22.08.14

Hello! It is Friday. Here is an awesome video of face tracking used in a cool-not-creepy way that you should watch right now.

In case you missed it last week: A reminder that unencrypted internet traffic can be used by attackers to take control of your computer. Or, as Citizen Lab researcher Morgan Marquis-Boire puts it, “The only thing you need to do to render your computer’s secrets—your private conversations, banking information, photographs—transparent to prying eyes is watch a cute cat video on YouTube, and catch the interest of a nation-state or law enforcement agency that has $1 million or so to spare.” The Washington Post has a writeup on the U.S. company that helped design the hardware that makes this sort of thing possible. The full Citizen Lab report is also worth reading if you have time to spare.

Also, from last Friday, here’s how intelligence agencies have been taking control of vulnerable, unprotected computers — computers belonging, not to suspects or targets, but to innocent third parties — to obscure the source intelligence offensives. If you want to skip the technical details, here’s an overview of the setup.

One of the coolest things you’ll read this week: for a brief period of time, running different combinations of the latin placeholder text “lorem ipsum” through Google Translate, for whatever reason, produced bizarre results including ‘China,’ ‘NATO,’ and ‘The Free Internet.’ “Was it a secret or covert communications channel? Perhaps a form of communication meant to bypass the censorship erected by the Chinese government with the Great Firewall of China? Or was this all just some coincidental glitch in the Matrix?” muses Brian Krebs.

Meanwhile, Chinese hackers are to blame for the theft of healthcare data belonging to approximately 4.5 million individuals earlier this year, according to a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Wirecutter does what The Wirecutter does best, and rounds up the best drones. Just don’t fly them outside of apartment building windows, okay? That’s creepy. Speaking of other things with video recording capabilities, what are the privacy implications of police-worn cameras? And how did Anonymous get its naming of the Ferguson police officer who shot Michael Brown so wrong?

The Australian ISP Telestra apparently stores the URLs its subscribers visit under the guise of metadata that can be handed over to authorities. Researchers hacked some traffic lights, and it wasn’t very hard, either. Everyone knows privacy is about power. Now what, asks Ryan Calo? And the ruling isn’t final, but a Brazilian court has ordered Apple and Google to remotely wipe an app called Secret from its citizens’ phones.

The Canadian government has never gone on record with the number of private communications the country’s cyberspy agency CSEC has retained. Until this week. The agency intercepted and retained 66 communications from Canadians last year, according to The Globe and Mail, and “the material was gathered, without warrants, in the course of its spying on foreign threats.” Vice suggests CSEC might also be helping Israel target suspects belonging to Hamas.

Finally, a network of Internet-connected undersea microphones is picking up more than whale songs. I wrote an article in The Atlantic this week on the Navy’s efforts to track and censor underwater data collected by ocean scientists. Let me know what you think!

We’re veering into non-slowjam territory again this week. I wrote today’s whole digest to Cliff Martinez’s soundtrack to The Knick.