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FIVEaa logoThe (relatively) new Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) released its first-ever unclassified threat report yesterday, but as I wrote at ZDNet, I was disappointed.

The report (PDF) has dropped, and indeed it contains few surprises. It tells the now-familiar story of serious and organised criminals, foreign state-sponsored actors, and other “cyber adversaries”, all of whom are getting better at what they do.

“The cyber threat to Australian organisations is undeniable, unrelenting and continues to grow. If an organisation is connected to the internet, it is vulnerable. The incidents in the public eye are just the tip of the iceberg,” begins the report’s foreword.

“Cyber adversaries are aggressive and persistent in their efforts to compromise Australian networks and information. They are constantly improving their tradecraft in an attempt to defeat our network defences and exploit new technologies,” it says later.

“Australia is an innovative country with a globally important resources sector. We are a regional leader with global interests and important partnerships. This makes Australia a target-rich environment for cyber adversaries.”

All of which is true, of course, but all of which has been said so many times before.

I spoke about the report today with Will Goodings on 1395 FIVEaa Adelaide — with somewhat less disappointment in my voice.

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The audio is ©2015 Nova Entertainment.

FIVEaa logoThis week Apple launched its Apple Pay service in the UK, the second market after the US, which meant it and other new payment systems blipped up in the news.

On Thursday I spoke about Apple Pay with Will Goodings on 1395 FIVEaa in Adelaide. He was bouncing off a story in the Australian Financial Review, Why Australia’s banks are still well placed to fend off Apple Pay.

After speaking with me, he spoke with Chris Hamilton, CEO of the Australian Payments Clearing Association — and that’s in the recording too, because it’s interesting stuff.

I was also going to mention the forthcoming Samsung Pay, because ZDNet reviewed the beta rollout in South Korea, but we didn’t get to that.

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The audio is ©2015 Nova Entertainment.

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.

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The audio is ©2015 Nova Entertainment.

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.

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The audio is ©2015 dmgRadio Australia.

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

FIVEaa logoAustralian news outlets ran stories today about a Russian website that shows live video cameras that haven’t been properly protected, and I ended up talking about it with Will Goodings on Adelaide radio 1395 FIVEaa.

I disagreed with the Fairfax story, which called the Russian site “Online IP net surveillance cameras of the world” the result of “hacking”. For me, hacking implies some sort of technical trick. But I did point out that unprotected devices on the internet are not new. The Shodan search engine shows all manner of exposed devices.

The audio includes a subsequent guest on the program, Con Kosmidis from Alpha Security Systems, who amplified some of my points, and a small rant from Mr Goodings.

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The audio is ©2014 dmgRadio Australia.

FIVEaa logoThe WireLurker malware that affects Apple’s iOS and OS X devices has been in the technical news this week. That caught Will Goodings’ eye, as did the Forbes list of the world’s 100 most powerful people. We chatted about both on Friday afternoon.

I wrote about WireLurker at Crikey, so I won’t repeat that here. Our conversation on 1395 FIVEaa fleshes out some of the issues. If you want to get into the technicals, you can always read the original report from Palo Alto Networks or the independent analysis by Jonathan Zdziarski.

As for the Forbes list, Goodings was wanting to chat about Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page jointly holding the number nine spot. Which we did. But he also was interested in my suggestions.

For the most powerful Australian, I nominated the prime minister’s chief of staff Peta Credlin. “Nothing goes into the prime minister’s ear without her say-so, and nothing comes out of the government onto the media without her say-so,” I said.

Goodings then added his own comments, based on having see Credlin at work. It’s worth listening to. It starts at 15 minutes 27 seconds. I’ll also extract them for the next episode of The 9pm Edict.

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The audio is ©2014 dmgRadio Australia.

FIVEaa logoTelstra is Australia’s biggest telco, and owner of the vast majority of the copper customer access network (CAN), the so called “last mile” — and it wants to raise its wholesale prices, charging other telcos 7.2% more.

“The move would affect almost every Australian with a phone line or an internet connection, because Telstra owns most of the copper phone lines that other telcos depend on to service their customers,” reported ABC News.

“The company leases about 4 million line services to rivals and has not raised wholesale prices since 2011.”

On Wednesday I spoke about the distinction between retail and wholesale telecommunications providers, and whether a 7.2% rise is reasonable, with Will Goodings on 1395 FIVEaa — after independent Senator Nick Xenophon has given his views.

Xenophon thought the rise was unreasonable, because Telstra had “gotten $11 billion” from NBN Co. I disagreed on both counts.

For reference, here’s the current Telstra Wholesale rate card (PDF).

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The audio is ©2014 dmgRadio Australia.

FIVEaa logo“Two of America’s biggest retail banks — JPMorgan Chase & Co, and Wells Fargo & Co — are quietly recording the biometric details of some callers’ voices to weed out fraud,” reported Associated Press this week. The news caught the eye of Will Goodings at 1395 FIVEaa in Adelaide. I told him that the Americans are way behind Australia on this one.

All of the Big Four banks here are already using voiceprints. In the case of NAB and Westpac, since about 2009.

In fact, Australia is a world leader in voiceprint technology. In a Patch Monday podcast from March 2012, I spoke with Dr Clive Summerfield, chief executive of Auraya, who told me that Australia’s social services agency Centrelink has been using voiceprints to identify callers since 2005, and more than 95% of callers are identified this way. Voiceprints are also used by the Australian Taxation Office.

Here’s a recording of the conversation we had on air on Friday afternoon, complete with a talkback caller who followed me.

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The audio is ©2014 dmgRadio Australia.

FIVEaa logoThe third and final of today’s radio spots about the alleged hack of Apple’s iCloud service was at lunchtime, so I’d had time to wake up and gather my thoughts — as well as see how the infosec community was reacting.

The afternoon presenter on 1395 FIVEaa in Adelaide, Will Goodings, gave it plenty of time too, some 14 minutes, so we covered quite a few issues — including the privacy implications of cloud technology generally.

I sound a bit tired or something, though. Possibly because I was tired.

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The audio is ©2014 dmgRadio Australia.

Today’s previous two radio spots were for Nova 100 Melbourne and ABC Radio’s AM.

[I’m finally tackling the backlog of media spots that need posting, some of them going back weeks. This is the first, from late June. — Stilgherrian.]

FIVEaa logoIt’s now 25 years since Australia got the internet, at least in terms of a permanent link. Will Goodings thinks the internet is humanity’s greatest invention, and I tend to agree. But what’s your choice?

We ended up speaking about this stuff on 1395 FIVEaa Adelaide on 26 June 2014, along with studio guest Ben Lewis, programs coordinator at RiAus, a science hub in Adelaide that emphasises the role of science and technology as being “as much a part of our cultural fabric as art, music, theatre and literature”.

Here’s the full conversation, as well as the first part of the talkback. The rather rough edit in the middle is to remove the ad break.

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The audio is ©2014 dmgRadio Australia.

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