CV19 SelfDefense Mobile Phone App now available for download

To open college campuses safely amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we recommend the CV19 SelfDefense Android Mobile Phone App. This research project was funded by Florida State University (CC-045704, 5/11/20 – 8/18/20). The first iteration just became available. You can download it here.

An online demo is available at

The objectives of the “CV19 SelfDefense” project are two-fold. First, it is an education tool that provides mobile phone users with the most up-to-date information from healthcare authorities, as well as access to nearby test centers. Second, the tool can assist users in assessing symptoms based on CDC guidelines, maintaining social distance as necessary, and managing self-quarantine status. The social distance ‘nudge’ can remind users if someone comes too close (within six feet). Quarantine status gives users a tool to manage safe locations and points of reference during the quarantine period.

Women are pretending to be men on Instagram to circumvent algorithmic blocking

Gender deception is widespread in social media. Instagram has been hiding photos and videos that it considers to be vaguely “inappropriate” without explaining what specific kind of content that includes or alerting affected users. Such posts are algorithmically blocked from being featured in the Facebook-owned website’s public Explore and hashtag pages, which help grow people’s accounts by giving them broader exposure. This kind of covert censorship, known as “shadow banning,” has disproportionately affected women and members of marginalized communities, including those whose livelihoods depend on Instagram — leaving many urgently seeking ways to restore their visibility on the platform. Instagram initially denied it. But, what does research tell us? Guess Who?

Research suggests that females tend to have a higher success rate in detecting gender deception, and males tend to have higher self-efficacy beliefs in gender deception. The gender of the message recipient could be a significant factor in uncovering gender deception (Ho, 2017).

Breaking New Ground in Human-Computer Interactions Research

Shuyuan Mary Ho conducts research on topics such as trusted human-computer interactions, cyber insider threats, online deception, and more. Dr. Ho also research on the use of computational intelligence for the safety and security of the Internet.

See the whole article by clicking here.

Hackers New Tactic: Locking All the Doors at an Expensive Hotel

The ransom demand arrived one recent morning by email, after about a dozen guests were AustrianHotellocked out of their rooms at the lakeside Alpine hotel in Austria.

The electronic key system at the picturesque Romantik Seehotel Jaegerwirt had been infiltrated, and the hotel was locked out of its own computer system, leaving guests stranded in the lobby, causing confusion and panic.

“Good morning?” the email began, according to the hotel’s managing director, Christoph Brandstaetter. It went on to demand a ransom of two Bitcoins, or about $1,800, and warned that the cost would double if the hotel did not comply with the demand by the end of the day.

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DARPA’s Master Plan to Spot Facebook Terrorists?

There are plenty of lunatics on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Not to mention trolls, darpa_logohaters and other assorted unpleasantness. Most are harmless. A few are terrorists and insurgents who would love nothing better than to kill U.S. troops.

So, how do you tell the loonies and the loudmouths from the real killers?

The Pentagon’s cutting-edge research agency wants software that can sift through social media, and determine whether the person writing “Death to America” on Facebook is just venting steam — or is about to strap on an explosive vest and launch a suicide attack on American soldiers.

DARPA wants software that can potential attackers while “ensuring privacy and appropriately addressing personally identifiable information that may be found in PAI.

The rest of the article is available from the by clicking here.

5 Ways The Cyber-Threat Landscape Shifted In 2016

Change is the one constant in the threat landscape, and cyber events of 2016 served as a reminder of that aphorism in multiple and often painful ways.idle hands

Whether it was stealing tens of millions of dollars from financial institutions, locking hospitals and mass-transit systems out of critical data, or assembling deadly attack networks from innocuous consumer devices, cyber-adversaries as always found a way to stay one step ahead of the good guys. They continue to surprise and outmaneuver defenders by constantly innovating, improving, and evolving their tactics, techniques and procedures.

Here are the five most significant ways the cyber-threat landscape has changed:

  1. The weaponization of routers, fridges, and the whole Internet of Things
  2. Nation-state-sponsored cyber-warfare tantamount to the 911 terrorist attack
  3. Ransomware emerged as one of the biggest threats to people and businesses
  4. Hackers went directly after the global financial system itself
  5. Turnkey phishing services became widely available to cyber-criminals

Check out the whole article on by clicking here.

With shifts in national mood come shifts in the words we use…

In the wake of the election (and our Thanksgiving dinner), it’s clear that American society has been fractured. Negative emotions are running amok, and countless words of anger and frustration have been spilled. If you were to analyze any news outlet for the ratio of positive emotional words to negative ones, would you find a dip linked to the events of the past few weeks?

It’s possible! This comes from a research study published last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Analyzing Google Books and The New York Times’s archives from the last 200 years, the researchers examined a curious phenomenon known as “positive linguistic bias,” which refers to people’s tendency to use more positive words than negative words. Though the bias is robust — and found consistently across cultures and languages — social scientists are at odds about what causes it.

In this study, the authors shed light on some possible new patterns of communication that are  behind the effect. Across two centuries’ of texts, they found that people’s preference for positive words varied with national mood, and declined during times of war and economic hardship.

Read the rest of this NYT article by clicking here.

Is it impossible to stop deceptive news?

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg on Friday night posted a message on his Facebook page about so-called fake news and the controversy over his company’s role in carrying it to hundreds of millions of users. “The bottom line is: We take misinformation seriously,” he wrote.

Zuckerberg is in an impossible spot. Since the election he has been under attack based on conjecture that made-up information presented as news, mostly pro-Trump, and circulated on Facebook may have tipped the election’s outcome. This is like blaming AT&T and Verizon for the lies people tell on the phone, but of course it’s also different. Everything on Facebook runs through Facebook servers and can be analyzed by the company, which is critical to its pitch to advertisers that they can target their ads, within limits, based on users’ interests and histories.

More from Fortune magazine by clicking here.

Facebook Considering Ways to Combat Fake News

After more than a week of accusations that the spread of fake news on Facebook may have affected the outcome of the presidential election, Mark Zuckerberg published a detailed post MarkZFriday night describing ways the company is considering dealing with the problem.

Mr. Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chairman and chief executive, broadly outlined some of the options he said the company’s News Feed team was looking into, including third-party verification services, better automated detection tools and simpler ways for users to flag suspicious content.

“The problems here are complex, both technically and philosophically,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote. “We believe in giving people a voice, which means erring on the side of letting people share what they want whenever possible.”

More from the New York Times by clicking here.

NSA Missed ‘Big Red Flags’ in Leak Suspect’s Behavior

Year after year, both in his messy personal life and his brazen theft of classified documents from the National Security Agency, Harold T. Martin III put to the test the government’s costly system for protecting secrets. And year after year, the system failed.

Martin got and kept a top-­secret security clearance despite a record that included drinking problems, a drunken-­driving arrest, two divorces, unpaid tax bills, a charge of computer harassment, and a bizarre episode in which he posed as a police officer in a traffic dispute. Under clearance rules, such events should have triggered closer scrutiny by the security agencies where he worked as a contractor – but it didn’t.
Get the rest of this New York Times article by clicking here.