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Microsoft: High Tech Crime Reports Typically Biased

Microsoft researchers say the self-reported and skewed statistical data in cyber crime surveys is similar to those found in surveys that attempt to quantify human sexual behavior. These types of surveys can be statistically marred by a few subjects’ over reporting or exaggerating. Cyber crime victims can wildly overestimate financial losses or the time associated with recovering from data breaches. Only a few such exaggerations result in erroneous results. “Our assessment of the quality of cyber crime surveys is harsh,” wrote the researchers. “They are so compromised and biased that no faith whatever can be placed in their findings. … Are we really producing cyber-crime estimates where 75% of the estimate comes from the unverified self-reported answers of one or two people? Unfortunately, it appears so. Can any faith whatever be placed in the surveys we have? No, it appears not.” The results are scheduled to be presented at the forthcoming The Workshop on the Economics of Information Security 14 and 15 June at George Mason University. (BBC)(The Workshop on the Economics of Information Security 2011)(Microsoft Research)

Leading Internet Companies Promise Permanent IPv6 Support

Facebook, Google, and Yahoo held a joint press conference on 9 June at which representatives pledged permanent support for the IPv6 network addressing protocol. According to Computerworld, Google will leave the main YouTube website IPv6-enabled after observing a 65 percent increase in its IPv6 traffic on World IPv6 Day. The company added IPv6 support to several new services including Orkut for the trial. Facebook says it will now support IPv6 on its developers’ website. In its summary of the test, The Internet Society (ISOC) said almost 400 organizations participated in the global test day. (Computerworld)(The Internet Society)

IPv6 Day: Success or Un-Eventful?

Global technology firms put IPv6 to the test and attempted to create support for its use through World IPv6 Day on 8 June. The morning after the 24-hour test, technology firms and networking pundits are trying to determine if the event, designed to promote the switch from IPv4 addressing, resulted in any sea change. There were no problems reported. John Curran, chief executive of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), called it “a remarkable success.” Despite this, TechWorld reports that “IPv6 has one again retreated to the shadows with traffic ‘falling off a cliff’” come 9 June. Organizations monitoring Internet traffic reported a doubling of IPv6 traffic on 8 June, yet the actual use of the protocol was insignificant when compared to the rest of the Internet. Donn Lee, a senior network engineer at Facebook, called the day “completely a non-event by technical standards.” (TechWorld)(Computerworld)(International Business Times)

Organizations Create Digital Field Guide

LeafSnap is the first in a series of electronic field guides developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution. The free iPhone and iPad app uses visual recognition to identify tree species based on leaf photographs. Once the photo of the mystery tree’s leaf has been taken, LeafSnap returns a likely species name, high-resolution photographs, and information on the tree – its flowers, fruit, seeds, and bark. Peter Belhumeur, a Columbia University computer science professor, says his 8-year-old son, William, made the suggestion for the visual recognition-based guide. The application uses classification algorithms similar to those applied to facial recognition tasks. Here, the leaf’s shapes and features are extracted to rank a listing of the likely species. Users make the final identification and share the data using the app’s database that includes mapping technology. It has been downloaded more than 150,000 times in its first month; an Android version is forthcoming. LeafSnap now contains information on the trees in New York City’s Central Park and Washington D.C.’s Rock Creek Park, but will be expanded in the next18 months to catalog all 800 tree species in the US. The application cost roughly US$2.5 million and was primarily funded by the US National Science Foundation; the expansion will reportedly cost an additional US$1 million. Researchers also plan other field guides. “I think it is time for Fishsnap and Bugsnap,” says William Belhumeur, “so there is still a lot of work to do.” (redOrbit)(NPR)(Columbia University)(LeafSnap)

New Grid Application Evaluates Genes for Better Breeding

A new grid-based platform allows scientists to determine those genes that contribute to a single, valuable physical trait in an animal or plant. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh developed GridQTL, which helps users identify areas of a genome known as quantitative trait loci (QTL) that affect a specific physical trait. This information contributes to an understanding of variation between individuals as well as how traits are passed through subsequent generations of animals. It could be used to understand genetic diseases, for example, or in selecting ideal parents for better generations of animals and plants. GridQTL lets users  input their data using an intuitive web-based graphical interface. Statistical analysis that would traditionally take 30 hours to complete on a single core computer is done in 12 minutes using the UK’s National Grid Service. For example, veterinary scientists from the University of Sydney in Australia used the platform to find the QTL for the number of scale rows in farmed saltwater crocodiles. The number of scale rows increases the quality and, subsequently, the value of the leather. Users don’t have to understand grid computing or programming to use GridQTL -- they need only provide the data and interpret the analysis. (International Science Grid This Week)(GridQTL)

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