ICP/BCM206: Blog Post 11: Week 12

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The internet of things: from networked objects to anticipatory spaces

In the last blog post I mentioned how the ‘Internet of Things’ was being hijacked in a new age of cyberwarfare. But what exactly is the internet of things?

At it’s most base level – it is things connected to the internet, far beyond your standard user-based interactive console. The explosion of ‘smart devices’ and appliances has boomed since mobile connectivity has improved. You can now have your toast popped, kettle boiled, and house a perfect temperature with all the lights on before you even leave your bed, controlling it all with that little, powerful device we all keep in our pockets.

This was not convenience we ever really needed, yet now we continue to find new ways to streamline our days with thanks to the internet, micromanaging our lives by connecting everything together. But such convenience comes at a cost – by merging our everyday lives more and more into the digital, by relying on our devices to run everything, we open up vulnerabilities that only would have been thought of in cyberpunk fiction years ago. As we go down this rabbit hole, privacy becomes more scarce. Surveillance becomes easier.

We even become less human.

ICP/BCM206: Blog Post 10: Week 11

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Dark fiber: hackers, botnets, cyberwar

Did you know your toaster could be mining bitcoin for someone else?

As though we weren’t already in a dystopian cyberpunk future enough, we discovered that if it could connect to the internet, it could be hijacked and used for malicious intent – no matter what it was. Thus began the age of toasters spying on you.

As trivial as it sounded, internet-connected appliances around the world – fridges, cctv, baby monitors – were all vulnerable to be hijacked and used for botnets, as the Mirai malware incident showed us. On a small scale it doesn’t sound like much, but when linked up, the ever expanding botnet was able to launch record breaking and incredibly high scale attacks.

The internet of things has become a new way of waging cyberwarfare, drawing inspiration from the early days of internet network distribution to take down centralised networks. Once again the nodes rise.

 

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ICP/BCM206: Blog Post 9: Week 10

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Digital resistance: hacktivists, whistleblowers, #AfterSnowden

In 2013, Edward Snowden released information we all suspected but never confirmed: all of us were being watched.

Our phone calls, our browsing histories, every bit of data was being analysed by the NSA.

It shook the world and the ripples are still bouncing off the borders of every country to this day.

Previously digital activism went largely unnoticed by the masses – hacktivists fought for the freedom of information and protested censorship by mounting DDoS attacks and defacing websites. Occasionally they would bring down major companies, either because they disagreed with their policies – or as a warning to their investors and customers that their data was not as safe as they thought it was.

We’d all had our suspicions that we were being watched but it was mostly shut down as paranoia, or dismissed with a non-chalant “I have nothing to hide” wave of the hand. It divided the US; some believed we had a right to know why they were watching us, to what degree, and not entirely satisfied with the ‘because safety’ response. The others called Snowden – and others such as Julian Assange – traitors to the American people, traitors to humanity for blowing the whistle on top-secret government practices that were to keep us safe.

Just as we were beginning to forget, the Facebook data breach happened. It didn’t matter our privacy settings – everything that we shared, Facebook logged and kept, then sold to the highest bidder. We were being watched all over again – but not for safety – for corporations to profit off of us. It was an outrage.

How long until we forget again?

ICP/BCM206: Blog Post 8: Week 9

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The social network revolutions: #mena #arabspring #maidan

Remember Corey Worthington?

A careless teen who posted an open invite to a house party in 2008 that soon saw his parent’s house and his neighbourhood trashed as mass mobs converged on the property.

We began hearing about more parties being crashed due to careless or accidental oversharing on social media. We began to see social experiments about what the consequences of public information was. We all learned a valuable lesson: learn how to use privacy tools – and keep your address off the internet.

Then we began to see that power used to rally together.

The rise of social media as an organisational tool began to terrify oppressive governments. It was rapid and fast; the attempts to silence turned into mass protests.

And then we saw an entire country fall into silence. Unable to control the internet – they took it away. Still they protested. And the governments learned a valuable lesson: you cannot keep your corruption silent in this digital age.

 

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