Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, January 6, 2024

Subject: Google Groups is ending support for Usenet to combat spam
Source: BleepingComputer

Google has officially announced it’s ceasing support for Usenet groups on its Google Groups platform, a move partly attributed to the platform’s increasing struggle with spam content.The upcoming changes will take effect from February 22, 2024, after which users can no longer post, subscribe, or view new Usenet content through Google Groups.

However, historical Usenet content posted before this cutoff date will remain accessible for viewing and searching on the platform.

Google says the change is primarily due to a decline in text-based Usenet groups, with the platform mainly being used to share files or to post spam. Usenet is now commonly used to share copyrighted content, such as video games, applications, movies, and TV shows.

“Over the last several years, legitimate activity in text-based Usenet groups has declined significantly because users have moved to more modern technologies and formats such as social media and web-based forums,” explains a support document about the upcoming change.

“Much of the content being disseminated via Usenet today is binary (non-text) file sharing, which Google Groups does not support, as well as spam.”

Subject: Meet ‘Link History,’ Facebook’s New Way to Track the Websites You Visit
Source: Gizmodo

Facebook introduces a confusing new setting as the walls close in on Zuckerberg’s data machine.Facebook recently rolled out a new “Link History” setting that creates a special repository of all the links you click on in the Facebook mobile app. You can opt out if you’re proactive, but the company is pushing Link History on users, and the data is used for targeted ads. As lawmakers introduce tech regulations and Apple and Google beef up privacy restrictions, Meta is doubling down and searching for new ways to preserve its data harvesting empire.

“When you allow link history, we may use your information to improve your ads across Meta technologies.” The app keeps the toggle switched on in the pop-up, steering users towards accepting Link History unless they take the time to look carefully.

… Meta is just asking users for permission for a category of tracking that it’s been using for over a decade. Beyond that, there are a number of ways this setting might give users an illusion of privacy that Meta isn’t offering.


Subject: How hackers can ‘poison’ AI
Source: Nextgov/FCW

A new paper from NIST offers a standard taxonomy of cyber attacks dedicated to contaminating the data AI models use to learn.The National Institute of Standards and Technology is raising awareness of adversarial tactics that can corrupt artificial intelligence softwares. These attacks hinge on contaminating the datasets used to train AI and machine learning algorithms.

In a new paper on adversarial machine learning, NIST researchers discuss the emerging security challenges facing AI systems that depend on data training to produce accurate outputs. This dependency has allowed for the malicious manipulation of some of that training data.

The report defines the parameters and characteristics of digital attacks targeting AI/ML softwares and datasets, while also providing methods of mitigation for developers following an attack.

“We are providing an overview of attack techniques and methodologies that consider all types of AI systems,” NIST computer scientist and co-author of the paper Apostol Vassilev said in a press release. “We also describe current mitigation strategies reported in the literature, but these available defenses currently lack robust assurances that they fully mitigate the risks. We are encouraging the community to come up with better defenses.”

The four specific types of attacks the report identifies are evasion, poisoning, privacy and abuse.


Subject: FBI warns Chinese students in U.S. of extortion scam

Jan. 5 (UPI) — The FBI is warning the public about impostors posing as Chinese police officers trying to extort money from Chinese university students in the United States, telling them they are being investigated, the bureau announced Thursday.The criminals tell the victims they are being investigated for allegedly committing a crime in China and that they need to pay money to avoid being arrested and must consent to 24/7 audio and video monitoring.

The scheme has four phases, the FBI said.

Subject: Delete your digital history from dozens of companies with this app
Source: Washington Post

Washington Post: “Sick of companies grabbing and selling your address, birth date, location, online activity, dog food brand and even adult-film preferences? Oh boy, do I have some good news. A new iPhone and Android app called Permission Slip makes it super simple to order companies to delete your personal information and secrets. Trying it saved me about 76 hours of work telling Ticketmaster, United, AT&T, CVS and 35 other companies to knock it off. Did I mention…

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Posted in: AI, Big Data, Cybercrime, Cybersecurity, E-Commerce, Privacy, Social Media