SAN FRANCISCO _ Google wants to make it easier for you to find answers and recommendations on smartphones without having to think about what to ask its search engine.

Its new feature, called "shortcuts ," will appear as a row of icons below the Google search box. Instead of having to ponder and then speak or type a request, the shortcuts will let you tap the icons to get the latest weather, movie showtimes, sports scores, restaurant recommendations and other common requests.


The shortcuts will begin appearing Tuesday in updates to Google's app for iPhones, Android phones and its mobile website. The Android app will also include various tools such as a currency converter, a language translator and an ATM locator, which you can also summon with a tap. Those tools may eventually make it to the iPhone as well, although Google says it doesn't know when.


The changes are the latest step in Google's quest to turn its search engine into a secondary brain that anticipates people's needs and desires. The search engine gleans these insights by analyzing your past requests and, when you allow it, tracking your location, a practice that periodically raises privacy concerns about Google's power to create digital profiles of its users.

Based on the knowledge that Google already has accumulated, its shortcuts feature may already list your favorite sports teams or recommend nearby restaurants serving cuisines you prefer.

Shortcuts also show how Google's search engine has been adapting to its audience, now that smartphones have become the primary way millions of people stay connected to the internet.


Since more than half of requests for Google's search engine now come from smartphones, the Mountain View, California, company has adapted its services to smaller screens, touch keyboards and apps instead of websites.

Early in that process, Google tweaked its search engine to answer many requests with factual summaries at the top of its results page, a change from simply displaying a list of links to other websites. Voice-recognition technology also allows you to speak your request into a phone instead of typing it.

The transition is going well so far. Google's revenue rose 20 percent last year to $89 billion, propelled by digital ads served up on its search engine, YouTube and Gmail. Although shortcuts won't initially show ads after you tap them, Google typically sells marketing space if a feature or service becomes popular.

Categorized in Search Engine
Education scholars say youth are duped by sponsored content and don't always recognize political bias of social messages.

When it comes to evaluating information that flows across social channels or pops up in a Google search, young and otherwise digital-savvy students can easily be duped, finds a new report from researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Education.

The report, released this week by the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG), shows a dismaying inability by students to reason about information they see on the Internet, the authors said. Students, for example, had a hard time distinguishing advertisements from news articles or identifying where information came from.

"Many people assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally perceptive about what they find there," said Professor Sam Wineburg, the lead author of the report and founder of SHEG. "Our work shows the opposite to be true."

The researchers began their work in January 2015, well before the most recent debates over fake news and its influence on the presidential election.

The scholars tackled the question of “civic online reasoning” because there were few ways to assess how students evaluate online information and to identify approaches to teach the skills necessary to distinguish credible sources from unreliable ones.

The authors worry that democracy is threatened by the ease at which disinformation about civic issues is allowed to spread and flourish.

“Many of the materials on web credibility were state-of-the-art in 1999. So much has changed but many schools are stuck in the past,” said Joel Breakstone, the director of SHEG, which has designed social studies curriculum that teaches students how to evaluate primary sources. That curriculum has been downloaded 3.5 million times, and is used by several school districts.

The new report covered news literacy, as well as students' ability to judge Facebook and Twitter feeds, comments left in readers' forums on news sites, blog posts, photographs and other digital messages that shape public opinion.

The assessments reflected key understandings the students should possess such as being able to find out who wrote a story and whether that source is credible. The authors drew on the expertise of teachers, university researchers, librarians and news experts to come up with 15 age-appropriate tests -- five each for middle school, high school and college levels.

"In every case and at every level, we were taken aback by students' lack of preparation," the authors wrote.

In middle school they tested basic skills, such as the trustworthiness of different tweets or articles.

One assessment required middle schoolers to explain why they might not trust an article on financial planning that was written by a bank executive and sponsored by a bank. The researchers found that many students did not cite authorship or article sponsorship as key reasons for not believing the article.

Another assessment had middle school students look at the homepage of Slate. They were asked to identify certain bits of content as either news stories or advertisements. The students were able to identify a traditional ad -- one with a coupon code -- from a news story pretty easily. But of the 203 students surveyed, more than 80 percent believed a native ad, identified with the words "sponsored content," was a real news story.

