Global IT giants including Amazon and LinkedIn could be doing far more to raise awareness of the need for better password practices among their users.
Analysis by Professor Steve Furnell, Director of the Centre for Security, Communications and Network Research at Plymouth University, looked into the password security controls in place among ten of the world’s most visited websites.
It revealed very few of them give detailed guidance about the importance of providing secure passwords, either when users were creating or updating accounts.
The majority also provided little or no information about the reasons why password protection is important, and while some did make suggestions about best practice, very few went on to enforce their own advice.
The biggest threat to the Internet is the fact that it was never really designed. Instead, it evolved in fits and starts, thanks to various protocols that were cobbled together to fulfill the needs of the moment. Few of those protocols were designed with security in mind. Or if they were, they sported no more than was needed to keep out a nosy neighbor, not a malicious attacker.
The result is a welter of aging protocols susceptible to exploit on an Internet scale. Some of the attacks levied against these protocols have been mitigated with fixes, but it’s clear that the protocols themselves need more robust replacements. Here are six Internet protocols that could stand to be replaced sooner rather than later or are (mercifully) on the way out.
I am reading an interesting article, The Internet that Facebook built, by Michael L. Best. I am not a Facebook user, but the following quote in the article from a book by José Marichal is interesting and makes one worried:
José Marichal, in his book Facebook Democracy, defines the architecture of disclosure as Facebook’s purpose-built environment that systematically and in some ways insidiously encourages its users to disclose increasingly personal revelatory data. Facebook invests millions in perfecting this architecture not with degraded voyeuristic interest; it is simply their business model. They capture and commodify a portfolio of these disclosures and sell them to the advertisers.
Facebook’s interests may not be voyeuristic, but they certainly seem to elicit a voyeuristic behavior from the users.
A study and data set from Brown University on computer science faculty at the 50 top U.S. schools yielded several interesting findings. One finding was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology produces the most computer science professors through its Ph.D. programs, while coming in second place was the University of California, Berkeley. Another insight gained from the study came from the categorization of each professor’s field of research as either theory, systems, informatics, or scientific computing. The study found private universities offered the greatest concentration of theory study, while public schools had the least. One explanation for this finding is that public universities focus more on engineering, while private universities are more science-oriented. A third finding of the study was the top field of research in terms of computer science faculty hirings remains computer science theory. However, there has been a sharp trend in the last three years toward hiring professors specializing in systems and informatics, while the hiring of faculty who study computer science theory has diminished since 2011.
Now comes a new kind of challenge to the evidence of a cognitive decline, from a decidedly digital quarter: data mining, based on theories of information processing. In a paper published in Topics in Cognitive Science, a team of linguistic researchers from the University of Tübingen in Germany used advanced learning models to search enormous databases of words and phrases.
Since educated older people generally know more words than younger people, simply by virtue of having been around longer, the experiment simulates what an older brain has to do to retrieve a word. And when the researchers incorporated that difference into the models, the aging “deficits” largely disappeared.
“What shocked me, to be honest, is that for the first half of the time we were doing this project, I totally bought into the idea of age-related cognitive decline in healthy adults,” the lead author, Michael Ramscar, said by email. But the simulations, he added, “fit so well to human data that it slowly forced me to entertain this idea that I didn’t need to invoke decline at all.”