Interview with a cryptocurrency scammer

Adam Guerbuez is a cryptocurrency evangelist whose Youtube channel is full of videos promoting cryptocurrency trading; when he got a Twitter message from a scammer promising to send him free Ethereum coins, he asked the scammer if they could talk about the scam. Read the rest

Cornered FCC admits that its website was never hacked

When the FCC announced its intention to kill Network Neutrality, it had to accept public comments, and what followed was bizarre even by Trump-era standards: first, millions of living, breathing Americans sent so many pro-Net Neutrality comments to the FCC that the website crashed; then bots spammed the FCC with millions of obviously fake anti-Neutrality comments, stealing the identities of real Americans (including two US Senators!) to do so; despite the overwhelming evidence that humans loved Net Neutrality and bots hated it, the FCC declared that it would give the bot comments equal weight with the human ones; and then it stopped accepting comments, claiming that its website had been hacked. Read the rest

Twitterbot mines Venmo's public-by-default transactions and tweets presumably sarcastic drug buys and sexual services

When Hang Do Thi Duc published her work on the privacy implications of payment processor Venmo's "public-by-default" directory of payments, she did not release her dataset out of respect for the privacy of the Venmo users whose personal lives were on display in the data. Read the rest

In two days, an EU committee will vote to crown Google and Facebook permanent lords of internet censorship

On June 20, the EU's legislative committee will vote on the new Copyright directive, and decide whether it will include the controversial "Article 13" (automated censorship of anything an algorithm identifies as a copyright violation) and "Article 11" (no linking to news stories without paid permission from the site). Read the rest

FBI sinkholes a key domain used by the malware that infected 500,000 home routers, declares partial victory and Russian attribution

VPNFilter is a virulent, sophisticated, multistage worm that has successfully infected 500,000 home routers, leaving them vulnerable to both surveillance (the malware snoops network traffic for passwords) and region-wide internet shutdowns (VPNFilter can brick the routers it infects, and an attacker could shut down most or all of the home/small business internet access in a region by triggering this). Read the rest

DoNotPay bot launches a cheap airline ticket that automates the nearly impossible business of getting refunds when prices fall

The DoNotPay bot (previously) is a versatile consumer advocacy chatbot created by UK-born Stanford computer science undergrad Joshua Browder, with its origins in a bot to beat malformed and improper traffic tickets, helping its users step through the process of finding ways to invalidate the tickets and saving its users millions in the process. Read the rest

Exiled Cambodian opposition leader sues Facebook in California over allegations of collusion with Cambodia's dictator

Cambodian dictator Hun Sen has ruled since 1998, and when an opposition leader used Facebook to challenge his election in 2013, Hun Sen teamed up with a fake news outlet called Fresh News to deploy a Facebook-based strategy to consolidate his control and neutralize democratic opposition. Read the rest

The latest IoT botnet displays evidence of a halfway clever botmaster

The amazing and frightening thing about the Mirai botnet's reign of terror wasn't that it was a super-sophisticated cyberweapon: rather, it was a clumsy, amateurish fuggly hack that turned out to have been produced by a couple of dum-dums with a Minecraft racket. Read the rest

New York Times profiles a sleazy Twitter follower-farm, the sleazy serial liar who made millions on it, and the celebs, politicians, sports figures and "influencers" who paid him

Devumi is a sleazy Twitter-bot farm founded by German Calas, a serial liar who buys wholesale Twitter bots from even scummier bottom-feeders than him, and pays a series of low-waged patsies to direct them to follow people who want to seem more popular and influential than their actual Twitter follower-count suggests. Read the rest

Research report explains how adtech supercharges political deceit, allowing even bumblers to be master propagandists

A new report from the New America Foundation uses the current fear that Russian government elements manipulated the 2016 US election to explore the relationship between advertising technology, surveillance capitalism, and "precision propaganda," showing how the toolsuite developed for the advertising industry is readily repurposable by even modestly competent actors to spread disinformation campaigns. Read the rest

Neither Huxleyed, nor Orwelled: living in the Phildickian dystopia

Political scientist and sf fan Henry Farrell (previously) argues persuasively that the dystopian elements of our everyday life are best viewed through the lens of Philip K Dick (whose books repeatedly depicted a world of constructed realities, whose true nature was obscured by totalitarians, conspiracies, and broken computers) and not Orwell or Huxley, whose computers and systems worked altogether too well to be good parallels for today's janky dystopia. Read the rest

Paradise Papers reveal cozy relationship between Stubhub and Canadian botmaster/scalper kingpin

The Paradise Papers continue to expose the economically useless activity that late-stage capitalism rewards with titanic sums of money: today, it's the story of Julien Lavallée, a botmaster ticket-scalper who has harvested the lion's share of concert tickets from all over the world, laundering them for millions through a secret "top seller" program that Stubhub offers to anyone who can move more than $50,000 worth of tickets per year. Read the rest

Botcheck.me: a plugin that predicts whether a Twitter user is a bot

Ash Bhat and Rohan Phadte are 20 year old UC Berkeley students who turned a machine learning class assignment into a browser plugin that tries to guess whether a given Twitter profile is associated with a bot or a human, and assigns a probability score that takes into account the possibility that a bot has human pilots who can take over at key junctures. Read the rest

The Tories' failed £1.2m social smear ads reveal callouses on our attention’s tender spots

The UK election didn't deliver the increased majority that PM Theresa May was seeking, but it wasn't for lack of trying: the UK Conservative party spent £1.2m on social media smear ads that painted Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a terrorist sympathiser, a useful idiot for Scottish separatism, and an incompetent.

A twitterbot that turns Trump's tweets into official presidential statements is usefully jarring

I'm skeptical of the project to keep Trump "not normal" -- not because he's not abnormal, but because the human psyche is a relentless normalizer, able to make everything from extermination camps to death row to slavery "normal" and trying not to adapt to stimulus is a hard target to shoot for. Read the rest

Floods of WordPress attacks traced to easily hackable, ISP-supplied routers

Wordfence, a security research company, discovered that the reason Algeria is the country most often seen in attacks on WordPress blogs is that the country's largest ISP distributes home routers that are locked in an insecure state, with an open port that lets attackers seize control of them and use them to stage attacks on higher-value targets. Read the rest

The Internet of Things will host devastating, unstoppable botnets

Bruce Schneier takes to the pages of Technology Review to remind us all that while botnets have been around for a long time, the Internet of Things is supercharging them, thanks to insecurity by design. Read the rest

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