Archive for the ‘The technology’ Category

How does a journalist secure his laptop against a police search?

Border laptop search

2 November 2015 – Last week the media blogs lit up over the British police’s seizure of a BBC laptop and what is the right configuration and practices to ensure that such a seizure provides zero information to the cops?

Sarah Naomi was at the t2’15 infosec conference in Finland last week and described a presentation by security researcher Georg Wicherski. Wicherski is a Senior Security Researcher with CrowdStrike who we have met several times at Black Hat.

Wicherski outlined in his talk several steps that could be taken to render, for instance, an ordinary Chromebook immune (or at least make it very, very resistant) to malware attacks, even when an adversary has physical access to it. These customizations make it difficult for an attacker to use any sort of turnkey solution, presenting a barrier to any off-the-shelf equipment attackers might use. At border crossings, Wicherski said possible attackers might have “an appliance, that comes with a manual, and low-skilled operators.” By using a setup that is not very common, the border cops might not know what to … Read more

“Every breath you take” – record health data, keep tabs on your mood. Without you even noticing. Without being attached to a device.


Eric De Grasse, Chief Technology Officer

5 May 2015 – The past few weeks we have seen a tsunami of health-tracking developments, much of it discussed at the RSA Conference in San Francisco which we recently attended.  Coolest bit at RSA this year: it opened with everyone sitting in the dark. Literally. Amit Yoran, the new president of RSA Security, began his opening keynote while standing on a dark stage. “My stumbling around in the dark is a pretty good metaphor for anyone who’s trying to protect networks today,” Yoran said, describing how the industry has failed to deliver on its promises. “2014 was yet another reminder that we’re losing the contest. We can neither secure nor trust the pervasive complex, and worse, end-point participants in any large or distributed committing environment”.

The RSA conference emphasized the obvious: in the digital world in which we now live, information is the most highly valued commodity. Safeguarding that information, therefore, has become a top priority. And the “experts” are failing miserably.

The big event this month was the Apple Watch with its … Read more

Want to outfox the NSA? Generate memorizable passphrases even they can’t guess


Rolling dice



27 March 2015 – Micah Lee writes at The Intercept that coming up with a good passphrase by just thinking of one is incredibly hard, and if your adversary really is capable of one trillion guesses per second, you’ll probably do a bad job of it. It turns out humans are a species of patterns, and they are incapable of doing anything in a truly random fashion. But there is a method for generating passphrases that are both impossible for even the most powerful attackers to guess, yet very possible for humans to memorize. First, grab a copy of the Diceware word list, which contains 7,776 English words — 37 pages for those of you printing at home. You’ll notice that next to each word is a five-digit number, with each digit being between 1 and 6. Now grab some six-sided dice (yes, actual real physical dice), and roll them several times, writing down the numbers that you get. You’ll need a total of five dice rolls to come up with each word in your … Read more

Ungarbling natural language processor technologies … and Happy New Year!

natural language processor 1


30 December 2014 – Natural language processing is becoming a popular analytical tool as well as a quicker way for search and customer support, as well as legal document analysis. Dragon Nuance is at the tip of everyone’s tongue when NLP enters a conversation, but there are many other products with their own benefits. This past year we saw the IBM Watson system’s natural language processing automated content analysis and classification applied to legal analysis. We breathlessly await Google and Microsoft’s predicted entry in the legal space next year or in 2016.

Over the summer Code Project reviewed three of the NLPs in a post entitled “A Review Of Three Natural Language Processors, AlchemyAPI, OpenCalais, And Semantria”. Rather than sticking readers with plain product reviews, Code Project explains what NLP is used for and how it accomplishes it.

While NLP is used for vocal commands, it can do many other things: improve SEO, knowledge management, monetization, and decision support. The legal industry has been using it in text mining, text analytics, content visualization, automatic classification, and regulatory compliance. … Read more

That giant sucking sound …. is that AI technology destroying more jobs than it creates?

AI and jobs



Gregory P. Bufithis, Esq.



18 December 2014 – Claire Cain Miller notes in the New York Times that economists long argued that, just as buggy-makers gave way to car factories, technology used to create as many jobs as it destroyed.

But now there is deep uncertainty about whether the pattern will continue, as two trends are interacting:

First, artificial intelligence has become vastly more sophisticated in a short time, with machines now able to learn, not just follow programmed instructions, and to respond to human language and movement.

Second, at the same time, the American work force has gained skills at a slower rate than in the past — and at a slower rate than in many other countries.

When the University of Chicago asked a panel of leading economists about automation, 76 percent agreed that it had not historically decreased employment. But when asked about the more recent past, they were less sanguine. About 33 percent said technology was a central reason that median wages had been stagnant over the past decadeRead more

Artificial Intelligence: will it exterminate us, or empower us?

artificial intelligence robot human hand

Gregory P. Bufithis, Esq.

