optus

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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.

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.

Lizzies logoI am somewhat pleased to be a finalist in two categories of the Optus IT Journalism Awards, often called “The Lizzies” because the awards take the form of a lizard — or at least they used to.

Mind you, I’m not all that hopeful of winning.

In the category “Best Columnist”, I’m up against the redoubtable David Braue, who’s won before — as well as Adam Turner, Alex Kidman, Angus Kidman, Ashton Mills, Brett Winterford, John Davidson, Josh Taylor and Luke Hopewell.

My entry had to include four written pieces, so I chose these, all from my ZDNet Australia column, The Full Tilt:

And in the category “Best Audio Program”, my podcast Corrupted Nerds is up against Marc Fennell’s Download This Show, which won last year, and Patrick Gray’s Risky Business, which has won several times before that — as well as ABC Radio National’s Future Tense, Gadget Grill, Naked Geeks, Tech Daily with Andy Wells, and Technology Tuesday with Angus Kidman (which I’ve had to link to with a Google search because there doesn’t seem to be a separate feed for it).

My entry had to include one episode, so I chose Conversations 4: Will the cloud run out of steam?

Click through for the full list of finalists. The winners will be announced at a booze-addled event next Friday night, 9 May 2014.

[Update 11 May 2014: I didn’t win either of these categories. As expected, Marc Fennell’s Download This Show won Best Audio Program, and ZDNet Australia senior journalist Josh Taylor won best columnist. I’ll post the full list of winners once the official version becomes available, but until then here’s Angus Kidman’s unofficial list.]

Changing alphabets: click to embiggenMy week Monday 29 April to Sunday 5 May 2013 began gently, with planning and washing and other chores, and just two articles to write. But by Wednesday night I’d also done four radio spots, washed an infinite number of towels, and eaten most of a sheep.

Or so it felt.

Then Thursday was full of the Optus Vision 2013 conference, followed by a late train journey back to the Blue Mountains. It was tough to get into work mode on Friday, but I did, and wrote my second article. And washed more towels. And then on Saturday I did the full sloth.

But the most important part of the week, at least in the long term, was all the time I spent from Friday onwards thinking about the unexpected good news I mentioned last week. It means that I’ll soon be able to work on some projects that have been sitting on the back burner, and you’ll start to see them emerging over the next few weeks.

Articles

Both of these articles resulted from this week’s Privacy Awareness Week activities.

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

  • On Thursday I attended Optus Vision 2013, which meant I was fed food and drink through the day at their expense.

The Week Ahead

I plan to write a story each for Technology Spectator, CSO Online and ZDNet, at the very least, as well as kick off one or more of these new projects. Stay tuned.

It’s my birthday on Thursday, but I’ll just have a quiet drink that night. I’ll head to Sydney on Friday instead and have a proper birthday dinner then, thanks to the Snarky Platypus. I’ll then stay overnight before catching United Airlines flight UA870 to San Francisco on Saturday afternoon, arriving there on Saturday morning.

Saturday night and Sunday day should be free time in San Francisco before, I’m guessing, a social function on Sunday evening serves as prelude to NetSuite’s SuiteWorld. The event proper starts on Monday in San Jose.

[Photo: Changing alphabets, a photograph taken at Optus Vision 2013 once the staffing level of the registration desk had been reduced during the afternoon, and then the desks themselves removed.]

Last week the High Court of Australia denied Optus leave to appeal the Optus TV Now decision, which means their “video recorder in the cloud” service isn’t legal — and that was the topic for my spot on Phil Dobbie’s Balls Radio this week.

The conversation bounced off the analysis I’d written the day before for Technology Spectator, TV Now’s cloud complications.

As usual, the conversation wandered to other matters as well, such as the early broadcast radio industry selling receivers that could only receive one station.

Here’s the audio of my segment. If you’d like more, Mr Dobbie has posted the full episode.

You can hear us talk live every Tuesday night from 7pm AEST on Sydney’s FM 99.3 Northside Radio.

I’m fairly sure that copyright remains with Mr Dobbie rather than being transferred to Northside Radio, but I’ll figure that out later.

