Issue 590

Monday, 5th March 2018

In This Issue


AUSTRAC playing around with smart contracts on the blockchain to fight financial crime

Blockchain technology might actually be useful for something! AUSTRAC, a government agency "set up to monitor financial transactions to identify money laundering, organised crime, tax evasion, welfare fraud and terrorism" reckons it can use the blockchain and smart contracts to automate international funds transfer instructions (every time cash is sent overseas) and threshold transaction reports (every time someone moves more than $10k around). AUSTRAC knows this could be done without the buzzwords, but it keen on the blockchain due to its "anti-tampering" features. It's gonna do a small proof of concept system for now, I look forward to hearing how it went and what the system looks like in practice.

NSW government departments fail at cyber security basics

The NSW auditor-general took a look at 10 government departments cyber security capabilities and all the departments sucked at handling any sort of hack or even a hack attempt. According to the report, all these departments should have "strong detection and response capability as they are collectively responsible for personal data, critical infrastructure, financial information and intellectual property", but only two had the bare minimum "monitoring firewall logs, server logs, web filtering and anti-virus software, and alerts and reports from IT service providers". The rest weren't even doing that and I am 100% not surprised.

Github hit with the biggest ever DDoS attack

Github just sustained the largest DDoS attack recorded to date. 1.35 terabit/sec (that's 168 gigabytes/sec!) of garbage data was thrown at GitHub for 10 minutes until Akamai's Prolexic service took over and managed to sort out the legit and malicious packets. A few minutes later, the attackers gave up and the DDos attack subsided. This huge stream of data was apparently from "memcached" servers that are designed to act as high speed caches for databases and web servers. Naughty people scope out the internet for public facing memcached servers, send a dodgy packet to them pretending to be from the server they wish to attack and boom, a flood of data hits a website, taking it offline unless they're kitted out like Github with solid DDos protection (which isn't cheap). Cloudflare has more info on how memcached servers end up as pawns in a DDoS attack.

1200 newsagents across AU are buying and selling Bitcoin now

1200 newsagents across Australia have a new way to make money - acting as physical outlets to buy and sell Bitcoin & Ethereum thanks to a partnership between Bitcoin Australia and Blueshyft. You go online, make an "order" for your Bitcoin, then take the QR code to a newsagent and deposit the cash. The newsagents are hoping that by bringing people into their store to trade cryptocurrency, they might buy some ciggies or a bottle of water or whatever it is newsagents sell now. There's never been an easier way to blow your life savings on digital magic beans!

Amazon stops selling Google/Nest hardware now that they're competitors

Amazon's stopped selling Google's Nest products. Big deal right? Can't even buy this stuff from Amazon in Australia anyways! Well, read between the lines here - Nest is a competitor to Amazon, now that Amazon owns the Ring doorbell and Blink camera businesses. Amazon also happens to be the most popular online store. Google can't sell their stuff on the world's most popular online store now, because it's a competitor with that store, in a totally unrelated field. It makes sense as to why Amazon would do this, why give your competitor any sort of help? But is that fair? Is it even legal? Smells like Amazon abusing its market power to me.

Not News, But Still Cool

Why can an idiot like me spot fake news within 30 sec, but Google & Facebook can't?

This Buzzfeed article by Charlie Warzel asks "Why Can Everyone Spot Fake News But YouTube, Facebook And Google?" - a bloody good question. How can all the geniuses at these companies, with the deepest pockets on Earth, who repeatedly claim to value truth and quality not have a solution to this? The article doesn't get to a definitive answer, but my personal opinion is that they genuinely don't want to be involved with the complicated, hard to understand soft bits of humanity that their technology is now part of. I don't blame them for not wanting to handle it, but that's the consequence of their creation and they have to deal with it now.

This "startup" primary school is a buzzword packed jerk factory

I feel sorry for the kids at Lumineer Academy in the Melbourne suburb of Williamstown. Not so much because it's a primary school that acts as if it's a startup incubator, but because the adults in their life have lost the goddamn plot. The kids are taught to approach projects like they're at a hackathon, delivering MVPs (minimum viable products), creating pitch-decks and all that bullshit. Like one critic in the article explains, Lumineer Academy is just applying buzzwords to traditional education techniques. What I find grotesque is that there's parents who saw this school, saw the buzzwordy startup bullshit and thought "I want my child to be fully immersed in that". Can you imagine how insufferable those adults would be?

Loads of cheap Apple gear at Myer's eBay store

Myer has 15% off all their tech items. Nothing particularly cheap, but 15% off RRP on Apple gear is damn excellent from an AU retailer with proper ACL warranty. Use the code PMYERTECH!

If you're after anything that I haven't picked out, here's a list of all the Apple gear Myer sell.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Smashing Pumpkins - Tales of a Scorched Earth