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Friday Cyber News, August 10 2018

Cyber technology-related news and links from around the web, for the week of 8/4 - 8/10:

1. Twitter has decided to be the only major social media platform not to suspend Alex Jones, of Infowars infamy, arguing that doing so would be reacting to outside pressure rather than upholding independently derived principles. Many current and former employees and tech analysts disagreed, both on and off Twitter, arguing that protection for the popular and ill-behaved isn't a principle of independence, and that Twitter can provide a better user experience by enforcing civility. [Quartz; Atlantic; NY Times]

2. Facebook is being asked to bend its rules on fake accounts and automated data scraping for journalists and researchers. Facebook itself has "asked large U.S. banks to share detailed financial information about their customers, including card transactions and checking-account balances, as part of an effort to offer new services to users." It seems like Facebook is caught between two aims; the prohibition against automatic scraping is meant to protect users' information, but the requests for more and more information on users put Facebook in a harder position from which to secure and properly handle all of that data. [NY Times; WSJ]

3. Congress has authorized $51M in defense spending to address cyber threats to US missile defense systems, as well as a cybersecurity assessment of those systems. [Defense News]

4. West Virginia will allow its residents serving in the military overseas to cast ballots this November using a smartphone app, Voatz, which uses facial recognition to match ballot-holders and federal IDs, and may or may not store ballot data on a blockchain. Nearly every security researcher reached for comment by the press has a negative take on this; while we're absolutely not ready for smartphone voting from a long-term security standpoint, I will take the unpopular stance of being in favor of the company's jaunty name. (Would you rather be reading about the horrific potential security flaws of Voatz, or, I don't know, Distributed Democratic Technologies, Inc?) [CNN; Vanity Fair]

5. MIT researchers are developing a system by which law enforcement requests for data could be logged and added to a public ledger to provide an overview of law enforcement surveillance. [Engadget]

6.​ Debuting this week at Black Hat: how to compromise a brand-new out-of-the-box Mac as soon as it first connects to wifi. (As long as it's running the Device Enrollment Program and Mobile Device Management). NSA research shows that cyber operations lasting more than five hours cause increased fatigue and frustration in operators. [Wired; Fifth Domain]

7. A new open-source facial recognition tool automatically identifies profiles across multiple social media sites based on a name and a face. [The Verge]

8. Eight months after Strava's heatmap revealed running routes on military bases, the DoD has officially declared that military personnel in war zones should turn off the GPS functionality on their fitness trackers. [Ars Technica]

9. This week in blockchain: Cryptocurrency mining behemoth Bitmain is considering filing for an $18B IPO, which would make the company worth more than twice as much as chipmaker and competitor AMD. IBM and Maersk's blockchain supply chain platform, TradeLens, has recruited 94 companies to participate. Criminal activity conducted using bitcoin has dropped 80% since 2013. [Coindesk x2; CoinTelegraph]

10. Summer break reading: a Hacker News thread asking "what is the most unethical thing you've done as a programmer?" Also: Why is it nearly impossible to guarantee an absence of slave labor in the supply chain of an item that can also be digitally tracked throughout its lifecycle? [HN; Logic Mag]

Thanks for reading,

Stanford Cyber Initiative

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