At the high school level, one assessment tested whether students were familiar with key social media conventions, including the blue checkmark that indicates an account was verified as legitimate by Twitter and Facebook.

Students were asked to evaluate two Facebook posts announcing Donald Trump's candidacy for president. One was from the verified Fox News account and the other was from an account that looked like Fox News. Only a quarter of the students recognized and explained the significance of the blue checkmark. And over 30 percent of students argued that the fake account was more trustworthy because of some key graphic elements that it included.

"This finding indicates that students may focus more on the content of social media posts than on their sources," the authors wrote. "Despite their fluency with social media, many students are unaware of basic conventions for indicating verified digital information."

The assessments at the college level focused on more complex reasoning. Researchers required students to evaluate information they received from Google searches, contending that open Internet searches turn up contradictory results that routinely mix fact with falsehood.

For one task, students had to determine whether Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, believed in state-sponsored euthanasia. A typical Google search shows dozens of websites addressing the topic from opposite angles.

"Making sense of search results is even more challenging with politically charged topics," the researchers said. "A digitally literate student has the knowledge and skill to wade through mixed results to find reliable and accurate information."

In another assessment, college students had to evaluate website credibility. The researchers found that high production values, links to reputable news organizations and polished “About” pages had the ability to sway students into believing without very much skepticism the contents of the site.

The assessments were administered to students across 12 states. In total, the researchers collected and analyzed 7,804 student responses. Field-testing included under-resourced schools in Los Angeles and well-resourced schools in the Minneapolis suburbs. College assessments were administered at six different universities.

Wineburg says the next steps to this research include helping educators use these tasks to track student understanding and to adjust instruction. He also envisions developing curriculum for teachers, and the Stanford History Education Group has already begun to pilot lesson plans in local high schools. Finally, the researchers hope to produce videos showing the depth of the problem and demonstrating the link between digital literacy and informed citizenship.

“As recent headlines demonstrate, this work is more important now than ever,” Wineburg said. “In the coming months, we look forward to sharing our assessments and working with educators to create materials that will help young people navigate the sea of disinformation they encounter online.”

The research was funded by a grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Besides Breakstone and Wineburg, co-authors included Stanford researchers Sarah McGrew and Teresa Ortega.

An executive summary of the report is available here.

Source : https://ed.stanford.edu

Categorized in Online Research

I tried to give you my best advice in the title of this article and if you are reading this, you chose not to take it. So please reconsider.

If you are having some strong dis-ease following the Presidential Election in the USA, you might want to think some more about what I am suggesting. Don’t read another article about the Election. For that matter don’t listen or watch anything related to the Election either. For goodness sake don’t write anything about the Election at all. That suggestion should be the easiest for you to follow, because I am writing this for you.

Now as to your dose of not consuming or producing any Election thoughts, that varies by weight of your post-election emotional burden. Some of you might want to wait about a decade before taking a peek at what happened next. For most that won’t be necessary.

News and views that you can’t use, can give you the blues.

We are built to detect threats, act quickly to reduce them and to save energy by calmly accepting some risk and discomfort related to there being nothing we can do about somethings at the moment.

Being exposed to more and more news and what could or should be done about this or that can make one quite jittery, particularly if most of it doesn’t give you a clue as to what you can specifically do. Viewing the news and checking out new views can trigger, “should I prepare to fight, prepare to run, prepare to hide and breathe softly and deeply?” If the news does not contain much direction regarding your particular situation, you may just freeze and seek further news and views. Things can get increasingly chilly.

If you are following news on the political climate like some people follow weather reports and forecasts you might want to stop that. The weather can indeed hit people where they live. Forecasts can inform as when to run or hide or seek higher ground, but usually not. Some people have a friend or family that live some place that a weather forecast has under a rotating cloud, but these people probably don’t need to be warned about that. Having nobody that is near the forest fire or in the hot lava’s path doesn’t stop some people from being good citizens of the world by feeling a duty to keep current about the state of such affairs, but they do so at an emotional cost that often goes unnoticed. When the report comes on about the earthquake, even if you calculate that you are thousands of miles from the epicenter quickly, your brain still spent some milliseconds sensing if your foundation was shaking.

Like weather reports, political news can rile you up with no need or no place to go.

