Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Cryptopolitik and the Darknet

“Nothing is more curious than the almost savage hostility that Humour excites in those who lack it.”
~ George Saintsbury, A Last Vintage: Essays and Papers

As the Internet continues to grow at the speed of light, various convenient funding methods are available to consumers beyond their geographical locations...

Kay Bell, Problems with prepaid card tax refunds. “But there’s one big problem with these cards. Tax crooks absolutely love them”

Good News: Australian’s fared a little better – only 12% were willing to sell their login and password – and it got worse from there with the US at 27% - perhaps because its more frequent there. Rumours of a $35,000 bounty circulated Apple HQ for an admin level password. Six-figure sums are common in financial institutions.
20% will sell their soul – well their company login and password – to hackers  

Career Corner. Now That The Cloud Is Mainstream, Where Do Hipster Accountants Go From Here? (Chris Hooper, Going Concern).

Civil Support: DOD Needs to Clarify Its Roles and Responsibilities for Defense Support of Civil Authorities during Cyber Incidents, GAO-16-332: Published: Apr 4, 2016. Publicly Released: Apr 4, 2016.
Fortune, Why the IRS's Technology Nightmare Is Far From Over:
This is a story about the Internal Revenue Service, an 84,000-employee government agency with a job that’s as vital as it is hard to love—securing the trillions of dollars in taxes that make the government run. And these days, it’s an agency down on its luck: plagued by angry politicians, frustrated taxpayers, hordes of identity thieves, and—more recently—hackers.
The IRS’s latest and perhaps most spectacular foray into disaster was an online feature called Get Transcript. The tool, which for the first time allowed taxpayers to download their records directly from, was supposed to be the happy ending to the decades-long struggle to bring the IRS’s J.F.K.-era legacy technology into the Internet age. But in February the bureau announced that hackers had used Get Transcript to steal the personal information of 724,000 people. The hack, it turned out, was six times as damaging as the IRS initially thought when it detected the breach and shut down the tool last May.

Ars Technica
March 30, 2016
More than ever, websites are blocking users of the anonymizing Tor network or degrading the services they receive. Data published today by Web security company CloudFlare suggests why that is. In a company blog post entitled "The Trouble with Tor," CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince says that 94 percent of the requests the company sees coming across the Tor network are "per se malicious."

US officials reportedly fear that extremists could steal radioactive material from a medical facility and sold through the “dark web.” Cameron said he would deploy counterterrorism police and the UK Border Force while British leaders hold a Cobra meeting.
Cameron warns ISIS could use drones to spray nuclear material over western cities

Cryptopolitik and the Darknet By Daniel Moore, Thomas Rid, Publication: Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, February–March 2016, Pages: 7-38, Volume: 58. Edition number: 1. Date: 19 January 2016

Credentials for Australian accounts held with ANZ Bank with balances of US$18,000 (A$23,827), US$22,000 and US$62,567 were on sale for US$2250, US$3800 and US$4750 respectively Stolen Australian credit cards most valuable on Darknet

ZDnet, 21/3/16. In its report Backing Australian FinTech, the government said it recognises that that the current treatment of digital currency under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) law means that consumers are "double taxed" when using digital currency to buy anything already subject to GST.

How frictionless is Bitcoin?

Exclusive for TF: Clickhole explains Bitcoin (short video, funny)

Jack Townsend, ICIJ Panama Report on Offshore Financial and Enabler Skulduggery. “The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (“ICIJ”), here, has another blockbuster release titled Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and Corruption (4/3/16), here.”

We  hadn’t know that Zika had its first recorded outbreak on Yap island, where they use stone discs for money.  NYT link, here is Wikipedia.

Mattel’s and the Chinese cyber-thieves Bangkok Post

The Intelligence Community: Keeping Watch Over Its Contractor Workforce, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, June 18, 2014, published March 18, 2016. The hearing record is of particular interest as a reflection of the revived intelligence oversight role assumed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) following the issuance of 2014 Intelligence Community Directive 114, which authorized GAO access to intelligence information under certain circumstances.”

