Show notes for today

 

Some interesting links you might want to check out during my interview on BFM today, will tidy up this list later in the week.

Office of Personnel Management Data Breach (Chinese hackers breaking into US Federal Employee Databases)

China arrested the hackers responsible for OPM breach

Turkey losing Personal Information on 50 Million Citizens

Philippines Data Breach, Troy Hunt’s perspective.

Check if your e-mail address has been part of a previous breach from the HaveIbeenPwned website.

24 year old IT grad behind Philippines Breach caught

Phineas Fisher explains how he hacked Hacking Team (in under 100 hours)

Hackers break into a Jeep connected to the internet

Hackers breaking into baby monitors, and shouting profanities at children

Baby monitors (and everything else) connected to the internet, aren’t good ideas..

Why anti-viruses aren’t any good these days

My take on why people with Anti-Viruses end up with MORE malware

Why I don’t believe passwords should be changed constantly

Why GCHQ (the British equivalent of the NSA) share my thoughts

Great article on how hackers guess hashes

Some guy built a computer to guess 380+ Billion hashes a second

Enabling 2 Factor for your Google Account

Norton Dossier on Stuxnet (interesting, but VERY long read)

Countdown to Day Zero (more interesting, and even longer read on Stuxnet)

Or just watch the Ted Talk on Stuxnet

The Internet is slow because of illegal downloads

Let’s start with the quote that set off the rage in my heart—

“You can see today that our Internet is slow. Not because it itself is slow but because a lot of people are using it,” he said

The government agency chief blamed this on illegal downloads hogging Internet bandwidth here, adding that this does not happen in countries like Germany due to stricter enforcement.

“In Germany, the Internet is fast because if you download illegally, you will be charged by the authorities.

“You can’t download illegal movies, songs and pictures there, you need to pay but we here, anything also we download illegally right up to the pictures of our grandfathers.

“That is why the Internet highway is slow but we blame the government. The government has created proper Internet highways but we don’t know how to use it. Millions have been spent on this by the government,” he explained.

So apparently, Datuk Ibrahim Saad, the  National Civics Bureau (BTN) chief  thinks that the internet is slow in Malaysia (it’s not that slow), because illegal downloads are hogging up the pipelines.

Let’s start with his first sentence, an substitute the word ‘internet’ with the name of any Malaysian highway you choose, personally I like to use the LDP:

You can see today that our LDP is slow. Not because it itself is slow but because a lot of people are using it

Hmmm, I guess in his infinite wisdom that makes sense to the BTN chief, but to me that just sounds like the highway wasn’t built properly.

Let’s go to the 2nd statement:

In Germany, the Internet is fast because if you download illegally, you will be charged by the authorities.

“You can’t download illegal movies, songs and pictures there, you need to pay but we here, anything also we download illegally right up to the pictures of our grandfathers.

“That is why the Internet highway is slow but we blame the government

Now we come to the crux of the issue. If Malaysians weren’t illegally downloading, they’d have faster internet.

Here’s 4 reasons why he’s wrong. Continue reading

This is how Pedophiles get caught

SexOffenderThis will easily be the most controversial blog post I ever wrote, so consider yourself warned.

It’s controversial, because it touches on multiple taboos in our society, sex, child abuse and security theater. You see, there’s been a growing call for a national sex offender registry, especially in the wake of news that a British Pedophile had sexually abused up to 200 children in Malaysia.

The news is especially shocking for Malaysians, who are still coming to grips with the fact that a foreign ‘mat salleh’ abused our children, in our country, right under our fucking noses, and we’re only now learning about it….years after the abuse had taken place and even then, the details are sketchy.

As I said,many have renewed the call for a Sex Offender registry. The idea being, that if we start registering sex offenders, we could more easily monitor them, and be able cut-off  their ability to further abuse children. It’s a great idea, but it wouldn’t have saved these 200 children, simply because Richard Huckle wasn’t convicted of any sexual abuse, he wouldn’t have been on the registry even if had one.

Then we have calls for better screening procedures of people who work with children. Another great idea, but again wouldn’t have stopped Richard Huckle. Maybe a extremely thorough and in-depth screening  process that interviewed his parents, grandparents and fourth grade history teacher would have uncovered something about his psychology that may have triggered some alarms–but that level of screening is both unrealistic and a gross invasion of privacy.

Finally we have calls for better sex-education in schools, which I’m 100% in favor off. Proper sex education may have prompted one of Huckle’s victims to speak out and report the issue, which may prompted his arrest at a much earlier time–but ultimately these were impoverished children who were not given access to proper education anyway, so sex education in public schools probably wouldn’t have helped them.

