Google, Amnesia, and Virtual Space

Google, Amnesia, and Virtual Space

Last week, Google was reported to be expanding the right of Europeans to be forgotten on the Internet to domains outside their countries.

Google will have a list of people for whom Google has granted “the right to be forgotten.” These people, when searched from European IP addresses, will turn up zero links, regardless of which version of Google is used for the search.

ecjThis final detail is of significance because previously such links could easily be found despite their being blocked in European versions of Google. A European user could simply go to a site like google.com instead of google.de or google.fr, perform the same search of someone who had been granted right-to-be-forgotten privileges, and see the results that were blocked from the Google of their home countries.

This process all began when the European Court of Justice ordered Google to honor right-to-be-forgotten requests back in 2014.

Internet users whose IP addresses imply that they are outside of Europe will continue to have access to whatever results may be floating around the internet, despite the right-to-be-forgotten.

European regulators aren’t necessarily satisfied with this decision, but most think it’s a step in the right direction.

“It seems to be right in line with their demands,” French Caldwell, chief evangelist at MetricStream commented.

Adam Holland is the project coordinator for the Lumen Project at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University; he also believes that the decision will benefit our world of young and chaotic internet law: “It’s a good step forward…. They’ve been asking Google to take this step for quite some time, so at least on its face, Google is moving closer to what the European regulators have been asking for. As to whether it will satisfy them, I couldn’t say because it isn’t always clear what they see the endgame as being.”

ecj2Of course, it’s not as if those with the right-to-be-forgotten actually shield themselves against more than the most casual and disinterested of efforts to find links regarding them; the rest of the world still has access to search engines in full, and even in Europe a citizen must only go to the trouble of using a virtual private network (which masks the user’s IP address) to regain access to normal Google.

In fact, accessing right-to-be-forgotten links could be as easy as using another search engine.

“Since EU citizens must petition each search engine separately, it’s possible to use other search engines to find the information,” stated Caldwell. “That’s one of the bizarre characteristics of the ECJ’s decision to put the burden on the search engine comp any rather than at the source with the content owner… The content is still out there on the Web, and the Web never forgets.”

The debate bring to light various questions regarding internet censorship that remain to be sorted out.

“What I see generally happening is the desire of specific jurisdictions to impose their laws on search engines within their territory,” claimed attorney with Morris, Polich & Purdy Timothy J. Toohey. “That is a general trend and one that those who believe in the internet as a free form of communication across boundaries are distressed about.”

 

Read More

DARPA Seeks Brain-Computer Link

DARPA Seeks Brain-Computer Link

DARPA (The United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) announced last week that it hopes to create a way to build a direct connection between the human brain and a computer.

brain computer linkThe program has been titled the Neural Engineering System Design program and its leaders have invited researchers to submit proposals for how best to design, build, demonstrate and validate a human-computer link that would record the activity of over 1 million neurons and stimulate more than 100 thousand neurons in the brain.

The NESD hopes to engineer an interface that can perform continuous, simultaneous full-duplex interaction with at least 1,000 neurons. This project would initially focus on regions in the human auditory, visual and somatosensory cortex.

DARPA has stated that devices that yield from NESD would likely be used to compensate for sight or hearing deficits. However, considering there is a very hushed race towards the advancement of killer robots controlled at a distance by soldiers, one can only imagine where any successfully developed neuro-computer interface would sprout up within the defense sector.

The NESD project also brings to mind the notorious 2045 Initiative, a transhumanist aspiration that refers to the attempt to make it possible for human beings to upload their consciousness to the cloud by 2045. Integral to this success would be the in-depth mapping of the brain and its neural activities, which would then need to be recreated digitally. The $60 million that DARPA is offering for multiple quality NESD proposals will likely make that initiative more sought after than ever, though that doesn’t mean that it is more likely.

brain compute rlink2Several technologists and philosophers have stated their doubts about the ability to fully map and digitize the human brain to the point that there could be a fluid connection between a brain and a computer. The successful creation of this connection would necessitate that the indecipherable code of non-linear movements of billions of neurons be accurately mapped and recreated.

DARPA has stated that the proposals it will choose will be innovative as opposed to incremental, and that the device created should measure one cubic centimeter and perform the read, write and full-duplex functions stated earlier. They must also be secure from spoofing, tampering, and attacks from hackers. They must be able to work without external links or connectors for powering of facilitating communications with computers, and their hardware components must be modular.

So what’s the rationale behind asking for such an insane and potentially impossible task to be performed?

