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Monday, June 10, 2013

Sniffing and button pushing

Today is going to be a big day for Tech - both in the form of announcements - Apple, Microsoft and Sony all having things to show us, and in the fast developing Internet monitoring story sparked by the Guardian regarding both the the NSA and latterly GCHQ.

The NSA story isn't unexpected - although what is a little odd is that it's taken this long for the general public to realise just how vulnerable their posts (let's call it data) is when using a publicly available, government developed network such as the Internet.

Naivety apart, it never fails to amaze me how people think the Internet is a "safe" place. To plagiarise Star Trek Into Darkness "You think your world is safe - It is not - It is an illusion".

Privacy in such a connected space has never really existed. Admittedly for most people who mistakenly think the Internet is what they see in a web browser, they may have never been exposed to the soft, deeply technical underbelly of the way networks work, but to those who have had exposure to IT at an analysis/support level, they are likely all to aware of just what the network is capable of "sharing" with those who want to find out.

At it's simplest level a "packet sniffer" will sit on a network segment and capture enough detail about the traffic on the network to figure out what that networks users are up to. There are a host of commercially available tools for IT departments to effectively "spy" on their users to monitor and manage the network, block sites and report usage.  Let me be clear here - this is NOT NEW. Take a look at netscout.com (sniffer global), gfi.com (web monitor) or spiceworks.com for a couple of examples.


Now imagine having government scale resources of departments like the NSA or GCHQ and running similar tools on the Internet and it's suddenly very obvious that this makes for a compelling tool for tracking suspects. And as long as that's what it's used for, and has the necessary legal hoops to jump through (which I believe are pretty much undefined at the moment) - then this shouldn't be a problem.
Given the lack of information on the way this "tool" is being used, it's understandable that the general public would get not just a little nervous.

It will be an interesting story to watch - and the reactions of those involved will no doubt be more than a little telling. Enough - onto to something else....

Big day for Apple - WWDC - meaning it's time for the Tech giant to announce it's next batch of fruitiness.  Since the death of Steve Jobs the Tech gint has been getting bad press and has (almost overnight) become un-innovative in some eyes.  This is smoke. In fact I'm quite sure they are still as innovative as they ever were - after all  Steve assembled a pretty awesome team of people, and they don't just stop thinking because their boss lost his fight with cancer.

This "bad press" combined with the lack of upgrades to the iOS platform and the following rise in popularity of the Android OS has left Apple looking a little weatherbeaten, so today's WWDC keynote speech is likely to be a turning point.

There has been (as is usual) a fever pitch level of guesswork going on in the tech news community - most of whom believe that Apple's chief designer (Sir Johnnie Ive) has come up with a flat looking interface to iOS.  Sure it needs an overhaul, but I don't think any of this guesswork is on the mark - in fact I think Mr Ive will surprise everyone - not least because Apple have publicly said that they would "double down on product secrecy" - so plenty of false stories then, and now we all know how touchscreens work (it's 6 years since the iPhone landed) - the button look can go....

....but we'll have to wait until this evening to be sure.

Sony will be announcing details about the PlayStation4 today as well. My observation - Microsoft have screwed up with the XBoxOne already by suggesting you'll have to pay to play used games and (related to the NSA story) it will sit in your living room and be "always on" - so for the paranoid among you, it will be busy logging your conversation in your living room.  They're trying to make the eggs-box more than just a gaming machine - they want it to be your "entertainment hub". MS have been pedalling this line for a very long time now - and while kinect seems to be getting them closer, they've still got one hell of a mission to pursuade the wider public.

I'm a Sony household as far as gaming is concerned, and barring anything stupid from Sony (which they haven't managed so far) I see no reason to change. Microsofts announcements today, are likely to be about the games for their new baby - while Sony will be focused on the Hardware - and demo's of the software.

Well, their you have it. I have much to do. Places to see, people to go and all that.  More importantly I have a holiday coming up. After the last couple of months, a week in the Sun is just what the doctor ordered - so in the meantime I have all sorts of stuff to sweep under the carpet.

Until next time....

I'll leave you with stunning attempt on goal (not that I know anything about football) - "Up the Eagles!"

 

Where is Golfyball?

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