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A blog covering security and security technology.

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Textbook Rental Scam

Here’s a story of someone who, with three compatriots, rented textbooks from Amazon and then sold them instead of returning them. They used gift cards and prepaid credit cards to buy the books, so there was no available balance when Amazon tried to charge them the buyout price for non-returned books. They also used various aliases and other tricks to...

Using Machine Learning to Guess PINs from Video

Researchers trained a machine-learning system on videos of people typing their PINs into ATMs: By using three tries, which is typically the maximum allowed number of attempts before the card is withheld, the researchers reconstructed the correct sequence for 5-digit PINs 30% of the time, and reached 41% for 4-digit PINs. This works even if the person...

Ransomware Attacks against Water Treatment Plants

According to a report from CISA last week, there were three ransomware attacks against water treatment plants last year. WWS Sector cyber intrusions from 2019 to early 2021 include: In August 2021, malicious cyber actors used Ghost variant ransomware against a California-based WWS facility. The ransomware variant had been in the system for about...

The Missouri Governor Doesn’t Understand Responsible Disclosure

The Missouri governor wants to prosecute the reporter who discovered a security vulnerability in a state’s website, and then reported it to the state. The newspaper agreed to hold off publishing any story while the department fixed the problem and protected the private information of teachers around the state. […] According to the Post-Dispatch,...

Friday Squid Blogging: New Giant Squid Video

New video of a large squid in the Red Sea at about 2,800 feet. As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven’t covered. Read my blog posting guidelines here.

Security Risks of Client-Side Scanning

Even before Apple made its announcement, law enforcement shifted their battle for backdoors to client-side scanning. The idea is that they wouldn’t touch the cryptography, but instead eavesdrop on communications and systems before encryption or after decryption. It’s not a cryptographic backdoor, but it’s still a backdoor — and brings with it all the...

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

This is a current list of where and when I am scheduled to speak: I’ll be speaking at an Informa event on November 29, 2021. Details to come. The list is maintained on this page.

Recovering Real Faces from Face-Generation ML System

New paper: “This Person (Probably) Exists. Identity Membership Attacks Against GAN Generated Faces. Abstract: Recently, generative adversarial networks (GANs) have achieved stunning realism, fooling even human observers. Indeed, the popular tongue-in-cheek website http://thispersondoesnotexist.com, taunts users with GAN generated images that seem too...

Suing Infrastructure Companies for Copyright Violations

It’s a matter of going after those with deep pockets. From Wired: Cloudflare was sued in November 2018 by Mon Cheri Bridals and Maggie Sottero Designs, two wedding dress manufacturers and sellers that alleged Cloudflare was guilty of contributory copyright infringement because it didn’t terminate services for websites that infringed on the dressmakers’...

Airline Passenger Mistakes Vintage Camera for a Bomb

I feel sorry for the accused: The “security incident” that forced a New-York bound flight to make an emergency landing at LaGuardia Airport on Saturday turned out to be a misunderstanding — after an airline passenger mistook another traveler’s camera for a bomb, sources said Sunday. American Airlines Flight 4817 from Indianapolis — operated by Republic...

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