Wednesday, July 29
First up, a scare from the Guardian, which reports that the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND) is worried that terrorists may use the Internet to launch nuclear attacks from armed countries:
While the possibility of a radical group gaining access to actual launch systems is remote, the study suggests that hackers could focus on feeding in false information further down the chain – or spreading fake information to officials in a carefully orchestrated strike.
“Despite claims that nuclear launch orders can only come from the highest authorities, numerous examples point towards an ability to sidestep the chain of command and insert orders at lower levels,” said Jason Fritz, the author of the paper. “Cyber-terrorists could also provoke a nuclear launch by spoofing early warning and identification systems or by degrading communications networks.”
Next, an article from the Washington Post on how electric utilities looking for a piece of the $3.9 billion “smart grid” stimulus will need to prove that they’re working to prevent cyberattacks:
The requirements from the Energy Department come amid mounting concern from security experts that many existing smart-grid efforts do not have sufficient built-in protections against computer hacking, such as new “smart meters” that put information about consumers’ power use onto the Internet, grid-management software and other equipment.
And finally, Ars Technica warns that the current use of security certificate warnings—those boxes that pop up occasionally on sites that claim to be secure for shopping and other transactions—are falling on deaf ears:
Internet users have grown immune to security certificate warnings and are more than happy to click past them, according to a new report out of Carnegie Mellon University. Researchers found that users won’t hesitate to engage in this risky browsing behavior, especially since most warnings are for benign things like expired certificates. This behavior leaves them vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks, and the report calls for a reform in how warnings are handled in both safe and dangerous situations.
Here’s something to keep your eye on: A woman in Chicago complained via Twitter about her former apartment, and is now being sued by the property management company—to the tune of $50,000—for sullying the company’s name.
Emily Sheketoff, Executive Director of the ALA, has sent a letter to NTIA asking that the definitions of “unserved” and “underserved” not be applied to the country’s libraries:
Congress’s commitment of $7.2 billion in funding for broadband connectivity via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was viewed as an opportunity to connect all of our communities in a cost-effective, inclusive way. However, the ALA believes the release of the first-round NOFA raises significant concerns and hurdles for libraries considering applying for broadband funding. These concerns stem from what was perceived as the ARRA’s giving libraries, as anchor institutions, priority with regard to the five statutory purposes. However, the NOFA in effect de-prioritizes libraries and discourages them from applying for funding in a number of ways.
For many people, libraries provide the only opportunity to access the Internet. For a national broadband plan to be truly effective, libraries can’t be left out.
Tuesday, July 28
Monday, July 27
A new study from the Pike & Fischer Broadband Advisory finds that when asked to rank “advanced communications” services, respondents said high-speed Internet is most important:
Pike & Fischer asked some 280 executives, engineers, and consultants from the cable, phone, satellite TV, broadcast, and technology equipment industries of their opinions on the appeal of various services to customers. When asked to rank a number of “advanced communications services” on a scale of one to five (five being the highest), almost 40 percent of Pike & Fischer’s survey respondents gave high-speed data the highest rating. Comparatively, only about 25 percent ranked HDTV as high, and digital phone service was at the bottom of the list, with under 10 percent ranking it a five.
A crippling allergy to…wi-fi?
A new study from the group LogMeIn finds that 85% of small business workers say they prefer to stay connected while on vacation. This prompts Om Malik of GigaOm to wonder whether vacations of the future will be all about staying away from the Internet.
That’s certainly a better solution for Internet addiction than shock therapy—just ask China.
Telehealth can save money and improve quality of life and quality of care. In Pennsylvania, diabetic patients using a remote home monitoring system averaged hospitalization costs of $87,000, versus $232,000 for members of a control group who received only traditional in-person nurse visits.
Rintels, Jonathan. “An Action Plan for America: Using Technology and Innovation to Address our Nation’s Critical Challenges.” The Benton Foundation. 2008
More facts about broadband and health care.
Cell-phones turned communication wireless. Wi-Fi made surfing the Internet sans cable a reality. Now, via the L.A. Times, word comes that the long-held dream of actually powering devices without cords may soon be a reality. The company behind the innovation, WiTricity of Massachusetts, says their product will be on the market within a year and a half. Stay tuned…
Friday, July 24
As the traditional news model continues to struggle, the old journalism guard is exploring ways to protect—and keep profiting from—their content. Leading the charge is the Associated Press, which after experimenting with forcing bloggers and aggregator sites like the Drudge Report to take down AP content, has shifted gears and created a “news registry” to monitor the use of its content. Read Write Web explains:
The AP’s content will be attached to a digital-permissions framework and monitored for its usage. This means that every time a blogger uses AP materials, they’ll be alerted to its permissions and someone will be watching to see that it’s being used correctly. AP posts will actually bare pop ups with permissions and sources.
Whether this new idea will solve the online content sharing riddle remains to be seen, but other media conglomerates are surely paying attention.