Research

RAND Report: The Russian “Firehose of Falsehood” Propaganda Model

beSpacific - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 18:23

The Russian “Firehose of Falsehood” Propaganda Model – Why It Might Work and Options to Counter It, by Christopher Paul and Miriam Matthews, RAND Corporation

“Since its 2008 incursion into Georgia (if not before), there has been a remarkable evolution in Russia’s approach to propaganda. The country has effectively employed new dissemination channels and messages in support of its 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula, its ongoing involvement in the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, and its antagonism of NATO allies. The Russian propaganda model is high-volume and multichannel, and it disseminates messages without regard for the truth. It is also rapid, continuous, and repetitive, and it lacks commitment to consistency. Although these techniques would seem to run counter to the received wisdom for successful information campaigns, research in psychology supports many of the most successful aspects of the model. Furthermore, the very factors that make the firehose of falsehood effective also make it difficult to counter. Traditional counterpropaganda approaches will likely be inadequate in this context. More effective solutions can be found in the same psychology literature that explains the surprising success of the Russian propaganda model and its messages.”

Categories: Research

Memory Hole posts Tweets deleted by Scaramucci

beSpacific - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 17:58

MemoryHole2: “Immediately after Anthony Scaramucci was named White House communications director on July 21, 2017, Josh Billinson discovered two tweets critical of Trump. After Billinson tweeted about them, Scaramucci blocked him (temporarily) and deleted the tweets. Soon after, it became apparent that Scaramucci was deleting more tweets, leading numerous outlets to report on this. I’ve confirmed that all of the tweets on this page are gone.”

Categories: Research

Digital Counties Survey 2017: Winners Focus on Knowing When, How to Introduce New Tech

beSpacific - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 17:22

County government is increasingly leading the way when it comes to deploying technologies that matter to everyday citizens. Where innovation and out-of-the-box thinking used to fall to bigger, better-funded state IT agencies and the private sector, regional governments have turned their focus to being more adaptable and responsive to the technology needs of their constituents. But this year, the theme among the five first-place winners is not so much about a shiny, new technology as much as it is about knowing when and how to introduce it. Whether investing in new tools like predictive analytics, going mobile, or opening data to the public, these organizations are making very real differences in the communities they serve. This year’s 15th Annual Digital Counties Survey, conducted by the Center for Digital Government*, brings attention to this work and the IT teams making it all possible.”

Categories: Research

Apple Sued By State Farm Over Alleged iPhone Fire

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 17:18
An anonymous reader quotes CNET: Insurer State Farm and one of its customers, Wisconsin resident Xai Thao, allege that one of Apple's older iPhones had a defective battery that led to a fire last year. A lawsuit filed on Thursday by both State Farm and Thao claims that her iPhone 4S "failed" and "started a fire at Thao's home." The lawsuit further claims that "preliminary investigations show evidence of a significant and localized heating event in the battery area of the iPhone." It also declares that there were "remnants of internal shorting, indicating that an internal failure of the iPhone's battery caused the fire"... The State Farm lawsuit says that Thao's iPhone was "in a defective and unreasonably dangerous condition" when she bought it in 2014. The suit is claiming in excess of $75,000 in damages.

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Categories: Research

The Fragile States Index

beSpacific - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 17:15

The Fragile States Index is based on a conflict assessment framework – known as “CAST” – that was developed by FFP nearly a quarter-century ago for assessing the vulnerability of states to collapse. The CAST framework was designed to measure this vulnerability in pre-conflict, active conflict and post-conflict situations, and continues to be used widely by policy makers, field practitioners, and local community networks. The methodology uses both qualitative and quantitative indicators, relies on public source data, and produces quantifiable results. Twelve conflict risk indicators are used to measure the condition of a state at any given moment. The indicators provide a snapshot in time that can be measured against other snapshots in a time series to determine whether conditions are improving or worsening. Below is the list of indicators used both in the CAST framework and also in the Fragile States Index. Click on an Indicator to learn more about the factors that each Indicator considers and measures. Or, read our publication on the Methodology and Indicators behind the Fragile States Index.”

