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20 Oct 11:16

President Obama Talks About AI Risk, Cybersecurity, and More

by Bruce Schneier

Interesting interview:

Obama: Traditionally, when we think about security and protecting ourselves, we think in terms of armor or walls. Increasingly, I find myself looking to medicine and thinking about viruses, antibodies. Part of the reason why cybersecurity continues to be so hard is because the threat is not a bunch of tanks rolling at you but a whole bunch of systems that may be vulnerable to a worm getting in there. It means that we've got to think differently about our security, make different investments that may not be as sexy but may actually end up being as important as anything.

What I spend a lot of time worrying about are things like pandemics. You can't build walls in order to prevent the next airborne lethal flu from landing on our shores. Instead, what we need to be able to do is set up systems to create public health systems in all parts of the world, click triggers that tell us when we see something emerging, and make sure we've got quick protocols and systems that allow us to make vaccines a lot smarter. So if you take a public health model, and you think about how we can deal with, you know, the problems of cybersecurity, a lot may end up being really helpful in thinking about the AI threats.

16 Oct 15:33

Why I left the Republican Party to become a Democrat

by Josh Barro

Donald TrumpAP

The most important thing we have learned this year is that, when the Republican Party was hijacked by a dangerous fascist who threatens to destroy the institutions that make America great and free, most Republicans up and down the organizational chart stood behind him and insisted he ought to be president.

Some did this because they are fools who do not understand why Trump is dangerous.

Some did it because they were naïve enough to believe he could be controlled and manipulated into implementing a normal Republican agenda.

Of course, there were the minority of Republicans who did what was right and withheld their support from Trump: people like Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, and Hewlett-Packard CEO and megadonor Meg Whitman, the latter of whom called Trump "a threat to the survival of the republic."

I want to focus on a fourth group: Republican politicians who understand exactly how dangerous Donald Trump is, but who have chosen to support him anyway for reasons of strategy, careerism, or cowardice.

Cowards and scoundrels

I am talking, for example, about Sen. Marco Rubio, who in the primary called Trump an "erratic individual" who must not be trusted with nuclear weapons — and then endorsed him for president.

I am talking about Sen. Ted Cruz, who called Trump a "pathological liar" and "utterly amoral" — and then endorsed him for president, even though Trump never apologized for threatening to "spill the beans" on Cruz's wife and suggesting Cruz's father was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Most of all, I'm talking about House Speaker Paul Ryan, a man whose pained, blue eyes suggest he desperately wants to cry for help. He's a man who runs around the country pathetically trying to pretend that Trump does not exist and that the key issue is his congressional caucus' "Better Way" agenda. And he's a man who, of his own free will, seeks to help Donald Trump become president.

These men are not fools like Ben Carson.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio looks on during an official photo with Honduran Attorney General Oscar Chinchilla (not pictured) at the attorney's facilities in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera/File PhotoAP

To borrow a phrase from Rubio, they know exactly what they are doing: They are taking an action that risks the destruction of the American republic to advance their personal interests.

They know what Meg Whitman knows about the risks Trump poses to America. Rubio himself warned specifically of the risk of Trump starting a nuclear war! But they do not care.

I can only conclude from the available evidence that they love their careers more than they love America. And they are why I quit the Republican Party this week.

Why I was a Republican

I'm not a conservative. I know a lot of you already thought my Republican affiliation was a trolling exercise, and honestly, my registration change was probably overdue.

I became a Republican as a teenager because of my upbringing in Massachusetts, a state where the GOP has produced five good governors in my lifetime, from Bill Weld (now the Libertarian Party's vice presidential nominee) to Charlie Baker. I worked for Mitt Romney when he ran for governor, and while I did not like his presidential campaigns, I think he has a record in Massachusetts he can be proud of.

All four living current and former Republican governors of Massachusetts oppose Trump.

I stayed a Republican because of my background working in state and local government finance, a policy area where a well-functioning Republican Party can bring important restraint. I have voted Republican, for example, in each of the last three New York City mayoral races.

I don't think it was ridiculous to be in a party that I disagreed with on a lot of national issues. Change is made through party coalitions, and I thought the Republican Party was where I was more likely to be able to improve ideas at the margin in the long run. Being a member of a party does not obligate you to vote for its bad candidates in the meantime.

But what this election has made clear is that policy is not the most important problem with the Republican Party.

ben sasseAP

The GOP was vulnerable to hacking

The Republican Party had a fundamental vulnerability: Because of the fact-free environment so many of its voters live in, and because of the anti-Democrat hysteria that had been willfully whipped up by so many of its politicians, it was possible for the party to be taken over by a fascist promising revenge.

And because there are only two major parties in the United States, and either of the parties' nominees can become president, such a vulnerability in the Republican Party constitutes a vulnerability in our democracy.

I can't be a part of an organization that creates that kind of risk.

What parties are for

My editor asked why I became a Democrat instead of an independent. I did that because I believe political parties are key vehicles for policy-making, and choosing not to join one is choosing to give up influence.

I agree with Sasse, the senator from Nebraska, that parties exist in service of policy ends, and that loyalty to the party should be contingent on whether loyalty serves those ends. Because of this, it is worth joining a party even if you do not intend to be a partisan, and even if you will often oppose what the party does.

Sasse was one of the earliest and loudest voices of resistance to Trump in the Republican Party, and after the intra-GOP civil war that is sure to ensue from Trump's loss, I wonder whether he will decide remaining in the GOP does a service to the ends he cares about.

Sasse is a lot more conservative than I am, so I don't expect him to become a Democrat. It makes sense for people like him and Kasich to try, after the election, to wrest control of the party away from the conspiracy nuts and proto-fascists.

But I believe they will fail. And I'm not going to stick around to watch. 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said Ted Cruz had called Donald Trump a "con artist." It was Marco Rubio who called him that. It's become difficult to keep track of which Trump endorsers said which things about Trump's manifest unfitness to be president.

NOW WATCH: 'CHECK OUT SEX TAPE': Trump goes on raging tweetstorm ripping Miss Universe contestant

12 Oct 09:15

Dutch Radioisotope Producer has Implemented Strong Management System and Safety Culture, IAEA Review Finds

The Nuclear Research Group of the Netherlands implements a strong safety culture, a mature management system when operating and maintaining the High Flux Research Reactor, concluded experts of the IAEA Integrated Nuclear Safety Assessment of Research Reactors (INSARR) mission yesterday.

07 Oct 01:30

Spotify's free tier has reportedly been hit with malicious ads

by BI Intelligence

Spotify Subs 2BII

This story was delivered to BI Intelligence "Digital Media Briefing" subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here.

Spotify Free users have complained that the streaming service is sending them malware-infested ads, according to a community post on the company's forum picked up by The Next Web.

As of Wednesday, the issue had received over 100 votes and more than 200 comments from people experiencing the problem, and Spotify has responded that it is currently investigating the affair. The possibility that Spotify’s ad inventory has been compromised reflects a fundamental danger in online advertising.

Users are reporting that ads on Spotify's desktop version are launching malicious websites in their web browsers. These websites feature malicious ads or phishing scams, and open randomly in users' browsers without the initial ad ever having been clicked on. Spotify's pop-up display ads seem to be causing this activity. These pop-ups may have been injected with a script that automatically opens the harmful sites in web browsers.

The incident is a reminder of the threat posed by malicious ads in the digital space, and the difficulty companies have in ensuring the integrity of their ad inventory supply chain: 

  • This isn’t the first time Spotify has had to deal malicious ads. In 2011, the companyissued an apology after an ad containing a virus was delivered to some of its users on Windows desktop. The ad didn’t need to be clicked on to infect a user’s machine.
  • Spotify isn’t the only company to be affected by this problem. In fact, incidents like this are relatively common. In March,,,,, and a handful of other large publishers were found to be displaying malicious ads that infected vulnerable computers with Trojans and ransomware.
  • Companies have taken measures to combat malicious ads. The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) is one example of an initiative to combat ad fraud and malware. Membership to the TAG registry signals that a company is committed to a certain level of quality assurance for the ads they serve. One hundred companies had joinedTAG’s registry as of July. 