“The brain is probably the last medical threshold we haven’t been able to cross with medical devices,” explained the global director of visionary healthcare at Frost & Sullivan, Venkat Rajan. “Treating a lot of degenerative disorders- whether related to pain, Parkinson’s disease, mental health, or vision problems- with drugs hasn’t necessarily always worked… The brain is just a circuit, and if you can interfere with it with microelectronics and address issues, that can be a significant improvement in the quality of life.”

The “brain is just a circuit” philosophy certainly does imply that such technology is just a research assignment from being deciphered, but believers that consciousness may just be a little more complicated than that will likely not hold their breath for DARPA’s project to come through.

Read More

Security Flaw Surfaces in Blackphone

Security Flaw Surfaces in Blackphone

Sentinel One security researchers recently uncovered a major security flaw in the Blackphone, a member of Android’s supposedly highly secure Silent Circle smartphone line. The line was developed and marketed in response to the growing news of increased government surveillance of consumers’ private communications. The phones have been taking preorders since 2014.

The flaw involved a socket which allowed attackers to potentially take over and control communications on the device. “Despite best attempts, a severe zero day remained undetected for nearly a year before we uncovered it,” explained Tim Strazzere.

Silent Circle logo. (PRNewsFoto/Silent Circle)

Despite the irony of the device’s vulnerability, there is little to no evidence that any exploitation of the zero day had occurred before the researchers discovered it. This is in part due to the fact that the open socket is accessible on the Nvidia Icera modem, which is a “fairly obscure” device used only by the Nvidia Shield tablet and some devices in India. Hackers would have to know about not only the new phone but the obscure modem, limiting the amount of people with the technological know-how likely to discover the issue on their own.

Sentinel One discovered the vulnerability during a reverse engineering exercise it uses to prepare training groups for a Red Naga training session.

That said, attackers that know what they’re looking for could create an application that exploits the vulnerability, allowing them to send and receive texts, dial or connect calls, and change settings without the user’s knowledge.

Upon being notified of the vulnerability by SentinelOne, Silent Circle confirmed and the issue and patched it up.

But how did this issue slip past Silent Circle manufacturers?

“It’s possible the socket was led open for debugging purposes in preproduction and was mistakenly left that way in production devices,” speculated Strazzere.

sentinal oneAlmost all mobile makers use third-party technology, and their hardware and software components “are part of the supply chain for mobile device manufacturers and represent a significant risk,” according to Tripwire director of IT security and risk strategy Tim Erlin. Erlin claims that providing security assurance for both hardware and software “has really been limited to high-level government equipment, so there are few assurance operations [for] the consumer goods market.”

In other words, because third-party providers have to be granted access to privileged information regarding internal infrastructure and sensitive data, mass-producing highly secure devices becomes a lot harder; it’s much easier for information regarding how the devices are kept secure and what vulnerabilities the devices might have to be leaked.

One potential solution was offered by Istvan Svabo, the product manager at BalaBit. He believes that if all activities that occur when third parties access internal systems are monitored, security issues could be avoided.

The monitoring “gives the movie device producer the ability to detect and immediately terminate sessions if something suspicious occurs… and provides important evidence to help investigations should an incident occur,” he explained.

Another option could involve utilizing a behavioral-based technology used to detect, prevent, and remediate against attacks. SentinelOne uses the technology already and recommends it to device manufacturers concerned with maintaining security.

 

Read More

A Virtual Roller Coaster Ride Worries Investors

A Virtual Roller Coaster Ride Worries Investors

The value of bitcoins has been one of the most turbulent storms of the 21st century- some investors made huge amounts of money simply by buying bitcoins early (in 2009 one man famously bought 5,000 bitcoins for $27) and selling them a few years later. There was a point in 2013 when bitcoins rose in value to the point that they were over $1000 each. Nowadays, they each cost a little over $400. This article will narrate the ride that bitcoin enthusiasts have undergone, in hopes of better understanding what’s to come.

Bitcoins are more legitimate now than they were years ago, but they still have a ways to go. Speculators have no idea how this unprecedented currency will turn out (it’s actually not totally unprecedented, but attempts at creating a virtual currency system like eCash have never been as successful). This is partly why the projected value continues to rise and fall in such an insane progression; people keep changing their minds.

bitcoin value graphIn 2010, one bitcoin cost mere pennies. By mid-2011, a bitcoin’s value had risen to as high as $30. By New Year’s Eve of that year, the bitcoin had dropped again, now only worth $2 each.

