Software Bug Releases Thousands of US Prisoners Early

Most software has bugs, sometimes small, sometimes large, but very rare is the bug that exists for 13 years and has consequences as serious as causing over 3,200 prisoners in the US to be released early. The bug in question existed in the system that Washington state used to calculate sentence reductions in good behavior, resulting in incorrect reductions in the sentence reductions.

The bug was introduced back in 2002, as part of an update to make the system conform to a new court ruling regarding the application of good behavior credits. The most disturbing part is that the bug was discovered in 2012, and the Washington Department of Corrections (DoC) made aware of it by the family of a victim which discovered the offender was getting out of jail early. It remained relatively ignored at the time until a new boss of IT for the DoC realized the true severity of the issue. At a press conference, Jay Inslee, Washington’s governor stated, “That this problem was allowed to continue for 13 years is deeply disappointing to me, totally unacceptable and, frankly, maddening.”

Mr. Inslee ordered the software fixed as soon as possible, with an update to the system that fixes the bug due to be applied by the 7th of January. Until the update is in place, the DoC have been ordered to check manually whether a prisoner should be released before doing so.

An analysis shows that the average amount of time that prisoners with miscalculated sentences got released early was 49 days. There were outliers, however, with one prisoner having had 600 days cut from his sentence. Those prisoners who were released early would have to return to prison to see out the correct remainder of their sentence, even those who have been released for a considerable period. Five prisoners have already been returned to jails, with state police working to see that all those who need to return to their cells do so.

As the world move to become more and more reliant on digital systems, it is shocking that a mistake of this calibre can be allowed to happen, especially over such a long period. Mistakes like this bring into question whether we can yet truly rely on electronic systems for such important tasks, and it is fortunate that the prisons have a way to manually assure the duration of sentences, else the error could have been uncorrectable. It was unconfirmed whether any prisoners released early had committed crimes, but it is concerning that for the last 12 years, criminals who had not seen out their full sentence could have been walking the streets of Washington.

DJI to Disable Drones Over Washington, DC After Incident

DJI will disable its drones over Washington, DC after an earlier incident which involved one of its Phantom drones crashing on the White House lawn.

The Chinese company told The Wall Street Journal that they will be using their GPS tracking system to remotely disable their drones from flying in the city. The company says that they have already utilised this capability to prevent flight near airports, but this will be the first time they have used it in a city. According to The Verge, the FAA already has a restriction on flight in the Washington, DC area, so such a restriction could have been implemented regardless of the recent incident.

It was on Monday that a DJI Phantom drone crashed on the lawn of the White House, an incident that was traced back to a (former?) government official who was flying the drone for “recreational purposes” at 3am (we’re as confused as you are).

Source: The Verge

Washington Post Free for Kindle Fire Users

Amazon has announced that it will be making the Washington Post newspaper available for free to Kindle Fire users.

The app will be bundled with with an update and will allow users of the tablet 6 months of free unlimited access usually reserved to subscribers of the newspaper. The news isn’t particularly surprising, as Jeff Bezos, the co-founder and CEO of Amazon, now owns the Washington Post, after acquiring it last year. Users will receive a tablet-friendly app, similar to other newspaper-based apps. Two additions of the paper will be pushed to the app at 5.00am and 5.00pm US Eastern Time.

As The Next Web points out, it appears that Amazon has made efforts to avoid the controversy Apple encountered in September when they ‘forced’ a free U2 album upon everyone – the Washington Post app can be deleted if you don’t want it.

Source: The Next Web

First-Ever Full-Page Medical Marijuana Ad Published by The New York Times

The New York Times is said to have published a full-page ad regarding medical marijuana for Leafly, the first ever cannabis company that lets users browse, rate and review medical suppliers in your area. This comes just a month after the newspaper stated it would support the marijuana legalization cause.

In addition, the New York Times’ editorial board is said to have endorsed federal legalization of marijuana, pointing out that its moderate use has no proven evidence of being more harmful than tobacco or alcohol. Even so, the newspaper stated that people under the age of 21 should be restricted from consuming it.

New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, has signed the Compassionate Care Act a month ago, making medical marijuana legal starting from the 7th of July. The state appears to be the 24th in the hierarchy of states to legalize medical marijuana in the US, including Washington and Colorado.

Leafly’s ad, which features the slogan “Just Say Know”, is said to have taken 18 months to finish. This means that the company had started working on it before New York actually legalized medical marijuana, stating that patients and the general public “need a reliable, mainstream information portal about cannabis that is free of classic stoner stereotypes”.

“We want to help New York patients learn about cannabis and make responsible and informed consumer choices about the product best suited for their medical conditions,” Leafly wrote in a blog post

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of Mashable

Norse Providing Real-Time Hack Monitoring Map

With all the rambling going on the Internet regarding cyber crime and hacking, nobody can see the full extent of what is really going on. China and the US are reported to constantly ‘clash’ about online spying, having companies and businesses suffering from their actions as a result.

A company from the US called Norse is apparently providing a map which reportedly displays real-time cyber-attacks occurring all over the world. The map can be viewed here (map apparently working best with Chrome), having the company stating that “attacks shown are based on a small subset of live flows against the Norse honeypot infrastructure, representing actual worldwide cyber attacks by bad actors”.

Defence One reports that business hours on Monday in Hong Kong, China has led the list of countries where attacks originated, having the US as China’s top target. The attacks are said to include protocols such as SSH, Telnet, as well as the Windows hacking tool named Crazzynet.

The report also gives examples of targeted and well-organised strikes from China occurring at 1:30 pm on Monday in Hong Kong, having Seattle and Washington as targets. Another example stated originated from Hong Kong and targeted St. Louis just after 4 pm.

Norse is reportedly founded by a former intelligence expert, having previously worked with the US Department of Homeland Security, and a technology consultant.

Thank you Defence One for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of Defence One