This emphasizes the need for consumers to be vigilant and take protective measures. Users should have antivirus software installed on their computers at a minimum. And these safeguards have implications for digital companies:

  • Malware is a top issue driving ad-blocker adoption — hampering revenue. Over 40% of respondents in an survey last year said they use ad blockers out of concern for malware or viruses. This has the unintended consequence of starving digital companies of revenue.
  • Alternatively, it can compel users to go premium — boosting revenue. The threat of malicious ads could also convince users to sign up premium subscriptions, to enjoy an ad-free and relatively less dangerous user experience. These subscriptions make for more stable and substantial revenue streams than advertising.

To receive stories like this one directly to your inbox every morning, sign up for the Digital Media Briefing newsletter. Click here to learn more about how you can gain risk-free access today.

05 Oct 19:50

Here's a map of WiFi locations and passwords at airports around the world

by Sophie-Claire Hoeller

girl laptop airport workingAdam Berry/Getty Images

Is there anything more annoying than having to pay for Wi-Fi, that basic of human rights?

Anil Polat, a travel blogger and computer security engineer, is doing the world a solid by creating an interactive map — which he regularly updates — that reveals the Wi-Fi passwords of dozens of airports around the world.

Click on an airport on the map to see both the password and the Wi-Fi's location.

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Polat, who hopes to visit every country in the world, has a blog called foXoMad, which aims to help people "travel smarter." His WiFox map is updated regularly, based on verified information submitted by travelers.

It's available in iOS, Android, and Google Play.

NOW WATCH: This newly-designed travel pillow will make sleeping on flights a lot more comfortable

22 Sep 21:37

One 20th century mistake made cities horrible, congested, lonely places to live

by Rafi Letzter

Manhattanhenge 2016 Rafi Letzter at 34th Street RRL_5841Rafi Letzter/Tech Insider

I live in New York City, but this week I'm working from Boston. And I gotta tell you: Moving through this less-crowded, more-walkable, less garbage-scented city feels like taking a deep breath after holding my head underwater for too long. This city feels like it exists on a human scale.

While here, I visited MIT's Media Lab and spoke with Kent Larson, who studies how cities develop and how urban policy makers can make them better homes for their people.

Larson, an architect by training who now works on futuristic plans to adapt urban centers for the 21st century, said that the overriding mistake of last century was building cities around cars.

"Cars kill innovation," he said. "They lower density, they lead to traffic congestion and parking problems, and waste land for storing cars 24 hours a day."

Up until about 1880, he said, cities functioned more like networked villages. A person likely worked, relaxed, and shopped all within about 20 minutes of their home. Cities of that era of course had plenty of their own challenges, but they functioned as cohesive units. Residents were more likely to interact and function together.

But the modern era, and the introduction of the car, changed that.

"The early modernists saw the future as defined by separate functions: housing, commercial, industry," he said. "So people had these quiet, high quality residential areas, in large part in reaction to tenement slums and the awful living conditions that were quite often found in cities."

Many wealthy, white people moved out to suburbs, and commuted to work in city centers on major highways. Those highways divided up the neighborhoods of those who remained in cities, and isolating and ghettoizing many poor and minority populations.

"By the 1950s we were redesigning cities to privilege the needs of machines over the needs of humans," Larson said.

The result was urban spaces that were more and more crowded but less dense. If you're in a city right now, the space around you is likely a mix of buildings and areas for people to walk and relax, all chopped up by wide streets and parking spaces. All that room given over to cars takes away from and interrupts the spaces human beings use to live and move around. It reduces the number of people who can fit in a square mile, while making that same square mile feel more crowded and uncomfortable. (Cut that space for cars down drastically, and you're left with a much more human city.)
bi graphics what cities could look like in 100 years lead imageRafi Letzter/Tech Insider

This history won't shock anyone who's paid attention to the history of cities over the course of the last 100-plus years. But it's a key element of the theory that informs trends in urban planning that people like Larson hope will define the 21st century.

A return to the neighborhood-as-village model would see more people packed, hopefully thoughtfully, into cities themselves, but streets and parking areas given over to communal spaces and modes of transport that don't involve hauling tons of steel around on four wheels.

The most vital cities, he said, will offer more personalized, shared transportation options and walkable spaces, and privilege the needs of urbanites over suburbanites. You can already see it happening: Bike shares, roads like Broadway in New York turned over to communal spaces, European cities banning private cars from downtown areas. But cities still have a long way to go.

NOW WATCH: The last harvest moon eclipse of the decade has come and gone — here’s what a harvest moon actually is

16 Sep 19:29

Uber exec: Silicon Valley is all wrong about Apple's AirPods


So, you think Apple is a tech company? No, you're wrong.

In July of 1997, right before his return to Apple, Steve Jobs told BusinessWeek:

"The products suck! There's no sex in them anymore! Start over."

Ten years later, building on the dripping sex and rock and roll of the iPod (touched with a Bono no less!), Jobs revealed the iPhone and changed computing forever.

Last week, Apple did it again, but for some reason, nearly everyone in Silicon Valley is confused about what just happened. I mean, I understand the confusion, but do people really think that the most significant announcement was the removal of the 3.5mm analog headphone jack? I mean, it was, but not for the reasons everyone's panties seems to be bunched up about.

Apple doesn't give a s--- about neckbeard hipsters who spent thousands of dollars on expensive audiophile gear that rely on 100-year-old technology to transmit audio signals. They'll readily drop them faster than Trump drops facts to make an argument in a televised debate.

Apple is securing its future, and to do that, it must continue to shrink the physical distance between its products and its customers' conceptions of self. The Apple Watch came first, busting our sidekick supercomputer out of our pockets and onto our skin. Apple's next move will put its products literally within earshot of our minds.

This is no accident.

How quickly we forget the past

In 2007, not only did Apple launch the iPhone, but they also changed their name from Apple Computer, Inc., to Apple Inc.

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This change was perhaps as big a deal as the iPhone itself, but it's taken another decade for its implications to become clear.

Oops, did you blink and miss it? No problem. Apple made you a movie:

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Maybe it's still not clear to you. That's OK, I'll spell it out.

Repeat after me: Apple is not a technology company

The problem with Silicon Valley is Benedict Evans. I mean, not Benedict specifically, because he's actually incredibly smart and holds sophisticated perspectives on the tech industry and adoption cycles, and also, he gives good tweets, but he's not a product designer.

And yet, we look to him and other folks of his ilk to understand Apple's moves. But there are no users like Benedict Evans in the world, except in Silicon Valley, and as much as we like to think of Silicon Valley as the center of the universe, it's not. (Aside to my SV friends: I know, I know, deep breaths.)

Tweet Embed:
Looking forward to the arguments in 2030 when Apple announce they're only supporting contact lenses now and your AR glasses are obsolete

While we live and breathe tech products, and love to play armchair product quarterbacks (side note: Product Hunt is the NFL of product design), we don't represent the masses of normals. He and I like to indulge the fantasy that Apple makes things exclusively for us, but they obviously care way less about two Twitter-loving technophiles in Silicon Valley than they do about the rest of the world.

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Apple photos doesn't sync face recognition between iPhone and iPad. Because…

Thus when I consider who influences my thoughts on Apple's moves, I need to be mindful of the Kool-aid I'm drinking, who's making it, and what their lived context is. Do they represent the broader whole of humanity, or a narrow sliver of land on the West Coast of the United States of America?

So, then, why should you listen to me?

Who died and crowned me an expert? No one. I just kind of became an expert by virtue of the sheer number of hours I've spent on this stuff. Kind of like Benedict, but it's also his job. But, I'm also kind of a fraud, like the rest of you. I grew up never fitting in with any crowd and never being popular, but I learned to observe people, and then chameleon myself into their cliques so I could feign belonging.

It makes me a good faker and it makes me pretty good at listening to the words people use, but better at paying attention to what their behavior actually says. I've learned to differentiate how experts think about things from the way laypersons do, and how to discount each respective perspective accordingly (including my own, definitely including my own).

Most Silicon Valley pundits that we enjoy listening to or reading only reinforce our own over-developed, over-informed (and thus, unrepresentative) viewpoints. They say things that validate our shallow egos and make us feel less alone, like when they decry the death of the 3.5 mm analog jack as anathema.

We tweet our adolescent angst in solidarity because it feels good to belong and to rage in unison, and because we recoil from physical affection from each other, we seek likes and retweets to soothe our wounded inner children because that kind of validation is the closest human connection to getting a hug that we're willing to tolerate. And f--- yeah, Techmeme, thank you for showing me that I'm not alone!

But, I digress. What was I talking about?

Oh, right.

