• PrivacyLeaky apps exacerbate Facebook’s privacy risks

    A bug in Facebook’s advertising platform made it possible for potential hackers to uncover users’ phone numbers, according to new research. The Facebook advertising system is incredibly effective at targeting specific audiences, which is what has made the company so lucrative, says a researcher. But because anyone can become an advertiser, and there is very little transparency in what ads are being placed, the platform “could be used for nefarious purposes,” he added.

  • PrivacyWith no clear liability against Facebook, expert calls for stronger data privacy laws

    The Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday that it has opened an investigation into Facebook after a data analytics firm collected the private data of more than fifty million users. Cambridge Analytica, the data company hired by the Trump campaign in 2016, has been accused of taking private information unbeknownst to users. The FTC will investigate whether or not Facebook violated a 2011 consent order with the FTC over its handling of user data and how the company notifies changes to its terms of service. Northeastern’s Professor Woodrow Hartzog, who specializes in privacy and data protection law, explains the possible legal fallout from this investigation.

  • Data analyticsCambridge Analytica: the data analytics industry is already in full swing

    By David Beer

    Revelations about Cambridge Analytica have laid bare the seeming lack of control that we have over our own data. Suddenly, with all the talk of “psychographics” and voter manipulation, the power of data analytics has become the source of some concern. But the risk is that if we look at the case of Cambridge Analytica in isolation, we might prevent a much wider debate about the use and control of our data. By focusing on the reports of extreme practices, we might miss the many everyday ways that data analytics are now shaping our lives.

  • Texas sink holesLarge swath of West Texas oil patch is heaving and sinking at alarming rates

    Two giant sinkholes near Wink, Texas, may just be the tip of the iceberg, according to a new study that found alarming rates of new ground movement extending far beyond the infamous sinkholes. Analysis indicates decades of oil production activity have destabilized localities in an area of about 4,000 square miles populated by small towns, roadways and a vast network of oil and gas pipelines and storage tanks.

  • Water securityThe effects of climate change on California watersheds

    California relies on the Sierra Nevada snowpack for a significant portion of its water needs, yet scientists understand very little about how future changes in snowpack volume and timing will influence surface water and groundwater. Now researchers are developing an advanced hydrologic model to study how climate change might affect California watersheds.

  • The Russian connectionU.S. not ready to fend off Russian meddling in the 2018 midterms: GOP, Dem. lawmakers

    Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence (DNI), told lawmakers two weeks ago that “the Unsaid States is under attack” by Russia. On Wednesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee held hearings about how the United States was addressing one of the components the three-pronged Russian attack: Russia’s ambitious effort to undermine and discredit American democracy by attacking the U.S. election infrastructure. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former DHS secretary Jeh Johnson were confronted by pointed questions from both Republicans and Democrats, questions which revealed a bipartisan consensus that the United States is not prepared to fend off Russian meddling in the 2018 midterms.

  • Middle East nukesFormer IDF intel chief: Bombing of Syrian reactor shows Israel will act alone to survive

    Maj-Gen. (Ret.) Amos Yadlin, Israel’s chief of military intelligence in 2007 said in a press briefing that the Israeli Air Force’s destruction of a Syrian reactor shows that when Israel is faced with “a very serious threat” to its existence, “Israel is going to act, and act even if Israel has to act alone.”

  • U.K. spy attackDeny and distort: A timeline of Russia's changing story on Skripal poisoning

    Since the poisoning of the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter on 4 March in England, Russian officials have been consistent about one thing: Moscow didn’t do it. Otherwise, they have offered a hodgepodge of theories, evasions, and refutations to parry British accusations that a Soviet-era nerve agent was likely used to poison Skripal and his daughter. British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said on 19 March that Moscow was “not fooling anyone” with its “increasingly absurd” denials of culpability for use of the nerve agent on British soil. Vladimir Putin was trying to “conceal the needle of truth in a haystack of lies and obfuscation,” Johnson said.

  • The Russia connectionSenate Intel Committee: Initial election security recommendations for 2018 election cycle

    The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will hold an open hearing today, Wednesday, 21 March 2018, on the threats to election infrastructure. The hearing will cover Russian attempted attacks on state election infrastructure in 2016, DHS and FBI efforts to improve election security, and the view from the states on their cybersecurity posture. The committee yesterday made available its initial recommendations on election security after investigating Russian attempts to target election infrastructure during the 2016 U.S. elections.

  • Middle East nukesIsrael admits destroying Syrian reactor in move seen aimed at Iran

    The Israeli military has formally acknowledged for the first time its destruction of a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, saying the air strike removed a major threat to Israel and was a “message” to others. Israel’s announcement on 21 March about Operation Out of the Box is widely seen as a veiled warning to arch-enemy Iran as it builds up its military presence in Syria. Syria, with North Korean help, secretly built the reactor in the desert near Deir al-Zor in north-east Syria, in violation of the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). North Korea planned to use the facility for separating weapon-grade plutonium from spent uranium, a nuclear-weapon related activity prohibited by the 1994 U.S.-North Korea nuclear Framework Agreement.

  • U.K. spy attackExpelled Russian diplomats head home as U.K. mulls further poisoning response

    Twenty-three Russian diplomats who were ordered out of Britain in response to the poisoning of a former spy with a deadly nerve agent are leaving the Britain. In addition to expelling the Russian diplomats, Britain has suspended high-level bilateral contacts with Moscow and announced that British ministers and the royal family will not attend the soccer World Cup in Russia this summer.

  • PrivacyUse of face recognition systems threatens civil liberties: EFF report

    Face recognition—fast becoming law enforcement’s surveillance tool of choice—is being implemented with little oversight or privacy protections, leading to faulty systems that will disproportionately impact people of color and may implicate innocent people for crimes they didn’t commit, says an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) report. Independent oversight, privacy protections are needed.

  • PrivacyCambridge Analytica’s abuse of Facebook user data shows “profound impact of technology on democracy”

    Facebook has suspended Cambridge Analytica from its platform for violating its guidelines on the use of user data. The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) says that a weekend New York Times article further illuminated the scale of Cambridge Analytica’s efforts and showed how the company used personal information about users to conduct targeted political outreach. “These revelations illustrate the profound impact internet platforms can have on democracy,” CDT says.

  • TerrorismFrench consulate worker in Israel arrested for Gaza gun-running

    Israel says it has detained a French consulate official suspected of smuggling weapons from the West Bank to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, using an embassy vehicle with diplomatic license plates. The Israeli police says the individual was motivated by money, not ideology. The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, said Monday it had arrested a diplomatic official who was accused of smuggling weapons into Gaza.

  • U.K. spy attackNerve agent was placed in former spy’s BMW ventilation system: U.S. intel

    The former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, may have been exposed to a deadly nerve agent through his car’s ventilation system, ABC News reports. The two remain in critical condition in hospital after being exposed to the nerve agent novichok in Salisbury, in the U.K., two weeks ago. ABC News reported that intelligence officials had said the “dusty” substance used was likely placed in the ventilation system of the BMW Skripal was driving.