Issue 555

Tuesday, 16th January 2018

In This Issue


Attorney General's office plans to introduce new anti-encryption laws soon

It's only 16 days into 2018 and the Australian federal government is back on their bullshit regarding encryption. Last year, before Senator Brandis was ditched as Attorney General (Christian Porter is the new AG), he was following the UK & USA's "encryption is bad" playbook, and joining law enforcement in saying that due to easy to use, strong encryption, predominately on smartphones, Australia's safety is at risk because it's too hard for police to get into confiscated devices. Anyways, the AG's office said that "legislation to enable Australian law enforcement and security agencies to adapt to the challenges posed by ubiquitous encryption is in an advanced stage of development". How the government manages to screw this up will be exciting and innovative.

The price of Bitcoin was manipulated by two bots run by one person

A new paper titled "Price Manipulation in the Bitcoin Ecosystem" claims that "a single actor likely drove the USD/BTC exchange rate from $150 to $1000 in 2 months". Someone made two bots (Willy & Markus) that did fake trades on Mt. Gox, that got them real Bitcoin and due to the large volume of these fake trades, boosted the price of Bitcoin, which then got other people on-board with their real Bitcoin - a tidy little cycle that Mt. Gox turned a blind eye to as they were making heaps of money on all those trades. This all happened back in 2013, but I doubt things are much better in the fast paced world of cryptocurrencies now. Here's a link to the full paper if you're keen (pay for it, or get it via our friend Scihub)

Canadian who lead industrial spam effort against Twitch gets a criminal charge

Brandan Lukus Apple used a service called ChatSurge to flood over 1,000 Twitch channels with 150,000 messages last year, because he's a ratbag. Twitch wanted this bullshit gone so they got a court order to reveal the IP address used to do the spamming which resulted in a civil court order forcing him to never log in to Twitch ever again. But Brandan has also been slapped with a criminal charge by the police, of "mischief in relation to computer data" - basically a criminal charge being a dickhead online. Does Australia have a law like this? I'm asking for a friend..

Hospital tests contraceptive app, finds it fails 5.5% of time

The Natural Cycles app is designed as a way for women work out when it's "safe" to have unprotected sex. It scanned the woman's body temp, chucked it in an algorithm and spat out when it's ok to get busy. Sounds pretty useful, right? 500,000 women thought so too! A Stockholm hospital has reported it to the Swedish government body that regulates medical devices because in a study of 668 women it conducted, 37 became pregnant - a 5.5% "failure" rate. But according to the CDC, that's actually pretty good in the scheme of things, so I don't know why this app is getting smeared for this study's results.

EV lobbyists want govt to do something & govt responds with enthusiasm for new EV taxes

The Electric Vehicle Council of Australia is in the news, begging the government to do something to encourage the take-up of electric cars in Australia. A few concepts floated by the EVCA are "exemptions to vehicle registration and stamp duty, as well as fringe benefit and luxury car taxes". Meanwhile, the government is still persisting with finding a way to make EV users pay some sort of tax to recoup what they'd otherwise pay in fuel excise. No other country does this. Fully Charged uploaded a great video explaining barriers to EV adoption that shows just how far behind Australia is.

Not News, But Still Cool

Various ransomware strains can now be decrypted for free

If you've got a device that's succumbed to a cryptolocker, or know someone who does, there's a chance it can be unencrypted without paying the ransom. The No More Ransom initative, started by the Dutch Police, Europol, Kaspersky and McAfee has expanded recently to allow the unlocking of data impacted by the Lambdalocker, Nemucodaes, Macransom, Jaff, Encryptile, Amnesia, Amnesia 2, Mole, BTCWare, Cry128, Cry9 and Crypton cryptolockers. You just upload a file that's been encrypted to their website and they'll detect what sort of ransomware it is and if it's one of the ones they managed to crack, will provide you with the key to unlock the rest of your data.

Tesla Autopilot vs. GM SuperCruise self-driving systems

Alex Roy has taken a Model S with the latest version of Tesla's Autopilot and compared its self-driving features to a Cadillac CT6 featuring GM's SuperCruise. You might be surprised to learn that Tesla, for all the hype and Silicon Valley innovation, isn't necessarily the leader when it comes to self-driving cars. In Alex's detailed comparison, GM's SuperCruise was arguably superior, in that it's more advanced driver monitoring system (a system to make sure you're looking at the road) actually allows you to keep your hands off the wheel, unlike Tesla. SuperCruise also had fewer disengagements and was more obvious to know when it's enabled.

20% off tech on eBay sale has begun - PCTECH is the code

The eBay sale I mentioned yesterday has begun and there's some good stuff. Use the code PCTECH to get the 20% discount.

This is just what's been posted on OzBargain. I'll send through a list of the really good gear later tonight/tomorrow morning.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!