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Friday Cyber News, September 25 2015

Cyber technology-related news and links from around the web, for the week of 9/19 - 9/25:

1. VW used software in its diesel cars to detect when the cars were undergoing emissions testing, and change their emissions settings for the test. Using software to cheat is an opportunity for many IoT devices, like Fitbits that can be rocked by a metronome to simulate running, as well as cars, that are gaining new and sometimes hard-to-audit capabilities. [Medium; NYTimes; UnFitBits; Quartz]

2. When we talk about the privacy we're losing through tech that tracks us, we don't compare that loss to the privacy we gained by being able to search for anything, and often order it, alone in our living rooms. Should we be looking at the full equation when we decide how much privacy we want on our computers? [The Awl]

3. It turns out that 5.6 million individuals had their fingerprints stolen in the OPM hack, once again proving that initial estimates of data breach effects are always revised upward. Another question is why we thought OPM could handle protecting its own servers in the first place--shouldn't we have a centralized data protection agency? [The Hill; New America]

4. Chinese president Xi Jinping is meeting with Obama today, to have a dialogue about cybersecurity. The talk involves cyber arms control, and the online theft of intellectual property, which both have agreed not to do. While cyber norms will inevitably be broad and difficult to enforce, talking it out is a good first step. [Bloomberg Business; NYTimes;; The Diplomat]

5. Old servers that are still plugged in but useless, so-called "zombie servers", are using as much energy as eight power plants. The soft hum of undead, forgotten servers is a key part of our dystopian internet future. [WSJ; Idle Words]

6. A US government working group came up with four possible workarounds to obtain encrypted data, such as a special hardware port on all devices, or mandatory backups. They note that they aren't acting on these ideas, but most have the same problems as previously proposed backdoors. As a recent ruling determined that cell phone passcodes are protected under the 5th amendment, it will be more difficult, even with these workarounds, for law enforcement to get into your phone. [Washington Post; ExtremeTech]

7. The on-demand economy is booming in China, with some unique offerings like real-time karaoke room deals and same-day medicine delivery. [Fortune]

8. The advertising industry realizes that the rising popularity of ad-blocking means they have to make ads better. Some ad providers are arguing they really don't track data you wouldn't want them to have; others argue that click fraud has made ads useless to them anyway. They could also just make ads sneakier. Ad-blocking optimists argue that ads are really the laziest way to monetize, and forcing companies to come up with better ways to make their publishing platforms profitable will benefit us all. [AdAge; Deck Network; Bloomberg; WSJ; Society Pages]

9. You can report a bug in Apple's software to the company, who will politely thank you, or you can report it to Zerodium for a $1 million bounty. After you decide that, I have a question for you about some train tracks and a switch. [CS Monitor]

10. Digital copyright is a tricky issue, and the disagreement at stake here seems to be whether you are the creator of an image that someone else--say, a camera manufacturer, or a technician--set up equipment for you to take. Another issue is whether copyright is restricted to humans. [Quartz]




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