For instance if you see yourself in some oppressed class that Donald Trump is reportedly not fond of, you may feel a need to stay informed as to Mr. Trump’s plans. If you have heard of Wikileaks and aren’t sure that all the information provided there was made up by the Russians, you might be bracing yourself for what will be revealed upon the release of the next batch of leaks, not having close to processing the thousands and thousands of leaks already revealed.

Wanting more and more news and opinions can even rewire your brain which makes it much more difficult to process information and more difficult to see big pictures. Some of these big pictures are obvious and obviously important and go completely unseen due to news and views distraction.

News that you can and want to use can get lost in the Breaking News.

Overwhelming people with news is consciously used tool of propagandists. New news doesn’t just sell advertising and the goods and services advertised, it draws attention away from unsolved problems to the delight of those profiting from these problems.

You may think that giving yourself a news blackout or constriction as being unpatriotic or not what a social justice warrior does. Think again. There can be great value in contemplating what you already know or what you already think that you know. Compare what you’ve heard with your personal experience. Question the sources of information you believe and ask yourself how you would judge information from a source you don’t trust, if you did trust that source.

Resist seeking news to avoid your friends knowing something that you haven’t heard yet. Your friends will probably like you better for giving them the opportunity to be the ones to let you know the latest, then they will think of you as a moron for not knowing.

Notice if you have a tendency to get interested in collecting more an more news that supports your views and delight in being more and more and more convinced that you are right and the wise guy where you work is wrong. Maybe you have collected enough ammunition for awhile.

If seeking more news is making you feel more relaxed about accepting things that you have no immediate plans to do much about, keep seeking. If seeking news is energizing you to bond closer with friends and family, or is energizing to do something to express what you have come to believe in, keep seeking. If you believe strongly in something that you have been recently questioning, make seeking that a priority.

If you are finding that your post-election news seeking has eroded some of your seeking of sports score, fashion trends, pictures of what your friends had for dinner last night, the latest hilarious videos that have gone viral, what the humidity might be tomorrow, that might be a good thing.

Source:  goodmenproject.com

Categorized in News & Politics

The current presidential candidate for the Republican Party, Donald Trump, recently claimed that Facebook, Google, and Twitter are intentionally withholding content about the FBI’s criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Trump made no further attempts to present any evidence on the matter or elaborate these allegations on following tweets but brought up the Democrats’ earlier praising of FBI Director James Comey. However, his accusation is overshadowed by his previous claims.

Trump’s tweet has garnered more than 30,000 retweets and 60,000 likes from his following but has also spawned a significant number of media responses which seek to counter his claims.

Could Trump be right about Clinton’s media coverage?

CNET reported the Clinton emails became a trending topic on Twitter over the weekend and that the ongoing FBI investigation had been at the top of the first page in Google News on Sunday. The Trump campaign did not respond to his request for evidence.

The report added it was hard to ascertain whether Facebook could have or have not done anything resembling what Mr. Trump is claiming given that its users personalize their feeds and receive news catered to their browsing habits.

Curiously, none of the companies the Republican Candidate mentioned have come forward to deny the claims.

Can Google remove information from its search engine?

Google News has options that allow users to request the removal of certain content from its search results and Google Search also has this feature.

With that in mind, Clinton sympathizers might have asked Google to remove the information. But even if they did, the news about Hillary Clinton’s email scandal were all over the news.

Both News and Search encourage users to file individual reports on content they want to remove from the website, but they require interested parties to contact site owners beforehand and will only act on a complaint if it fits with their Removal Policies.

Can Facebook and Twitter hide information? 

Facebook will only remove content from the website that goes against their Community Standards which are, notably, undergoing major changes.

Twitter’s case is similar. Other factors like Google Penalties, which bring down a website in the search results due to various reasons, could cause a particular event to disappear.

Media outlet Mashable received a statement from Google News in which they reiterated the company did not change stories’ rankings to influence user opinion, nor rankings related in any way to political candidates.

Is Trump’s accusation just another one of his far-fetched claims? 

Google has been accused of removing content to help political parties in the past secretly. But every year, the company releases a Transparency Report. It shows who asked for information removal, why, and whether the petition was accepted.

Facebook is known to keep tabs on what its users do. It is important to avoid unpleasant content from showing the newsfeed, but it is also indisputable proof the company could intentionally take certain posts down. Twitter has also banned many accounts in the past for various reasons.


