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If we're not in pain, we're not alive

You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?
Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of Dumbspeech State of Grace Echopraxia [website], the long-delayed "sidequel" depicting parallel events on Earth. Want more? Look inside for a guide to the rest of Watts' award-winning (and provocative) body of work. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Aug 25, 2014 - 66 comments

Snowden granted 3-year stay in Russia.

After several days in legal limbo, the world's most notorious whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has been granted a three-year stay in Russia. This is amid breaking news of Russia's issuing of a menu of its own sanctions against U.S./E.U. countries, et al. The former NSA employee has been stranded in Russia for more than a year. Recently, new leaks by other, as yet unknown whistle-blower(s) other than Snowden have surfaced, according to U.S. authorities. The leaks detail certain "rules" for targeting of people for surveillance (including merely searching for privacy software), as well as details on the kind of activity or relationships which may put innocent people on terrorist watch lists.
posted by fantodstic on Aug 7, 2014 - 54 comments

The *first* revelation this week, at least

This week's Glenn Greenwald revelation is that Britain's GCHQ JTRIG intelligence organization offers its agents and planners tools with abilities to increase the search ranking of chosen web sites, “change outcome of online polls”, “masquerade Facebook Wall Posts for individuals or entire countries”, and accomplish “amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube).” [more inside]
posted by XMLicious on Jul 16, 2014 - 54 comments

Journey to the Centre of Google Earth

“But what shall we dream of when everything becomes visible?” Virilio replies: “We’ll dream of being blind."
posted by 0bvious on Jun 24, 2014 - 5 comments

Snowden To Address Audience in First Live Q&A, Days After EU Testimony

The good news is that there are solutions. The weakness of mass surveillance is that it can very easily be made much more expensive through changes in technical standards: pervasive end-to-end encryption can quickly make indiscriminate surveillance impossible on a cost-effective basis. The result is that governments are likely to fall back to traditional, targeted surveillance founded upon an individualized suspicion. Governments cannot risk the discovery of their exploits by simply throwing attacks at every “endpoint,” or computer processor on the end of a network connection, in the world. Mass surveillance, passive surveillance, relies upon unencrypted or weakly encrypted communications at the global network level.

Edward Snowden submits written testimony to an EU committee investigating mass surveillance, and answers questions. The testimony takes place 3 days ahead of his highly anticipated SXSW appearance, to take place later today. Snowden is expected to speak about privacy, security, mass surveillance programs, free speech and whistle-blowing in a rare remote video appearance before a live audience.
Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo finds this “deeply troubling” in a letter he's sent to the organizers of the conference.

Meanwhile, people who wish to #asksnowden questions can use the hashtag on Twitter. The talk is to take place at 12pm PT, today.
posted by fantodstic on Mar 10, 2014 - 89 comments

Perhaps they could call it WOPR

To reduce the risk of future Edward Snowden style leaks, the NSA wants to reduce the number of people in the loop. Director Keith Alexander told Reuters that the NSA plans to eliminate fully 90 percent of its system administrators and replace them with machines.
posted by Naberius on Aug 9, 2013 - 104 comments

Green Dam Youth Escort

"During his civil lawsuit against the People's Republic of China, Brian Milburn says he never once saw one of the country's lawyers. He read no court documents from China's attorneys because they filed none. The voluminous case record at the U.S. District courthouse in Santa Ana contains a single communication from China: a curt letter to the U.S. State Department, urging that the suit be dismissed. That doesn't mean Milburn's adversary had no contact with him." [China Mafia-Style Hack Attack Drives California Firm to Brink]
posted by vidur on Nov 28, 2012 - 12 comments

The threat won't be understood until a Cyberdisaster

The Frightening Things You Hear at a Black Hat Conference. (Previously-ish).
posted by MattMangels on Nov 23, 2012 - 49 comments

