Unsupervised Learning Newsletter No. 273

News & Analysis

I spend my time reading 3-6 books a month on security, technology, and society—and thinking about what might be coming next. Every Monday I send out a list of the best content I've found in the last week to around 50,000 people. It'll save you tons of time. 

STANDARD EDITION | EP. 271 | February 22, 2021


The Director of US National Intelligence released his report looking at influences in the 2020 election. It found that Putin directly authorized influence operations designed to keep Trump in office, and that both Russia and Iran attempted to undermine overall confidence in the election process. The report also said China considered running similar operations but decided against it. More

Finland says the hack against their Parliament was from Chinese APT31. More

The FCC is looking to strip three Chinese telecom firms of their US operating licenses for failing to adequately explain their ties to the Chinese government. This comes as follow-up to a US policy of evaluating all Chinese companies for ties to government due to their new policy of merging civilian and military efforts. More

The FBI says over $4.2 billion dollars were lost to cybercrime in 2020. More

DuckDuckGo called out Google a few months back to show what all data they were collecting in Chrome and other apps. Google finally released their report on it, and the amount of data seems pretty extensive. Good on Google for publishing it though. More

The critical F5 BIG-IP flaw from last week is now being actively scanned for and exploited. More

A US-based surveillance contractor called Ulysses says it can identify the current location of any vehicle in most countries other than Cuba and North Korea. The ability is evidently tied to the data capture capabilities of another company called Otonomo, out of Israel, which collects telemetry for 16 OEM car companies, over 40 million vehicles, and sees 4.3 billion data points per day. My question is how easily this data can be tied to individuals. More

Security researcher David Buchanan found a way to hide MP3 and ZIP files inside of PNG images on Twitter using steganography. More


  • There's a critical RCE in MyBB Forum. More

  • Flaws in the WP Super Cache and Elementor WordPress Plugins are affecting over 7 million websites. More

  • Cisco has released updates for an RCE in its Small Business routers. More


  • SecurityScorecard has raised a $180 million dollar Series E. More

  • Vulcan Cyber raises a $21 million Series B for its vulnerability remediation platform. More

  • Coalition, a cybersecurity insurance company, raises $175 million at a $1.7b billion dollar valuation. More

  • HD Moore has raised $5 million in funding for his Rumble asset management software. More


Chinese tech companies are getting pressured by government regulators, and it's causing them to lose value in the market. It appears the Chinese government is growing concerned about the power these companies wield, so they're exerting control via anti-monopoly and competition regulations. More

Nokia is cutting 10,000 jobs worldwide. More


  • Squarespace has raised $300 million at a $10 billion dollar valuation.

  • Torch.ai raises $30 million to consume data from any source and use AI to provide data insights. More


A new study identifies the loss of a substance in the brain called myelin as a major factor for age-related cognitive decline. Myelin has been described as fatty insulation that protects the wiring of the brain. More

Trust in US media has hit a new low, with fewer than half of Americans trusting traditional media. More Visual

Half of US men who identify as Republican say they have no plans to get the COVID vaccine. More

A record 63% of Americans say China is a critical threat to the US. More


Look and Feel Matters More Than Ever For Content Creators — A new members-only post on my thoughts around design and experience becoming a primary filter for consumers. More

More on the COVID Lab-leak Theory— MIT Technology Review has an article out about how the lab-leak theory is refusing to die, and I think with good reason. The way I look at this is from a perspective of politics. Which narrative is extremely unpopular right now with mainstream media? A lab-leak theory that implicates China as a cause, that's what. When there are significant numbers of experts saying something, and they're being significantly squelched, I tend to amplify their likelihood of being right in my own mind. This doesn't mean they are right. It just means they're more likely to be right than is implied by their theory's level of visibility. The other reason I'm willing to entertain this option is that similar things have happened many times before, in many countries, including the US. Again, I still feel very agnostic about the situation. It would not surprise me at all if we learn later that this was completely natural. But it shouldn't surprise you either if it turns out to have come from a lab. Even if it did, this wouldn't be a reason to hate China, or, obviously Chinese people. Again, this has happened many times in the US as well. It's a problem that needs to be addressed everywhere this research is done. More


I'm super excited to be interviewing Amir Majidimehr of Audio Science Review for the show in a week or so. If you have any audiophile questions, please let me know! We're going to be talking about the rising battle between old-school "Subjectivist" audiophiles and Amir's Objectivists, who think wine-like tasting notes without measurements is a waste of time. I'm preparing my questions this week and it's going to be fantastic. More

I am currently reading my friend John Japuntich's book, Atropos, which just released on Audible. Love the setup so far. More 

I finished Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans. Quite a good summary of where the science has been and where it's going. More

Looking to read 2034: A Novel of the Next World War next. More

This month's UL Bookclub Book is We Are Legion (We Are Bob), which I am re-reading before we convene at the end of the month. Come Join Us!


OURA Ring — I've tried a lot of wearables in my time, and other than my watch I've never stuck with one for more than a couple of weeks. The OURA Ring is the exception. I wear it every day and every night, which gives me sleep tracking without having to wear my watch or install one of those silly bed covers. More

X-1 Ultralight Titanium Knife — This is my EDC knife, and I absolutely love it. It does two things for me: 1) minimalism, and 2) never needing sharpening because it uses utility razor blades. More

Malwarebytes — My go-to anti-malware tool on Windows and Mac. It's what I recommend to everyone, and have been for nearly a decade. And as a show supporter, they're offering us 25% off. [SUP] More

Superhuman — My preferred email client, despite it being $30/month. It's a GUI-based email app that functions more like it's a CLI, and everything they do is catered to professionals and optimizers. It's the fastest and most satisfying email client I've ever used. More

Jut — Render Jupyter Notebooks in the terminal. More

InfoSec Income Questionnaire v2 (Responses) More

I really enjoyed this week's episode of TL;DR Sec, especially the closing bit about defeating a grandmaster at chess. More

It's time to stop using SMS for anything. More

12 years and 250 hours of exposures to get these images of the Milky Way More

Global Ping Times More


Read more books instead of social media. If you pick the right books, you can get many times the information density per hour spent vs. reading blogs and other decent sources. You won't regret it. If you want book recommendations you can follow my Notes section above, look at my Reading project, and/or just ping me directly. My Reading Project | Ping Me


“When walking in a group of three, there is bound to be someone I can learn from: There will be good qualities that I can imitate, and reflect on bad qualities that I can correct in myself.”

~ Confucius