Bits and Bytes

Bits and Bytes

By Paul Rosenzweig
Wednesday, February 4, 2015, 9:12 AM

What War in the Cyber Age Looks Like.  "To the young Syrian rebel fighter, the Skype message in early December 2013 appeared to come from a woman in Lebanon, named Iman Almasri, interested in his cause. Her picture, in a small icon alongside her name, showed a fair-skinned 20-something in a black head covering, wearing sunglasses. . . . What the fighter did not know was that buried in the code of the second photo was a particularly potent piece of malware that copied files from his computer, including tactical battle plans and troves of information about him, his friends and fellow fighters. The woman was not a friendly chat partner, but a pro-Assad hacker — the photos all appear to have been plucked from the web."  The underlying detailed technical report from FireEye is worth a read by all cyber-operators.

Like China Like Us?  US law enforcement are pushing for back doors in encryption algorithms so that they can maintain access to malicious communications.  The idea, though, is motive-independent.  "The Chinese government has adopted new regulations requiring companies that sell computer equipment to Chinese banks to turn over secret source code, submit to invasive audits and build so-called back doors into hardware and software, according to a copy of the rules obtained by foreign technology companies that do billions of dollars’ worth of business in China."  Of course the real motive is probably nativist  -- it will force foreign companies out of China.

EU Privacy Imperialism Continues.  Not content to force Google (and other search engines) to censor the google.fr and google.de domains in service of the European "right to be forgotten" the EU regulators now want the bans to be world-wide.   They are "demanding that Google and other companies remove links covered by the right-to-be-forgotten principle from all results pages in all countries and regardless of where the search takes place. This would allow Europeans to decide what information citizens of every other nation can access."  The NY Times editorial board rightly condemns this approach.