We know when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sleeps – Quartz

One lingering digital remnant of Dzhokhar, caught in a Facebook photo (in a white cap, at left). David Green

One lingering digital remnant of Dzhokhar, caught in a Facebook photo (in a white cap, at left). David Green

A few tech-savvy people have uncovered an extraordinary amount of information about the Tsarnaev brothers in a short amount of time. This has so many interesting implications for law enforcement, journalism, and privacy in the digital age.

We know all this not because the FBI told us or because journalists went out and spoke to people—though there is a lot that the media has revealed in the same 12-hour-period—but because it can all be pieced together with some decent Googling. If you read Russian and know how to use Yandex and V Kontake, there is more public information yet.


Where it was once only reporters and the police who dug up information about people of interest, a whole nation is at it today. And for all the myriad concerns about privacy settings, cookies, data protection, automated surveillance, and Facebook, we reveal immense amounts of information about ourselves publicly, unthinkingly, and sometimes involuntarily.

via We know when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sleeps – Quartz.


Yet we do not know the answers to the most important question we have, “Why?” As the article concludes, “We know when Dzhokhar sleeps but not what he dreams about.”

Inside the Biggest Cyberattack in History

The silver lining is the motivation it’s given security providers.

A cyberattack originally targeting a single company is now being described by experts as one of the biggest attacks in Internet history. The assault, which recently began impacting elements of the Internet’s physical infrastructure, has been dragging down Internet speeds across the world and particularly in Europe — but what makes this type of attack different from all other attacks?

via Inside the Biggest Cyberattack in History.

IBM Security Tool Can Flag ‘Disgruntled Employees’

A vintage Scot Tissue ad, first appearing in the 1930s and urging employers to stock bathrooms with Scot Tissue products to prevent turning their employees into radical communists.

Is government “Big Brother,” or is industry? What are the privacy implications of the ability to mine and analyze such data?

A new International Business Machines Corp. security tool uses Big Data to help CIOs detect internal and external security threats in new ways—and can even scan email and social media to flag apparently “disgruntled” employees who might be inclined to reveal company secrets, according to Sandy Bird, chief technology officer of IBM’s security systems division.

via IBM Security Tool Can Flag ‘Disgruntled Employees’ – The CIO Report – WSJ.

Twitter Hacked; Company Says 250K Users May Have Been Affected | Threat Level | Wired.com

For your information.

Following a string of revelations this week from several media companies who announced they had been recently hacked, Twitter announced on Friday that it had also been the target of a sophisticated attack.The company wrote in a blog post ironically titled “Keeping our users secure” that it detected unusual patterns this week that led it to identify attempts to access user data.“We discovered one live attack and were able to shut it down in process moments later,” wrote Bob Lord, Twitter’s director of information security. “However, our investigation has thus far indicated that the attackers may have had access to limited user information — usernames, email addresses, session tokens and encrypted/salted versions of passwords — for approximately 250,000 users.”

via Twitter Hacked; Company Says 250K Users May Have Been Affected | Threat Level | Wired.com.

danah boyd | apophenia » Why Parents Help Children Violate Facebook’s 13+ Rule

A message on the CITASA listserv this morning announced the availability of this article, which the CyberTribe may find interesting. What would you say in the “public conversation” the authors propose to have about COPPA?

Announcing new journal article: “Why Parents Help Their Children Lie to Facebook About Age: Unintended Consequences of the ‘Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act’” by danah boyd, Eszter Hargittai, Jason Schultz, and John Palfrey, First Monday.

“At what age should I let my child join Facebook?” This is a question that countless parents have asked my collaborators and me. Often, it’s followed by the following: “I know that 13 is the minimum age to join Facebook, but is it really so bad that my 12-year-old is on the site?”

While parents are struggling to determine what social media sites are appropriate for their children, government tries to help parents by regulating what data internet companies can collect about children without parental permission. Yet, as has been the case for the last decade, this often backfires. Many general-purpose communication platforms and social media sites restrict access to only those 13+ in response to a law meant to empower parents: the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This forces parents to make a difficult choice: help uphold the minimum age requirements and limit their children’s access to services that let kids connect with family and friends OR help their children lie about their age to circumvent the age-based restrictions and eschew the protections that COPPA is meant to provide.

via danah boyd | apophenia » Why Parents Help Children Violate Facebook’s 13+ Rule.

The System is Down

This now classic web cartoon from Homestarrunner.com pokes fun at techno. I think of it whenever I consider some system being “down.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

All kidding aside, the possibility of the internet coming down was very real for a small group of volunteers policing internet security. I was quite fascinated to hear this podcast yesterday, via NPR’s “Digital Life” and “Fresh Air.

For the past three years, a highly encrypted computer worm called Conficker has been spreading rapidly around the world. As many as 12 million computers have been infected with the self-updating worm, a type of malware that can get inside computers and operate without their permission.”

What Conficker does is penetrate the core of the [operating system] of the computer and essentially turn over control of your computer to a remote controller,” writer Mark Bowden tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “[That person] could then utilize all of these computers, including yours, that are connected. … And you have effectively the largest, most powerful computer in the world.”

The gigantic networked system created by the Conficker worm is what’s known as a “botnet.” The Conficker botnet is powerful enough to take over computer networks that control banking, telephones, security systems, air traffic control and even the Internet itself, says Bowden. His new book, Worm: The First Digital World War, details how Conficker was discovered, how it works, and the ongoing programming battle to bring down the Conficker worm, which he says could have widespread consequences if used nefariously.

“If you were to launch with a botnet that has 10 million computers in it — launch a denial of service attack — you could launch a large enough attack that it would not just overwhelm the target of the attack, but the root servers of the Internet itself, and could crash the entire Internet,” he says. “What frightens security folks, and increasingly government and Pentagon officials, is that a botnet of that size could also be used as a weapon.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.
NPR Media Player, posted with vodpod

Given that loss of life could ensue should the internet be “brought down,” what should individuals, groups, organizations, governments and the international community be doing to prevent this?