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August 21, 2015

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Ann

Hiya Megan,
Welcome to LadyKillers! And thanks for elucidating some of the fictions vs. realities of computer attacks for us. The other two bits that crop up in movie scenes that crack me up are (1) scene of "hacker team" in an internet cafe successfully hacking into a super-secret DoD site (uh, yeah, sure) and (2) the "fingers flying frantically over the keyboard" shot as if someone is playing the opening to Chopin's "Revolutionary Etude" on their keyboard [a la https://youtu.be/lI0Wd727ywU ]. And I'm soooo glad we can keep our hoodies! ;-)

Camille Minichino

Welcome, Megan! Thanks for the very useful, enlightening post -- I'm sticking to my rule of leaving that kind of scene to the experts like you.

Like Ann, I always chuckle at the speed with which hackers touch-type lines of meaningless "code."

Looking forward to dipping into your stories.

Mysti

Megan, thank you for visiting!!!

Do you think big-data analytics can be used to set off those alarms? For something other than a denial-of-service attack. Like the way Google knows before the CDC how colds are trending, but with activity logs?

Camille Minichino

I love it when you guys talk cyber :)

Staci

What an insightful post! Of course, it does make me want to shut off my internet, turn off my wi-fi, and only pay cash in physical stores from now on. = )

Megan

But the internet is a great thing for writers! One time I had a to know what a fiberglass boat looks like when it's burning and I didn't have one handy myself. So I went to YouTube. :)

Megan

Mysti -

Big data analytics are useful for detecting attacks, but still require a human to interpret the results.

As for the CDC thing, that was really interesting research, but it turns out that even when analyzing big data sets, you have to worry about causality as well as correlation. Here's a fun article - well worth the read:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/21a6e7d8-b479-11e3-a09a-00144feabdc0.html
"Not only was “Google Flu Trends” quick, accurate and cheap, it was theory-free. Google’s engineers didn’t bother to develop a hypothesis about what search terms – “flu symptoms” or “pharmacies near me” – might be correlated with the spread of the disease itself. The Google team just took their top 50 million search terms and let the algorithms do the work.....Four years after the original Nature paper was published, Nature News had sad tidings to convey: the latest flu outbreak had claimed an unexpected victim: Google Flu Trends. ...Google’s model pointed to a severe outbreak but when the slow-and-steady data from the CDC arrived, they showed that Google’s estimates of the spread of flu-like illnesses were overstated by almost a factor of two....If you have no idea what is behind a correlation, you have no idea what might cause that correlation to break down."

Ann

Wow! That's interesting about the Google study... I had no idea. I guess I should rein in my enthusiasm when I read statements that start "The data shows..." and double check what theories/hypotheses lurk behind the curtain.

Megan

No! Be enthusiastic. I'm a bit of a data science geek so I'm always looking around for these sorts of things.

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