Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

HBO keeps getting hacked, cryptocurrencies aren’t currencies & robots won’t take all our jobs — Issue #23

Gregory B.
Aug 28, 2017 · 8 min read

HBO keeps getting hacked, cryptocurrencies are not currencies and robots won’t take all our jobs 🤖

🌍 Around the web

It’s been a brutal month of hacks for HBO, here’s a wrap-up of everything that happened. There’s no GoT spoilers, I promise!

The company kicked off August with an apparently massive breach of its servers, in which hackers pilfered everything from full episodes of unreleased shows to sensitive internal documents. Not long after, in separate and distinct incidents, two episodes of Game of Thrones leaked out early. And Thursday, hacker group OurMine hijacked HBO’s main Twitter account, along with those of several HBO shows. It’s been a hell of a couple of weeks.

This week’s data leak:

UpGuard’s Cyber Risk Team can now disclose that a data repository owned and operated by Omaha-based voting machine firm Election Systems & Software (ES&S) was left publicly downloadable on a cloud-based storage site, exposing the sensitive data of 1.8 million Chicago voters. The database, which included voter names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, and partial Social Security numbers, appeared to have been produced around the time of 2016 general election for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, an ES&S customer since 2014.

Why would you ban books that could help inmates earn an honest living when they get out of jail?

While California is teaching inmates to code, other states ban them from teaching themselves. Ohio and Michigan prisons ban books teaching programming skills on grounds they’re a “threat to order and security” (…) Lists of banned books acquired by MuckRock through public records requests show that Ohio and Michigan prisons ban books that aim to teach computer programming skills. Their decisions to ban educational texts related to programming, alongside erotica and literature published by neo-nazi groups, are in stark contrast with practices in other states and countries, where prisons include coding in educational programs.

Fascinating (yet depressing) taxonomy of trolls: the 4chan shitposters, the Anti-progressive gamers, the Men’s rights activists, the Anti-globalists and the White supremacists.

The alt-right isn’t one group. They don’t have one coherent identity. Rather, they’re a loose collection of people from disparate backgrounds who would never normally interact: bored teenagers, gamers, men’s rights activists, conspiracy theorists and, yes, white nationalists and neo-Nazis. But thanks to the internet, they’re beginning to form a cohesive group identity. And I have the data to prove it.

There are similarities between how Islamists and white nationalists operate online, researchers said. How can we prevent them from recruiting?

Even though Islamists and white nationalists have different views and motivations, there are broad similarities in how the two operate online — including how they spread their message, recruit and organize offline actions. The similarities suggest a kind of blueprint for a response — efforts that may work for limiting the reach of jihadists may also work for white supremacists, and vice versa. (…)The first step in combating online extremism is kind of obvious: It is to recognize the extremists as a threat. (…) If tech companies are finally taking action to prevent radicalization, is it the right kind of action? Extremism researchers said that blocking certain content may work to temporarily disrupt groups, but may eventually drive them further underground, far from the reach of potential saviors.

Reading this I had to think of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson.

James Damore, the author of the notorious Google memo, has had his 15 minutes of fame. In six months, few of us will be able to remember his name. But Google will remember — not the company, but the search engine. For the rest of his life, every time he meets someone new or applies for a job, the first thing they will learn about him, and probably the only thing, is that he wrote a document that caused an internet uproar.
The internet did not invent the public relations disaster, or the summary firing to make said disaster go away. What the internet changed is the scale of the disasters, and the number of people who are vulnerable to them, and the cold implacable permanence of the wreckage they leave behind.

Yet another proof that net neutrality matters.

AT&T is facing a complaint alleging that it discriminates against poor people by providing fast service in wealthier communities and speeds as low as 1.5Mbps in low-income neighborhoods. The formal complaint filed today with the Federal Communications Commission says that AT&T is violating the Communications Act’s prohibition against unjust and unreasonable discrimination. That ban is part of Title II, which is best known as the authority used by the FCC to impose net neutrality rules. But as we’ve explained before, Title II also contains important consumer protections that go beyond net neutrality, such as a ban on discrimination in rates, practices, and offerings of services.

🤖 Technology / AI / Blockchain

Interesting perspective on the explosion of cryptocurrencies.

Their name tells us that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are meant to be currencies: tokens of exchange used to purchase goods and services. Yet even a quick glance at the most heavily trafficked cryptocurrency news sources certainly wouldn’t give that impression. Instead, their coverage gives you the impression that what people are most interested in is trading cryptocurrencies — trading, the way we trade other securities, especially stocks.

