Tag: australia

Aussies giving up piracy for legal streaming

pirate-bayAussie content pirates are giving up their torrenting now that big content has made legal streaming more available.

A report commissioned by the Australian government has found a drop in piracy rates for 2016 which is attributed to improved
availability of legal streaming alternatives.  In other words if Big Content stops being paranoid and starts being nice to people they are more likely to stop pirating. Who would have thunk it?

What is more amusing is that pirates are more likely to buy the legal streaming product.

This flies in the face of statements made by anti-piracy groups who insist that Aussies simply don’t want to pay for legal content. However, the report seems to confirm that Aussie pirates only download when they are being treated badly by content providers.

Down-under Big Content was been slammed for treating Aussies as second class citizens debuting material later, less conveniently, and at increased cost.  It appears to have been pulling up its socks lately and is being rewarded by drops in piracy.

The Department of Communications and the Arts sampled 2,400 people aged 12 and up. It aimed to understand consumption of four types of online content – music, movies, TV shows, and video games. It also sought to understand attitudes to piracy, including the role pricing plays in media consumption.

Six out of 10 Internet users consumed at least one item of digital content during the period, slightly up from in the same period 2015. Downloading had dropped from 43 percent in 2015 to 39 percent. Despite it being the most popular download category overall, the largest drops were witnessed in the music sector, from 29 percent last year to 26 percent in 2016.

Streaming increased from 54 percent to 57 percent since last year, with TV shows and movies making the biggest gains.

“The proportion of internet users who streamed TV programmes increased from 34 percent to 38 percent and the proportion of internet users who streamed movies increased from 25 percent  to 29 per cent ,” the report said.

The most-consumed content were TV shows (41 percent), music (39 percent) and movies (33 percent) and video games (15 percent).

“In 2016, 27 per cent of consumers or sharers had used Netflix, up from nine percent  in 2015, and making it the third most popular service overall. The proportion using Netflix for movies increased from 16 percent in 2015 to 41 percent in 2016, and the percentage using Netflix for TV programs rose from 12 percent in 2015 to 31 percent in 2016, meaning it was the most popular service for both movies and TV programs,” the report reads.

The report estimates that, over the first three months of 2016, 23 percent of Australian internet users aged 12+ consumed at least one item of online content unlawfully, which equates to approximately 4.6 million people. This was a significant drop from the 26 per cent who had consumed unlawful content in 2015.

The survey indicates that pirates were also the biggest consumers of legitimate content. In 2016, just six percent of internet users exclusively obtained content from pirate sources.

This confirms Swedish findings which showed that people who pirate some content are also more likely to pay.

Half of the consumers cited convenience as the main reason to use paid services, with 39 percent citing speed. Wanting to support creators and not wanting to use pirate sites tied at 37 percent each but the former was down from 43 percent in 2015.

43 percent of infringers said that better pricing would be the factor that would be most likely to reduce their consumption of illicit content. Availability came second, with 35 percent  complaining about content not being available in Australia at the same time as elsewhere, and 31 percent  complaining about a lack of availability.

Australian watchdog snubs Apple Pay

wp-content-themes-yen-timthumb.php-src-http-www.toonaripost.com-wp-content-uploads-2012-03-baby-azaria-chamberlain-died-at-the-hands-of-a-dingo.jpg-amp-w-580-amp-zc-1An Australian watchdog has growled at three banks who want to open negotiations with the fruity cargo cult Apple to set up its “Apple Pay” system on their servers.

Australia’s antitrust regulator said it would not grant the country’s three biggest banks interim approval to collectively negotiate with Apple Inc to install their own electronic payments applications on iPhones.

Australia’s three biggest banks, including the number one lender National Australia Bank, asked permission to negotiate as a bloc from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims reckoned that the watchdog had not been given enough time to think about the move.  It wants more time to consult and consider the views of industry, consumers, and other interested parties.

Part of the problem is that Jobs’ Mob does not allow third-party electronic payment apps to be loaded onto the iPhone. The banks are worried that they could be accused of violating anti-competition law.

Australia and New Zealand Bank, which signed a deal to use the Apple Pay system in April, is the only one of the country’s ‘Big Four’ banks not to join the action. The country’s second-biggest lender, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and number three, Westpac Banking Corp, have joined with NAB.


Queensland coppers hack US sites

Native_PoliceAussie coppers think it is “fair dinkum” to hack US Tor  sites to uncover crime rings.

