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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Malware is not only about viruses – companies preinstall it all the time


The companies that sell malware are skilled at spinning the malfunctionalities as services to the consumer but they could offer most of these services with freedom and anonymity if they wanted to.
It is fashionable to recognise the viciousness of today’s computing only to declare resistance unthinkable. Many claim that no one could resist gratification for mere freedom and privacy. But it’s not as hard as they say. We can resist:
Individually, by rejecting proprietary software and web services
that snoop or track.
Collectively, by organising to develop free/libre replacement systems and web services that don’t track who uses them.
Democratically, by legislation to criminalise various sorts of malware practices. This presupposes democracy, and democracy requires defeating treaties such as the TPP and TTIP that give companies the power to suppress democracy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What AI Experts Think About the Existential Risk of AI

There's been no shortage of high profile people weighing in on the subject of AI lately. We've heard warnings from Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Stephen Hawking while Woz seems to have a more ambivalent opinion on the subject. The Epoch Times has compiled a list of academics in the field of AI research who are offering their own opinions. From the article: "A 2014 survey conducted by Vincent Müller and Nick Bostrom of 170 of the leading experts in the field found that a full 18 percent believe that if a machine super-intelligence did emerge, it would unleash an 'existential catastrophe' on humanity. A further 13 percent said that advanced AI would be a net negative for humans, and only a slight majority said it would be a net positive.

The upcoming acquisition by microsoft

Microsoft is just one one of many companies reportedly looking to get a bigger piece of the enterprise mobile market by buying BlackBerry. Reports claim that Chinese firms including Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi are also interested in picking up BlackBerry following the company's recent return to profitability. This report comes on the heels of BlackBerry announcing it is cutting jobs across its global business units in an attempt to consolidate its software, hardware and applications business.

Your SSD Won't Quickly Lose Data While Powered Down

A few weeks ago, there was a discussion on reports that enterprise SSDs would lose data in a surprisingly short amount of time if left powered off. The reports were based on a presentation from Alvin Cox, a Seagate engineer, about enterprise storage practices. PCWorld spoke to him and another engineer for Seagate, and they say the whole thing was blown out of proportion. Alan Cox said, "I wouldn't worry about (losing data). This all pertains to end of life. As a consumer, an SSD product or even a flash product is never going to get to the point where it's temperature-dependent on retaining the data." The intent of the original presentation was to set expectations for a worst case scenario — a data center writing huge amounts of data to old SSDs and then storing them long-term at unusual temperatures. It's not a very realistic situation for businesses with responsible IT departments, and almost impossible for personal drives.

Sex-Switched Mosquitoes May Help In Fight Against Diseases

Only the female mosquitoes bite and transmit viral diseases such as Dengue Fever. Scientists have finally discovered the elusive genetic switch called Nix, that determines the sex of these blood sucking insects, and hope to selectively eliminate females to control the spread of diseases. "Nix provides us with exciting opportunities to harness mosquito sex in the fight against infectious diseases because maleness is the ultimate disease-refractory trait," explained Zhijian Jake Tu, an affiliate of the Fralin Life Science Institute and a biochemistry professor from Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Leaked Document Shows Europe Would Fight UK Plans To Block Porn

Before the UK elections earlier in the month, David Cameron spoke about his desire to clean up the internet. Pulling — as he is wont to do — on parental heartstrings, he suggested that access to porn on computers and mobiles should be blocked by default unless users specifically requested access to it. This opt-in system was mentioned again in the run-up to the election as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Sajid Javid assured peopled that the party "will age restrict online porn". But it's not quite that simple. There is the small problem of Europe. A leaked EU Council document shows that plans are afoot to stop Cameron's plans in its tracks — and with the UK on the verge of trying to debate a better deal for itself within Europe, the Prime Minister is not in a particularly strong position for negotiating on the issue. Cameron has a fight on his hands, it seems, if he wants to deliver on his promise that "we need to protect our children from hardcore pornography". Documents seen by The Sunday Times reveal that the EU could make it illegal for ISPs and mobile companies to automatically block access to obscene material. Rather than implementing a default block on pornography, the Council of the European Union believes that users should opt in to web filtering and be able to opt out again at any time; this is precisely the opposite to the way Cameron would like things to work.

