Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Assange and the Foreign Office; British foreign policy and Twitter

August 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Well, first the serious bit. Kudos to Ecuador for having more balls to stand up to the bull of Cameron than Cameron has to stand up to Obama. We thought Blair was a poodle to Bush; Cameron is no different to Obama. And if you think I’m extreme, please read this analysis from a retired diplomat: America’s Vassal Acts Decisively and Illegally. It’s enough to make you ashamed of your own country.

The less serious bit, marginally, is the effect of Twitter on the nation’s literature. Consider this official statement on the website of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

FO statement

Foreign Office statement on Assange asylum

It’s a bit terse. Terse comes from its short sentences. Short sentences are punchy. They get straight to the point. No frills. Now consider the Foreign Office twitter feed (@foreignoffice):

FO tweets

Foreign Office tweets on Assange asylum

It’s the same statement in four neat, self-contained chunks. British foreign policy is now clearly designed to suit the requirements of Twitter. God, please help us all. However, I’d just like to point out to Mr Hague that if the author had written “Under UK law” rather than “Under our law”, he/she would have freed the 140th character for the full stop at the end of the third tweet down. Accuracy is all. I am available.

But then, it seems that the FO cares nothing about international law; so why should it bother about grammatical laws?


Categories: All, General Rants, Politics

My stories for Infosecurity Magazine, 07 May to 11 May

May 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Pirate Bay defends Virgin Media while founder Peter Sunde faces jail

It is with some irony that The Pirate Bay (TPB) came to the defense of Virgin Media (TalkTalk was also disrupted) after the ISP’s website was taken down by Anonymous.
11 May 2012

BeyondTrust acquires vulnerability management company eEye Digital Security
BeyondTrust, a company that provides privilege delegation and authorization systems with its PowerBroker suite of products, has acquired eEye Digital Security, developer of the Blink and Retina vulnerability management tools.
11 May 2012

Member and spokesperson for TeaMp0isoN arrested in Newcastle
A 17-year old has been arrested in Newcastle by the Police Central eCrime Unit (PCeU) and local Northumbrian Police officers for alleged offenses under the Computer Misuse Act.
11 May 2012

Winners and losers in European card fraud
FICO has produced an interactive map of Europe, showing the evolving European fraud landscape between 2006 and 2011.
10 May 2012

DigiNinja analyzes the Twitter hack, and offers password advice to web services
Yesterday we reported that 55,000 Twitter accounts have been leaked on Pastebin. Security researchers Anders Nilsson and Robin Wood have separately analyzed the dump.
10 May 2012

Queen’s Speech announces ‘measures… to access vital communications data’
As expected, the Queen’s Speech yesterday announced the intention of the UK Government to bring forward (during the current parliamentary session) measures to allow law enforcement and intelligence agencies access to ‘vital communications data’.
10 May 2012

Net neutrality becomes law in The Netherlands
The net neutrality provisions approved by the Dutch Parliament last June as part of its implementation of the European telecommunications package became law yesterday.
09 May 2012

False Facebook account leads to Principal’s resignation
Louise Losos, principal of Clayton High School, Missouri, has resigned following accusations that she created a false persona on Facebook and befriended hundreds of her own students.
09 May 2012

Twitter fights two information security battles
Twitter is in the unenviable position of being ‘attacked’ on all sides: while it tries to fight a subpoena demanding the account details of Occupy protestor Malcolm Harris, hackers release thousands of user logon details on Pastebin.
09 May 2012

Analysis shows social networks increasingly used to spread malware
In its latest monthly analysis of the most prevalent malware, GFI describes how social networks remain the most popular breeding ground for infections.
08 May 2012

“Good on ya’ Mozilla”, says Sophos about Firefox
Firefox is developing a new feature called ‘click-to-play’ designed to provide additional protection for web browsing – but not everyone thinks this is necessarily useful.
08 May 2012

Syrian activists targeted with RATs
There have been several recent examples of Syrian activists being tricked into downloading and installing remote access tools (RATs) that secretly hand control of their computers to a third party.
08 May 2012

PandaLabs malware report – and the balance between law enforcement and user
Almost one-in-four computers in the UK is infected – and the UK is one of the least infected countries in the world, says the new PandaLabs report released today.
07 May 2012