Categories: Research

How expensive is it to rent in DC – an overview of costs by neighborhood

beSpacific - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 17:05

Via Curbed – Logan Circle and Shaw are the priciest neighborhoods for renting right now: “At the moment, Washington, D.C. is ranked as the fifth most expensive U.S. city for renting, beating out Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami. Neighborhood by neighborhood, real estate website Zumper has broken down the numbers for renters to know which areas of the city have the highest costs and which have the lowest….”

Categories: Research

Salmon caught in Puget found to contain cocaine, antidepressants, pain relievers

beSpacific - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 16:16

81 drugs and personal-care products were detected in the flesh of salmon caught in the Puget Sound. “Salmon is purported to be one of the healthiest foods due to its high omega-3 content, protein, and essential fatty acids, but if the fish is obtained from the Puget Sound, it is anything but healthy. According to a recent study, up to 81 drugs and personal-care products were detected in the flesh of salmon caught in the Puget Sound. Some of the drugs include Prozac, Advil, Benadryl, Lipitor, and even cocaine. The Seattle Times reports that the levels are believed to be so high because either people in the area use more of the drugs detected, or because waste water plants are unable to fully remove the chemicals during treatment…Said Jim Meador, an environmental toxicologist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle:

“The concentrations in effluent were higher than we expected. We analyzed samples for 150 compounds and we had 61 percent of them detected in effluent. So we know these are going into the estuaries.”

 

Categories: Research

Science concurs with librarians about value of reading actual books

beSpacific - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 16:07

Mic.com – “It’s no secret that reading is good for you. Just six minutes of reading is enough to reduce stress by 68%, and numerous studies have shown that reading keeps your brain functioning effectively as you age. One study even found that elderly individuals who read regularly are 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than their peers. But not all forms of reading are created equal. The debate between paper books and e-readers has been vicious since the first Kindle came out in 2007. Most arguments have been about the sentimental versus the practical, between people who prefer how paper pages feel in their hands and people who argue for the practicality of e-readers. But now science has weighed in, and the studies are on the side of paper books. Reading in print helps with comprehension.  A 2014 study found that readers of a short mystery story on a Kindle were significantly worse at remembering the order of events than those who read the same story in paperback. Lead researcher Anne Mangen of Norway’s Stavanger University concluded that “the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does.”

Categories: Research

UK To Require Drone Registration And Safety Exams

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 15:10
An anonymous reader quotes Bloomberg: Drones will have to be registered and their users required to pass safety tests under new rules to be announced by the U.K.'s Department for Transport... Registration will be mandated for owners of drones 250 grams (8.8 ounces) or larger after research found that drones as small as 400 grams (14 ounces) could damage the windscreens of helicopters. Other security measures like "geo-fencing" -- GPS-based technology programmed into drones to prevent them from flying into sensitive areas such as prisons and airports -- are also under consideration, according to a statement from the department. The BBC points out that "There is no time frame or firm plans as to how the new rules will be enforced and the Department of Transport admitted that 'the nuts and bolts still have to be ironed out.'" "The UK government says 22 incidents involving commercial airliners and drones were investigated between January and April of this year," adds TechRadar, "with police unable to trace the owners of the drones -- one of the reasons for the new legislation."

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Microsoft Launches A Counterattack Against Russia's 'Fancy Bear' Hackers

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 03:42
Kevin Poulsen writes on the Daily Beast: It turns out Microsoft has something even more formidable than Moscow's malware: Lawyers. Last year attorneys for the software maker quietly sued the hacker group known as Fancy Bear in a federal court outside Washington DC, accusing it of computer intrusion, cybersquatting, and infringing on Microsoft's trademarks... Since August, Microsoft has used the lawsuit to wrest control of 70 different command-and-control points from Fancy Bear... Rather than getting physical custody of the servers, which Fancy Bear rents from data centers around the world, Microsoft has been taking over the Internet domain names that route to them. These are addresses like "livemicrosoft[.]net" or "rsshotmail[.]com" that Fancy Bear registers under aliases for about $10 each. Once under Microsoft's control, the domains get redirected from Russia's servers to the company's, cutting off the hackers from their victims, and giving Microsoft a omniscient view of that servers' network of automated spies. "In other words," Microsoft outside counsel Sten Jenson explained in a court filing last year, "any time an infected computer attempts to contact a command-and-control server through one of the domains, it will instead be connected to a Microsoft-controlled, secure server."