Apple is a fashion brand that makes jewelry that connects to the internet

apple watchApple

The thing that makes me crazy about Apple (and not in the fanboi sense) is that they both give a s--- and don't give a s--- about what anybody else thinks, and what everyone else is doing.

Like, under Tim Cook, they're a lot more "out there" and verbally responsive to customer complaints, but in a totally controlled and measured way. Not like Jobs didn't write emails to customers, but Cook is a little faster and looser. A little. And from an industry perspective, Apple doesn't seem to want to keep up with the Jones's (Google, Facebook, Amazon, Tencent, et al), except when they do.

For example, Samsung showcased a waterproof S7 back in February and then Apple followed suit in the iPhone 7. In other areas, however, Apple is out on their own. That's where it's worth paying attention, and that's what brings us back to nixing the headphone jack with the one-two punch of a Lightning port coupled with Bluetooth audio.

Yes, others, from Slate to Chris Saad, have pointed out that this change is not about music, but about how Apple's new AirPods will usher in the wonderful (and yet unproven) world of voice computing. And, I agree, but that perspective is insufficient to understand why Apple doing this is significant. It's not like they're the first. This image, though, helps:


"You've got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology." — Steve Jobs

The thing is, we've had wireless headsets for a while, but they've always made people (mostly men) look like d--------. They're confusing to pair, and frustrating to use. And so if you're willing to put up with them, you're letting technology ruin your life. And so, you're a d------.

Don't take my word for it, look at this unlicensed "confident businessman with wireless headset" stock photo.

Pure d------.

Poor guy.

Heck, even if you kind of look like Chris Hemsworth, you can't really make a once state of the art wireless headset look like something you'd choose to adorn your pretty little head with.

The reality is, the "Bionic Man" look isn't really in, no matter how much utility these devices provide (I say this even as Bluetooth headphones sales eclipse the wired sort) or people attempt to get the design right. Yves Behar couldn't make it happen when he partnered with Jawbone. I mean, would you choose to wear something like this on a hot date?

jawbone yves beharApple

Probably not if you wanted a second date, amirite?

But the EarPods, and now AirPods, for some reason* (*no, it's a very specific reason), defeat this crisis of user acceptance.

What Apple has done is produce something that isn't a technology product, but is, rather, a fashion object — a piece of jewelry, an entertainment product, a status symbol, a genie in a bottle — that drips with sex appeal.

I mean, that iPhone 7 launch video probably was directed by The Weeknd, because I want to watch it, often, followed by a cold shower.

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So, don't confuse AirPods with just another Bluetooth headset; that's not what they're replacing. AirPods offer a new relationship because they're alluring, sensuous, and sultry: AirPods are sex sticks that f--- your ears.

(Hmm. Or maybe your ears spoon them? I can't decide.)

apple airpodsApple

Regardless, the f------ or the cuddling goes both ways, and if I'm saying anything, it's that AirPods aren't a technology device, but instead a way to get Her's Scarlett Johansson character into your bed… errr… I mean, head because whatever is going on in this image, it's the equivalent of what we all know actually takes place on Snapchat (or used to), except it's happening between you and a bot named Siri:

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And this is what Apple can do that no one else can: make the behavior of talking to a disembodied entity on your face so socially acceptable that the voice computer revolution can finally get underway.

Nor are they starting from square one. They've already taught us to behave this way, even if we don't realize it. How many times have you walked down the street talking to a colleague or family member on your EarPods? It's normal. It's not weird. Who cares if you're talking instead to your robot overlord?

What sets AirPods apart is that they build on existing habits, require only slightly modified expectations on behalf of the user, and benefit from the wisdom of the phalanx of fashion luminaries that Apple has brought in-house over the past decade.

In contrast, here's a weird product with no sex appeal which had no prior user adoption to build on and that was doomed to fail from the outset, no matter how many models showed up for the fashion walks:

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You can buy fashionable friends, and you can pay them to wear your stuff to make some photos, but you can't get them to choose to wear what you're offering in their real lives unless there's a bridge to the familiar, essential, and down-to-earth.


AirPods build on the success of the iPod, which is related to the story of Napster and taking on the record industry, saying "F--- you!" to Metallica (especially to Lars), putting 1,000 songs in your pocket, the clickwheel, trading 128kbps MP3s in internet forums, suffering through dial-up download speeds, Firewire, USB, and basically punk rock.

AirPods are legit like Richard Branson because they've been around forever and yet they're still new and cool as f---.

Patience is a virtue lost on Silicon Valley

Here in Silicon Valley, we're a bunch of inchoate Peter Pans, which affects how we approach relationships, how we design, build, and grow apps, and it affects our ability to relate to the people that use the things we make (because everything we make is soooo important, magical, revolutionary, changing the world, solving world hunger, making life less demanding by making everything available on-demand).

Somehow (maybe it was the acid trip Jobs went on), Apple learned to take their time with products, and to pace their product evolution. They seem slow at times, but maybe it's just because they resist the short-sighted approach that most tech companies feel forced to take to try to get ahead.

That means most tech companies struggle to fully understand the problems they're solving, and don't stop to saddle up alongside their users to develop empathy — to really understand what their users are willing to put up with and what they never will.

ipod adApple

Apple began the journey of promoting user acceptance of technology apparatuses as fashion accessories with the introduction of the iPod in 2001, fifteen years ago.

You can hear it when Jobs explains why he decided to pursue music in the first place: he knew it was universal and represented a huge addressable market in which there was no market leader. He also knew that everyone loved music, and that their personal, emotional relationships with music would give him the opening he needed to send in the Trojan Horse to permeate their lives for a generation.

And now, by exploiting that same relationship, Apple is doing it again: offering a sexy fashion statement, an expensive luxury item, an entertainment accessory, which will usher in the era of voice-controlled intimate computing. Apple won't sell the AirPods by enumerating their tech specs but by evoking an emotional, aspirational response —which is an approach vividly different from nearly anything else that comes out Silicon Valley's burgeoning nerdtopia.

When we decry the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley (and yes, Apple absolutely should examine its own house), we should remember that true diversity is complex with many dimensions. The broad, eventual appeal of AirPods come from the diversity of talent working behind the scenes to bring this product to life — beyond the engineering and industrial design — which includes disciplines from marketing to retailing to storytelling to fashion, as well as the disciplinary will to resist shipping s--- products. A diversity of perspectives had to be brought together to make this product happen in this moment, with this narrative, with the relatively reserved emphasis on Siri.

No, people aren't quite ready for the conversational software world of the future  —  but that's OK, because, guys, Apple's on it, and they've got plenty of time to get it right. And I hope you understand what Apple's up to a little bit better now.

NOW WATCH: People try on Apple's new wireless 'AirPods' for the first time

09 Sep 14:30

Fallout 4 and Skyrim are no longer getting mods on PS4

by Andrew Webster

Despite its original plans, developer Bethesda will no longer be bringing support for mods to the PS4 version of Fallout 4 or the upcoming remastered version of Skyrim. "After months of discussion with Sony, we regret to say that while we have long been ready to offer mod support on PlayStation 4, Sony has informed us they will not approve user mods the way they should work: where users can do anything they want for either Fallout 4 or Skyrim Special Edition," Bethesda says.

Official modding tools first launched for the PC version of Fallout 4 back in April and came to the Xbox One in May. Mods for console games aren't typical, but Bethesda felt they were an integral part of the Fallout experience, helping to extend the life of the...

Continue reading…

31 Aug 14:51

There's an easy way to tell if you're talking to an expert or a faker

by Rafi Letzter

Albert EinsteinWikimedia Commons

The difference between experts and fakers is that experts don't know that much. Fakers, on the other hand, know everything — or at least they think they do.

When your job is to write about science, you end up talking to a lot of experts and a (hopefully smaller) number of people who are making things up as they go along.

Experts are frustrating. They stand on top of mountains of knowledge, only to point at the horizon and say There's so much we have yet to discover!

It makes them skittish, consumed with their own ignorance. They speak in precise, limited language.

One scientist (whose name I will not use due to an ongoing legal case) was asked to identify for police a man who had attacked him in his own home. He pointed to the man and said "To the best of my knowledge, that's him."

Later, the police questioned why he wasn't 100% sure that the man with the face of their attacker was his attacker. He said, "I'm not 100% sure of anything."

This is not how normal people talk. And it's certainly not how fakers talk.

I get emails several times a week from people who think they've "proven" climate change is a hoax. I ignore all of them — not only because over the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change but because of the absolutely confident tone with which they're almost always written.

