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Pew Research Internet Project: Killer Apps in the Gigabit Age

Full Article: Killer Apps in the Gigabit Age
Source: Pew Research Internet Project

Killer Apps in a Gigabit Age: Themes

  • People’s basic interactions and their ability to ‘be together’ and collaborate will change in the age of vivid telepresence—enabling people to instantly ‘meet face-to-face’ in cyberspace with no travel necessary.
  • Augmented reality will extend people’s sense and understanding of their real-life surroundings and virtual reality will make some spaces, such as gaming worlds and other simulated environments, even more compelling places to hang out.
  • The connection between humans and technology will tighten as machines gather, assess, and display real-time personalized information in an ‘always-on’ environment. This integration will affect many activities—including thinking, the documentation of life events (‘life-logging’), and coordination of daily schedules.
  • Specific economic and social sectors will be especially impacted; health/medicine and education were mentioned often.
  • New digital divides may open as people gain opportunities on different timelines and with different tools.
  • Who knows? ‘I have no idea due to rapid change.’ ‘The best Internet apps are yet to emerge.’ ‘If I knew, I wouldn’t tell you, I would invest in it!’
  • Advances will be gradual for various reasons: Bandwidth is not the issue. The US will lag because a widespread gigabit network is not easily achieved.

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Cyberculture and Personnel Security

Cyberculture and Personnel Security
Source: Defense Personnel Security Research Center
Report I — Orientation, Concerns, and Needs (PDF)

Computers and related technologies, such as smart phones and video games, are now a common part of everyday life. Many people spend a large portion of their waking hours using and socializing through these devices, forming what is known as a cyberculture. Personnel security investigative and adjudicative standards were developed before these products were widely available; however, cyberculture bears relevance to personnel security due both to the presence of existing security issues and potential effects on psychological outcomes and workplace performance. Although cyberculture has many beneficial effects, this project evaluates how participation can negatively affect personnel security and employee performance. This initial report provides context, outlines presently actionable findings and strategies, highlights some questions that cannot yet be answered, and draws on outside research to guide future research. Information from many sources was examined, including academic research journals, other federal organizations, news reports, and cyber environments, to understand cyber activities relevant to personnel security. Participation is widespread in U.S. society and popular among all age groups. Some cyber activities, such as foreign associations, can be reportable per existing investigative criteria, so procedures should be updated appropriately and promptly. Other topics require research before action is recommended. One concern is how online disinhibition, where people who become more willing to disclose personal information, deceive, or become hostile, affects personnel security. Increased willingness to disclose may amplify the counterintelligence concerns for individuals targeted by hostile parties. There are also many potential negative effects on impulse control, mental health, physical health, and workplace behavior. Future research is intended to further guide policy, workforce awareness, investigations, and adjudications.

Report II – Ethnographic Analysis of Second Life (PDF)

This report presents the results from an ethnographic examination of a popular virtual social environment, Second Life, as the second part of a larger effort to study the impact of participation in cyber activities on personnel security and safety. Research has shown that cyber participation can spill over into individuals’ offline lives, which could be of security concern to the extent that their online behavior demonstrates poor judgment and/or undermines their reliability. Several immersive ethnographic methods were used in the present study, including participation observation, group discussions, and one-on-one interviews with 148 Second Life users who resembled the demographics of clearance holders. The reported findings include a description of behaviors of potential concern, a set of case studies that outline the behaviors of actual users, and a framework of user personas that attempts to distinguish between innocuous use of no apparent security concern from problematic use that may pose risks to national security. These findings contain implications for updating personnel security policy regarding cyber involvement.

