Unsupervised Learning: No. 169

Unsupervised Learning is my weekly show that provides collection, summarization, and analysis in the realms of Security, Technology, and Humans.

It’s Content Curation as a Service…

I spend between five and twenty hours a week consuming articles, books, and podcasts—so you don’t have to—and each episode is either a curated summary of what I’ve found in the past week, or a standalone essay that hopefully gives you something to think about.

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?️ Security News

Multiple governments have now blacklisted Huawei, which Huawei seems very confused by. The best explanation I’ve heard so far about why this move makes sense for western countries came from Rob Joyce of NSA. He basically said that just like Kaspersky in Russia, the reason you can’t trust Huawei is that it’s a Chinese company, and even if they’re not already infiltrated by the Chinese government, they can be at any moment without anyone knowing that it happened. And there’s nothing Huawei or anyone else could do to stop it. Strong argument. Link

2/3 of Android antivirus apps are hot garbage. Gasp. Link

DARPA is building an open-source, secure voting system. That’s their goal, anyway. I’m skeptical of being able to build truly secure systems, but I have lots of confidence in DARPA, and I also know the bar for improvement over the current state is quite low. So, yeah, go forth and prosper. Link

The RAND Think Tank conducts wargames between the U.S. and its potential enemies, such as Russia and China, and one analyst said that we keep losing. The issue seems to be that our key advantages can be neutralized rather easily, and it’d take a lot of money to fix the biggest issues. Link

The FBI has charged multiple wealthy parents and some celebrities with bribing top colleges to get their kids in despite them not having good grades. It’s interesting until you think about it. What’s the real story with millionaires paying for advantages for their kids? Most kids who make it into elite schools had another type of advantage as well—namely great genes, great parents, luck, and a strong work ethic that also came from their DNA and environment. Those are things that less fortunate people don’t have, so they don’t get to go to those colleges. Advantage comes in many forms, and bribery is simply a more explicit and crude display of it. But whether you’re bribing admissions people, Tiger Parenting, or donating a building to the campus—either way you’re wielding some form of advantage. We should obviously discourage bribery, but don’t think that it’s the only form of influence available to the rich and powerful. These institutions are already full of their children who got there in other ways. Link

The Navy says it’s under siege by Chinese and other state-level actors that are stealing military secrets from the Navy itself, from its contractors, and even from Universities working on Navy projects. As I tried to make clear in this piece, this isn’t a large number of individual attacks—it’s a campaign to strategically gain superiority over us by stealing our technology. More people need to hear this message. Link

Researchers say that hacking 10% of vehicles in a city could cause a slowdown. I’m unimpressed. You could do the same thing without hacking quite easily. You could set off a couple of small IEDs and cause a panic. Or just drive a number of regular cars into traffic and get out of them and walk away. You could do a ton of damage to the roads themselves so they weren’t passable. The point is that there are many ways to disrupt society that are possible, but don’t tend to happen. The trouble with evaluating new risks vs. old ones is assuming that the new risk will show itself with some significant frequency, when we know that similar and existing incidents are extremely rare. This doesn’t mean we should ignore these issues, but we need to ask ourselves why there isn’t more disruption today, using existing techniques. The answer is that the number of people with the means, a reason, and the willingness to face consequences tends to be quite small. It’s those variables we want to watch when calculating these types of risks—whether new or old. Link
Ecoparty is coming to Los Angeles in June of this year! This is a super cool technical conference that’s normally held in Argentina, but this year it’ll be in LA! Link

Russia has banned disrespect of the government. Well, at least they made it official. Link

Advisories: Cisco, WinRar

Exposures: Box Misconfigurations

⚙️ Technology News

F5 has purchased NGINX for around $ 670 million. Link

A short primer on TikTok, and why you should give it a go. Link

Waymo is finally letting people from their secretive beta test program talk about their experience, and their comments are interesting. I love how this woman in the article started off very skeptical and now trusts the AI (robot) more than humans. That’s exactly what I see happening. It’ll take a while for the new risk (robots getting confused or being taken over) to be understood as lower than the existing risk (dumb, distracted humans), but once it happens it’ll swing things massively. Link

The proposed federal budget includes a $ 1 billion dollar cut to the National Science Foundation. Link

??  Human News

Scientists have restored sight to mice by inserting a single gene for a green light receptor. A month later they were navigating the same as mice with normal vision. Link

Norway has become the first country to ban deforestation. Link

California is finally out of its drought condition after 7 years. Link

The primary response to metal music is evidently joy and empowerment, not a preference towards violence. Link

As it turns out, the planet that’s usually closest to the Earth—and all other planets—is Mercury. Wait, what? This really surprised me, but now it makes complete sense. Basically, most planets orbit far away from the Sun, which means they spend lots of time far, far away from any given planet. But Mercury stays very close to the Sun, and since all planets orbit the Sun, they’re usually closer to it (and Mercury) than other planets. Counter-intuitive, but simple once you think about it. Link

? Ideas, Trends, & Analysis

The Bifurcation of Elite Education — I think the education racket is rotting, and that it’ll soon be replaced by it’s two separate components of education and status. Link

The Need for Post-Capitalism Link

Does Prosperity Trigger Calls for Socialism? Link

Status as a Service Link

“Disagree and Commit”. Link

? Discovery

? 30 sales decks from the most successful startups. Link

A better alternative to ‘rm’ on macOS: alias del=”mv -t ~/.Trash/”

AWS Ground Station is a fully managed satellite ground station as a service. As my friend Ryan O’Horo said on Twitter, imagine finding one of those keys in a security assessment! Link

RiskRecon is now doing third and fourth party risk monitoring. Link

Scott Helme has released his Alexa Top 1 Million security analysis for the year. Link Data

? Notes

My Grammarly plugin is working again, so hopefully fewer typos. Sorry about that when it happens. It deeply goes against what I stand for to have typos and grammar errors. The only thing that overrides that aversion is the desire to get this thing out to people.

I just read a couple of books on evolutionary psychology, especially around mating strategies for various animals. Fascinating stuff. I first got into this by reading Spent and The Red Queen, and I’ve been enthralled ever since. Next I’m reading some Tolstoy, me thinks.

?️ Recommendations

If you’re not using Feedly, it’s my recommended RSS reader and my primary method of collecting information for the show. Link


“For a man to achieve all that is demanded of him, he must regard himself as greater than he is”.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Daniel Miessler