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True Video Lies

This is a longer version of a piece I recorded for the BBC World Service. The other day my wife lost her phone out shopping. We narrowed it down to either the supermarket or the taxi. So we took her shopping receipt to the supermarket and asked to see their CCTV to confirm she still had the phone when she left. To my surprise they admitted us into their control room. Banks of monitors covering nooks, crannies, whole floors, each checkout line. There they let us scroll through the security video—I kind of took over, because the guy didn’t seem to know how to useContinue readingTrue Video Lies

Former Soviet Bloc, Allies, Under Lurid Attack

Trend Micro researchers David Sancho and Nart Villeneuve have written up an interesting attack they’ve dubbed LURID on diplomatic missions, government ministries, space-related government agencies and other companies and research institutions in the former Soviet bloc and its allies. (Only China was not a Soviet bloc member or ally in the list, and it was the least affected by the attack.) Although they don’t say, or speculate, about the attacker, it’s not hard to conclude who might be particularly interested in what the attacks are able to dig up: Although our research didn’t reveal precisely which data was being targeted, we were able to determine that,Continue readingFormer Soviet Bloc, Allies, Under Lurid Attack

Taking Shady RAT to the Next Level

I know I’ve drawn attention to this before, but the timeline of McAfee’s Operation Shady RAT by Dmitri Alperovitch raises questions again about WikiLeaks’ original data. Alperovitch points out that their data goes back to mid-2006: We have collected logs that reveal the full extent of the victim population since mid-2006 when the log collection began. Note that the actual intrusion activity may have begun well before that time but that is the earliest evidence we have for the start of the compromises. This was around the time that Julian Assange was building up the content that, he recounted in emails at the time, that his hardContinue readingTaking Shady RAT to the Next Level

Data, WikiLeaks and War

I’m not going to get into the rights and wrongs of the WikiLeaks thing. Nor am I going to look at the bigger implications for the balance of power between governed and governing, and between the U.S. and its allies and foes. Others have written much better than I can on these topics. I want to look at what the cables tell us about the sorting, sifting and accessing of this information. In short, what does this tell us about how the world’s most powerful nation organized some of its most prized data? To start, with, I want to revisit a conversation I had sittingContinue readingData, WikiLeaks and War

Singapore Details ‘Waves’ of Cyberattacks

Officials and delegates from APEC economies were targeted ahead of last year’s Singapore meeting with malware-laden emails faked so they appeared to have been sent by Singapore government officials on the Organising Committee. Singapore officials have said the attacks were not the first on the country. Although Singapore regularly highlights threats to national security—including Islamic terrorism—the admission that it has been the victim of cyber attacks is, according to the Straits Times, its most detailed account. Although it’s hard to read too much into the statements made to judge who may have been behind the attacks, it’s interesting that Singapore is drawing attention to this—notContinue readingSingapore Details ‘Waves’ of Cyberattacks

A pale white man shows us what journalism is

My weekly Loose Wire Service column. Is the Internet replacing journalism? It’s a question that popped up as I gazed at the blurred, distorted web-stream of a press conference from London by the founder of WikiLeaks, a website designed to “protect whistleblowers, journalists and activists who have sensitive materials to communicate to the public”. On the podium there’s Julian Assange. You can’t make a guy like this up. White haired, articulate and defensive, aloof and grungy, specific and then sweepingly angry. Fascinating. In a world of people obsessed by the shininess of their iPhones, Assange is either a throwback to the past or a gulfContinue readingA pale white man shows us what journalism is

Indian Slumdwellers Protest Biometric Scanning of Impersonators. I Think

Who says that privacy is only an issue in the First World? According to The Times of India residents of Palsora and Lal Bahadur Shastri colonies have demonstrated against “alleged irregularities in the biometric test, which is being carried out in the slum areas to check “impersonation at any level.” The problem, it seems, is that people have been impersonating other people, sometimes twice, to register or occupy property. A couple of interesting things about this. First off, this is not just any old biometric test. The administration, the story says, plans to test “all those living in slums [who] will have to furnish details of theirContinue readingIndian Slumdwellers Protest Biometric Scanning of Impersonators. I Think

The Real Lesson From CardSystems

The sad truth about the CardSystems debacle is that it wasn’t unusual, at least in the delay and obfuscation over reporting it. An AP report in yesterday’s HoustonChronicle says Most businesses do not report cyber attacks to law enforcement authorities, fearing the disclosure would harm their image and benefit rivals, FBI Director Robert Mueller said Tuesday. Mueller’s comments were based on an annual survey conducted by the FBI and the private Computer Security Institute that found just 20 percent of businesses reported computer intrusions last year, a figure that has held steady for several years. The reasons cited most often for keeping the incidents quietContinue readingThe Real Lesson From CardSystems

Fingerprint Readers And Baths

Something I’ve noticed about biometric fingerprint readers. They don’t work well after a bath. Why is that? Are our fingers different after a bath? I mean, they look different — all wrinkly, for one thing — but why does that mess up the fingerprint reader? I do my best thinking in the bath, and it’s getting frustrating to have to wait five minutes while my fingers return to normal before I can gain access to my computer. That’s the sort of warning they should put on the box.

Can We Trust Anti-Spy Software?

Who watches over the watchers? In software, it seems, it’s often the same folk.   Reading a press release for X-Cleaner, “a privacy tool suite that detects and removes installed spyware and adware components”, it sounded interesting enough for a mention. After all, it “includes tools to securely delete files, edit the registry, disable startup programs”, as well as “IE home page protection, cookie, cache and history cleaning, built-in password generator and more”. What’s more, there’s a free version with some features disabled. Not a bad tool for those folk worried about keylogging phisher trojans and whatnot.   But when I tried to find out whoContinue readingCan We Trust Anti-Spy Software?

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