Real climate scientists never talk that way, though in a field with such overwhelming consensus you couldn't blame them if they did. Instead, they'll point to the enormous degree of peer review and replication success in their field, then carefully explain all the questions they have yet to answer.

I'll give you another example.

Ancient Ruins with a Great Arch and a ColumnWikimedia Commons

Recently, I interviewed Sean Downey for an article about why societies collapse. Downey's an archaeologist. He uses statistical methods to examine Neolithic European civilization, and he's developed a robust set of mathematical tools for differentiating "resilient" and not resilient populations.

My problem in getting ready to write about his work is that the civilizations Downey studies all died out eons before recorded history. So I asked Downey to offer some modern examples of resilient and non-resilient populations.

He paused. My recording of our conversation shows he was silent for sixteen seconds before he said that 20th Century England might-maybe-possibly-I guess be a resilient society. He explained why, then qualified the analogy with several caveats.

To be clear, Downey is more qualified than almost anyone else on the planet to comment on whether a society is or isn't resilient. He's studied and cultivated theories of societal collapse for years. But he wasn't willing to offer even a hint of an opinion he wasn't sure he could back up with empirical data.

Fakers have opinions on everything. Ask them a question, no matter how nuanced, and they'll have a sure, ready answer — sometimes about topics you didn't ask about in the first place.

Climate change is a hoax. So-and-so will win exactly 56% of the vote in tomorrow's election. No one will listen to rap music in twenty years. Invest in this company and you'll get rich.

This, I suspect, is the essential difference between the sorts of thought that lead to major discoveries and the sorts that don't.

Experts — and people with the tools to become experts — assume their own ignorance and look for ways to poke holes in common ideas. And so they ask better questions. 

I wonder whether dogs really understand human speech? How much will fighting climate change costHas weed really gotten stronger

But if you approach a topic with a fully-developed theory of the case, it's harder to ask any questions beyond those that would validate your preconceptions.

A caveat: Plenty of people are experts in one subject and fakers in others. It's common, in my experience, for scientists to talk with much more confidence about subjects outside their fields than the subjects they've spent years actually studying.

And, finally, another caveat: I'm clearly not an expert in expertise — just look at the hubris and overconfidence dripping from this article! But this is a rubric I find useful. Take it or leave it.

NOW WATCH: The smartest bird in the world can use tools like a human, and it's amazing to watch

15 Aug 12:23

A nasty Android malware is spreading using Google's online ad network

by Rob Price

eric schmidt google alphabet chairmanWin McNamee/Getty Images

Watch out, Android users: Security researchers have discovered a nasty new piece of smartphone malware that targets users of Google's mobile operating system — and it uses Google's popular advertising network AdSense to do it.

It's a banking "trojan," which is designed to steal its victims' banking details. One way it does this is by creating phishing windows designed to dupe users into entering their details. It can also read and and delete text messages sent to users by their banks.

The worrying part is how it makes its way to the victim's phone. Researchers from security firm Kaspersky found that it is being distributed by AdSense — Google's huge advertising network which is used by countless companies and people to display ads on their websites. Ads that are powered by AdSense appear everywhere from tiny blogs to the websites of international news organisations (Kaspersky researchers saw it appear on RT, the state-owned Russian media company); it's the single biggest ad network in the world.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

android russia malware adsenseWin McNamee/Getty ImagesThe malware, once installed, hides itself from the list of applications on the phone, making it harder to detect and remove.

And, as well as stealing financial data, it also spies on the victim more generally: "Svpeng collects an impressive amount of information from the user’s phone — the call history, text and multimedia messages, browser bookmarks and contacts," Kaspersky researchers wrote in a blog post on Monday.

There are ways to avoid being infected. If users have their security settings set so their phone won't run apps from unknown sources, their devices won't be compromised. By default, Android won't run unknown apps — but it is sometimes necessary to change these settings (to install apps from third-party app stores, for example) — putting the phone at risk.

The malware appears to be specifically targeting Russian users, as it was designed to create phishing windows for a specific Russian bank. But it's still embarrassing for Google, and fuels the argument often made that online ad-blocking is sometimes necessary as a security measure to protect the user.

Ad networks used by media organisations have been caught accidentally delivering malware to readers before. Back in September 2015, for example, researchers found news site Forbes was accidentally delivering malware to users via malicious ads. The issue was subsequently resolved.

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08 Aug 16:45

Pokémon Go dev honoring requests to disable the game in inappropriate places

by Samit Sarkar

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is not a PokéStop

Continue reading…

02 Aug 15:27

Iranian hackers have hacked Telegram — and it could spell trouble for activists and journalists in the country

internet security researcher computer telegram users iranBrendan McDermid/Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iranian hackers have compromised more than a dozen accounts on the Telegram instant messaging service and identified the phone numbers of 15 million Iranian users, the largest known breach of the encrypted communications system, cyber researchers told Reuters.

The attacks, which took place this year and have not been previously reported, jeopardized the communications of activists, journalists and other people in sensitive positions in Iran, where Telegram is used by some 20 million people, said independent cyber researcher Collin Anderson and Amnesty International technologist Claudio Guarnieri, who have been studying Iranian hacking groups for three years.

Telegram promotes itself as an ultra secure instant messaging system because all data is encrypted from start to finish, known in the industry as end-to-end encryption. A number of other messaging services, including Facebook Inc's WhatsApp, say they have similar capabilities.

Headquartered in Berlin, Telegram says it has 100 million active subscribers and is widely used in the Middle East, including by the Islamic State militant group, as well as in Central and Southeast Asia, and Latin America.

Telegram's vulnerability, according to Anderson and Guarnieri, lies in its use of SMS text messages to activate new devices. When users want to log on to Telegram from a new phone, the company sends them authorization codes via SMS, which can be intercepted by the phone company and shared with the hackers, the researchers said.

Armed with the codes, the hackers can add new devices to a person's Telegram account, enabling them to read chat histories as well as new messages.

"We have over a dozen cases in which Telegram accounts have been compromised, through ways that sound like basically coordination with the cellphone company," Anderson said in an interview.

Telegram's reliance on SMS verification makes it vulnerable in any country where cellphone companies are owned or heavily influenced by the government, the researchers said.

telegram pavel durovBrendan McDermid/Reuters

A spokesman for Telegram said customers can defend against such attacks by not just relying on SMS verification. Telegram allows - though it does not require - customers to create passwords, which can be reset with so-called "recovery" emails.

"If you have a strong Telegram password and your recovery email is secure, there's nothing an attacker can do," said Markus Ra, the spokesman.

Iranian officials were not available to comment. Iran has in the past denied government links to hacking.


The Telegram hackers, the researchers said, belonged to a group known as Rocket Kitten, which used Persian-language references in their code and carried out "a common pattern of spearphishing campaigns reflecting the interests and activities of the Iranian security apparatus."

Anderson and Guarnieri declined to comment on whether the hackers were employed by the Iranian government. Other cyber experts have said Rocket Kitten's attacks were similar to ones attributed to Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards.

The researchers said the Telegram victims included political activists involved in reformist movements and opposition organizations. They declined to name the targets, citing concerns for their safety.

"We see instances in which people ... are targeted prior to their arrest," Anderson said. "We see a continuous alignment across these actions."

The researchers said they also found evidence that the hackers took advantage of a programing interface built into Telegram to identify at least 15 million Iranian phone numbers with Telegram accounts registered to them, as well as the associated user IDs. That information could provide a map of the Iranian user base that could be useful for future attacks and investigations, they said.

iran telegram security researcher amir rashidiBrendan McDermid/Reuters

"A systematic de-anonymization and classification of people who employ encryption tools (of some sort, at least) for an entire nation" has never been exposed before, Guarnieri said.

Ra said Telegram has blocked similar "mapping" attempts in the past and was trying to improve its detection and blocking strategies.

Cyber experts say Iranian hackers have become increasingly sophisticated, able to adapt to evolving social media habits. Rocket Kitten's targets included members of the Saudi royal family, Israeli nuclear scientists, NATO officials and Iranian dissidents, U.S.-Israeli security firm Check Point said last November.


Telegram was founded in 2013 by Pavel Durov, known for starting VKontakte, Russia's version of Facebook, before fleeing the country under pressure from the government.

While Facebook and Twitter are banned in Iran, Telegram is widely used by groups across the political spectrum. They shared content on Telegram "channels" and urged followers to vote ahead of Iran's parliamentary elections in February 2016.

