Tired of memorizing passwords? A Turing Award winner came up with this algorithmic trick. | Computerworld

Tired of memorizing passwords? A Turing Award winner came up with this algorithmic trick. | Computerworld

Manuel Blum, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who won the Turing Award in 1995, has been working on what he calls “human computable” passwords that are not only relatively secure but also don’t require us to memorize a different one for each site. Instead, we learn ahead of time an algorithm and a personal, private key, and we use them with the website’s name to create and re-create our own unique passwords on the fly for any website at any time.

“I don’t even have to remember if I have a password” for a given site, Blum explained last week at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany. Asked recently by his wife for his password on the REI website, for instance, “I could honestly say, I don’t know if I’m registered at REI, but if I am, then my password is….”

Essentially, the idea is that your algorithm and key give you an alternate letter or number for each letter in a website’s name; that transformed set of values becomes your site-specific password.



Domestic Counterterrorism: Material Support or Bust – Lawfare

Domestic Counterterrorism: Material Support or Bust – Lawfare

Charging every American who is a self-proclaimed true believer in the Islamic State with material support to terrorism is tantamount to screaming at the top of your lungs during a presidential debate: Your bravado may drown out your opponent, but you likely lost the crowd. In the United States, the arrest of over 60 individuals for support to the Islamic State is our scream. The communities who will be positioned to notice the next 60 individuals are the audience. If we truly want to prevent radicalization to violence, we need to stop yelling every time.

The FBI asserts that there are active Islamic State-related terrorism investigations in all 50 states. The latest government figure puts the number of Americans who have traveled or attempted to travel to Syria and Iraq at “upwards of 200.” A number of Muslim-American organizations are actively and aggressively campaigning against the U.S. government’s countering violent extremism strategy. On one side is an Islamic State radicalization and recruitment trajectory that continues to tick upward. On the other is a populace hesitant to provide an alternative because of perceived government overreach. If we want to make progress against the deluge of homegrown violent extremists, the status quo must be shaken up.

At present, the parent of a radicalized daughter has only two options: do nothing and hope her radicalization is a passing phase, or alert law enforcement and risk a conviction on material support charges that would likely place her behind bars for the next 20 years. This is a difficult choice for parents to have to make. Further, it forces choices that help reinforce the false notions that Muslim Americans are passively complacent and law enforcement officials only care about making a case.

The existence of the subset of radicalized but still reachable individuals demands the creation of a systematic intervention program. A program of this nature is important for both law enforcement and Muslim-American communities.


What has science ever done for us? The Knowledge Wars, reviewed

What has science ever done for us? The Knowledge Wars, reviewed

Sure, since the 16th century, science has given us electricity and anaesthetics, the internet and statins, the jumbo jet, vaccines and good anti-cancer drugs, the washing machine and the automobile. But what has it done for us lately?

In fact, for many people, what science has done for us lately hasn’t been dancin’ till one thought one would lose one’s breath. Rather, it has delivered emotionally-charged fights over issues such as vaccination, whether everyone should be taking statins, anthropogenic climate change, genetically modified foods, wind farms and high-tension power lines.

You only have to look at comment threads on this site on articles about these topics to see just such unhappiness and disgruntlement. In such discussions, science isn’t a benign tool for understanding the natural world, but a villain intent on unleashing industries and technologies we don’t want, or forcing us to give up our SUVs or eat our broccoli.

In this sort of world you can understand why, when considering the state of things, many scientists have taken on slightly exasperated air.

And so Nobel Laureate and National Living Treasure Peter Doherty has stepped into this breach to make the case for science. His new book, The Knowledge Wars, rests on the argument that we are in the midst “of a potential deadly conflict between the new knowledge based in science and the established power”.

That is, while science has often been in conflict with established dogma – from Charles Darwin to Barry Marshall and Robin Warren – for the first time in a long time science finds itself pitted against powerful economic and political actors.


Older people getting smarter, but not fitter — ScienceDaily

Older people getting smarter, but not fitter — ScienceDaily

People over age 50 are scoring increasingly better on tests of cognitive function, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE. At the same time, however, the study showed that average physical health of the older population has declined.

The study relied on representative survey data from Germany which measured cognitive processing speed, physical fitness, and mental health in 2006 and again in 2012. It found that cognitive test scores increased significantly within the 6-year period (for men and women and at all ages from 50 to 90 years), while physical functioning and mental health declined, especially for low-educated men aged 50-64. The survey data was representative of the non-institutionalized German population, mentally and physically able to participate in the tests.

