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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.

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.

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.

ABC logoThe Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas featured in the final “Tech Wreck” segment on ABC 720 Perth, as well as some technology that may well fall out of use in 2015.

CES is a huge thing, with 160,000 attendees and 20,000 product launches, and as we went to air on Tuesday it hadn’t even really kicked off. Monday (US time) was the press preview day, so I was basing my comments on what had been reported so far, mostly from the coverage at CNet. I spoke mostly about 4k television, smart homes, and pointless gadgets.

We also spoke about the decline of six technologies that an article in The Independent had suggested would be on the way out: home landlines, TV remote controls, stand-alone satellite navigation, phone boxes, DVD and Blu-Ray, and the alarm clock.

The presenter is Jamie Burnett.

The audio is ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

ABC logoThe Christmas Day attacks on Sony’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft’s Xbox and the supposed culprits, Lizard Squad, featured in this week’s “Tech Wreck” segment on ABC 720 Perth. Also, fake fingerprints and Facebook’s end of year review.

Lizard Squad had claimed responsibility for the attacks, and stopped them when Kim Dotcom paid them off. I reckon that was a mistake. Meanwhile, infosec journalist Brian Krebs thinks he’s identified Lizard Squad members, and later reported that at least one has been arrested.

A hacker presenting at the Chaos Computer Club conference in Germany demonstrated how he could recreate a fingerprint just from photographs.

And the Facebook thing? Just read this guy’s story.

The presenter is Jamie Burnett.

I’ve delayed posting this audio because there was a problem. I normally record off the ABC’s internet feed, but the link dropped out part-way. Journalist Will Ockenden was kind enough to pull the audio from the ABC’s archiving system, but that was interrupted by bushfire alerts. What to do?

I decided I’d post it as-is, because this is what Perth listeners would have heard, and it highlights just how serious Australia has to get during our hot, dangerous summers.

The next “Tech Wreck” segment is on ABC 720 Perth this Tuesday 6 January 2015 at 1430 AWST / 173 AEDT.

The audio is ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

ABC logoThe hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment inspired many of the talking points on today’s “Tech Wreck” segment on ABC 720 Perth.

Did North Korea hack Sony? Or was it hackers-for-hire employed by North Korea? Or was it someone else who hired hackers and paid them to look like they were working for North Korea? At this stage nobody knows. But whoever did the hack, it is not “cyberwar”.

Sony is also trying to take legal action against people publishing links to the stolen material, which is surely going to trigger the Streisand Effect — which I explained.

We spoke about how Sony’s computer networks were shut down, leading to working like it’s an office from ten years ago, but with added paranoia.

And we also spoke about the Pew Research Center report, as described in the Fairfax press, which suggested that living a public life online would be the new default by the year 2025. Privacy will be considered a luxury.

The presenter is Jamie Burnett.

The audio is ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

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