Maxis blocks Torrent traffic

There’s a really cool tool called glasnost, that can easily detect if your ISP is throttling certain traffic through its servers. It works amazingly well at detecting if your ISP is blocking that most sacred of all internet traffic–BitTorrent.

So running two test, one over my Unifi connection, and one more tethered over my Galaxy S3 on Maxis, and came to the conclusion that Maxis does indeed block torrents by default. However, just like how you have to call Maxis to enable VPN access via your phone, you have to call them to allow torrent traffic as well…supposedly.

It’s important to point out as well, that this is my Maxis Mobile connection and NOT Maxis Fibre, so there may be differences. To me it’s surprising that Maxis is blocking bitTorrent traffic since it already has a datacap on my Mobile data (3GB/month).

Most feedback from the blogs and forums seems to suggest, Maxis isn’t the most torrent friendly ISP. Which is sad.

Here’s the glasnost result from Maxis:

Maxis_bit_torrent_block

And here’s the result from Unifi, but of course I knew already that Unifi didn’t block torrent traffic.

Glasnost_confirm_unifi_torrent_block

You can run your own test here, to determine if you ISP is blocking your torrent traffic. It’s also able to detect if your ISP is blocking other popular peer-to-peer applications as well as youtube and email servers as well.

The Malaysian cybertrooper phenomenon or is it Botnet?

The Edge recently held a political poll on whether Anwar Ibrahim should quit as the Opposition leader–But when the editor begun to see that the one-week survey attracted 12,736 responses and the responses were overwhelmingly one-sided, she smelt something fishy.

Upon further checking with the IT team, they found that 6,354 of the responses came from one IP address, and about 1,700 came from several IP addresses within the same building. Another 2,000 responses came from seven different IP addresses.

Now to put that into laymans terms–imagine you conducted a mail in poll, where people would submit their votes via regular snail mail, and you conduct your polls on a regular basis getting between 2,000 to 4,000 responses every time. Now imagine you start a new poll, and suddenly you get 12,000+ responses, with more than 6,000 of those responses coming from just one address.

This reminds of a conversation I had with the Digi WWWOW team sometime back, apparently in the first installment of the DigiWWWOW awards, the award was given purely to the person who had the most votes, and so some brilliant techie figured out he could buy the votes at a cost of far less than the prizes given out–and so he won the WWWOW awards, and his blog didn’t even last the year.

Unlike everyone else, I can safely say, these aren’t cybertroopers. You see for all those responses to come from just one address, and the rate at which they were arriving–this had to be automated rather than manual. Which meant this was more botnet army than cybertroopers.

Unless of course, there’s a huge market for people to do low-grade clerical work, by clicking links and voting in polls. I still doubt these are cybertroopers, the quickest most efficient way to get these kind of results to through some automated scripting from a single source, rather than having an army of people clicking and refreshing links.

Even Anil Netto, who posted a similar poll on his blog noticed some peculiar patterns:

An identical poll on my blog showed that it was being manipulated when the ‘Yes, he should quit’ responses were increasing at a rate of seven per minute. The first 300 responses had indicated that some 90 per cent felt he should not quit but that fell rapidly to around 55 per cent. After I raised the alarm about the possibility of the poll being rigged, the “Yes, he should quit” responses slowed and eventually the “No, he should not quit” responses outnumbered the ‘Yeses’ by over 60:40.

This band of cybertroopers will stop at nothing. It is all par for the course for them. But they are not fooling anyone.

Just visit any truly controversial political blog in Malaysia (I won’t link them here, but they’re not hard to find), and you’ll find allegations of cybertrooper thrown at nearly every blog comment, and they’re two versions, either you’re an UMNO cybertrooper or a member of the Red Bean Army (the colloquial term for a DAP cybertrooper).

Think of the cybertrooper as someone whose willing to wear a Manchester United Jersey with ROONEY on the back–to a LIVERPOOL tour match. The colloquial term here is ‘troll’, which basically means you’re there just to cause trouble. In my experience, the debate going on in these blog comments do nothing more than just provide an avenue for people to state their thoughts, which is usually on the extreme end of the spectrum (no such thing as moderation here). They do not change anybody’s mind. I’ve never seen people in the comment section go, “I was wrong, thanks for pointing that out”, that just doesn’t happen. No one is changing anyone’s mind on these blogs and everyone is just having a go at each other–which is fine, because these people go to these sites with that as their intention.

However, trolling a blog post is one thing–trying to influence a poll result on a independent news site is another. That’s just blatant lying.