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Are Nondisparagement Agreements Silencing Employee Complaints?

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 00:38
cdreimer writes, "According to a report in the New York Times, 'nondisparagement agreements are increasingly included in employment contracts and legal settlements' to hide abuses that would otherwise be made public." The Times reports: Employment lawyers say nondisparagement agreements have helped enable a culture of secrecy. In particular, the tech start-up world has been roiled by accounts of workplace sexual harassment, and nondisparagement clauses have played a significant role in keeping those accusations secret... Nondisparagement clauses are not limited to legal settlements. They are increasingly found in standard employment contracts in many industries, sometimes in a simple offer letter that helps to create a blanket of silence around a company. Their use has become particularly widespread in tech employment contracts, from venture investment firms and start-ups to the biggest companies in Silicon Valley, including Google... Employees increasingly "have to give up their constitutional right to speak freely about their experiences if they want to be part of the work force," said Nancy E. Smith, a partner at the law firm Smith Mullin. Three different tech industry employees told the Times "they are not allowed to acknowledge that the agreements even exist." And Google "declined to comment" for the article.

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Categories: Research

Let's Encrypt Criticized Over Speedy HTTPS Certifications

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sat, 07/22/2017 - 14:34
100 million HTTPS certificates were issued in the last year by Let's Encrypt -- a free certificate authority founded by Mozilla, Cisco and the Electronic Frontier Foundation -- and they're now issuing more than 100,000 HTTPS certificates every day. Should they be performing more vetting? msm1267 shared this article from Kaspersky Lab's ThreatPost blog: [S]ome critics are sounding alarm bells and warning that Let's Encrypt might be guilty of going too far, too fast, and delivering too much of a good thing without the right checks and balances in place. The primary concern has been that while the growth of SSL/TLS encryption is a positive trend, it also offers criminals an easy way to facilitate website spoofing, server impersonation, man-in-the-middle attacks, and a way to sneak malware through company firewalls... Critics do not contend Let's Encrypt is responsible for these types of abuses. Rather, because it is the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to issuing basic domain validation certificates, critics believe Let's Encrypt could do a better job vetting applicants to weed out bad actors... "I think there should be some type of vetting process. That would make it more difficult for malicious actors to get them," said Justin Jett, director of audit and compliance at Plixer, a network traffic analytics firm... Josh Aas, executive director of the Internet Security Research Group, the organization that oversees Let's Encrypt, points out that its role is not to police the internet, rather its mission is to make communications secure. He added that, unlike commercial certificate authorities, it keeps a searchable public database of every single domain it issues. "When people get surprised at the number of PayPal phishing sites and get worked up about it, the reason they know about it is because we allow anyone to search our records," he said. Many other certificate authorities keep their databases of issued certificates private, citing competitive reasons and that customers don't want to broadcast the names of their servers... The reason people treat us like a punching bag is that we are big and we are transparent. " The criticism intensified after Let's Encrypt announced they'd soon offer wildcard certificates for subdomains. But the article also cites security researcher Scott Helme, who "argued if encryption is to be available to all then that includes the small percent of bad actors. 'I don't think it's for Signal, or Let's Encrypt, to decide who should have access to encryption."

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Categories: Research

Facebook Petitioned To Change License For ReactJS

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sat, 07/22/2017 - 10:34
mpol writes: The Apache Software Foundation issued a notice last weekend indicating that it has added Facebook's BSD+Patents [ROCKSDB] license to its Category X list of disallowed licenses for Apache Project Management Committee members. This is the license that Facebook uses for most of its open source projects. The RocksDB software project from Facebook already changed its license to a dual Apache 2 and GPL 2. Users are now petitioning on GitHub to have Facebook change the license of React.JS as well. React.JS is a well-known and often used JavaScript Framework for frontend development. It is licensed as BSD + Patents. If you use React.JS and agreed to its license, and you decide to sue Facebook for patent issues, you are no longer allowed to use React.JS or any Facebook software released under this license.

