The Sizzle

Issue 42 - Tuesday 1st December, 2015 - I'm Paying Money


NSA not "allowed" to store phone records of all American citizens
All that naughty eavesdropping the NSA conducted on its own citizens? Gone. 100% stopped. Congress told them not to do it, so the NSA isn't gonna indiscriminately harvest all your metadata any longer. hahahahahahahahahaha yeah right, believe that shit and you're a fucking moron. The NSA spying machine was created and encouraged despite already existing laws to prevent it. What makes you think the cessation of a law that narrowly allowed it dying, or new laws saying not to, will actually stop them? Shit thing is, we will never know unless there's more transparency and organisations like the NSA are literally the antithesis of transparent and the definition of clandestine. Sure, they might not be able to use this evidence in a court, but they'll still use it against people, quietly, to assist them to get acceptable evidence. Shit's fucked.

BlackBerry will stop its Pakistan operations December 30 because the Pakistan government can't mind their own business
In July, the Pakistani government demanded BlackBerry to give it the ability to log in to Blackberry's Enterprise servers, so it can monitor user activity. For those not familiar with BlackBerry messaging, this is the equivalent of a government asking Apple for access to iMessage, so it can see what everyone on an iPhone is sending back and forth amongst it's citizens. BlackBerry told Pakistan to get stuffed and as a result, the government wants BlackBerry to shut down it's Pakistani operations by December 30th. Good on BlackBerry for deciding to take the hit on profits from the Pakistan market and choosing the moral high ground instead. Though to be fair, if it got out BlackBerry was giving Pakistan access, it would erode what little trust BlackBerry has left in the west anyways.

Brands want in on the emoji action
As emoji's have grown in cultural cachet since Apple and Google asked the Unicode consortium to include more emoji in Unicode 6.0, the process to get new emoji added to the Unicode standard is more important than ever and not surprisingly, ~*brands*~ are jostling to get in on the action. Nestle, owners of the Kit Kat brand have decided to launch a petition (don't you fucken dare sign that petition) to get a pictograph of a delicious Kit Kat chocolate coated wafer finger snapped in half, into the next unicode update. Taco Bell succeeded at getting a taco emoji into Unicode 8.0 and Durex wants a condom emoji too. A rubber emoji and a popular generic foodstuff I can understand, but a Kit Kat is taking it too far, regardless of how tasty it is.

Lots of rich people (mostly men), led by Bill Gates want to invest in renewable energy
Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, George Soros, Meg Whitman, Ratan Tata (chairman of Tata, a huge outsourcing company), Marc Benioff (the founder of Salesforce), Hasso Plattner (the co-founder of SAP), Jack Ma (head honcho over at Alibaba) and about a dozen other heavy hitters with incredibly deep pockets are going to invest billions in a clean energy research fund called the Breakthrough Energy Coalition. Bill Gates writes about the aim of the group, but basically it's a fund to support new renewable energy tech that can help developing nations in particular, reduce their dependence on fossil fuels for economic growth and a path out of poverty. Oh and make these investors some nice profits along the way. Impressive group of people, let's see how their investments go over the next 5-10 years.

The Australian government's database of info on its citizens continues to grow thanks to the ATO
If you've ever had to call the ATO, you might be familiar with it's voice print system. Instead of a PIN or a password to authenticate who you are to the ATO, they take a sample of your voice which can be used to determine who you are. The ATO are now expanding voice print technology out to more people and to a smartphone app. Sounds innocuous until you realise the ATO, one of the prime government bodies, will have a database of 1.3 million Australian citizen's voices. In addition to all the metadata telcos are required to keep and all the info Centrelink, Medicare and VicRoads knows about you. Not only that, but the voice print tech kinda sucks and is easily fooled. Ahh government, the most incompetent users of IT going around.


I can't pay attention to stuff because of the Internet
I'm pretty sure my brain is fried. My attention span is pretty horrible compared to when I was a teenager. Just like the author of this opinion piece in the New York Times, I used to be a big reader, of like, novels, with lots of words and pages. Shit, even when writing this paragraph, I was distracted by an email from McDonalds about their new LOADED FRIES and *had* to share it on Twitter. The consumption loop has it's teeth sunk into me in a big bad way. This guy got over it (slightly) by getting his daughter to remove email access on his phone whilst he was on holiday, which worked for him as he's too technologically illiterate to add his own email details back onto his phone. The concept seems sound though - gradually wean yourself off rather than going cold turkey.

TV stations are finally getting their live broadcasts on to the Internet
ABC iView now has live streaming of the main ABC1 channel, along with ABC News 24 up on YouTube. Cool, I guess it's nice to have that sort of thing available to you, so when something goes down on Twitter and you're like, "eh, can't be fucked going to the living room to turn the TV on, but I do wanna watch this thing". Seven has the same thing in their smartphone apps and Nine will get around to it eventually. Why all the networks don't just pipe all their channels into YouTube in 1080p HD (which costs them NOTHING) and geoblock it to AU, is beyond me. Maybe it's some sort of rights thing with the content they show, I dunno.

The other side of a large corporate hack - the corporation has feelings
Sony was hacked in a legendary fashion around this time last year. The leaks about celebrities came dripping out to all our amusement. But internally at Sony, shit was bad. People were depressed that their dirty laundry was aired so publicly. Their entire IT infrastructure was destroyed and had to be rebuilt from the ground up. Things like writing contracts for movie deals, or knowing people's job titles and how much they're supposed to be paid were all gone. Even the phones didn't work, so people had to meet face to face to communicate about trivial things. The story of how Sony reacted internally during that massive hack and how the entertainment industry as a whole has little to no idea about infosec is a terrific read.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Like The Sizzle? Convert your free trial into a paid subscription now and never miss an issue! Already a subscriber? Thanks for being awesome.