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 | UPGRADE TO THE WEEKLY MEMBER EDITION | October 22, 2017
This is episode No. 98 of Unsupervised Learning—a weekly show where I curate 3-5 hours of reading in infosec, technology, and humans into a 30 minute summary. The goal is to catch you up on current events, tell you about the best content from the week, and hopefully give you something to think about as well…
This week’s topics: The Reaper botnet, Google Advanced Email Protection, Bitcoin Over $6,000, Duo’s $70 million, Dubai going to facial recognition, tech news, human news, ideas, discovery, recommendations, aphorism, and more…
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IOTROOP (also called Reaper) is an growing botnet that’s already infected over 1 million organizations, according to Check Point. It’s using similar techniques to Mirai, but it’s far more advanced. Like Mirai it’s using default credentials to attack systems, but it’s also using exploits to attack as well. The researchers think it might be spinning up for a major DDoS attack. Link
Google launched Advanced Protection for Google Apps email last week. It basically does a nuclear lockdown on email security for an organization that’s really worried about getting hacked. They have all sorts of protections in there that can be a bit unforgiving, so it’s not for casual use. Things like requiring a USB key or bluetooth dongle for access to your account, stricter malware scanning on the backend, etc. Link
Bitcoin just topped $6,000, and now websites are commandeering visitors’ browsers to make them mine for them. There’s a package called Coin-Hive that starts mining as soon as you visit a site. Many sites have put it there on purpose, and others have been hacked and had the code placed there by attackers. Link
Windows 10 is adding game cheating prevention to TruePlay in the fall Creator’s Update. It’ll let you prioritize a game as a protected process, which will disable some of the common ways cheats interact with the game. Link
Google Play apps with as many as 2.6 million downloads added installed devices to a botnet. Link
Duo just raised $70 million in a Series D. Link
Dubai is moving to replace ID checks with a facial recognition tunnel. Link
The version of Alpha Go that defeated humanity’s best Go player just lost to a new version of itself that has never been trained by humans. It taught itself how to play. Awesome used to mean a combination of scary and amazing. That’s what this is: awesome. Link
Big banks are embracing blockchain, and are now starting to roll it out as a means of speeding up money transfers from days to hours (and hopefully to minutes or seconds before too long). It’s also going to help them immediately with cross-border transfers. This is a big deal. It’s like the British Army deciding to use guerrilla tactics. Link
Tesla is pushing its new insurance plan, called InsureMyTesla, which gives you cheaper rates because of Autopilot. Link
Magic Leap has raised another half a billion dollars, bringing the total amount to around $2 billion. I hope whatever they end up making is going to be as good as anticipated. Link
Alphabet has invested $1 billion in Lyft. Link
Johns Hopkins scientists find that the Dual N-Back brain training regimen is the best system discovered so far for improving mental performance. Link
Due to weight and fitness, misconduct, medical issues, mental health problems, and substance abuse concerns, 71% of 17 to 24-year-old Americans are unfit for military service. Link
Experts are blaming the food industry for saying that exercise is a solution to obesity, likening it to the cover-up regarding the dangers of smoking. Many scientists are now saying that losing weight has very little to do with exercise, and that reducing food intake is the way to go. Link
Nearly half of U.S. medical care comes from emergency rooms. Unbelievable. Link
Stockton, CA is spending $1 million to try a basic income experiment. Link
There’s a growing number of scientists who are seeing sugar more like a toxin than a food, and they’re essentially saying that it invalidates the old concept of calorie in / calorie out that we’ve been sold for decades. Link
Researchers look at why you can focus in a loud coffee shop but not in an open plan office. Basically, if you’re not listening to the noise and it’s at a certain level, it produces creative distraction. And if it goes above or below a certain volume, or you care about what the other people are saying, it does the opposite. Link
Many doctors are now saying exercise, especially Yoga, is better for back pain than pills or surgery. Link
Researchers say Tinder is showing us that men look for beauty in a mate while women look for intelligence, career prospects, and stability. Link
Another story on the depression chatbot I wrote about last week. It’s called Woebot. Link
Personal Sensors Are the Next Breakthrough in Consumer Electronics Link
Beware of Alternate Meaning Loops Link
On the Effects of Shaming Sexual Harassers in Hollywood and Tech Link
How I Would Build My Life If I Could Engineer It From Scratch Link
Why I Call Myself an Atheist Instead of an Agnostic Link
Why I Identify as a Feminist Link
This kind of improvement speed we’re seeing with Alpha Go Zero is all fun and games until it isn’t. We really need some monitoring placed on AI development before we innovate ourselves out of existence. There are lots of things that need to happen before that would be possible, but the point is that the jumps happen quickly, and we might not know what’s happened until it’s too late.
China is about to pass everyone in terms of new infrastructure, green tech, renewable energy, electric cars, etc. They basically just decided that there was an opportunity to become a world leader on all these things, while everyone else is paralyzed or distracted, and it’s frightening what they’re about to accomplish. We’re going to be left with old bridges, gas cars, ailing roads, and they’re going to be one of the only countries in the 21st century. All because they can simply turn it into a leadership issue internally and unanimously decided to do it.
How to track an individual’s physical location using less than $1,000 in online ads. Yet another reason to use an ad blocker. Link
Cambridge Analytica is the data analytics company that supposedly helped Trump get elected. They evidently had so much good data on everyone that they knew exactly which buttons would be effective to push. You can request the data that they have on you by mailing them here. Link
It’s easier than ever to create working keys from images. Link
An article on replacing Mailchimp with Amazon SES + Mailwizz. Link
IPFS — The Interplanetary File System Link
? What Can Reverse Engineering Do For You? Link
A visual map of happiness by state. Link
BeyondCorp is Google’s implementation of ZeroTrust, and it’s super cool stuff. Link
Performing and Preventing SSL Stripping Link
Font-End-Checklist — The perfect font-end checklist for modern websites and meticulous developers. Link
Everything You Wanted to Know About Blockchains Link
A Map of the Blockchain Ecosystem Link
EC2Instances.info — Easy Amazon EC2 Instance Comparison Link
Pynotes — Python programs to practice your skills. Link
I have redone the intro and outro for the podcast, and I’ve increased the volume as well. A number of listeners had said the show was a bit quieter than other podcasts, so I made that adjustment when I redid the intro.
I am nearly done with the site upgrade, and I’m extremely pleased with how it’s turning out. I redid the database from scratch, taking it from over 600 megabytes down to around 60. It was extremely bloated from old plugin junk from years ago, and is now extremely trim. The site is extremely fast now, often rendering in 300-600ms. Again, if you’re into design, let me know what you think. Link
I’ve redone my Concepts page, which is like a wisdom extraction for everything I learn. I think it’s going to end up being one of my favorite resources on the site. Link
I am reading several books at once right now, and I’m behind on doing summaries for several that I’ve finished. I’ll report back when I complete a few, and will link to the summaries.
Request your data from Cambridge Analytica. Link
Use RobotsDisallowed to scan your code repositories for secrets. Link
If you’re into life monitoring, life hacking, quantified self type of stuff, check out Gyroscope. Word of caution here, I’ve not checked the security on this app yet, and it asks for a lot of data. But they really nailed the messaging and UI for this. I’ve been waiting for an app like this for years. Link
“The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.” ~ Bertrand Russell
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Thanks for listening. I’ll see you next week.