But are we forgetting something obvious? Continue reading

The law shouldn’t rely on good behavior from Billionaires

Gawker is the internet’s most slimy news organization, a online website that has no qualms disclosing people’s sexual infidelities regardless of the cost such disclosures have on their personal lives.

So for most people, seeing WWF superstar Hulk Hogan win a lawsuit against Gawker to the tune of $140 Million dollars was a real sight for sore eyes. But when it was revealed that Hogan was funded by Billionaire Peter Thiel, the internet suddenly lost its damn mind.

Peter Thiel is a giant of the Venture Capitalist industry, a co-founder of Paypal, and an early investor a Facebook he’s earned his VC hall of fame status, but despite all his successes he’s remained deeply private. His feud with gawker started way back in 2007, when Gawker published an article (not linked to here), claiming he was ‘totally gay’.

Thiel didn’t earn his Billions sitting on your arse, and so he turned his laser intellect and vast resources to enact revenge on gawker for the personal grief and hurt the online publication caused him.

He launched a ‘proxy war’ against gawker, using a Wrestler (of all things), and going straight for the jugular. If gawker loses the appeal, the hundreds of millions in damages it must pay to Hulk Hogan would bankrupt the company, so claiming Gawker is literally fighting for its life is not an understatement.

Essentially, Peter Thiel may have pushed Gawker to bankruptcy with nothing more than pocket change and a retired WWF superstar.

The fact that a Billionaire could potentially shutdown a news outlet (even one as disgusting as gawker) is appalling and goes against the grain of that most cherished of Constitution amendments. The first thing the founding fathers of that great country chose to amend in their constitution was a guarantee for Freedom of Speech, and while the law may be in effect–it isn’t effective– especially against someone with ridiculous wealth on their side.

To most non-Americans this seems a bit odd. After all, isn’t America the land where everyone sues everyone, and where the legal system is choked to the brim with cases of people suing McDonalds because the coffee was too hot.

So allow me to correct some misconceptions.

While America is choked full of Libel and Slander suits, a Supreme court case in 1964 made a clear distinction if the victim was a “Public Figure”, setting the bar to an almost impossibly high standard.

If you’re a Public Figure, suing someone for slander or libel is damn near impossible, because you have to prove the statements were made with ‘actual malice’—that is with reckless disregard to whether it was false. Needless to say, trying to prove someone did something is easy, trying to prove they did it with ‘actual malice’ is not.

In fact, it’s ridiculously difficult, Hulk Hogan’s legal bills ran up to $10 million US dollars, and even a successful show person (yes, folks Wrestling isn’t real) like Hulk Hogan can’t afford that sort of funding.

And not to get too political, but if our ‘beloved’ Prime Minister ever decided to sue the Wall Street Journal, he’ll have to prove the ‘actual malice’ component as well, something it seems only Hulk Hogan and $10 million dollars have succeeded in doing. Suing the Wall Street Journal may send a political message, and a signal confidence, but legally speaking it will end up nowhere, unless Najib has $10 million–oh wait, he does.

But for those defenders of the first amendment who are so adamantly opposing Peter Thiel’s proxy vendetta, aren’t you missing the point?

The law shouldn’t depend on Billionaires behaving well–it should be water-tight to the point where even Billions isn’t going to get anywhere. If your legal system is at the mercy of a the top 1-percenters behaving, you’ve got a pretty shitty legal system.

Fortunately, Gawker would most likely succeed on appeal, and all should be well in the world, but shouldn’t this indicate that stronger and higher bars be set for court cases regarding public figures.

In Malaysia of course, this bar is far lower, which explains why many politicians have already sued news outlets and succeeded. Shouldn’t this indicate to us as well, that our laws need to be strengthened to allow for freedom of expression?

Many don’t believe this of course, because few Malaysians believe in having a truly robust freedom of speech framework. We still would like a few ‘clauses’ here and there to prevent hate speech, and political speech and ‘sensitivities’.

But unless we open up the marketplace of ideas, the rich and powerful will always dictate the narrative.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Ben Thompson wrote a great piece in Stratechery that put this story in a fascinating perspective:

Thiel made the largest part of his fortune by investing in Facebook, where he still sits on the board. Facebook specifically and the Internet broadly has made it possible for sensationalistic rags like Gawker to exist, even as it has fundamentally weakened journalism by destroying the geographic monopolies that guaranteed the financial freedom to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Thiel as the personification of the tech industry is very much the superhero looking to remedy a problem he created.

In the same vein, Jeff Bezos, a similar Billionaire to Thiel is single-handedly keeping the Washington Post alive. So it seems the media is now in the hands of billionaires, and only they can keep alive what only they can kill.

Interesting.