Categories: All

Infosecurity Magazine news stories for 10-13 April 2012, and 16-18 April 2012

April 18, 2012 Leave a comment

My news stories on Infosecurity Magazine from Tuesday 10 April until Friday 13 April, and Monday 16 April until Wednesday 18 April

NHS needs a security czar to prevent continuous data walkabout
While the South London Healthcare NHS Trust signs a Data Protection Undertaking, the security industry wonders why we have learnt nothing in the last two years – and calls for a new NHS data protection czar.
18 April 2012

PwC 2012 Information Security Breaches Survey: Preliminary findings report continued mobile insecurity
New statistics show that while many companies appear to understand the business threat from BYOD, many others are taking no precautions whatsoever.
18 April 2012

(ISC)² launches its new EMEA advisory board
In a move designed to offer genuine hands-on security experience to EMEA’s different security initiatives, professional body (ISC)² has launched a new Advisory Board for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EAB).
18 April 2012

Google co-founder worries about the future of the internet
In an interview with the Guardian, the co-founder of Google lists the threats facing the future vitality of the internet.
17 April 2012

Shadowserver uncovers campaign against Vietnam in Hardcore Charlie’s file dump
An analysis of the hacked files dumped by hacker Hardcore Charlie fails to prove Chinese culpability, but finds evidence of ‘yet another cyber espionage campaign against Vietnam.’
17 April 2012

Iranian software manager hacks and dumps card details of 3m Iranians
Khosrow Zarefarid found and reported a flaw in the Iranian POS system. He reported it, but was ignored – so he used it and hacked 3 million Iranian debit card details.
17 April 2012

Dutch Pirate Party forced to take its Pirate Bay proxy off-line
In a move that will be monitored by the UK’s music industry association (BPI), its Dutch equivalent BREIN (translates as ‘Brain’) has obtained a court injunction forcing the political party, the Pirate Party, to take down the proxy site that was allowing users to continue using the blocked Pirate Bay (TPB).
16 April 2012

Is ACTA dead in the water, or is it resurfacing via the G8?
David Martin, European Parliament’s rapporteur on the ACTA treaty, is expected to recommend that parliament should reject ACTA. Does this mean the end for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement?
16 April 2012

Commotion Wireless: an open source censorship buster
The great contradiction in modern techno-politics is the need for democracies to promulgate free speech in other countries while controlling it in their own.
16 April 2012

Boston police release unredacted Facebook data of ‘Craigslist killer’
The complete Facebook account of Philip Markoff, in hard copy and including friend IDs, was given by the Boston Police to the Boston Phoenix newspaper.
13 April 2012

EC asks how we would want the internet of things to be controlled
The European Commission (EC) has issued an online ‘consultation’ document: How would you envisage ‘governance’ of the ‘Internet of Things’?
13 April 2012

City trader fined £450,000 by the FSA
“For the reasons given in this Notice…”, says an FSA Decision Notice, “…the FSA has decided to impose on Mr Ian Charles Hannam a financial penalty of £450,000.”
13 April 2012

MPAA’s attempted takedown of Hotfile gets more and more difficult
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater says Google; and there’s more baby than bathwater suggests Prof. James Boyle.
12 April 2012

UK private members bill designed to censor pornography on the internet
Baroness Howe of Ildicote has introduced the Online Safety Act 2012, designed to force ISPs to install and operate pornography filters.
12 April 2012

Financial services the target in massive DDoS increase
A new analysis from Prolexic shows a huge increase in DDoS attacks, largely sourced in Asia and primarily attacking financial institutions.
12 April 2012

Smartphones are still firmly ‘enterprise-unready’
Research from by Altimeter Group, Bloor Research and Trend Micro shows that the ‘consumer marketing’ legacy of many smartphones makes them ill-equipped to meet enterprise security demands.
11 April 2012

EU trade committee’s draft opinion on ACTA: Don’t ratify
The European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy committee for the Committee on International Trade has published its draft opinion on ACTA. Don’t ratify, it tells parliament.
11 April 2012

DHS gets California company to hack game consoles
In a project that started from law enforcement agencies’ request to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which was then farmed out to the US Navy, Obscure Technologies of California has been awarded a contract to find ways of hacking game consoles.
11 April 2012

Real-time data mining comes to Twitter
Twitter is usually described as a micro-blogging social network. To many who monitor its ‘trending topics’ it is also an early warning news service, frequently pointing users to breaking news before the traditional news media reports it.
10 April 2012

Iran bids farewell to the internet; welcomes its own halal intranet
Iran’s answer to ‘criminality’ on the internet is not to fight criminality, but to block the internet. In the future, Iranians will have access to only the official national intranet and a whitelist of acceptable foreign sites.
10 April 2012

What an Englishman does in bed
Companies that monitor the end point behavior of their remote workers will have to start monitoring their (internet) behavior in bed. That at least is the inference to be drawn from a new street survey conducted by Infosecurity Europe.
10 April 2012

Categories: All, Security News

Is Assange running for Senate to avoid FBI entrapment?

March 18, 2012 1 comment

Back on Christmas Day, Wikileaks tweated: “is it possible for JA to run for the Australian Senate from house arrest in another country?” Later on the same day, Australian solicitor Peter Kemp responded:

Peter Kemp Tweet

Go for it!

He explained his reasoning in a subsequent article posted to WL Central – an independent site dedicated to allow free and open discussion on WikiLeaks issues. Now, it would appear, WikiLeaks and JA have decided:

WikiLeaks Tweet

OK – we will.

It’s going to be interesting. Australians have a natural tendency to thumb their noses at the establishment. He might well succeed. I hope he does.

But what then? I don’t know the law; but even if it is possible to extradite an elected Australian senator, would the UK wish to? Will we see the Swedish judiciary and the UK Home Office trying to expedite the extradite to avoid embarrassment? I hope not – and here’s why…

Nobody doubts that Sweden will just be a staging post for Assange en route and in irons to the USA. The US wants him because of the Bradley Manning leaks. But Bradley Manning, and ergo WikiLeaks, has a very strong defence: public interest. What the FBI really needs is a charge that carries no public support. Like the hack and leak of private correspondence from a well-respected independent news organization. Like Stratfor, perhaps.

Stratfor was hacked by Sabu. Anonymous immediately and officially – as far as Anonymous can ever do anything officially – denied involvement; and accused Sabu: “Sabu and his crew are nothing more than opportunistic attention whores who are possibly agent provocateurs.” Since then we have learned that Sabu was turned by the FBI and had been working with the FBI since the end of last summer. In short, Sabu hacked Stratfor while he was working for the FBI. Anonymous was aware of this. ‘Agent provocateur’ was not an insult, it was a description.

More recently still, the stolen Stratfor emails have been leaked to WikiLeaks. On 27 February, WikiLeaks announced: “LONDON–Today WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files – more than five million emails from the Texas-headquartered “global intelligence” company Stratfor. The emails date from between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods, for example…”

But remember, Anonymous has denied involvement. So who leaked to WikiLeaks? The FBI? On 7 March, the Guardian wrote:

A second document shows that Monsegur [Sabu] – styled this time as CW-1 – provided an FBI-owned computer to facilitate the release of 5m emails taken from US security consultancy Stratfor and which are now being published by WikiLeaks. That suggests the FBI may have had an inside track on discussions between Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, and Anonymous, another hacking group, about the leaking of thousands of confidential emails and documents.

The Hacker News put it more bluntly a couple of days ago: “But if Sabu was in fact working for the FBI, how could the Stratfor hack be anything more than a clearcut case of entrapment perpetrated by the FBI?” It looks horribly like Stratfor was sacrificed and Anonymous used simply to get Assange.

I call on all Australians – do what other nations daren’t do: thumb your nose at US machinations, and vote Assange. For all of us.

Infosecurity Magazine news stories for 5-7 March 2012

March 8, 2012 Leave a comment

My news stories on Infosecurity Magazine for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week…

Trustwave to acquire M86 Security
Trustwave, a Chicago-based security company with offices around the world, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire M86 Security, which is based in Irvine California and has international headquarters in London and R&D in California, Israel and New Zealand.
07 March 2012

CIOs recognize the mobile threat; but aren’t yet responding to it
A new survey from Vanson Bourne, sponsored by Sophos, underlines a current anomaly: CIOs believe that mobile devices are a security risk, but aren’t doing much about it.
07 March 2012

LulzSec leader Sabu turns FBI informant
It’s been a tempestuous week in the battle between Anonymous and the law: 25 arrests, the poisoning of the Anonymous DDoS tool, and now the LulzSec leader, Sabu, has been named an FBI informant.
07 March 2012

Trust in communications is decreasing
While the UK is becoming increasingly better connected, trust in those connections is declining.
06 March 2012

THOR: a new P2P botnet for sale
A new botnet is nearing completion and is being offered for sale on the hacking underground at $8000.
06 March 2012

India/Bangladesh cyberwar moves to a new level
The ongoing cyberwar between India and Bangladesh has escalated with Teamgreyhat, in support of “our Indian brothers”, moving from commercial to economic targets.
06 March 2012

Is it time to move on from anti-virus?
On Friday, Wired quoted security expert Jeremiah Grossman as someone who doesn’t use anti-virus software, and asked the question: “Is Antivirus Software a Waste of Money?”
05 March 2012

UK opts in to the EU-USA PNR agreement
The UK’s Home Office says that on the 9th February 2012 it notified the President of the Council that “the government has opted in to the EU-US Agreement on the exchange of passenger name record [PNR] data.”
05 March 2012

Twitter complies with court order – hands over account details
Guido Fawkes in the UK is the pseudonym of an award-winning anti-establishment blog operated by Paul Staines. In the US it is a name associated with a Twitter account handed over to law enforcement. Around the world is has become associated with the Anonymous movement.
05 March 2012

Categories: All, Security News

Will the real Sarkozy please stand up? Oh, you did already.

March 1, 2012 Leave a comment

When we learnt about Twitter’s new censorship regime we thought about China, and Burma and North Korea and other right-wing dictatorial authoritarian states like France. France?

Yes, I’m afraid so. When Generalissimo Sarkozy opened his presidential campaign he, not surprisingly, opened a supporting Twitter account. There’s nothing like talking direct to the natives – ask Ed Miliband. But while he was wandering around the Twittersphere, to his utter shock and amazement he discovered clearly illegal and dangerous threats to the French national security. So, in accordance with his duty as President of France he acted swiftly and decisively to annul this threat. He wrote a complaining letter to Twitter.

And “although Twitter firmly believes in the freedom of expression” (this is a direct quote from Twitter in case you’re not sure where it stands), Twitter rapidly suspended one and shut down three other accounts. In France. Where I think they invented something called ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’, but have since forgotten what it means.

The problem according to El Presidente and his aides is (was – it has been suspended) that the account in question is/was misleading. Here’s Nicolas Sarkozy’s official account followed by the suspended account.

Nicolas Sarkozy

Will the real Nicolas Sarkozy please stand up

Personally, I suspect the word ‘Fake’ might be a clue. But not, obviously, according to the President’s election entourage. These tweets (courtesy of translated by Google) are clearly so misleading that they could have come from the real Sarkozy.

From August 12, 2011
No growth or low, it’s still the story of my life, so do not be surprised! #Passepartout

And from September 15, 2011
It’s been super weird to be acclaimed without paying participants. #Libya

If Nicolas Sarkozy really believes that his presidential campaign will be disrupted by such satire, then he deserves to be punished by the electorate he is calling stupid. And Twitter – shame on you! And yes, as a Brit in the UK, I know I’m standing in a glass house when I talk about liberty.

Categories: All, Politics, Security Issues

Circumventing Twitter’s censorship

January 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Twitter’s announcement that it will start censoring tweets where required by the law of the country concerned has upset many people. It is, however, difficult to know what else the company can do: the law is the law; and surely some twitter is better than no Twitter at all.

But maybe Twitter is better than we thought: The Next Web has pointed out that its own help files explain how to circumvent the censorship. Tweets will be censored on a country basis. Twitter understands the user’s country by the user’s IP address. But since this isn’t foolproof, especially on mobile devices, Twitter allows the user to manually change his or her country settings via a simple drop-down box.

The implication is that if you start finding ‘Withheld’ tweets in your timeline, simply telling Twitter that you are really in a different country with a less censorious regime will reveal them. It is, according to The Next Web, as simple as that.

What happens next will be telling. If this is just a loop-hole, we can expect Twitter to try to close it. But it’s difficult to imagine that Twitter doesn’t know its own system, and even more difficult to see what it can do about it. Purely relying on IP addresses will leave open the possibility of censoring tweets in or from countries that believe in freedom of expression.

Categories: All, Politics, Security Issues

The role of social networks in political unrest

December 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Two things caught my eye over the last few days. Firstly, a paper produced by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) and published in Scientific Reports on 15 December 2011: The Dynamics of Protest Recruitment through an Online Network. And secondly, an article by Clay Claiborne: The Year in Review: They should have left that street vendor alone!