The hack was part of a child pornography investigation and the Aussie antics have appeared in US court documents. In one case, Australian authorities remotely hacked a computer in Michigan to obtain the suspect’s IP address.

What is interesting was that the coppers have no juristiction in the US and little in the way of legal rights.

“The Love Zone” was a prolific dark web child abuse site, where users were instructed to upload material at least once a month to maintain access to the forum. By July 2014, the site had over 29,000 members, according to US court documents, constituting what the US Department of Justice described as a “technologically sophisticated conspiracy”.

In 2014, Queensland Police Service’s Task Force Argos, a small, specialised unit focused on combating child exploitation crimes, identified the site’s Australian administrator and quietly took over his account. For months ran the site in an undercover capacity, posing as its owner.

Because The Love Zone was based on the dark web, users typically connected via the Tor network, Argos could see what the users were viewing, and what pages they were visiting, but not where they were really connecting from. So they hacked some of the users to get their real IP addresses and unmasked the IP addresses of many of those who used the site.

They then handed over the evidence against more than 30 uses  to the  FBI who arrested the local users. Apparently this involved phishing attacks claiming to be from the site using kiddie porn as bait.The code behind the movie would send the users IP address to the authorities.

But all this had to have been done without a warrant, and  Australian Federal Police (AFP) have said that the  AFP was not aware of, or involved with this operation..

Whether using a hacking tool to grab the real IP address of a Tor user constitutes a search in a legal sense has recently become a contentious issue in the US. Several judges have said that suspects do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy around their IP address when using the Tor network, meaning that it is not protected by the Fourth Amendment, and a hack grabbing it would not require a warrant. The Electronic Frontier Foundation thinks otherwise


South Australian hospitals depend on ancient code

Ayers Rock/Uluru in central Australian desert, Northern Territory. 1992.The South Australian Government has warned about patient safety if it is forced to stop using an ancient crucial software system in country hospitals.

The system called CHIRON, is used at 64 country health sites in South Australia, including at the Mount Barker Hospital. It is based on MS-DOS and is so old it can remember when dinosaurs were its first patients.

But CHIRON’s maker, an outfit called Working Systems demanded the State Government stop using it because the licence expired in March last year.

But the  Government said complying would jeopardise patient safety and there would be a material risk to SA Health’s ability to provide an effective health service.

The Government says that without CHIRON hospital staff would not have access to critical information such as patient allergies to medication and there was potential for new patient data being lost or incorrectly recorded.

But Working Systems said that is the government’s fault for not buying new software. CHIRON was updated in 2003, so the government had plenty of time.

Working Systems said that it was impossible to get a licence extension for CHIRON was not possible because it was too old and no longer supported.  In 2014 the Government assured Working Systems it was seeking a replacement.

In fact that system, called EPAS, was dogged by delays, controversy and cost blowouts. It is currently only operating at three sites, including Port Augusta.

A court will decide what the government will have to do and the trial will start in December.


Apple hates Australian users

crocodile dundeeFruity cargo cult Apple has declared war on its unfortunate Australian customers and demanding from them  a huge premium to use its walled garden of delights.

Overnight Apple jacked up the price of apps in its app store so that everything cost up to 50 per cent more for Australian users making it a clear form of electronic apartheid.

US Price – Old Oz Price – New OZ  Price
$1.00              $1.29                 $1.49
$2.00              $2.49                 $2.99
$3.00             $3.79                  $4.49
$4.00             $4.99                  $5.99
$5.00             $6.49                  $7.99

Apple claims that the move is because of the falling Australian dollar, but with the price changes that Jobs’ Mob recently bought in already the price of Apps already matched the currency.

The Australian dollar only trades at 70c against the U.S. – or 30 percent lower which means the prices were right.

There are several explanations as to why Apple is singling out Australian users. The most obvious is that it does not like them that much. After all the drongos actually queued up in the Ozzie heat to buy the iPhone 6S recently so clearly such stupid brand loyal deserves a kick to the Billabongs.

What is more likely is Apple is attacking the Australian government for daring to question its previous price gouging behaviour. The Aussie government noticed that Jobs’ Mob was making its customers pay over the odds for hardware and demanded that it drop the price so that it remained at least similar to what it charged its US customers.

