Brislen on Tech
Here's this week's update from TechBlog editor Paul Brislen.
Managing the cost of social media
It's almost one year since the mosque attacks in Christchurch, so it's high time we reviewed the actions taken by our social media publishers to ensure nobody else shares such atrocities online again.
There aren't any to review, so we now conclude that part of our discussion.
In light of that, it's good to see regulations being introduced by governments in both New Zealand and the UK where regulations around the transmission of objectionable materials are being introduced or existing regulations beefed up in an attempt to get the social media giants to do the right thing.
Of course, we have to tread carefully so as not to stop legitimate content from being caught up in this tirade of vileness that is paraded across our screens. Already there are calls for filters to somehow stop this content getting through, and that's always alarming. But at the basic level it's straightforward enough. Does your content include mass killings and other atrocities? If so then it's covered.
It's madness that we can't do more to stop these crimes being committed but apparently all we can do is try to limit the propaganda-like spread of the content created by such moments in time. And we can try to stop publishers from profiting off these instances as well. Yes yes, they hardly make any money off mass killings, so I'm told. But of course the algorithm that allows and enables such content to be widely shared does make money. It makes a lot of money and for companies like Facebook and YouTube, that's the name of the game and they'll do anything to avoid having their money stream disrupted.
One thing we have all learned in the last year. Social media companies promise to make changes, and promise to do the right thing every time they're challenged. But change hasn't happened in the past 11 months and I don't see any sign of it happening in the next month either, unless we force them to act. The only way to do that is to interrupt the money supply.
Stand by to repel boarders
It's been a testing time for our country and her liberties this month. Ransomware attacks are on the rise and both GCSB and SIS have commented on the increase in sophistication of the cyber attacks on various companies and government bodies.
Alarmingly, there has also been a rise in the number of racist attacks and people spouting extremist views, but I'll put that largely down to increased awareness among the population and the security agencies finally turning their attention away from the "imminent" threat of Al Qaida attacks to the more obvious white supremacy mutterings that have long plagued New Zealand.
Two things stand out from the briefing ministers and MPs received from the security forces this week.
The first is that these cyber attacks are increasing in sophistication and are seemingly state-sponsored attacks. That is, other nations are paying people to attack our IT systems with a view to taking up residence in our infrastructure. I'm sure they've got only our best interests at heart, but on the off chance they may want to cause trouble, this is a worrying trend to behold, especially since more of these attacks are being uncovered after they've taken place, not before.
The second stand out point is around Huawei and the bid to build New Zealand's 5G networks.
As you know, Spark's proposal to use Huawei kit in its 5G deployment around Auckland's Viaduct Harbour was shot down by the GCSB. Scant detail emerged but it became clear it's largely around Huawei's role and its potential relationship with the Chinese political establishment.
Huawei has said it won't bid for the sensitive parts of the network and recent moves in the UK to allow Huawei in were held up as a positive sign for the beleaguered tech giant.
But Andrew Hampton, director-general of the GCSB, shot that argument down this week by pointing out that with a 5G network the really is no non-sensitive component. Instead, with the smarts of the network moved out to the edges, any suspect device that is attached to the network make the whole network suspect. What was acceptable in a traditional network topography is unacceptable in the distributed layout of the new mobile networks.
This is as close as we've seen publicly for the GCSB's refusal to grant permission for the network to proceed. Vodafone has already signed up Nokia and launched network capability in a number of centres, and Spark has admitted it will have to use an alternate vendor. That leaves 2Degrees mulling its future network partnerships and suggesting the company sees no need to deploy 5G just yet so it'll wait a while before investing in the technology.
All of which suggests we all need to do more to stay safe online so it's good to see NetSafe pushing the Safer Internet Day to try to encourage eternal cyber-vigilance on many fronts.,
And you really can't say fairer than that.
Insurance Business - Agency warns NZ businesses about increasing foreign state hacks
Insurance Business - Travelex attack part of expansion of ransomware trends - experts
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