Unsupervised Learning is my weekly curation of the most interesting stories in infosec, technology, and humans. You can either read here or listen to the podcast version.

Infosec news 

⚠️ McAfee has discovered a nasty new Microsoft Word vulnerability that's being actively exploited. The new malware does not rely on macros, and can be used to quietly install malware, even on fully patched computers. We're only a couple of days away from this month's Patch Tuesday, so hopefully we'll get a fix on or before that date; the current defense is simply not opening infected files. Link

There's a new type of IoT attack, and associated botnet, called BrickerBot (of course), because it bricks the targets it finds instead of trying to take them over. Reminds me of Welchia back in the day, where one worm was released to try to clean up another. In the end they were both just worms. Link

Apple sent out update 10.3.1 for iOS devices on Friday due to a nasty RCE bug in the ImageIO framework. In short, you can execute code by sending a malformed GIF. Update your Macs and iOS devices immediately. Link

A Russian computer programmer named Pyotr Levashov has been arrested in Barcelona in connection with influence of the U.S. election. Popcorn. Link

China's APT10 group is being blamed for attacks against several MSPs in a campaign known as CloudHopper. The idea is that if you can get into an MSP, you can get into every company they manage in order to steal either IP or PII. Link

Tizen, which is Samsung's hope to replace Android as the core OS for most of their new mobile offerings, is reportedly full of significant vulnerabilities, according to independent researcher Amihai Neiderman. He says it's far behind Android and other OS offerings in security, and many of the vulns found were major and looked exploitable. Link

Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) technology may be the most common mass surveillance technology used by law enforcement around the country, according to the EFF. Link

Wonga, a UK-based payday lender, has told customers their credit card data may have been leaked in a breach. The number of affected customers could be as high as 270,000. Link

Researchers at LogRythym have released a report on OilRig, a malware campaign mostly targeting critical infrastructure in the Middle East. The report gives TTP details, including a layout of some of the front-end infrastructure used by the campaign. Link

Hackers are emptying ATM machines in Russia and Europe by drilling a single hole into them, and connecting a cheap microcomputer that issues cash-ejection commands. Total cost of the gear is around $15. Link

A survey of 2,000 people in Britain revealed that most citizens are comfortable exchanging privacy for security. Only 18 percent said personal privacy is more important than companies being able to access the content of messages Link

Hackers in Dallas accessed the emergency siren system last weekend and set off the city's 156 sirens over a dozen times. Authorities have fixed the issue that allowed them access, but aren't saying what it was. I assume this is because many other cities are probably vulnerable and they want to avoid copycats. Link

McAfee, after getting bought by Intel, changed its name to Intel Security. It's now changed it back to McAfee. Interestingly, HPE Fortify is doing a lot of "Fortify" branding lately as well. I think there's a trend, which is that when you lose your original name you often lose your original mojo along with it. Link

Wikileaks released information on a CIA Windows hacking tool called Grasshopper. It's supposedly used to make custom malware payloads. Keep in mind Wikileaks is nearly indistinguishable from the RT network at this point. Link

The ShadowBrokers group has released the password to more content, which was accompanied by a very strange political communication addressed to Trump. It's written as if they are major supporters of him who are frustrated by his actions on certain topics. I'm not sure what to make of it, honestly, but you should have a look for yourself. Hopefully @thegrugq will translate soon. Link

Teaching hospitals are evidently more likely to be breached than non teaching hospitals. Makes sense---it's a combination of two different types of vulnerable organization: medical, and education. Link

Technology news 

IBM's Watson project was used this weekend to determine what shots to show fans. It used a combination of crowd noise, vocabulary choice in comments from analysts, and other factors to determine the "excitement level" of any particular shot, and then ranked that shot higher for showing on TV. Link

Scientists in the UK have found a new way to use graphene filters to remove the salt from seawater. This could be a major discovery, since millions of people have access to oceans but not fresh water. Link

Uber has bigger issues than being kicked out of Austin. It's now been banned from all of Italy as well, due to anticompetitive practices. Link

Apple is moving to building its own graphics processors. The former provider, Imagination Technologies, saw its stock tank when the news was announced. Link

A company called Chirp is looking to use sound to allow computers to communicate with one another. I've seen similar systems in the past, and the security has always been an afterthought, if anything. I'm interested, but skeptical. Link

YouTube is now going to block ads on any channel with less than 10,000 views across all their videos. This will be done to help reduce the incidents of company brands being seen next to (and associated with) unprofessional content, such as porn or hate speech. Link

Facebook Messenger now has an AI assistant present that can make recommendations based on what it sees in the conversation. Link

Google is seeking General AI by building a new system that has a memory. Not memory. A memory. You have to be able to learn things in succession and refer to previous things you've learned. Link

AT&T has won a 6.5 billion dollar contract to build a nationwide emergency services network, called FirstNet. The network will service police, fire, and emergency medical services. Link

Verizon now owns both Yahoo! and AOL, and they're merging them into a new company called Oath. Link

Facebook Live is taking off, with 1 out of 5 videos now using the format. Link

StatsCounter says Android has passed Windows as the most used operating system for internet browsing. Link

