Monthly Archives: September 2018

Social Mapper: This Open Source Tool Lets “Good” Hackers Track People On Social Media

There are tons of automated tools and services that any shady hacker can employ to grab the public data on Facebook, Twitter, Google, or Instagram, and use it for notorious purposes. But what about the ethical hackers and security researchers who are looking for a means to achieve the same?

To tackle this issue, security firm Trustwave has released an open source tool that can reduce the time being consumed for such intelligence collection process at a large scale. Called Social Mapper, the tool uses facial recognition to connect the dots on different social media and collect data.

This might sound fishy to some of you but that’s how things work in the cybersecurity world. The difference between ethical and unethical hackers is all about the choice of tools and the permission one gets during the pentesting process. Along the same lines, Social Mapper can be used to run authorized and simulated attacks to test the security of the accounts.

Source: Social Mapper: This Open Source Tool Lets “Good” Hackers Track People On Social Media

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Former Union Boss Supporting Right-To-Work Laws; Democrats Are Livid

A public-sector union is calling for its former president to pull an ad advocating for right to work legislation in Missouri, The Washington Free Beacon reports.

Retired St. Louis Police sergeant Gary Wiegert has joined the National Right to Work Committee (NRWC) in campaigning for Missouri ballot initiative Prop A, which would prohibit unions from requiring from requiring dues from members and nonmembers in unionized workspaces.

The St. Louis Police Officers Association (SPLOA) is calling Wiegert, its former president, “anti-worker” for taking part in an ad by the NRWC. Wiegert has troubled the union for years by speaking out against union membership or paying union fees as a condition of employment.

“Sgt. Wiegert’s anti-worker positions are no secret to our organization, he has been vocal about them for years,” police union spokesman Jeff Roorda told the Free Beacon in an email.

The SPLOA has taken the step of calling for the NRWC and Wiegert to cease airing the ad starring the former union leader. In the ad, Wiegert is wearing a union polo with the union’s symbol showing, but Wiegert was expelled from the union in 2012 and forbade from ever representing the organization, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“It is patently obvious that you and the campaign [to vote yes on Prop A] are using our copyrighted logo without permission to intentionally mislead Missourians that the SLPOA or its members sanction your anti-worker rhetoric,” a cease and desist letter from the union to Wiegert says, according to the Free Beacon

Wiegert has since removed a link to the ad from his personal Facebook page, but the ad remains up on the NRWC’s page.

“This type of bullying is exactly why Missouri needs the protections Right to Work laws offer,” NRWC president Mark Mix said in a statement. “The fact that these are the lengths union officials are willing to go silence any dissent among rank-and-file workers demonstrates exactly why every worker should be able to refrain from supporting a union if they choose.”

The police union’s attempts to get the ad removed are intimidation tactics meant to suppress free speech, Wiegert says.

“To me it looks like they’re just trying to intimidate me and shut down my First Amendment rights, and the ad clearly states I’m a retired police officer and I was the president of that organization,” Wiegert told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Source: Former Union Boss Supporting Right-To-Work Laws; Democrats Are Livid

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 The Hidden Race to Dismantle Global Law Enforcement Privacy Protections

Last month, 360 cyber crime experts from 95 countries gathered in Strasbourg to attend the Octopus Conference. The event sounds like something from James Bond, and when you look at the attendee list—which includes senior figures from the United States Department of Justice, national police forces across the world, and senior figures from companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Cloudflare—it’s easy to imagine a covert machination or two.

As it happens, Octopus is one of the more open and transparent elements in the world of global law enforcement and cybersecurity. Civil society like EFF and EDRI were invited to speak, and this year it was our primary chance to comment on a new initiative by the event’s organizers, the Council of Europe—an additional protocol to their Cybercrime Convention (also known as the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime), which will dictate how Parties of the Convention from around the world can cooperate across borders to fight Internet crime.

Our conclusion: the Council of Europe (CoE) needs to stand more firmly against a global trend to undermine everyone’s privacy in the pursuit of faster and easier investigations. As conversations at Octopus showed, the many long arms of the world’s law-enforcers are coming for user data, and the CoE needs to stand firm that they obey international human rights, in particular article 15 of the Budapest Convention, when they reach across borders.

