How did investigators link hacks to Russia?

This report in The Intercept does a good job of explaining possible ways that evidence was collected. Keep in mind that the indictments handed out by the U.S. DoJ are literally a set of accusations – the indictments do not present the evidence. Evidence would be presented at a trial.

The indictment has a surprising amount of technical information and presents the most detailed and plausible pictures of the Russian cyberattacks so far.

Source: What Mueller’s Latest Indictment Reveals About Russian and U.S. Spycraft

There is also an argument (not presented in the story) that prosecutors know there will never be a trial. Consequently, an indictment, such as that made by the DoJ, can serve as political or propaganda tool to shape public perception. The DoJ can make accusations – which many if not most news reports are reporting as confirmation of actions. But accusations are not necessarily facts until a Court determines that the accusations are true or false based on evidence. However, since those charged are all in Russia, there will likely never be a trial. The effect is that these accusations are mutated into (unproven) facts.

The accusations may be true – or they could be false. We will never know. But we will have our opinions formed by media reports, which are already reporting on this topic as if the accusations are true.

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Loyalty Cards are used to spy on  your purchases, and not just with the vendor

The story of how that Sudafed ad got to me begins at Walgreens. As I bought tissues and Afrin, I keyed in my phone number so I could get loyalty points.

Source: Facebook Really Is Spying on You, Just Not Through Your Phone’s Mic – WSJ

Stores use your loyalty card to identify you and all of your purchases. Your purchase transactions are then sold to other marketing companies. This data, in turn, can and is matched to your Facebook account and other online data using the phone number that you gave to the store and to Facebook or Google.

Think about how Facebook, Twitter and other online services are constantly pestering you to give them your phone number. Once they have your phone number, anything else you do that is linked to your phone number – such as using a loyalty card when buying stuff at Safeway or Walgreen’s is then accessible.

Everyone is also using the tracking data that Google collects on your Android phone to monitor where you are. Remember, that too is tied to your phone number. As I described on my other blog, the Facebook dossier even tracks what apps you have on  your phone and data mines that to identify potential marketing opportunities.

Google and Facebook are doing highly invasive surveillance and almost no one understands what is being done or what this means.

 

Governments set to regulate and issue their own cryptocurrencies

Why the Bitcoin bubble may explode when it pops:

One reason for regulating blockchain-based cryptocurrencies, also known as digital tokens, is the growing concern that the virtual money they represent could be used for nefarious activities, such as money laundering. Cryptocurrencies could also be a threat to the current financial system because they have at times encouraged unbridled speculation and unsecured borrowing by consumers looking for a piece of the crypot action.

Source: Governments eye their own blockchain cryptocurrencies | Computerworld

Government or central bank issued, blockchained-based cryptocurrencies could be far more useful for legal transactions than the underground currencies like Bitcoin. Bitcoin is great for secret or questionable transactions that do not want to be tracked, of course, but most transactions are not in the camp.

(Note “blockchain” is an important bit of technology that has numerous applications other than cryptocurrencies.)

Google scans your Google Docs?

Apparently so. Users of Google Docs found themselves blocked from accessing their own documents with Google telling them they were blocked for “violating terms of service” with Google.

People had critical documents needed for meetings, university assignments and more – blocked.

By later in the day, Google has fixed the problem but their explanation indicates Google Docs does scan all of our documents. It is unclear what Google does with the scanning of our document content, other than scanning it for unclear violations of terms of service.

Hi everyone,

This issue should now be resolved and you should be able to access your files.

For more details, this morning, we made a code push that incorrectly flagged a small percentage of Google Docs as abusive, which caused those documents to be automatically blocked. A fix is in place and all users should have full access to their docs. Protecting users from viruses, malware, and other abusive content is central to user safety. We apologize for the disruption and will put processes in place to prevent this from happening again.

Best,

Julianne

Google Docs Community

Source is Google support https://support.google.com/docs/forum/AAAABuH1jm0PImCWRuosbY/?hl=en

Workaround: Barnes and Noble Nook e-reader app no longer available for PC, Mac #BarnesAndNoble

I discovered after a Mac OS X update that my very old Nook e-reader app for Mac OS X no longer works – and that Nook discontinued the app for PC and Mac desktops in 2013. Barnes and Noble says we should use their cloud-based/web-based app from a browser (presumably this means we must have an Internet connection in order to read?)

Problem 1 – Barnesandnoble.com Inaccessible

Unfortunately, an attempt to access the Barnes and Noble web site returns

This page is unavailable due to either geographic restrictions or other restrictions in place at this time. NOTE: other restrictions can be a result of our security platform detecting potential malicious activity. Please try again later as the restrictions may be lifted, or contact your service provider if the issue persists.

ID: 8387029820181080074

As best I can tell, this means Barnes and Noble has blocked our IP address for unknown reasons. Their recommended solution is to reboot our Internet access modem and/or attempt to request a new IP address. This is absurd. Our IP address works fine for accessing all other web sites.

Problem 2 – No Nook E-Reader app available – Work Around

If Barnes and Noble e-books can no longer be read on a PC or Mac, what can we do?

One solution is to install an Android emulator, and then install the Android B&N e-reader app in the emulated Android. An emulator is basically a simulator – it simulates and Android device but its really just software running on a PC or a Mac.

I installed the Nox Android emulator app on my Macbook. After dealing with odd user interface issues, I went into the Google folder and opened Google Play, and then downloaded and installed the Nook e-reader app for Android. I ran that and was able to synchronize my library of purchased e-books and can now read them using the Nook app for Android running in an emulator on my Macbook. The emulator seems to be a bit hard on the battery – may want to use this solution when you can plug in the notebook computer to AC.

I had the same IP address when I synchronized the Nook library, pointing to something very weird (and possibly very stupid) in Barnes and Noble’s web site operation.

 

 

 

AccuWeather app continues spying on user’s location #privacy

New tests reveal that while one privacy-invading feature was removed in an app update, the app still shares precise geolocation coordinates with advertisers.

Source: Despite privacy outrage, AccuWeather still shares precise location data with ad firms | ZDNet

This is done without the user’s consent.

Accuweather says it uses one’s location data to provide local weather forecasts but it appears the primary purpose is to optimize ad revenue. A side effect is that a dossier of our movement is constantly maintained by corporations.

With Android, if you use the GPS location features of the phone for any purpose what so ever, Google logs your location in the cloud. You cannot opt out of this – your choice is to use location services and be surveiled by Google, or not to use any GPS location features.

We now use an offline Garmin navigation product which presumably is not logging our location as it is only connected to the Internet a few times per year to update the software. But we really don’t know – may be Garmin is also logging our location albeit with a months long delay.

As tech companies regulate speech, will they lose their safe harbor?

Source: Silicon Valley escalates its war on white supremacy despite free speech concerns – The Washington Post

Tech companies have long argued they are not responsible for the content posted by others on their platforms. Under this view, a tech company is not responsible if someone posts threats to kill others or instructions for building a bomb or details on how to hack into government computers.

Companies have stood behind this principle, especially in regards to users posting defamatory content to online forums. They have argued that they are not responsible for the content and that it would be impossible for them to police the content of their forums.

Now however, the tech companies, including social media companies, are arguing that they can and do police all speech on their platforms. This implies that they do, in fact, control and have responsibility for the speech on their platform. These actions are likely to emerge in future anti-defamation suits filed against online tech firms and they could find themselves liable for all types of infringing speech conducted on their platforms.

Tech companies can certainly condemn offensive speech[1]. But censoring offensive speech puts tech companies into a area that may have legal ramifications.

Related from St. Louis Dispatch:

“A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society.” — Justice Anthony Kennedy

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