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Response to “National Security vs. Internet Privacy”

// Posted by on 02/21/2014 (4:49 PM)

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Hijacking Airplanes, from the Ground.

// Posted by on 04/18/2013 (7:37 AM)

A recent article published by CNN talks of the possibility of an IPhone app that is capable of hijacking an airplane. “A German security consultant, who’s also a commercial pilot, has demonstrated tools he says could be used to hijack… Read more

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A recent article published by CNN talks of the possibility of an IPhone app that is capable of hijacking an airplane. “A German security consultant, who’s also a commercial pilot, has demonstrated tools he says could be used to hijack an airplane remotely, using just an Android phone.” A speaker at the Hack in the Box summit spent 3 years creating an app that he says has the ability to take over control of an airplanes controls. This is a very frightening idea if one looks at it from a security standpoint.

The hacker Hugo Teso actually demonstrated through a flight simulator the power that this app can have over an airplane. “Teso showed off the ability to change the speed, altitude and direction of a virtual airplane by sending radio signals to its flight-management system. Current security systems don’t have strong enough authentication methods to make sure the commands are coming from a legitimate source, he said.” Never before has an app had this type of power, the power to remotely control a plane from your android phone seems crazy, but it is possible.

Thankfully Teso does not plan on using this app for evil and has “said at the summit that he’s reached out to the companies that make the systems he exploited and that they were receptive to addressing his concerns. He also said he’s contacted aviation safety officials in the United States and Europe.” This is welcome news to just about everyone in the world. The power to hijack an airplane is a scary thought and brings to question is technology getting to powerful?

While reading this article I couldn’t help but think thank god that this man made the app, not some deranged person out for vengeance. However, who is to say that next time it wont be someone with cruel intentions who makes an app capable of the same or equal terrorism and chaos. In my head I asked questions that I couldnt contemplate answers for, such as, When is technology going to become to powerful? Will it ever? And lastly if it does what will need to be done to stop it? Will it even be possible to stop such advanced technologies?

 


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How WikiLeaks Blew It

// Posted by on 02/25/2013 (8:45 PM)

This man, Julian Assange, has become the face of WikiLeaks. As the founder, he created the network of secrets and successfully leaked many sensitive documents. What he may not have realized at the time is that his image had… Read more

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This man, Julian Assange, has become the face of WikiLeaks. As the founder, he created the network of secrets and successfully leaked many sensitive documents. What he may not have realized at the time is that his image had a strong influence on people’s perception of the website. Assange’s anti-American attitude was revealed in his selections of leaks. A majority of the leaks were targeted at American government and organizations. WikiLeaks biggest mistake was adopting a clear political agenda. The WikiLeaks were directly based on Assange’s political views, meaning that his followers mostly ascribed to a certain belief system. The site didn’t start this way, but since 2010 it has progressed in this light. Assange’s personal affairs have contributed to a decreasing credibility from his followers. The US government is less willing to compromise and/or work with Assange, given his obvious anti-American feelings. The article which Assange promised to leak about Russia was never real eased, raising eyebrows about the documents actual existence. WikiLeaks also has a reputation for secrets of its own, mainly with associated mainstream media. The site is reported to have gone behind editors’ backs and take articles personally.

Assange’s “chamber of secrets” is in its collapse-mode, according to an article in Foreign Policy last August. The site has lost the reputation for supplying accurate and credible information to the public. The political agenda of the website also dissuades readers from taking the content at face value. Assange’s personal life also impacted the website. When Assange was accused of sexual assault, the organization was impacted because of the inherent connection between the creator and his product. The article I read takes the side that WikiLeaks will not make a comeback from its current situation. While I agree with the main points of the article, I believe that either at the end of the standoff in the Ecuadorean embassy or before then, a new leader/face of WikiLeaks will emerge. The world has a demand for secrets and inside information – so many people are yearning for that inside knowledge or a leak that could open a policy window for them. Somebody will continue this chamber of secrets, whether it is through WikiLeaks or not. The US government security has little external control over how these websites choose to expose information, but we can only hope that now the US systems are secure enough to keep hackers out of classified business. I’m not completely confident given the actions Anonymous is capable of.


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Safer to drive?

// Posted by on 02/17/2013 (10:20 PM)

Post 9/11 a lot changed about the airport security. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was set up to strengthen the security of transportation systems, which is evident in many airports where there was a large increase in security checks… Read more

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Post 9/11 a lot changed about the airport security. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was set up to strengthen the security of transportation systems, which is evident in many airports where there was a large increase in security checks before even going into the different gates. New technologies are used, for example instead of the metal detectors there are now the large scanners which make a full body scan of you in order to check if you do not have any metal on you. Also, before going into the airport attendants check your passport and picture, and nowadays they also often ask for your fingerprints.

Coming from Europe myself, it is always interesting coming into the United States from outside. One has to go to immigration where they take your fingerprints, take a picture with a webcam and ask question about your destination and aim of your trip. If they even think you are not serious and joking around, they might take you back into a small investigation room. In Europe people do not have to take off their shoes for security and they only make use of a metal detector and X-ray machine for hand luggage, there are attendants who ask you a few questions whether you packed your own luggage and if you did not receive anything from someone and then you go on to the gate.

So, do these security measures make us safer or is it too exaggerated? Also, why do security procedures differ per country, is there a different threat of terrorism?

An interesting point in an article in Businessweek was that airport security actually makes people less safe. Many Americans decide to drive for their family holidays instead of flying, this has increased after the security procedures increased post 9/11. Even though the procedures changed because of the fear of terrorist attacks, researchers showed that the chance that the death of an American citizen is because of a terrorist attack is 1 in 3.5 million. So, people did not want to go through the hassle of airport security however it does not even have to be such of an hassle as that the TSA made it.

