Tag: australian

Aussies clamp down on Google Glass

The former British penal colony  of Australia is considering banning the filming of private conversations or activities using Google’s Glass eyewear.

Australians often come up with strange laws involving technology, there was one which banned websites which showed women with small breasts a while back. But this one is part of a push to overhaul state and federal privacy laws.

The Australian Law Reform Commission discussion paper, released on Monday morning, recommended 47 legislative changes aimed at updating existing privacy laws for the digital age.

Under the proposed laws, the government will introduce a statutory cause of action for a serious invasion of one’s privacy.

Taking cues from surveillance laws in New South Wales, the ALRC proposed a new national offence for those recording private conversations or activities without consent. Journalists uncovering criminal activities will be exempt.

Courts would be able to compensate victims, but the ALRC said it would not propose penalties for offenders.

Google Glass is the tech which is causing a lot of the problems. Apparently, there is a fear that they could be used to record others without their knowing.

Any law changes would also include the use of mobile phones for recording.

What this suggests is that you should be allowed to speak freely without someone keeping a record of it without your knowledge.

The downside of this is that technically if you record a politician coming home from his mistress’s place bladdered and flog it to the tabloids you could be breaking the law. 

Aussies want people to decrypt their encryptions

Australia’s Attorney General department is jolly cross that people are encrypting their traffic so that it cannot be read by spooks.

It is drawing up new laws to force users and providers of encrypted internet communications services to decode any data intercepted by authorities. After all, it will save a lot of time and effort if the terrorists tell the spooks what is in their emails, rather than having to waste time decrypting it.

The proposal is buried in a submission by the department to a Senate inquiry on revision of the Telecommunications Interception Act.

The Attorney General admits that this will go down like a bucket of cold chunder and that the government might actually come the raw prawn and say now.

It says that the rise of encryption use by businesses makes it more difficult to guarantee that intercepted communications will be in an “intelligible” format.

“Sophisticated criminals and terrorists are exploiting encryption and related counter-interception techniques to frustrate law enforcement and security investigations, either by taking advantage of default-encrypted communications services or by adopting advanced encryption solutions,” the submission noted.

Yahoo!, Google and Microsoft already enable encryption by default for their respective web-based email services. BlackBerry’s messaging encryption has also previously been raised as a law enforcement issue.

Under the department’s cunning plan, “law enforcement, anti-corruption and national security agencies would apply to an independent issuing authority for a warrant authorising the agency to issue ‘intelligibility assistance notices’ to service providers and other persons”.

The department attempted to re-assure the government that this is done already however, forcing individual suspects to unlock encrypted messages would be a new power for authorities.

Aussies caught copying Americans

Aussie intelligence has been accused of modelling itself on the paranoid US by spying on its ally Indonesia.

Australian spooks at the Australian Signals Directorate tapped calls by Indonesia’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, according to new documents leaked by defence contractor Edward Snowden

Apparently, they listened in for 15 days in August 2009, they also tracked calls made and received by the president’s wife Kristiani Herawati along with Indonesia’s vice president, foreign affairs spokesman, security minister and its information minister.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott last week played down the spying allegations saying that Australia had “such a close, cooperative and constructive relationship” with its nearest and most important neighbour.

We guess he should know, it is easy to be close when you know everything about someone.

Other Aussie politicians supported Abbott claimed that it was just “chest thumping” by Indonesia’s politicians attempting to further their positions in the lead up to the nation’s elections.

However, Greens leader Christine Milne said that spying on your allies was not the way you treat your best friends. 

Indonesians hackers fume at Aussie spooks

Indonesian hackers have declared war on Australian businesses  and hit more than 100 targets including a major Queensland hospital, a children’s cancer association and an anti-slavery charity.

More than 100 Australian websites were hit by the wave of cyber-attacks, which were launched in retaliation the news that the Aussies had been spying on Indonesia from its  Jakarta embassy. It turned out that the Jakarta embassy, were being used for widespread electronic surveillance in a secretive operation unknown to most embassy staff.

The Java Cyber Army said that the press should warn the Australian government that the attacks would continue until there is a clear recognition of spying on Indonesia.

