National / International News

Dentist, mechanic... security expert?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-21 23:58

When I was interviewing Anup Ghosh for today's roundup of hacking news, he expressed a setniment all too familiar.

"Never a dull day in the security world," he said. And it's true -- this week, we've learned about an Ebay data breach impacting 145 million users, a member of the Navy stealing identities of fellow servicemen from inside an aircraft carrier and a government report that suggests attacking public utilities connected to the Internet is as easy as Googling. That's just this week.

I can say "Target hack" and you know exactly what I'm talking about, right? The truth is that hacking -- the bad kind -- is becoming a regular part of our lives whether we're "into tech" or not. But here's a question I keep coming back to: how do we know the difference between a run-of-the-mill hack job, and a Heartbleed bug?

When I interviewed Brian Krebs last month about Heartbleed on one of the first days it was a story, his advice was "stay off the Internet." No modifiers, no caveats, just one simple sentence.

At that moment Krebs's statement felt like hyperbole, but as the days wore on, the emails from companies and social networks started piling up in inboxes. We talked to people who were actually trying to patch the security holes left open by Heartbleed, and they were barely sleeping. Heartbleed seemed to prove just as serious as Krebs had suggested. But it was also hard to tell what the impact really was. When there's smoke there's fire. But where there's just a ton of kindling and a book of matches... there's... ?

Hacking, as an idea, is really hard to get your head around. It's not as palpable as other kinds of threats. You might suffer from it, but you can't really see it. It's not an explosion, and you need some pretty legitimate tech creds to know how it actually works. In fact, the thing that worries me is that the vast majority of people who interact with technology every day -- and this includes me -- have a pretty simplistic understanding of how it all really works.

We're total noobs, to use the online parlance of our times. So the majority of us have to rely on obvious signs or people who know more than us if we want to identify it and calculate where a hack falls on the threat spectrum.

It's like going to a mechanic or the dentist. You have to trust someone who knows way more than you. And to be honest, I'm not entirely comfortable with that.

I've had dentists who I know attempted to get me to pay for their X-ray machine by telling me to get an X-ray every time I came in for a cleaning. And I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that if we came up with perfect security tools, a lot of cybersecurity companies would go out of business. That's a cynical idea that doesn't take into account the simple fact that most competing cybersecurity companies are trying to build the perfect cybersecurity tools so that all the other companies go out of business.

But it's a factor.

All this reminds me of another quote. It comes from cybersecurity expert at Sophos and Marketplace Tech regular Chester Wisniewski. A funny saying in the cybersecurity world, says Chester, is that "there's no patch for human stupidity." As in, people are fallible. They make mistakes no matter how powerful your security software is. And that might be a place to start from for us regulars, us noobs. To acknowledge how little we know, and promise to learn more about the technology we use, in the hope of protecting ourselves. Because hacking is here to stay.

Stones manager Loewenstein dies

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-21 23:58
Prince Rupert Loewenstein, the Bavarian banker credited with turning the Rolling Stones into the world's richest rock band, has died at 80

Marketplace Bombing Kills 31 In Far Western China

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 23:42

The attack in China's volatile northwestern region of Xinjiang on Thursday was the bloodiest in a series of violent incidents that Chinese authorities have blamed on radical separatist Muslim Uighurs.

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Albuquerque Police Face Federal Scrutiny, Local Outrage

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 23:31

Police in Albuquerque, N.M., have shown a pattern of excessive force that violates the Constitution, a federal report says. The department is changing policies; families are demanding accountability.

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Former Obama Campaigner Tries Running For Himself In Iowa

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 23:30

Brad Anderson helped the president in Iowa in 2008 and 2012, but he's never campaigned on his own behalf. He cites Obama as an inspiration, but others might not be as quick to start their own races.

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In A Coal Town Where Jobs Are Few, Wild Ramps Are Plenty

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 23:29

The annual Ramp Feed, which celebrates the ramp, or wild leek, gives the economically depressed mining town of Richwood, W.Va., a reason to celebrate. And you can smell those alliums for miles.

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VIDEO: Khodorkovsky warns on Russia sanctions

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-21 23:21
Former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has warned against further sanctions on Moscow for its role in Ukraine's current crisis

Five bailed in Syria charity probe

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-21 23:00
Five men arrested in West and South Yorkshire by anti-terror police investigating suspected fraud by a Syrian aid charity, are bailed.

Toure wants Man City 'job for life'

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-21 22:43
Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure wants assurances he will stay at the club for as long as possible, says his agent.

VIDEO: Missing US woman found 10 years on

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-21 22:38
A California woman reported missing aged 15 is found alive after years of alleged sexual abuse, and her suspected captor is arrested.

England wrap up to replicate Brazil

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-21 22:20
England players train in multiple layers and undergo sweat tests in preparation for the heat of the World Cup in Brazil.

Polls open for European elections

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-21 22:06
The polls have opened across Wales for voting in the European elections, with eleven political parties competing for four Welsh seats.

Voters go to polls in Euro election

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-21 22:02
Voters across Scotland are going to the polls in the European elections, which will see six Scots MEPs returned to the European Parliament.

Cardiac care services discussed

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-21 22:01
Plans to shake-up cardiac services at four district hospitals in mid and west Wales will be discussed later following a critical review by a panel of UK leading heart specialists.

Rest in poverty?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-21 21:59

This is probably the grimmest indicator of Britain's growing inequality: There's been a striking rise in the number of paupers' funerals. 

To be fair, it is not a very precise indicator because the number of British people who cannot afford their own funeral and have to be buried or cremated at the state's expense is shrouded in secrecy.

Local authorities have a legal duty to dispose of the indigent dead – under the Public Health (Control of Disease ) Act - but they don't brag about the subject. In fact they have to be compelled by requests under the U.K.'s freedom of information law to divulge any details.

A series of these requests by the opposition Labour Party has revealed a disturbing trend: Over the past five years, the number of paupers' funerals (or Public Health Funerals as they are more decorously termed) has increased across the country by 35 percent to more than 3,000 a year. In southwest England, the number has doubled.

"It's becoming too expensive for the poor to die," says Dr. Kate Woodthrope, of the Death and Society Centre at Bath University. Woodthorpe is not entirely surprised by the secrecy surrounding this subject. "There is something Dickensian about this. And there is a Victorian legacy of shame about not being able to give someone a decent send-off."

Dr. Woodthorpe – a sociology lecturer - blames a number of factors for the increase in state-funded burials and cremations.

"The costs have been rising. A cremation now costs an average of around [$5,000] and much more for burial because of the shortage of land," she says. "That's too expensive for many poor people."

But she also says Britain's relatively high divorce and separation rates have led to families becoming more dispersed around the country, blurring the lines of responsibility for burying sometimes distant relatives. 

A pauper's funeral sounds like a desperately bleak affair. But Julie Dunk of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematoria Management says the service is not perfunctory; it's simple and dignified and although there is usually no memorial marking the grave, the the name of the deceased is always recorded in the cemetary register. And these state-funded funerals can be well attended.

"I once arranged a public health funeral for a homeless man," says Dunk. "And although there was no family or friends to pay for the service, he was such a well known figure in the local neighborhood, that more than hundred people turned up at the funeral to pay their respects."

 

Rest in poverty?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-21 21:59

This is probably the grimmest indicator of Britain's growing inequality: There's been a striking rise in the number of paupers' funerals. 

To be fair, it is not a very precise indicator because the number of British people who cannot afford their own funeral and have to be buried or cremated at the state's expense is shrouded in secrecy.

Local authorities have a legal duty to dispose of the indigent dead – under the Public Health (Control of Disease ) Act - but they don't brag about the subject. In fact they have to be compelled by requests under the U.K.'s freedom of information law to divulge any details.

A series of these requests by the opposition Labour Party has revealed a disturbing trend: Over the past five years, the number of paupers' funerals (or Public Health Funerals as they are more decorously termed) has increased across the country by 35 percent to more than 3,000 a year. In southwest England, the number has doubled.

"It's becoming too expensive for the poor to die," says Dr. Kate Woodthrope, of the Death and Society Centre at Bath University. Woodthorpe is not entirely surprised by the secrecy surrounding this subject. "There is something Dickensian about this. And there is a Victorian legacy of shame about not being able to give someone a decent send-off."

Dr. Woodthorpe – a sociology lecturer - blames a number of factors for the increase in state-funded burials and cremations.

"The costs have been rising. A cremation now costs an average of around [$5,000] and much more for burial because of the shortage of land," she says. "That's too expensive for many poor people."

But she also says Britain's relatively high divorce and separation rates have led to families becoming more dispersed around the country, blurring the lines of responsibility for burying sometimes distant relatives. 

A pauper's funeral sounds like a desperately bleak affair. But Julie Dunk of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematoria Management says the service is not perfunctory; it's simple and dignified and although there is usually no memorial marking the grave, the the name of the deceased is always recorded in the cemetary register. And these state-funded funerals can be well attended.

"I once arranged a public health funeral for a homeless man," says Dunk. "And although there was no family or friends to pay for the service, he was such a well known figure in the local neighborhood, that more than hundred people turned up at the funeral to pay their respects."

 

Tesco to move sweets from checkouts

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-21 21:38
Tesco says it is to stop selling sweets and chocolates at all its checkouts in an effort to help customers make healthier choices.

Ex-tycoon warns on Russia sanctions

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-21 21:26
Former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky says new sanctions risk playing into the hands of nationalists trying to isolate Moscow from the West.

'Computers affect ability to learn'

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-21 21:21
A teaching union in Northern Ireland voices concern about the impact of modern technology on children's ability to learn at school.

VIDEO: The house that is heated by sea water

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-21 21:01
The National Trust is unveiling a new project on Thursday to suck heat from the sea to warm one of its historic homes in North Wales.
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