In honor of October being National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we’ve got a number of relevant articles in this edition of the Best of the Web, plus a few others we wanted to share. Before we jump in, a quick note: while this newsletter may be focused on security this month, your nonprofit should be focused on it every month.
In Ars Technica, Dan Goodin has the story about how Amazon- and Google-approved apps turned both companies’ voice-controlled devices into “smart spies.” (Another way to think of it, maybe, is “We let these corporate-provided microphones into our homes but we can’t believe they’re listening to us.”)
Along those same lines, “Google Exec Rick Osterloh Says Nest Owners Should Probably Warn Their Guests That Their Conversations are Being Recorded.” Because they are.
In a story that might prove that one is immune to the threat of hackers, the Vatican’s wearable rosary gets a fix for a security flaw. (Are You There, God? It’s Me, a Serious Security Flaw.)
Stop giving companies your phone number, Sean Captain tells Fast Company. “Facebook and Twitter admit that marketers accessed the phone numbers people gave them for security verification. Here’s how to protect yourself without handing over your digits.”
The NY Times offers a seven-day plan to help you stop dragging your feet and take control of your online security. Secure Your Digital Life in Seven (Easy) Days provides a week’s worth of simple, straightforward steps to lock down your digital accounts and protect your online privacy.
Curious about How to Keep Your Mobile Banking Safe? A lot of it depends on your bank, says Matthew Kassel, but there are things you can do as a customer as well.
Google Project Zero found and reported a security flaw in the widely used password manager LastPass. Were you affected?
“In A Scanner Darkly, Phillip K. Dick imagined a ‘scramble suit’ that projected the likenesses of millions of other people onto the wearer…. In a time when anyone’s face can be swapped or remodeled to create a new reality, those fantasies sound a lot less far-fetched.” DeepPrivacy is software that masks your real face with a flurry of a million other faces to avoid facial recognition: This Software Will Give You a Fake Face to Protect Your Privacy. This is probably not relevant to most people, but it’s interesting, and the fact that it needs to exist at all is a little concerning.
The National Council of Nonprofits released a new report, Nonprofit Impact Matters, and a related microsite that tell the story of today’s nonprofit community from the nonprofit perspective. Mixing quantitative data with qualitative information to describe the real-world context in which nonprofits operate, they apply practical analysis to identify common challenges that nonprofits face and actions that those who care about the work of nonprofits can take together.
Moving on to other, non-security related topics:
The microsite provides even more information, including state-by-state data, such as state sector reports and other state-specific information from state association members, plus an infographic and facts and figures.
In the Nonprofit Quarterly, Rob Meiksins reports on The Crunch in Nonprofit Data Crunching.
As more nonprofits move fundraising activities online and across state lines, compliance becomes an increasing concern. Currently 41 states require charities to register prior to soliciting donations from their residents—requirements that are complex and difficult to understand. Harbor Compliance created this 50-state fundraising compliance guide to detail the requirements for nonprofits, and have made it available for free.
Writing in SPIN, Rob Arcand has the story of the Artists Using Artificial Intelligence to Dream Up the Future of Music. “As machine learning applications from big tech companies permeate increasingly large swaths of our lives, artists … are using similar tools for their creative potential, crafting forward-looking albums in collaboration with artificial intelligence. Can they liberate A.I. from the banal and sinister world of email auto-complete suggestions and facial recognition software? And what will the music sound like if they do?”
Nearly two years ago, artist and academic Jenny Odell gave a keynote address on ‘how to do nothing,’ in which she talked about the impact of modern life’s ceaseless demands on our time and attention and how she found respite in nature. Her address on our fractured attention spans went viral. Now she has a plan for how to heal them: lose ourselves in nature. Something we all need more of.
That’s it for this month. A big thank you to everyone who sent links. As always, if you have any you think would be a good fit, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you in November!