Attacks were launched by groups including the Indonesian Cyber Army and Java Cyber Army, which claim affiliation  with Anonymous.

The sites were hijacked and posted with messages such as: “This is not a joke or a dream, this is f—ing reality. Stop illegal spying on Indonesian [sic].”

A spokesman for the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane, run by UnitingCare Health, said the cyber-attack was fixed quickly and there was no chance that patient information had been compromised. A spokesman told the Sydney Morning Herald that he didn’t have a clue why the hospital had been attacked.

In fact it looks like the attacks were random, ranging from charities to small businesses and even a strip club.

The  Children’s Tumour Foundation of Australia, which supports people and families affected by the genetic disorder neurofibromatosis said that it could not understand why someone would attack a small charity.

LulzSec honcho hacked into Aussie local council

One of the leaders of the international hacking ring Lulzsec was caught when he broke into a website belonging to a local authority in northwestern New South Wales, ‘Straya.

Matthew Trevor Flannery, 24, from the Central Coast, has been charged with gaining unauthorised access to, and altering, restricted data on Narrabri Shire Council’s website.

Sydney’s Central Local Court was told that Flannery uploaded a file which disrupted the site’s function.

Flannery, who used the online handle Aush0k, did not enter a plea to three separate charges of unauthorised access to and modification of computer data.

According to the Australian, if the charges are proven he could face 12 years in jail.

The case was adjourned to Woy Woy Local Court on August 6, with Flannery’s bail continued until that date.

His main claim to fame is that he said he was a leader of LulzSec, an offshoot of the Anonymous hacking collective.

LulzSec claimed credit for a series of attacks in 2011, including against America’s CIA and the UK’s Sun newspaper.

At the time of the Narrabri attack, he was working in Sydney as an overnight IT help desk assistant, employed by Content Security in North Ryde to provide advice to a US client.

The council he hacked was more than 520km away, in the heart of the state’s cotton farming community. In fact the only reason it is famous is that the town of Wee Waa hosted the global album launch of French electro pop act Daft Punk in May. 

Romanian hackers hit Australian credit cards

Romanian hackers have stolen more than $25 million from half a million Australian credit cards, coppers have confirmed.

Australian Federal Police confirmed they were working with law enforcement bodies in other countries to tackle the organised hackers.

The attacks seem to have come after the hackers took out several merchants whose individual computer systems have been compromised.

According to the The Age, the same hacker group is believed to have been responsible for a hack of US Subway restaurants.

Four Romanians have been charged over millions of dollars in credit card fraud affecting about 80,000 customers.

The syndicate found its victims by scanning the internet for vulnerable point of sale terminals.

Aussie police said that the borderless nature of this crime provides some new headaches for coppers.

Not only do they need to co-operate with other police forces, but they need international and private sector co-operation to take down the criminals.

But it is a little difficult to stop. Hackers are finding softer targets with local chippies with insecure point of sale machines than they do with banks and supermarket chains. 

Google goes Waltzing Matilda

Search engine Google has found itself having trouble in the outback after the tax troopers one, two and three wanted to ask it about all that cash it had stored in its tucker bag.

According to the Age, everything was going fine for Google when it camped by a billabong, under the shade of a Coolibah tree. And it made a fair bit of dosh while waiting for his billy to boil.

Apparently he had a billion stored in his tucker bag but only paid $74,176 in Australian tax last year.

Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull called in the tax troopers One Two Three because he wanted to see the cash Google had stored in its tucker bag.

Turnbull wrote on his blog that he was very worried about a material erosion of the Aussie tax base which did not really scan and is not part of the original song as sung by Rolf Harris.

Turnbull also felt sorry for the Aussie media companies are losing revenue to competitors who, while delivering services directed at Australians and thoroughly ‘present’ in Australia, pay very little tax.

He called for Google to go beyond the pathetically defensive, ‘we comply with all relevant laws and regulations’ excuse and actually state why the troopers should be indifferent to Australia’s largest single advertising platform paying little or no tax.

Google said that it abided by relevant taxation laws and certainly was not squatting in the outback.

Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury has decided that transfer pricing legislation introduced this week to Parliament would “ensure that multi-national companies pay their fair share of tax” and would address multi-national companies shifting profits within their companies to avoid paying tax.

But the fear is that if Google gets miffed it will just leave the country and its ghost will be heard as you pass by the billabong of a Google who went Waltzing Matilda, you see?

Australian researchers create single atom transistor

Australian researchers don’t give a XXXX about Moore’s Law and have emerged from their smoke filled labs having created a transistor from a single atom.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a team from Sydney managed to create a transistor by precisely positioning a phosphorus atom in a silicon crystal.

Of course, it is being heralded as an important step in the development of quantum computers which are potentially neither here nor there.

Michelle Simmons, of the University of NSW, said single atom devices had only been made before by chance and their margin of error for placement of the atom was about 10 nanometres.

But by sticking the atom where they wanted it, they have come up with a building block for a super-fast quantum computer.

The technique involved using a scanning tunnelling microscope. They were able to replace one silicon atom from a group of six with one phosphorus atom.

Professor Simmons, director of the Australian Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology and sheepdip, said that the device was perfect.

The single atom sits between two pairs of electrodes, one about 20 nanometres apart, the other about 100 nanometres apart. When the researchers hit it with a burst of electricity, the nano device worked like a transistor.

The research is published today in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, which we get for the spot Schroedinger’s cat competition.

Professor Simmons said Moore’s Law predicts that transistors need to reach the single atom level by 2020. The discovery has managed to knock eight to ten years from the industry’s schedule. 

Sony irritates Australia on pricey Tablet S

Sony has really got the Australians upset by making much hay out of its price cuts on its keyboardless netbooks and then refusing to cut the price Down Under.

Sony dropped the price of its Tablet S by $100 after it failed to shift enough of them during the Christmas rush. To make matters worse, Sony is giving its American customers a free 180-day trial of its Music Unlimited service, five free rentals from Sony’s Video Unlimited Service and five free downloadable PlayStation games.

However, in Australia, Sony’s cunning plan is to keep charging those in the former British penal colony the full whack.

Sony said that it might consider some price adjustments in the future as it prepares to introduce the 3G version of the Sony Tablet, however, nothing is confirmed at this stage.

A spokesperson told the Sydney Morning Herald that the price is still “great value for money” particularly, we guess, as far as Sony is concerned. Sony Australia said it didn’t know why Sony US decided to change its policy.

But the consumer watchdog, Choice, has barked that it’s yet another example of how some of the big players in the market use their sway to essentially prevent consumers from getting a fair price, no matter where they live in the world.

The extra fee could become a rallying point for those who think that there should be laws to prevent this sort of thing. Labor MP Ed Husic is lobbying the government to ask the Productivity Commission to investigate the practice.

While vendors claim that the price difference is largely due to different market conditions and costs, particularly wages, the Productivity Commission can’t work out how this can justify some of the huge mark-ups.

Some Aussie buyers are picking up products cheaper at retail in the US than the wholesale price they are offered in Australia. Australian punters are just buying the product online rather than paying Sony’s special former penal colony tax. 

Anonymous net gets very wide

It seems that the hacking outfit Anonymous is casting its net fairly wide to take out people who really are not that important in the scheme of things.

After making some high profile attacks, Anonymous appeared to take time out to take out a Sydney council website yesterday, leaving about 10 staff accounts vulnerable.

OK we are not talking about the FBI website, with thousands of user details exposed, but it seems that Anonymous wants to get into grass roots hacking.

Four Mosman Municipal Council website databases were leaked in the incident by the hacking group ”Anonymous” in a link posted on the social networking site Twitter.

The hack means that anyone interested in Mosman Municipal Council’s doings can download a file containing the hacked council’s information.

While most of the information was public already, some of it contained user names, encrypted passwords and the email addresses of about 10 staff used for making changes to a council site. The passwords were encrypted and by the time anyone tries a brute force attack on them they will have changed.

The manager of IT services at the council, Kevin Nonweile told the Sydney Morning Herald  that the staff account details had been leaked and that the council was in discussions with its website hosting provider ”to validate how it occurred”.

Nonweile admitted that the council was more surprised that Anonymous had taken the time to hack it.