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open source and cybersecurity news

December 19, 2023

It's 5:05, December 19, 2023. TIme for your cybersecurity and open source headlines

In this Episode:

Marcel Brown:  December 19th, 1974. Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems, otherwise known as MITS, begins selling the Altair 8800 microcomputer kit. It is one of the most important computers in history, for it inspired the first generation of entrepreneurs that created the personal computer industry.

Edwin Kwan: I was recently targeted by an SMS impersonation scam. The scammer was impersonating someone I know who’s from the US and a text message came from a US number. I don’t have this person’s mobile number saved, so replied thinking it might be him. It became obvious fairly quickly that it was a scam.

Hillary Coover: Elon Musk’s social media platform, X, formerly known as Twitter, is facing an official investigation in Europe regarding its handling of illegal content and disinformation. The European Commission has initiated a formal infringement proceeding against X under the Digital Services Act.

Ian Garrett: Cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and nuclear weapons. Do we have an update for you? The 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, is a crucial piece of annual legislation for U. S. military funding. The NDAA was passed with a focus on various cybersecurity concerns.

 

The Stories Behind the Cybersecurity Headlines

 

Edwin Kwan
My Personal Experience with SMS Impersonation Scams

Edwin Kwan, Contributing Journalist, It's 5:05 PodcastI was recently targeted by an SMS impersonation scam. These types of scams are quite prevalent in Australia with over 230,000 scam reports lodged in the first nine months of this year.

This is Edwin Kwan from Sydney, Australia.

The scammer was impersonating someone I know who’s from the US and a text message came from a US number. I don’t have this person’s mobile number saved, so replied thinking it might be him. It became obvious fairly quickly that it was a scam, and I reached out to the person on Slack to confirm.

However, not all scams might be that easy to spot. In fact, according to the ACSC’s National Anti-Scam Center, they received 234,672 scam reports from the 1st of January to 31st of September, 2023, with losses totaling more than $397 million.

As a scuba diving instructor, one of the lessons covered is how to deal with problems underwater. It’s sometimes a long way to get to the surface and panicking can lead to more trouble. We talk about ” stop, think, then act” when dealing with problems underwater. We can use a similar approach for preventing impersonation scams- we can “stop, think, and protect” by doing these few things such as:

-Not automatically assuming the person you are dealing with is who they say they are.

– Slowing down and asking ourselves, ” Who’s really there?” Especially if the other party is rushing you and applying a sense of urgency.

– Not clicking on links in text messages and not opening or downloading any attachments or apps if instructed, as these can install malware on your computer or phone, giving access to your personal information and accounts.

– And lastly, independently verifying who you’re dealing with before giving money or personal information. You can do that either by contacting the person or organization directly using the contact details you found yourself or on the organization’s official website.

Together, if we “stop, think, and protect,” we can keep ourselves safe from the scourge of scams and scammers.

Resources
– NDH Australia: https://ndh.org.au/news/how-to-avoid-impersonation-scams/

 

Hillary Coover
Europe Probes Elon Musk’s X Over Disinformation Handling

Hillary Coover, Contributing Journalist, It's 5:05 Podcast

Elon Musk’s social media platform, X, formerly known as Twitter, is facing an official investigation in Europe regarding its handling of illegal content and disinformation. The European Commission has initiated a formal infringement proceeding against X under the Digital Services Act, which came into effect earlier this year. The legislation mandates major online platforms to address illegal content and provide users with a means to register complaints about moderation decisions.

Hi, this is Hillary Coover in Washington, DC.

This move marks the first formal proceedings under the EU’s new online content law and is part of increased scrutiny on social media companies dealing with content related to the Israel-Gaza conflict.

X, TikTok and Facebook have all grappled with false and misleading posts since the conflict in October. X, in particular, has faced criticism for its approach to such content, especially after reducing its content and safety policy jobs following Elon Musk’s acquisition of the platform.

The EU’s internal market commissioner, emphasized that the era of large online platforms behaving as if “they’re too big to care” just has to end. If found in violation of EU online content rules, X could potentially face fines up to 6% of global annual revenue. However, the initiation of formal proceedings does not necessarily guarantee a breach or sanctions.

