Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues October 8 2018

Subject: New Research Can Identify Extremists Online, Even Before They Post Dangerous Content
Source: Forensic Magazine

New research has found a way to identify extremists, such as those associated with the terrorist group ISIS, by monitoring their social media accounts, and can identify them even before they post threatening content. The research, “Finding Extremists in Online Social Networks,” which was recently published in the INFORMS journal Operations Research, was conducted by Tauhid Zaman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Lieutenant Colonel Christopher E. Marks, U.S. Army; and Jytte Klausen of Brandeis University

The number and size of online extremist groups using social networks to harass users, recruit new members, and incite violence is rapidly increasing. While social media platforms are working to combat this (in 2016, Twitter reported it had shut down 360,000 ISIS accounts) they traditionally rely heavily on users’ reports to identify these accounts. In addition, once an account has been suspended, there is little that can be done to prevent a user from opening up a new account, or multiple accounts.

Using statistical modeling of extremist behavior with optimized search policies and actual ISIS user data, the researchers developed a method to predict new extremist users, identify if more than one account belongs to the same user, as well as predict network connections of suspended extremist users who start a new account.

Digital Forensics topic:

Subject: Facebook accidentally blocks stories regarding security breach
Source: Digital Trends

Facebook had a PR mishap yesterday as it was reported that the company’s spam filters prevented users from posting stories related to a recent security breach. Facebook has since fixed the issue and clarified that it was an accident.

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Subject: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life
Source: Rand via beSpacific

Rand: Truth Decay – An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life: Over the past two decades, national political and civil discourse in the United States has been characterized by “Truth Decay,” defined as a set of four interrelated trends: an increasing disagreement about facts and analytical interpretations of facts and data; a blurring of the line between opinion and fact; an increase in the relative volume, and resulting influence, of opinion and personal experience over fact; and lowered trust in formerly respected sources of factual information. These trends have many causes, but this report focuses on four: …

beSpacific Subjects:
Congress, Education, Government Documents, Internet, Knowledge Management, Social Media

Rand article Related Topics:


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Subject: Facebook Reportedly Defeats Government Demand to Wiretap Messenger Calls
Source: Gizmodo

A joint federal-state task force tracking the MS-13 gang tried and failed to force Facebook to help it wiretap calls made through its Messenger app, Reuters reported on Friday, even launching an unsuccessful attempt to hold the social media titan in contempt of court for refusing to do so. Reuters reported that a federal judge in Fresno, California sided with Facebook, though the proceedings are still sealed and the reasoning behind the ruling remains unclear. However, the news agency added that telecommunications law requires telcos and phone companies give access to phone lines to authorities with a warrant but exempts “many apps that rely solely on internet infrastructure” like Messenger, which runs over cellular data connections or wi-fi.

Oher FB articles on Gizmodo:

Subject: School security companies sell ‘school hardening’ to prevent shootings
Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Most everyone agrees that schools can be more secure with layers of protection, such as perimeter fencing, limited entrances, and classroom hiding spaces.

But there’s no independent research supporting claims that much of the high-tech hardware and gadgets schools are buying will save lives, according to two 2016 reports prepared for the US Justice Department.

There also are no widely accepted standards for school building security, as there are for plumbing and fire protection systems. That has not stopped industry representatives from rushing in, as they did in past high-profile shootings, some stoking fears that “soft target” schools could suffer terrorist attacks or negligence lawsuits.

RSS site feed for CSM USA:

Subject: Google intern built the AI behind these shockingly good fake images
Source: Fast Company via beSpacific

Fast Company: “For years, artists and researchers have been experimenting with training neural networks to generate images that look real. But most of them look like strangely distorted, grotesque caricatures of how a computer thinks the world looks. No longer. Over the weekend, a Google intern and two researchers from Google’s DeepMind division released a paper, currently under review for a 2019 conference, featuring AI-generated images that blow everything else out of the water. Based on the small thumbnails, it’s almost impossible to tell that they’re not real images: There’s a chestnut-colored dog with his tongue hanging out, a beautiful ocean vista, a monarch butterfly, and a juicy hamburger complete with melted cheese and a bun that looks like it was brushed with butter. The textures of the images, from the dog’s fur to the hamburger’s juices, are incredibly realistic, with careful study revealing only tiniest of tells that the image isn’t a real one…”

Subjects: AI, Internet, Knowledge Management

Subject: FTC Issues Alert on Recent Facebook Breach
Source: FTC via HS US-CERT

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has released an alert to provide Facebook users with recommended precautions against identity theft after the recent breach of the Facebook social media platform. NCCIC encourages users and administrators to review the FTC Alert and the NCCIC Tip on Preventing and Responding to Identity Theft. If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, visit the FTC’s identity theft website to make a report.


Tagged with: data breach
Blog Topics:Privacy, Identity & Online Security

Subject: Tim Cook on Apple’s view on privacy: ‘One of the most important issues of the 21st century’
Source: Vice News via Silicon Valley Business Journal

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook sat down with Vice News on Tuesday and talked about the Cupertino-based company’s commitment to its users’ privacy. And he also offered some insights into why Apple banned controversial alt-news personality Alex Jones.  For more, click here, here and here to see full coverage from Vice News about its interview with the Apple CEO.

Posted in: AI, Congress, Cybersecurity, Education, Privacy, Social Media