Talking SIM cards, spooks and hacks on 1395 FIVEaa

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.

Talking SIM cards, spooks and hacks on 2UE

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.

Talking SIM cards, spooks and hacks on The World Today

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.

Talking #optuswrongtime on ABC Gold Coast

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.

Talking #optuswrongtime on ABC Radio’s “AM”

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.

Finalist in the Optus IT Journalism Awards

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.]