Attack of the Killer Leech: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 23 February to Sunday 1 March 2015 began with fatigue and ended with drama, and then more fatigue.

The fatigue was inevitable, given that last weekend saw the production of two podcasts, as well as the first day of Tech Leaders Forum, which continued into Monday.

What I wasn’t expecting was being run down by a car on Thursday night. I wasn’t hurt, really, but nevertheless it was annoying — and I’ll tell you about that in The 9pm Edict. I wasn’t expecting to be attacked by a leech on Friday. And I wasn’t expecting Saturday to be wiped out by a gut problem. Sigh.

But enough of that…

Articles

Podcasts

None. The will be an episode The 9pm Edict on Tuesday 3 March, once I’ve gotten a feature written for ZDNet Australia.

5at5

There were three editions of 5at5 this week, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. You might want to subscribe so you receive them all as they’re released.

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

  • On Monday, we wrapped up this year’s Tech Leaders Forum at the Fairmont Resort in the Blue Mountains. Apart from one night’s accommodation and plenty of food and drink, some vendors gave out various bits and pieces. Bitdefender gave me a branded TSA-approved travel lock and a Gecko dashboard pad thingy. Emerson Network Power, a novelty branded USB stick with their PR material. LogRhythm, a branded pen. Oakton, a USB stick with their PR material.

The Week Ahead

Here’s the plan. Monday, a feature for ZDNet Australia. Tuesday, an episode of The 9pm Edict. Wednesday, probably a day trip to Sydney — and if it happens, it might include a bit of television. Thursday, a column for ZDNet Australia. Friday, updating that ebook, finally, and getting it to people.

The weekend isn’t locked in yet, but one option is heading down to Albion Park, where a Boeing 747 will land at the tiny Albion Park Airport, before it becomes a permanent museum piece at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS). Or I might not. It depends on many factors.

[Photo: Attack of the Killer Leech, the one which I had to remove from my foot, photographed on 27 February 2015.]

ABC logoSo SIM card manufacturer Gemalto has responded to the claims that America’s NSA and Britain’s GCHQ had hacked their network in 2010 and 2011 and stolen SIM card encryption keys. I spoke about that response on ABC Radio’s AM this morning.

You can read Gemalto’s full press statement, but The Wall Street Journal has a good summary, and The Intercept has various infosec experts disputing Gemalto’s analysis.

If nothing else, it seems unlikely that Gemalto could have conducted a thorough forensic investigation in just six days — although they may have just dig out a report they’d prepared earlier.

Here’s how AM introduced the story today:

Overnight the world’s largest SIM card manufacturer has responded to allegations it was hacked by American and British spies. Dutch company Gemalto confirmed it was the target of sophisticated hacks in 2010 and 2011, and most likely the US National Security Agency and their British counterparts were responsible. Last week, documents from Edward Snowden alleged spies stole encryption keys from Gemalto, giving them potential to monitor mobile communications. But Gemalto denies there was mass theft of encryption keys and says their products are secure.

And here’s the full report from journalist Sarah Sedghi.

The audio is ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It’s served here directly from the ABC website, where you can also read a transcript.

FIVEaa logoThird time’s the charm, right? My third radio spot on The Great SIM Heist was for 1395 FIVEaa in Adelaide on Wednesday afternoon.

Again, I won’t repeat the background, because it’s all in my first post on the subject. But I will say that this is the most detailed conversation about it so far, because presenter Will Goodings and I spoke for 13 minutes.

That said, there’s not much more information than we had yesterday. Gemalto isn’t due to hold its press conference until late this evening Australian time, so we’ll know more tomorrow.

The audio is ©2015 Nova Entertainment.

2UE logoThe second radio spot I did on The Great SIM Heist — or perhaps I should say the claimed heist, or even the alleged heist — was for the Sydney talk radio station 2UE on Tuesday afternoon.

I won’t repeat all the background. See my previous post for that. But I will say that it’s always interesting to hear the different questions asked and concerns raised by different presenters. And of course my responses differ in content and style to match the style of the program and the radio station.

Here’s the full seven-minute chat with drive presenter Justin Smith. At the end, we seem to have invented a new regular segment. And at least this time I pronounced Gemalto correctly.

This audio is ©2015 Radio 2UE Sydney Pty Ltd.

ABC logoOn Friday, The Intercept published some astounding claims under the headline The Great SIM Heist: How spies stole the keys to the encryption castle. The story claims that Five Eyes spooks had achieved a major breakthrough in their ability to monitor mobile communications.

American and British spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden…

With these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments. Possessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless provider’s network that the communications were intercepted. Bulk key theft additionally enables the intelligence agencies to unlock any previously encrypted communications they had already intercepted, but did not yet have the ability to decrypt.

The company in question is Gemalto. With headquarters in Amsterdam, and 28 “personalisation facilities” around the world that burn the encryption keys into SIM cards, it has nearly 30% of the market — making it an obvious target for spooks.

The story started to filter through to the mainstream media on Monday in the US, or Tuesday Australian time, and I’ve already done two radio spots on the topic — and doubtless there’ll be more to come.

The first spot was an interview for ABC Radio, and parts of it ended up in this report on The World Today.

[The three Australian mobile network operators] Telstra, Vodafone and Optus have all confirmed that Gemalto has supplied their SIM cards. Sarah Sedghi reports.

This is the full five-minute report.

The audio is ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It’s served here directly from the ABC website, where you can also read a transcript.

Log: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 16 to Sunday 22 February 2015 has been busy, productive and exhausting. And it’s still going. If only my life lately were about more than just trying to be busy and productive. Sigh.

