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Departing Mt Victoria: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 23 to Sunday 29 November 2015 was remarkably productive, a sharp comparison with last week. This pleases me.

Apart from the stuff listed below, I’ve also started a fresh program to tackle my on-again off-again “friendship” with the black dog of depression. I haven’t yet decided whether to write about this highly personal topic or not. Maybe when the timeline takes clearer shape.

I also got quite a bit of planning done for December, including locking in a couple geek-for-money projects that won’t be detailed here.



Media Appearances


Should 5at5 eventually reappear, you’ll know about it if you subscribe.

Corporate Largesse

The Week Ahead

On Monday, I’ll be writing for ZDNet, as well as heading to Parramatta to choose a venue for the next Public House Forum. Various loose ends will be sorted out while on the trains.

On Tuesday, I’ll be producing an episode of The 9pm Edict podcast, tentatively titled “The 9pm Garden of Hate”, in which I’ll finish off all of the sponsored content that I owe my supporters. I plan to stream that recording session live at 2100 AEDT.

I’ll sleep in on Wednesday, and then head to Sydney, because in the evening I’ll go to VMware’s end-of-year drinks, and then the launch of a Sydney chapter of Electronic Frontiers Australia.

On Thursday, I’ll write for ZDNet, and then the rest of the week is flexible. I do have some geek projects to weave into the schedule, however.

Further Ahead

I’ll record a “2015 Wrap” episode of the Corrupted Nerds podcast some time in the week beginning Monday 14 December.

The next episode of The 9pm Public House Forum, similar to the first one, will be recorded on the afternoon of Saturday 19 December, somewhere in or near Parramatta. The venue will be confirmed in a few days.

I’ll also produce “2015 Wrap” episode of the Edict some time between Christmas and New Year.

[Photo: Departing Mt Victoria. The #purpletrain (also known as a V-Set) pulls away from Platform 1 of Mt Victoria railway station on a wet Saturday afternoon, 28 November 2015.]

Recording Future Tense narration in ABC Radio studio E46

ABC logoIt has been my very great pleasure this week to produce an entire episode of ABC Radio National’s Future Tense, titled Bug bounties and pentesting: the Wild West of online security.

Here’s how the ABC has introduced this documentary:

Online information security is estimated to be worth more than $75 billion annually. And that figure is certain to grow as more and more of our everyday devices are given internet connectivity.

So why are our cyber-networks still being hacked on an industrial scale? Despite all that we’ve learnt about online fraud and malicious attacks, why is the digital world still so fragile?

In this edition of Future Tense, technology writer and commentator Stilgherrian talks ‘bug bounties’ and ‘pentesting’ as he introduces us to those at the coal-face of the security challenge.

Here’s the full half-hour documentary, featuring Alastair MacGibbon, Children’s eSafety Commissioner for the Australian Government; Casey Ellis, founder and CEO of Bugcrowd; Associate Professor Asha Rao, information security expert from RMIT University; Fatemah Beydoun, Chief Awesome at Security Code Warrior and a former IT security auditor; Joe Franzi, Assistant Secretary, Cyber Security, Australian Signals Directorate; John McCormack, CEO of Raytheon|Websense; Nathaniel Wakelam, professional penetration tester/hacker; and a snippet from Alan Dupont, Professor of International Security at the University of New South Wales.


The program is ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and it’s served here directly from the ABC website, where you can also read a transcript.

Both the ABC and I are pleased with how this went, and I’ve been invited to pitch further story ideas in the new year.

[Photo: Recording my Future Tense narration in ABC Radio studio E46 in Sydney, on Monday 23n November 2015. This environment was overkill. I wasn’t using any of the studio gear, just my own Sennheiser e835 microphone, Zoom H6, and MacBook Pro — so basically the three items in the foreground — but I needed a proper quiet room.]

ABC logoThe news that a Wi-Fi enabled Hello Barbie doll had been released got plenty of media interest at the end of the working week, especially since the security and privacy risks weren’t just theoretical.

Hello Barbie was soon hacked.

I was interviewed by journalist Penny Timms about these security risks by ABC Radio’s national current affairs program PM.

The makers of one of the world’s most famous dolls are due to roll out their latest edition. Forget Malibu Barbie, because wifi Barbie could be on shelves by Christmas. The technology means the doll can hold conversations with her owner. But security experts warn there are serious flaws, with suggestions the technology has already been hacked.

Somehow I managed to include some paranoid ideas for using Hello Barbie for psychological warfare.

ABC News also posted a written story, which uses some different quotes. But here’s the radio story.


