On Internet and Security Leaks

DSC_2197Over the last few days, I’ve seen countless reports, op-ed pieces — even gossip columns and tabloid articles — about the “heinous crime(s)” recently committed online. Now that this personal photo hacking scandal (involving Jennifer LawrenceKate Upton and several other popular female media stars) has blown over a little bit, I feel that it’s a bit more appropriate to have an objective analysis of the incident, and the relevant cultural backlash.

More information on the photo leak can be found here:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/01/showbiz/jennifer-lawrence-photos/

First, a few facts that seem to have been blurred in the crossfire of opinions.

  • iCloud itself was not compromised as a system. The cyber attack was targeted at specific individuals, and employed a combination of social hacking techniques and flaw exploitation. In this particular case, social hacking means that the hackers tried guessing passwords, and answers to security questions; hackers also exploited the fact that Apple’s iCloud password recovery system does not lock out users from making password recovery attempts or logging in, after multiple failures.
  • The DMCA allows for legal claims (at the Federal level) to be made concerning personal or copyrighted material published on the internet. These claims are then evaluated and sent to the hosting party/web admin. At this point, a site(s) hosting the material is legally required to see to its immediate removal. The DMCA does not require private hosts like 4chanReddit and Google (all of which have a large public user base) to constantly monitor and filter their content.
  • Both the theft and the online release of the photos in question are considered criminal activity.
  • The official investigation is high profile and being handled by the FBI.

Everything I’ve read so far concerning the iCloud breach has made out the hackers to be wicked, bordering on evil. Posts and articles written by feminists take a very strong (and typical) position about how the leak perpetuates rape culture and demeans the privacy and security of women. Conversely, the anonymous (and largely male) free-for-all communities on Reddit & 4chan were rather grossly excited and welcomed the photos — even setting up dedicated forum threads for easy access. Some writers have criticized the victims of the cyber attack for either having stored the revealing photos on iCloud or having taken the photos in the first place, while others have even written about the concept of hacker’s glory, which may play a major role in motivating hackers to continue hacking and publishing/trading their illicitly obtained data. Regardless of point of view or persuasion, the salient take-away from this incident should be that data organized online is only as safe as its irrelevance. Or more simply put: if the data hidden behind passwords is not important to a potential thief, then it is safe. Any data stored with information giants is at risk of theft; including the likes of (but not limited to) AppleGoogle and Microsoft – all of which offer e-mail, cloud storage and instant messaging services.

This issue of flawed internet security has been highlighted countless times over the last decade. Hackers have hacked everything from the credit card information of private citizens to the front pages of major government institutions. And then of course there’s the issue of who the hackers actually are; as Edward Snowden gracefully revealed to American public, introverted teenagers with lots of free time aren’t the only ones hunting and hacking for data. Intelligence agencies all over the world (especially our own) prowl the internet and take as they see fit.

Check out this awesome interactive infographic detailing data theft from the last decade.

http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/worlds-biggest-data-breaches-hacks/

This sort of behavior by any party, be it adolescent or secret agent, is considered theft, but not in the traditional sense. I found many op-ed articles likening digital data theft to the theft of one’s home, car or person; an analogy I strongly oppose. The internet is an enormous and dynamic system of networks. Not a neighborhood, parking lot or city block. Stealing from the internet is nowhere near as personal as stealing in real life. It is this impersonal attitude in particular which makes online theft so common and light on the conscience; hackers can effectively rob hundreds and thousands of people with just a few keystrokes. This experience of pulling files off of a remote server is nothing like traditional theft for the hacker or the victim. It’s also worth mentioning that victims of cyber theft are usually not “robbed” of their data. In most cases, the stolen material is simply copied and used without authorization.

It’s probably fair to say (for now) that the vast majority of internet users won’t be affected by online security breaches in any life changing way, but Big Data is coming. Data giants already have comprehensive sets of information detailing the lives of the average user. A combination of the data stored in my Facebook and Google accounts can be used to easily create a very (and almost scarily accurate) comprehensive map of my life. Just the other day, Google Now informed me that I walked 19% more than I did the month prior. As we move forward, even more of our data will be organized in cyberspace. Smart-watches and newer smartphones are beginning to keep track of blood pressure, pulse and even caloric intake; smart-glasses will eventually make it through legal and civil hurdles and revolutionize the way we see the world. It’s definitely high time to take our data security more seriously.

