Thursday, April 03, 2014

Newsweek has a print version again after all, with provocative articles, especially about national security

The magazine Newsweek is supposed to have ceased printing at the end of 2012, but print versions can still be found in some supermarkets.  They may be the versions distributed in the UK and Europe by IBT Media.
An issue dated March 21, 2014 had some particularly valuable articles.

One of the most important is the cover story, “The Cure Could Kill You”, about poorly regulated labs that the article says might be more likely to cause a major pandemic than bioterror.  There is a discussion of Project BioShiled, and the idea that in order to research the possible perils from a pathogen, you have to learn how to recreate these perils in a lab.  One reason is that Congress has limited liability for companies making antidotes to drugs, as the article explains with the anthrax issue from 2001.  It later discusses smallpox and a student in Texas getting infected with brucellosis.


Kurt Eichenwald has a story “The $500 Million Cyberheist”, about spyware and hacking tools for sale, which criminals use for money laundering or to attack bank accounts.  The most notorious of these was SpyEye.  The Webroot threat blog has written a lot about the “malware toolkit” industry. Thefts with SpyeEye often involved wire transfers of money to other offshore banks controlled by hackers.

SpyEye can launch a "man in the browser" attack, interposing extra questions on a bank website and masking the fact it has siphoned money from users by making bank statements look normal online.  I had not heard of this part of the threat before. 
Davis Ewing Duncan has an article, “Hacking your DNA”, predicting that the next Edward Snowden will be a geneticist who keeps the government from keeping taps on people whose genes show a propensity for violence, perhaps using illicit data to keep them from buying guns or boarding planes, especially by correlating genes to social media activity (even “likes”).  What a take on online reputation!
  
And Lecia Bushak writes about the suicide rates of men in Russia, in a piece “Dying to get out of Russia”. Under Communism, men drank a lot and didn’t develop the skills, especially social ones, to hold down jobs in a tech economy.  She doesn’t take the opportunity to relate this to the new Russian anti-gay propaganda law, which seems like a crude attempt by Putin to socialize “marginal men” into being willing to marry and have children even in an uncertain economy.   


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