29.08.14

Hello! It is Friday. The Friday before a long weekend, no less. Which means it’s time to pack up the family and drive to the most magical place in the world, which has filed a patent to use drones.

Of course, nothing can compare to Google’s drone delivery ambitions, which were also revealed for the first time on Thursday.

The companies that sell commercial cellphone location tracking software are getting very good at what they do, reports The Washington Post. And they made a really nice animated graphic to explain how. Their techniques exploit an old, insecure global network that sits below the cellular network.

Meanwhile, here’s how Starbucks and other big food chains use location data – lots of it – when figuring out where to put their new stores.

Bill Robinson has been doing amazing work picking apart the latest annual report from the commissioner of Canada’s cyberspy agency CSEC, which I won’t even bother trying to summarize here.

An obvious question when you collect as much data as the NSA does: How do you possibly search through it all? Naturally, you create a “Google-like” search engine to sift through “more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept.”

In Canada you have a reasonable expectation to privacy – until, apparently, you sign away those rights in a contract that you might not actually know you signed.

This week in “Yes-That-Fitness-Tracker-You-Wear-Is-Tracking-Everything” (yes, everything): Jawbone was able to track the effect of the Napa earthquake on its wearers based on sleep data shared with the company, and the wearer’s proximity to the quake.

Canada’s new privacy commissioner released his office’s annual report this week. Drones, facial recognition software, wearable computing, big data…all the usual things are of concern. (Here’s a direct link to the report.) But, really? Nothing about CSEC? Or the millions of unwarranted requests for telecom company subscriber information? Stingrays? Maybe that’s next year’s report.

Researchers claim that electrical fluctuations emitted by a computer while doing computationally intensive work could be recorded and used to extract potentially sensitive information, such as encryption keys. In other words: “Attackers could theoretically gain easy access to thousands of encrypted keys through solely touching the chassis of the computer.” Okay.

The Globe and Mail’s Colin Freeze digs deeper into CSEC’s Landmark project, in which it is suggested the cyberspy agency’s network analysts identify vulnerable computers abroad, infect them, and then use those machines as cover when conducting cyber espionage campaigns.

While much of the focus on Stingrays – also known as IMSI catchers, which can be used to intercept and monitor cellular phones in a given area – has been on police use, just as likely is the possibility criminals and foreign intelligence agencies may use the technology against us. It’s probably in all our best interests that we harden our wireless networks against use by both cops and criminals alike, Stephanie Pell argues.

Finally, drone selfies. Not people taking selfies with drones, but drones taking mirror selfies of themselves. What a world.

This week in .digest jams: This will be stuck in your head for the rest of the week/month/year. Sorry/not sorry. May as well get in on the ground floor.