Talking The Code and smart cars on ABC 774 Melbourne

Screenshot from The Code series 2ABC logoI haven’t made a big deal of being technology consultant for the new series of the ABC TV drama The Code — at least not here — but we decided to talk about that on ABC 774 Melbourne on Thursday night.

The conversation with Casey Bennetto also included some of the recent news about self-driving and smart cars — and, for some reason, the Twitter account Florida Man. Amongst other things.

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This audio is ©2016 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

[Photo: Jan Roth (Anthony LaPaglia) and Jesse Banks (Ashley Zukerman) in The Code series 2. Photo courtesy ABC TV.]

Weekly Wrap 298: Loving* the fatigue, and an observation

Federation Reflections: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 15 to Sunday 21 February 2016 was full of fatigue as I began the multi-month process of changing management plans to deal with a different dog.

A certain new medication is great fun (not). It even comes with such a lovely (not) list of potential side effects, some of which cause what might accurately be called occasional death, that the transition process lasts two or three months.

The fatigue and disrupted sleep patterns that made this week almost completely non-productive were within the expected range of problems, however. The coming week is likely to be much the same, which is one reason why the plan listed below is just an unscheduled list.

One brief observation from recent weeks: I’ve had so much experience in the broadcast media, and I’m so comfortable with it, that doing radio and TV spots don’t feel like work. Neither do podcasts, of course. I should perhaps shift my focus to doing more of that. Assuming people would pay for it occasionally.

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

None.

The Week Ahead

I’m keeping the coming week flexible, not just for the medical reasons listed above, but also because I’ll only be able to make some of the finer-grained arrangements on Monday.

However the week is likely to include writing for ZDNet, work on several geek-for-hire projects, more bookkeeping related to my outstanding income tax returns, and the production of an episode of The 9pm Edict podcast.

There will also be a trip down to Sydney at some point, because I have to collect a package, but I’ll schedule that around any work appointments which might arise.

Further Ahead

Subsequent weeks will have more structure.

I’ll be returning to Melbourne on Monday 29 February to cover the APIdays conference on 1-2 March, returning to Sydney on Thursday 3 March.

I’ll be in Canberra on Tuesday 8 March for the Australian Internet Industry Association (AIIA) Navigating Privacy and Security Summit. Then if all goes to plan, the rest of the week will be spent in Melbourne at Cisco LIVE!. Then on Sunday I’ll be back in the Blue Mountains for Tech Leaders.

[Photo: Federation Reflections. The eastern side of Deakin Edge at Melbourne’s Federation Square, photographed on 11 February 2016. Which was last week.]

Weekly Wrap 297: Melbourne, with yabby and fatigue

Yabby House: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 8 to Sunday 14 February 2016 is well gone now. It mostly went to plan, except for me being somewhat more tired than I’d hoped — which let me to skip most of the social events.

I’ll tell you more in the next Weekly Wrap. For now, just the facts…

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

  • Pause Fest paid for my flights to Melbourne and one night of hotel accommodation, as well as some food and drink. This doesn’t really count as largesse, though, because I was speaking at their event, and I wasn’t paid for that.

[Photo: Yabby House. I’d never expected to find an eating house named after Australia’s freshwater crustacean, but I found one in Melbourne on 10 February 2016.]

Talking the cybers on ABC TV’s Lateline

Screenshot of Stilgherrian on Lateline: click for video and transcriptIt was my very great pleasure to talk about hacking and the impending security disaster that is the Internet of Things (IoT) on ABC TV’s Lateline last night — and don’t I look concerned.

Also joining the program was security researcher Runa Sandvik, who got plenty of media recently for hacking a smart sniper rifle.

I won’t go into too many details here, because you can see the video and transcript at the Lateline website. For the next month or so, you can also watch it in HD on iView.

However, this exchange surprised me:

STILGHERRIAN: … Scarier though is what’s happening with smart TVs. There are millions of those around the world. They’re networked, so you can watch clips from YouTube or whatever on them or Netflix or any of the streaming services, and yet I’ve seen a young hacker from South Korea not only hack a smart TV, hack it in 10 different ways and set it up so that the camera and microphone in the TV are streaming live video and sound out to the internet while the television looks like it’s turned off. These are televisions that are being installed over the last few years and more in the future in hotel bedrooms, classrooms, corporate boardrooms. So they’re kind of like an always-on surveillance device.

JOHN BARRON: I guess, Runa, the question then occurs: well, who would want to do this? Who would want to hack into somebody’s TV set in suburban Australia or the United States? The answer would probably be: well, nobody. But why would somebody want to do this?

RUNA SANDVIK: There’s a mix. There’s definitely people that are doing this for sort of evil purposes, if you will, or to make money, and there are people that do it just because they can, because it’s there, it’s a possibility, it’s not as secure as it should be and they do it just to show that they can.

Personally, I’d have thought that the security risks of peering into people’s homes would have been obvious, but the questions moved on before I could point out the attraction to both pilferers and perverts.

Anyway, you can also read my thoughts on this in my December 2014 column, All aboard the internet of things infosec hype train, and its January 2014 predecessor, Our hackers, who art in open source, deliver us from refrigerators.

Talking internet trolls on ABC TV Lateline

Screenshot of Stilgherrian on Lateline: click for video and transcriptLast week Collective Shout activist and campaigns manager Caitlin Roper told her story of the horrific misogynist abuse she’d received online, and what can most politely be called a disappointing response from the police.

I reluctantly went to the police station, already knowing that threats against women online are not regarded as a priority. “Why don’t you just close down your account?” asked the officer taking my statement.

I explained how I used Twitter in the course of my work for a non-profit organisation. She pressed further — “but why do you need to use it?” — as if it was somehow unreasonable for me to believe I had as much right as anyone to access social media without threats

Another colleague went to the police after one man described how he intended to mutilate her body and dissolve it in acid. The police officer suggested that the internet was “not a very nice place”, and maybe she should stay off it.

Last night, ABC TV’s Lateline did a follow-up story, the reported being John Stewart, and I provided a few comments.

It’s interesting that the one piece they used was about the internet putting everyone right next to everyone else:

It’s simply that within the past people were in communities, that were mostly made up of people like them or people they grew up with. If there was a violent part of town or a red-light district or whatever it might be, and you didn’t want to go there or you didn’t want to know about it, well you just didn’t go there. The problem is now on the internet all of that is right next to you as well and people are shocked by this. They’re suddenly discovering that there are people not like them. They have different attitudes to women, different attitudes to acceptable language, to religion, to class, to sporting teams, to clothing as we’ve seen in the media lately. Everything.

I also said that thanks to the internet, we are now building a global society, and yet policing is organised on a regional or even local basis.

While these women, and so many others, have experienced appalling abuse, in most cases there’s no credible threat. Even if the police cranked up the mechanisms of transnational police cooperation, there’d be little chance of a prosecution leading to a conviction. Their lack of follow-up reflects that unfortunate reality, as well as many police officers’ unfamiliarity with online life.

I daresay I’ll have further thoughts in this, because this story certainly isn’t going away.

Yes, I know they spelt my name wrong. Yes, I know they said “social media commentator”.