Submission + - Researchers able to Track Individuals Through Ad Networks (washington.edu)

phantomfive writes: Researchers were able to track, and use GPS data from the ad network to track a user to their actual location, and trace movements through town. The paper asks: "can third-parties use the purchasing of ads to extract private information about individuals? We find that the answer is yes. For example, in a case study with an archetypal advertising network, we find that — for $1000 USD — we can track the location of individuals who are using apps served by that advertising network."

Submission + - Flying Insects Have Been Disappearing Over the Past Few Decades, Study Shows (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years, according to a new study that has shocked scientists. Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife and it was known that some species such as butterflies were declining. But the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world is “on course for ecological Armageddon," with profound impacts on human society. The new data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany but has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture, the researchers said. The cause of the huge decline is as yet unclear, although the destruction of wild areas and widespread use of pesticides are the most likely factors and climate change may play a role. The scientists were able to rule out weather and changes to landscape in the reserves as causes, but data on pesticide levels has not been collected. The research, published in the journal Plos One, is based on the work of dozens of amateur entomologists across Germany who began using strictly standardized ways of collecting insects in 1989.

Submission + - The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions (technologyreview.com)

glowend writes: FTA: "Now show Newton an Apple. Pull out an iPhone from your pocket, and turn it on so that the screen is glowing and full of icons, and hand it to him. Newton, who revealed how white light is made from components of different-colored light by pulling apart sunlight with a prism and then putting it back together, would no doubt be surprised at such a small object producing such vivid colors in the darkness of the chapel. Now play a movie of an English country scene, and then some church music that he would have heard. And then show him a Web page with the 500-plus pages of his personally annotated copy of his masterpiece Principia, teaching him how to use the pinch gesture to zoom in on details.

Could Newton begin to explain how this small device did all that? Although he invented calculus and explained both optics and gravity, he was never able to sort out chemistry from alchemy. So I think he would be flummoxed, and unable to come up with even the barest coherent outline of what this device was. It would be no different to him from an embodiment of the occult — something that was of great interest to him. It would be indistinguishable from magic. And remember, Newton was a really smart dude."

Submission + - Understanding Google's New Advanced Protection Program for Google Accounts (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: The APP description and “getting started” page is at:

https://landing.google.com/adv...

It’s a well designed page (except for the now usual atrocious low contrast Google text font) with lots of good information about this program. It really is a significant increase in security that ordinary users can choose to activate, and yes, it’s free (except for the cost of purchasing the required physical security keys, which are available from a variety of vendors).

But back to that question. Should you actually sign up for APP?

That depends.

Submission + - What is a way to get companies to actually focus on security? 1

ctilsie242 writes: Many years ago, it was said that we would have a "cyber 9/11", a security event so drastic that it fundamentally would change how companies and people thought about security. However, this has not happened yet (mainly because the bad guys know that this would get organizations to shut their barn doors, stopping the gravy train.)

With the perception that security has no financial returns, coupled with the opinion that "nobody can stop the hackers, so why even bother", what can actually be done to get businesses to have an actual focus on security. The only "security" I see is mainly protection from "jailbreaking", so legal owners of a product can't use or upgrade their devices. True security from other attack vectors are all but ignored.

In fact, I have seen some development environments where someone doing -anything- about security would likely get the developer fired because it took time away from coding features dictated by marketing. I've seen environments where all code ran as root or System just because if the devs gave thought to any permission model at all, they would be tossed, and replaced by other devs who didn't care to "waste" their time on stuff like that.

One idea would be something similar to Underwriters Labs, except would grade products, perhaps with expanded standards above the "pass/fail" mark, such as Europe's "Sold Secure", or the "insurance lock" certification (which means that a security device is good enough for insurance companies to insure stuff secured by it.)

There are always calls for regulation, but with regulatory capture being at a high point, and previous regulations having few teeth, this may not be a real solution in the US. Is our main hope the new data privacy laws being enacted in Europe, China, and Russia which actually have heavy fines, as well as criminal prosecutions (i.e. execs going to jail)?

This especially applies to IoT devices where it is in their financial interest to make un-upgradable devices, forcing people to toss their 1.0 lightbulbs and buy 1.0.1 lightbulbs to fix a security issue, as opposed to making them secure in the first place, or having an upgrade mechanism.

Is there something that can actually be done about the general disinterest by companies to make secure products, or is this just the way life is now?

Submission + - Activision Patents Pay-to-Win Matchmaker (rollingstone.com) 1

EndlessNameless writes: If you like fair play, you might not like future Activision games. They will cross the line to encourage microtransactions---specifically matching players to both encourage and reward purchase.

Rewarding the purchase, in particular, is an explicit and egregious elimination of any claim to fair play: "For example, if the player purchased a particular weapon, the microtransaction engine may match the player in a gameplay session in which the particular weapon is highly effective, giving the player an impression that the particular weapon was a good purchase. This may encourage the player to make future purchases to achieve similar gameplay results."

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