ABC logoEarlier this morning I spoke about Facebook’s disturbing new “Big Cat” technology on ABC 702 Sydney, and here’s the audio.

Big Cat is the codename for an algorithm that can apparently detect with a high reliability whether your partner is having an extramarital affair, by analysing such things as their pattern of friend formation and communication, comparing their smartphone location with what they’ve said in posts — such as whether they’re really shopping or at the gym or on a work trip — as well as language cues, such as a tendency to avoid answering direct questions.

In a way, it’s a natural extension of MIT research from 2009, which showed that a young man’s pattern of friend formation could reveal whether he was gay — often before he even knew himself. Or Target (US) being able to determine when a woman had become pregnant from her shopping list — at least with 87% accuracy.

It’s the kind of stuff I talk about in my guest lecture to UTS students — which, as it happens, I’ll be updating and presenting this coming Monday 7 April.

As I discuss with breakfast presenter Robbie Buck, however, this is a little more serious than sending someone some discount coupons on a likely hunch. Facebook had better get this right, given that confronting a partner about an alleged affair is a serious issue.

I’m hearing that the Australia test locations will be the Brisbane / Gold Coast nexus or, more likely, Adelaide, for reasons that I explain.

One thing we forgot to mention in the interview is the reason for Facebook’s codename: “Big Cat” is for catching cheaters. Oh dear.

Play

The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

ABC logoYesterday I ended up having a brief chat about identity, security and the concept of federated ID on ABC 105.7 Darwin. Here it is.

Breakfast presenter Richard Margetson had received a message from listener Heather from Tiwi, who’d lost her wallet. Amongst the hassle of having to replace all her cards, it was going to take up to six weeks for her new Medicare card to arrive — although she did get a new Medicare number to use straight away.

Margetson wondered whether technology might fix this. I set him straight.

Play

The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Bunjaree Cottages track in the mist: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 25 to Sunday 30 March 2014 has been and gone. It wasn’t very productive, but I’m going to zoom forward quickly for reasons that may become obvious in the next day or two.

I should mention that pretty much everything that last week I said I’d do this week didn’t actually happen. Shoosh.

Articles

None.

Media Appearances

None

5at5

Two days, plus a correction. There’s nothing more that needs be said in this section but, because I think it looks ugly when I have so many short paragraphs in a row, I’m going to waffle on here for a few more words so that the right-hand margin is once more established visually. Because I care.

Corporate Largesse

None.

The Week Ahead

Monday has already happened, and was moderately productive. I did a thing for ZDNet Australia, Plibersek loses our privacy in a haystack of envelopes, amongst other things.

Tuesday is a day of writing and planning here in the misty, rainy Blue Mountains. The near-continual gloom, coming somewhat early this year it seems, hasn’t exactly helped my mood.

On Wednesday I’m heading into Sydney for a media briefing about HP Enterprise Services and their security work — and probably staying overnight. And the rest of the week is only tentatively planned.

I will say that tomorrow, 1 April, sees the start of a new quarter, and I’ve got a few things in mind. Stay tuned. There may be charts. There may even be announcements.

[Photo: Bunjaree Cottages track in the mist, 24 March 2014. Even though the rain screws with my mood, it does look beautiful here at Bunjaree Cottages.]

Sydney skyline, with frigate: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 17 to Sunday 23 March 2014 was a busy one, and moderately productive. I am happy with it.

Apart from the media objects listed here, I did quite a bit of background work on a SEKRIT project that I’ll announce on Tuesday. The only hint for now is that it’s something that quite a few people have been wanting for a while now.

Articles

Media Appearances

5at5

We’re back up to four out of five days being published. Excellent.

Corporate Largesse

  • On Monday I went to an event with a delightful name: Dell Australia’s Steak, Storage & Solutions Media & Analyst Lunch at Kingsley’s Steak & Crabhouse in Woolloomooloo. Obviously they paid for the food and wine.
  • On Tuesday I went to a media briefing by Imperva at Wolfies Restaurant, Circular Quay, where of course they paid for the food and wine. Imperva also gave us: A rather nice branded notebook; a branded pen; and a well-made carry bag to put them in. M.Tech, one of Imperva’s channel partners, gave us: A branded water bottle, carry bag, and business card holder.
  • On Tuesday I finally got around to checking my postbox, where I discovered that Sourcefire had sent me a six-pack of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and a branded bottle opened / key ring to open them with. Thanks for that.

The Week Ahead

It’ll be a busy week. Indeed, it’s the first week of a challenging three months ahead. I’ll tell you more about that later, but one key issue is that I need to decide how I’ll ramp up my revenue in the coming quarter. I have plenty of ideas, I just have to choose — and choose wisely.

On Monday I’ll be doing the final planning for the SEKRIT thing to be announced on Tuesday, as well as speaking with my editors about their needs for the next month or so.

