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Health Apps Sell User Data

A recent study from the BMJ found that many popular health apps share more data with advertisers than they probably should. The researchers analyzed 24 Android apps with scripts that simulate real world usage, and found that 19 of them shared potentially sensitive user data (PDF Warning) with 55 "unique entities." 14 of the apps transmitted the data over an unencrypted connection. The researchers stressed that the entities collecting the data not only have the ability to aggregate it with user information from other sources, but that they turn around and sell this information to other 3rd parties, which represents a huge potential privacy violation.

Sharing of user data is routine, yet far from transparent. Clinicians should be conscious of privacy risks in their own use of apps and, when recommending apps, explain the potential for loss of privacy as part of informed consent. Privacy regulation should emphasise the accountabilities of those who control and process user data. Developers should disclose all data sharing practices and allow users to choose precisely what data are shared and with whom.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 21, 2019 10:34 AM (CDT)

Intel Ice Lake Shows Up In EEC Database

Intel showed off a 10nm Ice Lake "client SoC" at CES this year, and revealed that it will use the "Sunny Cove" CPU architecture. While they gave a few details about the upcoming mobile chips and the core itself, we didn't hear much about Ice Lake in higher power parts. However, Twitter user and data-miner Komachi has once again found some unreleased hardware on the Eurasian Economic Commission's Online Portal. The first listing shows an "Idaville Ice Lake-D Pre-Alpha 85W Clear Linux Internal 32G Physical SDP," suggesting that Intel will brink the upcoming 10nm architecture to their (relatively) high power Xeon-D server chip lineup. Assuming the listing is accurate (as some other EEC listings have been,) this more or less confirms that Ice Lake won't be confined to the realm of low-power laptop chips.
Meanwhile, the next listing suggests that the low power "Ice Lake-Y" chips will have a "4+2" core config. Intel's current Amber Lake processors top out at 2 cores, so if I'm reading the listing right, it looks like ultra low power notebooks could get a core count boost next generation. There's also an Ice Lake-U "upgrade kit" listing with the same "4+2" core config. Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 19, 2019 9:48 AM (CDT)

All Myspace Data Before 2016 is Gone

Thanks to a "faulty server migration," MySpace has lost all data uploaded to the site before 2016. MySpace users started noticing the problem over a year ago, but tech support staff only recently started acknowledging that users' data may never come back. The Guardian claims "50m tracks from 14 million artists have been lost," and according to one of their articles from last year, the site still has many dedicated users.

Some have questioned how the embattled company, which was purchased by Time Inc in 2016, could make such a blunder. "I'm deeply sceptical this was an accident," wrote the web expert Andy Baio. "Flagrant incompetence may be bad PR, but it still sounds better than, 'We can't be bothered with the effort and cost of migrating and hosting 50m old MP3s.'" Myspace initially claimed the deletion was a temporary error, with customer support staff telling one user: "I have been informed the issue will be fixed." But by July last year it was publicly acknowledging that no such fix was forthcoming.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 19, 2019 8:39 AM (CDT)

DroneClash Turns Counter Drone Research Into a Sport

As drones get cheaper and easier to control, security and safety issues related to their operation are becoming more important than ever. While governments are working on drone regulations, and some companies are already selling countermeasures to large organizations, a group of enthusiasts and experts recently decided to turn counter-drone research into a spectator sport. Over the weekend, nine international teams entered a battle to "bring down the rival Queen drone" that was broadcast on the internet, but anti-drone contest didn't stop there. DroneClash organized an event encouraging white-hack hackers to compromise commercial drones, also also hosted a counter drone tech expo. The organizers posted the entire live stream of the competition on their YouTube channel, and you can check out the recap below.

There is not yet a silver bullet for the authorities to safely and effectively down a drone. However, by bringing together the bright minds and enthusiasm of drone developers and hobbyists with the counter-drone industry and the end-users, counter-drone measures can be tested and fine-tuned. In the words of the University's Kevin van Hecke, one of the brains behind the competition: "The solution we are working towards is some sort of mechanical eagle. This year were saw DroneClash competitors replicate the flying speeds, and ramming force of birds of prey. But we still have big steps to take in terms of grasping and safely depositing a rogue drone. We will continue to organise future DroneClash events and evolve the rules to push counter-drone innovation further, faster."

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 18, 2019 8:34 AM (CDT)

Valve Doesn't Sound Too Happy about the Epic Store Copying Steam Data

Could a lawsuit be brewing? A spokesperson with Valve has told Bleeping Computer the company is "looking into what information the Epic launcher collects from Steam" following allegations the software was stealing users’ information without their express permission. Engineers with Epic have admitted some of the scrapped data could be sent to the company's servers.