Suddenly in 2012, the bitcoin made a strange and remarkable recovery, launching its value all the way up to $260 before crashing yet again, to just below $100. At every twist and turn of this price spike people were making and losing fortunes.

The rise of the bitcoin reminded many people of the all-too-recent economic collapse of 2008. People began to warn that the bitcoin phenomenon was nothing more than a bubble waiting to pop. Others were unimpressed by the fact that bitcoins still necessitated online currency exchanges for users that wanted to purchase products and services that didn’t accept bitcoins. This meant that government agencies and hackers could exploit the transfer process, no matter what bitcoin said about its positive attributes.

These attacks occurred commonly enough and were generally staged against popular exchange sites. A widely used site called Mt. Gox was hacked and made unusable to almost all users, causing a huge insecurity regarding the value of bitcoins and therefore the value of bitcoins dropped tremendously.

Another issue with bitcoin: you have to keep your bitcoins in bitcoin accounts, applications which are just as susceptible to the ups and downs of bitcoin values as bitcoin users. That means if the value of bitcoins drops far enough, the applications themselves go down in flames, taking even more bitcoin owners’ property off the market and reducing the bitcoin economy by that much more.

silk road dudeWhat is bolstering the bitcoin and saving it every time its value plunges? Some would argue that the bitcoin’s highly compatible nature with organized crime has kept it alive and well to this day. Because bitcoins allow users to transfer funds anonymously and are fundamentally anarchist, they make all kinds of international illegal activity possible. From online gambling to the Silk Road, bitcoins allow for people to use their money exactly how they want to, without worry about government regulation. People use bitcoins to hire kidnappers, assassins, classified information and credit card information.

Only time will tell if libertarian beliefs or thriving underground trade will be enough to allow for the bitcoin to remain afloat.

Read More

The Internet: Packets, Routers and Reliability

The Internet: Packets, Routers and Reliability

The sheer amount of information zooming around the internet is astounding; how is it that so much information can be sent from device to device so reliably?

For example, say you’re using Spotify to listen to your favorite artist. It may seem like your device hooks up directly to Spotify’s servers, which then provide you with tasty jams. However, the data that makes up your sick beats actually follows a path way more complicated than that.

If the internet were made of direct, dedicated connections, it would be impossible to keep any system functioning as more and more new users join, especially since there’s no guarantee that every wire and device is working correctly all the time. Consider if the US Postal Service were run in this fashion; a huge amount of infrastructure would be necessary for every single person to have a direct sending route to every single other person in the country, and if one employee is sick for one day, that means that route is completely inaccessible to the two households involved.

Instead, data travels in a much less direct fashion.

As Vint Cerf explained to Khan academy, “Bob [Khan] and I had the responsibility and the opportunity to design the internet’s protocols and its architecture, so we persisted in participating in the internet’s growth and evolution for all of this time up to and including the present.”

“The way information gets transferred from one computer to another is pretty interesting; it need not follow a fixed path. In fact, your path may change in the midst of a computer to computer conversation.

LA bpInformation on the internet goes from one computer to another in what we call a packet of information, and a packet travels from one place to another on the internet a lot like how you might get from one place to another in a car. Depending on traffic, congestion, or road conditions, you might choose or be forced to take a different route to get to the same place each time you travel.”

He goes on to explain that also similar to car travel, IP packets can carry a lot of different kinds of things, but there’s a limit in size. If a large enough object needs to be transported, it’s broken down into different IP packets, which then may travel in all kinds of different ways to arrive at the same destination. The pieces are then reassembled at that location.

The particular pathways that the packets take are determined by routers. They keep track of the many different paths that the data packets associated with one photo might take. It chooses the cheapest available path for each piece of data based on the destination IP address of the packet.

Cheapest here doesn’t mean cost, but rather time and the most graceful path in given non-technical factors like politics and the relationships between companies. These factors can make the optimum path differ from the most direct one.

TCP bpThese path options help to make the network fault tolerant, meaning if there’s an issue, there’s also a way to bypass that issue.

This is the basis for the internet’s reliability!

Another factor: TCP or Transition Control Protocol. When you send a song comprised of information held in multiple information packets, TCP does a full inventory of every received packet on the internet to make sure that all of the packets were sent and the song can be expected to play perfectly. If they’re not all there, it notifies the sender that the message failed to send.

Read More

Moving Past Gas; Can Lithium-Air Batteries be the Answer?

Moving Past Gas; Can Lithium-Air Batteries be the Answer?

Scientists at Cambridge University may have finally figured out how to engineer a functional and cost-effective lithium-air battery that can replace gas as the main power source for personal vehicles.

