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FCC Classifies Internet Service as a Public Utility

Almost as important as the llama chase
Technology • Views: 24,853
Image via Shutterstock

I know the amazing llama chase was huge news today, but this might be even more important: F.C.C. Approves Net Neutrality Rules, Classifying Broadband Internet Service as a Utility.

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to regulate broadband Internet service as a public utility, a milestone in regulating high-speed Internet service into American homes.

Tom Wheeler, the commission chairman, said the F.C.C. was using “all the tools in our toolbox to protect innovators and consumers” and preserve the Internet’s role as a “core of free expression and democratic principles.”

The new rules, approved 3 to 2 along party lines, are intended to ensure that no content is blocked and that the Internet is not divided into pay-to-play fast lanes for Internet and media companies that can afford it and slow lanes for everyone else. Those prohibitions are hallmarks of the net neutrality concept.

This ruling opens the way for communities to build their own Internet access services and frees them from the tyranny of the huge corporations who have no incentive to make things better. It’s a huge win for the citizens of the US, who have lived too long with substandard Internet connection speeds compared to the rest of the world — which means the Republican Party is going to freak out about it.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo: ‘We Suck at Dealing With Abuse’

About time
Technology • Views: 22,103

Tonight we’re getting news of a fascinating statement from Twitter’s CEO: ‘We Suck at Dealing With Abuse’.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is taking personal responsibility for his platform’s chronic problems with harassment and abuse, telling employees that he is embarrassed for the company’s failures and would soon be taking stronger action to eliminate trolls. He said problems with trolls are driving away the company’s users. “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years,” Costolo wrote in an internal memo obtained by The Verge. “It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.”

“IT’S NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE.”

Costolo’s comments came in response to a question on an internal forum about a recent story by Lindy West, a frequent target of harassment on Twitter. Among other things, West’s tormentors created a Twitter account for her then recently-deceased father and made cruel comments about her on the service; West recently shared her story on This American Life and the Guardian. On Twitter’s forums, an employee asked whether anything could be done:

On Mon, Feb 2, 2015 at 4:37 PM, Adrian Cole wrote:

A must read in its own right about cyberbullying. One section suggests Twitter can just do more.

“I’m aware that Twitter is well within its rights to let its platform be used as a vehicle for sexist and racist harassment. But, as a private company - just like a comedian mulling over a rape joke, or a troll looking for a target for his anger - it could choose not to. As a collective of human beings, it could choose to be better.”

In response, Costolo made a frank acknowledgement of Twitter’s slowness to adopt tools to combat trolls.

On Mon, Feb 2, 2015 at 8:35 PM, Dick Costolo wrote:

We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years. It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.

I’m frankly ashamed of how poorly we’ve dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It’s absurd. There’s no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It’s nobody else’s fault but mine, and it’s embarrassing.

We’re going to start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them.

Everybody on the leadership team knows this is vital.

@dickc

I hope this isn’t just a PR statement, and that it leads to a real commitment to putting a stop to the outrageous harassment Twitter has been enabling and tolerating for years. The worst of it is directed at women; they’re the targets of unbelievably misogynistic stalking on Twitter. But it’s not just women; people who follow me on Twitter are no doubt aware that there is a sizable group of right wing lunatics who have been stalking and harassing me and my followers ever since I opened my account years ago.

It’s time for Twitter to step up and deal with this huge problem.

Report: NSA Breached North Korean Networks Before Sony Attack

Not a fairy tale
Technology • Views: 26,726

Apparently the FBI and President Obama actually did have good reason to implicate North Korea in the Sony hack. Imagine that: N.S.A. Breached North Korean Networks Before Sony Attack, Officials Say.

WASHINGTON — The trail that led American officials to blame North Korea for the destructive cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment in November winds back to 2010, when the National Security Agency scrambled to break into the computer systems of a country considered one of the most impenetrable targets on earth.

Spurred by growing concern about North Korea’s maturing capabilities, the American spy agency drilled into the Chinese networks that connect North Korea to the outside world, picked through connections in Malaysia favored by North Korean hackers and penetrated directly into the North with the help of South Korea and other American allies, according to former United States and foreign officials, computer experts later briefed on the operations and a newly disclosed N.S.A. document.

A classified security agency program expanded into an ambitious effort, officials said, to place malware that could track the internal workings of many of the computers and networks used by the North’s hackers, a force that South Korea’s military recently said numbers roughly 6,000 people. Most are commanded by the country’s main intelligence service, called the Reconnaissance General Bureau, and Bureau 121, its secretive hacking unit, with a large outpost in China.

The evidence gathered by the “early warning radar” of software painstakingly hidden to monitor North Korea’s activities proved critical in persuading President Obama to accuse the government of Kim Jong-un of ordering the Sony attack, according to the officials and experts, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the classified N.S.A. operation.

Video: President Obama Announces New Steps to Create Affordable High-Speed Broadband

Treating the Internet like a public utility
Technology • Views: 24,370

YouTube

The state of Internet broadband access in the US is a national disgrace, and the big providers have very little incentive to change it because they have de facto monopolies and are able to charge exorbitant prices for sub-par service. It’s good to see the President working on solutions to this very important problem. Treating the Internet as a locally-owned public utility is a great place to start.

