China Social Credit

China’s Social Credit System

Something big was set in motion in China. It’s called the Social Credit System. It leverages the latest in technology in order to build something akin to a criminal record, except that it’s updated much more frequently (possibly even real-time in certain cases). It doesn’t only cover crime, but pretty much any action that the government can track, online and offline.

As we know, China has an extremely well-developed tracking & censorship apparatus. Through the Social Credit System, even minor social offenses such as jaywalking or smoking outside designated areas can be turned into punishments that can seriously affect one’s life. In the article below you can find a rather shocking video (well, not entirely shocking to me since I suspected this was coming) about the country’s highly developed video surveillance system.

The Spectre of Meltdown

The Spectre of Meltdown

Security vulnerabilities are a dime a dozen now-a-days. But, when a couple of months ago we learned about Spectre and Meltdown, it finally started to dawn on people just how insecure all our “high tech” really is. We’re using hole-ridden, bug-infested products.

I don’t know if the constant deluge of security exploits has resulted from the challenges that arise from working with highly complex technology or is caused by some sort of surveillance conspiracy. What’s certain is that this shows just how weak our technology is and how easily it can be overcome.

Smartphone Privacy

Why It’s Not Surprising That Smartphone Privacy Is Going from Bad to Worse

Throughout the past years there have been several high-profile occasions when apps were in the news for questionable tracking strategies. Even applications that do not use novel means of compromising our privacy are gobbling up increasing amounts of data while their creators cash in on the profits obtained from selling the user’s digital life to the highest bidder. At the receiving end of this deluge of spyware are we, the people.

Even for those of us that do read the list of permissions an app requests upon installation, it is hard to avoid installing certain apps because they come with other features that we need. It’s an old trick that is akin to the Trojan horse. This is how these dubious app creators get in our back yard: by offering something that is 90% useful and 10% spyware, but which must be accepted as a whole.

NSA Data Restoration Services

The NSA Goes Commercial with Data Restoration Service

During its first participation at the International Big Data Conference, the National Security Agency made a surprise announcement.

“We are in a fortunate position that allows us to uniquely compete with Amazon, Google, DropBox and other major cloud providers. Since we already have all our potential customers’ data, instead of charging for data storage like our competitors, our service will provide files and passwords restoration. Say you lose a beloved picture, or you forget some password. You just log in to the all-new NSA Data Restoration Portal and, for a moderate fee, you can recover any of your digital information”, declared Eddie Rainhouse, product manager for the NSA’s new Monetization Initiative that has been created within the Data Collection Services Division.

The news has already caused quite a stir in the cloud computing community. Private companies complain that they can’t compete with the NSA’s eleven billion dollars budget and glowing public reputation.

All Your Computers Are Belong To Us

All Your Computers Are Belong to Us

In recent years, Intel has moved towards integrating some pretty nifty remote administration features into its CPUs. While this may be a good idea for certain enterprises, it may quickly turn into a nightmare as soon as exploits and vulnerabilities are found.

Software has bugs. Hey, it happens, everybody makes mistakes. But in this case, the mistakes can’t be corrected in time (before an attacker exploits them). That’s because, in typical monopolist corporation fashion, Intel is obscuring the process by not allowing the security community to analyze whatever code the company decides to shove into our machines. The same argument stands true regarding any proprietary code, especially Microsoft’s Windows, which after 20 years of fixes is still the most vulnerable mainstream operating system.

Cyber Warfare And Hardware Attacks

Cyber-Warfare is Scary

When we read in the press about “hacking”, it’s mostly about software-based attacks. It may be about exploiting a vulnerability to reveal passwords or attacking an insecure computer.

Tiny hardware back-doors can be baked inside any integrated circuit. It’s not news that this is doable, but what is news is that it’s way too easy to achieve and almost impossible to detect. Even in the case of the highly advanced computer processors that are inside all our devices. Apparently it can be done by a single (well trained) person working inside the factory that manufactures the chip.