16 December 2014 – Oren Etzioni has been an artificial intelligence researcher for over 20 years, and he’s currently CEO of the Allen Institute for AI. When he heard the dire warnings recently from both Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, he decided it’s time to have an intelligent discussion about AI.

He says the popular dystopian vision of AI is wrong for one simple reason: it equates intelligence with autonomy. That is, it assumes a smart computer will create its own goals, and have its own will, and will use its faster processing abilities and deep databases to beat humans at their own game. To say that AI will start doing what it wants for its own purposes is like saying a calculator will start making its own calculations.

Etzioni adds, “If unjustified fears lead us to constrain AI, we could lose out on advances that could greatly benefit humanity — and even save lives. Allowing fear to guide us is not intelligent.”… Read more

What’s next, a gift shop? The National Security Agency has a side business licensing its technology

Dollar sign on keyboard with magnifying glass


30 September 2014 – We were at the “Defense Labs Tech Transfer” trade show in Maryland last week and stumbled across a company called TechLink, which is a US Department of Defense (DoD) Partnership Intermediary. These partnership entities are all done via government statute (check out 15 USC 3715). TechLink is based at Montana State University. The company brokers licensing agreements between DoD labs and US industry for manufacture and use of DoD inventions. These inventions involve virtually all technology fields, including medicine, software, electronics, communications, advanced materials, and energy-related technologies. There are between 100 and 150 research labs that participate under the DoD’s umbrella.

And lo and behold … the National Security Agency (NSA) is in the program (the DoD includes the NSA under its umbrella) and has been making money on the side by licensing its technology to private businesses for more than two decades. It’s called the Technology Transfer Program, under which the NSA declassifies some of its technologies that it developed for previous operations, patents them, and, if they’re swayed by an American … Read more

The data centers of tomorrow will use the same tech our phones do



12 August 2014 – It’s no secret that the demands placed on data centers are growing rapidly. Not surprisingly, the companies that operate these vast warehouses are concerned about the costs of using all that energy. Last year Google noted its global operations continuously draw 260 million megawatts of power, roughly a quarter of the energy generated by a nuclear power plant. Also last year Hewlett-Packard announced it had partnered with Calxeda, to use extremely low-power ARM chips in a new generation of data-center servers. These chips are similar to the ones found in iPhones, iPads, and other mobile devices, and use significantly less energy than Intel’s traditional server chips.

As Wired magazine noted in an article last week “the mobile revolution has spread beyond the mini supercomputers in our hands all the way to the datacenter. With our expanded use of smartphones comes increased pressure on servers to help drive these devices: The activity we see everyday on our phones is a mere pinhole view into all that’s happening behind the scenes, in the massive cloud infrastructure powering … Read more

Tech titans prepare for the “next wave” of technologies by poaching each other’s top talent

 Next wave


(composite of multiple sources)

16 July 2014 –  Babak Parviz, who led the development team on Google’s high-tech spectacles, announced his move in cryptic fashion, posting Amazon’s logo on his Google+ page, with the comment “status: super excited.” However, he has so far declined to reveal what projects he will work on at the Seattle-based online retailer.

The creator of Google’s Glass headset is moving to Amazon as the industry’s leading companies battle to secure the bright minds who will help them discover the next breakthrough technology.

Amazon’s coup in poaching one of Google’s leading lights underlines the efforts being made by the industry’s biggest companies to prepare for the “next wave” of technologies. All are heavily investing in futuristic concepts in an effort to predict what ideas may disrupt their core businesses. Parviz was also the brain behind the Google’s “smart contact lenses”, which will help diabetics track their blood sugar levels and communicate the information to mobile devices. Yesterday Google announced a deal with pharmaceutical company Novartis to help develop the lenses commercially.

It’s about these companies … Read more

Ever so gently, London City Airport will use the “Internet of Things” to improve transportation



15 April 2014 – As reported in the Guardian’s Technology Blog and the Financial Times TechHub blog, passengers flying from London City Airport will soon be able to test how the “internet of things” (IoT) can rewire their experience of catching a flight, as the airport becomes the first to use the technology. For airports, it holds out the possibility of sending messages to passengers telling them when to set off from a railway, alerting border staff before big queues form, and even having ticket holders coffee orders ready to collect when they approach the counter. London City sees it as an way of running operations more efficiently and improve the passenger experience. In addition … SURPRISE! … targeted advertising could translate into higher takings for the airport’s shops and restaurants – a key source of revenues. But as the airport increases its dependency on the internet of things, it also increases the risk of data security problems such as phishing and hacking, say analysts.

Quoted in the Financial Times piece, David Emm (a senior security researcher at Kaspersky … Read more