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

Screenshot of Stilgherrian from Download This Show: click for podcast websiteABC logoWould you believe it’s been more than a year since the last time Marc Fennell invited me onto Download This Show? Well, it is.

Ironically, it seems like this week’s episode was designed specifically to troll me. We discussed TV (which I don’t watch) in the context of the new Apple TV, cars (which I don’t drive) in the context of hacking them, and weddings (which I’m not interested in). Still, Janet Carr and I had fun.

Here’s how the ABC website describes the episode:

Has Apple really reinvented the ole TV box? Also is your digital DAB radio the key to hackers accessing your car? More inside…

There’s a video of the Apple TV segment over the fold. If it doesn’t work for you here, watch it on YouTube.

Read the rest of this entry »

Producing Corrupted Nerds episode 13My week of Monday 26 October to Sunday 1 November 2015 pleased me, mostly because a certain podcast returned.

I was rather exhausted in the middle of the week, however, because Ruxcon does tend to take it out of you. But I was very pleased that Certain Other Plans seem to be coming together just fine.



Media Appearances


Should 5at5 eventually reappear, you’ll know about it if you subscribe.

Corporate Largesse


The Week Ahead

On Monday, I’ll be writing for ZDNet, and mapping out my production schedule.

On Tuesday, I’ll sort out my audio recordings for my forthcoming documentary for ABC Radio National’s Future Tense, and organise any interviews that seem to be missing.

On Wednesday, I’ll catch the 0606 train to Sydney and head to ABC Ultimo, with recording sessions schedule at 0845 for Future Tense, and 1000 for Download This Show. I’ll have lunch in the city before heading back up the hill. Any takers?

On Thursday, I’m producing a special live episode of The 9pm Edict.

On Friday, I’ll be recording the last few interviews for Future Tense.

I am determined that the coming weekend will contain no work, mostly because this week’s attempt to have an actual weekend was a dismal failure.

Further Ahead

On Tuesday 10 November, I’ll be in Sydney for the Law via Internet (LvI) Conference 2015 at the University of New South Wales — and if you look carefully at the program, you’ll see that I’m on one of the panels.

I’m also in Sydney on Wednesday 11 for Remembrance Day commemorations, as well as a lunchtime briefing by Kaspersky Lab.

Update 2 November 2015: Edited to reflect some changes to the schedule. Update 3 November 2015: Edited to reflect further changes to the schedule.

[Photo: Producing Corrupted Nerds episode 13, photographed on Sunday 1 November 2015.]

ABC logoThis evening I did one of my now (ir)regular spots on ABC 774 Melbourne, and since I’d been at Ruxcon over the weekend, that conference was an obvious topic.

Presenter Lindy Burns and I started off talking about the origins of the word “hacker”, and that led into a brief history of cybercrime, before we got into the so-called “dark web” and Silk Road… and even the risks of smart TVs.

Here’s the entire 23-minute conversation exactly as it aired — and as Ms Burns herself freely admits, it strayed well away from our planned topics.


The audio is ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

ABC logoOne of the more amusing information security stories last week was the news that CIA director John Brennan’s personal email account at AOL had been taken over by a couple of young hackers.

I ended up providing a few comments on ABC Radio’s PM on Thursday.

It’s a situation that would be deeply embarrassing for any CEO but for the director of the CIA to have his private email account accessed by hackers is beyond humiliating. Leaked emails appear to discuss the use of torture and to contain extensive details of the CIA chief’s private life. The CIA has condemned the hack as a crime, saying the hacked email was a family account. PM has obtained an interview with two people who claim to be the hackers. Sarah Dingle reports.

Here’s the entire 4-minute radio story.


The audio is ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and is being served directly from the program website, where there’s also a transcript.

Lumpy Weather: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 12 to Sunday 18 October 2015 was a marked return to productivity — despite a severe lack of sleep along the way.

Apart from generating three quite adequate articles, and recording plenty of audio for future projects, I also made some excellent contacts at the Australian Information Security Association (AISA) National Conference and elsewhere, and certain geekery went pretty much to plan.

I was especially pleased that the Pozible campaign Send Stilgherrian To Ruxcon 2015 was fully funded. I’ll have more to say about that on Monday.


I also recorded an interview with Joe Franzi, Assistant Secretary Cyber Security with the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), Australia’s equivalent to the US National Security Agency (NSA). It’s the first recorded interview he’s ever done in that role, and it’ll turn into an article for ZDNet on Monday. The full audio will appear in due course. Stand by.


None, but a new episode of The 9pm Edict will appear on Tuesday.