New York Times: “A new virtual gold rush is underway. Even as Bitcoin, riven by internal divisions, has struggled, a rival virtual currency — known as Ethereum — has soared in value, climbing 1,000 percent over the last three months. Beyond the price spike, Ethereum is also attracting attention from giants in finance and technology, like JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft and IBM, which have described it as a sort of Bitcoin 2.0. The rise of the relatively new virtual currency has been helped by a battle within the Bitcoin community over how the basic Bitcoin software should develop. The fights have slowed down Bitcoin transactions and led some people to look for alternative virtual currencies to power their businesses. Enter Ethereum…” to replace 1500 government websites with an uber-portal
Mandarin, 23/3/16. The federal government is to close down many of its more than 1500 websites, with the hope to offer an integrated coherent all of government service through one mega portal website called The first alpha version of the website was released today.
*DTO blog post

Messaging apps embrace the "dark social" Web
CBS news, 15/3/16. If you're looking for clues to the next big thing in social media, keep an eye on the realm of "dark social."

News from the Profession. Cyber Extortion: Leprechauns vs. Accountants (Megan Lewczyk, Going Concern)

Mass Surveillance Silences Minority Opinions Bruce Schneier

Cities Find New Way to Fight Crime: Paying Criminals Not to Kill

White House Says Agencies Reported 77,200 Cyber Incidents in 2015
NextGov, Mar 2016. During fiscal 2015, federal departments collectively reported 77,183 cybersecurity incidents, a 10 percent uptick from the number reported the previous year.
*Report -
Annual Report To Congress: Federal Information Security Modernization Act

Michelle Ferrier's experience with harassment didn't start online, but that's where she's fighting back. Years ago, as the first African-American columnist at the Daytona Beach (Florida) News-Journal, Ferrier started getting hate mail.
"One particular letter writer wrote to me over the period of three years with letters threatening death, a race war and hanging to Black people," she said. "I ended up leaving my job at the newspaper and going back into higher education."
Ferrier, now an associate dean at Ohio University's Scripps College of Communication, started TrollBusters, a website dedicated to drowning out the voices of harassers attacking women who write on the Web. Meet the woman drowning out trolls that harass female writers

Bitcoin Remains Most Popular Digital Currency on Dark Web
Coindesk, 21/3/16. The study found that websites offered illicit goods and services in 12 categories, including finance, and that bitcoin was still the digital currency of choice for conducting a wide range of other transactions.
*Paper -
Cryptopolitik and the Darknet

Information Security: IRS Needs to Further Improve Controls over Financial and Taxpayer Data, GAO-16-398: Published: Mar 28, 2016. Publicly Released: Mar 28, 2016: “An underlying reason for these weaknesses is that IRS has not effectively implemented elements of its information security program. The agency had a comprehensive framework for its program, such as assessing risk for its systems, developing security plans, and providing employees with security awareness and specialized training. However, aspects of its program had not yet been effectively implemented.”  

The CIA naked photos scandal is a wake-up call Guardian

Rare manuscripts scam

Kay Bell, IRS releases Top 10 identity theft, tax fraud cases. 2015 only

Jack Townsend, IRS Publicizes Success in Prosecuting Identity Theft Refund Fraud
The IRS’s message from the selected 10 examples is that identify theft is serious and draws serious sentencings, with the principals involved receiving over 70 months (some well in excess of 100 months) incarceration (persons with lesser roles receive lesser, but still significant sentences).

The network of interconnected devices known as the internet of things is increasingly shaping new ways of understanding and controlling the world. Together with the 5G fifth generation of mobile networks and wireless systems, it is revolutionising the way we live and work Internet of things

There are two main points to make about security of the internet of things. The first is that it’s terrible. Abysmal. This is a fact. No one disputes it. “IoT security is in the dark ages,” is how Ken Munro of cyber security company Pen Test Partners puts it Internet of Things (IoT) security still stuck in the dark ages

Stuart Gibson, Information Exchange: Bonanza for Tax Administrators, Temptation for Hackers (Tax Analysts Blog). “While many countries outside the U.S. first reacted negatively to this massive information grab, some soon began to realize the value of coordinated information exchange. They realized, as the old saying goes, ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.'”

Leveraging digital momentum in government beyond the back-end