Tag Archives: online safety

Piracy Narrative Isn’t About Ethics Anymore, It’s About “Danger”

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/piracy-narrative-isnt-about-ethics-anymore-its-about-danger-170812/

Over the years there have been almost endless attempts to stop people from accessing copyright-infringing content online. Campaigns have come and gone and almost two decades later the battle is still ongoing.

Early on, when panic enveloped the music industry, the campaigns centered around people getting sued. Grabbing music online for free could be costly, the industry warned, while parading the heads of a few victims on pikes for the world to see.

Periodically, however, the aim has been to appeal to the public’s better nature. The idea is that people essentially want to do the ‘right thing’, so once they understand that largely hard-working Americans are losing their livelihoods, people will stop downloading from The Pirate Bay. For some, this probably had the desired effect but millions of people are still getting their fixes for free, so the job isn’t finished yet.

In more recent years, notably since the MPAA and RIAA had their eyes blacked in the wake of SOPA, the tone has shifted. In addition to educating the public, torrent and streaming sites are increasingly being painted as enemies of the public they claim to serve.

Several studies, largely carried out on behalf of the Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA), have claimed that pirate sites are hotbeds of malware, baiting consumers in with tasty pirate booty only to offload trojans, viruses, and God-knows-what. These reports have been ostensibly published as independent public interest documents but this week an advisor to the DCA suggested a deeper interest for the industry.

Hemanshu Nigam is a former federal prosecutor, ex-Chief Security Officer for News Corp and Fox Interactive Media, and former VP Worldwide Internet Enforcement at the MPAA. In an interview with Deadline this week, he spoke about alleged links between pirate sites and malware distributors. He also indicated that warning people about the dangers of pirate sites has become Hollywood’s latest anti-piracy strategy.

“The industry narrative has changed. When I was at the MPAA, we would tell people that stealing content is wrong and young people would say, yeah, whatever, you guys make a lot of money, too bad,” he told the publication.

“It has gone from an ethical discussion to a dangerous one. Now, your parents’ bank account can be raided, your teenage daughter can be spied on in her bedroom and extorted with the footage, or your computer can be locked up along with everything in it and held for ransom.”

Nigam’s stance isn’t really a surprise since he’s currently working for the Digital Citizens Alliance as an advisor. In turn, the Alliance is at least partly financed by the MPAA. There’s no suggestion whatsoever that Nigam is involved in any propaganda effort, but recent signs suggest that the DCA’s work in malware awareness is more about directing people away from pirate sites than protecting them from the alleged dangers within.

That being said and despite the bias, it’s still worth giving experts like Nigam an opportunity to speak. Largely thanks to industry efforts with brands, pirate sites are increasingly being forced to display lower-tier ads, which can be problematic. On top, some sites’ policies mean they don’t deserve any visitors at all.

In the Deadline piece, however, Nigam alleges that hackers have previously reached out to pirate websites offering $200 to $5000 per day “depending on the size of the pirate website” to have the site infect users with malware. If true, that’s a serious situation and people who would ordinarily use ‘pirate’ sites would definitely appreciate the details.

For example, to which sites did hackers make this offer and, crucially, which sites turned down the offer and which ones accepted?

It’s important to remember that pirates are just another type of consumer and they would boycott sites in a heartbeat if they discovered they’d been paid to infect them with malware. But, as usual, the claims are extremely light in detail. Instead, there’s simply a blanket warning to stay away from all unauthorized sites, which isn’t particularly helpful.

In some cases, of course, operational security will prevent some details coming to light but without these, people who don’t get infected on a ‘pirate’ site (the vast majority) simply won’t believe the allegations. As the author of the Deadline piece pointed out, it’s a bit like Reefer Madness all over again.

The point here is that without hard independent evidence to back up these claims, with reports listing sites alongside the malware they’ve supposed to have spread and when, few people will respond to perceived scaremongering. Free content trumps a few distant worries almost every time, whether that involves malware or the threat of a lawsuit.

It’ll be up to the DCA and their MPAA paymasters to consider whether the approach is working but thus far, not even having government heavyweights on board has helped.

