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InfoSec News Nuggets 10/02/2020

FCC commissioner calls for new scrutiny of undersea data cables

A member of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday called for new scrutiny of undersea cables that transmit nearly all the world’s internet data traffic. “We must take a closer look at cables with landing locations in adversary countries,” FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said Wednesday at a commission meeting. “This includes the four existing submarine cables connecting the US and China, most of which are partially owned by Chinese state-owned companies.” The United States has repeatedly expressed concerns about China’s role in handling network traffic and potential for espionage. Around 300 subsea cables form the backbone of the internet, carrying 99% of the world’s data traffic. Starks said the FCC “must ensure that adversary countries and other hostile actors can’t tamper with, block, or intercept the communications they carry.”

 

Court holds $100 million Kin coin offering violated federal law

The 2017 launch of the Kin cryptocurrency broke federal securities laws, a federal judge has ruled. Federal law requires anyone who offers a new security to the general public to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The messaging app maker Kik didn’t do that when it sold $100 million worth of Kin in 2017. The company argued that Kin was legally a new virtual currency, not a security. In a Wednesday ruling, Judge Alvin Hellerstein rejected that claim. The ruling could have big consequences for the cryptocurrency world. Since 2016, hundreds of cryptocurrency projects have held Kin-like “initial coin offerings” that raised millions—in a few cases, hundreds of millions—of dollars. Few of these offerings went through the traditional steps required to register a securities offering with the SEC. So Wednesday’s ruling could create legal headaches for existing blockchain projects launched via an ICO. It also limits the options for launching cryptocurrencies in the future.

 

Second Cyber Attack in a Week Hits Global Shipping Industry

The global shipping industry sustained a second cyber attack within a week that’s raising concern about disruptions to supply chains already straining to move goods heading into the usual peak season for consumer demand. The International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency that serves as the industry’s regulatory body, said in a statement Thursday it has suffered “a sophisticated cyber attack against the organization’s IT systems.” A number of IMO web-based services are currently unavailable and the breach is affecting its public website and internal systems, it said. While it’s too soon to say whether the recent attacks will prove to be a brief irritant for global trade or a trigger of wider damage, logistics experts like Bloomberg Intelligence’s Lee Klaskow say the cyber threats are a “near-term headwind and headache for sure.” The timing of the latest acts of cyber piracy is particularly bad for shipping liners that are still waiting to see some normalcy restored to their seasonal cycles.

 

‘Why I bought a voting machine on eBay’ – the hackers protecting US election

“Earlier this year, I attended a conference and was shocked to find that you could actually buy voting machines on eBay. So I bought one, two months ago, and have been able to open it up and look at the chips.” Beatrice Atobatele is trying to hack one of the most commonly used voting machines in the US, to look for security vulnerabilities, but not with any criminal intentions. Beatrice is actually one of more than 200 people who have signed up to a volunteer group of security experts and hackers called the Election Cyber Surge. And by understanding how this machine works, she hopes she can ensure any vulnerabilities are fixed. “I’ve bypassed the authentication itself,” she says. “I’m still learning and trying to find any new vulnerabilities that might not be known about yet.”

 

To hunt hackers, FBI works more closely with spy agencies

America’s top law enforcement agents and spies are teaming up under one roof as part of a new federal strategy to fight foreign hackers, senior FBI officials said in an interview.  The FBI believes the effort will improve targeting and prosecution of hackers who attack American organizations, even as many continue to escape capture abroad. The decision comes after a year in which the United States’ Internet Crime Complaint Center said it received a total of 467,361 complaints, resulting in more than $3.5 billion in losses to individuals and businesses. The FBI’s strategy reorganizes the agency’s anti cybercrime and foreign cyberespionage workforces. It emphasizes partnerships with foreign law enforcement agencies and private internet companies, which often have the best information into a hacker’s activities, said FBI cyber division assistant director Matt Gorham.

 

A beginner’s guide to the math that powers machine learning

How much math knowledge do you need for machine learning and deep learning? Some people say not much. Others say a lot. Both are correct, depending on what you want to achieve. There are plenty of programming libraries, code snippets, and pretrained models that can get help you integrate machine learning into your applications without having a deep knowledge of the underlying math functions. But there’s no escaping the mathematical foundations of machine learning. At some point in your exploration and mastering of artificial intelligence, you’ll need to come to terms with the lengthy and complicated equations that adorn AI whitepapers and machine learning textbooks. In this post, I will introduce some of my favorite machine learning math resources. And while I don’t expect you to have fun with machine learning math, I will also try my best to give you some guidelines on how to make the journey a bit more pleasant.

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