On Wednesday I’m heading into Sydney for a few things, including the SANS Australia Community Night presentation Why Do Organisations Get Compromised? I’ll then stay in Sydney overnight, and on Thursday I’ll write my ZDNet Australia column before heading back up the hill.

Friday has been kept clear for work on my legacy business Prussia.Net, although that may change. The weekend is currently unplanned.

[Photo: Sydney skyline, with frigate, 17 March 2014, being a photograph taken from the steps leading from Potts Point down to Woolloomoloo. In the background is the Sydney CBD. In the foreground, mostly hidden behind trees, is a Royal Australian Navy frigate docked at Fleet Base East.]

ABC logoMid-morning today I received a phone call from ABC journalist David Mark, who was after a backgrounder on the Tor network the lunchtime current affairs program The World Today. His call brought me the news of what appears to be a significant win in the battle against online child exploitation.

Fourteen arrests were made as part of Operation Round Table, which according to the (American) ABC, was an investigation led by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), US Postal Inspection Service and federal authorities in Louisiana.

The roughly 250 victims were spread across 39 states and five other countries — Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada and New Zealand. Most were boys between 13 and 15. Two victims were 3 or younger, authorities said.

The pornographic images were shared on an underground website on the Tor network, an online anonymity network that masks the location of servers and conceals an Internet user’s location. The subscription-based website operated from about June 2012 until June 2013, had more than 27,000 members and shared more than 2,000 webcam-captured videos, mostly of young boys, authorities said.

There’s further material in the (Australian) ABC story, Australian victims among 251 identified in ‘members only’ child porn website.

The World Today ran Mark’s four-minute story, including comments from US secretary of homeland security Jeh Johnson, and federal attorney-general for Louisiana Kenneth Polite, as well as my own small contribution.

Play

The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, served here directly from their website —– where you can also read a full transcript.

If you’d like some more information on how Tor works, and how users’ mistakes can lead to their anonymity being rather less effective than they’d hoped, my Crikey Clarifier: how the FBI hacked users of Tor, the ‘secret internet’ from August 2013 could be a useful starting-point.

Study in purple and grey, Leura: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 10 to Sunday 16 March 2014 has been a vast improvement, with plenty of signs of productivity returning.

The difficulties hinted at last week were more about continuing gastro-intestinal problems rather than stress and depression — though obviously such things interact — and I’m fairly sure that the third anti-depressant I’ve been trying has very much not been helping in this regard. But I won’t tangle that thread of thought into this Wrap.

While there might not seem to be that much more this week, that’s because I don’t include the various geek-for-hire things I still do from time to time for some legacy clients. A couple hours of relatively straightforward systems administration pays more than writing a typical column, which can reduce the stress remarkably. Such a thing happened this week.

Articles

By the time today (Sunday) ends, I should also have finished a piece for Crikey that’ll probably be published on Monday — though given the fascinating political news following the state elections in Tasmania and South Australia yesterday, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were held over until later in the week.

Media Appearances

None.

5at5

We seem to have gotten back on track from Wednesday, and the coming week is looking good.

Corporate Largesse

None.

The Week Ahead

On Monday and Tuesday I’ve got lunchtime briefings in Sydney, with Dell Australia and infosec company Imperva respectively, so that means I’ll almost certainly be in Sydney overnight too.

I haven’t locked in the exact order of play after that. It’ll depend on when payments arrive and when I feel in the mood for work, but obviously you can follow my Twitter stream to stay up to date.

[Photo: Study in purple and grey, Leura,14 March 2014, being a picture of the typical pre-storm cloudscapes we see up here in the Blue Mountains.]

My week of Monday 3 to Sunday 9 March 2014 has been and gone and has delivered little of note. The plan did not go to plan. I shall return to this theme another time.

Articles

I completed my 1500-word piece for the Walkley Foundation magazine’s special issue on press freedom that’ll be published in May.

Media Appearances

None. However the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) has asked me to guest lecture their first year students again with an updated version of Algorithms and the Filter Bubble in April, and ABC News24 has booked me for a chat way off in the distant future somewhen.

5at5

Well, there was one. Why did I start this again?

Corporate Largesse

None.

The Week Ahead

There is no plan. Let’s see. I have cancelled a planned visit to Melbourne, should you have seen mention of that somewhere.
`

Melbourne skyline: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 24 February to Sunday 2 March 2014 was largely spent in Melbourne and Sydney. Both cities proved more or less enjoyable. And then I spent the weekend in a rainy Wentworth Falls.

While the Melbourne trip was primarily for the Intel event detailed below, I also caught up with various geekfolk and managed to combine work-related conversations with excellent food and drink. May I draw your attention to the Cookie Beer Hall, Whiskey & Alement, the Shark Fin Inn in Chinatown, and the Red Emperor Chinese Restaurant at Southbank.