Tesla has passed Ford in market cap. It's a strange world. Link

Apple says completely new Mac Pros are being worked on for release in 2018. The say they'll be extremely powerful, will have a modular design that allows for clean upgrades, and there will be new Apple-made monitor options as well. Later in 2017 there will be an updated release of existing Mac Pros. Link

AWS is creating a new region in Sweden in 2018. Link

Western Union now supports transfers within its iOS app using Apple Pay. That's nice, but I'd rather move to a post Western Union world. Link

The company that owns Adblock Plus has purchased Flattr. Flattr is one of the coolest ideas for online publishing I've ever seen. I'd love for it to take off. You give X amount each month, and then every time you "Flattr" something, it gets 1/nth of that donation, depending on how many things you've flattered. Link

Human news 

Gray hair has been linked to risk of heart disease in a new study by Cairo University. Link

More than half of 25-34 year olds are single today. In 1980, over two thirds of this demographic was married. Link

23 and Me has won approval to give health warnings as part of their DNA analysis service. Link

Scientists at the Riken-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics appear to have found how memories are created, indicating that two copies of a memory are created initially---one for current use, and one for long-term use. Link

Scientists injected mice with fecal matter from humans who have Irritable Bowel Syndrome and anxiety, and it produced the same behavior in the mice. Link

A depressing look at how every attempt to improve academia through incentives actually makes it worse. Link

Much of the world has switched from seeing China as the world's economic powerhouse, to seeing the U.S. in that role instead. This is surprising to me, as I thought people saw China as rising quickly to overtake the U.S. in the future. I didn't know they thought it already had. Link

A quality exploration of how tech platforms are changing journalism. Link

Taser has rebranded, and is now offering free body cameras to any police department. Smart PR I think. Link


The Power of Reading Link

Some Thoughts on Dataism Link

AR Glasses + Language Translation / Subtitles Link

Pythagoras's Theory on How Parents Make Children Link

DNS Hygiene, Wing Chun, and Poop Link

A Few Thoughts on Creativity and Age Link

Adjacent Possibles Link

Apple is looking to use facial recognition research to read what are called "micro emotions". I find this so interesting, as it reminds me of the Enigma talk I saw in January about determining preferences by parsing bio data. Your micro-emotions are bio data, and if someone can control inputs while interpreting this data they can learn all sorts of things about you. Link

SIEM and logging systems need to be protected carefully. Link


This is an interesting a16z podcast episode on whether the web is more or less open than it was in the early 2000s. Link

If you've not heard already, Hak5 has come out with a new pentesting tool called the Bashbunny, which they call the world's most advanced USB attack platform. It's worthy of the hype. Link

I've done some significant updates to my Reading project page, where I do a summary and lessons-learned capture of my favorite books. Link

My buddy Craig Smith's hacking tools capture page. Link

One of the coolest demonstrations of the physics of relative motion that I've ever seen. Link

Build your own text editor. Link

A Malware Analysis Cheats and Tools List Link

Firmwalker --- My buddy Craig's tool for evaluating the security of firmware. Looks for secrets, bad certs, bad hombres, and lots of other stuff. Link

Pentestly --- A combination of expanding python tools designated for use in penetration tests. Link

APT2 --- An open-sourced, multi-threaded, automated toolkit for stringing together Nmap, Metasploit, and various other tools to automate the pentesting process. Link

AIEngine --- a next generation interactive/programmable packet inspection engine with capabilities of learning without any human intervention (NIDS/DNS/Forensics). Link

RaiderSec --- Automated OSINT harvesting using APIs. Link


I've done a ton of digital cleanup over the last couple of weeks. I've completely moved off of DYN, I've gotten off of Linode, and---most importantly---I've moved my website to AWS. I'm completely blown away by the power of the platform today as compared to when I messed with it a few years back. I'll be posting a lot about my various projects around it soon.

I've been waiting for a couple of years for the price of genome sequencing to fall. If you have had yours done already, and recommend a place, do let me know.

I've taken to listening to all books and podcasts at 1.5 to 2.5 speed. It massively improves podcasts, in my opinion. I listened to part of my episode from last week at 1.5x and it was so much better than normal speed. I basically can't tolerate books or podcasts at regular speed anymore. Moar content!

I've finished Homo Deus, and am now reading The Gene: An Intimate History. I should have a summary for Homo Deus up soon. Link

Happiness is a beautiful Vim config. This is my latest, which I have both on macOS and all my Linux boxes. Link

My AWS bill is getting a bit scary on this xlarge instance I have. I'm estimated to hit like $250 for this month. I'm going to have to downgrade big time. I hope I don't take a site performance hit when I do so.

Me being honest in a Slack channel about the dreadful state of security in most organizations. Link


 🔑 I have created a VPN recommendations post, where I spent a couple of hours parsing all the various options out there and ending up with a list of 5, followed by a personal recommendation. If you're looking for a VPN but weren't sure where to start, I made this page for you. Link

I've created a recommended books list. Link


“To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be trained for surprise is to be educated.” ~ James Carse

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