Weekly Axis Of Easy #118
This edition of #AxisOfEasy is memory of an old friend from the London music scene, the legendary Ted Triebner. Co-founder of Exeter, Ontario’s UIC (so many London musicians from Exeter) and later, Positively Stompin’. Ted passed away last week. RIP. I’ve been listening to Junk Drawer all weekend.
US Military will stop using floppy disks to coordinate nuclear launches
Millions of Linux devices vulnerable to a WIFI bug
Google exec says homeowners should warn guests about Nest thermostats
UK drops controversial adult content blocking program
Bank of Canada exploring cash replacement digital currency
What really goes on in a Chinese gulag
We’ve added a podcast version of #AxisOfEasy! You can listen to this week’s edition:
Back in 2014, 60 Minutes did a story on how the US military maintains its nuclear preparedness and they were shocked to report that one of the computers that would hypothetically receive a launch order (which I mistyped as “lunch order”) from the president ran on 8″ floppy disks. (My very first computing job was porting Helix Courier’s billing and dispatch system off of a Motorola 6800 that used 8″ floppies. That was in 1992)
Well those days will someday be over, as the US DoD will replace those floppy drives with a “highly-secure solid state digital storage solution”. The reason these old systems have been in use for so long is because they are so old, they are deemed unhackable. The premise being that they were built before the internet existed, and its impossible to hack because it doesn’t have an IP address.
An unpatched bug in Linux that affects Realtek Wifi chips allows attackers to crash or fully compromise vulnerable machines. It’s a buffer overflow that can be initiated when the machine is within radio range of an attacking device, and it requires no interaction on the part of the user, just that Wifi is enabled. The flaw can’t be exploited if it’s not a Realtek chip or if Wifi is disabled.
This issue has been assigned CVE-2019-17666.
Following on what we said last week, one should assume that any network detected device in your home with a camera or a microphone is listening and that employees have access to those recordings, Google’s head of its devices unit, Rick Osterloh confirmed as much in an interview with the BBC. “Google’s Nest smart devices are always listening, their microphones detect loud noises and cameras track sudden movements in a home”.
When a BBC reported asked him if home owners should warn guests that there are Nest devices present that record their conversations and that they would be on camera Osterloh, after admitting surprise to having it framed that way, conceded that it would be proper etiquette to do so, and that he already does.
(Personally, I warn guests entering our house that we have a dog that looks like a wolf, now I have to tell them they’re going to be recorded? Actually no, since we don’t use any of this stuff.)
We reported back in #AxisOfEasy 89 how the UK block on cyberpr0n was going into effect April 1st, which would require anybody who wanted to visit NSFW websites to obtain a special permit to do so, providing photo ID and paying a fee. As well, all operators of NSFW site anywhere in the world would have to add authentication process to their systems to detect UK visitors and verify they had a proper permit.
That initiative has been scrapped after numerous delays. It appears as if it’s unworkable. Instead, the UK will be expected adult websites to exercise a new “duty of care” to prevent underage viewers and will be creating a new online regulator ““with strong enforcement powers to deal with non-compliance”.
The latest salvo in the global war on cash and cryptocurrencies has been fired by the Bank of Canada who wants to introduce a digital currency that would replace cash, track how citizens spend their money and combat “the direct threat” of crypto-currencies.
The Financial Post obtained a copy of an internal BoC memo exploring the idea via a Freedom of Information request, but in response to an email inquiry the BoC responded that they have no immediate plans to launch a crypto currency.
All this follows on the theme I’ve been writing about in more depth over on Guerrilla Capitalism. Governments understand that control over money is essential to maintain control over the rabble, and the last thing they want to see happen is for people to take control back via crypto currencies, or to face incursions from large tech platforms looking to end-run fiat money (which is all debt, and headed for a sooner-or-later international currency crisis, but I digress….)
(My guess is they could probably just code taxes right into it, so that when the government raises or adds new taxes it could just come right out of your digital wallet without you having to even think about it. Now that’s progress!)
We’ve been covering China’s Sesame Credit for quite some time here. The program gamifies and institutionalizes obedience to the State and becomes compulsory for all citizens next year, in 2020. So what happens when your Sesame Credit score dips below a critical threshold? We already know that citizens there are penalized for that, being unable to access transportation services such as flights, or trains, they can’t get their children into preferred schools, they are cut off from accessing credit.
Bear all this in mind when you read the story of this woman who escaped from a Chinese gulag. Over one million Chinese citizens are imprisoned in “reeducation camps” now, where they are subjected to medical experiments, sexual assault, psychological brainwashing and physical torture.
While most of the inmates are currently Uyghur moslems, I can’t help but suspect that it will eventually be deployed across the entire population, with the help of their Sesame Credit platform. No wonder the protestors in Hong Kong are fighting tooth-and-nail for their liberty.