Earlier this year the DCA launched a video campaign, enrolling 15 attorney generals to publish their own anti-piracy PSAs on YouTube. Thus far, interest has been minimal, to say the least.

At the time of writing the 15 PSAs have 3,986 views in total, with 2,441 of those contributed by a single video contributed by Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel. Despite the relative success, even that got slammed with 2 upvotes and 127 downvotes.

A few of the other videos have a couple of hundred views each but more than half have less than 70. Perhaps most worryingly for the DCA, apart from the Schimel PSA, none have any upvotes at all, only down. It’s unclear who the viewers were but it seems reasonable to conclude they weren’t entertained.

The bottom line is nobody likes malware or having their banking details stolen but yet again, people who claim to have the public interest at heart aren’t actually making a difference on the ground. It could be argued that groups advocating online safety should be publishing guides on how to stay protected on the Internet period, not merely advising people to stay away from certain sites.

But of course, that wouldn’t achieve the goals of the MPAA Digital Citizens Alliance.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Hackers Use Pirate Sites to Ruin Your Life, State Attorneys General Warn

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hackers-use-pirate-sites-to-ruin-your-life-state-attorneys-general-warn-170727/

In recent years copyright holders have tried many things to dissuade the public from visiting pirate websites.

They often claim that piracy costs the entertainment industry thousands of jobs, for example. Another strategy to is to scare the public at large directly, by pointing out all the ills people may encounter on pirate sites.

The Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA), which has deep ties to the content industries, is a proponent of the latter strategy. The group has released a variety of reports pointing out that pirate sites are a hotbed for malware, identity theft, hacking and other evils.

To add some political weight to this message, the DCA recently helped to launch a new series of public service announcements where a group of 15 State Attorneys General warn the public about these threats.

The participating Attorneys General include Arizona’s Mark Brnovich, Kentucky’s Andy Bashear, Washington DC’s Karl Racine, and Wisconsin’s Brad Schimel, who all repeat the exact same words in their PSAs.

“Nowadays we all have to worry about cybersecurity. Hackers are always looking for new ways to break into our computers. Something as simple as visiting pirate websites can put your computer at risk.”

“Hackers use pirate websites to infect your computer and steal your ID and financial information, or even take over your computer’s camera without you knowing it,” the Attorneys General add.

Organized by the Digital Citizens Alliance, the campaign in question runs on TV and radio in several states and also appears on social media during the summer.

The warnings, while over dramatized, do raise a real concern. There are a lot of pirate sites that have lower-tier advertising, where malware regularly slips through. And some ads lead users to fake websites where people should probably not leave their credit card information.

Variety points out that the Attorneys General are tasked with the goal to keep their citizens safe, so the PSA’s message is certainly fitting.

Still, one has to wonder whether the main driver of these ads is online safety. Could perhaps the interests of the entertainment industry play a role too? It certainly won’t be the first time that State Attorneys General have helped out Hollywood.

Just a few years ago the MPAA secretly pushed Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood to revive SOPA-like anti-piracy efforts in the United States. That was part of the MPAA’s “Project Goliath,” which was aimed at “convincing state prosecutors to take up the fight” against Google, under an anti-piracy umbrella.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Kids Shouldn’t Use the Internet, Russia’s Site-Blocking Chief Says

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russias-site-blocking-chief-kids-shouldnt-use-the-internet-170218/

Whether we like it or not, there are entities out there that like to try and control what we can and cannot see.

From the MPAA ratings system in the United States to the British Board of Film Censors Classification in the UK, various bodies like to remind us that there are filters in place, ostensibly for our own protection.

Of course, if run properly these kinds of systems can sometimes provide us with useful guidance, which is often welcome. At least they’re relatively subtle when compared to the flat-out Internet censorship provided by the Great Firewall of China, we assure ourselves.

But behind all of this censorship are claims that it’s all done for the greater good, to prevent the undermining of the state, to protect children, or to prevent damage to media companies, for example. Russia takes all of these things fairly seriously, and now blocks thousands of platforms on all kinds of grounds, from extremism to online piracy.