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Categories: Research

Kodi Magazine 'Directs Readers To Pirate Content'

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sat, 07/22/2017 - 03:00
An anonymous reader writes: A British magazine is directing readers to copyright-infringing software, the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact) has said. Kodi is a free, legal media player for computers -- but software add-ons can make it possible to download pirated content. The Complete Guide to Kodi magazine instructs readers on how to download such add-ons. Dennis Publishing has not yet responded to a BBC request for comment. The magazine is available at a number of retailers including WH Smith, Waterstones and Amazon. It was spotted on sale by cyber-security researcher Kevin Beaumont. It repeatedly warns readers of the dangers of accessing pirated content online, but one article lists a series of software packages alongside screenshots promoting "free TV", "popular albums" and "world sport". "Check before you stream and use them at your own risk," the guide says, before adding that readers should stay "on the right side of the law."

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Categories: Research

Intel Accuses Qualcomm of Trying To Kill Mobile Chip Competition

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 16:08
Intel has jumped into the fray surrounding the Apple-Qualcomm patent spat by accusing the world's biggest maker of mobile phone chips of trying to use the courts to snuff out competition. From a report: The chip giant made the allegation late Thursday in a public statement (PDF) to US International Trade Commission. The commission had requested the statement as part of its investigation into Qualcomm's accusation that Apple's iPhones of infringe six of Qualcomm's mobile patents. Specifically, Intel said, the case is about quashing competition from Intel, which described itself as "Qualcomm's only remaining competitor" in the market for chips for cellular phones. "Qualcomm did not initiate this investigation to stop the alleged infringement of its patent rights; rather, its complaint is a transparent effort to stave off lawful competition from Qualcomm's only remaining rival," Intel said in its statement. "This twisted use of the Commission's process is just the latest in a long line of anticompetitive strategies that Qualcomm has used to quash incipient and potential competitors and avoid competition on the merits."

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Sean Spicer Resigns as White House Press Secretary After Objecting To Scaramucci Hire

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 14:10
CNBC reports: White House press secretary Sean Spicer abruptly resigned Friday after opposing President Donald Trump's appointment of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director. The president asked Spicer to stay in his role, but Spicer said appointing Scaramucci was a major mistake, The New York Times, citing a person with direct knowledge of the conversation. NBC News confirmed the resignation with two people familiar with the matter. Spicer tweeted later that he will continue to serve through August. White House chief of staff Reince Priebus was said to have advocated naming Spicer as press secretary. The two worked at the Republican National Committee before joining the administration. Following Spicer's resignation, Priebus said he supports Scaramucci "100 percent," according to news reports.

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Categories: Research

Disney Facing VFX Firm's Injunction Bid on Three Blockbuster Films

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 10:40
From a report: 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' and 'Beauty and the Beast' are now under the microscope for use of facial capture technology. Upping the stakes over a technology called "performance motion capture," Rearden LLC is going after The Walt Disney Company in a lawsuit filed this week. The plaintiff, a firm incubated by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Perlman, is demanding an injunction prohibiting Disney from distributing Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Beauty and the Beast. The new lawsuit comes a year after Rearden scored a startling injunction against two Chinese firms that purchased allegedly stolen technology known as MOVA, which was being licensed by Digital Domain 3.0. At the time, some legal observers were reading the ruling as notice to Hollywood studios that the facial motion capture technology was out of play. According to Rearden's latest lawsuit in California federal court, Disney didn't listen. "Disney used the stolen MOVA Contour systems and methods, made derivative works, and reproduced, distributed, performed, and displayed at least Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Beauty and the Beast, in knowing or willfully blind violation of Rearden Mova LLC's intellectual property rights."

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