In case you’ve missed it, London and several other UK cities have been rocked by mobs of rioters when the sun has gone down over the last few days. Part of the crackdown proposed by Prime Minister David Cameron includes shuttering Twitter and other social media sites during unrest to disrupt communications.
The reports I’ve seen have included Blackberry messenger as another preferred means of getting the word out for rioters. Of course, like here, Pols in the UK love their Crackberries so there’s no mention of shutting them down. But I digress…….. As with our own DHS grabbing TLD’s without due process, shutting down social media won’t put rioters out of touch with one another. In fact, telegraphing the intent to do so will surely encourage them to have alternative site(s) and even other forms of messaging lined up as a backup. In other words, the power grab that is being put forth as a reaction to a problem can’t possibly do any good at all.
The real word for Cameron’s proposed action is the beginning of a slippery slope. Law enforcement will not improve and we all lose a little more freedom. Hopefully our cousins across the pond have enough common sense to cry foul and put a stop to this. That’s doubly important to us as many of the worst ideas hatched in the UK tend to get copied by American pols.
Lax enforcement has made Russia one of the world’s hotbeds for web exploits and cyber crime. Corruption and significant ill gotten cash flowing into the country have helped discourage governmental intervention.
Recent events may have turned the tide, at least as it applies to Dmitri Medvedev’s blog:
Medvedev’s blog was the target of a “denial of service” attack on LiveJournal, a hosting website popular with government critics in Russia, where the Internet is a channel for popular discontent.
“I have received many appeals in connection with the … attacks on LiveJournal. As an active user of (LiveJournal) I consider these actions revolting and illegal,” Medvedev wrote in his blog. (Reuters)
I doubt much if any new effort will be made to shut down cyber crime in Russia. Frankly not much is done in the US either, unless the culprits are file sharing or the selling specific brands of counterfeit goods. In the mean time, the Internet’s growing guild of pick pockets go on about their business. I’m not singling out Medvedev as an elitist hypocrite. From the top down, American government has many more of them
As a big user of mostly free online services, I’m becoming less comfortable with entrusting my data to people who I can’t be certain will always act in my best interest. Having said that, if I want the convenience of the cloud I do not have any other option unless I invest in an infrastructure and learn how to care for it. That would be a big drain my already scarce time and funds. Apparently I’m not alone in this dilemma.
If a private cloud could be made from like minded peers it might be possible to to address our collective concerns. That could mean service providers who do not respect our privacy, and an increasingly intrusive government would no longer be of much concern. Creating such a network is the goal of the Freedom Box Project. The project expects to provide a distributed service using simple plug computers. Kudos to the project’s founders. I’ll certainly be one of the early adopters of their first release.
With the wave of cheap connected devices arriving on the scene, a whole new world of security threats could be looming. While most of us won’t be trading securities and banking on devices like our new web enabled TV’s, open firmware holes can still leave a world of possibilities open to the creative criminal mind.
Researchers at Mocana, a security technology company in San Francisco, recently discovered they could hack into a best-selling Internet-ready HDTV model with unsettling ease.
They found a hole in the software that helps display Web sites on the TV and leveraged that flaw to control information being sent to the television. They could put up a fake screen for a site like Amazon.com and then request credit card billing details for a purchase. They could also monitor data being sent from the TV to sites. (New York Times)
Sound far fetched? Imagine rogue sites popping up claiming to offer free streams of new release movies. The movie probably won’t actually stream, but by the time the user initiates a download the device could be compromised. This sort of thing already happens to the uninformed PC user. Manufacturers that are not accustomed to hardening devices will need to learn quickly. Not doing so could bring a mountain of warranty claims for malfunctioning units infected with exploits.
Buying a new web enabled TV or set top box? Locking down access to a few trusted URL’s on your router for that specific unit might make lots of sense. Until manufacturers catch up with potential exploits, its will better to limit your surfing to the PC. Portable devices are no less vulnerable. Common sense dictates that you should not place any information you would see a need to secure on them.
Security measures and spending are way up at small and medium businesses this year:
According to a Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC) survey of 2,152 executives and IT administrators at companies with between 10 and 499 employees, the majority of SMBs are now making data security their top IT priority compared to just 15 months ago, when the majority admitted they had yet to implement even the most basic data security technologies and policies and more than 33 percent didn’t even have basic antivirus software applications installed.
This sea change in organizational philosophy boils down to a matter of dollars and common sense. Lawmakers are pressing companies of all sizes to take more responsibility for protecting their customers’ data by passing legislation that spells out the minimum security standards they must meet and provides for the assessment of stiff fines for data breaches — accidental or otherwise.
After years of either ignoring or neglecting their security infrastructure, small and midsized businesses are now coming to terms with the fact that it’s more expensive not to invest the money and staff required to keep hackers, phishers and garden-variety cybercrooks at bay. (Small Business Computing)
This could be very telling. Business, especially smaller enterprises tend to be reactive in making security investments. That means criminals are hitting targets with smaller and smaller pay offs. This tells me that big business as a category has secured its systems well enough to deter malicious hackers. That sends the crooks down the food chain to small business. If small business can build an effective deterrent, that means a tidal wave of new exploits from criminal hackers will be targeting individuals next. This also promises web based exploits will continue to be increasingly sophisticated and more difficult to secure against.
Law enforcement has been completely impotent in deterring cyber crime. A total lack of international cooperation points to a lack of political will to resolve slow the perpetrators. In the west, politicians and law enforcement have chosen to concentrate their efforts on file sharing and monitoring the communications of individual citizens. Yes, this means the folks who are supposed to help protect us are watching us instead of the crooks.
Even a casual observer of tech news probably noticed that a big chunk of the Fruit Pad’s early adopters of had their email addy’s hacked. Many of those were privileged social elites who Apple has carefully cultivated as users adding a feel of exclusivity to membership in its product cult.
A group of hackers exploited a hole in an AT&T Web site to get e-mail addresses of about 114,000 iPad users, including what appears to be top officials in government, finance, media, technology, and military.
The leak could have affected all iPad 3G subscribers in the U.S., according to Gawker, which broke the story on Wednesday. Among the iPad users who appeared to have been affected were White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, journalist Diane Sawyer, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, movie producer Harvey Weinstein, and New York Times CEO Janet Robinson. (Cnet)
One again, AT&T demonstrates that it is willing to under invest in providing service ,while constantly looking to invest in expanding its footprint. While it’s a demonstration of how truly pathetic AT&T is at secuity, what really amazes me is how Apple remains unscathed. Do you really think Steve Jobs (the world’s biggest control freak) would enter into any arrangement with AT&T where Apple did not have involvement in the management of the network? Even if this can be made to stick entirely to AT&T, why did Jobs and Co. select it as the exclusive wireless carrier for a second high volume product when it’s network continues to leave it’s current iPhone users waiting? At the very least BOTH companies need to be taken to task for delivering a flawed product.
I predict that all of the elites who lost a bit of privacy will carry on using Apple’s products while bashing AT&T mightyly. The tech press will pass lots of “big, bad AT&T gas” whole remaining loyal fruit cult members. I wonder: Has Apple bought off the press or simply brainwashed them? Does any rational person really want a portable “cloud” device / service can’t even lock down an email list? AND…please tell me the .gov types weren’t using these devices for official communications.