Last October, Durov wrote in a post on Twitter that Iranian authorities had demanded the company provide them with "spying and censorship tools." He said Telegram ignored the request and was blocked for two hours on Oct. 20, 2015.

Ra said the company has not changed its stance on censorship and does not maintain any servers in Iran.

After complaints from Iranian activists, Durov wrote on Twitter in April that people in "troubled countries" should set passwords for added security.

Amir Rashidi, an internet security researcher at the New York-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, has worked with Iranian hacking victims. He said he knew of Telegram users who were spied on even after they had set passwords.

Ra said that in those cases the recovery email had likely been hacked.

Anderson and Guarnieri will present their findings at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas on Thursday. Their complete research is set to be published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington-based think tank, later this year.

03 Aug 08:00

If Your Computer was an iPad Pro: Apple has Come Full Circle

by Carolina Milanesi

Apple has a new ad for the iPad Pro asking you to “Imagine what your computer could do…if your computer was an iPad Pro.” With this, Apple has come full circle in its positioning of the iPad.

I have argued before that, when Apple brought the iPad to market in 2010, it tried extremely hard to position it as close as possible to the iPhone and as far as possible from the PC. At the time that made perfect sense. Smartphones were still growing in popularity, we were only three years away from the iPhone launch, and the App Store was in full swing. Drawing the parallel to what consumers wanted and loved was bound to generate demand. At the same time, Apple had to make sure consumers did not think the iPad was a tablet PC and so created a clear divide between the larger iPhone cousin and the Microsoft computer world. The easiest way to mark that divide was to concentrate on the fact the iPad was more about entertainment and content consumption – worth remembering that iOS did not have the enterprise presence it has today. While Apple also talked about content creation with the iPad, the underlying theme, especially in the Windows camp, was that tablets were not as powerful as PCs and certainly not up to the job when it came to productivity.

A Different Market

Six years later, the market is quite different. While smartphone sales have considerably slowed, their functionalities and size have only grown, making them perfect for content consumption on the go. This, coupled with the fact smartphones are always with us, has left little room for tablets to become a more sentinel part of an average consumer’s device portfolio. Most consumers also still do not believe a tablet is as capable as a PC neither do they do not think of it as an alternative to a PC when shopping for a new one. According to a recent study we ran at Creative Strategies, less than 5% of our US panel had considered replacing their PC with a tablet. As replacement cycles for iPad lengthen as many consumers see enough value coming from software upgrades alone, the vast number of PC users out there need to be convinced an iPad, and the iPad Pro specifically, could do what a PC does and more.

I advised before that vendors and Microsoft should stop talking about PC replacements because that does not allow consumers to see what an opportunity the new devices running Windows 10 offer. It seems in its latest ad, Apple is doing exactly that — not just implying the iPad Pro can replace your PC but saying it is actually going to do more than your PC.

But What is a PC Today?

While the iPad Pro has everything from a hardware perspective that allows it to compete with a PC, it seems to me the biggest battle Apple has on its hands remains the preconceived idea of what a PC is. Reading comments on Twitter on the new iPad ad, I saw the same points being made as six years ago: iOS is not a “full OS”, there is no file manager structure, there is no access to a disk, multitasking is not comparable, etc., etc. But the world is not the same as six years ago. Why do you need a disk when you have the cloud? Why do you need a file system when you are using different apps and your work is contained within those apps? Granted, not everybody works like that but more and more people do. Our data shows that, in the US, 80% of early adopters have embraced the cloud and about 30% of mainstream consumers have.

Surface Initiated the Change but Legacy is Keeping it Down

The iPad Pro is, of course, not the first tablet trying to convince you it can do what your PC does and more. Microsoft has been trying to do the same with the Surface. As a matter of fact, many think the iPad Pro is nothing but a “Surface wanna-be”. On the surface, these two devices look very similar but the premise that got them to the market is very different.

There is not a question that, when the Surface came to market – way before anyone was ready for it – it started something bigger than even Microsoft realized at the time. While the focus was on Windows 8 and the fact Microsoft vendors were struggling to both compete with the iPad and fuel PC upgrades, the Surface actually started to challenge the idea of what a PC was. In its 4th iteration and with a much better operating system at hand, the Surface could do more than a PC. Except, not many people actually thought of it in a different way. Yes, it has touch. Yes, it has a pen. But ultimately, most people still see it as a PC. The Surface calls itself a PC: “Your PC is restarting”. So it is not surprising the Surface commercials show people using the Surface in their non-conventional businesses and end with “I could not do that with my Mac.” I see this as a burden for the Surface. One that impacts its ability to convert more iPad and Mac users as well as attract developers to the platform so that you would have more use cases beyond traditional productivity to appeal to a younger generation both outside and inside enterprise. Microsoft is doing a great job in creating its own apps and adding functionality to the underlying OS that benefit the Surface – inking being the best example – but more could be done so that the Surface could be whatever one wants it to be.

It is interesting that, as Microsoft and Apple came to one similar product from two very different perspectives, they are now fighting a battle on opposite fronts but with one common interest — changing how people think of a PC. While the task seems more arduous for Apple because of the millions and millions of PC users there are, I actually think it will be harder for the Surface as Microsoft needs to balance its own desires and goals with those of the partners in the Windows ecosystem.

26 Jul 17:14

New attack bypasses HTTPS protection on Macs, Windows, and Linux

by Dan Goodin

(credit: Ddxc)

A key guarantee provided by HTTPS encryption is that the addresses of visited websites aren't visible to attackers who may be monitoring an end user's network traffic. Now, researchers have devised an attack that breaks this protection.

The attack can be carried out by operators of just about any type of network, including public Wi-Fi networks, which arguably are the places where Web surfers need HTTPS the most. It works by abusing a feature known as WPAD—short for Web Proxy Autodisovery—in a way that exposes certain browser requests to attacker-controlled code. The attacker then gets to see the entire URL of every site the target visits. The exploit works against virtually all browsers and operating systems. It will be demonstrated for the first time at next week's Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas in a talk titled Crippling HTTPS with Unholy PAC.

"People rely on HTTPS to secure their communication even when the LAN/Wi-Fi cannot be trusted (think public Wi-Fi/hotels/cafes/airports/restaurants, or compromised LAN in an organization)," Itzik Kotler, cofounder and CTO of security firm SafeBreach and one of the scheduled speakers, wrote in an e-mail. "We show that HTTPS cannot provide security when WPAD is enabled. Therefore, a lot of people are actually exposed to this attack when they engage in browsing via non-trusted networks."

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

26 Jul 13:41

Companies like Google and Ernst & Young have found that one trait is more important than the rest when recruiting new employees

by J.T. O'Donnell
Maxim Bange

"The search for an hungry brain"

border collie jump dog fribee catch fetchBela Szandelszky/AP

Now that the gig economy is fully entrenched, those that doesn't understand every job is temporary are living in denial.

Today, the average worker over the course of 40 years will have as many as nine careers in their lifetime, with as many as three jobs in each one.

Career security is now directly tied to your employability a/k/a the relevance of your skills and abilities to the labor market.

If you don't continue to grow, evolve, and adapt your skills to the demand of the workplace, you risk becoming disposable — and unemployed.

Why Google seeks out "learning animals"

Associated Press

Some companies, like Google and Ernst & Young have figured out one trait is more important than the rest when recruiting employees: learnability. Eric Schmidt from Google says they seek, "learning animals" — people who are naturally driven to learn on their own. These companies have figured out faster than the rest that the key to keeping their teams at peak performance is to choose employees who are predisposed to learn and grow on their own. Forget where you went to college and what grades you got, smart companies are now asking the bigger question in interviews, "How are you keeping your ability to learn new things up, now that school is over?"

Hungry brain = more learning opportunities

松林 L/flickr

More and more, corporations are realizing their top performers are self-directed learners with what's referred to as, 'hungry brains' i.e. are curious and inquisitive individuals who are genuinely interested in acquiring new knowledge. Studies show companies are wasting billions of dollars each year on in-house training programs that aren't providing lasting results. The solution? Recruit talent with natural learnability that comes from a personal motivation to grow professionally.

Simple quiz will reveal your current learnability level


You should expect to see a series of behavioral questions in future job interviews designed to determine your learnability level. Ask yourself the following:

1) Have you ever self-taught yourself a skill?

2) Have you invested time in learning something new in the last six months just because you wanted to know more?

3) Can you clearly explain the best method for you to learn something quickly?

