Houseguests, technological literacy, and the goddamned wifi: a single chart

Randal Munroe nails it again in an XKCD installment that expresses the likelihood that your houseguests will be able to connect to your wifi (I confess to having been the "firmware" guide -- but also, having been reminded to do something about my own firmware when other difficult houseguests came to stay). Read the rest

Chrysler's Dieselgate: 100,000 Chrysler trucks said to have emissions "defeat devices"

The EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) say that since 2014, Chrysler shipped 104,000 trucks with "defeat devices" designed to cheat emissions tests -- like VW's cheating, this software was designed to produce low NOx ratings when the trucks were undergoing emissions tests, but to ramp up NOx emissions during normal road use, trading emissions for fuel-efficiency. Read the rest

Chinese social media went a-flutter at this photo of an apparent App Store clickfarmer

This year-old photo of a woman seated at a wall of Iphones went viral on Chinese social media, where it was identified as a clickfarmer whose job is to repeatedly install apps on multiple phones in order to inflate their App Store ranks. Read the rest

Free audiobook of Car Wars, my self-driving car/crypto back-door apocalypse story

Last month, Melbourne's Deakin University published Car Wars, a short story I wrote to inspire thinking and discussion about the engineering ethics questions in self-driving car design, moving beyond the trite and largely irrelevant trolley problem. Read the rest

Rogue One: an "engineering ethics" case-study disguised as a Star Wars movie [SPOILERS]

In a society buffeted by technological change, the discipline of "engineering ethics" raises some of our most significant and difficult-to-answer questions: from last year's Moral Character of Cryptographic Work to the Neveragain.tech pledge not to enable trumpism's ethnic cleansing mission (a pledge in the tradition of the 1943 firebombing of the Amsterdam Municipal Register to keep it out of Nazi hands) to the war on general purpose computing, with its many tendrils, from 3D printed guns to creation of legal weapons at standards bodies -- and because science fiction reflects present-day social questions, we've now got a Star Wars movie that's all about "engineering ethics" (spoilers after the jump). Read the rest

PWC threatens to sue security firm for disclosing embarrassing, dangerous defects in its software

ESNC, a German security research firm, discovered a critical flaw in PWC's enterprise software, which would allow attackers to hack into PWC customers' systems; when ESNC gave PWC notice of its intent to publish an advisory in 90 days, PWC promptly threatened to sue them if they did. Read the rest

The kickstarted Pebble smartwatch is now a division of Fitbit, so they may "reduce functionality" on all the watches they ever sold

If you're one of the 60% of Pebble employees who didn't get a job offer from Fitbit, the company's new owner, you're probably not having a great Christmas season -- but that trepedation is shared by 100% of Pebble customers, who've just learned (via the fine print on an update on the Pebble Kickstarter page) that the company may soon "reduce functionality" on their watches. Read the rest

W3C at a crossroads: technology standards setter or legal arms-dealer?

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an amazing, long-running open standards body that has been largely responsible for the web's growth and vibrancy, creating open standards that lets anyone make web technology and become part of the internet ecosystem. Read the rest

Barnes & Noble's releasing a $50 Android tablet that does all the things Amazon won't let Kindles do

Chris Meadows writes, "Barnes & Noble is coming out with a $50 Nook Android tablet, with hardware specs similar to Amazon's $50 Fire. The kicker is, this new Nook tablet will run plain-vanilla Android 6.0 Marshmallow and include the full suite of Google Play apps--unlike the Fire, which only permits installation of those apps Amazon deems suitable. Will this be enough to rescue the ailing Nook brand?" Read the rest

Winter Denial of Service attack knocks out heating in Finnish homes

A DDoS attack that incidentally affected the internet connections for at least two housing blocks in Lappeenranta, Finland caused their heating systems to shut down, leaving their residents without heat in subzero weather. Read the rest

Internet-destroying outages were caused by "amateurish" IoT malware

Some of the internet's most popular, well-defended services -- including Twitter -- were knocked offline yesterday by a massive denial-of-service attack that security experts are blaming on botnets made from thousands of hacked embedded systems in Internet of Things devices like home security cameras and video recorders. Read the rest

Game developers say no to DRM: "hurts our customers"

The developers behind the hotly anticipated Shadow Warrior 2 have gone on record explaining why they didn't add DRM to their new title: they themselves hate DRM, and understand that DRM disproportionately inconveniences legit customers, not pirates who play cracked versions without DRM. Read the rest

Podcast: How we'll kill all the DRM in the world, forever

I'm keynoting the O'Reilly Security Conference in New York in Oct/Nov, so I stopped by the O'Reilly Security Podcast (MP3) to explain EFF's Apollo 1201 project, which aims to kill all the DRM in the world within a decade. Read the rest

How a digital-only smartphone opens the door to DRM (and how to close the door)

Fast Company's Mark Sullivan asked me to explain what could happen if Apple went through with its rumored plans to ship a phone with no analog sound outputs, only digital ones -- what kind of DRM badness might we expect to emerge? Read the rest

48 hours later, Adblock Plus beats Facebook's adblocker-blocker

On August 9, Facebook announced that it had defeated adblockers; on August 11, Adblock Plus announced that it had defeated Facebook. Read the rest

American Bar Association votes to DRM the law, put it behind a EULA

Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, "I just got back from the big debate on is free law like free beer that has been brewing for months at the American Bar Association over the question of who gets to read public safety codes and on what terms." Read the rest

Your medical data: misappropriated by health-tech companies, off-limits to you

Backchannel's package on medical data and the health-tech industry profiles three people who were able to shake loose their own data and make real improvements in their lives with it: Marie Moe, who discovered that the reason she was having terrifying cardiac episodes was out-of-date firmware on her pacemaker; Steven Keating, who created a website with exquisitely detailed data on his brain tumor, including a gene-sequence that had to be run a second time because the first scan wasn't approved for "commercial" use, which included publishing it on his own site; and Annie Kuehl, whose advocacy eventually revealed the fact that doctors had suspected all along that her sick baby had a rare genetic disorder, which she only learned about after years of agonizing victim-blaming and terrifying seizures. Read the rest

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