Source: Behind the Octopus: The Hidden Race to Dismantle Global Law Enforcement Privacy Protections

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Why you’re using Tor wrong

Tor (The onion router) provides a way to anonymize servers on the internet. If there’s content you want to publish while you remain anonymous, Tor is your main option. Over 100,000 Tor sessions are used daily.

ONION SERVICES

Tor provides end-to-end security and self-certifying domain names. Servers are anonymous to clients, and clients are anonymous to servers.

Onion domain names are based on an RSA key pair, an SHA-1 hash of the public key, truncated, and encoded in a 16 character base32 string. If you know the domain, you know the public key. That’s handy, but the unwieldy domain name is hard to write and remember.

THE RESEARCH

In the paper How Do Tor Users Interact With Onion Services? researchers from Princeton University looked at how people understand and use Tor. In addition to an online survey of 517 users, another 17 users completed semi-structured interviews.

Though 60 percent of the respondents had graduate degrees, many of them misunderstood key aspects of Tor. The domain format, for example, is not well understood, leaving users open to phishing attacks or common typos.

Users also have problems discovering onion domains. Finally, users want better performance and easier ways to track and verify onion domains.

DOMAIN NAMES?

If you’ve never used Tor, the domain name issue may seem like a noob problem. But you try to type in expyuzz4wqqyqhjn.onion without a mistake!

CONCLUSIONS

Based on the user problems they found in their interviews and survey, the researchers offer a damning assessment of today’s onion services:

Onion services resemble the 1990s web: Pages load slowly, user interfaces are clumsy, and search engines are inadequate.

They go on to suggest a variety of design improvements, from an onion search engine, to features as simple as the public internet’s padlock icon to indicate that onion service security is operational.

THE STORAGE BITS TAKE

For all the shortcomings of commercial products – and they are legion – it is sobering to see Tor compared to the 90s web. Few non-commercial products, whose developers are almost always unpaid, have the resources of a commercial firm.

Source: Why you’re using Tor wrong | ZDNet

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Sony Finally Admits It Doesn’t Own Bach and It Only Took a Bunch of Public Pressure

Here’s the thing about different people playing the same piece of music: sometimes, they’re going to sound similar. And when music is by a composer who died 268 years ago, putting his music in the public domain, a bunch of people might record it and some of them might put it online. In this situation, a combination of copyright bots and corporate intransigence led to a Kafkaesque attack on music.

Musician James Rhodes put a video of himself playing Bach on Facebook. Sony Music Entertainment claimed that 47 seconds of that performance belonged to them. Facebook muted the video as a result.

So far, this is stupid but not unusually stupid in the world of takedowns. It’s what happened after Rhodes got Sony’s notice that earned it a place in the Hall of Shame.

One argument in favor of this process is that there are supposed to be checks and balances. Takedown notices are supposed to only be sent by someone who owns the copyright in the material and actually believes that copyright’s been infringed. And if a takedown notice is wrong, a counter-notice can be sent by someone explaining that they own the work or that it’s not infringement.

Counter-notices have a lot of problems, not the least of which is that the requirements are onerous for small-time creators, requiring a fair bit of personal information. There’s always the fear that, even for someone who knows they own the work, that the other side will sue them anyway, which they cannot afford.

Source: Sony Finally Admits It Doesn’t Own Bach and It Only Took a Bunch of Public Pressure

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Super-rich having brains FROZEN for £80,000 to get SECOND LIFE

They are paying a fortune to have them cryogenically preserved in liquid nitrogen in the hope of a new life. But it doesn’t come cheap – having your grey matter frozen for up to 200 years will set you back £80,000.

The service is being offered by the Alcor Life Extension Foundation based in Scottsdale, Arizona. The company is headed up by Bristol-born scientist Dr Max More, inset, and his team of eight people.

It has 1,100 paying members on its books. The terminally ill, the elderly and people in their 50s have all signed up in the hope that one day they can be thawed out and their medical problems or diseases cured.

Some are paying £200,000 for full body preservation, where they are hung upside down in steel cylinders. One businessman convinced that he will wake up in the future after his brain has been placed inside another body spoke exclusively to the Daily Star Sunday.

Source: Super-rich having brains FROZEN for £80,000 to get SECOND LIFE

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Firefox Browser Will Soon Block All Web Trackers By Default

There’s no denying the fact that data collection on the web is one of the fundamental ways how our Internet actually works. But then comes the practice of unchecked data collection, which brings along tons of negative impacts like performance impact and data breaches.