4) Since graduating, have you invested in any training or courses to teach you something new?

5) In your previous job, did you proactively (without being told), learn any new skills to make yourself more valuable to the company?

6) Have you ever had to learn a new skill on your own, outside of work, in order to stay successful in a job?

If you answered, "yes" to all of the above, your learnability is looking good. If not, you may want to consider how to become more of a, "learning animal" so you can stay employable.

14 Jul 12:18

Nintendo is releasing a miniature NES with 30 built-in games

by Andrew Webster

Nintendo is bringing back the NES — only a little smaller.

Today the company announced what it's calling the Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition. It looks just like an NES, only a lot tinier, and it comes with 30 games built-in. You can connect it to your TV via an HDMI cable, and it also includes a controller designed to work just like the iconic rectangular NES gamepad. (The new controller will also connect to a Wii Remote, so that you can use it to play Virtual Console games on a Wii or Wii U.)

In addition to HDMI support and a lack of cartridges, the new mini-console also features one useful modern convenience: multiple suspend points, so that you won't have to fumble around with passwords when you start playing a...

Continue reading…

01 Jul 15:45

The WRT54GL: A 54Mbps router from 2005 still makes millions for Linksys

by Jon Brodkin

The WRT54GL. (credit: Linksys)

In a time when consumers routinely replace gadgets with new models after just two or three years, some products stand out for being built to last.

Witness the Linksys WRT54GL, the famous wireless router that came out in 2005 and is still for sale. At first glance, there seems to be little reason to buy the WRT54GL in the year 2016. It uses the 802.11g Wi-Fi standard, which has been surpassed by 802.11n and 802.11ac. It delivers data over the crowded 2.4GHz frequency band and is limited to speeds of 54Mbps. You can buy a new router—for less money—and get the benefit of modern standards, expansion into the 5GHz band, and data rates more than 20 times higher.

Despite all that, people still buy the WRT54GL in large enough numbers that Linksys continues to earn millions of dollars per year selling an 11-year-old product without ever changing its specs or design.

Read 32 remaining paragraphs | Comments

16 Jun 10:02

Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens wijst organisaties op wettelijke eisen wifi-tracking

by Sander van Voorst
De Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens heeft in brieven aan gemeenten en bedrijven opnieuw gewezen op de regels die gelden bij de inzet van wifi-tracking. Hierbij worden personen gevolgd via hun mobiele telefoon, wat een inbreuk op de persoonlijke levenssfeer kan vormen.
14 Jun 17:50

Russians Hacking DNC Computers

by Bruce Schneier

The Washington Post is reporting that Russian hackers penetrated the network of the Democratic National Committee and stole opposition research on Donald Trump. The evidence is from CrowdStrike:

The firm identified two separate hacker groups, both working for the Russian government, that had infiltrated the network, said Dmitri Alperovitch, CrowdStrike co-founder and chief technology officer. The firm had analyzed other breaches by both groups over the last two years.

One group, which CrowdStrike had dubbed Cozy Bear, had gained access last summer and was monitoring the DNC's email and chat communications, Alperovitch said.

The other, which the firm had named Fancy Bear, broke into the network in late April and targeted the opposition research files. It was this breach that set off the alarm. The hackers stole two files, Henry said. And they had access to the computers of the entire research staff -- an average of about several dozen on any given day.

This seems like standard political espionage to me. We certainly don't want it to happen, but we shouldn't be surprised when it does.

Slashdot thread.

EDITED TO ADD (6/16): From the Washington Post article, the Republicans were also hacked:

The intrusion into the DNC was one of several targeting American political organizations. The networks of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were also targeted by Russian spies, as were the computers of some Republican political action committees, U.S. officials said. But details on those cases were not available.

EDITED TO ADD (6/16): These leaks might be from this hack, or from another unrelated hack. They don't seem to be related to the Russian government at all.

EDITED TO ADD (6/12): Another view.

13 Jun 13:06

LinkedIn soars on deal to sell to Microsoft for $26.2 billion

The all-cash transaction amounts to $196 a share, a 50% premium to Friday’s closing price.
10 Jun 20:58

A hacker explains why you shouldn't believe North Korea was behind the massive Sony hack

by Paul Szoldra

kim jong un computerReuters

It's been nearly two years since a massive cyberattack hit Sony Entertainment, resulting in the leaks of thousands of private emails, social security numbers, unreleased films, and a complete data wipe of half of the company's network.

And in the months and years that followed, attribution of the attack has zeroed in on North Korea — thought to be angered over the release of the film "The Interview" — but as one well-respected hacker told Tech Insider in a recent interview, that claim should be taken with a grain of salt as long as solid evidence continues to be withheld.

"The problem with that one is that the Sony network was documented Swiss cheese," said Cris Thomas (known as Space Rogue in hacker circles), a strategist at Tenable Network Security. "People have been in and out of the Sony network for the last decade. There's a list of who hacked Sony when."

Indeed, the website has a running tally of at least 24 hacks into Sony properties since 2011.

There's even a term hackers use to describe getting hacked (or owned) as much as Sony: Sownage.

"So by the time North Korea got around to it — if it was North Korea — it was a known wide open network," Thomas said.

Sony declined to comment.

On its hacking list, Attrition wrote, "Sony has demonstrated they have not implemented what any rational administrator or security professional would consider 'the absolute basics.'"

At least that was true in the period before the 2014 attack. As we learned in the ensuing fallout, Sony kept email records on its servers for many years, did not encrypt data, and it even kept thousands of passwords in a folder literally named "password."

Prior to the alleged North Korean hack, Sony's Playstation Network was breached by Anonymous, a hacker named "b4d_vipera" breached one of its music sites through a simple SQL injection, LulzSec used the same technique on its Japanese sites, and the group Lizard Squad conducted a large-scaled denial-of-service attack on Sony's gaming networks.

And that's just a partial list.

About a year before the 2014 breach, Sony was warned of unidentified hackers that had breached its network and mined its databases regularly, according to Bloomberg. Investigators found at least three hacking groups rooting around its systems, with a Russian group causing the "most damage" over a period of two years.

Much of the evidence pointing toward North Korea has come via statements from government officials or the FBI, but neither have offered hard evidence. And that has led security professionals to still doubt the country's role in the attacks, with Thomas among them.

"It brings me back to the Cuban Missile Crisis, when President Kennedy famously gave his press briefing where he actually showed U-2 spy plane photos in his press briefing," Thomas said. "And this gave away great secrets of the United States, but it also proved to the world that there were, in fact, missiles in Cuba."

But nothing like that occurred after the 2014 Sony hack. It was as one Fordham law professor summed it up to Fortune, "trust us, but we're not going to let you verify."

And it's interesting to note how strange it is for the president to call something like the Sony hack an "a serious national security matter" and have officials exhibit "high confidence" it was North Korea but offer no reasoning as to why. Now contrast that with the numerous reports, photos, videos, and other data offered as evidence the Syrian government used chemical weapons in 2013.

Thomas will likely remain skeptical until the US shares intelligence data that really explains the rationale behind attributing the attack to North Korea. What would avoid a "he said, she said" debate is evidence of IP addresses and packet captures, among other data.

"It’s a dogpile," Stuart McClure, CEO of cybersecurity firm Cylance, told Fortune. "'Well, that one is North Korea, and this one looks like it, so it must be North Korea.’ There’s no objective evidence." 

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03 Jun 23:06

TeamViewer users are being hacked in bulk, and we still don’t know how

by Dan Goodin

(credit: modpr0be)

For more than a month, users of the remote login service TeamViewer have taken to Internet forums to report their computers have been ransacked by attackers who somehow gained access to their accounts. In many of the cases, the online burglars reportedly drained PayPal or bank accounts. No one outside of TeamViewer knows precisely how many accounts have been hacked, but there's no denying the breaches are widespread.

Over the past three days, both Reddit and Twitter have exploded with such reports, often with the unsupported claim that the intrusions are the result of a hack on TeamViewer's network. Late on Friday afternoon, an IBM security researcher became the latest to report a TeamViewer account takeover.

"In the middle of my gaming session, I lose control of my mouse and the TeamViewer window pops up in the bottom right corner of my screen," wrote Nick Bradley, a practice leader inside IBM's Threat Research Group. "As soon as I realize what is happening, I kill the application. Then it dawns on me: I have other machines running TeamViewer!"

