March 13, 2008

Microprocessors, Software and Security [12:59 pm]

Does increased computerization necessarily mean a concomitant reduction in security and privacy? A Heart Device Is Found Vulnerable to Hacker Attacks

To the long list of objects vulnerable to attack by computer hackers, add the human heart.

The threat seems largely theoretical. But a team of computer security researchers plans to report Wednesday that it had been able to gain wireless access to a combination heart defibrillator and pacemaker.

They were able to reprogram it to shut down and to deliver jolts of electricity that would potentially be fatal — if the device had been in a person. In this case, the researcher were hacking into a device in a laboratory.

The researchers said they had also been able to glean personal patient data by eavesdropping on signals from the tiny wireless radio that Medtronic, the device’s maker, had embedded in the implant as a way to let doctors monitor and adjust it without surgery.

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Infrastructure and US Innovation [12:41 pm]

Video Road Hogs Stir Fear of Internet Traffic Jam

While experts debate the immediacy of the challenge, they agree that it points to a larger issue. In the Internet era, they say, high-speed networks are increasingly the economic and scientific petri dishes of innovation, spawning new businesses, markets and jobs. If American investment lags behind, they warn, the nation risks losing competitiveness to countries that are making the move to higher-speed Internet access a priority.

“The long-term issue is where innovation happens,” Professor Odlyzko said. “Where will the next Google, YouTube, eBay or Amazon come from?”

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And There’s Still Talk About Amnesty? [12:39 pm]

F.B.I. Made ‘Blanket’ Demands for Phone Records

The bureau appears to have used the blanket records demands at least 11 times in 2006 alone as a quick way to clean up mistakes made over several years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to a letter provided to Congress by a lawyer for an F.B.I. agent who witnessed the missteps.

The F.B.I. has come under fire for its use of so-called national security letters to inappropriately gather records on Americans in terrorism investigations, but details have not previously been disclosed about its use of “blanket” warrants, a one-step operation used to justify the collection of hundreds of phone and e-mail records at a time.

See also Report on F.B.I. Use of Personal Data on the DoJ Inspector General report: A Review of the FBI’s Use of National Security Letters: Assessment of Corrective Actions and Examination of NSL Usage in 2006 (local copy)

Note: HR 3773 (in particular H.Res. 1041) is up for a House vote this afternoon, where tough sledding is anticipated in the face of the President’s continued (pdf) misrepresentation (pdf) of what the bill actually says.

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Belated Recognition [6:53 am]

War against Web tops music biz “screw-ups” list - pdf

But Dick Rowes billion-dollar boo-boo has been beaten to the top spot on Blender magazines list of the “20 biggest record company screw-ups of all time” by the failure of record companies to capitalize on the Internet.

The major labels took top dishonors for driving file-sharing service Napster out of business in 2001, instead of figuring out a way to make money from its tens of millions of users. The downloaders merely scattered to hundreds of other sites, and the industry has been in a tailspin ever since.

“The labels campaign to stop their music from being acquired for free across the Internet has been like trying to cork a hurricane — upward of a billion files are swapped every month on peer-to-peer networks,” Blender said in the report, which appears in its newly published April issue.

The Blender article: 20 Biggest Record Company Screw-Ups of All Timepdf

THE BIGGEST RECORD-COMPANY SCREWUP OF ALL TIME

#1 Major labels squash Napster

Shawn Fanning’s file-sharing service attracted tens of millions of users, but instead of trying to find a way to capitalize on it, the Recording Industry Association of America rejected Napster’s billion-dollar settlement offer and sued it out of existence in 2001. Napster’s users didn’t just disappear. They scattered to hundreds of alternative systems—and new technology has stayed three steps ahead of the music business ever since. The labels’ campaign to stop their music from being acquired for free across the Internet has been like trying to cork a hurricane—upward of a billion files are swapped every month on peer-to-peer networks. Since Napster closed, “there’s been no decline in the rate of online piracy,” says Eric Garland of media analysts BigChampagne, who logged users of son-of-Napster peer-to-peer networks more than doubling between 2002 and 2007. And that figure doubles again if you count BitTorrent.

Unintended consequence Your grandmother deciding to trade up from that dial-up connection

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