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Friday Cyber News, April 22 2016

Cyber technology-related news and links from around the web, for the week of 4/16 - 4/22:

1. One geographically and culturally isolated small town in the Midwest shows how the introduction of the internet really has changed society, from the music teens hear to the types of businesses remaining on Main Street. (Can we even know now what the world would look like without the internet?) Related: Minecraft is teaching children how to interact with a digital world in ways that will be novel and frustrating to adults, valuing creativity and collaboration over fancy graphics. [Backchannel; Atlantic; NYTimes]

2. Chatbots from Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, and others are vying to be your favorite personal assistant, but what happens when bots learn to lie to more effectively advertise to you? A lot of these chatbots still involve many, many human people behind the scenes to decipher your strange requests, so chances are, they already know how to lie. The problem is when we start thinking about whether bots have an obligation to warn you of something of which you might be oblivious--such as poor spending habits, or whether you have cancer. [HunterWalk; Bloomberg; FastCo]

3. The EU has filed charges against Google over its restricting Android devices to use its search engine as a default. Reminiscent of the Microsoft monopoly lawsuit of the 90s? Luckily, Microsoft and Google have agreed to work out disputes together, rather than involving regulators. [WSJ; Recode]

4. Conflicting messages for Uber and Lyft drivers this week; those wishing to work in the city of San Francisco must obtain business licenses, but legislation to allow drivers to collectively bargain is not moving forward, meaning they remain independent contractors, who usually do not need to obtain business licenses. AirBnB's attempt to negotiate with a labor union in New York is also facing backlash from the labor movement, which criticizes the sharing economy's treatment of workers. [TechCrunch x2; Guardian]

5. An artist has written software to combine phrases from patent applications in unique ways and publish them online, hoping to create public-domain "prior art" that will stymie patent trolls looking to profit off of concepts like a robotic phone book, or 3d-printed bug-killing soap. [New Scientist]

6. Privacy is becoming more popular, as messaging app Viber adds end-to-end encryption. Important because 60 minutes exposed a vulnerability in the SS7 network that allows anyone to spy on phone calls, texts not sent through encrypted services, and location data basically just by knowing the phone number in question. [TechCrunch; CBS]

7. The rules for cyber warfare are unclear, even as Secretary of Defense Ash Carter makes clear that cyber weapons are being used against ISIS. For example, what considerations should be made for collateral damage to a network, and what types of hacking actions constitute warfare as opposed to espionage? And if AI can now be used to detect and respond to cyber attacks, how far are we from a War Games scenario? [NPR; FastCo]

8. The FBI's hack of a child pornography site earlier this year was ruled unlawful on a technicality: the judge issuing the warrant was in Virginia, but one of the perpetrators caught was in Massachusetts. It wasn't really the FBI's fault, though; the use of Tor made it difficult to determine where user traffic was coming from, and the warrant rule may be revised to reflect the difficulty of attributing location to online criminals. [Intercept]

9. Curious about cyber insurance? Join us May 9th at Stanford for a cyber insurance conference on risk assessment, what goes into writing a policy, and how the government can support the growth of the industry. Leading up to the conference, follow along on Medium for our 15 (business) Days of Cyber Insurance with short articles on a variety of aspects of cyber liability and insurers' challenges. In recent news, a court found that a traditional liability policy may cover cyber breaches when wording includes references to online publication of data. [Stanford Cyber Initiative; Medium; JD Supra]

10. "You'll never forget your password when it's the sound your skull makes": the reverberations of an ultrasonic signal sent through a bone conduction speaker are good enough to uniquely identify users 97% of the time. [Gizmodo]


Stanford Cyber Initiative

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