While these guys are cybertroopers, partly because they’re taking part in the conversation, there’s also a botnet army out there looking to bias polls in their favor and it’s the botnet we should be worried about–not the cybertroopers.

DAP lodges report with MCMC over blocked sites

Blue Coat packetshaper

Two days ago, the Democratic Action Party (DAP) lodge a report to the MCMC on an ‘internet blockade’ targeting DAP related political websites that was allegedly being carried out by Telekom Malaysia (TM). As you may know TM is the largest ISP in Malaysia, and if TM suddenly blocks a website–a large chunk of the Malaysian public are automatically denied access to it.

The DAP IT manager (didn’t know the DAP had an IT team now did ya?), in his press statement said that :

In investigating the DPI filtering equipment location, I have found 1032 suspicious network equipment using same IP address family as the the Arbor Network Peakflow SP with TM branding. Since the login page of this network equipment bears TM logo, undoubtedly MCMC should haul up TM and conduct IT forensic investigation on all 1032 equipments without delay. I am fully prepared to assist MCMC in its investigations.

In light of this new evidence, MCMC must re-examine its 2nd May statement. MCMC should be politically impartial and hold the standard of government regulatory body that it should be. It must put the interest of all Malaysians first.

Now this isn’t really news, to be fair the Arbor Network Peakflow SP solution is meant primarily as a DDoS protection security suite with a slight tinge of DPI functionality added on the side. TM in their defence haven’t really denied they own the Arbor Network solution–there’s even a joint press release from 2004 to announce their purchase of it.

Unless TM operates like the government, in which they announce the purchase of something in 2004, but only start to using it in 2013–I’m guessing they were using Arbor for other purposes before they decided to unleash its DPI functionality.

But there could be a twist. Continue reading

Microsoft is eavesdropping on your skype conversations

Microsoft Eavesdropping on Skype messagesThe guys over at H-online reported recently that they have some pretty good evidence that good ol’ Microsoft is eavesdropping onto your Skype conversations, and the results are pretty damning.

The method for detecting those sneaky little eavesdroppers was pretty ingenious though. The researchers sent two urls in their skype messages to each other. The urls pointed to servers that the researchers owned. For all practical reasons these urls were made specifically for the purpose of the test and should not be receiving any traffic from anywhere–unless of course Microsoft was listening.

Then they sat at wait at their servers to see if they received any traffic, and lo’ and behold barely a few hours later they received some rather funky traffic from an IP address registered to Microsoft in Redmond. *busted!*

The urls didn’t just end with the .com, but had sensitive material appended to it (or at least that’s what the researchers made it look like), and Microsoft used the url which meant they had to be eavesdropping on Skype messages and conversations. More importantly these urls were made to look like they held sensitive material, such as bank logins..etc etc, but Microsoft still used it, and worse even visited the sites to see what was on it.

Even more shocking is that Microsoft isn’t even denying the charge–yet, but they point out that they do scan urls once in a while to flag spam, but H-online isn’t buying it. Continue reading

Meet your new Ministers of Communication and Multimedia

Couple of weeks before the election, we saw how the Deputy Minister of Information Communications and Culture was so into Information communications. Now, with the new cabinet being sworn in, I’m sad to say we’ll probably see more of the same ol’ same ol’.

Meet your new Deputy Minister of the Communication and Multimedia ministry–Dato’ Jailani Johari!!!

Dato Jailani JOhari Twitter

Apart from having a whooping 71 followers on twitter, and a mind-blowing 5 (yes that’s a single digit) connections on LinkedIn. Although,  he does have more than 2,000 likes on his Facebook page–which he started on April 15th 2013. Coming back to twitter though, did you know he follows a spine-chilling 12 accounts–must be some pretty heavy Communicating going on in the Ministry eh!

Yet, somehow, we think he’s a great guy for the job. The biggest problem I have though is that Dato’ Jailani comes from the SKMM, and I’m just uncomfortable with that fact. Sort of like having someone from Goldman Sachs sit as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. He comes from the system!!

However, that’s slightly better than his Boss though, Dato’ Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, whose blog is hosted on blogspot and was last updated August 2009. (2009 !!) Our new Minister of Communication and Multimedia also has no facebook presence of twitter account to speak off.

