Skip to content Skip to navigation

Friday Cyber News, March 11 2016

Cyber technology-related news and links from around the web, for the week of 3/5 - 3/11:

1. Yesterday the FCC proposed new privacy rules for ISPs that would prevent them from sharing information about customer activity with advertisers, unless customers opt in. The rules are meant to patch a privacy hole: even when visiting encrypted websites, ISPs can still piece together information based on which sites you visit and when. [NY Times]

2. Hackers working for the Chinese government, part of a group called Scarlet Mimic, are targeting Tibetans and pro-Tibet activists with phishing emails and cyber espionage. Awareness campaigns by the Tibet Action Network encourage Tibetans to keep their devices updated and not click on attachments or odd Google Docs links. China is also stepping up its mainland data collection in an effort some are branding pre-crime: by cross-referencing financial, consumer, and social data with surveillance camera footage, they hope to identify criminal activity before it can be completed. [Motherboard; Bloomberg] 

3. France approved a bill this week that would penalize companies--up to five years in prison and 350,000 euros--for failing to decrypt and hand over data to law enforcement. En garde, Pomme. [Ars Technica]

4. Police use of Stingrays has drawn strong criticism from privacy advocates. What about individuals using them? The devices can be made for $1500, meaning many more people could be tracking your phone. (Including Nest, because an update that determines when specific members of your household are home or away could never be subverted...) [Bloomberg; The Verge]

5. Researchers developed an algorithm that can identify individuals based on pictures of their hands making the V-for-victory sign, which has several unique biometric properties. Also, it turns out Nixon was the original member of Anonymous. Another reason to keep your hands in your pockets: fingerprints printed on an inkjet printer with conductive ink can fool scanners like those that unlock your phone. [Tech Review; Atlantic]

6. Can Google's PageRank algorithm help us determine the trustworthiness of news articles, as well as their popularity? Software that mimics human decision-making--you may have seen news this week of a bot that beats top Go players--is experiencing a boom. [; NYTimes]

7. Recent Bitcoin busts illustrate its privacy shortcomings, and the new digital forensic science methods used to track transfers and laundering. [Science]

8. Well, of course: when asked to change a password often, most of us pick less secure passwords, by doing things like increasing a digit in the password with every change. [Wired]

9. A spelling mistake prevented hackers from completing a $1B heist--but they still made $80M by hacking into Bangladesh Bank's system and stealing its transfer authorization credentials. [Guardian]

10. Well, now you know how we picked our name: after the "cyber pathogen" debacle, linguistic analysis of government programs reveals they just really like the word "cyber". [Quartz]


Stanford Cyber Initiative

(To suggest an item for this list, subscribe, or unsubscribe, please email This email contains links that may not work if HTML is not supported in your mailbox. You can also subscribe or view news from past weeks at