In conclusion, Donald Trump’s accusation cannot survive a simple Google research. However, the claim is not that far-fetched because Google, Facebook, and Twitter have mechanisms to block specific content from showing on their platforms.

Source : theusbport

Categorized in Others

ICIT Fellow Robert Lord discusses the exploitation of protected health information on the deep web and gives cybersecurity tips on how to best protect these valuable records.

The deep web is used for both practical and illegal uses; individuals can utilize the anonymity of the deep web to protect their personal information, communicate clandestinely with sources or whistleblowers and engage in illegal practices such as selling and purchasing the personal information of others.

In this Q&A, Robert Lord, ICITFellow and CEO of healthcare and cybersecurity company Protenus, discusses the deep web and its role in the exploitation of patients' protected health information.

Can you explain what exactly the deep web is and how illegal practices are able to be conducted on it? Why should people know about it, and should they be worried?

If you think about the internet in general, think about it like an iceberg. We see the tip of it known as the "clear net" or the "indexed web." That is the information that search engines index and what we can Google -- our everyday internet. Four hundred to five hundred times more data is housed underneath the iceberg. That is the deep web that's not accessible by normal means; we need to use tools like the Tor browser.

You can use a different set of protocols to gain information, such as documents, or to preserve privacy when journalists communicate confidently and privately with sources. It is also used by citizens whose countries block the use of internet, and it is used, unfortunately, for a lot of criminal activity. 



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Thinking of the deep web more as a tool for anonymity is instructive. The deep web can protect people who have legitimate fears about a government crackdown or individuals who have private information, such as journalists, who want to protect sources and whistleblowers.

What specific risks does the deep web pose to electronic, protected health information and how do these risks influence health providers' HIPAA compliance processes? 

As a nation, we are in a serious crisis right now. What we did was spend tens of millions of dollars rolling

out electronic health records. We put very little thought into how we were going to protect that data.

We digitized 300 million Americans' lives, but all that information is protected in a rather weak way. Unfortunately, hackers and insiders have decided that healthcare is a very soft target, and that protected health information is extraordinarily valuable.

Business associates, contractors and employees all have the ability to access that information, and it can then be sold on markets like the deep web. On the deep web are markets that use anonymous profiles that show whether people are certified buyers or sellers, providing an easy way to sell data. The deep web facilitates this transfer of monetized data. In 2015, there were 113 million medical recordsthat were breached -- a third of our nation's medical records.

Among companies whose patients' data was leaked, were compliance regulations being met or did the companies fall short and allow this exploit of patients' protected health information to be possible?


One of the main challenges that hospitals face is extraordinarily constraining budgets. There are all sorts of mandates from the government and industry organizations that are pushing them, and cybersecurity is not prioritized in budget allocation. There's a huge challenge with hospitals investing strategically in cybersecurity resources.

Hospitals have gotten a lot of vendor fatigue. What's happened is that oftentimes they're not looking towards the next generation technology, the technology that they need to protect electronic health records, because there's so much information being presented to them that they don't know what to look at and what not to look at.

What advice can you offer to healthcare providers and other businesses to prevent these types of exploits from happening in the future?

An extraordinarily small fraction of healthcare companies' budgets -- 5% -- is spent on cybersecurity. Other companies with less sensitive information, such as financial institutions, spend about 12-15% of their budget on cybersecurity. Healthcare is the most popular target for hackers. Companies have to educate their workforce on security and privacy and why healthcare data is so valuable.

Are there any particular cybersecurity strategies that are proving effective against deep web exploits? How can companies best protect business and customer information from them?

One of the really important things is to have a C-suite and board of director level buy-in for cybersecurity. The most successful organizations we work with have a direct line of communication that allows the security and privacy groups to communicate with the board and C-suite to set goals and communicate cybersecurity strategies.

Source : searchcompliance

Categorized in Deep Web

Law enforcement agencies have been scouring the dark web in search of digital breadcrumbs to curb criminal activity. Terbium Labs, a company focusing on dark web data intelligence, has been working on a project called Matchlight. This dark web data intelligence tool is now globally available, and there is a high chance it will affect data theft as well as the sale of hacked credentials.


