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I’m re-launching Corrupted Nerds, my podcast about “information, power, security and all the cybers in a global internet revolution that’s changing… everything.”

And to kick things off, today I launched a crowdfunding campaign to take the podcast to Ruxcon 2015, one of Australia’s key information security conferences, which is being held in Melbourne on 24–25 October 2015.

This chart shows the progress so far.

There’s plenty of information on the Pozible campaign page. I should mention, though, that the initial $2000 target just gets me to Melbourne and puts a roof over my head. We need to go beyond that to fund some production.

If there’s something you think should be explained better, or if you have a suggestion, please let me know.

Bonus link: Today, ABC Radio National’s Media Report broadcast an interview with me about my crowdfunding work, Crowdfunding journalism.

UTS logoThis morning I delivered version six of my now-regular guest lecture to media students at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), “Algorithms and the Filter Bubble”. Here are the references and further reading.

The links over the fold start off with some background material that sets out my worldview, and then things are in roughly the same order as presented in the lecture — with the order becoming less coherent further down the page. There’s more material linked here than I mentioned in the lecture itself. Enjoy.

A recording of the lecture will be made available in roughly one week on Wednesday 23 September on Friday 25 September, as the change in Prime Minister has triggered the demand for some of my commentary. This page may be updated with further links at that time.

Read the rest of this entry »

ABC logoThe Ashley Madison hack returned to the news this week, because the 30-day deadline given by Impact Team, the hacker(s) who claimed responsibility, expired, and the site’s data started being dumped onto the internet.

While I’d spoken about this before on ABC 936 Hobart, this week I spoke about the then-latest developments on Friday with ABC Gold Coast. Here’s the full conversation with morning presenter Nicole Dyer.

The site I mentioned at the end, where you can check whether your email address appears in the Ashley Madison data dump, or in many of the larger data breaches of recent years, is, run by Australian security researcher Troy Hunt. Use it.


The audio is of course ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

ABC logoThe information security news story of the week was, of course, the data breach at “affairs” and “cheaters” website Ashley Madison, something first reported by journalist Brian Krebs.

I spoke about this data breach in a couple of radio spots — I’m reluctant to call it a
“hack” until we have some evidence that a hack was involved, as opposed to some internal problem — but I reckon the first was the best.

Here’s that conversation, a 13-minute chat from Tuesday morning with ABC 936 Hobart morning presenter Leon Compton. Enjoy.


The audio is of course ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

ABC logoEngineers at Beijing’s Tsinghua University and Hangzhou-based security company Tzekwan Technology have unveiled an ATM with face-recognition — and I discussed the implications on ABC 891 Adelaide on Monday.

I spoke with drive presenter Michael Smyth about why China might want to do this, including making more of their technology domestically, and linking ATM authentication with their growing national database of facial biometrics for… other purposes.

Here’s the full seven-minute conversation, which was broadcast live.


The 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.

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