Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues June 30 2018

Subject: Cell signal: What high court ruling may mean for future of digital privacy
Source: The Christian Science Monitor We Wrote This – What expectation of privacy do consumers have in an increasingly technological world? New technology is forcing more answers – and reinterpretation of the Constitution.The US Supreme Court ended the week with a decision that updates privacy protections for the digital age. In a 5-to-4 decision the justices ruled in favor of Timothy Carpenter, the robber who argued that using location data from his cellphone providers to pinpoint his whereabouts and convict him violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The ruling, called “narrow” by the court, will afford more protections to citizens. But it may also create confusion in lower courts and in law enforcement, legal observers say. Officials now have to sort out what kinds of information individuals give to third parties merit constitutional protection, and what kinds don’t. Before today’s decision, that determination was clearer. “It’s a gigantic decision for Fourth Amendment jurisprudence,” says Christopher Slobogin, director of the Criminal Justice Program at Vanderbilt Law School. “It is in large part a result of the court’s realization that technology is changing the relationship between the government and its citizens.”…CSM US RSS feed:

Subject: Facebook has ‘no plans’ to listen to your conversations (for now)
Source: USA Today

Facebook told USA TODAY the same. “Facebook has never used your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed, and we have no plans to do so in the future,” Facebook’s vice president of ads Rob Goldman said. That may be reassuring to some, says Slate, but it’s still different from saying no way will this ever happen.

“The takeaway at this point seems to be: Facebook isn’t spying on us via our phones, and it doesn’t have immediate plans to do so in the future,” wrote Will Oremus, “but you never know.” But “you never know” is what keeps these suspicions alive and kicking. That and the fact that the tech industry is very much getting into the listening business, with digital helpers on smartphones and smart speakers that exist to listen for our voice commands and respond to our every want and need. “We are living in an era where active listening is now becoming an extension of our connectivity,” Solis says. These new devices sitting on bedside tables and kitchen counters are a big hit — but there have been some mishaps, too.

Subject: What most people get wrong about credit scores cost them big time
Source: CNBC via USA Today

Brobeck said that while borrowers tend to know that mortgage lenders and credit card companies factor in their score, they don’t realize that many landlords, utility and cellphone companies also use this number to decide whether or not to do business with them — and on what grounds. Not surprisingly, people who check their credit scores periodically or have ordered a copy of their report know more about how the credit process works than those who operate blindly, the survey found.

Subject: AT&T Employees Reportedly Encouraged to Use Unethical Sales Tactics to Drive Up DirecTV Now Subscriptions
Source: Hawaii News Now via Gizmodo

Sales representatives would offer a trial of the service to customers and promise to cancel it on their account before it automatically renewed and charged them the $35 per month fee. It’s against AT&T’s policy to cancel the trial for subscribers, but the sales team was allegedly told to do it anyway by management. “We were told by managers to cancel it to avoid any future headaches but a lot slips through the cracks,” Buonya told Hawaii News Now.

Of course, sales representatives didn’t always cancel the trials, leading to customers suddenly incurring a $35 fee without warning. Some AT&T subscribers paid the additional charge for up to seven months, even if they weren’t using the service.

If those charges amounted to negligence or forgetfulness on the part of AT&T employees, another scheme used to sign people up was straight up malicious. In some cases, salespeople would sign up a customer for three DirecTV Now subscriptions on a single account.

According to the report, this occurred when AT&T was running a promotion offering the first month of DirecTV Now for $10. In AT&T’s system, a representative could sign up a person for up to three subscriptions on a single credit card, allowing them to quickly inflate the number of subscribers using the service and meet the quotas placed on AT&T retailers.

AT&T said unauthorized charges were reversed for customers—though that likely only applies for those who recognized the charge and complained about it. If you’re an AT&T customer, it’s probably best to take a close look at your monthly statement and make sure you’re not paying for a DirecTV Now subscription that you aren’t using.

[Hawaii News Now]

Subject: FBI Active Shooter Study: Pre-Attack Observable Behaviors
Source: Homeland Security Digital Library

In the wake of the high volume of active shooters in 2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released a report on identifying pre-attack observable behaviors of potential shooters. The report, titled “A Study of the Pre-Attack Behaviors of Active Shooters in the United States Between 2000 and 2013,” discusses the continuation of the FBI’s 2014 report on active shooters, with a focus on identifying patterns of behavior exhibited by shooters in the events leading up to the attack. The FBI’s goal for the study and report was “to examine specific behaviors that may precede an attack and which might be useful in identifying, assessing, and managing those who may be on a pathway to deadly violence.” The report identifies ten key findings of the study. Critical points include statistics that reveal that each active shooter displayed four to five concerning behaviors over time, mostly related to mental health and personal relationships, as well as that active shooters typically were experiencing multiple stressors at the time of the shooting.

HSDL RSS feed:

The HSDL offers many similar resources on related topics. Visit the Featured Topics for more on Active Shooters, Domestic (U.S.) Terrorism, and School Violence. The HSDL’s Timeline also includes facts and links to resources regarding active shooter events in the U.S.

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Subject: Domestic Abusers Are Increasingly Weaponizing Smart Home Tech
Source: The New York Times via Gizmodo

The rising popularity of smart home technology has given rise to something dangerous: internet-connected abuse.

A new report from the New York Times reveals a disturbing trend in which smart home technology is being used as a tool for domestic abuse. While it’s not a revelation that connected devices can be exploited by bad actors, the inflamed use of this tech as a vehicle for psychological warfare and surveillance in abusive relationships is deeply unsettling. According to the Times report published on Saturday, domestic abusers are using the likes of internet-connected thermostats, doorbells, speakers, lights, and other smart home devices to establish their power or harass their partners.

What’s unique and particularly troubling about the issues explored in the Times report is how the proliferation of emerging tech and product design can directly contribute to violence against women.

[… other stories appended w/i the Gizmodo article /pmw1]

Topic: Privacy and Security

Subject: Personal Data v. Big Data: Challenges of Commodification of Personal Data
Source: Open Journal of Philosophy via beSpacific

Canellopoulou-Bottis, Maria and Bouchagiar, George, Personal Data v. Big Data: Challenges of Commodification of Personal Data (May 11, 2018). Open Journal of Philosophy, 2018, 8, pp. 206-215. Available at SSRN:

“Any firm today may, at little or no cost, build its own infrastructure to process personal data for commercial, economic, political, technological or any other purposes. Society has, therefore, turned into a privacy-unfriendly environment. The processing of personal data is essential for multiple economically and socially useful purposes, such as health care, education or terrorism prevention. But firms view personal data as a commodity, as a valuable asset, and heavily invest in processing for private gains. This article studies the potential to subject personal data to trade secret rules, so as to ensure the users’ control over their data without limiting the data’s free movement, and examines some positive scenarios of attributing commercial value to personal data.”

Subject: Artificial Intelligence: Emerging Opportunities, Challenges, and Implications for Policy and Research
Source: GAO via beSpacific

Artificial Intelligence: Emerging Opportunities, Challenges, and Implications for Policy and Research – GAO-18-644T: Published: Jun 26, 2018. Publicly Released: Jun 26, 2018. “Artificial intelligence (AI) could improve human life and economic competitiveness—but it also poses new risks. The Comptroller General convened a Forum on AI to consider the policy and research implications of AI’s use in 4 areas with the potential to significantly affect daily life:

  • cybersecurity,
  • automated vehicles,
  • criminal justice, and
  • financial services.

Other AI articles from that category:

Posted in: AI, Cybersecurity, Privacy, Social Media