The Sizzle

Issue 415 - Friday, 16th June 2017


CIA hacking routers & offering bribes to devs whilst BAE sells mass surveillance to the Middle East
Three pieces of slightly unnerving infosec news for you to mull over this weekend: the founder of Telegram said that US intelligence agencies tried to bribe Telegram's developers into weakening encryption in their messaging app (no prizes for guessing why the CIA would like to read encrypted comms). The CIA has been hacking consumer level routers with a homegrown and rather classy exploit called CherryBlossom, in order to use them as "covert listening posts" that "monitor and manipulate incoming and outgoing traffic and infect connected devices". BAE, one of the world's largest defence contractors, has been selling advanced mass internet surveillance equipment to Arab governments, against the UK government's advice. Just another sunny day in infosec land.

No more overpriced EU mobile roaming
Good news for those travelling to Europe - no more EU roaming charges! (kinda) The EU has enacted law that anyone travelling to an EU member country will be able to use their mobile phone calls, SMS and data as if they were still at home. For example, you can fly into London, pick up a UK SIM and use that SIM for the entirety of your Euro jaunt as if you were using it in London. There's a lot of fine print, but generally, that's how it applies. The EU has an FAQ on the topic, if you want some more detail. The main gotcha for anyone travelling around the EU will be question 3 - how long can you use the roaming until the home telco gets pissed off?

Twitter renovates its web & mobile apps
Twitter has put some more lipstick on its pig, renovating its website and mobile apps. "More intuitive icons make it easier to engage with Tweets" alright, cool. "We've refined our typography to make it more consistent, and added bolder headlines to make it easier to focus on what's happening" nice, ok, kinda like what Apple is doing with the App Store, got it. "Tweets now update instantly with reply, Retweet, and like counts so you can see conversations as they're happening – live" cool, I can see in real time how viral my tweets regarding the athletic capability of the North Melbourne Football Club are. "Links to articles and websites now open in Safari's viewer in the Twitter app", fuck yeah, about time ya nongs.

NBN's FTTC rollout begins
NBN has begun FTTC (also called FTTdp, but it's FTTC in NBN nomenclature) installation trials. I would have thought they'd do these trials before announcing they're gonna roll it out to over 1 million homes, but whatever, NBN are cooked, we all know that. The first area in Australia to get FTTC will be Coburg, a previously immigrant filled, but now totally gentrified, northern Melbourne suburb. A list of the first 6 months and 321,000 premises of FTTC rollout has been released too, with huge chunks of Sydney and Melbourne receiving NBN's 3rd shittiest last mile technology. (the ranking from best to worst is FTTP, HFC, FTTC, FTTN, Wireless, Satellite) Customers should expect live services around mid-2018. If you're wondering how FTTC works, here's a nice video from one of NBN's suppliers, NetComm.

No more community TV broadcasts in AU as of July 1st
Dunno if this is 100% tech related, but I found it sad - community TV will no longer exist in Australia. C31, Melbourne's community TV station sent a letter to its supporters, saying that the Department of Communications will no longer give community TV stations access to spectrum to broadcast on, despite ACMA giving the organisations a broadcast licence until 2019. C31 (and others around the country), will be shut down on June 30th, 2017. Just a few weeks away. The government may use excuses like "oh there's the internet now", but really, it just wants to flog off that valuable spectrum these broadcasters use.


Canada outlaws telco SIM locking
If you didn't already love Canada, they're sure to win the hearts of many a nerd with their latest piece of legislation. It's now illegal to SIM lock mobile devices and any devices that locked currently, must be unlocked for free. I reckon a politician cracked the shits at having to pay to unlock their phone to move carrier and decided to wage a personal vendetta against the crooked telco industry. Maybe we could do this in Australia, wouldn't that be nice? I love how the site I linked to with this news is called MobileSyrup. Because it's Canadian, as is genuine maple syrup. I like maple syrup.

Black Mirror, in book form!
My favourite TV show (yeah I'm calling it - all time favourite), Black Mirror, is gonna be published in the written word format, aka, a book. From Amazon: "Edited by Charlie Brooker, the creator of the hit Netflix original series Black Mirror, this book takes the very essence of the globally acclaimed cult TV show to create new, original, darkly satirical stories that tap into our collective unease about the modern world. This is Black Mirror in book form, allowed to roam through the imaginations of some of the leading names in contemporary fiction. This collection will challenge you to see the world in a different—and more disturbing—light." Will be out 20th of Feb next year apparently. I can't wait!

More local councils should live stream their meetings
It's always bugged me that local council proceedings are not live streamed over the internet. The meetings are a pain to get to as they're always at inconvenient times and locations. Ok, sure, it's not gonna be hugely popular, but at least it'll mean there's a high level of transparency in the area of government that has a huge impact on how our communities work. This rather detail-less story on the ABC about a group of local councils in WA deciding to stream their meetings live onlineis the first time I've ever seen it mentioned in the news. I wish the state governments would fund it properly and make it mandatory, even if only a dozen people watch it.

Here endeth the sizzle (until Monday!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Join us on Slack and chat with other Sizzle subscribers. Know someone who could use a bit of Sizzle in their life? Buy them a gift subscription!