I paid for all those things. It was more expensive than I’d planned. I don’t know how the lesser people can afford it, but there seemed to be so many of them in these venues.

Articles

I’ve also been working on a 1500-word piece for the Walkley Foundation magazine that’ll be published in May.

Media Appearances

5at5

Uhoh. The whole thing collapsed. Sorry. I’ll revive the poor little thing in the coming week. Promise.

Corporate Largesse

  • On Tuesday I went to Intel’s mixed-bag event in Melbourne, which combined briefings on their new Xeon E7 v2 Server processors, their vision for the future of workplace collaboration and how they’re implementing it themselves — I’ll be writing about that at some point — a look at a new project at NAB, and a rather fine three-hour lunch at Bistro Vue. Intel paid for my flights to Melbourne, airport transfers, and one night’s accommodation at the Crowne Plaza Melbourne — that last item being their sensible alternative to me having to catch the 0513 train into Sydney to catch a 0830 flight.

The Week Ahead

Monday is mostly about planning my media work, writing something for ZDNet Australia, and finishing off the article for the Walkley Foundation.

Through the rest of the week week I’ll be writing another piece for ZDNet Australia, one for Technology Spectator, making sure 5at5 returns to schedule, and figuring out what to do about the loose ends from my Pozible project.

The last is particularly embarrassing, because I’ve simply failed to deliver some of the products. I’ll have to figure out some alternative plan to make good.

I’ll be in Sydney on Wednesday and Thursday, staying overnight. In Wednesday there’s a lunchtime briefing by WatchGuard Technologies, and on Thursday I’m meeting with people from the Slovak infosec firm ESET.

I’m supposed to be in Sydney again on Saturday for an important social event. I’m not quite sure how I’ll plan my movements around that.

[Photo: Melbourne skyline, 26 February 2014.]

Screenshot from The Project, 28 February 2014It’s been a while since I got to talk directly to The Project presenters, but I did so last night. And I was captioned as a “Cyber Security Commentator”, which is obviously a bit special.

The story was about the security risks of webcams. Presenter Gorgi Coglan introduced it thusly:

What if I told you that the webcam in your computer could be under the control of someone on the other side of the planet, and watching everything you do right now?

I was pleased that The Project introduced the Channel TEN audience to RATs, or remote administration (or access) tools, and managed — as they nearly always do — to strike the right balance between scary and funny.

Over the fold you’ll find the video of the entire four-minute segment — starting off with a “package”, as they’re called, featuring Hacklabs director Chris Gatford, followed by the panel interviewing me.

It was the Friday team, so that panel consisted of presenter Gorgi Coglan, comedian Lehmo, the inimitable Waleed Aly and, just to be different, Richie Sambora, guitarist of Bon Jovi fame.

Read the rest of this entry »

Stilgherrian juggling the invisible things at Tech Leaders Forum: photo by Munin Kotadia: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 17 to Sunday 23 February 2014 began with a busy time on the Gold Coast at the Tech Leaders Forum, but when I returned to Wentworth Falls mid-week I descended into food poisoning and related depths. I shall not be drawing a diagram. You shall be grateful.

Nevertheless I got quite a bit done, and I shall now list some of it. But I won’t say much more, because this week ended almost a week ago and I’m moving on.

Articles

I deliberately cut back on the number of written pieces I produced this month, their place in the budget having been filled by the discussion on digital privacy for Hitachi Data Systems. But I’m happy with what I wrote, including this column.

Media Appearances

This was a ridiculous week for media spots. I did a total of seven radio interviews — and that’s after I’d turned down a couple of others, as well as a TV spot.

5at5

Oh dear. It seems that 5at5, the “email letter” that I started three weeks ago, has started to get a bit wobbly. I only managed three issues this week. Sorry.

Corporate Largesse

  • The Tech Leaders Forum 2014, formerly known as Kickstart Forum, on the Gold Coast ran from Sunday to Tuesday. The organisers, Media Connect, covered my flights from Sydney, airport transfers, and two nights accommodation at the InterContinental Sanctuary Cove. Then there were various freebies. Avaya: a 4GB USB key containing media assets. Emerson Network Power: a combination max-min thermometer-hygrometer; and an 8GB USB key containing media assets. NEC: an 8GB USB key; and a little battery-powered Bluetooth audio speaker. Riverbed: a Power Bank model A5 2600mAh external battery with all the connectors; and a 4GB USB key containing media assets, on a bright orange lanyard. Symantec: two bottles of orange juice.

[Photo: Stilgherrian juggling the invisible things at Tech Leaders Forum, 16 February 2014, with freelance journalist Claire Porter on the right. Photograph by Munir Kotadia. This is just crying out for some Photoshop work.]

« Older entries § Newer entries »