Friday, January 20, 2017

This and that

My challenge is simple: to master the nuances of my new job, all I have to do is to be comfortable with every page of this amazing 500 page masterwork: Is Parallel Programming Hard, And, If So, What Can You Do About It?. Happily, McKenney is a wonderful writer, but where will I find the time?

In the meantime, there's also a few other things that crept in while I was sleeping:

  • Who is Anna-Senpai, the Mirai Worm Author?
    The story you’re reading now is the result of hundreds of hours of research. At times, I was desperately seeking the missing link between seemingly unrelated people and events; sometimes I was inundated with huge amounts of information — much of it intentionally false or misleading — and left to search for kernels of truth hidden among the dross. If you’ve ever wondered why it seems that so few Internet criminals are brought to justice, I can tell you that the sheer amount of persistence and investigative resources required to piece together who’s done what to whom (and why) in the online era is tremendous.
  • Cloudflare’s Transparency Report for Second Half 2016 and an Additional Disclosure for 2013
    Because of the gag order, I had to sit in silence, implicitly confirming the point in the mind of the staffer. At the time, I knew for a certainty that the FBI’s interpretation of the statute diverged from hers (and presumably that of her boss).

    Cloudflare fought this battle for four years even after the request for customer information had been dismissed. In addition to protecting our customers’ information, we want to remain a vigorous participation in public policy discussions about our services and public law enforcement efforts. The gag rule did not allow that.

    Now that this gag order has been lifted, Cloudflare is able to publish a more accurate transparency report to its customers and constituents. For us, this is not the end of the story, but the beginning of a more robust, fact-informed debate.

  • Operation Grand Mars: a comprehensive profile of Carbanak activity in 2016/17
    Trustwave has tracked Carbanak activity in the latter half of 2016 and found them to be targeting hospitality and retail victims in Europe and North America, specifically targeting their internal corporate secrets and protected payment card data. Trustwave published a blog earlier in the year within initial findings but has now released the complete malicious campaign profile in a 45-page Advanced Threat Report. The blog post below is a summary of the malicious profile we have developed for this actor. The complete report on this activity can be found here:
  • Babai Strikes Back
    We were watching history. From the talk I tweeted the new news though Bill Cook, also in the audience, beat me to the punch. Babai went on to describe the issue, an error in the analysis of the running time in the recursion, and the fix, basically a way to avoid that recursive step, but I can't do it justice here. At the end he proclaimed "So it is quasipolynomial time again". And so it was.
  • On exp(exp(sqrt(log n))) algorithms.
    Improving quantitative parameters such as running time or approximation factor is very useful as intermediate challenge problems that force us to create new ideas, but ultimately the important contribution of a theoretical work is the ideas it introduces and not the actual numbers.
  • No One Questioned This Hedge Fund’s Madoff-Like Returns
    But until Murray Huberfeld, who founded Platinum with Nordlicht, was caught up in a New York City municipal-corruption probe in June, no one at the fund had been charged with wrongdoing. Within weeks of Huberfeld’s arrest, federal agents raided Platinum’s midtown Manhattan office. On Dec. 19, Nordlicht and six others were arrested in what the government called a $1 billion fraud. Nordlicht and Huberfeld have pleaded not guilty, and Platinum’s main fund is being wound down after filing for bankruptcy. Montieth Illingworth, a spokesman for Platinum, declined to comment.
  • Why Are So Many Bee Trucks Tipping Over?
    All of this is to say that I have little more insight, except that you definitely shouldn’t trust anyone! Except for maybe bees, considering they continue to provide us avocados and almonds and blueberries and all the foods that we’ve pushed to the edge of extinction, including the bees themselves, because we’re reckless as hell.
  • China’s WTO Entry, 15 Years On
    The state’s hand was clear, but not in ways that were obviously forbidden by the WTO. Or at least not in ways that have been successfully challenged in the WTO. Firms’ investment decisions aren’t technically government procurement if the investment is for the provision of a commercial service, and the state’s guidance isn’t always written down. Yet even today the preferences provided for local firms in strategic sectors, like medical equipment, aren’t exactly a secret that China tries all that hard to hide.


    The initial China shock overlaps with the dollar shock. WTO accession made producing in China for the global market attractive, but did not made China into a great market for manufacturers looking to sell globally produced goods to China. Successful WTO challenges to individual Chinese practices haven’t changed the overall pattern—China’s imports of manufactures for its own use have slid steadily relative to China’s GDP after WTO accession. The more-limited-than-expected gains for manufacturers looking to sell to China though didn’t lead (until now, when the China shock is arguably starting to fade) to a serious reconsideration of the basic gains from China’s asymmetric integration, in part because U.S. and European firms captured many of the initial gains of China’s export success. And some “within the rules” remedies weren’t used as aggressively as they could have been to challenge China’s currency management and other discriminatory practices during the years immediately after China joined the WTO.

  • Cooperation at the Tigris‎: U.S. and Iraqi Efforts to Maintain the Mosul Dam
    U.S. and Iraqi scientists estimate that a breach of the Mosul Dam, one of the largest pieces of water infrastructure in the Middle East, could have a devastating impact for over a million Iraqis along the Tigris River, from Mosul itself all the way down to Baghdad. Its failure could also be a threat to U.S. personnel and our Coalition members working alongside Iraqis and drastically reshape the nature of the fight against ISIL in northern Iraq. Today, thanks to close U.S.-Iraqi partnership, however, Mosul Dam is on a path toward greater stability.
  • CS Responder Trans-Oceanic Cable Layer
    Laying fiber optic cables with repeaters along the ocean floor raises super-interesting technical challenges. I recently visited the CS Responder, a trans-ocean cable-laying ship
  • The greatest chess game ever played
    Garry Kasparov, who is one of the top chess players ever, said that his 1999 match against Veselin Topalov was the greatest game of chess he ever played. In this video, MatoJelic goes through the game, move by move.

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