In certain quarters there’s an assumption that those behind such blocking know what they’re doing and can be trusted to do the right thing. This week, however, a few sentences from the boss of Russian telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor (which oversees site-blocking) revealed just how far away these people can drift.

In a Q&A session with AIF.ru, Alexander Zharov spoke on a number of issues, including online safety, especially for children. Naturally, kids need to be protected but the Rozcomnadzor chief has some quite radical ideas when it comes to them using the Internet.

“I believe that a child under 10-years-old should not go online. To use [the Internet] actively they need to start even later than that,” Zharov said.

As that begins to sink in, with parents around the globe destroying their kids’ smartphones, tablets, and games consoles in agreement, Zharov hasn’t finished.

“Some parents are proud of the fact that their three-year-old kid can deftly control a tablet and use it to watch cartoons. It is nothing good, in my opinion. A small child will begin to consider the virtual world part of the real world, and it changes their perception of reality.”

To put these ‘banning kids from the Internet’ statements into some kind of perspective, the image below shows figures compiled by UK telecoms regulator OFCOM for its Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report 2016 (pdf).

As we can see, around 80% of kids up to the age of 11 use tablets to consume media, which in many cases is delivered via the Internet. Throw the online capabilities of smartphones and games consoles into the mix and we have a massively connected group of 3 to 10-year-olds, all of them becoming conversant with the vital online world.

That the head of the body overseeing web-blocking in Russia believes that none of them should have access to the Internet is truly mind-boggling, especially when one considers the value children bring to the table.

According to a study just published by eMarketeer, 88.6% of internet users under four-years-old will watch digital video online in 2017, something which in turn will positively affect consumption volumes overall.

“Buoyed by the growth in younger age categories, overall video numbers are up, in 2017 eMarketer estimates that 43.2 million people, equating to 79.4 per cent of Internet users will be watching online videos,” Advanced Television reports.

But credit where it’s due. Zharov does have some good advice for parents, such as limiting the time kids spend online and keeping an eye out for behavior that might indicate cyber-bullying.

“With older children in my family, we have agreed as follows: when on the web, any unusual situation, you need to discuss it with your parents,” he wisely says.

Fortunately for Zharov, the embarrassing “Daddy, what’s a VPN?” question won’t raise its ugly head for at least another half a decade, if he can keep his youngest child (whose coming five) off the Internet for that long.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Safer Internet Day

Post Syndicated from Rik Cross original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/safer-internet-day/

Today is Safer Internet Day, which promotes the safe use of digital technology for children and young people. There can be a lot of misconceptions about what is and is not safe in terms internet usage, which is why it is so important that experienced people, like the wonderful Raspberry Pi community, do their bit to highlight positive uses of technology, and to explore the role we all play in helping to create a better and safer online community.

child looking through a magnifying glass

If you teach computing, volunteer in a Code Club, or just want to spread the word about using technology safely and responsibly among the kids you know, why not check these projects out? You might even learn some nifty tricks yourself!

Secret Agent Chat

Secret agent chat

Fancy yourself as a bit of a James Bond? Our Secret Agent Chat resource teaches you how to create and use an effective encryption technique called a one-time pad. You’ll also learn a little about the history of cryptography, and why other forms of cipher are insecure. Remember that Safer Internet Day is all about the responsible use of technology, and try not to provoke any diplomatic incidents with your new-found power…

Username Generator

Wake up, Neo…

 

If you want to generate a username which is neither insecure nor boringly obvious, have a look at this project. You’ll learn how to generate a range of different aliases, and even make profile pictures to go along with them. Again, be sure to use your powers for good rather than evil!

Password Generator

Spaceballs bad password

Don’t be like President Skroob: make yourself a password which is actually secure. This project teaches you how to generate random, secure passwords, as well as allowing you to specify how many passwords you want and how long they should be. No roving intergalactic baddies will be stealing the air from the planet Druidia on your watch!

You can find out more about Safer Internet Day 2017 on the UK Safer Internet Centre’s website, which also contains education packs for learners, parents, and carers. You’ll have to furnish the 007-style tuxedo and flying Winnebago yourself, though.

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