As reports surfaced Sunday evening that AT&T was blocking parts of 4chan, the immediate reaction from several quarters was that this was an attempt by the telecom giant to “censor” objectionable content on the Web, and that consequently AT&T should suffer mightily for its shameless violation of network neutrality.
Encapsulating those basic responses, LA Metblogs asked: “Why does AT&T think they can censor parts of the web, and how quickly will 4chan retaliate?” iReport ramped up the rhetoric, asking if the block signified “The End of Free Speech.” TechCrunch upped the ante again, calling AT&T’s act a declaration of war against 4chan; and SaveTheInternet linked approvingly to this breathless heap of hyperbolic nonsense at Fudzilla.
Rerutled, a diarist at Daily Kos immediately dismissed AT&T’s description of the DoS problem as a ruse to shut down the hapless 4channers.
The idea that any disruption in service is a calculated decision by an ISP wanting to lock up information is a fairly typical knee-jerk response from some network neutrality supporters: Lob accusations first, gather facts later.
Meanwhile, George Ou of Digital Society wrote that AT&T did precisely the right thing by blocking the parts of 4Chan that appeared to be the source of a DDoS attack on some AT&T customers:
When a DoS attack occurs, the victim being attacked can block the attack traffic but not before the attack has already jammed up and killed their Internet connection. Only the network operator can block the attack far enough upstream that the network isn’t flooded. This not only preserves the network for the direct victims of the DoS attack, it also keeps the network unclogged for everyone else.
It was clear early on from the North American Network Operators Group (NANOG) message boards that many ISPs were blocking 4chan IP addresses due to the massive amounts of DoS attack traffic coming from 4chan. We’re talking about enough traffic that could fill up gigabit Ethernet links which is the equivalent of hundreds of broadband connections. It turned that 4chan was being DoS attacked by others using spoofed (forged) addresses and 4chan in turn reflected the attack traffic onto other forced IP addresses of other victims many of whom were on AT&T’s network.
Unfortunately, despite the baselessness of the accusations against AT&T, there hasn’t been much eating of crow by those who were in the wrong. Looks like for some bloggers, the idea is shoot first, don’t ask many questions later, and never apologize.
So, we are delighted to see confirmation of our take in Newsweek’s read of the conventional wisdom.
Read the full Newsweek CW report here.
Unbeknownst to users, many P2P applications can make all of the files on a user’s machine or network available, not just the songs and movies that users intend to share. They’re also sharing tax returns, online shopping receipts, bank statements, passwords, credit information, and more available to the identity thieves and cybercriminals, who eagerly prowl P2P looking for these lucrative nuggets. That’s a lot to give away in exchange for music than can just as easily be acquired at a low cost on sites like iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, and other online music stores. The copyrighted material may seem to be “free,” but the price of getting it illegally can be quite expensive.
Of course that’s bad on an individual scale, but it’s nothing compared to what could be in store for the owners of computers infected with the Conficker virus. McKinnon explains:
Once activated, the virus will link together a massive network of hijacked computers that could be used for any number of nefarious activities. One of the more startling possibilities is that it will enable the virus’ creators to search and access the information in every file on every one of the infected computers. Think of it as an underground and malicious Google that would mine the world’s computers for financial and personal data, and then sell it to the highest bidder.
That wake up call is certainly a grim silver lining.
1.) The New York Times’ Bits Blog reported yesterday that on April 1, the Conficker virus–which resides quietly on as many as 12 million computers worldwide–is set to activate on April 1. And the scariest part? No one is quite sure what it will do:
Speculation about Conficker’s purpose ranges from the benign — an April Fool’s Day prank — to far darker notions. [...] Conficker’s authors could be planning to create a scheme like Freenet, the peer-to-peer system that was intended to make Internet censorship of documents impossible. Or perhaps the Conficker botnet’s masters have something more Machiavellian in mind. One researcher, University of California at San Diego computer scientist Stefan Savage, has suggested the idea of a “Dark Google.” What if Conficker is intended to give the computer underworld the ability to search for data on all the infected computers around the globe and then sell the answers?
2.) The FBI recently estimated that cyber-crime has now replaced drug trafficking as the most lucrative global crime. The agency estimates that cyber crime is now pulling in over $1 trillion a year in profits.
At yesterday’s hearing, Edward Amoroso, senior vice president and chief security officer at A+L member-company AT&T described how cyber attacks can “devastate infrastructure,” and offered the committee a few ideas on how to combat the problem:
We believe that the public and private sectors can and should create structures for timely and secure sharing of cyber-security threat and response information between government and industry, and between and among critical infrastructures in a trusted, collaborative environment. [...] Perhaps most importantly, the government should collaborate with industry on research and development efforts in pursuit of critical cyber-security capabilities, and in furtherance of interoperable identity management processes between government and the private sector.
It should come as no surprise that these solutions rely on collaboration both within the industry and between industry and government. We’re all a part of the same global network, and solutions to the problems we face from cyber crime–whether it’s malware, piracy, SPAM, phishing, or any other threat–will require collaboration, coordination, and implementation on a truly global scale.
One family’s tax return was accessed and their $2,000 tax refund – money they needed for their college fund – was stolen. We’re glad that NBC helped the family get their refund back. Unfortunately, there is no word on compensation for the artists whose songs were being stolen. Their children also have college funds that suffer when their content is stolen.
The BBC has a story about how the world is adapting to the internet, including the barriers to adoption…
Getting the web right starts with the basics: spam, privacy and fraud.
“The internet is seen by many [consumers] as an extremely dangerous place,” says Thomas Stewart of consulting firm Booz & Company. Companies have to tackle the “killers of digital confidence”, he says, from issues such as network security to fraud prevention.
Internet security is a key factor in increasing broadband adoption. The safer it is for people to walk the virtual streets of the global community, the more likely they will be to move there.
As part of its “Look before You Click” Campaign, Consumer Union’s WebWatch released new data [PDF]
A lot of that malware – from annoying pop-ups to more malicious viruses – is preventable. The survey shows that most New Yorkers know the basics of protecting their computers; Ninety seven percent keep their computers secured behind a firewall or maintain updated anti-virus software. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that there’s still a lot of net pollution out there: spam, spyware, viruses, illegal traffic. Not only are people not protected from all of it, many of them, without even knowing it, actively seek out the places on the web where rogue software is most likely to reside.
Consider the Storm botnet, estimated by some to be on as many as 50 million computers. It spread on the web since early 2007 through spam or website offers for things like “free” music or software downloads, things millions of web surfers have looked for before. The virus spread further – and was remotely controlled by its operators – via peer-to-peer file sharing networks, which also offers the promise of “free” stuff. Other malware distributors are now ramping up, exploiting social networks, other web tools and even reaching into the workplace.
Fortunately, the operators of peer-to-peer networks are starting to realize the commercial value of their networks-how they can maintain their cooperative and collaborative peer-to-peer spirit, while at the same time protecting users and working with content creators rather than against them. One of the earlier-and better-examples of how to blend advertising, social networking, and file sharing in a safe, legal environment is imeem
Cutting down the number of places where cyber-criminals can turn to spread their malware is a part of the Arts+Labs mission, and a win-win-win for all of us: P2P networks become legitimate, revenue earning businesses; content creators are compensated for their work; and consumers can still get the content they want without worrying about becoming a victim – or an unwitting purveyor – of dangerous or illegal content.