An ultra-secure company that didn’t use no two-factor authentication? You must be kidding…

Enigma prides itself on ultra-secure products. The company’s Catalyst platform protects financial info with a cutting-edge combination of blockchain-inspired privacy technology and cryptography. So it comes as no small surprise that on Monday, scammers took over the company’s website, mailing lists, and Slack accounts by exploiting some extremely basic security mistakes Enigma had made. The blunders also facilitated a scam that ultimately cost Enigma supporters almost $500,000.

Fascinating piece about refraction networking and how it could help people escape internet censorship.

For the last two years, a team of engineers and researchers has quietly been working to develop new technology for Internet freedom. Today, we are pleased to share results from the first large-scale field trial of refraction networking, a fundamentally new way to help people around the world learn and communicate online in the face of censorship. We served more than 50,000 users, for more than a week, by deploying refraction networking at partner ISPs.

Some people still ask themselves if cryptocurrencies are here to stay while Estonia might become for first country to issue their own crypto tokens.

Estonia could offer ‘estcoins’ to e-residents. The proposal to issue crypto tokens would make the Republic of Estonia the first country with an Initial Coin Offering (ICO). (…) Estcoins’ could be managed by the Republic of Estonia, but accessed by anyone in the world through its e-Residency programme and launched through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO).

Are we overreacting? Will robots really take all our jobs? Find out in this thought provoking piece by Wired.

It’s a dramatic story, this epoch-defining tale about automation and permanent unemployment. But it has one major catch: There isn’t actually much evidence that it’s happening. (…) that impact is far more nuanced and limited than the doomsday forecasts suggest. A rigorous study of the impact of robots in manufacturing, agriculture, and utilities across 17 countries, for instance, found that robots did reduce the hours of lower-skilled workers — but they didn’t decrease the total hours worked by humans, and they actually boosted wages. In other words, automation may affect the kind of work humans do, but at the moment, it’s hard to see that it’s leading to a world without work.

The ultimate guide to machine learning. Simple, plain-English explanations accompanied by math, code, and real-world examples.

WTF is Ethereum?

Great illustrated guide to understand why Ethereum is not just another cryptocurrency.

Although ‘Bitcoin’ and ‘Ethereum’ are terms that are often paired together, the reality is that they are vastly different. The only thing Ethereum shares with Bitcoin is that it’s a cryptoasset running on top of blockchain.
Instead of being just a cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, Ethereum also has features which effectively makes it a huge decentralized computer.

⚙️ Development / Design / DIY projects

Guide for a data-driven approach to cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple etc.) market analysis and visualization using Python. It’s fairly technical.

I’ve always struggled a little with recursion, this is a very clear explanation with flowcharts.

I’ve shared a lot of articles about Arduino and Raspberry Pi projects but this one is a mind-blowing use of the Pocket C.H.I.P.

After setting the system up to his liking, he got the good stuff by first install Aircrack-ng for sniffing out wireless networks and basic cracking. He already had an Ubertooth One on hand (though they cost almost twice as much as the Pocket CHIP itself), so he added that, a Bluetooth dongle, and BlueHydra for attacking Bluetooth devices.

How to quickly and easily set up a simple e-commerce site.

We build a serverless e-commerce app using AWS Lambda, Stripe and React ensuring your website is ready for such traffic peaks.(…)The bullet-proof, low-cost solution is based on a serverless architecture.

Alex Ellis —

Learn how to deploy Docker Swarm to create a Raspberry Pi cluster then turn it into a serverless super-computer with the OpenFaaS framework for Docker.

🔥 Bits and pieces

Forms on the web don’t usually play nice with bad connections. Here’s how you might fix that. Check out Preact, a JavaScript library that describes itself as a fast 3kB alternative to React with the same ES6 API.

Have you ever wanted to use Google Spreadsheets as your data backend? Check out pdf-bot: a Node queue API for generating PDFs using headless Chrome (comes with a CLI, S3 storage and webhooks for notifying subscribers about generated PDFs).

Read the Brief History of Open Source from the Netflix Cloud Security Team. See how Bitmain’s going from bitcoin mining to artificial intelligence. This guy built a chatbot in 2 hours and this is what he learned.

When the New York Times crossword got too popular they moved it to Google App Engine. And finally create your very own cryptocurrency with Build-a-Coin.

The Aspiring Nerd

Weekly curated articles at the crossroads of web marketing, development and technology.

Gregory B.

Written by

Web strategist with a conscience.

The Aspiring Nerd

Weekly curated articles at the crossroads of web marketing, development and technology.

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