Archive for July, 2010

The war on privacy and data security took on the worst turn as millions of Facebook  Records were leaked. Facebook’s CEO seems delighted and trigger happy when it comes to doing away with privacy… Well, one solution is since major corporations and individuals are hungry for data, then feed them with ‘data’, there are lots of weaknesses, and as I searched through the data list leaked from Facebook, I could not help but notice thousands of fake and bogus records. Facebook claims 500 Million users but alas! millions must be bogus and fake names – let them have the “data”…

First Wikileaks, now Facebook. Is this the death of privacy?
The parallels between the Wikileaks saga and the openness of Facebook’s user data are striking.

I wrote a few days ago about an appalling misjudgment by Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, who released over 90,000 documents leaked to him relating to the war in Afghanistan. Well, it looks like another scandal is about to blow up. This time concerns personal privacy rather than national security – but the parallels are striking.

On Wednesday, Ron Bowes, a Canadian security consultant, “harvested” the names, profile addresses, and unique ID numbers of 100 million Facebook users – a fifth of the network’s total user base. He collated the information in a single 2.8GB file and posted it on BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file-sharing network. Like Assange’s Afghanistan dossier, it was immediately accessible to anyone with an internet connection – including corporations. Check out this list of the firms who have downloaded the database so far.

My name appears in Bowes’ database. So does my mum’s. And so, probably, does yours, unless you’re super-vigilant about your Facebook privacy settings. Because, though you might not be aware of it, chances are that certain elements of your Facebook profile are set to appear publicly.

It emerged on Wednesday afternoon that Bowes conducted this exercise to help him learn how to break passwords – very unsettling, I’m sure you’ll agree. But Bowes is not the villain in this piece, because his act of mischief – and we can’t call it more than that, because the information he collected was freely available to anyone who cared to search for it – was only possible because Facebook itself has repeatedly and shamelessly betrayed its users’ trust, instituting rollback after rollback of privacy settings. Finally, in May, Facebook listened to user complaints and simplified its privacy settings, requiring far less information to be public by default.

Julian Assange and Mark Zuckerberg have a great deal in common. Both sit at the helm of powerful organisations that use technology to disseminate massive amounts of sensitive data. Both have clear, and, to my mind, very unsettling, ideologies that are starting to define social norms on the internet.

Assange is an outspoken opponent of the war in Afghanistan, which surely informed his decision to send the Afghanistan dossiers directly to Left-wing, anti-war newspapers rather than simply publish them on the site as had previously been Wikileaks’ method of disseminating information.
And Zuckerberg has repeatedly said that he wants Facebook users to learn to embrace openness. “We decided that these would be the social norms now,” he once said about the growing trend for sharing information online…..

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Our thoughts and prayers to all who lost loved ones and those injured in such a barbaric attack on the innocent.

Kato Mivule

Bomb Blasts Disrupt Internet ServicesAll Africa
David Mugabe | 14 July 2010

Kampala — The deadly twin bomb blasts that hit Kampala last Sunday have forced Internet service providers to rethink their service delivery by providing back-up to the fibre optic cables.

The explosions damaged the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company (UETCL) pylons, thus breaking supply of bandwidth that is transmitted through the power lines.

End users reported hours of interruption. The New Vision can confirm that only about 20% of the capacity was available during most of the day on Monday.Even users from as far as Lira said the service was poor and unreliable by last week, but had worsened on Monday.

“Ours has been very slow since last week, but it got worse on Monday,” said a worker with the National Social Security Fund in Lira.Uganda telecom (utl), which controls 85% of the data market, conceded that their service to eastern Uganda, from Busoga region, was affected.

“A microwave link will be set up to act as a back-up like we have done in Kampala. Wherever we have fibre and copper, we also have satellite,” said Mark Kaheru, utl’s spokeperson. Kaheru said fibre still remains the most reliable option, but precautions will now have to be taken into account outside Kampala, even though the damage is not frequent.

“The cable is 40 metres in the air. This is the second time we have had the interruption in the last seven years,” Kaheru said. The fibre from Kampala to Kenya starts at Kyadondo Rugby Club and it is managed by UETCL.
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Service providers sent engineers at the bomb site on Monday morning, but they were turned away by security officers who were combing the area for clues on the deadly terrorist attack. Orange Telecom chief strategy officer Edouard Blondeau explained that because of the interruption “we have to look for ways of putting our eggs in different baskets to mitigate the risks because damage is part of the daily fibre life.

Blondeau said the firm is linking up to SEACOM, another undersea fibre optic cable, which was launched last year. Orange Telecom is connected to TEAMS and satellite. Orange, however, reported that the service was restored on Tuesday by about 9:00pm. Other service providers said they had to prioritise service to corporates and limit traffic to individuals during the interruption.

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