Hacktivism

Hacktivism (a portmanteau of hack and activism) is the subversive use of computers and computer networks to promote a political agenda or a social change. Its ends are often related to the free speech, human rights and freedom of information movements.

Opinions differ as some people believe hacktivism is a growing force and will become more active and take on bigger challenges. But, others believe it is a spent force and will die away slowly over the coming years.

Mr. Robot

“Mr. Robot” is a TV series that tells the story of hacker Elliot Alderson  and his role in an anarchist collective called “fsociety,” whose followers wear masks that resemble “Rich Uncle Pennybags” from the Monopoly board game. Mr Robot is now making its fourth series.

The series was inspired by a notorious computer hacker named H who has gone from trying to bring down the authorities — to working for them.

As a key member of the hacking group known as Anonymous and a founder of its elite “LulzSec” unit, Hector Monsegur helped launch cyber attacks on government and corporate targets including the US Senate, the FBI and major credit-card companies.

But when he was arrested in 2011, Monsegur — known online as “Sabu” — began secretly cooperating with an investigation that led to a wave of arrests across the US, Great Britain and Ireland.

Today, Anonymous still goes by the motto it unveiled in 2009: “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”

Hector Monsegur

But Monsegur, 35, says society has little to fear from the online anarchists in Guy Fawkes masks as “Anonymous is irrelevant.  “All it is now is a figment of hipsters’ imagination.”

Monsegur pleaded guilty to seven felonies as part of his deal with prosecutors and spent nearly eight months in Lower Manhattan’s infamous Metropolitan Correctional Center before being sentenced to time served in 2014.

The following year, Monsegur, landed a job working remotely as a “white-hat hacker” for Seattle-based Rhino Security Labs, helping companies identify vulnerabilities in their computer systems.

He admits that in comparison to what he used to do before, it’s not the same kind of thrill.

The article at http://www.fightbackonline.org/index.php/guidance/12-explanations/108-is-hacktivism-a-force-for-good has more information on Hacktivism.

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GDPR Shutdown for Some American Companies

The start date for the General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR) was 25th May 2018 and almost all business and other organisations affected were well prepared.

But some went a little mad instead.

The GDPR rules are intended to give consumers more choice over how they are communicated with, better protection of data held by organisations and more openness in the communications.

But, dozens of websites shut down their activities completely, others insisted users agree to new terms of service, and everyone’s inboxes have been flooded with emails begging them to agree to stay on mailing lists.  Quite often the emails have been from companies we didn’t even know had our details.

Margot James, the digital minister said that businesses would now have to prove they had been given permission to use an individual’s information, including contact details.

“Except in certain, limited instances, organisations now must demonstrate they have our explicit consent to process our sensitive personal data. Generally, we’ve also given greater control to the British public over how their data is used. No doubt like me you’ll have received a flurry of emails in recent weeks from the organisations currently holding your data, and perhaps some you weren’t even aware did, asking for you to re-submit this consent.”

Many American companies have been unsure what to do and opted for simply closing their websites to European users.

  • Instapaper has blocked European users
  • me says European users cannot use its products
  • com is blocking European users
  • The Los Angeles Times
  • The New York Daily News
  • The Chicago Tribune

A little planning would have removed the need for such precipitate action, but hopefully they will open their doors to Europeans again soon.

Do you have an opinion on this matter? Please comment in the box below.

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Facebook Conversations Tested

The New Statesman Newspaper carried out an interesting experiment to test whether or not Facebook was listening in to people’s conversations.

Six staff members picked one or more subjects that are not part of their lives and which they had never searched for online or bought anything relevant to the subject etc.

Then they each read out a script (with their phone switched on) designed to point out these subjects in their lives and see if Facebook then started advertising relevant items to them.

The subjects were things such as a vegetarian chatting about her desire for Domino’s Meat Feast pizza.

The most interesting was a lady named Lizzie whose lines included “I just wish there was an app that would sort it all out for you… some kind of contraception app”. When she opened the Facebook app the following  morning, she was presented with an advert for Natural Cycles, the first app ever certified for contraception in Europe.

WOW.

However, there’s a psychological phenomenon called the Frequency Illusion (or the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon). It states that If you hear a new word or phrase for the first time and consciously have a conversation about it, finding out what it means, suddenly, for the next few days, you’ll see it constantly.

If someone says to you ‘when was the last time you saw a yellow car?’ you’ll see three in the next two hours.

For the other five people in the experiment (including the vegetarian), Facebook did not show anything even vaguely relevant to the subject’s spoken about. It’s just a statistical effect that some people will experience Facebook offering relevant and unexpected adverts at times that can seem spookily accurate.

Facebook are very clear that they do not listen in to conversations.

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Australian Fake Kidnappings

This fake kidnapping ploy started in Taiwan with Chinese gangs preying on Taiwanese students and the gangs involved have recently started up in Australia, targeting overseas students.

The parents of the ‘kidnaped’ student get a call saying their son or daughter has been kidnapped and the kidnappers seem to know about the student, thereby convincing the parents who then try to find the money to pay the ransom.

Their attempts to contact their son or daughter fail.

What has happened is that the gangs started by targeting overseas students (especially Chinese students) where the parents will have trouble travelling to the University.

They learned what they could about their targets initially then contacted the targets – claiming to be the authorities, telling them their life is in danger and they could be deported or imprisoned.

They learn more about the target so as to be able to convince the parents and they warn the target not to contact anyone or talk with anyone and to ignore phone calls, emails etc. as these could be false.

This is a nasty business as the parents will be terrified and pay a ransom and the target will be terrified to talk to anyone and in fear of prosecution.

The official advice is that anyone who receives such threatening calls they should contact the authorities immediately and certainly not just pay a ransom.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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