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

23 May 19:41

A programmer has some harsh things to say about a popular t-shirt sold at Google's developer's conference

by Julie Bort

Eat sleep code T shirt both at Google i/oDan Kim. Photo used with permission.

While attending Google's developer conference, I/O, programmer Dan Kim noticed a booth selling a T-shirt with a popular saying: "Eat, sleep, code, repeat."

He was not pleased.

"'Eat, sleep, code, repeat' is such bullsh--," he wrote on Medium.

"Eat. Sleep. Code. Repeat.' was printed on everything," he wrote, adding, "I’d seen the phrase before, but this time it burned into my brain, probably because it was being so actively marketed at a large conference. I literally let out an 'ugh' when I saw it."

Because, the truth is, the underlying idea of that phrase isn't so cute. 

Eat sleep code T-shirtDan Kim. Photo used with permission.It's not just another way of saying "I love programming!" It's part of the not-so-subtle message that programmers are constantly being told that if you really want to make it — if you want to command respect in your profession and be known as a "real programmer" — than you must love programming so much it is literally all you do in your life. And all you want to do.
Kim is a professional Android programmer for a company called Basecamp, which creates project management software.

And he, for one, is sick of that message, writing:

There’s a damaging subtext, and that’s what bothers me. The phrase promotes an unhealthy perspective that programming is an all or nothing endeavor  —  that to excel at it, you have to go all in. It must be all consuming and the focus of your life. Such bullsh--.

In fact it’s the exact opposite. ... a truly balanced lifestyle  —  one that gives your brain and your soul some space to breathe non-programming air  —  actually makes you a better programmer.

Eat code repeat shirtDan Kim. Photo used with permission.To understand just how pervasive this indoctrination is, a couple of months ago, Alex St. John, a famous video game developer and exec, someone who has hired a lot of programmers over the years, caused an uproar when he published a controversial article in VentureBeat.

St. John argued that game programmers that didn't love to code so much that they were willing to sacrifice themselves for the privilege had a poor attitude and should give their jobs to someone who did love it enough. (St. John called it a "wage slave" attitude.)

St. John even wrote a recruiting slideshow filled with controversial and sexist ideas on how to find programmers (preferably young) and cultivate this idea in them.
The sad thing is that for those that buy into this message, the stress of working like that has been known to literally drive some of them beyond burnout, even affecting mental health.

Code repeat t shirtDan Kim. Photo used with permission.For instance, some time ago a programmer named Kenneth Parker wrote a blog post about the hardest working programmer he ever knew. He called it "I Knew a Programmer that Went Completely Insane."

On top of that, of course, doing nothing but work isn't a sign that you work at a great job, it's a sign that your company lacks project management skills.

Kim is one voice trying to stop the madness.

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05 May 18:41

Microsoft Will End Free Upgrade Offer For Windows 10 In July

by Brad Sams
Windows 10 Hero Good

Windows 10 Hero Good

When Microsoft announced Windows 10 last year, they made the OS a free to upgrade from Windows 7 or 8 but as we approach the first anniversary of its release, the free upgrade offer will be going away.

This is an interesting move by Microsoft as they have been aggressively trying to upgrade as many users as possible so that they could meet their 1 billion device goal within three years after release. By removing the free upgrade options, the new price for the OS will be $119, which will create a large barrier for new users looking to move to the OS. As a result, this change should slow down the adoption rate of the platform.

Windows 10 has been well received by the majority of its user-base and considering the company will soon start charging for the bits that you can now get for free today, it’s worth upgrading your machine to avoid this fee.

Many assumed, myself included, that Microsoft would permanently keep the free upgrade offer for the OS and only charge OEMs and those who did not have a valid Windows 7 or 8 key. But, here we are, Microsoft is going to put up a paywall for the OS starting later this year, which means you need to move quickly if you want to take advantage of this offer.

Now, this could be a clever tactic to get users to upgrade with the threat that the free option is going away, as Microsoft is saying after July 29th you will have to pay $119 for the same bits, and only time will tell if this brings a surge of new users to the platform. Of course, Microsoft could always revert back to offering Windows 10 for free at a later time, but it’s not worth the risk of waiting when the OS has been well received and is a stable operating system.

You can check out the announcement post here, for more information.

The post Microsoft Will End Free Upgrade Offer For Windows 10 In July appeared first on Petri.

01 May 09:48

Pirate Bay Gets a ‘Massive’ $9 in Donations, Per Day

by Ernesto

thepirateThree years ago many popular torrent sites added an option to donate via Bitcoin. The Pirate Bay was one of the first to jump on board, a development which caused concern among copyright holders.

The RIAA even informed the U.S. trade representative about this looming threat. The music industry group warned that Bitcoin could make it harder to crack down on pirate sites.

“In April 2013, the site started accepting donations from the public by Bitcoin, a digital currency, which operates using peer-to-peer technology,” the RIAA wrote.

“There are no central authority or banks involved which makes it very difficult to seize or trace Bitcoin funds,” the music industry group added.

Bitcoin does indeed make it harder to seize funds, as law enforcement would need access to the computer where the wallet is kept.

However, Bitcoin also makes it easy to see how much donations are coming in. All transactions are public and traceable which allows anyone to see how much money Pirate Bay is making through donations.

This is exactly what we decided to do. Using the publicly listed Bitcoin wallet address, which is shown on every Pirate Bay page we found that 376 donations, roughly one donation per day, were sent over the past year.

The total amount of Bitcoin received during this period adds up to 8.21 BTC. At the current exchange rate this equals $3,500 in donations over the past twelve months, or $9.34 per day.

Needless to say, Pirate Bay’s operators are not getting rich off user donations.

TPB featuring the Bitcoin address

It appears that the interest in donating has tapered off over the years. Last year Custos Media Technologies reported that the site had received 126.64 Bitcoin in its various wallets between 2013 and 2015, which is significantly more.

TPB Bitcoin earnings from 2013 till 2015

That being said, even the 8.21 it received last year is a fortune when compared to other prominent torrent sites.

ExtraTorrent also lists a Bitcoin address on its site, as well as in the uploads of their ETTV and ETRG release groups. This wallet amassed a total of 4.31 in donations since 2013 which is roughly $1 per day.

Again, that’s quite a treasure trove when we look at the donations that are coming in at KickassTorrents, which is currently the most-visited torrent site.

Since 2013 KAT has raked in a measly 0.96 BTC, which is roughly $250, or two dozen cents per day. Admittedly, KAT doesn’t promote donations and the address is only listed in the site’s FAQ.

It’s pretty safe to say that if the RIAA and other copyright holders are concerned about the revenue going to pirate sites and groups, there’s little to worry about in respect of Bitcoin or user donations in general.

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

25 Apr 09:56

Over two-thirds of German industrial companies were hit by digital crime in the past 2 years

People wearing balaclavas are silhouetted as they pose with a laptops in front of a screen projected with the word 'cyber' and binary code, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica October 29, 2014.  REUTERS/Dado RuvicThomson Reuters

HANOVER, Germany (Reuters) - More than two-thirds of German industrial companies have been victims of digital crime in the past two years, according to a survey carried out by Bitkom, Germany's IT, telecoms and new media industry association.

The most common offence was the simple theft of equipment such as computers, smartphones or tablets, but a fifth of companies surveyed reported that sensitive documents, components or designs had been stolen, while 18 percent said their production had been sabotaged with the aim of damaging or paralyzing it.

Such crimes cost German manufacturing industry more than 22 billion euros ($25 billion) a year, Bitkom estimated following its survey of 504 German manufacturing companies with at least 10 employees.

"With the digitization of production and the networking of machines over the Internet, new contact points arise that are vulnerable to attack," Winfried Holz, a Bitkom executive committee member, said in a statement issued at the Hannover Messe industry trade fair.

"German industry, with its numerous hidden champions, is an attractive target for cybercriminals and foreign intelligence services," he added. Germany has hundreds of small and medium-sized family-owned manufacturers that are world leaders in their niche.

Bitkom said the 69 percent of manufacturing companies affected by cybercrime was a far higher proportion than the 51 percent average for German companies in general.

About 70 percent of the machinery and equipment manufacturers surveyed said they had been victims, 68 percent of chemicals and pharmaceuticals producers, 65 percent of electronics makers and 61 percent of carmakers.

Cybercriminality was most often found in production or assembly, with 36 percent of reported cases, followed by 30 percent in warehousing and logistics, 29 percent in IT and 23 percent in research and development.


