Repressive autocracies like Egypt, Oman, and the UAE ban Signal and other encrypted messaging apps, using national firewalls to try to block their traffic; Signal evades these blocks by using "domain fronting," in which the service's cloud provider shows up as the origin of its traffic, forcing countries to block Google or Amazon to get at a single service hiding behind them.
Read the rest “Amazon orders Signal to stop using AWS to defeat censorship”
NHS Digital has issued guidance to the independent authorities and businesses that make up the UK's National Health Service, setting out the case for storing extremely sensitive patient data on public cloud servers.
Read the rest “NHS okays hospitals and doctors storing patient data on public cloud servers”
In a recent presentation at the Real World Crypto symposium, researchers affiliated with Brown University and a startup called Pixek presented their work developing an app that encrypts photos at the moment they're taken and uploads them in encrypted form to a cloud server, in such a way that the keys remain on the user's device, meaning the service provider can't view the photos.
Read the rest “Using structured encryption to search protected photos in the cloud”
On Monday, many websites, news services, publishing platforms, and other internet-connected things that use Amazons AWS platform went dark. The cause can finally be revealed.
Read the rest “That big Amazon S3 outage was caused by a typo, company admits”
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 “The kickstarted Pebble smartwatch is now a division of Fitbit, so they may "reduce functionality" on all the watches they ever sold”
Apple has acknowledged that its Icloud service is a weak link in its security model, because by design Apple can gain access to encrypted data stored in its customers' accounts, which means that the company can be hacked, coerced or tricked into revealing otherwise secure customer data to law enforcement, spies and criminals. Read the rest “Iphones secretly send your call history to Apple's cloud, even after you tell them not to”
Vtech is a ubiquitous Hong Kong-based electronic toy company whose kiddy tablets and other devices are designed to work with its cloud service, which requires parents to set up accounts for their kids. 4.8 million of those accounts just breached, leaking a huge amount of potentially compromising information, from kids' birthdays and home addresses to parents passwords and password hints. Read the rest “Vtech breach dumps 4.8m families' information, toy security is to blame”
big_mac_heart_attack posted this gorgeous example of a "fallstreak hole" with a rainbow in a cloud formation over eastern Victoria, Australia. They are rare enough that some people think they are evidence of UFOs. Unfortunately, that isn't usually the case. From Weather Underground:
Read the rest “Incredibly strange and sublime cloud portal with a rainbow inside”
Fallstreak holes form in these high to mid-level (cirrocumulus or altocumulus) clouds which are comprised of tiny water droplets that are below the freezing temperature but have not yet frozen (called supercooled water droplets). Airplanes passing through the cloud help the supercooled water droplets freeze. Air expands and cools as it passes over the wings and the propellor blades, decreasing the ambient temperature just enough to allow the droplets to freeze. The ice crystals grow and start to fall, while causing the water droplets around the ice crystals to evaporate. This leaves a large hole in the cloud with brush-like streaks of ice falling below it.
The battery-powered LED cloud is handmade in Australia and projects a moon and stars on the ceiling above. Read the rest “LED cloud lights”
Denver police were videoed savagely beating David Flores and his pregnant girlfriend by Levi Frasier, who had his tablet confiscated and the video deleted after one of the cops shouted "camera" -- but the video had already backed up to the cloud. Read the rest “FBI investigating Denver cops who erased citizen video of beatdown”
In Enclosing the public domain: The restriction of public domain books in a digital environment, a paper in First Monday, researchers from the Victoria University of Wellington document the widespread proactice of putting restrictions on scanned copies of public domain books online. Read the rest “Copyfraud, uncertainty and doubt: the vanishing online public domain”
Bittorrent Sync is a Dropbox-like service through which the bittorrent protocol is used to synchronize all your devices. I recently used it to receive a large file from a friend in Los Angeles, and I was amazed and delighted by the speed an ease with which it came down. Bittorrent is calling for alpha testers to help it refine the product for its official launch.
Correction: An earlier version of this story got it wrong. I misremembered how the Bittorrent Sync product worked and erroneously believed that it used a cloud of bittorrent users to cooperatively share synch duties for one another.
It's exciting to see a more decentralized, redundant approach to cloud computing. Of all the resources we use with our computers, bandwidth is the scarcest and most fraught (since it's controlled by evil phone companies and mined by lawless spies). Storage, meanwhile, is fantastically abundant -- hard drives get so much cheaper so much faster that it's sometimes mindboggling. Many of us have storage to spare, and swapping that for cloud-based storage for backup, sharing and collaboration makes good sense.
The Bittorrent Sync architecture is reminiscent of the Freenet Project, a classic censorship-resistant file-sharing technology. I'm really looking forward to seeing what they come up with. Read the rest “Bittorrent Sync seeks alpha testers”
How Much Will PRISM Cost the U.S. Cloud Computing Industry? [PDF], a report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation -- a highly regarded DC think-tank -- estimates that the US cloud computing companies will lose $22-$35 billion as a result of customers' nervousness about PRISM and other spying programs. The US had been leading the world in cloud computing, but analysts are seeing a rush to European cloud providers that are (presumably) out of reach on the NSA and in jurisdictions with tighter rules on government spying. Read the rest “US businesses stand to lose up to $35B as a result of PRISM”
Ardent Industries, the crazy people behind such large art installations as Dance Dance Immolation and SYZYGRYD, are building a giant 3D Mario cloud stuck to the top of a forklift so they can rain on people's parades. Their Kickstarter is fully funded and they're starting production and getting their forklift licenses! Rad!
Ardent Mobile Cloud Platform on Kickstarter Read the rest “Ardent Industries to build raining voxel cloud on a forklift”
Kate sez, "Technology companies are moving rapidly to get tools like email and document creation services into schools. This link to a recent survey of schools in the UK shows that use of such technology is expected to bring significant educational and social benefits. However, it also reveals that schools have deep concerns that providers of these services will mine student emails, documents or web browsing behaviour to build profiles for commercial purposes, such as serving advertisements. When data mining is done for profit, the relationship between the data miner and the consumer is simply a market transaction. As long as both parties are free to choose whether and when they wish to engage in such transactions, there is no reason to forbid them or place undue obstacles in their path. However, when children are using certain services at school and can neither consent to, control or even properly understand the data mining that is taking place, a clear line against such practices must
be drawn, particularly when their data will be used by businesses to make a profit."
UK School Opinions of Cloud Services
and Student Privacy [PDF]
(Thanks, Kate!) Read the rest “Schools and the cloud: will schools allow students to be profiled and advertised to in the course of their school-day?”