The one bright spark though, is that you might remember Dato’ Sri Shabery Cheek as the guy who debated Anwar on the rising oil prices–whatever you think of him, at least he was willing to do something almost no one in his party had the guts to do at the time. Also his Bahasa Wikipedia entry states:

Setelah menjadi Menteri Penerangan pada 2008, beliau memberitahu kepada semua blogger supaya dapat diadakan perjumpaan dengannya. Beliau juga memulakan program “Blog” di RTM yang memanggil bloggers-bloggers untuk di wawancara. Antara bloggers yang pernah dipanggil termasuklah bloggers Raja Petra dan juga kuda kepang. Program Blog ini telah membuka peluang kepada bloggers untuk keluar dan memberikan pandangan mereka di televisyen milik kerajaan, sesuatu yang tidak pernah berlaku sebelum ini.

So at least he has some items on his resume that are positive. Though, I’d begin by updating my blog and starting a twitter account.

So here’s wishing the two ministers all the best in their coming term. Don’t get me started though, about how we re-appointed the Education Minister who oversaw our biggest drop in academic performance ever. That’s something I can get off my chest another day.

Illegal numbers?

Great video from the guys at Numberphile talking about illegal numbers. It always amazes to think that your money in the bank isn’t protected by steel doors or guards with guns anymore–it’s protected by numbers. (more specifically it’s protected by one VERY VERY large number).

The encryption key that is responsible for keeping your sensitive bank details secret, is nothing more than a very very long number, and that number protects your money more than any steel door or armed guard ever could.

But it’s still a number.

Similarly the encryption that protects the entire movie industry by making it hard to rip DVDs, or the encryption that makes it impossible for people to produce Sony Playstation games is the just a number.

So what happens when people try to protect these number by making it a secret–someone finds out, and usually that someone wants to tell the world by posting it on forums or websites, the problem is that unlike any other trade protection mechanism like a patented or copyrighted material–an encryption key is a number, and surely no one can claim ownership of a number to the extent of making it’s publication illegal?

Well at least we know someone did try to copyright the number PI–and fortunately, the courts rejected that claim...on Pi Day.

*Btw, Pi day is the 14 of March in the US, since it’s denoted as 3/14 which is the first 3-digits of Pi. In Malaysia, I propose we celebrate Pi day on the 31st of April–unfortunately April only has 30 days. dang!! 

Freedom vs. Security : Papagomo arrested

Bruce Schneier, whom I respect tremendously, points out that freedom and security are opposing ends of the same spectrum, people balance out freedom and security based on what they perceive. In other words, people would sacrifice their freedoms if they thought they needed more security.

A way to think about this, is the amount of Gated and Guarded communities we have sprawling through the Klang Valley (and even beyond). People are willing to sacrifice the extra money and give up some freedoms to live in a Gated and Guarded area, in some cases the premiums reach 100% just to live in a area that is guarded. Residents of these communities also experience the hassle of having to ‘tap-in’ and ‘tap-out’ of their areas in addition to the tremendous difficulty hosting visitors in these neighbourhoods.

Yet, people still live in them.

WHY?

The answer is simple–security. People perceive a high rate of crime and are therefore willing to give up some personal freedoms to live in a secure neighbourhood.

Notice it isn’t the actual rate of crime that drives these behaviours, it’s the perceived rate of crime that causes people to give up their freedoms (and a whole load of cash) in order to live in them.

We see this in technology as well. The internet was meant to be free, a place for the free flow of ideas and thoughts–but this scares people, particularly governments who want to remain in power. So the Government tries to control it, but has to contend with citizens that want their freedom online.

From the governments perspectives it’s really easy problem to solve. As long as people perceive there is a ‘danger’, they’d be willing to give up freedoms to achieve security.

So the government begins campaigns like arresting bloggers, and blocking sites–all in the name of security. However, are we going to idly stand by and allow the government to censor the internet–even when it’s censoring hate speech?

Yes, I’m talking about Papagomo, who was accused of posting that the “Chinese in DAP ‘wajib ditendang’ even though if it means bloodshed” I won’t comment on what was said here, but the fact remains we don’t (or rather shouldn’t) censor the internet.

Papagomo’s site has been pretty hard to access these past few days, now we could say it may be the extra traffic the site is getting, but Papagomo host his site on Blogspot, which means he runs on Google Servers, and those servers don’t break a sweat even under the harshest of traffic conditions. So what’s the deal here? Is Malaysia censoring the internet?

If you put yourself in the Malaysians Government shoes, your way to get people to give up their freedom is to allow them to perceive the threat of racial violence, and then bank on the predictability of human nature–that eventually people will allow the government to censor the internet in the name of security. Once again, this isn’t about the real danger of racial violence, merely the perception of it.

