01.08.2014

Hello! It is Friday. And do you know who’s muscling in on my turf? Martha Stewart. As one does. Writing about DRONES. Also, here is a video of a man shooting drones with a shotgun. This is what I’d imagine Mad Max would be like if Mad Max weren’t so delightfully set in a pre-technology 1980s sunset.

You can make encrypted calls on your iPhone now, thanks to an app called Signal developed by the encryption wizards at Whisper Systems. It’s absurdly easy to use, and you should certainly give it a try (though, the usual disclaimer with new apps such as this – while signal is probably secure, never trust anything that has been subject to a serious security audit). 

Good thing, too: Canada’s NSA often intercepts citizens’ private communications without a warrant. I also can’t imagine why the new head of the NSA wouldn’t be invited to some of the summer’s hottest hacker events ($3 rail shots, Linux users free before 11, etc.)

This Ian Bogost take on Disney World’s fantasyland of wearable technology and big data is your must read of the week. He talks about privacy with an accessibility and ease I envy. Speaking of, I’ve spent the year catching up on all the William Gibson I never read as a kid. Neuromancer turned 30 this year.

Russia is offering a paltry $110,000 to whoever can crack the anonymity software Tor and determine the identities of its users. Meanwhile, someone may have already figured out how.

The New York Times editorial board weighs in on the case of U.S. prosecutors who are asking Microsoft to turn over emails store on foreign servers – ironically arguing that the official legal process for seeking such data is too cumbersome, while at the same time the U.S. often requires government and law enforcement agencies in other countries to go through the exact same process to acquire data from companies in the U.S. (I wrote about this for Vice last week.)

Twitter released its latest transparency report this week. You really, really, really, really, really shouldn’t share USB sticks around. Also the tools that cell phone carriers use to push updates and settings to your phone remotely can be totally be exploited – at least, by security researchers. And 1Password, finally (with a little help from Apple’s iOS 8 software coming out this fall), is building the mobile password management app we’ve all been waiting for.

Here’s a good story on the company that, put simply, distributes internet traffic to servers across the world to keep your favourite websites online.

Dating site OKCupid “lied to a portion of users about how strongly they matched with other users” according to a blog post flaunting its human data experiments. This is not cool, briefly argues The Guardian, whereas the Washington Post argues that maybe it just comes with the online dating territory. And OKCupid’s co-founder and president Christian Rudder reassuringly tells NPR that at least his company has the “charade of consent with these terms and conditions.”

This week in Canada: Here’s a great Ars Technica feature on Citizen Lab the Toronto-based “Hacker Hothouse” and research laboratory tasked with tracking censorship, cyber attacks and more online. McGill University professor Gabriella Coleman has been studying Anonymous for years, and has a new book coming out in November, aptly titled Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous. I seem to rant about this weekly, so let’s continue the trend: Canadian news organizations are bad at operational security and teaching their journalists how to use encrypted communications.

This week in probably not a good thing: Brian Krebs reported that hackers – likely from China – spent almost a year siphoning secrets from the defense companies that built Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system. The Chinese are also being accused of hacking into computers at Canada’s National Research Council. Some wonder too, I guess, considering “Ottawa needs a more coherent plan to address large-scale cyber attacks, according to internal documents obtained by the Star.”

Also, Krebs’ new book Spam Nation sounds fascinating. I mean, look at this:

“The backdrop of the story is a long-running turf war between two of the largest sponsors of spam. A true-crime tale of political corruption and ill-fated alliances, tragedy, murder and betrayal, this book explains how the conditions that gave rise to this pernicious industry still remain and are grooming a new class of cybercriminals.”

This week in brands ruin everything: birthdays in the future are gonna’ suck.

And here’s your weekly surveillance slowjam, sure to make anything you do online today feel like a Charlie Brown interstitial.

I’m going camping in the woods this weekend so this .digest might be my l a s t. Thanks for subscribing. You’re all the best.