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ABC logoFollowing the earlier report on AM, ABC Radio’s The World Today explored the eBay data breach story further, looking at the potential for identity theft.

The reporter was Will Ockenden, and here’s how presenter Eleanor Hall introduced the item:

Internet retailing giant eBay is admitting today that the hacking of its computer systems three months ago could affect all 145 million users of the auction website.

The company has defended the time it has taken to discover the unauthorized access to its network, and the two week delay in letting its users know that their private information was stolen.

Internet security analysts say they now expect a rise in the number of secondary attacks, as hackers attempt to exploit other sites.

eBay users should change their passwords immediately, and if they use the same password anywhere else, they should change the password there too — and invest in password management software so they can start using different random, complex passwords for every online service.

Here’s the full story, served directly from the ABC website, where you can also read the transcript.


The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

ABC logoOnline marketplace eBay has suffered a massive data breach. Their official statement outlines what we know so far. This conversation on ABC Gold Coast from earlier this morning was the first of several media spots I’m doing today.

As I explained to presenter Nicole Dyer, if all 150 million or so user records were stolen, this makes it one of the Top 5 biggest data breaches by volume of all time.

eBay users should change their passwords immediately, and if they use the same password anywhere else, they should change the password there too — and invest in password management software so they can start using different random, complex passwords for every online service.


Also worth listening to is Will Ockenden’s report on ABC Radio’s AM this morning. It features security researcher Graham Cluley.

The audio here is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

2MFM logoHere’s the final of this week’s media spots that was triggered by Privacy Awareness Week, a chat about the privacy issues relating to mobile apps on Sydney’s Muslim community radio station 2MFM.

This interview was recorded on Tuesday 6 May, and this 23-minute edit was broadcast the same day. The presenter is Nadia Zahr.

2MFM has made the audio available on SoundCloud, but has not allowed for the file to be downloaded, so I’ve just embedded the SoundCloud link immediately below.

The audio is of course ©2014 Muslim Community Radio 92.1 FM.

ABC logoThis is Privacy Awareness Week in Australia, so most of the media I’ve been involved in making is focused on privacy — although of course that’s a common topic for me in any event.

First cab off the rank — or do these days we day “first Uber off the app”? — was ABC 891 Adelaide, a radio station I worked at 1985-91, and which I still have links to.

This quick interview with drive presenter Michael Smyth took place on Monday 5 May 2014.


The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

ABC logoA few weeks back, I had a conversation on Twitter with Natasha Mitchell, presenter of ABC Radio National’s Life Matters, about smartphones and just how much data they’re handing on to, well, all manner of organisations. This morning we came back to that conversation live on national radio.

Do you know what data you’re really sharing, and with whom, when you download and use smart phone apps? Companies are collecting as much as they can get away with, says Stilgherrian.

We spoke for 20 minutes and covered a lot of territory.

If you want to know more, then you can listen to my guest lecture at University of Technology Sydney (UTS), and then follow the links to more than 30 references.


The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and it’s served here directly from the ABC website.

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.


The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

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.

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Hitachi Data Systems privacy law graphic: click for whitepaperAustralia’s new privacy laws come into force on 12 March. On 12 February, four weeks before the new laws come into force, I hosted a panel discussion on dealing with these new law for Hitachi Data Systems.

The panelists were lawyer Alec Christie, a partner in the intellectual property and technology practice of global law firm DLA Piper; Jodie Sangster, chief executive officer of ADMA, the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (which used to be called the Australian Direct Marketing Association); and Adrian De Luca, chief technology officer for Hitachi Data Systems in the Asia-Pacific region.

Over the fold is the full 58-minute video. This was done as a Google Hangout, and since there were some internet glitches the video is a bit glitchy too, but the content itself is great.

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On Wednesday I decided to see if I could finally sort out my Google+ profile, which was suspended around two and a half years ago. I didn’t really get anywhere, but I did discover some new and different frustrations.

First, the back story…

Google+ screenshot 1: see text for a description

As the first screenshot (above) says, “Your profile [that is, my profile] was suspected because it violates our names policy.” That’s because back in 2011, Google required that names consist of at least two words. To get something that looked close to my single-word name (a “mononym”), I’d entered it as “Stilgherrian .” But the full stop (“period” for American readers) isn’t allowed, and the profile was suspended.

I was so frustrated by that, and even more so by Google’s arrogant-seeming error messages, that I wrote an infamous expletive-filled blog post — which got more than 100,000 unique viewers on the first day. Even now, two and a half years later, it sometimes gets a couple hundred readers a month.

Since then, Google had supposedly started allowing people to display their “nicknames” (that is, pseudonyms”), at least in some contexts, so I figured that I’d give it another go. It wouldn’t worry me too much if I was “Stilgherrian Stilgherrian” under the hood, as long as my name was displayed properly.

So I clicked on “Take action”…

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