Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Twitter Targets Trolls

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 10:07 AM

Twitter announced this morning that it was finally taking a harder stand against trolls, in effect, locking out abusive users from their accounts.

The change comes in the form of two tweaks to tweeting policy: No. 1, the company is introducing a so-called "enforcement option" that allows its support team to lock abusive Twitter accounts for specific periods of time; No. 2, Twitter will be ramping up its requirements for users to confirm their phone numbers and will be asking more users to delete certain tweets.

This morning, however, Slate's Amanda Hess questioned why Twitter officials won't have an open conversation about harassment on their own platform. Instead, Hess writes, Twitter executives prefer to take questions on CNBC, participate in a Q&A with The New York Times, and most recently wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post.

In addition to its policy changes regarding filtering threats, Twitter said today that it would refine its definition of "violent language" to make it easier for the company to address abusive language.

“Our previous policy was unduly narrow and limited our ability to act on certain kinds of threatening behavior,” wrote Twitter officials. “The updated language better describes the range of prohibited content and our intention to act when users step over the line into abuse.”

Twitter is also testing technology to help the firm identify suspected abusive tweets to limit their reach.

"This feature takes into account a wide range of signals and context that frequently correlates with abuse, including the age of the account itself, and the similarity of a tweet to other content that our safety team has in the past independently determined to be abusive," the company stated.
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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Idaho Department of Finance Looks for Cracks in Cybersecurity

Posted By on Sat, Sep 13, 2014 at 10:21 AM

With recent cyber-attacks on the rise in the financial services industry, the Idaho Department of Finance announced it is participating in a project to gain a better understanding of cybersecurity practices among state-registered investment advisers. 

According to a news release, the survey was developed by the North American Securities Administrators Association. A pilot project this summer found 4.1 percent of investment firms that responded experienced a cybersecurity threat. Only 1.1 percent experienced loss, theft or the unauthorized exposure or use of confidential information.

The study also showed that 62 percent of firms have already undergone a risk assessment and 77 percent have procedures in place relating to cybersecurity. The pilot pinpointed 440 registered investment advisers managing less than $100 million in assets in nine different states.

Now that the results from the survey have been compiled, the Idaho Department of Finance plans to use the study to find vulnerabilities in Idaho's finance services industry. Statistics are expected to be released next month.
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Friday, July 11, 2014

FTC: Amazon Allowed Kids to Spend Millions of Parents' Money For Apps

Posted By on Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 8:53 AM


After targeting Apple for allowing kids to run up charges on their parents' credit cards purchasing apps, the Federal Trade Commission is now suing Amazon for allowing the same thing.

In a compliant filed in a U.S. court, the FTC wants a judge to order to refund parents for unauthorized purchases made by their children. The FTC claims it has received complaints from thousands of parents about transactions amounting to millions of dollars.

In January, Apple settled a similar claim with the FTC. Apple agreed to refund at least $32.5 million to customers as part of the settlement.

And now, Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Consumer Protection Bureau, says she has proof that even Amazon employees raised internal concerns about in-app purchases by children years before the company addressed the matter. While Amazon changed some of its policies, it still doesn't ban in-app charges without a parent's consent. Additionally, keeps 30 percent of all in-app charges. Amazon's official policy on in-app purchases says it doesn't give refunds.

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Apple CEO to Climate Change Deniers: Get Out of This Stock

Posted By on Sat, Mar 1, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Apple CEO Tim Cook has a message to climate change-denying stockholders who want his tech company to stop its environmentally conscious initiatives: take your money elsewhere.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative Washington, D.C.-based think tank, took Cook to task prior to the Feb. 28 annual shareholder meeting for Apple's attention to green energy and Cook's recent hiring of Lisa Jackson, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

But Cook didn't take the NCPPR's criticism too kindly, saying, "We do a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive. We want to leave the world better than we found it."

Ultimately, Cook told shareholders that anyone who found the company's environmental dedication either ideologically or economically ill-advised, they can "get out of the stock."

Bryan Chaffin of The Mac Observer, who was present at the meeting, wrote:

"As evidenced by the use of "bloody" in his response — the closest thing to public profanity I've ever seen from Mr. Cook — it was clear that he was quite angry. His body language changed, his face contracted, and he spoke in rapid fire sentences compared to the usual metered and controlled way he speaks. Tim Cook then reportedly looked directly at the NCPPR representative and said, 'If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.'"

Meanwhile, NCPPR posted its version of the events on its website in a note titled, "Tim Cook to Apple Investors: Drop Dead."

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mac Attack: Significant Security Flaw Revealed in Apple Technology

Posted By on Sat, Feb 22, 2014 at 10:44 AM

A flaw in Apple software could leave your iPhone and iPad vulnerable to cyber criminals.

The flaw, which was revealed Feb. 21, could allow hackers to break encryption codes. In fact, Apple confirmed on Friday that Mac computers were even more exposed.

In a Feb. 21 late evening statement, Apple said, "An attacker ... may capture or modify data," with the problem affecting anyone using an iPhone 4 (or later) model, iPod touch, and the iPad 2,3 and Air models.

"It's as bad as you could imagine, that's all I can say," said Matthew Green, a Johns Hopkins University cryptography professor.

But Apple didn't say when or how it learned about the flaw in the way iOS handles sessions in what are known as secure sockets layer or transport layer security, nor did it say whether the flaw was being exploited.

Apple's statement on its support website was plain: "The software failed to validate the authenticity of the connection."

Meanwhile Apple has released patches and an update for its software.

After analyzing the patch, several security researchers said the same flaw existed in current versions of Mac OSX, running Apple laptop and desktop computers. No patch is available yet for that operating system, though one is expected soon.