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RAND: Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Data: Hackers’ Bazaar

Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Data: Hackers’ Bazaar
Source: RAND Corporation

Criminal activities in cyberspace are increasingly facilitated by burgeoning black markets for both tools (e.g., exploit kits) and take (e.g., credit card information). This report, part of a multiphase study on the future security environment, describes the fundamental characteristics of these markets and how they have grown into their current state to explain how their existence can harm the information security environment. Understanding the current and predicted landscape for these markets lays the groundwork for follow-on exploration of options to minimize the potentially harmful influence these markets impart. Experts agree that the coming years will bring more activity in darknets, more use of crypto-currencies, greater anonymity capabilities in malware, and more attention to encrypting and protecting communications and transactions; that the ability to stage cyberattacks will likely outpace the ability to defend against them; that crime will increasingly have a networked or cyber component, creating a wider range of opportunities for black markets; and that there will be more hacking for hire, as-a-service offerings, and brokers. Experts disagree, however, on who will be most affected by the growth of the black market (e.g., small or large businesses, individuals), what products will be on the rise (e.g., fungible goods, such as data records and credit card information; non-fungible goods, such as intellectual property), or which types of attacks will be most prevalent (e.g., persistent, targeted attacks; opportunistic, mass “smash-and-grab” attacks).

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RAND: Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Data: Hackers’ Bazaar

Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Data: Hackers’ Bazaar
Source: RAND Corporation

Criminal activities in cyberspace are increasingly facilitated by burgeoning black markets for both tools (e.g., exploit kits) and take (e.g., credit card information). This report, part of a multiphase study on the future security environment, describes the fundamental characteristics of these markets and how they have grown into their current state to explain how their existence can harm the information security environment. Understanding the current and predicted landscape for these markets lays the groundwork for follow-on exploration of options to minimize the potentially harmful influence these markets impart. Experts agree that the coming years will bring more activity in darknets, more use of crypto-currencies, greater anonymity capabilities in malware, and more attention to encrypting and protecting communications and transactions; that the ability to stage cyberattacks will likely outpace the ability to defend against them; that crime will increasingly have a networked or cyber component, creating a wider range of opportunities for black markets; and that there will be more hacking for hire, as-a-service offerings, and brokers. Experts disagree, however, on who will be most affected by the growth of the black market (e.g., small or large businesses, individuals), what products will be on the rise (e.g., fungible goods, such as data records and credit card information; non-fungible goods, such as intellectual property), or which types of attacks will be most prevalent (e.g., persistent, targeted attacks; opportunistic, mass “smash-and-grab” attacks).

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Home Location Identification of Twitter Users

Home Location Identification of Twitter Users
Source: arXiv.org

We present a new algorithm for inferring the home location of Twitter users at different granularities, including city, state, time zone or geographic region, using the content of users tweets and their tweeting behavior. Unlike existing approaches, our algorithm uses an ensemble of statistical and heuristic classifiers to predict locations and makes use of a geographic gazetteer dictionary to identify place-name entities. We find that a hierarchical classification approach, where time zone, state or geographic region is predicted first and city is predicted next, can improve prediction accuracy. We have also analyzed movement variations of Twitter users, built a classifier to predict whether a user was travelling in a certain period of time and use that to further improve the location detection accuracy. Experimental evidence suggests that our algorithm works well in practice and outperforms the best existing algorithms for predicting the home location of Twitter users.

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Microsoft Ending Support for Windows XP and Office 2003

Microsoft Ending Support for Windows XP and Office 2003 Source: U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT)

Computers operating Windows XP with SP3 or running Office 2003 products will continue to work after support ends. However, using unsupported software may increase the risk of viruses and other security threats.

Users have the option to upgrade to a currently supported operating system or office productivity suite. The Microsoft “End of Support” pages for Windows XP and Office 2003 offer additional details.

There are software vendors and service providers in the marketplace who offer assistance in migrating from Windows XP or Office 2003 to a currently supported operating system or office productivity suite. US-CERT does not endorse or support any particular product or vendor.

Users who choose to continue using Windows XP after the end of support may mitigate some risks by using a web browser other than Internet Explorer. The Windows XP versions of some alternative browsers will continue to recieve support temporarily. Users should consult the support pages of their chosen alternative browser for more details.

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