It seems that Mozilla is planning to block all kinds of web trackers by default in the upcoming releases. This might be a massive blow to the advertisers in the regions where Firefox enjoys a more significant market share.

In an official blog post, Mozilla has outlined the plans to roll out a series of privacy-focused features.

The first feature will be rolled out in Firefox Nightly builds to block trackers that increase the page loading time. It’ll be first shipped using a field study in September. Mozilla further plans to implement it by default in Firefox 63 — if the test results turn out to be encouraging.

Source: Firefox Browser Will Soon Block All Web Trackers By Default

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Censorship machines removed my article warning people about censorship machines

A few days ago, about a dozen articles and campaign sites criticizing EU plans for copyright censorship machines silently vanished from the world’s most popular search engine. Proving their point in the most blatant possible way, the sites were removed by exactly what they were warning of: Copyright censorship machines.

Among the websites that were made impossible to find: A blog post of mine in which I inform Europeans about where their governments stand on online censorship in the name of copyright and a campaign site warning of copyright law that favors corporations over free speech.

Source: Censorship machines removed my article warning people about censorship machines

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DNC Passes Resolution That Reverses Ban on Fossil Fuel Donations

The Democratic National Committee’s executive committee passed a resolution introduced by DNC chair Tom Perez, which encourages donations from employee political action committees in the fossil fuel industry.

Perez introduced the resolution to show that the Democrats are committed to supporting workers and unions that “power the American economy.” But it directly undermines a resolution passed in June that banned contributions from political action committees, which represent fossil fuel companies.

“The DNC gratefully acknowledges and will continue to welcome the longstanding and generous contributions of workers, including those in energy and related industries, who organize and donate to Democratic candidates individually or through their unions’ or employers’ political action committees,” the resolution declares [PDF].

Christine Pelosi, the daughter of Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and member of the DNC’s executive committee, attempted to have the words “employers’ political action committees” removed. The resolution she introduced to do that was voted down 28-4.

The resolution to ban corporate PAC money that passed in June was introduced by Pelosi. After this vote, she tweeted, “DNC staff and officers NEVER consulted me on language to reverse my resolution banning corporate fossil fuel PAC money and now said they have to keep the resolution as is because of all the work *we* did.”

“We will live to fight another day, and end Citizens United,” Pelosi added.

R.L. Miller, the elected chair of the California Democratic Party’s environmental caucus, condemned the language in the resolution.

“I am furious that the DNC would effectively undo a resolution passed just two months ago just as the movement to ban fossil fuel corporate money is growing (and Democrats are winning),” Miller stated.

Source: DNC Passes Resolution That Reverses Ban on Fossil Fuel Donations

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Dalai Lama: ‘Europe belongs to the Europeans’

The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, told an audience in Malmö that refugees should return to their native countries to rebuild them.

Speaking at a conference in Sweden’s third-largest city of Malmö, home to a large immigrant population, the Dalai Lama – who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 – said Europe was “morally responsible” for helping “a refugee really facing danger against their life”.

“Receive them, help them, educate them… but ultimately they should develop their own country,” said the 83-year-old Tibetan who fled the capital Lhasa in fear of his life after China poured troops into the region to crush an uprising.

“I think Europe belongs to the Europeans,” he said, adding they should make clear to refugees that “they ultimately should rebuild their own country”.

Source: Dalai Lama: ‘Europe belongs to the Europeans’

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Tactical Urbanists Spray Paint Parking Spaces for Electric Scooters 

Across the United States, electric scooters have been springing up overnight on city streets and sidewalks, leading to a combination of praise and condemnation from urban dwellers and local municipalities.

Deployed by a growing array of companies, these e-scooters have been lauded by some as compact, low-energy, eco-friendly, on-demand transportation but also criticized for a variety of reasons, including the ways they can obstruct (and in some cases: outright block) sidewalks.

Cities are weighing responses, from taxation and regulation to outright bans. Even areas that want to give scooters a shot are struggling to adapt quickly to their introduction. Meanwhile, though, a tactical urban design group called YARD & Company has jumped in and taken action on the streets of Cincinnati with their ‘Bird Cages‘ project (a reference to Bird, one of the various companies in the e-scooter market).

Source: Bird Cages: Tactical Urbanists Spray Paint Parking Spaces for Electric Scooters – 99% Invisible

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