Technology Explainers

The Russian attacks on voter registration databases preceding the 2016 Election “changed the narrative” about election security, highlighting a new avenue for adversarial foreign nation-states to interfere with the U.S.’s elections: the cyberattack. This Technology Explainer will analyze how cyberattacks function in elections, which election systems are most vulnerable to these attacks, and how cyberattacks […]

Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is an emerging new spectrum of technologies focused on revolutionizing how data is stored. While often discussed in tandem with cryptocurrencies, not all DLTs are cryptocurrencies; instead the term DLT covers any approach to data storage across multiple ledgers. A ledger is a record of ownership and what is exchanged in […]

Bitcoin off-chain transactions are transactions in bitcoin that are not recorded on the blockchain. Today, most bitcoin transactions occur off-chain. This dynamic runs counter to the quintessential principle espoused in the initial white paper conceptualizing bitcoin—that transactions would be immutably and reliably recorded on a public ledger. As regulators voice concerns over bitcoin’s divorce from […]

Election technology is democracy’s critical infrastructure and must withstand manipulation from inside and outside forces. But in recent years, contested recounts have raised procedural questions. Reports issued on Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election reveal other system vulnerabilities. Security experts and the House of Representatives have called for a return to paper ballots. […]

In 2006, when Netflix was just a DVD rental service, it offered a $1 million prize to the team that could improve Netflix’s movie recommendation algorithm by ten percent. The competition became an academic lightning rod—thousands of teams entered and their work produced dozens of academic works. During the first year of the competition, several […]

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a technique to improve the ranking of a website on the results page of a search engine for the purpose of increasing the traffic to that site. This technique has become crucial in the modern Internet era, where standing out amongst the over 1.7 billion websites can be a challenge. […]

Spam, unsolicited commercial content spread at a mass scale, is everywhere on the Internet, in our email and on the sites we visit. At a minimum, spam is a nuisance, just another email or post online to delete or ignore. At its worst, falling victim to a spam attack risks infecting a system with malware […]

To say that data breaches are ubiquitous within the modern digital society may be an understatement. Over the past fifteen years, more than ten billion records have been breached from over 9,000 data breaches in the United States, impacting a majority of Americans. Continue Reading

Wireless communication technology is about to enter a new era: 5G networks. “5G” stands for “fifth generation,” the next step up from the currently mainstream 4G networks. From 2014 levels, mobile traffic is expected to increase by 1000 times by 2024. Continue Reading

In 2001, a U.S. military drone, Predator, became the first weapon to stalk and kill an individual on the other side of the planet. Controlled from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) campus in Virginia, the Predator hovered over a compound in Afghanistan, which housed Mullah Mohammed Omar, an ally of Osama Bin Laden. The Predator […]

Automated defense technology (ADT) refers to weaponry designed to fend off incoming threats that is typically employed in international combat and utilizes automation in some part of its operation. Because of this automation, ADT removes some human error from warfare, and more recent automation technology allows machines to make certain decisions about engagement without any […]

The term “study drugs” refers to a sub-class of prescription stimulants, approved by the FDA for the treatment of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), that students routinely abuse to enhance academic performance. This sub-class, categorized as substituted phenethylamines, includes methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta), dexmethylphenidate (Focalin), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse), and a mixture of amphetamine salts (Adderall). In […]

INTRODUCTION: HACKING AND SOCIETY Nearly ubiquitous in today’s online culture, “hacking” has generally reclaimed the benign spirit the word once held in the early days of electronics, throwing off the more nefarious meaning it held throughout the tail end of the twentieth century. The word “lifehacks”—a technique for accomplishing a familiar task more easily and […]

INTRODUCTION After years of anticipation, the era of telemedicine has finally arrived. It has been nearly a decade since doctors, insurance companies, and other health care professionals predicted a telemedicine revolution. Telemedicine literally means “healing from a distance” and involves the direct treatment and prevention of diseases and injuries by healthcare professionals at a distance. […]