My week from Monday 21 to Sunday 27 May 2012 saw me return to my usual writing levels — despite continuing pain from my shoulder and a lingering cold which, as I write this, threatens to turn into bronchitis. It’s been rather cold and windy here at Wentworth Falls.

Sadly that meant I didn’t make it to the planned paintball session with Eugene Kaspersky on Wednesday night. It seems that I’m fated not to spend any quality time with Mr K on this Australian trip. I daresay I’ll catch up with him another time. Is that a hint? Der. Of course.

Podcasts

  • Patch Monday episode 139, “War talk dominates AusCERT 2012″, the first of two episodes based on material recorded at the information security conference. The overall theme is that infosec is becoming militarised. We no longer talk about “information assurance” but “defensive cyber operations”. Click through for the full list of speakers.

Articles

There’s one more long story emerging from ideas presented at AusCERT 2012 that was filed late Friday. It will appear tomorrow morning at ZDNet Australia.

Media Appearances

None. Which makes up for last week’s heavy media load.

Corporate Largesse

  • On Thursday I went to a media briefing by Optus Business at Australian Technology Park. They provided lunch, and afterwards a couple of coffees. They also gave me an autographed copy of Peter Hinssen’s book The New Normal: Explore the limits of the digital world. No, me neither.

The Week Ahead

It looks like the coming week will be significantly less intense for me, with a more gentle workload and, with luck, better health.

The only fixed-schedule items will take place during an overnight trip to Sydney on Wednesday. That evening there’s a Sydney Talks seminar entitled It Won’t Happen to Me: Cybercrime Myths and Concepts at the University of New South Wales. (Does anyone want to join me?) Then on Thursday morning Samsung is launching… well, they won’t tell me what, but I suspect it’s their new Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone.

I may well be in Sydney on the weekend too, because Bunjaree Cottages is full up both for that weekend and the following Queen’s Birthday long weekend. Stand by.

Elsewhere

Most of my day-to-day observations are on my high-volume Twitter stream, and random photos and other observations turn up on my Posterous stream (or they used to before my phone camera got a bit too scratched up) and via Instagram. The photos also appear on Flickr, where I eventually add geolocation data and tags. Yes, I should probably update this stock paragraph to match the current reality.

[Photo: A young Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus funereus) swoops low overhead at Bunjaree Cottages near Wentworth Falls.]

In February the Federal Court ruled that Optus TV Now, which recorded free-to-air TV on behalf of customers for more convenient playback later, was legitimate personal timeshifting as allowed under section 111 of the Copyright Act 1968. Yesterday the Full Federal Court overturned that decision.

This case has interesting implications. Originally, Justice Steve Rares said, effectively, that someone using a recorder-in-the cloud was still making a personal copy for domestic purposes. The fact that they’re using a recording device that’s provided as a service rather than sitting on the shelf under their television is irrelevant. The Full Court is saying, effectively, that the cloud provider is complicity in the action, which means it’s no longer personal, and in some cases may even be the sole actor.

This interpretation could have massive implications for providers of other cloud services. Could they be found to be copying data that they’re not entitled to? I’m no lawyer, so don’t ask me. But I can at least see that the law is having to deal with situations that are very different from the circumstances imagined when it was written.

Paragraph 100 of the Full Court’s decisions does say:

We should emphasise that our concerns here have been limited to the particular service provider-subscriber relationship of Optus and its subscribers to the TV Now Service and to the nature and operation of the particular technology used to provide the service in question. We accept that different relationships and differing technologies may well yield different conclusions to the “who makes the copy” question.

Will this decision be appealed? You bet.

Last night I spoke about the decision and its implications with Dom Knight on ABC Local Radio nationally — well, except for the analog transmitters that were broadcasting the cricket. I also spoke about the material I presented yesterday at DigitalMe in Perth.

[Update: I just noticed that there’s a couple of little audio gaps. I was recording off the stream, y’see. I’ll fix them later.]

Personally, I stand by what I said in the opinion piece I wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald in February: Sport has to think outside the box.

If you’re in Perth today, the DigitalFamily event starts at 1000 local time at Northbridge Piazza. It’s free.

The audio is of course ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, but as usual I’m posting it here as an archive.

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