Note to self: Encrypt data, memorize password


Court rules that prosecutors can’t force people to decrypt data that could potentially be used against them.

In a case that serves as a reminder to: a) use encryption, and b) memorize the encryption pass-phrase, an appeals court has ruled that people have a constitutional right not to be forced to decrypt data that potentially includes evidence that could be used to prosecute them in court.

The Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination that prohibits authorities from forcing a suspect to reveal the combination to open a lock on a safe in an investigation also applies to the digital equivalent–data locked up with encryption, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Northern District of Florida ruled yesterday.

Compelling a suspect to reveal the pass-phrase, in either case, would essentially be forcing testimony out of that person that could be used against him or her, the court said.

“Requiring (defendants) to use a decryption password is most certainly more akin to requiring the production of a combination because both demand the use of the contents of the mind, and the production is accompanied by the implied factual statements…that could prove to be incriminating,” the court said.

WikiLeaks plans to release e-mails from security think tank.


Embattled document-sharing site says the trove of documents “reveal the inner workings” of Strategic Forecasting, which suffered a hack late last year.

WikiLeaks announced today it would begin publishing on Monday more than 5 million confidential e-mails obtained from an influential security think tank.

The e-mails, which date from July 2004 to December 2011, “reveal the inner workings” of Strategic Forecasting (Strafor), an Austin, Texas-based firm that provides security analysis to the U.S. Army, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman, the embattled document-sharing site said in a statement.

“The emails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques, and psychological methods,” the organization said.

The trove also purportedly contains more than 4,000 e-mails mentioning WikiLeaks or its founder, Julian Assange.

“Here we have a private intelligence firm, relying on informants from the US government, foreign intelligence agencies with questionable reputations, and journalists,” Assange told Reuters. “What is of grave concern is that the targets of this scrutiny are, among others, activist organizations fighting for a just cause.”

Facebook denies accessing users’ text messages


Social network says a Sunday Times report that it is using smartphone apps to access text message data is “completely wrong.”

Facebook is being accused of snooping on its users’ text messages, but the social network says the accusations are inaccurate and misleading.

The company is among a wide-ranging group of Web entities, including Flickr and YouTube, that are using smartphone apps to access text message data and other personal information, according to a Sunday Times report (behind a paywall). The newspaper said Facebook “admitted” to reading users’ text messages during a test of its own messaging service. The report also says information such as user location, contacts list, and browser history are often accessed and sometimes transmitted to third-party companies, including advertisers.

Facebook representatives did not immediately respond to a CNET request for comment, but the company told the Business Insider that the Sunday Times report was “completely wrong.”

Industry on Cybersecurity Act of 2012: Not so fast


February 22, 2012 — CSO

While the government may be in a rush to get the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 enacted, many in the industry are saying: not so fast.

Chief information security officers, industry analysts, and others question whether the move is needed—or even wise.

“The Federal government already has the power to put security requirements into all of its purchase requests—in fact, in many cases it already does so. This is the biggest area where the government can improve security—by driving the software and IT companies to develop more secure products,” said Gartner analyst John Pescatore.

“Not by trying to mandate security levels,” he said.MORE on SRC

Bio-inspired projects to improve cyber security


y KATIE NEAL (’03) Office of Communications and External Relations
Michael Crouse and Errin Fulp

Michael Crouse (left) and Errin Fulp

Computer science graduate student Michael Crouse (BS ’10, MS ’12) spends just as much time thinking about biology as he does technology these days.

Crouse and his faculty mentor, Associate Professor Errin Fulp, apply biological design principles to develop innovative ways of thinking and address modern-day challenges. When addressing the ever-changing and growing concern of cyber security, nature is their blueprint and biology is their inspiration.

Now they are fighting the continual evolution of viruses, worms and malwarewith evolution. Together, they are developing the first-ever automated computer configurations that adjust as quickly as the threats.

In refining a genetically inspired algorithm that proactively discovers more secure computer configurations, they are leveraging the concept of “survival of the fittest.” Early simulations have shown the increased diversity of each device’s configuration improves overall network safety, without putting undue stress on IT professionals.

“Typically, administrators configure hundreds and sometimes thousands of machines the same way, meaning a virus that infects one could affect any computer on the same network,” says Crouse, who recently was named one of the “nation’s top new inventors” by Inventor’s Digest magazine. “If successful, automating the ability to ward off attacks could play a crucial role in protecting highly sensitive data within large organizations.”MORE

Genetics-Inspired Research Prevents Cyber Attacks


Wake Forest University computer science professor Errin Fulp and graduate student Michael Crouse work together to develop a new type of computer security code that mimics natural selection as it adapts to threats. (Credit: Ken Bennett, Wake Forest University photographer
ScienceDaily (Feb. 14, 2012) — Cyber security is an ever changing and growing concern. Nearly twice as much cyber security funding proposed in the 2013 budget underscores the need for improved computer network defenses. Inadequate security configurations are blamed for 80 percent of the United States Air Force network vulnerabilities.

