Five short links


Photo by Ken-ichi Ueda

Using public data to extract money by shaming people – There is a big difference between theoretically public, and being publicized. The traditional computer science model of privacy is binary, either information is secret or not, but real-world security has always relied on shades of accessibility, enforced by mechanisms that make it hard to gather and distribute protected data sets in bulk. Fifty years ago someone could have gone down a courthouse, copied parking tickets from paper files, and taken out thousands of classified ads in the local newspaper to run the same scheme, but they didn’t because the time and money involved meant it wouldn’t make a profit. We’ve now removed almost all the friction from data transfers, and so suddenly the business model is viable.

Cargo Cult Analytics – All the measurements in the world won’t help you if you don’t know what your goal is.

How to ruin your technical session in ten easy stages – I’ve given some terrible talks, usually when I’ve over-committed myself and not spent enough time preparing. I love “anti-planning”, where you list all the ways you’d screw up a project if you were deliberately trying to sabotage it, and then use that as a check-list of the dangers to watch out for, so this post will be on my mind for next time.

Notes on Intel microcode – A demonstration of how little we actually know about our CPUs, despite building a civilization that relies on them.  Just like hard drive controller subversion, this provides an attack surface that almost nobody would think of guarding. The techniques used to investigate the encrypted microcode updates are worth studying as outstanding hacks too.

Null Island – Nestled off the coast of West Africa at latitude, longitude (0˚, 0˚), Null Island is the home of a surprising amount of geo data, though I never knew its name until Gnip gave me a cool t-shirt. After mentioning my appreciation, I was pleased to find out that my friend Michal Migurski was one of the original discoverers!

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