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Researchers Can Find Your Smartphone Even if You Turn Off Location Services and Wi-Fi

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The Register reported on February 7th that researchers can locate your smartphone even if you have location tracking and Wi-Fi turned off. Some of this data can be collected without permission, because smartphone makers don't consider it sensitive.

The researchers from Princeton University (student Arsalan Mosenia, IEEE members Xiaoliang Dai and Prateek Mittal, and IEEE fellow Niraj Jha) tracked phones using a technique called PinMe, which combines information from the phone and non-phone sources to determine a user's location.

In their paper, they explain that PinMe works with "non-sensory/sensory data stored on the smartphone" (the first category includes the time zone and network status; the second includes air pressure and heading), and when that's combined with "publicly available auxiliary information" like elevation maps, it's able to "estimate the user's location when all location services are turned off."

The combination of data sources, the paper says, yielded user tracking "comparable to GPS" on their iPhone 6, iPhone 6S and Galaxy S4 i9500 test devices.

In the PinMe attack, the researchers used a malicious app to gain access to the data from the phones. Time zone, device IP address and network status don't need permission from the user to access – the same is true for the accelerometer, the magnetometer (which measures the angle between the phone's heading and north) and barometer.

The public data PinMe uses includes OpenStreetMap, Google Maps' elevation data retrieved through its API, and OpenFlights (which maps 9,541 airports). They built a train heading database from Google Maps, and accessed public transport timetables.

How does all this determine location? The IP address can be geolocated to provide a likely city; barometer data tells you if the user arrived by air; if the user's heading doesn't change much, they're on a train; travel by car can be correlated to street map data, etc.

The tests were run in Princeton and Trenton, N.J. as well as Philadelphia, Pa.

The paper suggests phone manufacturers allow users the ability to shut down sensors, or put sensors into a privacy mode that limits their sampling rate and accuracy. That sure sounds like an excellent idea to me. Having seen the dangers of fitness apps (like Strava, recently in the news for revealing the location of American troops) the ability for users to control sensors should be a priority of smartphone manufacturers.

Hat tip to Dave Ries.

E-mail: snelson@senseient.com Phone: 703-359-0700
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josephwebster
6 days ago
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Denver, CO, USA
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Hawaii’s Missile Alert Agency Suffers ‘Password on Post-It’ Public Embarrassment

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Bitdefender's Hot for Security blog was thrown a soft ball last week, when a photo surfaced from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HEMA), which famously issued a false alert on January 13th about a ballistic missile heading to Hawaii. As the post notes, the false alarm was caused by a worker who was supposed to send an internal test but mistakenly chose the wrong menu item. HEMA, as everyone has noted, needs a few more safeguards in place before alerts go out.

But oh boy, how could one resist penning a post on a photo which shows the smiling face of Jeffrey Wong, HEMA's operations officer, in front of a bank of computer screens. One computer is adorned by a Post-in note which appears to say: "Password Warningpoint2".

We don't know precisely what that password is for but that sticky note sure says a lot of about the state of security practices at HEMA. Tsk, tsk. With or without cameras nosing about, Post-its with passwords should be verboten!

E-mail: snelson@senseient.com Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Information Security/Information Technology
https://www.senseient.com
https://twitter.com/sharonnelsonesq
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josephwebster
27 days ago
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Denver, CO, USA
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President Trump’s Lawyers and Craig Ball’s “The Perfect Preservation Letter”

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Thanks to my friend Craig Ball for making me laugh so hard I cried when I read his blog post on Saturday morning.

What was so funny? Surely none of my readers missed the accelerated publication of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff and its excerpts in New York magazine. And I imagine that everyone reading this post knows that Trump's Beverly Hills lawyers sent a letter to Wolff and his publisher Henry Holt and Co., Inc. threatening a libel suit and seeking to block publication of the book saying in part:

"Mr. Trump hereby demands that you immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the Book, the Article, or any excerpts or summaries of either of them, to any person or entity, and that you issue a full and complete retraction and apology to my client as to all statements made about him in the Book and Article that lack competent evidentiary support."

Craig learned of the letter when it circulated among the Council of the Computer and Technology Section of the Texas Bar with the suggestion to check out the letter's detailed request for ESI preservation. This is where I began laughing as Craig said, "Reading it, I was struck by how thorough, polished, yet dated the language seemed. It was eerily familiar, and with good reason: of the letter's eleven pages, I'd written more than half of them. The text aligned—verbatim—with the exemplar letter in the Appendix of my well-worn article entitled "The Perfect Preservation Letter," something I penned a dozen years ago, before Facebook, the Cloud and iPhones."

To be sure, the language was not stolen, as Craig had written the exemplar letter and shared it freely to help lawyers draft preservation demands.

But the authors of the letter ignored Craig's common sense recommendation that the language of the demand be tailored to the evidence and the issues. The preface to the letter says "What follows isn't the perfect preservation letter for your case, so I don't recommend adopting it as a form. I include it here as a drafting aid and to flag issues unique to EDD [Electronic Data Discovery]. You should tailor your electronic discovery efforts to the issues, parties and systems in your case. Be thorough insofar as data may be relevant, but eschew the "everything and the kitchen sink" approach. Use common sense. If your preservation demand effectively requires your opponent to pull the plug on every computer, what good is it? If you can't articulate why particular ESI is potentially relevant, perhaps you shouldn't demand its preservation."

Craig goes on to say, "The preservation letter demands your best effort for a host of reasons. It's the basis of your opponent's first impression of you and your case. A well-drafted preservation letter speaks volumes about your savvy, focus and preparation. An ill-drafted, scattergun missive suggests a formbook attorney who's given little thought to where the case is going. A letter that demonstrates close attention to detail and preemptively slams the door on cost-shifting and "innocent" spoliation bespeaks a force to be reckoned with and signals a case that deserves to be a settlement priority. The carefully-crafted preservation letter serves as a blueprint for meet and confer sessions and a touchstone for efforts to remedy destruction of evidence."

My laughter intensified as Craig pointed out that the lawyers' demand letter mentions Zip disks but not social media content. How is it possible that Trump's lawyers forgot tweets? And as Craig says, "Who still uses Lotus 123?" Clearly, this letter does not reflect well on the attorneys' "savvy, focus and preparation."

It really does crack me up to think that the President's lawyers would utilize so much of an exemplar document that was twelve years old. While indeed flattering to Craig, he notes that some freshening of the document would have been wise. Indeed, sir, indeed.

The only thing that might have amused me more is seeing the bill for preparation of the letter.

Thank you for the early morning laughter Craig!

E-mail: snelson@senseient.com Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Information Security/Information Technology
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josephwebster
43 days ago
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This just keeps getting better...
Denver, CO, USA
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NSA Leaks of Its Cyber Weapons Leave the Agency Shaken to its Core

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As The New York Times reported on November 12th, Jake Williams awoke last April in an Orlando, Florida hotel where he was leading a training session. Checking Twitter, Mr. Williams, a cybersecurity expert, found that he had been thrust into the middle of one of the worst security nightmares of American intelligence.

Mr. Williams had written on his company blog about the Shadow Brokers, a mysterious group that had somehow obtained many of the hacking tools the United States used to spy on other countries. Now the group had replied angrily online. It identified him as a former member of the National Security Agency's hacking group, Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, a job he had not publicly disclosed. Then the Shadow Brokers revealed technical details that made it clear they knew about highly classified hacking operations that he had conducted.

Conclusion? America's largest and most secretive intelligence agency had been deeply infiltrated.

The shock to Mr. Williams was part of a much broader disaster that has shaken the NSA to its core. Current and former agency officials say the Shadow Brokers disclosures, which began in August 2016, have been catastrophic for the NSA, calling into question its ability to protect potent cyberweapons and its value to national security. The agency hailed as the world's leader in breaking into adversaries' computer networks had failed to protect its own.

Fifteen months into a wide-ranging investigation by the agency's counterintelligence arm, known as Q Group, and the FBI, officials still do not know whether the NSA is the victim of a brilliantly executed hack, with Russia as the most likely perpetrator, an insider's leak, or both. Three employees have been arrested since 2015 for taking classified files, but there is fear that one or more leakers may still be in place. There is widespread agreement that the damage from the Shadow Brokers already far exceeds the harm to American intelligence done by Edward J. Snowden.

Created at enormous expense to American taxpayers, our cyberweapons have now been picked up by hackers from North Korea to Russia and fired back at the United States and its allies.

Much of the NSA's arsenal is still being replaced, limiting operations. Morale is in the tank, and experienced specialists are leaving the agency for better-paying jobs — including with firms defending computer networks from intrusions that use the NSA's leaked tools.

Russia is the prime suspect in a another leak of hacking tools and secret documents from the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence, posted week after week since March to the WikiLeaks website under the names Vault7 and Vault8. That breach, too, is unsolved. The tsunami of digital secrets leaked from agencies that invest huge resources in preventing such breaches is raising profound questions.

Some veteran intelligence officials believe a focus on offensive weapons and hacking tools has left American cyberdefense dangerously weak. "We have had a train wreck coming," said Mike McConnell, the former NSA director and national intelligence director. "We should have ratcheted up the defense parts significantly."

In the meantime, Russia's most prominent cybersecurity firm, Kaspersky Lab, had started hunting for the spying malware planted by NSA hackers, guided in part by the keywords and code names in the files taken by Mr. Snowden and published by journalists. The TAO hackers knew that when Kaspersky updated its popular antivirus software to find and block the NSA malware, it could defeat spying operations around the world. Therefore, TAO hackers moved to replace implants in many countries with new malware they did not believe the Russian company could detect.

In February 2015, Kaspersky published its report on the Equation Group — the company's name for TAO hackers — and updated its antivirus software to extract the NSA malware wherever it had not been replaced. The agency temporarily lost access to a considerable flow of intelligence.

The leaks have reinvigorated a debate over whether the NSA should be permitted to stockpile vulnerabilities it discovers in commercial software to use for spying rather than immediately alerting software makers so the holes can be plugged. The agency claims it has shared with the industry more than 90 percent of flaws it has found, reserving only the most valuable for its own hackers. But if it can't keep those from leaking, as the last year has clearly demonstrated, the resulting damage to businesses and computer users around the world can be monumental. The Trump administration says it will soon announce revisions to the system, making it more transparent.

I am not holding my breath waiting for that to happen. But I do worry that Russia is outpacing us in cybersecurity offensive and defensive measures – and that we have been woefully slow to response to a clear case of "throwing the gauntlet down."

E-mail: snelson@senseient.com Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Information Security/Information Technology
https://www.senseient.com
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josephwebster
96 days ago
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Denver, CO, USA
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Op-ed: Maine’s governor wants to ignore the will of voters. He’s not alone.

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Less than a day after voters in Maine voted to expand Medicaid in their state, Gov. Paul LePage (R) moved quickly to subvert their democratic will, announcing Wednesday that he will not implement the expansion until it is “fully funded by the Legislature.”

This is not the first time that elected officials in the state have blatantly ignored voters in this way. Last year, Mainers approved an innovative reform known as “ranked-choice voting,” as an effort to ensure that their governor wins with a majority of the vote. But the state legislature did not agree with that decision, so it recently voted to delay and potentially repeal the initiative. In fact, it brazenly meddled with every single ballot measure passed by the state’s voters in 2016.


Related:
Maine Gov. Paul LePage vetoes marijuana bill, saying federal future of legalization uncertain
Mainers voted for a 10 percent tax on weed, but lawmakers want more


The news out of Maine is part of an ominous pattern: State legislators across the country resisting the will of the people by gutting or even repealing citizen initiatives. This is a shockingly undemocratic trend at a time when U.S. voters are already deeply unsatisfied with their elected leaders.

The citizen initiative – in which a group of voters brings a proposed law or constitutional amendment to the ballot for the public to approve or reject – exists in 26 states and the District of Columbia. It has long been a critical tool for advancing key issues that are popular with the public but unlikely to make it through legislatures or city councils.

But more and more legislators have been willing to effectively deny their constituents’ political voices. Perhaps the most egregious repeal of a voter-approved initiative in modern history took place this year in South Dakota, where voters passed a suite of ethics and campaign finance reforms aimed at eradicating political corruption endemic to the state’s politics. The state’s legislature quietly declared an “emergency session” and swiftly repealed the citizen-approved measure intended to regulate their own corrupt behavior.

Unfortunately, South Dakotans and Mainers are not alone.

Read the rest of this story at TheCannabist.co.



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josephwebster
103 days ago
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Denver, CO, USA
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#Halloween music on @Bandcamp: John Carpenter + Disturbing Mood pieces, Melodic Theremin, and Gothic horror by Victoria Lundy + 5 Original Horror Soundscapes

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Passing along some Halloween Music you can pick up over on Bandcamp.

John Carpenter on Bandcamp

john-carpenter-bandcamp
I’ve been enjoying John Carpenter’s recent music releases and was happy to see he was also on Bandcamp at https://johncarpentermusic.bandcamp.com/.

So much great music out here! My fav track lately is “A Windy Death” on Lost Themes II.

His album Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998 was released yesterday

https://johncarpentermusic.bandcamp.com/album/anthology-movie-themes-1974-1998.

He’s also on tour http://www.theofficialjohncarpenter.com/tour/ – sadly with no dates in the Denver area yet :^(.

Miss American Vampire by Victoria Lundy

Victoria is a friend, frequent collaborator, and a wonderful Thereminist. Her debut solo album Miss American Vampire released on Halloween 2015 is fantastic! https://victorialundy.bandcamp.com/

miss-american-vampire-victoria-lundy

Disturbing mood pieces, melodic theremin, and gothic horror. This recording used Moog Etherwave Pro Theremin, Ableton Live 9, Logic, Native Instruments Absynth, Reaktor and Molekular.

More info at http://www.victorialundymusic.com/.

No Ghosts. Just Fear.

no-ghosts-just-fear-mark-mosher-cover-1400

I released No Ghosts. Just Fear. Back in 2012  https://markmosher.bandcamp.com/album/no-ghosts-just-fear. Note this, and my entire catalog on Bandcamp are now “name your price”.

The dark ambient sounds and music within these arrangements was created and performed on various virtual instruments. In some cases original audio recordings were used as sources then re-shaped with granular synthesis to turn these recordings into playable expressive instruments with huge sonic range and motion.

Happy Halloween,

Mark Mosher
Composer, Synthesist, Electronic Musician, Multimedia Artist
Boulder, CO
MarkMosherMusic.com
ModulateThis.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Filed under: halloween music, Sound Design Tagged: Gothic Music, Halloween, Horror Music, Horror Soundscapes, John Carpenter, mark mosher, synthesizer, synthesizers, Theremin, victoria lundy









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josephwebster
112 days ago
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I have most of this stuff and can confirm that it's excellent and spooky as hell.
Denver, CO, USA
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