A second study from IIASA population researchers, published last week in the journal Intelligence found similar results suggesting that older people have become smarter also in England.

“On average, test scores of people aged 50+ today correspond to test scores from people 4-8 years younger and tested 6 years earlier,” says Valeria Bordone, a researcher at IIASA and the affiliated Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital.

The studies both provide confirmation of the “Flynn effect” — a trend in rising performance in standard IQ tests from generation to generation. The studies show that changes in education levels in the population can explain part, but not all of the effect.

Bordone says, “We show for the first time that although compositional changes of the older population in terms of education partly explain the Flynn effect, the increasing use of modern technology such as computers and mobile phones in the first decade of the 2000s also contributes considerably to its explanation.”

The researchers note that the findings apply to Germany and England, and future research may provide evidence on other countries.


Circuit in the Eye Relies on Built-in Delay to See Small Moving Objects — ScienceDaily

Circuit in the Eye Relies on Built-in Delay to See Small Moving Objects — ScienceDaily

“Understanding how neurons are wired together to form circuits in the eye is fundamental for advancing potential new therapies for blinding eye diseases,” said Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of NIH’s National Eye Institute (NEI). “Research aimed at regenerating photoreceptors, for example, is enriched by efforts to understand the circuitry in the eye.”

Object motion sensors are one of about 30 different types of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. These cells are unique because they fire only when the timing of a small object’s movement differs from that of the background; they are silent when the object and the background move in sync. Researchers believe this is critical to our ability to see small objects moving against a backdrop of complex motion.

The cells in the retina are wired up like an electrical circuit. Vision begins with photoreceptors, cells that detect light entering the eye and convert it into electrical signals. Middleman neurons, called interneurons, shuttle signals from photoreceptors to the RGCs. And each RGC sends the output visual information deeper into the brain for processing. This all takes place within fractions of a second, so the scientists were surprised to discover that before it reaches object motion sensors, visual information about object motion takes a detour through a unique type of interneuron. Their results represent an ongoing effort by scientists to map out complex circuits of the nervous system.

Using a genetically engineered mouse line, the researchers recorded the activity of object motion sensors and found that the cells form synapses (or connections) with interneurons called VG3 amacrine cells. What’s interesting about this connection is that most retinal circuits tend to follow a more direct, and therefore faster, route. RCGs typically are two synapses away from a photoreceptor, but with the addition of VG3 amacrine cells to the circuit, object motion sensors appear to be three synapses away, slowing visual information delivered to the cells.

To test this idea, the scientists flashed light on the retinas of the mice and found that on average the object motion sensors responded later than other types of retinal ganglion cells. They also selectively activated the sensors by projecting light patterns onto the retinas that mimicked the movement of small objects against a desynchronized background. Mice with genetically eliminated VG3 amacrine cells did not show these responses.


KeyRaider malware stole over 225,000 Apple credentials from jailbroken iOS devices | Computerworld

KeyRaider malware stole over 225,000 Apple credentials from jailbroken iOS devices | Computerworld

If you have a jailbroken iOS device, then you are a target of a new malware that has successfully stolen credentials for over 225,000 Apple accounts. The malware was dubbed KeyRaider since “it raids victims’ passwords, private keys and certificates.”

Although KeyRaider malware only targets jailbroken iOS devices, it has resulted in the “largest known Apple account theft caused by malware,” according to Claud Xiao of Palo Alto Networks. KeyRaider is believed to have impacted users from 18 countries including China, United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Israel, Russia, Singapore, South Korea and Spain.

The attacker used decent bait, adding KeyRaider to jailbreak tweaks that supposedly allow users “to download non-free apps from Apple’s official App Store without purchase” and “to get some official App Store apps’ In-App-Purchasing items totally free.”


The path to 5G – are you ready? – RCR Wireless News

The path to 5G – are you ready? – RCR Wireless News

For all of the hope that “5G” will happen sooner rather than later, there is still a lot of groundwork to do. The move to 5G will not be about going faster or the next “killer app.” And it’s not just an upgrade to existing network technology; it’s basically a new network. As a result, it will likely have a longer implementation time as operators might only deploy in certain areas of their regions when there is a quantifiable business case for doing so.


Nation With Crumbling Bridges and Roads Excited to Build Giant Wall – The New Yorker

Nation With Crumbling Bridges and Roads Excited to Build Giant Wall – The New Yorker

As America’s bridges, roads, and other infrastructure dangerously deteriorate from decades of neglect, there is a mounting sense of urgency that it is time to build a giant wall.