Apple claimed it had to increase its already inflated prices in Australian because the phones had just a long way to travel. That would be fine but, given the phones are made in China it should be cheaper to ship them to Australia than it is to send them to the UK.

Clearly unable to gouge the price of the hardware, Apple is insisting that Australians pay more for software which has no shipping cost at all.

In a sane Australia, a company that treated its customers in such a shonky way would be boycotted to oblivion, which is a small town outside Alice Springs. But Australia has gone a bit mental lately and it seems that satisfying itself with shiny expensive consumer goods is a substitute for doing the right thing over issues like boat-people and refugees.

So we guess if you are going to treat the world in an unfair dinkum way, it is only fair that others treat you in the same way.

Vodafone admits hacking journalist’s phone

Ayers Rock/Uluru in central Australian desert, Northern Territory. 1992.

Ayers Rock/Uluru in central Australian desert, Northern Territory. 1992.

Vodafone Australia has admitted hacking a Fairfax journalist’s phone to find out who her deep throats were inside the company.

Natalie O’Brien penned a story about how Vodafone’s Siebel data system was vulnerable to hacking, and that the data of millions of customers was available online.

The company has said that one of its employee’s hacked O’Brien’s phone records in an attempt to uncover her sources for stories. However it denies any “improper behaviour.” True, it did mislead the authorities about systemic privacy breaches, but you should trust it that it never did anything wrong.

And although O’Brien’s story implied that criminal groups were paying Vodafone for customers’ private information, that was nothing to worry about either. Glad they sorted that one out.
Writing in the Sun-Herald, O’Brien said she had been devastated by the invasion of privacy.

“It’s a creepy nauseating experience to know that someone has been trawling through your mobile phone account looking at all your call records and private text messages.

“The invasion of privacy is devasting. It plays with your mind. What was in those texts? Who were they to? What did they see? What did they do with the information?”

An internal Vodafone email, reported by the Australian, shows the company was aware of the extent of the security breaches and the potential legal and reputation damage of hacking a journalist’s phone.

However, the head of fraud management and investigations for Vodafone Group, Colin Yates, pointed out to then global corporate security director Richard Knowlton that there was a “huge risk” to the company if the hacking of O’Brien’s phone “gets into the public domain”.

“And would certainly destroy all of the work done by VHA [Vodafone Hutchison Australia] over the past months to try and restore its reputation.”

The Yates email also suggests the company covered up the extent of the Siebel security breaches from the public and industry regulators.

In a statement issued Saturday, a Vodafone spokeswoman said the company “strongly denies any allegations of improper behaviour. VHA takes its legal and corporate responsibilities very seriously”.

“Over the past four years, VHA has invested heavily in the security of its IT systems. The company has very strict controls and processes around the privacy of customer information, and has appointed a dedicated privacy officer. The privacy of our customers and protection of their information is our highest priority and we take this responsibility very seriously.”

As far as hacking a journalist’s phone goes, the company commissioned an investigation by one of Australia’s top accounting firms, which found there was no evidence VHA management had instructed the employee to access the messages. It also found that VHA staff was fully aware of their legal obligations in relation to customer information. So in other words nothing really happened so everyone can go back to bed thinking that Vodafone is a really nice company and its data is super secure..

Aussie ISPs help customers fight Big Content

sharknado-2-the-second-one-029499ed6cfab8aeAn Aussie ISP has come up with a fair dinkum way of killing off copyright trolls.

Forced by Aussie law to bend over and give big studios what they want, Aussie ISPs feel that their customers are wide open to speculative copyright trolls. These are the guys who see your IP address in a file sharing cloud and send you a snotty letter demanding money or they will take you to court where you will pay trillions.

iiNet says it will offer free legal services to those individually targeted through legal action. It has particularly named the studios suing over the flick the Dallas Buyers Club.

The ISP said that it “couldn’t sit by and have our customers potentially bullied by the process of speculative invoicing”.

In a blog post published on the company’s website, iiNet Financial Controller Ben Jenkins said a recent Federal Court decision would require the telco to hand over the names and physical addresses of customers alleged to have torrented and infringed copyright on the Oscar-winning film “Dallas Buyers Club”.

iiNet reminded customers that a letter from the film’s rights holders, Dallas Buyers Club and Voltage Pictures, wasn’t necessarily the end of the road.

“It is important to remember that the Court’s findings in this case do not mean that DBC and Voltage’s allegations of copyright infringement have been proven,” Jenkins wrote. “Any such letter is still only an allegation until an infringement is proven or admitted.”

