Links for 2015-04-20

  • FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades

    Wow, this is staggering.

    The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000. [….] The review confirmed that FBI experts systematically testified to the near-certainty of “matches” of crime-scene hairs to defendants, backing their claims by citing incomplete or misleading statistics drawn from their case work. In reality, there is no accepted research on how often hair from different people may appear the same. Since 2000, the lab has used visual hair comparison to rule out someone as a possible source of hair or in combination with more accurate DNA testing. Warnings about the problem have been mounting. In 2002, the FBI reported that its own DNA testing found that examiners reported false hair matches more than 11 percent of the time.

    (tags: fbi false-positives hair dna biometrics trials justice experts crime forensics inaccuracy csi)

  • The missing MtGox bitcoins

    Most or all of the missing bitcoins were stolen straight out of the MtGox hot wallet over time, beginning in late 2011. As a result, MtGox operated at fractional reserve for years (knowingly or not), and was practically depleted of bitcoins by 2013. A significant number of stolen bitcoins were deposited onto various exchanges, including MtGox itself, and probably sold for cash (which at the bitcoin prices of the day would have been substantially less than the hundreds of millions of dollars they were worth at the time of MtGox’s collapse). MtGox’ bitcoins continuously went missing over time, but at a decreasing pace. Again by the middle of 2013, the curve goes more or less flat, matching the hypothesis that by that time there may not have been any more bitcoins left to lose. The rate of loss otherwise seems unusually smooth and at the same time not strictly relative to any readily available factors such as remaining BTC holdings, transaction volumes or the BTC price. Worth pointing out is that, thanks to having matched up most of the deposit/withdrawal log earlier, we can at this point at least rule out the possibility of any large-scale fake deposits — the bitcoins going into MtGox were real, meaning the discrepancy was likely rather caused by bitcoins leaving MtGox without going through valid withdrawals.

    (tags: mtgox bitcoin security fail currency theft crime btc)

  • Bank of the Underworld – The Atlantic

    Prosecutors analyzed approximately 500 of Liberty Reserve’s biggest accounts, which constituted 44 percent of its business. The government contends that 32 of these accounts were connected to the sale of stolen credit cards and 117 were used by Ponzi-scheme operators. All of this activity flourished, prosecutors said, because Liberty Reserve made no real effort to monitor its users for criminal behavior. What’s more, records showed that one of the company’s top tech experts, Mark Marmilev, who was also arrested, appeared to have promoted Liberty Reserve in chat rooms devoted to Ponzi schemes.
    (via Nelson)

    (tags: scams fraud crime currency the-atlantic liberty-reserve ponzi-schemes costa-rica arthur-budovsky banking anonymity cryptocurrency money-laundering carding)

  • I was a Lampedusa refugee. Here’s my story of fleeing Libya – and surviving

    ‘The boy next to me fell to the floor and for a moment I didn’t know if he had fainted or was dead – then I saw that he was covering his eyes so he didn’t have to see the waves any more. A pregnant woman vomited and started screaming. Below deck, people were shouting that they couldn’t breathe, so the men in charge of the boat went down and started beating them. By the time we saw a rescue helicopter, two days after our boat had left Libya with 250 passengers on board, some people were already dead – flung into the sea by the waves, or suffocated downstairs in the dark.’

    (tags: lampedusa migration asylum europe fortress-europe italy politics immigration libya refugees)

  • Run your own high-end cloud gaming service on EC2

    Using Steam streaming and EC2 g2.2xlarge spot instances — ‘comes out to around $0.52/hr’. That’s pretty compelling IMO

    (tags: aws ec2 gaming games graphics spot-instances hacks windows steam)

  • Running Arbitrary Executables in AWS Lambda

    actually an officially-supported mode. huh

    (tags: lambda aws architecture ops node.js javascript unix linux)

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