AusCERT 2013: PRISM, soap, and kittens

Summary:AusCERT's annual conference has wrapped up for 2013, and this time, it was personal.

The Australian Computer Emergency Response Team, or AusCERT, was formed 20 years ago, and is one of the oldest CERTs in the world.

Its annual conference took place at the end of May, and this time, it was personal.

I opened my coverage of the event with a full-on rant , where one thing I moaned about was the fact that we are "all under constant surveillance and privacy is dead".

Shortly after the conference, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed details about the US government's PRISM program.

So we are all under surveillance. Are you surprised? You shouldn't be.

Just over five years ago, I asked Google's Eric Schmidt about this exact thing.

He didn't answer my question, but he did reveal that the US government often requested info on Google's users, and the company would comply if the requests were "legal".

Fortunately for the US government, the post-9/11 era has seen its legal system twisted in a way that makes PRISM perfectly legal.

This makes me very angry.

Conference 2013 highlights

One of the most popular presentations at the AusCERT conference this year was by Bill Hagestad, a retired Marine who warned that the accusations and counter-accusations of state-sponsored cyberattacks between China and everyone else are creating a dangerous situation .

Marcus Ranum pointed out how the US government's attitude to cyberwar is completely ridiculous .

Dimitri Alperovitch, who is ex-McAfee and co-founder of CrowdStrike, explored various ways that companies could hit back at hackers .

One surprising topic of conversation revolved around Dove — yes, the company that makes soap.

Dove Canada thought it would be a good idea to spread awareness for a marketing campaign by creating a Photoshop action that did something very different from what it was advertised to do.

Sean Richmond from Sophos wasn't too impressed, either.

Neither of us thought the use of a trojan — malicious or not — was appropriate for a marketing campaign.

And finally

Before wrapping up this video, I wanted to clarify something I said in my original "rant" video.

I said politicians are puppets who spend their time "cutting deals for their corporate overlords".

That line, according to Marcus Ranam, is wrong.

Ranam pointed out that politicians have been colluding with bankers for a long time now, and there is a revolving door between the two. This means the politicians are the bankers, which means the situation is actually a lot worse!

Thanks for watching and reading. I'm already looking forward to AusCERT 2014.

Topics: AUSCERT, Security

About

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.Munir was recognised as Austr... Full Bio

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