In other words, Valve doesn't think the Epic Store client should be touching localconfig.vdf at all, and presumably would prefer it if Epic used the Steam API to gather friends lists. For Epic's part, it has not said that the entire file is uploaded, only that it parses out user IDs and uploads hashes of them, should users import Steam friends. In the future, Valve could potentially encrypt local user data to prevent the Epic client and other software from copying it.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 16, 2019 1:40 PM (CDT)

Facebook is Under Criminal Investigation for Data Sharing Practices

Facebook's news coverage hasn't been particularly positive over the past few months, but they had a particularly bad day yesterday. Following a widespread outage that lasted over 14 hours, and likely cost the company millions in advertising revenue, the New York Times released a report claiming that the U.S. Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into Facebook over their data sharing practices. According to their sources, two major handset manufacturers have already been subpoenaed. At this point, Facebook's public image seems to be in "it couldn't possibly get any worse" territory, hence their stock price barely budged in response to the incident and the story, and is still significantly up since to the beginning of March.

"It's already been reported that there are ongoing federal investigations, including by the Dept of Justice. As we've said, we're cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously. We've provided public testimony, answered questions, and pledged that we'll continue to do so."

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 14, 2019 10:00 AM (CDT)

Careless Employees Expose Sensitive Data as Public on the Cloud

Adversis has discovered employees at numerous companies are sharing files by enabling public file sharing in Box Enterprise. This combined with the ability to brute force the the sub-domain, URL, and folder names of Box Enterprise accounts means that these sensitive files, documents, and more are easily discovered and some are even being indexed by Google. Files found by Adversis include hundreds of passport photos, social security and bank account numbers, tech prototype and design files, employee lists, financial data, invoices, VPN configurations, and more. It is unknown how Box Enterprise can be changed to save employees from themselves. This is not a vulnerability or bug as public sharing is a feature of Box Enterprise. Adversis noted that in 2014 the issue was brought up and ignored by companies. Box released a Public Service announcement, but most companies ignored it also. Techcrunch listed some of the interesting files discovered on Box including passwords and backdoors for major municipality public works, customer phone numbers; names and email addresses, healthcare provider patient information, and more. Adversis has open-sourced its scanning tool.

Box spokesperson Denis Roy said in a statement: "We take our customers' security seriously and we provide controls that allow our customers to choose the right level of security based on the sensitivity of the content they are sharing. In some cases, users may want to share files or folders broadly and will set the permissions for a custom or shared link to public or 'open'. We are taking steps to make these settings more clear, better help users understand how their files or folders can be shared, and reduce the potential for content to be shared unintentionally, including both improving admin policies and introducing additional controls for shared links."

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 11, 2019 4:54 PM (CDT)

Tesla Crashes into River, Owner Claims It Accelerated on Its Own

In yet another alleged case of demonic Tesla quirkiness, a Chinese couple in Shanghai claims their Model S lost its mind and accelerated into a river near a Supercharger station with them in it. The owner, Xiao Chen, told reporters he was stepping on the brakes but the vehicle, unexpectedly, "rushed out of control" instead. Electrek suggests they may not deserve the benefit of the doubt, as Tesla has "safeguards to prevent an automatic system to enable a sudden acceleration." Similar incidents in the past also mostly involved "user error."

"...the owner Xiao Chen had just been rescued ashore, and the gray Tesla was still lying in the river and was soaked in the water. Xiao Chen is still in shock, he told reporters: I was from the beginning stepping on the brakes, and the car suddenly rushed out of control! It turned out that Xiao Chen and his wife drove the car to school in the morning of the incident. After the delivery, they came to the Tesla Supercharger station to prepare for charging. According to Xiao Chen, he kept driving very slowly, stepping on the brakes, but when he got there, the car was out of control."

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 10, 2019 3:45 PM (CDT)

Suicide Instructions Found Spliced into Kids' Cartoons on YouTube, YouTube Kids

YouTube continues its downward spiral: a contributing author for pedimom.com, a pediatrician-run parenting blog, recently discovered that tips for committing suicide were appearing in children’s cartoons on YouTube and the YouTube Kids app. In one video, a man who "resembles Internet personality Joji (formerly Filthy Frank)" shows up on screen and simulates cutting his wrist. "’Remember, kids, sideways for attention, longways for results,’ he says and then walks off screen. The video then quickly flips back to the cartoon."

