Skip to content Skip to navigation

Friday Cyber News, September 4 2015

Cyber technology-related news and links from around the web, for the week of 8/29 - 9/4:

1. Look for sanctions against China to come next week, a response to recent cyber espionage attributed to China. The FBI argues that China is responsible for a 53% rise in economic espionage this year. [Financial Times]

2. Australian reporter Will Ockenden published his metadata--his cell phone pings and message counts, for example--and invited readers to see what they could find out about him. The amateur sleuths weren't always right (they interpreted his phone receiving "happy new year" texts as evidence of a long night out, when in fact Will was home asleep) but they knew where he worked and lived, how he commuted, the weekend he moved house, and his parents' numbers and neighborhoods. []

3. The FTC doesn't regulate Instagram posts, and other types of social media that can look a lot like advertisements, if a candidate is posting him or herself. It's a loophole that is ignoring a growing media channel, and the presumed majority of people who don't want to see political Instagrams to begin with. [Huffington Post]

4. Individual Facebook users have long complained about its newsfeed algorithms and the amount of data it collects on users. Companies are starting to join those complaints, as Facebook's massive amount of browsing data, used to sell ads, can take information sent by Brand A's website and use it to show users ads from Brand B. That makes Brand A wary of sending Facebook so much data on its customers. [WSJ, h/t George]

5. Snowden's disclosures may have inadvertently bolstered Russia's efforts to control internet traffic and in-country servers, under the pretext of protecting individual Russians from the US surveillance Snowden exposed. [Buzzfeed]

6. The exiting program manager for DARPA's robotics challenge talks about a few of the program's initiatives, and why he's more worried about our ability to protect the data gathered by autonomous robots than by their turning on humanity and burying us in the rubble they were designed to clean up. Safely transmitting data is a problem for wearables, too, as more and more devices want to use the same channels. [Defense One; Nature]

7. Some technologies have a hard time monetizing--Twitter, for example--but venture funding is usually based more on the strength of the technology's potential than current sales. Not so for some cybersecurity startups, where profitability is becoming a talking point with potential investors, as multiple companies aim for the same evanescent target of identifying anomalous network activity. [NYTimes, h/t George]

8. A MOOC is a great way for one teacher to reach 50,000 students, but rarely do MOOCs provide useful ways for those students to talk to one another, or to meaningfully interact with the teacher. A new initiative is pairing MOOCs with LOOCs--local discussion groups for students, using MOOC lectures and providing the equivalent of a university course's discussion section. [Inside Higher Ed]

9. Technology will soon enable us to record and automatically process or transcribe everything we say and hear. Will this improve our memories, freeing up space that was previously storing all the conversations you've had with grocery-store clerks? Or will our hippocampi atrophy, without the pressure to recall and record? [Nautilus]

10. Your smartphone can tell if you're bored, as measured by how quickly you respond to irrelevant alerts, and suggest activities for you, like practicing a new language. This is the same feedback loop employed by your dog, who knocks something over and, if you respond quickly, suggests a toy to play with. [Tech Review]




(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