Cybersecurity Roundup: June 25, 2019

Facebook’s Libra brought to you by Black Mirror, the internet goes down because it’s a mess, a hacker dropped a crime-y USB stick while doing more crimes, Hannity’s cringey thirst-texts to Manafort, NASA has been hacked a lot, and much more.


A boot stamping on the blockchain forever

Engadget pitched me to write a piece this week about Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency, but I counter-pitched a different topic, for a few reasons. It’s true that Libra feels like another fun moment to mock where, like with Portal, Facebook seriously fails to read the room about how little people trust or *actually* want to do business with the company. And it’s a great opportunity to talk about the blatant disregard Facebook shows for ushering in a very fucked new way to disenfranchise people from the system, like what it’s done to all manner of at-risk populations.

But I’m glad I passed on it because a) I’m not a crypto nerd and I find crypto-humpers tiresome, and b) someone wrote a post this week that nails it in a way that’ll make your blood run cold. It also points out all the things outlets should be reporting on regarding Libra, instead of masturbating onto Facebook’s latest press release because they got a crumb of access on a topic no mainstream reporter actually understands.

Libra, a Cyberpunk Nightmare in the Midst of Crypto Spring by Daniel Jeffries (Hacker Noon) is a long crypto-nerd breakdown about what Libra means for the various cryptocommunities. It also tears apart the insane legalese in Libra’s documentation, showing over and over that Libra’s statements contradict themselves, usually within the same sentence.

But it’s the last section of the post you’ll want to read. Trust me. Skip down to where Jeffries warns, “If the dream of crypto enthusiasts was to restore self-sovereign money, they failed … These companies took the best ideas of the crypto community and channeled them safely back through known choke points.” 

Further, he describes what Libra means:

Panopticon money. Lack of control. Identities linked to everything we do so that companies know where we live, where we shop, who we’re sleeping with, who we’re friends with and more. They can track our digital and real life right down to the nanosecond. And they can see through your wallet like Superman seeing through walls and into your past, present and even into your future with predictive analytics. They will control the flow of money and make or break businesses, communities and geographies.

Like I said, I don’t have a horse in the crypto-cult race. But it feels like so many other things happening right now when Jeffries warns, “If Libra is the ultimate winner in the space and speeds to world market dominance then crypto was the biggest waste of potential freedom ever invented.”


New number who dis

This week began with a … [page still loading]. For three hours on Monday, someone at US ISP DQE Communications gave out the wrong routing numbers for around 2% of the internet and sent Cloudflare, Facebook, Amazon, and others into the abyss — causing big outages

The traffic was misdirected through steel company Allegheny Technologies and passed along to Verizon for more dissemination — but, not surprisingly, the steel company’s magic internet machines buckled under the strain. Pop went the internet for a whole lot of people.

It got fixed, obviously, though not without a few fun conspiracy theories running amok on Ye Olde Infosec Twitter. Register explained what actually happened:

Internet engineers blamed a piece of automated networking software – a BGP optimizer built by Noction – that was used by DQE to improve its connectivity. And even though these kinds of misconfigurations happen every day, there is significant frustration and even disbelief that a US telco as large as Verizon would pass on this amount of incorrect routing information.

Researcher Badidea made us all feel better (cough) by pointing out in a great BGP crash course explainer thread, “And yes, the entire internet functions on a gentleperson’s agreement not to publish incorrect BGP routes on purpose, and yes, sometimes it happens on purpose.”


More, because cringing is fun:

If you’re going to crime, don’t accidentally drop more crimes on the ground when you do it: Anonymous hacker exposed after dropping USB drive while throwing Molotov cocktail (ZDNet)

We all remember being lovesick teens, but maybe someone should pick up scrapbooking for a while: “Hey U Up”: Sean Hannity’s Desperate, Longing Texts to Paul Manafort (Slate)

The details are brutal and absolutely delicious: Facebook fails to kill class-action lawsuit over data breach (CyberScoop)

This longread reveals how one jerk terrorized women by extensively, continually hacking into their Facebook accounts. Would be interesting to know how: He Cyberstalked Teen Girls for Years—Then They Fought Back (Wired)

If there’s a price on it, can we buy it back? Exclusive: Warner wants Google, Facebook to put a price on your data (Axios)

This is bad, and in one instance an attacker used a Raspberry Pi like a bad Mr. Robot knockoff: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab a Frequent Hack Victim: Audit (Data Breach Today)

This probably made Palmer Luckey so excited he got out his favorite Pepe Fleshlight: Hacked documents reveal sensitive details of expanding border surveillance (Washington Post)


The home front

Being in San Francisco right now feels like an echo of Weimar Berlin. While it’s true that my city is in a pattern of cultural decline, its roots in passionate politics, permissiveness, arts, thinking and innovation, and a reputation for empowered decadence are still intact. It feels so much more so with our Pride celebration coming up this weekend. 

The city is decked with rainbow flags and people of all stripes are celebrating their sexual freedom with art, dress, events, and street activism as we prep to enjoy events steeped in meaning about the place of outsiders in an increasingly oppressive atmosphere. This atmosphere is the larger political stage, but also the extreme lives we have to live here in the shadows of Big Tech and their many, moneyed employees.

All of us writers, artists, musicians, and “others” are struggling — to make ends meet, and to have our voices heard. Thank you for helping with that by reading, supporting, and telling the world about things like this weekly roundup. If you’re a supporter, thank you for keeping my voice here and accessible. If you’re not, you can support this by becoming a patron at any level. And if you’re too broke right now, I feel ya — share a link to this on social media and consider it like leaving coins in the tip jar.

I hope you have a great week and find something in the conclusion of Pride month that reminds you of the good in all of us. It’s why I’ll be going to every event. I’ll be posting my adventures on Twitter if you want to join me.

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