"I am disturbed, I am saddened, I am disgusted," the physician wrote. "But I am also relieved that I was there to see this video with my own eyes, so that I could take the appropriate actions to protect my family." Those actions included deleting the YouTube Kids app and forever banning it from the house. That particular video was later taken down from YouTube Kids after the doctor reported it to YouTube. However, parents have since discovered that several other cartoons contain information about how to commit suicide, including the same spliced-in video clip.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 03, 2019 1:55 PM (CST)

The Biggest Problem with Triple-A, Open-World Games: "They're Boring as Hell"

"I don’t wanna do my video game chores": the alleged monotony of Red Dead Redemption 2 has driven The Outline to publish an opinion piece arguing that many of the latest big-budget, open-world video games are technically impressive, but their scale and grandeur is merely a ruse to hide their shallow, dull gameplay. The author admits repetition is fundamental in gaming but claims RDR2 and other "Real World Games" have taken tediousness to a whole new level, in which players are forced to perform tasks implemented merely to inflate the length of a game.

This is the standard experience of playing a so-called Real World Game, which other than RDR2 includes games like Horizon Zero Dawn (2017), and No Man’s Sky (2016) before the developers actually made it interesting. It’s a genre that prizes size over depth. It’s usually open-world, pretty easy to play, has a medium-length main quest that’s typically bolstered by an endless series of pointless side quests and collecti-quests (Collect every trophy! Capture every animal! Step on every plant!) to bolster its total playtime. A Real World Game also prizes supposed verisimilitude at the expense of fun.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 03, 2019 12:20 PM (CST)

Beamdog is "Looking Into" Neural Network Texture Upscaling

Canadian game developer Beamdog is the studio behind the PC remasters of classic RPGs like Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, Planescape: Torment, and Neverwinter Nights. The company recently partnered with Skybound Games to bring the remasters to consoles, and, according to a recent blog post, they aren't done with the PC versions of the the games either. The studio said they've "explored the possibility" of neural network upscaling in their Infinity Engine Enhanced Edition games, though they haven't committed to it yet. While they didn't go into specifics either, I assume they're talking about enhancing in-game textures, as ESRGAN and similar algorithms can't be applied to 3D models and are too slow for anything that has to be done in real time. This is (presumably) the same technique modders are using to enhance textures in Morrowind and the classic Final Fantasy games, and I've personally seen tons of neural network upscaling work being done in Skyrim, Metroid Prime, and other game modding communities. Thanks to /u/rhiyo on on the /r/GameUpscale subreddit for the tip.

We've explored the possibility of Catmull-Rom Bicubic scaling, as well as as a few other solutions for scaling (eg. ESRGAN scaling) for the Infinity Engine Enhanced Editions, but haven't pulled the trigger yet on implementing either. We received a number of questions about UI for the Infinity Engine Enhanced Editions games and our plans regarding it going forward. Now that the console releases are announced, we can share that we've been doing extensive updates to our UI system that could very possibly end up paying dividends for the PC versions into the future. For the time being, however, all of the UI work we're doing is centered squarely around the console versions of the games, so any changes to the PC UI won't happen for a while.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas February 22, 2019 12:40 PM (CST)

How China's Social Credit System Affects Its Citizens and Businesses

We have previously documented China's social credit system, but a recent report from the National Public Credit Information Centre documents the effect it has had on Chinese citizens and businesses in 2018. The Chinese government has "discredited" 17.46 million people from purchasing plane tickets to travel and restricted another 5.47 million from purchasing high-speed train tickets. In addition to those restrictions, authorities have blocked individuals from "buying premium insurance, wealth management products or real estate, as well as shaming them by exposing their information in public." This pressure to conform encouraged 3.51 million individuals and businesses to pay off taxes, fines, and debts. Some cities rank their citizens on a AAA to D scale where everyone starts out with 1,000 points. There are more than 200 ways to gain or lose points. AAA rated individuals get free medical checkups, free water and other perks. In villages, "information gatherers" document free labor that is performed by fellow villagers. Spending 8 hours to install a new basketball hoop will net an individual 2 points, while donating a TV to the village meeting room is worth 30 points. Another villager has a son serving in the army which is worth 10 points. These points are accumulated and added to the person's "credit score" and are rewarded with extra "rice, cooking oil and cash rewards from the village committee and are lauded on village bulletin boards as role models." Not taking care of elderly parents or littering will deduct points from their credit scores.

In the lobby of Rongcheng People's Hospital, senior staff member Wang Shuhong said she drove more carefully now because traffic infringements cost not just money but also social credit points. "Many from the general public may not know about it, but we public servants do know. It does have a binding effect on us," she said. According to Wang, applicants must have a ranking of A or above to be hired for permanent positions at public institutions. For contractors, such as security guards, B is a minimum. Over 3.59 million Chinese enterprises were added to the official creditworthiness blacklist last year, banning them from a series of activities, including bidding on projects, accessing security markets, taking part in land auctions and issuing corporate bonds, according to the 2018 annual report released by the National Public Credit Information Centre.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru February 22, 2019 11:08 AM (CST)