Something to think about, are the technologies good enough to find all suspicious objects, like bomb(parts) and is the full body scan really better than the old school metal detector, or is it just slowing down the security checks?  Why do I, as European, have to give my fingerprints every time, is it not better to save all the information in a worldwide database?  What do you think?


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Internet: The Next World War?

// Posted by on 04/09/2012 (11:35 PM)

My May issue of Vanity Fair arrived in the mail today. While thumbing through the magazine, I stumbled upon an article titled World War 3.0. The article discussed the current question over who will control the internet. For a… Read more

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My May issue of Vanity Fair arrived in the mail today. While thumbing through the magazine, I stumbled upon an article titled World War 3.0. The article discussed the current question over who will control the internet. For a simple question, the answer is rather loaded. Interestingly enough, the article brought most of what has been discussed on this blog full circle.

The question over who will control the internet has come to the forefront of any debate regarding the internet. At the end of 2012, there will be a negotiation between 193 nations to revise a UN treaty pertaining to the Internet.

“The War for the Internet was inevitable—a time bomb built into its creation.”

There is no doubt that the question of control would eventually arise. However, it seems that no one is ready to answer it on a global scale now that the question has come knocking. The article clearly explains that the “Internet was established on a bedrock of trust: trust that people were who they said they were, and trust that information would be handled according to existing social and legal norms. That foundation of trust crumbled as the Internet expanded.” The issue of trust arises because of four crises regarding the internet: sovereignty, piracy and intellectual property, privacy and security. From PIPA to SOPA to Anonymous to MegaShare and WikiLeaks, the initial trust which the internet was founded on has begun to crumble.

Thus, the world of the internet lies in the midst of two polarized notions: Order v. Disorder and Control v. Chaos. The article explains that “the forces of Order want to superimpose existing, pre-digital power structures and their associated notions of privacy, intellectual property, security, and sovereignty onto the Internet. The forces of Disorder want to abandon those rickety old structures and let the will of the crowd create a new global culture, maybe even new kinds of virtual “countries.” At their most extreme, the forces of Disorder want an Internet with no rules at all.” What would the Internet be like with no rules at all? Would it function? Would the users of the Internet truly be able to self-govern? Could the entire Internet run like Wikipedia, where every contributor checks and ultimately balances every other contributor? Or is such a notion idealistic?

When thinking about the Internet and thus, control over the internet, why the internet was created must also be address. The Internet was intended to deal with a military problem, it was not intended to does what it does today. Vint Cerf a “father of the Internet” and the “Internet Evangelist” (his actual title at Google) along with Robert Kahn created the TCP/IP protocol which allows computers and networks all over the world to talk to one another. However, the development was initially created to help the military, not for you or I. Since it was designed to be undetectable in terms of a center, the Internet has no center.

Internet has no center

The testament to the nonexistence of a center for the internet was the creation of ICANN in 1998. ICANN “signaled that the Internet would be something akin to global patrimony, not an online version of American soil.” When thinking about the Internet, many people, especially Americans, think of the Internet as an extension of American culture. While American culture is widely dispersed throughout the Internet, it is not the only cultural that is shared. There exists a multiculturalism through the Internet that does not make it merely an online version of America. This perhaps is the reason why the Internet economy was grabbed globally. The Internet economy was not just an economy for American, it was an economy for everyone. However, with a shared Internet economy, nations lost old ideals of governance.

While it seems that the battle for control is driven by corporate ambitions, the real war is driven by governments. Cerf explains that “If you think about protecting the population and observing our conventional freedoms, the two [the Internet and Government] are real­ly very much in tension.”

The DefCon Hackers Conference intended to bridge the gap between hackers and the government. Jeff Moss (or Dark Tangent), DefCon’s founder, uses DefCon to promote conversation between the Internet’s forces of Order and Disorder. Moss has become the go-between who translates his subculture’s concerns to the culture at large, and vice versa. Each year, increasing numbers of law-enforcement, military, and intelligence personnel attend Def Con. This is one unique way that the bridge between the world of the Net and the world of government have successfully and peacefully (without war) converged.

Among the things that are explained by Moss are the nature of hackers. Collective hackers, like Anonymous work as a hive. There allegiance is to the hive above all else. It is not to a government or corporation. Such a notion of a hive speaks directly to Jane McGonigal’s belief in the power of the hive. Perhaps the power of the hive is the true power of the internet. The truth that allegiances have shifted from nations to hives.

 “Everybody always calls it rebuilding the airplane in flight. We can’t stop and reboot the Internet.”

Since the internet can’t be stopped, its challenges must be addressed. Vanity Fair suggests that there will be three issues on the table at the negotiations in Dubai at the end of the year: taxation (a “per click” levy on international Internet traffic), data privacy and cyber-security (no more anonymity) and Internet management (global information-security “code of conduct”).  The article suggests that anonymity has contributed to, if not created, almost every problem at issue in the War for the Internet. Is anonymity really the issues? Would we need control if our real names were attached to over Internet habits? Vanity Fair suggests that currently “the task at hand is finding some way to square the circle: a way to have both anonymity and authentication—and therefore both generative chaos and the capacity for control—without absolute insistence on either.” Perhaps the greatest challenge with the internet is that there is no real absolutes. Black and white issues are much easier to address than those with shades of grey.

Many believe that the Domain Name Systems, the Internet’s only central feature, must be shielded from government control however, through organizations like ICANN governments will still be involved without controlling it. Arguably, the most important issue when debating the control over the internet is the need to preserve “network neutrality”. One thing that many agree on: The Internet is open to everyone, service providers cannot discriminate and all applications and content moves at the same speed– this should not change. If the Internet is one thing, it ought to be fair.


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