The ISP says it will inform customers if their details are passed on to Dallas Buyers Club and Voltage and this will occur at the same time that those details are handed over. As for what happens next, iiNet is getting on the front foot to assist its customers.

“If you do receive a letter you may want to get legal advice,” the blog post read. “iiNet is working with a law firm that has offered to provide pro-bono services for any of our customers. More details will be provided when agreement is reached on that front.”

iiNet said damages could come down to as little as AU$10 or “less than a parking ticket” for single instances of infringement — essentially equivalent “to the fee that would have been paid had the film been lawfully downloaded.”

Apple nicked our name

The only thing that Apple has announced which was new recently has been blasted by an Aussie start-up for nicking its ideas.

When Tim Cook announced the Apple HealthKit application to the great throngs yesterday, it appears that the collective yawn which followed did not drown out the yelp of anger Down-Under

A company called HealthKit took to its Twitter account recently to say that it was “feeling annoyed” over the same-name issue, asking “@tim_cook r u aware of this?”

HealthKit owns both the domain name and the Twitter handle, having existed before Apple introduced its health and fitness-centric utility.

The Aussies apparently were not even approached by the company.

The company’s co-founder Alison Hardacre spoke to the folks at Wired about the matter, saying:  “It is very flattering that they (sic) like our name, but I’m a little let down because how hard would it have been to spend five seconds to put HealthKit.com into their browser and find us?”

HealthKit bought its domain name in early 2012.

Actually Apple originally wanted to call its product “HealthBook” and for some reason changed its name at the last minute. “HealthKit” was one of three trademarks that surfaced in trademark applications believed to originate from Apple last month.

So, the only new thing to have come from Apple in the last year or so turns out to have been unoriginal – at least as far as its name is concerned. 

Aussie cops help US hit hackers

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) are helping the FBI catch a bunch of hackers by the billabongs.

The FBI says Australians are being targeted in a global raid on users of the software program Blackshades Remote Access Tool (RAT).

“This software was sold and distributed to thousands of people in more than 100 countries and has been used to infect more than 500,000 computers worldwide,” the FBI said in a statement.

So far the program has already been used by hackers to steal personal data and launch cyber attacks.

The Blackshades RAT malware was uncovered during a previous international investigation called Operation Cardshop, which targeted “carding” crimes and offences in which the internet was used to traffic and exploit stolen credit cards and bank accounts.

You can tell if you have been infected if your cursor moves erratically with no input from you, if your web camera light unexpectedly turns on, or your monitor turns off while in use.

All this means that usernames and passwords for online accounts have been compromised and there will probably be unauthorised logins to bank accounts or unauthorised money transfers. It is also possible that a text-based chat window appears on your computer’s desktop unexpectedly

Michael Hogue and Alex Yucel have been identified as the Blackshades co-developers and Yucel, the head of the organisation that sold the malware, has been arrested in Moldova and is awaiting extradition to the US.

The FBI says the malware performs unwanted actions on computer systems including hacking into social media accounts, recording keystrokes, accessing documents and photos and activating webcams.

Aussies coppers have confirmed they are assisting the United States with the investigation, but a spokeswoman says the extent of its involvement cannot be revealed for operational reasons. It has ruled out a routine search under coolibah trees and random stop and searches of jolly swagman. 

Aussies walk away from failed SAP project

The Northern Territory Government has decided that it will walk away from a failed SAP project and will write off the $70 million already spent on it.

The asset management system (AMS), was started by the former Labor government, had a starting budget of $7.2 million. It looked fair dinkum at the time, after all who knows that SAP software is supposed to do any way, and besides it was expensive so it must be good right?

More than 11 project managers were involved in the project over three years and even then it managed to be two years late.

It was finally switched in April 2012, it was $12 million over budget and it did not work.

It was supposed to unite nine different information technology systems and it didn’t.

A report by the Auditor-General last year noted that another $40 million would need to be spent on it.

Treasurer Dave Tollner told parliament the AMS could only manage 11 percent of its intended purpose. It would be even more expensive to rebuild from scratch.

An advisory group KPMG estimated would cost a further $120 million of taxpayer money and take another five years to deliver.

Instead the Government will spend $12.5 million to set up a replacement called ASNET, to be developed from existing computer programs.

ASNET will take about three years to introduce and work would start on the system immediately.