Now Wake Forest University researchers are fighting the continual evolution of viruses, worms and malware with evolution by developing the first-ever automated computer configurations that adjust as quickly as the threats.

Computer Science Associate Professor Errin Fulp and graduate student Michael Crouse are refining a genetically inspired algorithm that proactively discovers more secure computer configurations by leveraging the concept of “survival of the fittest.” Early simulations have shown the increased diversity of each device’s configuration improves overall network safety, without putting undue stress on IT administrators.MORE

Impulsive Kids Play More Video Games, and Kids Who Play More Video Games May Become More Impulsive


Impulsive children with attention problems tend to play more video games, while kids in general who spend lots of time video gaming may also develop impulsivity and attention difficulties, new research suggests. (Credit: © Deklofenak / Fotolia)
ScienceDaily (Feb. 23, 2012) — Impulsive children with attention problems tend to play more video games, while kids in general who spend lots of time video gaming may also develop impulsivity and attention difficulties, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

“This is an important finding because most research on attention problems has focused on biological and genetic factors rather than on environmental factors,” said Douglas A. Gentile, PhD, of Iowa State University and lead author of the study published this week in the debut issue of APA’s journalPsychology and Popular Media Culture.

Although the findings indicated that playing violent video games also can be linked to impulsivity and attention problems, the overall amount of time spent playing any type of video game proved to be a greater factor, according to the article. This was the case regardless of a child’s gender, race or socioeconomic status.

Researchers collected data from 3,034 children, ages 8 to 17 years old, over three years at 12 schools in Singapore. The children provided information about their video game playing habits by completing questionnaires in their classrooms at three intervals, each a year apart starting in grades three, four, seven and eight. They also completed psychological tests commonly used to measure attention and impulsiveness. Regarding attention, the children answered questions such as how often they “fail to give close attention to details or make careless mistakes” in their work or “blurt out answers before questions have been completed.” For the impulsivity test, they selected points they felt described themselves, such as “I often make things worse because I act without thinking” or “I concentrate easily.”MORE

In the Genes, but Which Ones? Studies That Linked Specific Genes to Intelligence Were Largely Wrong, Experts Say


For decades, scientists have understood that there is a genetic component to intelligence, but a new study has found both that most of the genes thought to be linked to the trait are probably not in fact related to it, and identifying intelligence’s specific genetic roots may still be a long way off. (Credit: © ktsdesign / Fotolia)
ScienceDaily (Feb. 24, 2012) — For decades, scientists have understood that there is a genetic component to intelligence, but a new Harvard study has found both that most of the genes thought to be linked to the trait are probably not in fact related to it, and identifying intelligence’s specific genetic roots may still be a long way off.

Led by David I. Laibson ’88, the Robert I. Goldman Professor of Economics, and Christopher F. Chabris ’88, Ph.D. ’99, assistant professor of psychology at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., a team of researchers examined a dozen genes using large data sets that included both intelligence testing and genetic data. As reported in a forthcoming article in the journalPsychological Science, they found that in nearly every case, the hypothesized genetic pathway failed to replicate. In other words, intelligence could not be linked to the specific genes that were tested. Continue reading In the Genes, but Which Ones? Studies That Linked Specific Genes to Intelligence Were Largely Wrong, Experts Say

Doctor: Internet Addiction Could Become a Chronic Childhood Disease


 

helpBack in August we reported that reSTART, a rehab center for Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD), was the first facility of its kind to treat the controversial diagnosis in the US.

The disorder has yet to be officially recognized, but specific symptoms have been outlined, and it’s a subject matter that continues to undergo evaluation.

Now, new research from the Kaohslung Medical University Hospital in Taiwan shows a correlation in young teens between internet addiction and other psychological disorders. According to CNN and the research report, “ADHD and hostility were linked to Internet addiction in children,” while social phobia and depression were linked to internet addiction in girls.

The researchers studied 2,293 Taiwanese students for two years, 10.8% of whom had developed an internet addiction, and scored the children based on their Internet activity. The researchers developed an addiction scale that factored in the “inability to cut back on usage, a preoccupation with online activities, and symptoms of withdrawal such as anxiety, boredom, or irritability after a few days of not going online.”

The study also deemed that boys are at higher risk for developing an unhealthy addiction, with the same conclusions holding true for those who participate in online gaming or spend more than 20 hours/week online.

While the results may seem obvious and easy to laugh off, researchers are starting to take internet addiction very seriously. The CNN article states:MORE