While I wasn’t around in 1969–I think there’s enough evidence to suggest that the probability of racial riots in Malaysia is infinitesimally small–yet as long as the perception of it is high, the government can always bank on people supporting a movement to censor it–all in the name of security. Just like those gated and guarded communities.

So in my mind, we should never censor the internet. We should make rational decisions based on the information we have, and all the information suggest that we should not give up our freedom to information just because some guy named Papagomo wants to post up some racially offensive postings. To me, that means nothing, the fact that he said it and nothing happened is proof enough we have nothing to worry about.

Well maybe not true, I am worried about the government censoring my internet, and the massive harm it can bring.

Boycott or self-imposed embargo?

Quick post for today. I need to start writing even though, I’m still depressed from LAST sundays election results.

However, I’m keeping myself abreast with all the hate going around, including the latest ‘Buy Chinese Last Movement’ or BCLM. If you don’t know what it is, just Google it and you’ll find out, it’s the latest in a string of racist movements that have spawned since Pru-13, and it probably won’t be the last.

There’s a lot I want to get off my mind, but this so called ‘boycott’ of Chinese products seems to make little sense. It reminds me of the time when Malaysians were encouraged to boycott Israeli goods and services–a lot of good that did us. In fact, I feel that it’s impossible to boycott someone who has better tech than you–because when you boycott a country with better technology than you, that’s not a boycott–it’s a self-imposed embargo.

Think about it, the Arab League has been boycotting Israel since 1948, that’s more than 50 years ago. What impact did the boycott have on Israel? Well take a look for yourself:

Israel GDP per capita vs. Malaysia

The Israeli economy makes the Malaysian ‘Tiger’ economy look like slow poke Rodriguez. Their GDP per capita has increased at a constantly higher rate than Malaysia, I’m not comparing Israel to Malaysia, I’m just putting their economy into context–and remember folks the entire Arab League boycotted Israel since it’s inception.

The Israelis have gone their merry way, becoming a core country for companies like Microsoft, Google and even Intel. There’s basically not a single shred of technology that you can buy today that in some way did not come from somewhere in Israel. My favorite traffic avoiding App, Waze–is an Israeli invention, the technology in the kinect is from Israel and there’s a whole bunch more. So don’t tell me we’re boycotting Israel, the boycott only has political consequences, no economic ones…not for Israel at least.

So we’re back at square one again, a bunch of racist bigots thinking that by somehow not buying specific brands or frequenting certain businesses the Chinese in the country will ‘learn’–not only is this such a childish idea akin to my niece saying ‘let’s not friend them anymore’ the very fact that ALL the data suggest that it wasn’t a Chinese Tsunami, but rather an Urban one makes my blood boil that such people are so ignorant of the evidence. Not just ignorant, but arrogantly ignorant.

Boycotts don’t work–they just send a political message, but almost never achieve their desired economical objective. Add this to the fact, that the country with the most technology wins–and you’ll realize that Malaysia is in no position to boycott anything. We sent a man to space, built the worlds tallest building and even the 4th longest bridge in South East Asia–but we did it all with someone elses technology, whether it was the Russians, Japanese or Koreans. So until we start to develop our own technology–our boycotts will be nothing more than self-imposed embargoes. So the next time you switch on Waze, play with your XBox, or even use any PC with an Intel Inside Chip, just remember how our good (and technologically) superior friends in Israel help make it possible.

Top 4 ways to access blocked sites

Access Blocked Website

Here’s some quick tips on how to access blocked sites in Malaysia that is blocked by the ISP (Telekom, Maxis, Time..etc etc). Currently the ISPs in Malaysia are throttling and filtering specific traffic to websites like Malaysiakini, Facebook and even Youtube. Just in case, things get nasty post-election day, I thought I’d quickly put together a couple of ways you can access Malaysiakini and other online portals despite a Unifi censor. Continue reading

Censoring and spying–Malaysian Style

In 2 days time, the South-East Asian nation of Malaysia will go through its 13th General Election since 1955. Some might look negatively on the number 13, but for the vast majority of Malaysians the coming few days will either raise our hopes or shatter them.

Malaysia has had only 1 party in power since it’s independence—that’s a long time to be in power, and for the first time since 1955 the ruling party in Malaysia is under threat, not just to lose it’s 2/3rd majority in Parliament, but the entire elections altogether, and with it control of the Federal Government. Continue reading