The name Matchlight may ring a bell for some people, as a beta version of this toolkit has been available since June of 2015. It did not take long for security firms to show an interest in this project, as Matchlight is highly efficient. The primary objective of this tool is to keep information safe at any given time, and Terbium Labs have developed in-house solutions to do so.

To put things into perspective, detecting an information breach on the dark web takes an average of 200 days. In most cases a data theft goes by unnoticed for a year or longer. Even then it still takes a lot of money, human resources, and research to not only track down stolen information but improve overall company security at the same time.

Matchlight is capable of doing all of this at a fraction of the cost, which is part of the reason why the project proved to be such a success from day one of the beta. But there is more, as this toolkit detects information breaches within minutes and is very accurate while doing so. Up until this point no major false positives have been recorded using the toolkit, which is a positive sign.

Now that Matchlight has been made available to the general public, data breaches will hopefully become a thing of the past. Enterprises can even customize this toolkit to suit their individual needs as well as ensure compatibility with other security solutions they may have in place already.

Under the hood the Matchlight toolkit scans the dark web for any information it has been programmed to detect. This can range from specific documents to digital signatures attached to data. In fact, this program can scan every nook and cranny of the entire deep web for vital information rather than just going through the top marketplaces where information may be sold.

While it remains to be seen how successful this tool can be, the prospect of monitoring thedeep web around the clock at a small cost should excite a lot of companies. Given the number of data breaches recently, solutions like these can make a significant impact. Mainly companies with limited resources may want to check out this project and see what it can do for their business.

Source : themerkle

Categorized in Deep Web

For years, researchers have discussed how the “anonymizing” various companies claim to perform on the data they gather is poor and can be easily reversed. Over the last few years, we’ve seen multiple companies respond to these problems by refusing to continue anonymizing data at all. Verizon kicked things offbut Vizio has gone down this route as well, and now we know Google has — or, at the very least, has reserved the right to do so.

According to an investigation at Pro Publica, Google has quietly changed its privacy policy at some point over the last few months. When Google bought the advertising firm DoubleClick a few years back, it promised to keep all data gathered by DoubleClick sandboxed and isolated from the data it gathered elsewhere and used for other Google services. The company has since changed the wording of its privacy policy, as shown below:

Google has stated it doesn’t use the information gleaned from Gmail scanning to target ads to specific people, but it’s not clear what this means for its other services. Google tracks a great deal of information and its email keyword scanning is just one business area. Previously, Google’s privacy policy contained a hard line of what it would and would not do. Google has replaced that flat guarantee with a weasel-word “depending on your settings” statement that hides behind the word “may.”

Speaking of those settings, Google does have a “Privacy Checkup” tool that you can use to hide certain data from being tracked or gathered. It’s generally well-designed, but for one major example, shown below. Play a game with yourself if you like — see if you can spot the problem before you read further:

img class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-238094" src="https://www.extremetech.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Google-Privacy-640x477.png" alt="Google-Privacy" width="640" height="477" srcset="https://www.extremetech.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Google-Privacy-640x477.png 640w, /

This is a perfect example of what’s known as a dark pattern. A dark pattern is a pattern designed to trick you into choosing the “right” option, where “right” is defined as “What the company wants you to pick,” as opposed to what you actually want. In this case, boxes are checked by default and you uncheck them to hide information. But if you uncheck the box labeled “Don’t feature my publicly shared Google+ photos as background images on Google products & services,” you’re actually giving Google permission to use your name and profile to advertise products. Google flipped the meaning of the checkbox to make it more likely that someone not reading carefully would click the wrong option.

But what’s really interesting to me is that the word “Don’t” is bolded. You bold something you want to draw attention to — and that’s pretty much the opposite of how a dark pattern works. Huge organizations are much less monolithic than they appear from the outside, and I suspect that what we see here is a tale of two opinions, played out in a single checkbox. By reversing what checking the option does, Google made it more likely that you would give it permission to use your personal likeness and data for advertising. By bolding the word “Don’t,” Google made it more likely that you’d realize what the box did and set the setting appropriately.

In any case, Google’s decision to stop anonymizing data should be serious, but there’s not much chance people will treat it that way. To-date, people have largely been uninterested in the ramifications of giving corporations and governments 24/7 permission to monitor every aspect of their lives, even when it intrudes into private homes or risks chilling freedom of speech.

