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Friday Cyber News, December 25 2015

Cyber technology-related news and links from around the web, for the week of 12/19 - 12/25:

1. We've been worried about the security of the US power grid--as has Ted Koppel--and it turns out those concerns were justified: Iranian hackers have penetrated some of the networks tied to the grid, taking design diagrams and passwords and leaving malware behind. [NYTimes; AP]

2. Google is testing password-free logins that ask for a username, and then send a notification to a phone associated with that username. Eliminating passwords would make forgetful users happy, but password-free sign-ins are invitation-only for now. [TechCrunch]

3. Turkey is suffering from a large cyber attack, thought to be the work of Russia--or Anonymous--that is disrupting banking and Turkish ministries. [Times of Israel]

4. Google partnered with Ford to form a legally-separate entity that will produce self-driving cars. The deal is non-exclusive; Google has also tested its automation technology in Lexuses and other vehicles. [Yahoo]

5. A lot of VC investment is heading to Internet of Things companies, with a few differences: they're focused on industrial applications, not smart homes, and they're more interested in networking the Things to work together than in augmenting the intelligence of an individual Thing. [Guardian]

6. The DOJ has charged six men for running a business selling stolen software licenses, amounting to $100M in sales over six years. The licenses originally came from China, Germany, and Singapore, leaving open the question of how they were obtained. [Slate]

7. Who was hacked this week? Hello Kitty's SanrioTown website was hacked, exposing data for 3.3M users. The data included users’ full names, birthdays, genders, nationalities, email addresses, and password retrieval questions. Malware was also discovered in Hyatt's payment systems, exposing hotel customers to financial risk. [DailyBeast; Guardian]

8. The 13th-century origins of mass surveillance and 18th-century French police states explain why we're used to being watched. [Lapham's Quarterly; Max Planck Institute]

9. How to embed an executable as a .doc via Outlook, bypassing Outlook's virus scanning. It's very easy. [Medium]

10. Is Spotify's algorithm the most successful implementation of deep learning? Users love the personalization, and it combines aspects of natural language processing and big data aggregation (using Amazon's recommendations as a filter, for example.) [Quartz]


Stanford Cyber Initiative

P.S. Stanford is on winter break, but the Cyber News continues--forward it to a friend if you find it useful!

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