Across the U.S., whose rail system is a rickety antique plagued by deadly accidents, Americans are increasingly recognizing that building a wall with Mexico, and possibly another one with Canada, should be the country’s top priority.

Harland Dorrinson, the executive director of a Washington-based think tank called the Center for Responsible Immigration, believes that most Americans favor the building of border walls over extravagant pet projects like structurally sound freeway overpasses.

“The estimated cost of a border wall with Mexico is five billion dollars,” he said. “We could easily blow the same amount of money on infrastructure repairs and have nothing to show for it but functioning highways.”

Congress has dragged its feet on infrastructure spending in recent years, but Dorrinson senses growing support in Washington for building a giant border wall. “Even if for some reason we don’t get the Mexicans to pay for it, five billion is a steal,” he said.

While some think that America’s declining infrastructure is a national-security threat, Dorrinson strongly disagrees. “If immigrants somehow get over the wall, the condition of our bridges and roads will keep them from getting very far,” he said.


Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 processor gets technology to secure Android phones | Computerworld

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 processor gets technology to secure Android phones | Computerworld

Qualcomm is promising to improve security and privacy on high-end smartphones with Snapdragon Smart Protect, which uses on-device machine learning to help detect zero-day malware.

The popularity of smartphones has started to catch the imagination of hackers, resulting in the need for better protection. Qualcomm’s latest contribution is Snapdragon Smart Protect, which the company announced on Monday.

Smart Protect looks at what’s going on in the smartphone and warns about what it thinks are abnormal behaviors to protect users. At its most basic, that could be an application that takes a photo even though the display is off or an application sending an SMS without any user interaction.

“We can look at many different aspects of what applications are doing; what resources they request, what system calls they make, and then look at a sequence of events and decide if something is malicious,” said Asaf Ashkenazi, senior director of security product management at Qualcomm.

The first processor to get Smart Protect is the Snapdragon 820, which will show up in high-end smartphones during the first half of next year. Smart Protect will also be used in future processors for cheaper devices.


New York, London, and L.A. Dominate the Geography of Pop Music Superstars – CityLab

New York, London, and L.A. Dominate the Geography of Pop Music Superstars – CityLab

To gain insight into pop music’s leading centers or scenes, I turned to Patrick Adler, a Ph.D. student in urban planning at UCLA and a Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) alum. Adler developed a database for the world’s top-selling pop stars from 1950 to 2014 based on the 50 top-selling artists of each decade from the 1950s to the 2000s and the 18 top-selling artists for the years 2010 to 2014. The information comes from Music Industry Data, a standard source for music data used by social scientists, which tracks global album and singles sales for more than six decades across more than 30 countries.

Adler then used biographical resources like the All Music Guide and artist biographies to identify where these pop stars were born, where they lived when their hits broke, and where their music labels were located. Because some of these stars changed locations over time, Adler allocated them to the cities where their first hit song broke in a given decade. So, for example, the Beatles are identified as a Liverpool band in the 1960s, but a London band in the 1970s. Ultimately, Adler generated a locational database for 258 pop stars.

The United States is far and away the dominant location for producing pop stars. More than 70 percent (72.2 percent) of pop stars between 1950 and 2014 were born in the U.S. Less than a quarter (15.6 percent) of pop stars were born in the United Kingdom, but two U.K. bands—the Rolling Stones and the Beatles—were the only two acts to make the list of the top 50 best-selling music acts across four different decades. Nearly 6 percent (5.56 percent) of pop stars hail from Canada. No other country, aside from Italy, accounted for more than one percent of pop stars. More than 20 percent of the world’s biggest pop stars over the past five decades were born in just two cities: New York (14 percent) and London (7 percent).

But America’s prominence as a hub of pop music has varied over time. The U.S. was overwhelmingly dominant in the 1950s, where more than 90 percent of all pop stars, including megastars like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, were born. By the 1970s and 1980s, the share of pop stars born in the U.S. had declined to less than half, and the U.K.’s share reached 30 to 40 percent. Videos played a role in this shift. MTV helped to propel acts like the Police, Duran Duran, and the Pet Shop Boys and reinvigorated British acts like David Bowie, Genesis, and the Rolling Stones, helping them cross over to pop music. While video culture was just emerging in the U.S., it was already rather well established in the U.K., giving British musicians a leg up at least for a while.

The U.S. surged ahead again in the past decade or so and is now the birthplace of about three-quarters of pop stars—based on the global success of pop music from artists like Jay Z and Beyoncé to Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus.