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.
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):
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?
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
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:
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:
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.
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.
Personally, I suspect the word ‘Fake’ might be a clue. But not, obviously, according to the President’s election entourage. These tweets (courtesy of kaboul.fr 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.
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.
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.
I’m one of 734 at the moment.
Born yesterday? Me? I don’t think so…
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.