Julia Bernd

How the NSA Snooped on Encrypted Internet Traffic for a Decade

Ars Technica, 8/19/2016

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has been using an exploit in Cisco firewall software to break encryption and spy on traffic in Virtual Privacy Networks (VPNs). In the Internet age, government surveillance is more about collecting torrents of data to sift through than about focused operations, which affects businesses’ standards about when they protect communications and how.

The White House Releases Policy to Help Government Agencies Go Open Source

TechCrunch, 8/8/2016

The U.S.’s Federal Source Code Policy was recently revised to require that all custom code created or commissioned by government agencies must be available to all other agencies, and that 20% of it must be released open source. This emphasizes how integral software is to government operations, and offers an opportunity to remind students about how open source software works.

Paraplegics Take a Step to Regain Movement

Duke Today, 8/10/2016

Patients using brain-machine interfaces to control robotic prosthetics, along with virtual-reality devices that simulated moving their own limbs, were unexpectedly able to regain some actual control of their own limbs, apparently reengaging their spinal cord nerves. Includes a short description of computational modeling of how the brain controls movement.

Protecting Privacy in Genomic Databases

MIT News, 8/9/2016

Researchers at MIT and Indiana Univerity are developing differential privacy techniques that add a small amount of random noise to queries on large genetic databases. This means databases can be made more openly available without (as much) risking the privacy of the individuals whose genetic data is in them. Includes a description of the potential privacy attacks being mitigated, and notes the scientific consequences of having to worry about privacy-compromising attacks on health databases.