Source : extremetech

Categorized in Internet Privacy

There is an inverse relationship between public access to the Internet and the inability of governments and institutions to control information flow and hence state allegiance, ideology, public opinion, and policy formulation.

Increase in public access to the Internet results in an equivalent decrease in government and institutional power. Indeed, after September 11, 2001, Internet traffic statistics show that many millions of Americans have connected to alternative news sources outside the continental United States. The information they consume can be and often is contrary to US government statements and US mainstream media reporting. 

Information is a strategic resource vital to national security. US Government efforts to understand and engage key audiences to create, strengthen, or preserve conditions favorable for the advancement of USG interests, policies, and objectives through coordinated programs, plans, themes, messages, and products synchronized with the actions of all elements of national power: Diplomacy, Intelligence, Military, Economic, Finance, Law Enforcement, Information… The DOD must also support and participate in USG Strategic C communications activities to understand, inform, and influence relevant foreign audiences, including the DOD’s transition to and from hostilities, security, military forward presence, and stability operations. US Army Unconventional Warfare Manual, 2008

In the early 1990s scores of studies were conducted by the US government, think tanks, consulting firms, defense contractors, futurists and military thinkers on the likely threats to the US military’s electronic communications systems. Those analyses often encompassed commercial networked systems.

For example, in May 1993 Security Measures for Wireless Communications was released under the auspices of the US National Communications System. Not long after, the same office published The Electronic Intrusion Threat to National Security and Emergency Preparedness in December 1994. During June 1995 a conference, co-sponsored by the Technical Marketing Society of America, was held. That event was titled Information Warfare: Addressing the Revolutionary New Paradigm for Modern Warfare.

Then as now the most pernicious and non-life threatening cyber-attacks normally resulted in the theft of identities and, perhaps, intellectual property to which ‘experts’ would assign dollar values. Other network, computer assaults were visited upon databases containing personal information producing headaches for the individuals who had to get new credit cards or revise identities. Embarrassment was the penalty for commercial organizations too cheap to invest in robust electronic security systems.

I Love New York

Information Operations have not taken place (yet) resulting in large scale, life-threatening fallout, but the 1977 New York City blackout provides some clues as to what might result from a successful cyber assault on a power grid. Those initially responsible for the Black Out were bolts of lightning from a thunderstorm that repeatedly struck a Consolidated Edison facility. Redundancies built into the grid that did not function and aging equipment and operator error led to the loss of power.  Observers were already thinking about rudimentary network centric themes even then as The Trigger Effect from the 1978 series Connections by James Burke demonstrates.

It is difficult to say with any certainty if, over the last 23 years, competently secured US military networks have been successfully compromised by electronic intrusions by noted Information Warfare nations Russia, China and Israel seeking to steal classified, compartmented data or Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance technologies. That information is not likely to ever see the light of day, classified as it should be.

Certainly, US military websites and other government organizations have been hacked successfully over the years resulting in detrimental data spills and website defacement. But these do not rise to the level of national security threat; instead, they are clear cut cases of robbery and vandalism and should be viewed from a civilian law enforcement perspective.

Insiders Have Done More Damage to US National Security

It is worth noting that, to date, the most serious breaches of US national and military security have come at the hands of disillusioned US citizens like Jonathan Pollard (US Navy) and Richard Hansen (FBI) who lifted paper documents from secure facilities, and Edward Snowden (NSA & Booz Allen) who downloaded electronic files to his storage devices.

As far as anyone knows, the electromagnetic waves emanating from a computer display have not been remotely manipulated by a state or non-state actor to kill or maim a person looking at the display. But transmitting retroviral software at some distance, or using an intelligence operative to insert destructive code via a flash drive, is known to have been successful in the US-led operation against Iran as theStuxent case demonstrated.

Recent electronic intrusions and theft of data/images from the non-secured private accounts of former NATO commander General Phillip Breedlove, USAF (Ret.); Andrew Weiner (sexting former politician from New York) or General Colin Powell, USA (Ret.) are generally served up by hackers and then picked up as news by US Big Media and Social Media. Humiliating as it is for the individuals involved, this nefarious CYBER-vandalism is not a national security matter, but it is used, gleefully, by any number of political interest groups and businesses for their own ends.

