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ABC logoIt’s not every day that I end up talking about my experiences in Thai urinals on live radio, but that’s exactly what I did today. It’s all down to Vicki Kerrigan.

Kerrigan is the drive-time presenter on ABC 105.7 Darwin, and a story about Airpnp caught her eye — or that of her producer. No, not the accommodation-related app Airbnb. And no, inner urban gay men, it’s not what you just thought of either.

Airpnp is a service that supposedly lets you “find a clean, comfortable bathroom no matter where you are” — not so much here in Australia, but certainly in the US and some other places as it’s spread out from New Orleans, where it was founded a year ago.

Here’s the full 10-minute conversation we had — including Kerrigan’s introduction, which may leave you with a slight pressure somewhere.

This audio is ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

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.

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.

ABC logoOn Friday I was interviewed about Twitter’s latest quarterly results by ABC Radio’s lunchtime national current affairs program, The World Today — and in particular the potential future impact of bullying and trolling. And here’s the result.

“Twitter CEO admits cyber bullying poses threat to revenue growth,” was the story’s headline, and this is how presenter Peter Lloyd introduced it:

“The social media giant Twitter is being been forced to confront a serious threat to its profitability – cyber bullying. In internal emails leaked to a news website, the Twitter’s CEO says he ashamed of his company’s handling of bullies. Dick Costolo says harassed users are abandoning the service and as part of the quarterly financial results announcement overnight, Twitter reported disappointing user growth in the final three months of last year.”

The reporter was Pat McGrath.

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

ABC logoNo sooner had I spoken about #optuswrongtime on ABC Radio’s AM than I got a call from ABC Gold Coast to expand upon my comments.

So a little after 0830 AEDT on Wednesday morning, or 0730 AEST in Queensland, I spoke with Trevor Jackson and presented my two theories for what might have happened. One was that some new cell towers were switched on overnight in the 700MHz band, which Optus had recently been given permission to do, and they were set to the wrong time zone. The other was that a security update for the network time protocol (NTP) server had been pushed out, and somehow that was configured incorrectly.

We still don’t know the correct answer.

Also, under the influence of a certain Canadian, I managed to sneak in a mention of the secret code word.

The audio is ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

ABC logoOn Wednesday morning, smartphone users on the Optus network in Queensland were running an hour early. Why? The ABC’s Will Ockenden decided to find out for the national current affairs program AM, and apparently that involved taking to me.

Presenter Ashley Hall introduced the story like this:

Queenslanders have long resisted embracing daylight saving time, leading to split time zones down Australia’s east coast for large chunks of the year.

But this morning many from the Sunshine State were given a taste of what it would be like after the Optus mobile phone network automatically updated phones to Sydney time.

Here’s the story as broadcast.

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

Update 1300 AEDT: I just noticed that my comments were quoted by Yahoo!7 News and the Sunshine Coast Daily, and even translated into Chinese for Radio Australia and translated into Dutch for Metronieuws. It all connects up.

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