In the news: 5 tech news stories worth another look

Pete Roythorne

Typically we think of hackers doing more harm than good, but there are exceptions to that rule.

Exhibit A is for Anonymous. The online hacktivist group let the world know it took down 20,000 Twitter accounts associated with ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the November 13 terror attacks in Paris.

In a recent Anonymous video, a spokesman explains the group’s motivation for leading #OpParis:

“It is time to realize that social media is a solid platform for ISIS’s communication as well as nurturing their ideas of terror amongst youth. However, at the same time, social media has proved it is an advanced weapon. We must all work together and use social media to eliminate the accounts used by terrorists.”

The Hacker News reported that Anonymous took down 5,500 pro-ISIS Twitter accounts, too.

“ISIS, we will hunt you and take down your sites, accounts, emails and expose you,” the video message declares. “From now on, there is no safe place for you online. You will be treated like a virus, and we are the cure.”

What else made this round-up? Read on:

$20 million man
Mark Zuckerberg is putting his money where his mouth is.

In a November 19 post, the founder and CEO of Facebook announced he is donating USD $20 million to “Education Super Highway.” It’s an initiative to ensure all US classrooms have fast and reliable Internet.

“In schools, Internet is critical for enabling something we know leads to better results: personalized learning,” Zuckerberg wrote.

“Most schools in the US are connected, but less than half have high-speed broadband,” he added. “This means most students can’t use personalized learning software that helps them learn content they're interested in, at their own pace and in a style customized to them. And it means teachers can't access many of the resources available online.”

Two words: thumbs up.

Calling for cloud transparency
Should cloud-based computing companies be obligated to disclose the physical location of their servers?

According to Forbes, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) recommended “Congress evaluate existing consumer right-to-know laws” to decide whether the answer is yes or no.

The recommendation for “cloud location transparency” was made in the USCC’s annual report, a 630-page document.

USCC Commissioner Michael R. Wessel told Forbes that the “recommendation is directed at evaluating the extent to which existing laws provide consumers the information they might like to have to make an informed decision about which company’s cloud-based services they utilize.”

Wessel said the recommendation was based on “experience with both federal and private contracting situations” in which vendors provided inadequate information about their IT services.

Coming to Ohio
Completely powering its operation with renewable energy is a big-picture goal for Amazon Web Services (AWS). One way the company plans to do it?

With wind.

To power “current and future cloud service data centers,” AWS will build a 100-megawatt (MW) wind farm in Ohio, Computerworld reported.

“The project, called the Amazon Wind Farm US Central, is expected to generate about 320,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of wind power per year beginning in May 2017; that's enough electricity to power more than 29,000 US homes a year,” the article says.

Earlier this year, AWS announced that renewable energy sources accounted for 25% of the company’s power.

By the end of next year, the goal is to be at 40%.

A ‘tear-inducing’ attack
IBM released its X-Force Threat Intelligence Quarterly report for Q4 2015. “Onion-layered” attacks were among the key security trends examined.

According to Security Week: “Usually, these attacks are carried by two actors, namely a script kiddie, an unsophisticated attacker launching highly visible attacks which can be easily caught, and a more sophisticated stealthy attacker who might expand their grip of the victim’s network without being detected for weeks or even months.”

IBM’s report suggests several best practice protection methods worth reviewing. Here’s why:

“The job of finding a root cause, then fully understanding and remediating the work of the stealthy attackers could take months. Meanwhile, the stealthy attacker could roam the network undetected, ultimately trying to gain access to the client’s ‘crown jewels.’”

Talk about tear-inducing.