Firefox Mozilla Privacy Firefox's Optional Tracking Protection Reduces Load Time For News Sites By 44%

Former Mozilla software engineer Monica Chew and Computer Science researcher Georgios Kontaxis recently released a paper (PDF) that examines Firefox's optional Tracking Protection feature. The duo found that with Tracking Protection enabled, the Alexa top 200 news sites saw a 67.5 percent reduction in the number of HTTP cookies set. Furthermore, performance benefits included a 44 percent median reduction in page load time and 39 percent reduction in data usage.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Safeguard from the tricky cryptowall

CryptoLocker is an especially insidious form of Ransomeware malware that was first detected in the wild in September 2013, restricts access to infected computers and requires victims to pay a ransom in order to regain full access.
What makes CryptoLocker so bad is the way it encrypts the user data on your hard drive using a strong encryption method. This makes it literally impossible to access your own data without paying the ransom amount to the criminals between $100 and $300 or two Bitcoins, even now more.

Once affected you will be locked out of your computer and unless you pay the ransom amount in 72 hours , the virus will delete the decryption key to decrypt all the files on your PC .

The malware lands on PCs the same way other malware does and a few sensible precautions will help minimize the chances of a CrytoLocker attack.

Yesterday, it was reported that - UK's National Crime Agency has given out an urgent national alert that a mass spamming event targeting 10 million UK based email users with CryptoLocker.

What if your computer gets compromised? Currently there is no option to decrypt the files without the decryption key and brute forcing a file encrypted with 2048 bit encryption is almost impossible. If you don’t pay the ransom, you forever lose access to everything you’ve been working on which is stored on your computer.

A few things you can do to prevent your PC from getting infected with the CryptoLocker virus:
  • Most viruses are introduced by opening infected attachments or clicking on links to malware usually contained in spam emails. Avoid opening emails and attachments from unknown sources, especially zip or rar archive files.
  • Most people have some anti-virus program, but how do you know it’s effective? Ensure you have best one active and up-to-date.
  • Also keep your operating system and software up-to-date.
  • Keep a backup. If you have a real-time backup software then make sure that you first clean the computer and then restore the unencrypted version of the files.
  • Create files in the Cloud and upload photos to online accounts like Flickr or Picasa.
  • Windows 7 users should set up the System Restore points or, if you are using Windows 8, configure it to keep the file history.
  • Make sure you have reformatted your hard drive to completely remove the CryptoLocker trojan before you attempt to re-install Windows and/or restore your files from a backup.
There are many free tools now available in the community, that can help users to protect their systems from this malware.
1.) CryptoPrevent tool, created by American security expert Nick Shaw.
This tool applies a number of settings to your installation of Windows that prevents CryptoLocker from ever executing and has been proven to work in Windows XP and Windows 7 environments.

2.) HitmanPro.Alert 2.5, a free utility that will help you to protect your computer against the CryptoLocker ransomware malware.

HitmanPro.Alert 2.5 contains a new feature, called CryptoGuard that monitors your file system for suspicious operations. When suspicious behavior is detected, the malicious code is neutralized and your files remain safe from harm.

3.) BitDefender Anti-CryptoBlocker, an encryption-blocking tool that can detect and block malware from installation.

Intrusion prevention systems can block the communications protocol send from the Cryptolocker infected system to the remote command-and-control server where the malware retrieves the key to encrypt the files. Blocking the communications can prevent the encryption from taking place.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Android Milkshake is the next Upcoming version

While majority of smartphone users are waiting for Android 5.0 Lollipop update for their devices, Google is soon going to launch the next version of Android at its official Google I/O 2015 developer event May 28 in San Francisco.

Android M — The name of the latest version of Android mobile operating system was spotted at the Google I/O 2015 schedule under the "Android for Work Update" Session, which says…
"Android M is bringing the power of Android to all kinds of workplaces."
According to the company, this will open up "huge new markets for hundreds of Millions of devices to workers at small businesses, logistics, deskless workers, and warehousing jobs."

However, Google appears to have since removed any mention of Android M from Google's I/O website, most probably the company wants to keep it as a surprise for Android users.

