mounting a full-court disinformation campaign, spreading lies through multiple sources to discredit China and gain an advantage in trade wars – and taking down a huge media entity as collateral damage. […] continued

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Algorithms And Paperclips: How Facebook Drives Us Apart

facebook_engagement_division

 

A famous thought experiment shows how an AI could be designed with good intentions and without malice, and still wind up destroying humanity.

Imagine that an artificial intelligence is told to maximize production of paperclips. Through an oversight it is not given any instructions about also considering human values – life, learning, joy, and so on. […] continued

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Vote 2018

Vote! 2018

To all my US readers:

This is what history looks like when it’s happening.

If you don’t get to the polls, or if you turn away because the line is long, you will regret it for the rest of your life.

Vote.

[…] continued Read more

Decoding Russian Cyberattacks: The Difference Between Hacking And Meddling

Russian cyberattacks - the difference between hacking and meddling

There is a difference between Russian hacking, on the one hand; and Russian meddling in American society and interfering with our election, on the other hand. The terms are used interchangeably and imprecisely in news coverage. Let’s try for clarity. Knowing the difference will help you sort out the claims flying back and forth in the headlines. […] continued

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“The Perfect Weapon” Is The Perfect Book For 2018

The Perfect Weapon by David Sanger

The Perfect Weapon by New York Times national security correspondent David Sanger, is the most important book you will read this year.

Before I describe the book, let me start with something essential to know about it: The Perfect Weapon reads like a thriller. It does not get technical or difficult. […] continued

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Microsoft Acknowledges The Inevitable: Windows Is Sailing Into The Sunset

Windows is sailing into the sunset

Microsoft announced an internal reorganization last week and raised the profile of its cloud, artificial intelligence, and enterprise teams.

This would not normally be an important event for us. Microsoft frequently reshuffles its employees. This reorganization, though, has major repercussions for every computer user.

Microsoft no longer has a Windows division. […] continued

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Net Neutrality & SESTA: The Big Will Grow Bigger

Net neutrality & SESTA - the tech giants get bigger

Previously: Tech Giants And World Domination

The repeal of Obama-era net neutrality rules by the Federal Communications Commission will take effect on April 23.

This week the Senate approved SESTA – a new law that purports to crack down on sex trafficking – after the House approved it last month. […] continued

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The 2017 Bruceb News Year In Review

The 2017 Bruceb News Year In Review

A year ago I wrote this prediction: “The word of the year for 2017 is “chaos.” Write it down, seal it in an envelope, open it up a year from now and see if I got it right.”

I think I get full marks. (Although Dictionary.com chose “complicit” as the word of the year, which has a certain snarky charm.)

We are in a transitional time in technology, with a handful of very large companies – Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft – accumulating power and wealth and dominating the landscape. […] continued

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