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timothy

Techmeology writes "In response to declining utility of CALEA mandated wiretapping backdoors due to more widespread use of cryptography, the FBI is considering a revamped version that would mandate wiretapping facilities in end users' computers and software. Critics have argued that this would be bad for security (PDF), as such systems must be more complex and thus harder to secure. CALEA has also enabled criminals to wiretap conversations by hacking the infrastructure used by the authorities. I wonder how this could ever be implemented in FOSS."

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In the North of Sweden, in Lappland, there is a university spinoff company named BehavioSec that decides you are you (or that a person using your computer is not you) by the way you type. Not the speed, but rhythm and style quirks, are what they detect and use for authentication. BehavioSec CEO/CTO Neil Costigan obviously knows far more about this than we do, which is why Tim Lord met with him at the 2013 RSA Conference and had him tell us exactly how BehavioSec's system works. As usual, we've provided both a video and a transcript (There's a small "Show/Hide Transcript" link immediately below the video) so you can either watch or read, whichever you prefer.

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An anonymous reader writes "Last night before the State of the Union speech, President Obama signed an executive order for improving cybersecurity of critical infrastructure (PDF). The highlights of the order are: 'information sharing programs' for the government to provide threat reports to industry; an overarching cybersecurity framework developed by NIST to figure out best practices for securing critical infrastructure; and reviews of existing regulations to make sure they're effective. The ACLU supports the Order, as does the EFF. '"A lot of what this shows is that the president can do a lot without cybersecurity legislation," said Mark Jaycox, policy analyst and legislative assistant for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who points out that the executive order satisfies the need for information sharing without the privacy problems that existed under legislative proposals where loopholes would have allowed companies to dump large amounts of data on the government in an effort to obtain legal immunities. Without those immunities, companies will by nature be more circumspect about what they provide the government, thus limiting what they hand over, Jaycox said.'"

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CES is about technology of all kinds; while we're busy covering cameras, TVs, and CPUs, there's a huge number of products that fall outside our normal coverage. Austin-based startup TrackingPoint isn't typical Ars fare, but its use of technology to enable getting just the perfect shot was intriguing enough to get me to stop by and take a look at the company's products.

TrackingPoint makes "Precision Guided Firearms, or "PGFs," which are a series of three heavily customized hunting rifles, ranging from a .300 Winchester Magnum with a 22-inch barrel up to a .338 Lapua Magnum with 27-inch barrel, all fitted with advanced computerized scopes that look like something directly out of The Terminator. Indeed, the comparison to that movie is somewhat apt, because looking through the scope of a Precision Guided Firearm presents you with a collection of data points and numbers, all designed to get a bullet directly from point A to point B.


The view through the TrackingPoint's computerized optics. TrackingPoint

The PGF isn't just a fancy scope on top of a rifle. All together, the PGF is made up of a firearm, a modified trigger mechanism with variable weighting, the computerized digital tracking scope, and hand-loaded match grade rounds (which you need to purchase from TrackingPoint). This is a little like selling both the razor and the razor blades, but the rounds must be manufactured to tight tolerances since precise guidance of a round to a target by the rifle's computer requires that the round perform within known boundaries.

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If the thought of a robot apocalypse is keeping you up at night, you can relax. Scientists at Cambridge University are studying the potential problem. From the article: "A center for 'terminator studies,' where leading academics will study the threat that robots pose to humanity, is set to open at Cambridge University. Its purpose will be to study the four greatest threats to the human species - artificial intelligence, climate change, nuclear war and rogue biotechnology."

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Digital Deceit: Jeff Hancock at TEDxWinnipeg

Digital Deceit: Jeff Hancock at TEDxWinnipeg 2012 Deception is one of the most significant and pervasive social phenomena of our age. On average, people tell one to two lies a day, and these lies range from the trivial to the more serious, including deception between friends and family, in the workplace, and in politics. At the same time, information and communication technologies have pervaded almost all aspects of human communication and interaction, from everyday technologies that support interpersonal interactions, such as email and instant messaging, to more sophisticated systems that support organizational interactions. Jeff Hancock is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Communication and Information Science, and co-Director of Cognitive Science at Cornell University. He is currently Chair of the Information Science Department. His work is concerned with understanding they psychological and linguistic aspects of social media, with a particular emphasis on deception, identity, social interaction, and the psychological effects of online interaction. His research is supported by funding from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense, and his work on lying online has been featured in the New York Times, CNN, CBC, NPR, BBC and the CBC documentary The Truth About Lying. Dr. Hancock earned his PhD in Psychology at Dalhousie University, Canada, and joined Cornell in 2002. In thespirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self <b>...</b>
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Hackers-darkness_thumb

Last week, Leon Panetta stoked some fears and drew bloggy jeers when he warned of an incoming “cyber Pearl Harbor.” The gloomy song and dance, which we’ve heard played out so many a time now, made a chorus of hackers’ alleged ability to disrupt transit lines and shut down the power grid. As Motherboard’s Mr. Estes pointed out, the faux-somber debacle was mostly designed to scare folks into supporting the Obama administration’s drive for internet security legislation.

And it might work. After all, we’re innately terrified of a world without electricity at this point; so much so that we’ve created an entire subgenere of fiction, the unplugged dystopia, to imagine its terrors. There’s been a steady drumbeat of forceful warnings of cyber attacks that could “cripple” the US grid: from Obama himself, from the NSA general who said over the summer that the probability of a crisis is mounting, and from the military, who says that Anonymous, the hacker group, would soon be capable of shutting down the entire U.S. electrical grid.

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