In like manner, the Sony, Democratic National Committee and Yahoo electronic break-ins, for example, are not national security incidents by any stretch of the imagination. Were they criminal actions and embarrassing for the victims? Yes. Did the information peddled by the hackers influence the public in some fashion? Sure. If sponsors of the hackers are from Russia, China, Iran, DPRK, Daesh, Israel or any other cyber-suspect, should they be exposed and brought to justice? Yes.

Should we nuke them or carpet bomb them? No.

It is problematic that politico-military strategists and tacticians, spurred on by any number of think tanks and CYBER hustlers in Washington, DC and New York (Atlantic CouncilNew York Times), have pushed the robbery of data/information and vandalism, or defacement of main-page websites into a crisis that threatens the nation’s stability. More’s the pity,  they have pasted CYBER over Information Warfare and have meshed it with Asymmetric Warfare and Unconventional Warfare not recognizing the differences and nuances.

CYBER Influence Peddlers: Pest Control Needed

CYBER enthusiasts at the Atlantic Council and the New York Times see foreign news agencies like Xinhua/People’s Daily, Press TV, RT, Sputnik News and Hezbollah, which all broadcast news and information with their brand of spin, as demonic CYBER influence peddlers who are corrupting the American national consciousness by engaging in perception management techniques in an attempt to electronically captivate American audiences and turn them, well, to the “dark side.”

Iran’s Press TV Internet traffic statistics show it is ranked 26,598 with 28 percent of its visits coming from the United States.  RT is ranked 446 in the world with 18 percent of its visitors from the US. Sputnik News is 1410 with 8 percent of its visitors from the US.  Xinhua is ranked 25,000 with about 3 percent visiting from the US and the People’s Daily does not even rank.

In this dark CYBER world, the unemployed and disaffected youth bulges (but why are they jobless and disenchanted), social miscreants and American citizens will populate evil foreign websites and after viewing assorted marketing/propaganda they will by Pepsi instead of Coke; whoops, I meant to say join the Islamic State or the Chinese Communist Party; move to Russia; or take in the Hezbollah website (no ranking on the Internet).

What this says, in part, is that those pushing CYBER fear have unwittingly indicted the United States and its people of idiocy. They seem to be saying that the American people have been ill served by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, educational institutions and the government and the citizenry is but a collective of dolts incapable of sorting through information pushed out of non-Western media outlets. In the United States, the First Amendment makes sure that all-points of view can be aired on the premise that the American people have the ability to harvest information and distinguish between info-crap and ‘actionable’ info that can be turned into positive knowledge for civil good.

What is there to fear from comparatively small state backed-foreign news outlets? So they spin news or publish opinions contrary to the US narrative. So what? How is that any different from left and right wing publications in the United States that take down US civilian and military institutions? The American public can handle all of this. The CYBER Fear pushers further display their ignorance by assuming that the US national security machinery has not done enough to protect the enfeebled American public from opinions emanating from non-Western sources. The CYBER chicken-littles believe too, that the US military and those in charge of America’s critical infrastructure sets do not understand the gravity of the CYBER Danger.


Sleep Well

As the US Army’s Unconventional Warfare Manual and scores of US military CYBER commands,  and doctrinal publications make clear, the US national security community has been pushing the CYBER matter hard. It has engaged in the less public relations friendly issues like mathematics and encryption, physically securing communications nodes and networks, creating honeypots to attract hackers, digital forensics (breaking into secure hard drives, software) and working with civilian counterparts, sometimes controversially, to secure communications networks.

For those worried about the US government’s ability to listen to adversaries, allies, the public, whomever,  the Snowden document dumps show just how deep the National Security Agency’s wormhole goes. Either you’re of the mind that this grossly oversteps the US government’s authority, or maybe the nation is better off with the NSA playing God, or, like most, you just don’t care.

The US capabilities to tap transoceanic communications cables or satellite communications are well known.

The seriousness with which the US national security community views CYBER can be noted in this comment from a Defense Science Board study on CYBER Existentialism

While the manifestation of a nuclear and cyber attack are very different, in the end, the existential impact to the United States is the same. Existential Cyber Attack is defined as an attack that is capable of causing sufficient wide scale damage for the government potentially to lose control of the country, including loss or damage to significant portions of military and critical infrastructure: power generation, communications, fuel and transportation, emergency services, financial services, etc.