FM RADIO

 

 

 

LED Day – 41

What is Project LED? Find out here

Day of May 11th 2014

  • Viggle is a pretty awesome app which gives you points for watching TV, listening to music and watching adverts.
  • Slidejoy is an app which puts ads on your lock screen and pays you a uniform fee per ad view.
  • There are SD cards with WiFi built into them. They allow for transfer of files across devices on the same network without having to eject the SD card. I can’t see how this would helpful for anyone who doesn’t use a DSLR camera.
  • Blur magazine is a magazine which compiles a set of photos from public submission.
  • The term 4k video refers to 4000 vertical lines of pixels in an image.
  • There are massively active click-farms (in developing countries) out there which provide tons of likes on Facebook. Buying likes from click-farm sites is against Facebook’s policy, but it appears that when you choose to promote your posts on Facebook with Facebook’s promotion system, the likes come from the same places.

Sources:

  • I heard about the Viggle app on a news program covering people who actually seemed to have made a significant amount of money working at home.
  • I heard about the Slidejoy app on a news program covering people who actually seemed to have made a significant amount of money working at home.
  • I was looking at Amazon deals on SD cards when I came across the new breed of WiFi enabled SD cards.
  • I was doing research on what a professional photographer really is and came across sites where amateurs and professionals submit photos.

    http://www.blur-magazine.com/

  • I was doing research on 4k TV’s when I learned what they actually are. Many 4k TV’s won’t make a difference to your viewing experience simply because of how much information your eye can process.
  • This video titled Facebook Fraud is rather eye-opening.

Daily Track:

LED Day – 17

What is Project LED? Find out here

Day of April 17th 2014

  • The human eye has 3 types of cones responsible for being receptive to the colors/light that we see. Birds have 4 such cones, and can see UV light.
  • UPS connects with companies that they ship for, notifying them when packages are on the way.
  • There is a beautiful demonstration in Germany of what 21 projectors and a 320 degree lightroom can do.
  • The film: “The Lunchbox” received spectacular ratings from most sources. It earned an 8 on IMDb, which is rather high!
  • There is a piece of art sculpted at the nano level, designed to absorb all light, leaving a true black or darkness.

Sources:

Daily Track:

LED Day – 16

What is Project LED? Find out here

Day of April 16th 2014

  • The average adult (18+) needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night for optimal functionality during the day.
  • Painting with acrylic colors requires two layers of paint when using a paintbrush.
  • Consumption of marijuana even infrequently/in moderation causes physical abnormalities in the brain.
  • The phenakistoscope is the ancient ancestor of the GIF. It is a spinning disc with slight variations of a single image around it’s edges. Looking at one section of the disc produces the illusion of a moving image.
  • The titles in most styles of formal writing only capitalize nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Prepositions, articles and conjunctions are left in lower case.

Sources:

Daily Track:

LED Day – 5

What is Project LED? Find out here

Day of April 5th 2014

  • Electricity is so necessary…
  • Everyone has their dark corners.
  • Wolfram Alpha is taking a shot at a very impressive goal: to produce a free-form, accessible database of all data represented knowledge. A computer that can answer all questions (in whatever form you input) with data.
  • https://www.mathway.com/ is a very helpful math tool. It can solve all major types of problems and even provide step by step guidance.
  • A lot of the people younger than me actually use Google+ as their primary social network. I don’t see much of other social networks because my group of friends and I are habituated to Facebook.

Sources:

  • Working almost a full day without electricity in the workplace was rather difficult.
  • Watching one of my fellows in a moment of distress made me aware of a different side of his personality.
  • Suggested to download the Wolfram Alpha app. Decided to Google search it and ended up on their “about” page. http://www.wolframalpha.com/about.html
  • Listed as a useful tool on a newsfeed I monitor.
  • Conversation with my students reveal that many of them and their friends have full networks on Google+. Their networks include other kids from their schools and even neighborhood friends.

Daily Track: