Shareholders demand Amazon end facial recognition sales to governmentFred O'Connor | January 18, 2019
The Weekly Cypher is specially curated to keep you up-to-date on the latest in cybersecurity, biometrics, and related news and innovations. Here are a few of the headlines you might have missed this week.
Concerns about Amazon’s facial recognition program have now reached the company’s shareholders. Along with civil liberties groups, members of Congress and Amazon’s own employees, a group of shareholders is now also calling on the retail giant to stop selling its Rekognition technology to government agencies. Rekognition is a facial recognition program Amazon has provided to law enforcement agencies in Florida and reportedly marketed to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The program has been criticized for not being completely reliable, often making mistakes with its matches. Last July, the ACLU found that Rekognition mismatched 28 members of Congress with known criminals using a database of 25,000 mugshots.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio introduced a bill on Wednesday aimed at giving Americans more control over information that online companies like Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google collect on their location, financial data, job history or biometric data like fingerprints. Lawmakers from both parties have criticized the tech giants and others over data breaches, a lack of online privacy options and concern about political bias.
A facial recognition scan could become part of a standard medical checkup in the not-too-distant future. Researchers have shown how algorithms can help identify facial characteristics linked to genetic disorders, potentially speeding up clinical diagnoses. In a study published this month in the journal Nature Medicine, US company FDNA published new tests of their software, DeepGestalt. Just like regular facial recognition software, the company trained their algorithms by analyzing a dataset of faces. FDNA collected more than 17,000 images covering 200 different syndromes using a smartphone app it developed named Face2Gene.
You might not know Amadeus by name, but hundreds of millions of travelers use it each year. Whether you’re traveling for work or vacation, most consumers book their flights through one of a handful of bespoke reservation systems used across the commercial aviation industry. Amadeus is one of the largest reservation systems, serving customers of Air France, British Airways, Icelandair, Qantas and more. And each reservation system has to be able to talk to each other through the global distribution system backchannel. Israeli security researcher, Noam Rotem, found that any airline using Amadeus made it easy to edit and change someone’s reservation with just their booking reference number. No surname needed. In some cases, he didn’t even need to obtain someone’s booking number.
White House emails are highly vulnerable to hackers and spammers, new data shows | The Washington Post
The White House, which has boasted of taking unprecedented actions to secure the nation’s digital infrastructure, isn’t doing enough to protect its own emails from being copycatted by hackers and spammers, according to data shared with me by the email security firm ValiMail. It isn’t following its own administration’s rules that require protections against the threat known as email spoofing, according to the company.