The first is an academic study on the role of social media (specifically Twitter) in the dynamics of an evolving social protest – specifically in this case the Spanish riots of May 2011.

We study recruitment patterns in the Twitter network and find evidence of social influence and complex contagion… We find that early participants cannot be characterized by a typical topological position but spreaders tend to be more central in the network. These findings shed light on the connection between online networks, social contagion, and collective dynamics, and offer an empirical test to the recruitment mechanisms theorized in formal models of collective action.

Key to the spread of social contagion would seem to be the involvement of central figures in each network, and that the speed of contagion is linked to the number of different exposures received:

The existence of recruitment bursts indicates that the effects of complex contagion are boosted by accelerated exposure, that is, by multiple stimuli received from different sources that take place within a small time window… [providing] empirical evidence of what scholars of social movements have called, metaphorically, collective effervescence.

One interesting conclusion is that traditional media publicity has little effect on the spread of unrest. Depending upon personal prejudice, of course, this could be a good or bad thing: either that traditional media merely reports the news without exhortations one way or the other, or that traditional media is in the pocket of the Establishment.

But the paper does conclude with the rider that recent “events, like the riots in London in August 2011, suggest that different online platforms are being used to mobilize different populations. The question that future research should consider is if the same recruitment patterns apply regardless of the technology being used, or if the affordances of the technology (i.e. public/private by default) shape the collective dynamics that they help coordinate.”

I can’t help wondering, however, if we are already moving beyond the study of individual social networks. The growth of social media apps that automatically post your tweet to Facebook and LinkedIn and all the other social networks you inhabit would suggest that all networks need to be considered together.

Which brings us to the second article, which I simply recommend as an excellent read on the evolution of the Arab Spring, involving Twitter, Anonymous, Wikileaks and more. For example, it highlights Google stepping in to bypass Mubarrak’s block on Twitter by providing the Speech-to-Tweet service. “We hope that this will go some way to helping people in Egypt stay connected at this very difficult time. Our thoughts are with everyone there,” said Google on 31 January 2011.

Social evolution, or revolution if you like, is already a complex issue involving all aspects of the internet. It’s another reason for not letting our own governments get control of our internet via the pretence of doing so to protect intellectual property and copyright.

Categories: All, Politics

I’ve got a new follower on Twitter

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m one of 734 at the moment.


But I might be tempted to run a book on her age...

Born yesterday? Me? I don’t think so…

Categories: All, Security Issues

The worrying thing is just how determined they are to neutralise Wikileaks by taking down Assange

November 17, 2011 Leave a comment

I have said it before, but it is always worth repeating: Government misuses the term ‘security’. Government claims that it needs to limit our liberty in order to increase our security; but that isn’t security, it is control. Since I do not trust government, any government, how can I be secure when it exercises such absolute control over me?

The problem is that this autocratic exercise of control is increasing. Consider Wikileaks. The US government is determined to solve its Wikileaks problem. Firstly, it wants to get hold of Julian Assange in order to neutralise the site. He is to be extradited from the UK to Sweden from where he will be extradited to the USA. Have you seen the charges against him? Laughable. The most serious of the four charges is rape:

4.Rape – On 17 August 2010, in the home of the injured party [SW] in Enköping, Assange deliberately consummated sexual intercourse with her by improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep, was in a helpless state.

There are some who might suggest that lying naked next to a naked man is an indication of acceptance if not approval. In fact, you might even suggest that she [SW] had a lessened expectation of bodily privacy, particularly in light of her apparent consent. I’ve heard that phrase somewhere else…

It was the US Judge saying that the US authorities had the right to demand the personal Twitter information of non-US people not living in the USA. Specifically, it was in relation to Wikileaks. Twitter is being forced to give up data relating to a member of the Icelandic parliament (Birgitta Jonsdottir) and the Dutch XS4ALL Internet provider co-founder Rop Gonggrijp. This data includes the internet protocol addresses of users as well as bank account details, user names, screen names or other identities, mailing and other addresses.

The phrase actually used by the judge was: “Petitioners knew or should have known that their IP information was subject to examination by Twitter, so they had a lessened expectation of privacy in that information…” Sauce, geese and ganders.


Categories: All, Politics, Security Issues

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