New Tech Observer

New Tech Observer

Drones to Catch Pirates Using Artificial Intelligence

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 05:46 PM PDT

Innovation News Daily has a report on the US Navy's use of drones to capture small pirate ships. The drones will use radar vision technology to map out images in a surveillance area, searching for specific crafts by matching the laser created images to recognized pirate ship profiles. The use of artificial intelligence reduces the amount of data that needs to be sorted by humans. From the article:
The Fire Scout drones would bounce millions of laser pulses off distant objects to create a 3D "radar" image of any boats on the high seas — a technology known as LIDAR or LADAR — so that their new software could automatically compare the 3D images to pirate boat profiles on record. A first test is scheduled to take place with seven small boats off the California coast this summer.

"The automatic target recognition software gives Fire Scout the ability to distinguish target boats in congested coastal waters using LADAR, and it sends that information to human operators, who can then analyze those vessels in a 3D picture," said Ken Heeke, program officer in the Office of Naval Research's Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department.

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What a Facebook Response to a Subpoena Looks Like

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 05:37 PM PDT

ZDNet has an interesting post on what a Facebook response to a subpoena looks like. The Boston Phoenix conducted an in-depth report on the Craigslist killer, and since he had died, the records related to the case could be released publicly. From the post:
The 71-page document is actually two documents in one. The first eight pages are the actual subpoena; the remaining 62 pages are from Facebook. Most of the pages sent over from the social networking giant consist of a single photograph, plus formal details such as the image's caption, when the image was uploaded, by whom, and who was tagged. Other information released includes Wall posts, messages, contacts, and past activity on the site.

New US Surveillance Policy Under Consideration

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 05:30 PM PDT

RT has a post about a new policy, called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA. RT says CISPA will be worse than SOPA/PIPA in it's ability to censor the web. I'll have to take a look myself, but the blog post includes quotes from the Center for Democracy and Technology, which I consider a reliable source:
Kendall Burman of the Center for Democracy and Technology tells RT that Congress is currently considering a number of cybersecurity bills that could eventually be voted into law, but for the group that largely advocates an open Internet, she warns that provisions within CISPA are reason to worry over what the realities could be if it ends up on the desk of President Barack Obama. So far CISPA has been introduced, referred and reported by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and expects to go before a vote in the first half of Congress within the coming weeks.

Hotel Inserts Ads Into Web Pages

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 05:19 PM PDT

NY Times Bits Blog has an interesting post about a web developer in NY City that noticed his Marriot Wifi access came with an additional space on each web page, including his personal blog, that would allow the hotel chain to insert it's own advertisements. This is a great illustration of how much power ISPs actually have, and how much trust we demonstrate every time we go online:
Justin Watt, a Web engineer, was browsing the Web in his room at theCourtyard Marriott in Midtown Manhattan this week when he saw something strange. On his personal blog, a mysterious gap was appearing at the top of the page. 
After some sleuthing, Mr. Watt, who has a background in developing Web advertising tools, realized that the quirk was not confined to his site. The hotel's Internet service was secretly injecting lines of code into every page he visited, code that could allow it to insert ads into any Web page without the knowledge of the site visitor or the page's creator. (He did not actually see any such ads.)

US Navy Hires Company to Hack Used Gaming Consoles

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 05:06 PM PDT

The U.S. Navy has hired a private company to see if they can recover messaging information from recovered gaming consoles. The Navy says the results of the test will only be used on consoles from outside the U.S. to protect privacy. From the ZDNet report:
The U.S. government recently posted a project asking for the "Development of Tools for Extracting Information from Video Game Systems." The listing was posted just two months ago, and last week a contract was signed with the California-based company Obscure Technologies. The U.S. is paying $177,237.50 for the job.

Wireless Backhaul Technology Improves by Ten Fold

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 04:55 PM PDT

Australian IT News reports CSIRO has developed wireless backhaul technology capable of moving data at 10GBPS, up from the 1 gbps that is currently possible. CSIRO - The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia's National Science Agency, is working with various companies to try and commercialize the breakthrough. From the article:
Microwave transmission is used to link mobile towers back to a carrier's network where it is physically difficult or economically unviable to run fibre to the tower. 
Where current technology has an upper limit of a gigabit per second to multiple towers over backhaul, the government organisation said it could provide the 10 Gbps symmetric speeds over ranges of up to 50 kilometres.
If it works, this breakthrough could make up for the defeat of Lightsquared, which was the only new broadband competition in the U.S. in a long time.


Anonymous Attacks UK Sites Over Surveillance

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 04:45 PM PDT

Anonymous has attacked UK Government sites over a proposed surveillance law. The loosely affiliated hacker group has organized a distributed denial of service attack (DDOS) on three specific government sites, so far. A DDOS attack essentially sends more requests than a server can handle, making it impossible for the server to respond to legitimate traffic. From the ZDNet article:
The hacktivist group Anonymous today hacked multiple U.K. government websites over the country's "draconian surveillance proposals" and "derogation of civil rights." At the time of writing, the following websites are (Home Office), (10 Downing Street - British Prime Minister's Office), and of Justice).

Medicaid Hacked, Social Security Numbers Stolen

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 04:38 PM PDT

The Utah Department of Health has had its Medicaid servers hacked, with over 25,000 SSNs stolen. The server that housed medicaid claims was breached by an Eastern European group. From the ZDNet article:
The Utah Department of Technology Services (DTS) notified the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) on Monday the server that housesMedicaid claims was hacked. On Wednesday, the UDOH publicly announced the breach. On Friday, DTS revealed the damage: 181,604 Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) recipients had their personal information stolen. Of those, 25,096 appear had their Social Security numbers (SSNs) compromised.