Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Another reason to delete conference spam

If you're like me, you get an immense amount of conference spam, even for conferences that are not remotely in your area of interest. (This morning I got a message inviting me to an international geography and geology conference. All right then.)

According to a new report, conference invites are now being used to infect victims' computers with malware. It works like this: the attacker takes the PDF Call for Papers for a legitimate conference, infects the PDF with malware, and spams it to various targets as a conference invitation (with the malicious PDF as an attachment). The targets open the PDF and get infected.

So far, the affected conferences include ISSNIP, an IEEE-sponsored conference on sensor networks; but the malware version of the CfP may have only targeted one particular defense contractor.

(Previously in our irregular series on academic spam: 1, 2)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

BIRS ... brrrrr

This week I'm at a workshop on Interactive Information Theory at the Banff International Research Station (BIRS). More or less, interactive information theory is what happens when transmitter and receiver are allowed to go back and forth. This includes things like feedback capacity, interactive function computation, secret key exchange, and so on.

It's been an outstanding workshop so far and I'll blog more about it later. But it's been very cold. (Not to complain. I grew up in Edmonton so this is like coming home for me.)

We just took the group photo, below, so you can play "name that information theorist". (I'm in the yellow parka and grey hat on the right hand side.) Weather conditions when the photo was taken: light snow, -30C.

Monday, January 2, 2012

An odds start for the new year

What's going to happen in 2012? I like odds better than predictions, because future events are inherently uncertain. Here are the odds I would give on events in 2012, if I were a betting man. Add yours in the comments.

(Odds are of the form against-for, e.g. 10-1 is 10 to 1 against, 1-10 is 10 to 1 for. Rely on them at your own risk.)