LAW ENFORCEMENT’S HISTORY OF TRACKING SUSPECTS Locating and tracking individuals is often a vital component of law enforcement operations. Throughout its history, American law enforcement has continually adopted new methods and technologies to track suspects with greater efficiency. Nineteenth-century state governments employed bounty hunters to track suspects across state lines, while some twentieth-century agencies used […]

INTRODUCTION Searching the word “algorithm” on Google leads to images of spider-web charts, three-dimensional graphs and rows of mathematic equations. What could social media and math have to do with each other? Looking at the motive behind social media companies tells us why algorithms are an inseparable part of social media platforms. SOCIAL MEDIA AS […]

INTRODUCTION As technology continues to develop and as citizens increasingly embrace a digital society, consumers accordingly consider methods to better protect their privacy. One method, the virtual private network (VPN), was developed in 1996 to address that need. A VPN is a secured network that protects data by creating a secure connection that shields those […]

DIGITAL INFORMATION’S MODERN CONTEXT: A DATA SECURITY CRISIS Major breaches to corporate information systems, such as Equifax’s 2017 data breach, have shown the vulnerabilities of many data security practices. These highly public failures have created some of the most significant headlines of the early twenty-first century, forcing data security experts to rethink their methods for […]

The world is changing fast. At the end of 2015, nearly 44% of the world population had access to the internet. By some reliable estimates, the remaining 56% of the world’s population will be connected to the vast digital network by 2025. In less than nine years, every human will have the potential to be […]

The freedom to contract is one of the oldest and most basic tenets of the American legal system. Subject to limited judicial and statutory exceptions, parties have been and are generally afforded carte blanche in determining the terms of a binding agreement and how those terms are memorialized. The recent emergence of “smart contracts,” that […]

Introduction Machine learning describes the process through which computers can learn without continued human input. In the era of big data, machine learning is particularly promising because it allows for identification of patterns in large data sets. Machine learning has applications in fields as diverse as medicine, e-commerce, and banking. This essay will discuss the […]

I. Introduction Facial recognition technology (“FRT”) is the general term for a complex series of programs, the aim of which is to have computers recognize and compare images of faces to determine if they match. The process of identifying and recognizing faces, while common and intuitive for humans, is a daunting task for computers. For […]

I. Introduction Biologics, such as the arthritis drug Humira, are therapeutics and diagnostics derived from living systems—as opposed to non-biologic drugs derived from chemical synthesis—and are often state-of-the-art treatment for many diseases. Today, biologics account for at least one-third of all drug approvals, and the majority of biologics research and development is in monoclonal antibodies […]

I. Introduction Today, almost everything about our lives is digitally recorded and stored somewhere. Every interaction with technology creates data about that user. Each credit card purchase, medical diagnosis, Google search, Facebook post, or Netflix preferences is another recorded data point about that individual user. Beyond that, every census report, home purchase, voter registration, medical […]

Introduction Every day, lawyers, regulators, and policy advocates must use information about a situation to evaluate, predict, and draw conclusions about the world around them. The problem is ubiquitous: You have a hypothesis that attempts to explain something in the real world – perhaps the cause of a disease, the guilt of an accused criminal, […]

Introduction Natural Language Processing (NLP) is a field of computer science, artificial intelligence, and computational linguistics. Computers operate on the foundation of if/then logic statements, whereas natural human language systems do not; NLP endeavors to bridge this divide by enabling a computer to analyze what a user said (input speech recognition) and process what the […]

In early April, WhatsApp, an online messaging service with more than a billion users, announced that they added “end-to-end” encryption to every form of communication on the service. This means WhatsApp’s server now acts as an illiterate messenger, passing along messages that it cannot itself decipher. Because of this newly adopted technology, WhatsApp is unable […]

The Origins of Tor Security in online activity, and privacy from those who wish to monitor it, has been a priority for internet users since creation of the web. To achieve this goal, the concept of onion routing was developed by the United States Naval Research Laboratory (“NRL”) in the mid-1990s to protect online communications […]

One may occasionally see five letters displayed at the beginning of a URL: HTTPS. To understand HTTPS and its importance in internet communication, it is first necessary to understand HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol.) The difference of a single letter could contribute to the invasion of your privacy on the internet and the theft of your […]