President Obama speaks on the need for affordable high-speed broadband for all Americans, and how certain small cities and towns are taking steps to lay a foundation for broadband access that rivals the most connected cites in the world.

UPDATE at 1/14/15 6:06:24 pm by Charles Johnson

Here’s a related audio segment from NPR’s All Things Considered:

MP3 Audio

CENTCOM Social Media Accounts Hacked by Apparent ISIS Supporters

Embarrassing
Technology • Views: 26,068

A major embarrassment for the Pentagon today, as apparent ISIS supporters took over the YouTube and Twitter accounts of CENTCOM.

A group describing themselves as the “CyberCaliphate” apparently gained control of the official Twitter and YouTube pages of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) on Monday and began posting messages supportive of the jihadist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS).

The hack occurred at the same time as President Barack Obama was giving a speech on cybersecurity at the offices of the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C.

On Twitter, the group posted a message that declared “Pentagon networks hacked” where they indicated they broke into military “networks and personal devices.” In the message the “CyberCaliphate” identified themselves as being “under the auspices of ISIS.” They also included links to what they described as leaked military files. They then began posting screenshots they described as “China scenarios.”

The @CENTCOM accounts on Twitter and YouTube are now suspended.

UPDATE at 1/12/15 2:09:47 pm by Charles Johnson

NPR: FBI Offers New Evidence Connecting North Korea to Sony Hack

Proxy fail
Technology • Views: 24,620

MP3 Audio

NPR’s All Things Considered has a report on the Sony hack, and the FBI’s new evidence that North Korea was responsible for the cyber attack. According to FBI director James Comey, the attackers screwed up and occasionally used IP addresses to send email that were “exclusively used by the North Koreans.”

North Korea’s Internet Access Is “Toast”

Denial of service
Technology • Views: 32,409
Image via Shutterstock

Even if the US had something to do with this, the government would probably never admit it, but I think it’s doubtful. North Korea’s network is very small by world standards, and it wouldn’t require a nation state to take it offline with a simple brute force DDoS attack; it seems more like something Anonymous would do: Attack Is Suspected as North Korean Internet Collapses.

Doug Madory, the director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research, an Internet performance management company, said that North Korean Internet access first became unstable late Friday. The situation worsened over the weekend, and by Monday, North Korea’s Internet was completely offline.

“Their networks are under duress,” Mr. Madory said. “This is consistent with a DDoS attack on their routers,” he said, referring to a distributed denial of service attack, in which attackers flood a network with traffic until it collapses under the load.

North Korea does very little commercial or government business over the Internet. The country officially has 1,024 Internet protocol addresses, though the actual number may be somewhat higher. By comparison, the United States has billions of addresses.

[…]

CloudFlare, an Internet company based in San Francisco, confirmed Monday that North Korea’s Internet access was “toast.” A large number of connections had been withdrawn, “showing that the North Korean network has gone away,” Matthew Prince, CloudFlare’s founder, wrote in an email.

Although the failure might have been caused by maintenance problems, Mr. Madory and others said that such problems most likely would not have caused such a prolonged, widespread loss.

Watch: President Obama Learns to Code

As Angry Birds plays in the background
Technology • Views: 29,469

YouTube

On December 8, 2014, President Obama met with students participating in an “Hour of Code” event at the White House, which is really cool and all that, but somebody in the room is playing Angry Birds and the sound effects are louder than the people’s voices, and I have to admit I cracked up every time the birds won a round.

About Former CBS News Reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s Ridiculous “Hacking” Video

Oh please
Technology • Views: 31,330

YouTube

There are so many deranged stories coming out of the right wing these days that it’s hard to keep up; so I just caught up on the latest ridiculous allegations by former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson.

Attkisson released a video that she says shows her computer being “hacked” by super-secret government agents, trying to stop her courageous reporting on Benghazi. There’s her video, up above.

Attkisson’s claims are utterly ludicrous, folks. If some unknown entities actually had access to this computer, they’d simply wipe her files — not simulate the Delete key right in front of her eyes while she was working. In fact, this is such a brain-dead claim that I’m amazed anyone actually takes it seriously.

What’s probably happening in this video is a stuck Delete key. Maybe she was eating too many potato chips and crumbs got lodged in her keyboard. Or maybe there’s some kind of software conflict. Or maybe she outright faked this video; it wouldn’t be difficult. But this is not how “hacking” works.

Related
Also see

Apple Releases Statement on Celebrity Hacking: iCloud Was Not Breached

“A very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions”
Technology • Views: 31,102

Here’s the statement just released by Apple on the theft of celebrities’ photos from their iCloud accounts.

Apple Media Advisory

Update to Celebrity Photo Investigation

We wanted to provide an update to our investigation into the theft of photos of certain celebrities. When we learned of the theft, we were outraged and immediately mobilized Apple’s engineers to discover the source. Our customers’ privacy and security are of utmost importance to us. After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet. None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud(r) or Find my iPhone. We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved.

To protect against this type of attack, we advise all users to always use a strong password and enable two-step verification. Both of these are addressed on our website at support.apple.com.

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 Frank says:

Of course you realize you won't be able to hear the organ once we turn the guitars on. -- Introduction to "Louie, Louie" on "Uncle Meat"