Considering the full Android releases with starting letters in alphabetical order, — Android M — strongly believes to be the next version of the Android operating system.

When the Google launched Android 5.0 at its developer conference last year, it was known by the name "Android L" before the company revealed its final name "lolipop" months later.

Some More highlights:

The schedule also includes another session "Voice Access" known as "Your app, now available hands-free," which suggests that Google wants its users to control every feature of Android apps by their own Voice Command.
As the Voice Access session says, "In this talk, we introduce Voice Access, a service that gives anyone access to their Android device through voice alone."
The main highlights of the Google I/O schedule are yet Android M, which will eventually get some sweet sugary name too like all the previous versions of Android OS.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Data Governance and Enterprise Data Management

Data Governance and Enterprise Data Management

Data Governance Discipline


Data Governance Roles

1. Ownership – Ownership recognizes and formalizes a set of responsibilities of business managers but does not redefine the job of business management.
2. Stewardship – Data stewardship is the nexus of data governance. It provides linkage among owners of different but related data subjects. And it connects business rules and requirements with data models, database design, information systems implementation, and day-to-day management and administration of data.
3. Custodianship – custodianship recognizes and formalizes responsibilities of data specialists but doesn’t redefine their jobs.

Custodianship versus stewardship

Custodians are responsible for the “buckets” that store the data, and for the systems that process it; stewards are responsible for the “content”—the data itself.

In Data Governance groups, responsibilities for data management are increasingly divided between the business process owners and information technology (IT) departments. Two functional titles commonly used for these roles are Data Steward and Data Custodian.
Data Stewards are commonly responsible for data content, context, and associated business rules. Data Custodians are responsible for the safe custody, transport, storage of the data and implementation of business rules. Simply put, Data Stewards are responsible for what is stored in a data field, while Data Custodians are responsible for the technical environment and database structure.

IT is the custodian of an organization’s data assets. This department gathers business requirements, develops the application systems, operates these systems and supports their users. Further, it manages the infrastructure on which these applications operate and ensures that the data is properly stored and protected. Data protection, for example, might be accomplished by providing a security system and periodic backups. To perform this role, IT establishes processes such as the system’s development methodology, facilitates the development of the business data model, and sets security administration and enforcement policies. 

Business representatives (stewards) must retain responsibility for the data content. Stewards define the requirements, verify that systems meet them and use the systems. The business representatives also have a data protection responsibility. This includes determining who can retrieve what data and enforcing access restrictions.
The table below contrasts some of IT’s custodianship duties with stewardship responsibilities performed by business representatives.

Custodianship versus stewardship responsibilities
Ultimate success depends on cooperation among data stewards as well as a strong ongoing partnership between stewards and custodians.
Custodianship—IT Stewardship—Business
Create the business data model.
Facilitate creation of the business data model, maintain it and apply it for data management database design.
Contribute to the business data model.
Provide the business rules, definitions, etc.
Gather business requirements.
Interview data stewards and other business representatives to define the business requirements. IT team members gathering the requirements must apply interviewing and analytic skills to ensure that they ferret out the requirements and translate these into the information required to understand what needs to be designed and built.
Provide business requirements.
Work with IT analysts during the system development and provide them with the requirements.
Establish data access restriction facilities.
Install security mechanisms that enable data access restrictions.
Determine who can access what data.
Input information on who has access capabilities into the data access restriction facilities.
Deliver quality data with supporting audits and controls, and resolve deficiencies.
Build systems that meet business expectations and provide evidence (through audits and controls) that the data has been processed correctly. Errors disclosed through audits and controls indicate data processing deficiencies and must be addressed by IT.
Establish quality expectations and ensure compliance.
Ensure that realistic quality expectations are consistent with business processes. In addition, ensure that the data conforms to the quality expectations.
Incorporate changes as needed.
Continuously communicate with the data stewards and other business representatives to keep informed about business changes that impact the systems and data. When these occur, gather detailed requirements and incorporate the changes to the existing environment.
Keep IT informed of business changes that impact data.
As the business environment evolves, changes are needed in systems and data to ensure that they continue to support the business. Information about these changes must be transmitted to IT on a timely basis to ensure that the data asset can be appropriately leveraged.