I’ve also been commissioned to produce an episode of ABC Radio National’s Future Tense, which will appear in late November.

Media Appearances

  • On Friday, I was interviewed for a story looking at the future of technology for ABC Online, which will appear some time in the coming week.


There’s still nothing from 5at5, and that continues to be terrible. Why not subscribe so you’ll get all the future ones when they eventually appear?

Corporate Largesse

  • The AISA conference obviously included plenty of free food and drink.
  • My travel and accommodation for that Melbourne trip was covered by Tanium.
  • Michael McKinnon, social media and security awareness director with AVG Technologies AU Pty Ltd, was generous with the hospitality too.

The Week Ahead

It’s another busy week ahead. On Monday, I’m dealing with administrative loose ends, and at 1600 AEDT being a guest for the recording of Mark Pesce’s podcast TWISTA – This Week in Startups Australia, before finally returning to the Blue Mountains some time on Tuesday.

On Tuesday Wednesday, I’m doing the shopping in Katoomba, and wrapping up starting on another episode of The 9pm Edict. But mostly, it’ll be spent writing for ZDNet.

Wednesday is a day off.

On Thursday, I’m writing for ZDNet, before heading into Sydney for the evening. Once there, I’ll complete the podcast, I’ll waste much of the day tying up idioti lcoose ends.

Friday starts extremely early, waking at 0230 to pack and catch the 0358 train to Sydney in time for my 0715 AEDT flight to Melbourne. The rest of the day will be spent catching up with various people, and doing some location scouting in a stupor of tiredness, before some sort of drinks and dinner thing with a few people.

Saturday and Sunday will be spent covering Ruxcon, another of Australia’s key information security conferences. This will include recording material for Corrupted Nerds as well as Future Tense.

Further Ahead

On Monday and Tuesday 26-27 October, I’ll still be in Melbourne doing various things. That includes a Monday night radio spot on ABC 774 Melbourne at 1930 AEDT.

Update 19 October 2015: Edited to reflect a change of plans. Update 20 October 2015: Edited to reflect further change to the plan. Update 25 October 2015: Edited once more to reflect continuing change.

[Photo: Lumpy Weather, photographed from seat 29A of VA830 on 13 October 2015.]

The Pozible crowdfunding campaign “Send Stilgherrian to Ruxcon 2015” has been successfully funded. See you in Melbourne next weekend.

16 October 2015 by Stilgherrian | No comments

Crossing the Nepean, with boats: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 5 to Sunday 11 October 2015 was a strange pause, a transition between weeks of pain and discomfort, and what appear to be some very busy weeks indeed.

I shall let the facts speak for themselves…


  • “The 9pm We Are Above All That Stuff”, being The 9pm Edict episode 51, 11 October 2015. The first half-hour of this was actually recorded a week ago.


None, but research is under way for a ZDNet column to be published early on Monday.

Media Appearances


There were no editions of 5at5 at all this week either, and that’s terrible. Why not subscribe so you’ll get all the future ones?

Corporate Largesse

  • On Friday, I went to a briefing by Alcatel-Lucent over lunch at Gowings Bar and Grill.
  • The travel and accommodation you’ll see listed for next week is being covered by Tanium.

The Week Ahead

The last few weeks have been rather unstructured. Not so the week ahead. It’s both busy and tightly scheduled.

On Monday, I’ll finish a column for ZDNet, deal with an errand to Penrith, conduct some audio equipment tests, and prepare myself for the rest of the week.

On Tuesday, I catch the 0636 train to Sydney, and then VA830 to Melbourne, sneaking in a quick work session at Meanjin in the afternoon, before a reception kicks off the Australian Information Security Association (AISA) National Conference. I’m covering that event for ZDNet, as well as recording material for my own Corrupted Nerds podcast, through until Thursday.

On Thursday evening, I’ll be wrapping up the Pozible campaign Send Stilgherrian To Ruxcon 2015, which closes at 2230 AEDT. As I write this, it stands at 34% funded.

On Friday, I’ll be writing for ZDNet before flying back to Sydney on VA879 that evening. Whether I continue through to the Blue Mountains, or stay in Sydney overnight, has yet to be decided.

Further Ahead

On Monday 19 October, I’m wrapping up another episode of The 9pm Edict, as well as appearing on Mark Pesce’s podcast TWISTA – This Week in Startups Australia. The middle part of the week has yet to be mapped out, but if things go to plan, on Friday I’ll be heading back to Melbourne for Ruxcon.

[Photo: Crossing the Nepean, with boats, photographed on 9 October 2015.]

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