After the horrible events in Christchurch, New Zealand last month, I spent some time tracking the terrorist’s manifesto and video as they traveled through the web. I wrote this article describing the technical aspects of how to track a file and why it is difficult, and some technologies -such as IPFS- that extremist groups will be using in the future to make removal of a file even more challenging.
Side note: I originally wrote the article for The Conversation, but since everything there is CC-licensed, the story was picked up and re-run by International Business Times, Raw Story, Alternet, International Policy Digest, and so on. I suppose that is an interesting meta-story about how my own article moved through the web.
In this article about our collective terrible password habits, I discuss some reasons why we constantly use ‘password’ and ‘123456’ even though we know it’s a terrible idea, as well as some fixes that work with human memory and mathematical complexity, rather than against.
On January 18, 2017 the US Department of Homeland Security discontinued its Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report service which it had run since October 2006. To enable researchers to study the content of these reports, I collected as many as I could find (2,151 PDF files) and released them to the Internet Archive. You can find them here: DHS Daily Open Source Infrastructure Reports 2006-2017
Many friends are posting results of the Quizzstar “words of the year” app on Facebook. It generates a 2010-style word cloud of the words you used on Facebook posts most frequently. To make the image, the user gives Quizzstar permission to view all their old posts, download them to Quizzstar, at which point Quizzstar generates the image. Below is a screenshot of the Quizzstar web site, showing that this app is currently their #1 most popular. (They also have other apps that harvest your friends list and so on.)
What users might not be aware of is that by installing this app in your Facebook account, you are agreeing to have your profile and posts mined in order to change and influence the advertisements that you are subsequently shown.
An example of how they use your FB wall posts are mixed with this third party data is as follows (section 18),
We use the remarketing and ad technology provided by Taboola… in order to improve the relevance of the advertising presented to consumers. [This]… includes technical browser and system information, details of how you used our service, such as your navigation paths the referring site, application, or service as well as might be combined with such data collected on other sources. Taboola might also use “Web Beacons” (small invisible images) to collect information. Through the use of “Web Beacons” simple actions such as the visitor traffic to the website can be pseudonymously recorded and collected.
Doesn’t that sound fun?
If you regret installing this app, here’s how to get rid of it.
On a regular device, such as a laptop or desktop machine (i.e. full screen browser):
Go into privacy, and click “See more settings”
2. On the left, click “Apps”
3. Click “Show All” and hover your mouse over the errant app. Use the “X” to remove it (the Cartwheel app is shown, because I had forgotten to remove this one after an experiment last month! whoops)
Removing it on a mobile device
If you’re using a mobile device, you can remove apps by finding your profile page and click through as shown. Sorry Android users, this is an iPhone – I hope FB mobile is similar on your device!
Today Wikileaks released a searchable interface for 60k HB Gary emails. HBGary is infamous for claiming that it had developed social media-based techniques that allowed it to track down members of Anonymous back in 2011, and for collaborating with the federal government to discredit certain liberal groups, including unions. The earliest are from 2008, the latest from 2011.