A lithium-air battery, like all batteries, has three basic parts; a cathode (or positive terminal), an anode (or negative terminal) and an electrolyte. Ions generate a current when they move between the terminals by way of the electrolyte.lithium air battery

Lithium-air batteries use oxygen extracted from the air as a reactant in its cell’s positive terminal, while using lithium for the negative terminal . Because the material in the cathode (positive terminal) is actually external to the cell, Lithium-air batteries are capable of possessing greater gravimetric energy density than previous models.

The design has been described as an “air-breathing batter structure” and is said to have great potential for use in military applications.

In terms of performance, the Lithium-ion batteries can store from 100 watt-hours (wh)/kg to 200 wh/kg. They possess a theoretical energy density of nearly 10,000 Wh/kg.

According to the scientists, the battery could potentially be used for military applications, meaning it may  have a shot at meriting enough funding to become a completed and mass-produced product.

That kind of funding would be necessary to develop the design to the point that it could be commercially viable. Scientists still have to work out a lot of the kinks of air-breathing batteries, though the ones at Cambridge have certainly gone further than any others in that domain.lithium air v lithium ion

They have cover major ground in terms of decreasing the size of the battery while still increasing the amount of energy it can discharge. In comparison with lithium ion cell batteries of a similar size, these scientists’ batteries allegedly have the potential to store up to 10 time more energy.

Although many see this as an exciting sign in terms of taking more gas-fueled cars off the road, lithium-air batteries would revolutionize many different facets of technology. With that kind of battery storage and efficiency, cell phones, computers, generators, mobile wifi hotspots, basically every device could be freed somewhat from the need for incessant charging. This sounds like a pleasant convenience for users in more tech-savy societies, but in countries in rural Africa or South America that lack reliable infrastructure of electricity, increases in battery life for devices can correspond to a serious boost in a population’s quality of life.

“What we’ve achieved is a significant advance for this technology and suggests whole new areas for research – we haven’t solved all the problems inherent to this chemistry, but our results do show routes forward towards a practical device,” said Professor Clare Grey, a professor of Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry. Her team’s findings were published in the Oct. 30 edition of the journal Science.

Considering that Tesla recently signed a deal to purchase somewhat similar batteries from a Korean company, the continuation of Grey’s research is not only of great environmental importance, but potentially very lucrative.

Read More

Use the Android Apps to Boost your Business

Today, most of the teenagers love the Android phones and so this most popularly among people and everyone know about the several functions of Android phones, apart from communication the Android phone used for storing the videos, favorite pictures and videos. Moreover, these precious folders can lost from the android phone on many occasions, but there is no need to get panic of the sudden loss and people don’t bother about the accidentally deleted a data or files when the virus corrupts the files. Once you install the data recovery, then it will assist the restore files successfully. For different reasons, today Android technology rules the world, especially in the mobile market. The android technology gives many advantages and they are using the recent mobiles.

When comes to Android phones, the Android technology becomes a unique innovation. However, this advanced technology act as best medium and software developers create the software and invite applications for the latest phones by using Android technology and although this comes along with the advanced technology and features. Today data loss becomes a common problem, especially on Android devices. So using the best data recovery applications help people to solve the problem of losing data effectively.  The Android applications are very necessity for people, the mobile phone along with these android technology carry out different features such as games, music, social media networking and so on. These all functions are useful for the personal purposes and business. In addition, different application available online for the mobile phone therefore considers the best apps on based on the necessity.

Powerful Android Apps:

The android applications help the user to make the business convenient and easy. Hence, this is one of the excellent device for maintaining the folders and files, so people need to use the best software this highly to recover the complete files from Android phone when loss occurs. Thousands of people across the globe are using the technology of data recovery applications in order to enjoy the benefits which it offers. The most benefits of this application are easy to install and download it from online sites. People want to consider the high demands of the markets today and often some of the people are trying to enhance the business using Android application. This is very easy, especially for Android users that help in getting the details by accessing online. In case, when you face any situation like lost data, then use the appropriate the data recovery.  Unlike laptops, the data recovery is not difficult to recover the important folders from recycle bin, but in mobile device it too easy. During the daunting situations, people want to look for the other methods. These days most of the powerful tools are easily available in the online market from that people can get back the precious data safely and easily using the data recovery tools. Moreover, this software is readily available on all site and strong enough to clean and scan the SD card completely as well as to regain the files that all needed including MMS, photos, videos and audios. The people who are using this software then first know about the technical details.

Read More