Resources
– WSJ: https://www.wsj.com/tech/musks-x-faces-probe-in-europe-over-handling-of-illegal-content-disinformation-98da2280?mod=tech_lead_pos2

 

Ian Garrett
Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence, and Nuclear weapons, Oh my!

Ian Garrett, Contributing Journalist, It's 5:05 Podcast

Cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and nuclear weapons. Do we have an update for you? The 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, is a crucial piece of annual legislation for U. S. military funding. The NDAA was passed with a focus on various cybersecurity concerns. The bill, amounting to $886 billion, was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate and is on its way to President Biden for signature.

Hey folks, this is Ian Garrett in Arlington, Virginia.

Notably, amidst partisan debates over defense spending and other issues, the NDAA has embedded important cybersecurity related provisions. One of the key areas is enhancing the cybersecurity of nuclear weapons and systems.

The Act creates a working group within the Department of Defense to develop strategies for identifying and mitigating cybersecurity risks in nuclear IT environments. It also establishes a team to oversee cyber defense for nuclear command, control, and communication systems. Another significant focus is on artificial intelligence.

The NDAA acknowledges AI’s rising importance and potential impact on military operations and foreign diplomacy. It establishes a Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer Governing Council to oversee the ethical employment of AI across Department of Defense operations. Responsibilities include managing AI digital assets, developing an AI bug bounty program, and implementing educational programs on AI applications.

The Act also addresses the cybersecurity of generative AI. with a requirement for the Secretary of Defense to develop a strategic plan. This includes policies for the use and defense against adversarial generative AI applications. In terms of digital diplomacy, the State Department will establish an office of a Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer.

This role will advise on the ethical use of AI in conducting data informed diplomacy. The bill also initiates a program for digital connectivity and cybersecurity partnership to promote national cybersecurity approaches. Other significant provisions include efforts to counter illegal trafficking in cyberspace.

Military cooperation with Taiwan on cybersecurity, and the establishment of a military, pharmaceutical, and medical device vulnerability working group. The NDAA also emphasizes modernizing networked defenses against cyberattacks, creating an office for academic engagement in cyber activities, and authorizing a pilot program for a civilian cybersecurity reserve.

Resources
– CSO Online: https://www.csoonline.com/article/1265288/2024-us-ndaa-boosts-nuclear-cybersecurity-highlights-artificial-intelligence.html

 

Marcel Brown
This Day, December 19, in Tech History

Marcel Brown, Contributing Journalist, It's 5:05 PodcastThis is Marcel Brown bringing you some technology history for December 19th.

December 19th, 1958. The first radio broadcast from space of a human voice is transmitted to earth, with President Eisenhower sending Christmas greetings. The message was transmitted using the US Army’s Project SCORE experimental satellite. SCORE, standing for Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay. Interestingly, the primary recorder failed during the satellite’s first orbit, but on the second pass, the message was transmitted successfully using the backup recorder. Let’s hear it for backups.

December 19th, 1974. Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems, otherwise known as MITS, begins selling the Altair 8800 microcomputer kit. As the base computer used toggle switches for input and LEDs for output, it was far from a personal computer as we know it today. However, it is one of the most important computers in history, for it inspired the first generation of entrepreneurs that created the personal computer industry.

After the Altair 8800 appeared on the cover of Popular Electronics Magazine in December of 1974 for the January 1975 issue, MITS was flooded with orders. Expecting to sell at most 800 units, MITS sold over 5,000 units by August of 1975.

A young Bill Gates and Paul Allen, excited by the possibility of small computers that could be used in the home, wrote the basic programming language for the Altair, their first software product, which formed the basis of their future company, Microsoft.

The Altair was also popular with the Homebrew Computing Club, where Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs began their partnership selling their own computer kit, the Apple One.

That’s your technology history for today. For more, tune in tomorrow and visit my website, ThisDayInTechHistory.Com.

Resources
This Day in Tech History: https://thisdayintechhistory.com/12/19

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