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20 Apr 10:05

Antitrust chief: Google’s restrictions on Android device makers breach EU law

by Kelly Fiveash

Google faces more competition charges in the European Union, after the 28-member-state bloc's antitrust commissioner concluded in a preliminary decision that the company had abused its dominant position by imposing restriction on Android device makers.

A Statement of Objections—which outlines Brussels' charges—has been sent to Google this morning, competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said during a press conference on Wednesday.

Google will now be given the opportunity to respond to the commission's concerns. Vestager said that Google had pursued a "strategy to protect and expand its position in search," by imposing what the commissioner described as "unjustified restrictions on manufacturers and mobile network operators."

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18 Apr 15:25

Beverly Hills plans to use driverless cars for public transport

by Cadie Thompson

beverly hills carsAndrey Bayda /

The swanky California neighborhood of Beverly Hills is planning to introduce a fleet of  self-driving cars to help facilitate public transportation. 

Beverly Hills' City Council recently passed a resolution to create a program that would use a fleet of driverless cars to facilitate the city's public transportation system.

The idea is that people will use their smartphones to request an autonomous vehicle, which will then take them from point A to point B within the city limits. 

The program is still very much in the early stages, but the City Council said in a press statement that they are already working to develop the infrastructure to support autonomous vehicles. 

According to a Beverly Hills press statement, the city is currently designing a citywide network of fiber optics cables, which will help smart cars communicate while on the road. 

No word yet on what cars will be used in the fleet, but the statement mentions that the city will work to develop relationships with manufacturers of self-driving cars like Google and Tesla. 

Beverly Hills, of course, isn't the only city looking to introduce autonomous vehicles into its public transportation system. 

Singapore already has a program in place that enables people to hail an autonomous shuttle via smartphone app. Amsterdam has a similar program and London will be introducing a trial this year that uses driverless pods. 

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08 Apr 15:22

How to create a killer LinkedIn résumé in 5 minutes

woman on laptopShutterstock

If you want to discover how to attract clients using LinkedIn, it's critical to understand what your ideal audience on that particular platform wants... and what they don't.

For instance, they're not interested in reading an online version of your work résumé. (In fact, that's about as far away as you can get from creating a killer LinkedIn profile.)

They do want to know, as quickly as possible, who you are, what product or service you provide, and how that product or service can help them achieve their goals.

They also have to know how to take next steps to working with you, so they are going to be frustrated if you don't place your contact information in some strategic places.

I want to show you how to create a client-attracting, lead-generating LinkedIn profile in five minutes or less. Before I get there, however, I need to make one thing clear: If you want to attract your ideal clients and customers on LinkedIn, you must adhere to these two core tenets: Speed and Clarity.

The fastest way to ensure you deliver on those two key elements is to think about one simple reality: How most of us tend to consume content online.

Even as you're reading this post, you're likely flicking along on your phone or scrolling on your laptop, scanning and moving fast, stopping only when something stands out and grabs your attention. Your ideal customer is doing the same.

When it comes to laying out your LinkedIn profile in a way that appeals to prospects who are quickly scanning to see if you have what they need, the "copy and paste" template below works as well as anything I've seen on the platform.

Best of all, the entire process should take less than five minutes.

The copy-and-paste template for generating Leads on LinkedIn:

(Note that I use ALL CAPS for sections like "WHAT I DO" and "WHO I WORK WITH" to help those headers stand out, since LinkedIn, as of this writing, doesn't allow you to use bold or italic text on your profile page.)



[Insert Bulleted List of Job Titles, Industry Names, Client Types, etc.]

WHY IT WORKS: When you partner with [MY COMPANY NAME], you get the most efficient, effective, and affordable [PRODUCT or SERVICE] that [TARGET AUDIENCE] are looking for right now.

WHAT MAKES ME DIFFERENT: [Answer that question! What makes you unique/different/better than similar vendors or competitors? XYZ years of experience? Certifications/Patents/etc.? Something else?]

WHAT OTHERS SAY: [Copy and paste two-three testimonials in this area. Make them specific to the product or service you're offering or the industries you're serving. Focus on the results clients got from using your product or service. Include the full name of the person and his or her company to give your testimonials more legitimacy.]

HOW IT WORKS: [Explain how your process -- "we start with a free evaluation, we do an analysis of your website's SEO rankings," etc.]

READY TO TALK? Feel free to connect with me here on LinkedIn, drop me a line at [EMAIL ADDRESS], visit me online at [WEBSITE URL] or call me directly at [PHONE NUMBER].

Look here: great LinkedIn summary examples.

If you want to see some great examples of how LinkedIn Riches students of mine have followed this format to near perfection with their LinkedIn profile summary sections, check out these profile pages:

Your turn — update your LinkedIn summary!

Time to take action! Copy and paste the template above into your LinkedIn summary section, then leave a comment below and let me know how it turns out!

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25 Mar 23:24

Europe must resign itself to a long-term terror threat

Italy terrorism BrusselsMaurizio Degl'Innocenti/ANSA via AP

Paris (AFP) - Europe must learn to deal with the likely deaths of many more innocent people in jihadist terror attacks, experts have warned as Belgium struggled to get back to normal after a week of bloodshed and extremist manhunts.

The Brussels attacks, in which 31 people died and more than 300 were injured, came only four months after Paris was hit for a second time in less than a year by major jihadist atrocities.

And this may only be the start of Europe's suffering, according to Simon Palombi, international security expert at the London-based think-thank Chatham House.

"We are not doing anyone any favors by not being honest about this. We face a serious and long-term threat and this will not be the last attack by a long shot," he said.

Politicians on the continent must prepare the public for further deadly violence because "they dropped the ball in not taking the threat as seriously as they should have when Britain and the US did."

He was also highly critical of EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini who shed tears about "a very sad day for Europe" at a press conference during her visit to Jordan where she said relations between the EU and the Muslim country sent a "most powerful message of strength and friendship" in the wake of the suicide bombings in Brussels.

"It doesn't help the public one little bit when they see their leaders crying on television," claimed Palombi. "We have to toughen up in some respects. Emotions are understandable at these times, but politicians need to show an example."

A former UN counter-terrorism expert, Palombi also argued that Europe's complacency had left it dangerously vulnerable. 

The jihadists "have found the weakness in European intelligence systems, which cannot be solved overnight, and which will allow them to strike again. The public must be prepared for this." 

How people cope

People can live with "terrible but infrequent violence of the type of which Europe is experiencing now", said John Brewer, professor of post-conflict studies at Queen's University in Belfast.

"While bombs were going off in Northern Ireland for decades every other day, people still went to work, fell in love and got married," he told AFP. "It was those routines that got them through it."

Having studied the long-running Sri Lankan and Northern Ireland conflicts, Brewer found societies can learn to adapt. "People cope by continuing with their normal lives and by distancing themselves from those who are suffering most."

For psychologist Carole Damiani whose group Paris Aide helps victims of the attacks in the French capital, "people don't have a choice — they have to take the threat on board. But we have to steer a path between the pitfalls of being hyper vigilant about possible attacks and to pretend nothing has happened."brussels memorialMaurizio Degl'Innocenti/ANSA via AP

Social media, however, is complicating that process, Brewer warned.

He said it has "collapsed the distancing mechanism we put in place to protect ourselves" from extreme violence. 

Social-media trauma

"We are being exposed to far more trauma and emotion from these attacks than we would have in the past, because the violence is being recorded on people's phones who were right there, which can traumatize everyone," he said.

But the technology also has a positive side. "The very democratic nature of social media means we all can share your distress which makes it easier to bear."

Psychiatrist Patrick Legeron, who specializes in stress disorders at Sainte Anne hospital in Paris, said the attacks had created "a very strong feeling of insecurity and invisible, non-controllable danger."

"A lot of people have realized that the problem is massive and will be recurrent," added French psychologist and criminologist Jean-Pierre Bouchard. But "we cannot live in a permanent state of anxiety.

"Some people are going to change their behavior, and avoid certain areas they find risky," he said, but most will not.

For Michel Olivier, however, a former French special forces officer whose book "Ne pas subir" (Do not give in) was published this week, all has changed utterly.

"In a country at war you do not live as before," he said, referring to France's state of emergency which is still in force.

He said people needed to take responsibility for their own security. 

"You should not allow yourself to be transported passively" on a bus or metro, he said, but to be aware of possible risks and sit or stand at the back or the front of trains to be able to get out faster in case of emergency. 

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