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Loss of Federal Funds Leaves Luna's Idaho Education Network $14.45 Million in Red

Posted By on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 10:52 AM

Unexpected costs from Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's Idaho Education Network may throw a wrench into Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's plan to ramp up funding for Idaho schools, the Spokesman-Review reports.

Teresa Luna, State Department of Administration director, has requested a supplemental appropriation of $14.45 million after the state failed to receive anticipated federal e-rate funding. Otter has indicated he may dip into the $29 million account that would have gone to the Public Education Stabilization Fund at the end of fiscal year 2014.

The Idaho Education Network is a package of technology-based education programs that have been part of Luna's public education package and managed by for-profit Education Networks of America. In July 2013, Luna caught flak from Idaho lawmakers when he announced a 15-year contract with the company to provide wireless Internet access to hundreds of Idaho schools.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Apple, Google, Microsoft Will Tell Public About Data Subpoenas

Posted By on Tue, Jan 28, 2014 at 9:49 AM

The nation's largest and most influential tech companies have made an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department that allows the firms to publicly report, in very broad terms, what kind of—and how many—data requests they get from security and law enforcement agencies.

Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple already are required by U.S. law to share data about a fragment of their users, but the new agreement will allow the companies to alert the public about surveillance-related court orders that they receive in the future. The agreement is considered only a small victory for transparency advocates.

For example, on Jan. 27, Apple disclosed that between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2013, it had received somewhere between zero and 249 national security orders for consumer data. Apple also reported that it received 927 requests that involved 2,330 user accounts from law enforcement agencies that were not connected to national security requests.

"We believe strongly that our customers have the right to understand how their personal information is being handled, and we are pleased the government has developed new rules that allow us to more accurately report law enforcement orders and national security orders in the US," read a statement from Apple executives.

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Football Fans Puzzled as #SEA Gets Angry About Armed Conflict

Posted By on Sat, Jan 25, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Seattle Seahawks fans may have been scratching their heads Jan. 23 when #SEA was becoming pretty passionate about CNN's coverage of the war in Syria. As any good fan of the Seattle Seahawks knows, #SEA is the team's official Twitter Hashtag.

But among all of the Super Bowl buzz were a string of other Tweets from #SEA on CNN:


The posts were linked to the Syrian Electronic Army, which claimed responsibility for hacking into The Syrian Electronic Army, which supports the government of Bashar al-Assad, said the attack was in retaliation for CNN’s biased reporting on Syria. The country's bloody and ongoing conflict has so far claimed more than 130,000 lives—so many that the United Nations has stopped counting deaths—and displaced more than 6 million people.

The confusion ended a short time later when #SEA was quickly taken back by the Seahawks and their fans with Super Bowl chat.

But the Syrian Electronic Army fired a parting shot, tweeting "Tonight the #SEA decided to retaliate against #CNN's viciously lying reporting aimed at prolonging the suffering in #Syria."

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'Congratulations. You've survived the Great Google Outage of Jan. 24'

Posted By on Sat, Jan 25, 2014 at 10:35 AM

While no serious fallout was initially reported, countless users of Google's email were in the social media dark Jan. 24. Additionally, Google's other popular Web services, including Google Docs, Google Talk and Google Calendar all took a dive.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution put it plainly: "if you're watching this, congratulations! You've survived the Great Google Outage of Jan. 24, 2014."

Gmail and the other popular Google platforms went down about 12:15 Mountain Time Jan. 24, when millions of users began seeing a Temporary Error (500) message. Service was back up a little more than an hour later.

Google ultimately blamed the shutdown on "an internal system that generates configurations—essentially other information that tells other systems how to behave—encountering a software bug and generating an incorrect configuration."

Gmail is more popular than many of its rival services, boasting about 366 million desktop computer visitors worldwide in December, compared to Yahoo Mail's 273 million and 242 million users of Microsoft's Outlook.

"Gmail is down. World productivity is slowly grinding to a halt," quipped Aaron Levie, CEO of cloud storage start-up Box, in a post on Twitter.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

3-D Printers Hit the Mainstream

Posted By on Fri, Jan 24, 2014 at 10:13 AM

The Idaho Commission for Libraries, as part of its Make It at the Library project, hosted Idaho librarians and program specialists in November 2013, where they were trained on 3-D technology and gifted with new 3-D printers to be showcased in libraries throughout Idaho.
  • George Prentice
  • The Idaho Commission for Libraries, as part of its Make It at the Library project, hosted Idaho librarians and program specialists in November 2013, when they were trained on 3-D technology and gifted with new 3-D printers to be showcased in libraries throughout Idaho.

Boise Weekly began the year by examining 3-D printers and Idaho's burgeoning community of men and women who have been building the wondrous innovations.

"Absolutely; there are a lot of us building 3-D printers in Boise," said David Ultis, general manager of Boise's Reuseum and Idaho's go-to guru on all things 3-D. "It flowered like a tree, starting out with one design, then three, then 40. Thousands and thousands and thousands of 3-D objects can be downloaded and printed in your own home."

In fact, Ultis and his colleagues were commissioned by the Idaho Commission for Libraries to build 3-D printers for a number of Idaho community libraries, which have begun being unveiled throughout the Gem State.

"I typically ask for about six weeks to fully assemble and calibrate a new 3-D printer," Ultis told BW. "But we did all five of these in five weeks."

And now, The New York Times reported this week that 3-D printing is moving closer to the mainstream after this month's International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas dedicated an entire section of its exhibit hall to 3-D printers, specifically showcasing plug-and-play models from Makerbot, 3DSystems and RoBo3D. A company called Matterform also unveiled a 3-D scanner, making it easy to replicate objects by scanning and then printing them.

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