And just a quasi authoritative US government body claims there is a real danger of an existential CYBER attack, the First Amendment allows a rapier like response from a former government official musing on the fallout from the collapse of electronically connected networks whether by CYBER Attack, lightening bolts or human error.

Cyber Warfare, Cyber Security and massive Cyber Attacks are alarmist and vastly overrated. Look at what went on in Cyprus in 2013. What could trigger a run on the banks in the United States? Something as simple as shutting down all the ATM’s for three days. The resulting panic and long bank lines could irrevocably shake confidence in banks and financial institutions, as Americans find out the significance of all the paperwork they signed when they established their banks accounts, fed by direct deposits. Since many in the country know what the country was like before personal computers and the Internet, they’ll do fine. Those people who have exchanged their hearts and brains for computer chips manufactured in Vietnam, and are tethered to Smart Phones and the Cloud, are due for a very rude awakening. You’ve heard of sleeper agents and moles haven’t you? I wonder how many sleeper programs are in the millions of computer chips that are now in every single facet of our lives.

The original source of this article is Global Research

Categorized in Internet Privacy

A new London-based search engine, Oscobo just launched promising an anonymous searching experience on a platform that won’t sell or store user information.

Having spent 12 years working at Yahoo, co-founder Fred Cornell says he has seen for himself how the search engine industry harvests user data for financial gain.

Cornell was inspired to start Oscobo after growing uncomfortable with the lack user privacy offered by the leading search engines. He argues more data is being collected with what is needed, and people are starting to become more concerned about how that data is used.

The privacy search market is growing at a faster rate than the regular search market, Cornell says, likely referring to the successes of DuckDuckGo over the past year. Just recently it was reported that DuckDuckGo grew 70% over 2015, and this past summer it reached the milestone of 10 million searches per day.

Oscobo aims to be the UK’s answer to DuckDuckGo — a privacy-based search engine built for the UK market. While anyone can use Oscobo, at this time it is built to deliver results for a UK audience. Throughout 2016 the company will roll its search engine out to more countries, along with country-specific search settings for those countries.

At this time, Oscobo does not have any of its own search technology. Instead, it is licensing its search index from Bing/Yahoo. This is an indication that Oscobo does not intend to compete on tech, but rather on its ability to offer a more private searching experience.

The privately-funded company intends to make money through what it describes as simple paid search. Its paid search ads will rely on the most basic search data — what a person types into the query box.

Being London-based, Oscobo has a unique advantage in the privacy search market: it cannot be forced to provide user data at any point. US-based search engines can be forced to provide data on its users to law enforcement.

Oscobo is live and available to use today at Oscobo.co.uk.

Source : https://www.searchenginejournal.com/oscobo/153341/

Categorized in Internet Privacy

The FCC’s privacy regulations will be ineffective.

Letter to the editor:

Consumers are growing increasingly concerned about online tracking and privacy protection. In response, the Federal Communications Commission has proposed sweeping new privacy rules specifically on Internet service providers. But, as USA TODAY’s story “They really are watching you: Web tracking surges with online ads” makes clear, it is the huge advertising networks of social and search companies that are really tracking us everywhere we go.

Strangely, the FCC has refused to get involved in privacy matters of Pokémon Go or any other phone application, search engine, social network or streaming video provider. The new privacy proposal is a half measure that only regulates the Internet provider but not the content we visit every day. That’s where the big bucks are made from harvested personal information — location, email, browsing and buying habits and more.

The FCC’s privacy regulations will be ineffective and, by promising protections that aren’t really there, dangerous.

Drew Johnson, Protect Internet Freedom; Las Vegas


We asked our followers if they would stop using their favorite websites or phone apps if they were collecting personal information. Tweets edited for clarity and grammar:

Let them have it! The more they know about me, the less crappy ads I’ll see.

— @_ONeill_

They’re welcome to collect whatever info they want. However, I deserve the right to block and collect theirs as well.

— @johnx1doe

Depends on the info. I expect most websites are collecting, and I would push for more stringent privacy and data sharing legislation.

— @JJGolding0

Stop using these sites.

— @NRG_64

Source : http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/08/23/phone-giving-away-information-tellusatoday/89220888/

Categorized in Internet Technology
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