I don’t like this Monday!

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13 January 2017 | 0

Paul HearnsStatistically speaking, next Monday, 16 January is the most depressing day of the year.

This is due primarily to it being far enough after the festive season for its memories to be fading, but also far enough away from pay day to make it a distant hope.

However, a quick look about today reveals enough tech stories to make you wonder whether it was actually worth, as an old friend used to say, ‘chewing through the straps’ on this frosty morning.

“The nomination as cybersecurity czar of ex-New York mayor, noted right-winger and owner of Giuliani Security, Mr Giulani came as something of a surprise to many an expert in the field”

First of all, the car crash that is the not-even-in-office-yet Trump presidency just keeps on giving. As if the horrific press conference, complete with blank papers in folders props, and that intelligence dossier were not enough, the great orange one has now named his pick as cybersecurity advisor, none other than Rudy Giuliani.

The nomination as cybersecurity czar of ex-New York mayor, noted right-winger and owner of Giuliani Security, Mr Giulani came as something of a surprise to many an expert in the field.

Eternally irreverent news site The Register reported the basic facts thus:

Packed with vulnerabilities
“Giulianisecurity.com, the website for the ex-mayor’s eponymous infosec consultancy firm, is powered by a roughly five-year-old build of Joomla! that is packed with vulnerabilities. Some of those bugs can be potentially exploited by miscreants using basic SQL injection techniques to compromise the server.”

Strangely enough, the site now appears to be down, undergoing ‘schedule maintenance’ no doubt.

But a further scan of the news reveals a few other stories that would certainly join this under the heading of GUBU, or at least WTAF.

Firstly, there is the story of the optogenetic treatment of mice. This is where lasers are used to turn on and off specific neurons in the brain. In this case, the lasers were trained on certain neurons in the amygdala, or lizard brain, that turned normally mild-mannered Clark Kent types into ferocious predators – as you do.

The amygdala is responsible for deep, primal emotions, such as fear, but also motivation. One wonders if perhaps a random shot of the laser had affected the researchers in coming up with the experiment in the first place.

Rights watch
On the other side of the boffins going a bit mad coin is the story of the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs and its discussions over whether robots should have rights as people, and obligations, but with the facility for a kill switch.

Anyone who has been watching the Sci-Fi drama on Channel4 called Humans will of course be familiar with such concepts.

“A growing number of areas of our daily lives are increasingly affected by robotics. In order to address this reality and to ensure that robots are and will remain in the service of humans, we urgently need to create a robust European legal framework,” said rapporteur Mady Delvaux in a statement.

Well, quite.

So, as we contemplate trying to ensure that we are not enslaved by our robotic help, we are still prey to the efforts of cybercriminals who are now looking for pictures of people using the peace sign.

It has been suggested that the use of high resolution digital cameras could have cyber-ne’er-do-wells scanning said images and extracting your finger prints for identity theft.

Watch out Winston Churchill!

But wait! There’s more.

Flicking the V
Now it doesn’t matter if you keep your hands firmly in your pockets, a security researcher has postulated that your machine can be just as easily ‘finger printed’ as you are.

Professor Yinzh Cao in Pennsylvania and his team have argued, with some evidence, that a machine can be accurately identified by the information it reveals as it browses the Web.

Damn, nailed again.

So, as you face into the darkest Monday of the year, be cheered by the fact that the soon-to-be most powerful man in the world has hired a cybersecurity guru that has a vulnerability-ridden web site promoting his security consultancy, while boffins shoot lasers into the brains of mice, robots get human rights and big brother knows what you did last summer, no matter where you keep your hands.



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