The Brief - A daily briefing of technology news worth caring about

NASA will send you an email or text alert when the International Space Station is visible from your area. IBM scientists have recently made significant advances in nanotechnology. A mathematician thought a poorly-encrypted headhunting email from Google was testing him, but he had actually discovered a major security hole. All of this found via The Brief: A Daily Briefing of Technology News Worth Caring About from MeFi's own nostrich. [via mefi projects]
posted by davidjmcgee on Nov 9, 2012 - 15 comments

Telnet Times Ten Thousand

If you've ever worked with the command prompt on a Unix-based computer, you're likely familiar with SSH (Secure SHell), which is a program and a protocol that allows you (yes, you!) to securely access a remote system. While SSH has certainly earned the "Secure" portion of its namesake over the years, it's functionality as a shell has ironically received very little attention, and has begun to show signs of age and obsolescence: SSH doesn't work very well on mobile connections, and its support for Unicode is buggy and incomplete. A group of MIT researchers think they've found solutions to these problems, and have created Mosh as a potential successor to SSH, which fixes many of the old protocol's annoyances and shortcomings, while retaining all of SSH's security features.
posted by schmod on Apr 12, 2012 - 77 comments

Kuang Grade Mark Eleven

He leaves his cellphone and laptop at home and instead brings "loaner" devices, which he erases before he leaves the US and wipes clean the minute he returns . In China, he disables Bluetooth and Wi-Fi , never lets his phone out of his sight and, in meetings, not only turns off his phone but also removes the battery , for fear his microphone could be turned on remotely. He connects to the Internet only through an encrypted, password-protected channel, and copies and pastes his password from a USB thumb drive. He never types in a password directly, because, he said, "Chinese are very good at installing key-logging software on your laptop." - Travel precautions in the age of digital espionage.
posted by Artw on Feb 13, 2012 - 125 comments

Of spies, special forces and drone strikes

Warfare: An advancing front - "The US is engaged in increasingly sophisticated warfare, fusing intelligence services and military specialists" [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 21, 2011 - 19 comments

you may say I'm a dreamer

-Only an 'energy internet' can ward off disaster
-We must electrify the transport sector [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 19, 2011 - 58 comments

Looky Here

Say hello to the newest police method for human identification: iris scanning. The Alameda County Sheriff's Office is preparing to become the first public agency in the Bay Area to scan the irises of convicted sex offenders.
posted by fandango_matt on Nov 5, 2007 - 31 comments

What do you know about CALEA?

Bob Cringely thinks the government's information gathering capability is a disaster waiting to happen. Does our government have too much faith in computers as a solution to our problems? Just as electronic voting is looked at skeptically by the computer-savvy among us, so should the use of computers to gather information.
posted by TedW on Jul 16, 2003 - 13 comments

Reasonable security measures or invasion of privacy?

This article is about new border crossing security measures that are supposedly in the works. Cross the U.S. border in a few years, and a hidden camera may zero in on you from 150 metres away, able to recognize you by the shape of your face, perhaps by the telltale markings of your eyeball or even in the way you walk past the border guard. In milliseconds, a supercomputer would sift through a massive "data warehouse," able to dip into your life: Credit-card purchases, travel patterns, health and banking records would all be scanned. Your old telephone conversations -- in any language -- would be instantly available, along with e-mails that you sent years ago. Perhaps they'll even be able to read your MetaFilter posts.
posted by orange swan on Nov 25, 2002 - 36 comments

Did you install it yet?

Did you install it yet? You may want to think twice. That new software update for Windows Media Player isn't just a security update, if you read the End User License Agreement carefully, it states:
"In order to protect the integrity of content and software protected by digital rights management 'Secure Content', Microsoft may provide security related updates to the OS Components that will be automatically downloaded onto your computer."
Does anyone know anything more about this? How about recommendations for a suitable replacement for WMP?
posted by Hackworth on Jul 1, 2002 - 31 comments

Does privacy have a place in society anymore? Or is it incompatible with a crowded and technologically-advanced world? If we must submit to constant surveillance, who should we trust to watch?
posted by rushmc on May 23, 2002 - 21 comments

For Paranoid Parents everywhere. A global satellite positioning wristwatch, in happy-happy day-glo colours, that you can security-clamp onto your kid's wrist. Then, at your office terminal, you can find out exactlywhere they are. Love the 911 button. How about actually playing with your kids, rather than launching them out into the urban wilderness, on a wireless tether? "Latch-key" takes on a whole new dimension.
posted by theplayethic on Jan 8, 2002 - 28 comments

Anti-rip CD system bypassed.

Anti-rip CD system bypassed. heh. nice try, boyos. i've never understood how people can believe something digitized can possibly be protected in such a manner as to be foolproof. what one process can scramble, another can undo. [via /.]
posted by fuzzygeek on Aug 1, 2001 - 5 comments

Code Red.

Code Red. Microsoft NT, 2000, and ISS users beware, and resurgance of the code red virus may rear it head again tomorrow. Be sure to get all patched up
posted by Hackworth on Jul 30, 2001 - 12 comments

Win XP's Product Activation as a breeze to hack. Provided that RC1 still ships as is and you keep your RAM locked at a fixed number of sticks, it's simply a matter of keeping a backup of a DBL file. For all the ballyhoo, it's amazing that something this obvious slipped under the cracks. With WPA this sloppy, is this the only half-hearted facet of Windows XP?
posted by ed on Jul 17, 2001 - 36 comments

Beyond the bar code:

Beyond the bar code: Tags on retail products will send radio signals to their manufacturers, collecting information about consumer habits -- and raising privacy concerns. Radio tag technology is already here, used in fields such in livestock, freight-train cargo and highway tolls. The only barrier to widespread use is consumer products is price. When they can be made for a penny, expect to see them everywhere. From the March issue of MIT Technology Review.
posted by jhiggy on Feb 20, 2001 - 13 comments

NSA has lost the techno war. It says.

NSA has lost the techno war. It says. But do we believe them? Or is this merely intended to lull us into complacency?
posted by Steven Den Beste on Feb 19, 2001 - 25 comments

John Draper says he's going straight for good

John Draper says he's going straight for good and looking to "pay back society for [his] deeds in the past," by working with a software security outfit.
posted by idiolect on Jan 29, 2001 - 2 comments

Roll your own Carnivore.

Roll your own Carnivore. A network security firm has released its own software package to duplicate the abilities of the FBI's packet-sniffing black box. Or at least, its admitted abilities.
posted by harmful on Sep 21, 2000 - 0 comments

Mitnick is free to use computers for work

Mitnick is free to use computers for work
"[The] federal judge has ruled that such blanket restrictions are unacceptable and job offers should be considered on a case-by-case basis."
posted by rschram on Jul 18, 2000 - 5 comments

jon kats on "geek profiling":

jon kats on "geek profiling": "W.A.V.E joins new sofware "security" programs ... being tested in public schools in America to compile and computerize information on students believed to be dangerous or potentially violent. This new rat-on-kids industry is an offshoot of the Geek Profiling anti-Net hysteria that broke out all across the United States after the Columbine High School killings, whose first anniversary is fast approaching. Despite the fact that horrific incidents like Columbine are extremely rare, and that the FBI and Justice Department have both reported that youth violence has dropped to its lowest levels in more than half a century, the belief persists in much of America that technologies like the Internet (and activities like computer gaming) are turning otherwise healthy school children into mass murderers."
posted by palegirl on Mar 29, 2000 - 7 comments

The Discovery Channel has a pretty good "Hackers Hall of Fame"

The Discovery Channel has a pretty good "Hackers Hall of Fame" but of course they get hacking/phreaking/cracking all munged up. There's a brief bio and short synopsis of activities for each person.
posted by mathowie on Feb 12, 2000 - 0 comments

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