Podcasts

  • “The 9pm Malcolm and the Cnuts”, being The 9pm Edict episode 37. I hadn’t planned to do an episode of the Edict this week, but on Friday I had an encounter with Malcolm Turnbull, and one thing led to another… But I am getting more efficient. This episode only took six hours to produce, although it did omit a couple of regular segments.
  • Corrupted Nerds Extra: Malcolm Turnbull opens NICTA Techfest 2015, being the full audio of Turnbull’s speech and subsequent doorstop press conference.

Articles

5at5

There were four editions of 5at5 this week, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and an off-schedule 7at7 on Sunday morning. You might want to subscribe so you receive them all as they’re released. Subscribe. Just subscribe.

Media Appearances

None.

Corporate Largesse

  • On Friday, I went to NICTA’s Techfest at Australian Technology Park, where I was fed and watered.
  • Sunday is the first day of the Tech Leaders Forum, formerly known as Kickstart, at the Fairmont Resort. The event continues on Monday, so I’ll post the full list of largesse next week.

The Week Ahead

Monday is the second and final day of the Tech Leaders Forum, after which I shall collapse and have an early night.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I’m writing a feature for ZDNet Australia.

On Thursday, I’m heading to Sydney for the next step in my treatment program for sleep apnoea — which I have yet to blog about in any detail — as well as some errands and then, at 1615 AEDT, a television spot on ABC News24.

On Friday, I’ll probably be writing my usual column for ZDNet Australia.

Saturday is unplanned. Place your bids now.

On Sunday, I’ll be producing an episode of The 9pm Edict podcast. Because I am an idiot.

[Photo: Log. Termites had eaten out the core of this tree at Bunjaree Cottages, and it had filled with water — much to the surprise of the chain-saw wielding chap who felled it. A shame I wasn’t there to see it. Photographed on 20 February 2015.]

The Future is Coal: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 9 to Sunday 15 February 2015 was hectic. I must learn that the long commute to Sydney, two hours each way, doesn’t mix with doing so to be there before 0900 and starting to return after 1700. Not two days in a row, anyway.

Still, I did get quite a bit done, even if all of the outputs haven’t appeared yet.

Podcasts

  • “The 9pm Sleepless Necessary Remedial Action”, being The 9pm Edict episode 36. This one was quicker to produce, at eight and a half hours. It’s also the longest episode of the Edict ever.

Articles

5at5

There were three editions of 5at5 this week, on Monday, Thursday and Friday. The two missing days where when I had very early starts and very late finishes and, probably more importantly, a conference to pay attention to during the day. Hmmm. You might want to subscribe so you receive them all as they’re released. Subscribe. Just subscribe.

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

  • On Tuesday and Wednesday I went to the APIdays Sydney at Australian Technology Park, where I was amply fed and watered.

The Week Ahead

On Monday, I’ve been catching up on all manner of loose ends, including blog posts. Tuesday through Wednesday are writing and production days, though I’ll work out the exact sequence of events as I go along.

On Tuesday, I’ll be re-planning the rest of February, as well as doing shopping and other errands, as well as doing some research and organising some story pitches for those people we call “editors”.

On Wednesday I’m doing a day trip to Sydney to run some errands in Parramatta and the CBD, meet some people, and finally see the sleep physician to get this treatment program started. I may blog about that last point, because some people have expressed interest.

On Thursday I’ll be writing for ZDNet Australia, and perhaps someone else.

On Friday, I’m heading into Sydney on another day trip — for errands and a meeting and then, in the afternoon, NICTA’s Techfest at Australian Technology Park, and then an appointment to rearrange my back and neck.

Saturday is unplanned. Place your bids now.

Sunday is the start of the Tech Leaders Forum, formerly known as Kickstart. This year it isn’t being held on the Gold Coast, but in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, at the Fairmont Resort. The event continues on Monday.

Update 17 February 2015: Edited to include changes to the schedule.

[Photo: The Future is Coal, a standard 45-car coal train passing through Wentworth Falls, photographed on 15 February 2015.]

ABC logoAs I mentioned in my previous post, one of the technology stories that crossed over into the mainstream media last week was the news that Samsung’s Smart TV were listening out for conversations — part of its voice recognition features — and transmitting them to an un-named third party.

Now I won’t repeat the reasons why Samsung needs to do this, but I will repeat that Samsung’s big mistake was to have this voice recognition feature turned on by default — which meant that customers were unaware it was happening unless they happened to read the lengthy privacy policy and understand its implications.

This is the second radio spot I did on the topic, for ABC 720 Perth with presenter Jamie Burnett.

This audio is @2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Bonus link: My ZDNet Australia piece from Smart TVs are dumb, and so are we.

FIVEaa logoOne of the technology stories that crossed over into the mainstream media last week was the news that Samsung’s Smart TV were listening out for conversations — part of its voice recognition features — and transmitting them to an un-named third party.

Now Samsung needs to do this because the TV itself doesn’t have enough grunt to do the voice recognition. It’s the same reason that Google Translate needs to send your words off to their servers, do the translation there, and send the translated words back.

And there’s a reasonable argument to be made that the TV needs to listen the whole time, so it knows when you’ve started talking to it.

The audio information is sent to a third party because they’re the ones providing the speech recognition technology.

But Samsung’s big mistake was to have this feature turned on by default, so that customers were unaware it was happening — unless they happened to read the lengthy privacy policy and understand its implications. And who does that?

I ended up doing two radio spots on this topic, and this is the first — a chat with Will Goodings on 1395 FIVEaa in Adelaide.

The audio is ©2015 dmgRadio Australia.

Bonus link: My ZDNet Australia piece from late 2013, Smart TVs are dumb, and so are we.

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