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 – 99

What is Project LED? Find out here

I’m something of a photographer too! Check out my work here.

Day of July 8th 2014

  • Spritesapp.com is an awesome site which helps you build modern & aesthetically pleasing infographs.
  • Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus, is the motto of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. The Latin motto translates in English to: “Never Tickle a Sleeping Dragon”
  • The following ingredients are part of a Caesar Salad:  romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, raw/coddled eggs, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and black pepper.
  • Manila is world’s most densely populated city. Kolkata & Mumbai (both in India) constantly contend for second place.
  • Querying “World’s most densely populated city” in Google’s search, does return a clear answer..

Sources:

Daily Track:

LED Day – 91

What is Project LED? Find out here

I’m something of a photographer too! Check out my work here.

Day of June 30th 2014

  • Saudi Aramco is the national Saudi Arabian Oil Company. The company has access to the world’s largest crude oil reserves & has the highest daily oil production of any oil company in the world.
  • Google Drive storage extends up to 30 Terabytes. (30 TB service costs $300 per month)
  • It is Batman’s 75th anniversary of comic existence!
  • In quantum mechanics, reality exists in a set of frames which tie together to provide a fluid living/conscious experience. It is proposed that there are 40 moments of consciousness per second.
  • Opprobrium: very harsh criticism

Sources:

  • While doing research on the Middle East, I came across info on Saudi Aramco.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARAMCO

  • Out of curiosity, I hit the Manage button (by my data usage)  at the bottom of my Gmail page.
  • Google Play.
  • I was reading an article about cameras that were timed to capture moments eclipsed in reality. Unfortunately, without a Wi-Fi connection to my laptop, I can’t post the link of the article.
  • This word came up in an opinion piece I was reading online.

Daily Track:

 

LED Day – 71

What is Project LED? Find out here

I’m something of a photographer too! Check out my work here.

Day of June 10th 2014

  • The amount of sugar in most carbonated beverages (sodas) would be toxic if consumed in granule form. It is only possible to metabolize all that sugar because it is in the form of high fructose corn syrup.
  • Google Chrome keeps 90 days worth of history data accessible to you.
  • There are great websites for finding vacation rental homes in the countryside & even cities. You save a ton when comparing rates to hotels, and many of the accommodations are much nicer than hotels/motels in the same price range. (Source links below)
  • Airbnb has castles (full castles, yes) available for rent.
  • If you choose to host on Airbnb, you are a 3% listing fee which is only charged when your listing is successfully booked and paid for.

Sources:

  • This came up in a quick conversation with a soon to be doctor.
  • I was trying to find a website I visited a long time back, but found only 90 days worth of browsing history available.
  • I’m planning a trip with a few friends and I was suggested to look vacation rentals instead of hotels.
    Airbnb.com
    Tripadvisor.com
    Flipkey.com
  • Found a small list of popular castles on Airbnb.

    https://www.airbnb.com/wishlists/stay-in-a-castle

  • Just learning a bit more about the company and its options.

    https://www.airbnb.com/info/why_host

Daily Track:

LED Day – 58

What is Project LED? Find out here

I’m something of a photographer too! Check out my work here.

Day of May 28th 2014

  • The company Sugru sells an air-curing rubber. It is a moldable rubber product which hardens after some time. It’s multipurpose, and can be quite handy for wire repairs.
  • Amazon has a service called Clouddrive which gives you 5gb of free cloud storage!
  • The Coolmaterial website has a list of the coolest street views you can get on Google Maps and Google Earth. It’s pretty damn cool. (Source link below)
  • Volkswagen has announced an ambitious plan of producing a vehicle which utilizes a 10 speed dual automatic clutch transmission.
  • NASA’s first space station project was called Skylab. The system was in orbit from 1973-1979. Sunspot activity caused its’ eventual failure and crash back to Earth.

Sources:

Daily Track:

LED Day – 56

What is Project LED? Find out here

I’m something of a photographer too! Check out my work here.

Day of May 26th 2014

  • There is no conclusive evidence that Pythagoras actually proved or created any mathematical theories.
  • There is evidence that the “Pythagorean theorem” was used by ancient Indians and Babylonians. It is likely however, that Pythagoras created the first modern accepted proof for the theorem.
  • According to the CDC, moderate drinking entails 1 drink per day for women, or 2 drinks per day for men.
  • Google’s unit converter defines: 1 shot = 1.5 fl oz
  • The Windows Club is a popular running blog about Windows. It hosts a cool (must have) Windows tool: Ultimate Windows Tweaker. It allows you to painlessly customize and tweak Windows. (Link in sources.)

Sources:

Daily Track:

LED Day – 44

What is Project LED? Find out here

Day of May 14th 2014

  • Orbital resonance is an element of celestial mechanics in which two orbiting bodies periodically exert gravitational forces upon one another to avoid collision.
  • Stalwart means: loyal, reliable and hardworking. (As defined by Google).
  • This most recent Indian election is said to have the highest voter turnout in Indian history.
  • Mosquitoes can grow to be quite large (and scary)..
  • Rembrandt’s (painter) full name was Rembrandt Van Rijn.

Sources:

  • While going through articles on IFL, I came across this term and Googled it.
  • Coincidentally, my dad used this word in conversation while discussing politics, and  it came up in the first volume of Game of Thrones.
  • had to pay some attention as my dad raved non-stop about the Indian elections.
  • I saw a mosquito with a body roughly the size of a pencil eraser in my building’s elevator after I got inside. I had to ride up all the way with it. x_x
  • I was watching a V Sauce video which mentioned Rembrandt. After Googling him, I saw pictures of his paintings and his full name.

Daily Track: