Lauren Weinstein writes: Word is out from multiple intelligence sources and security researchers that Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s Gmail account was hacked by (you guessed it!) Russian hackers under the direction of the Russian government (aka Vladimir Putin), for public distribution of Podesta’s email messages via Putin’s propaganda publishing arm: Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks. All of this in furtherance of Putin’s “Get Ignorant Puppet Trump Elected U.S. President!” project.
Apparently Podesta fell victim to a typical “spear phishing” attack, typing his Google Gmail credentials into a convincing (but fake) Google login page.
Lauren Weinstein writes: Just when you’re thinking that the situation couldn’t get worse for once venerable Yahoo — the company has been sold at fire sale prices, they’ve announced historically enormous user account security breaches, and so on — comes word that Yahoo may have permitted mass scanning of users’ email contents by unnamed federal intelligence agencies.
Unattributed, unsourced stories — particularly dramatic ones like this — must be viewed with extreme skepticism. Very often these days some nobody throws out a baseless rumor, it’s mirrored around the Web in minutes, and sometimes is even picked up by mainstream news sources without any sort of realistic fact checking. If every individual or firm subjected to this sort of abuse responded formally to every such unfounded attack, they often wouldn’t have time to do much else.
Lauren Weinstein writes: Google has launched a new consolidated central blog called "The Keyword" to make it easier to track Google products, research, and other activities. It will reportedly ultimately replace many other Google blogs.
Because Google has long had a multiplicity of blogs to follow, this could well be a very positive move, depending on the details.
This assumes, however, that you can actually *read* their new blog.
As you can see in the comparison below, Google has once again failed users with aging or otherwise less than perfect vision. Link to Original Source
Lauren Weinstein writes: We already know that Trump’s knowledge of and interest in actual science and technology is somewhere pretty much south of downtown nil, but he doesn’t mind touting fake statistics if they seem to be in his favor.
That’s why we’ve been treated now to his rants — and various postings from his moronic, thuggish minions — claiming that after-debate polls say he won, he won big, he won huge over Hillary.
He won nothing that means anything. And that’s even if we ignore the supposed CBS poll he claimed that he won, that CBS has proclaimed never even existed!
Because not a single scientific, statistically valid poll of which I’m aware showed Trump as the winner. Every one showed Hillary the winner to varying degrees — often by a dramatically large win.
Lauren Weinstein writes: Let’s be very clear about this. Virtual Reality firm co-founder Palmer Luckey, a 24-year-old with some $700 million burning a hole in his pocket thanks to Facebook buying his company and VR headset invention, has every right as an individual to secretly (well, not so secretly now!) bankroll neo-Nazi, white supremacist, pro-Trump hate groups. For the moment at least — assuming racist sociopath Trump isn’t given the keys to the White House and the control of our nuclear arsenal that could destroy civilization — “it’s a free country” as the questionable saying goes.
But what’s not acceptable is for Oculus the company to effectively endorse his actions by not clearly and decisively condemning them.
Lauren Weinstein writes: It has long seemed clear to me that appropriately dealing with the rising tide of trolls and other social media posting abuses would inevitably require an intensifying partnership between automated detection systems and human insights, each bringing different strengths and limitations to the table.
This is why I wholeheartedly support the ongoing efforts of Google (or more precisely, the "Jigsaw" division of Google's parent Alphabet, Inc.) to leverage Google's sophisticated and powerful artificial intelligence assets to help deal with the growing trolling and hate speech scourge.
Lauren Weinstein writes: While the push to encrypt Internet connections by default is a laudable one, it is also essential that fundamental aspects of practicality and user reactions also be carefully considered.
I touched on some of this over a year ago in “Falling Into the Encryption Trap” — but now that Google has made more explicit their plans for browser address bar warnings to users regarding http: connections, I’m again concerned.
Lauren Weinstein writes: I’ve long had a policy of avoiding involving myself in Hollywood politics — not always easy having resided here in L.A. for my entire life to date.
But something’s going on with Oscar — or more precisely the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) — that is disturbing both in and of itself, and for what it says about our society at large (including here in the tech world).
Lauren Weinstein writes: I still have a couple of my oldest Internet domains — including one that turned thirty years old this year and was among the first 40 dot-com domains ever issued — with Network Solutions (NSI) for historical reasons, and I continue to be impressed with the firm’s ability to closely emulate the practices of the worst kind of Internet crooks.
Lauren Weinstein writes: Toyota is running a new TV spot (internally titled “Camping”). It’s already triggering letters and petitions to Toyota to remove it from the air immediately. It’s breathtakingly stupid and could easily trigger dangerous copycats.
Lauren Weinstein writes: We all understand what’s been happening in the news biz. Clicks and eyeballs increasingly come before facts and truth. But to see AP sink to this low level is painful and distressing.
To make matters worse, AP appears to now be channeling Trump himself, refusing to admit that their story was misleading and that their tweet was an outright travesty. They’re refusing to apologize or correct the record, and are displaying much the same sort of intransigence that Trump himself famously displays when caught in misrepresentations, half-truths, or outright lies.
Lauren Weinstein writes: Except in crucial enterprise environments or especially elevated security situations, it should be common practice for user interfaces to provide a method for the user to see their passwords or other data as they enter it if they choose to do so — a simple enabling checkbox with an appropriate warning would suffice. And this would be the display of the entire password or other input, not just a flash of each letter as it’s being typed.
Lauren Weinstein writes: Google Questions & Unofficial Answers: “Does Google Make Junk Solicitation Phone Calls?”
It seems like almost every day I get junk solicitation phone calls “from Google.” They call about my Google business local listings, about my not being on the first page of Google search results, and so on — and they want me to pay them to “fix” this stuff. When I look up the Caller ID numbers they use, I often finds pages of people claiming they’re Google phone numbers. Sometimes the Caller ID display actually says Google! Is Google really doing this?
Negative. NONE of these calls are from Google. Zero. Zilch. Nada...
Lauren Weinstein writes: But when a publication with the stature of Scientific American raises the red flag about a major presidential candidate, it’s time for everyone in the tech and science fields to take notice and do some serious soul searching.
Because the dangerous, ignorant, fascist, racist, misogynist, continually lying monster that is Donald Trump is significantly of own creation.
We must now come to terms with this truth while we still can, much as ultimately did J. Robert Oppenheimer relating to his key role in the creation of nuclear weapons.
Lauren Weinstein writes: I'm told that SSA has now *removed* the mandatory cell phone access requirement that was strongly criticized in the original posting below. I appreciate that SSA has done the right thing in this case. Perhaps in the future they'll think these things through better *ahead* of time!