How will our lives change when we lose net neutrality?

Net neutrality helps to balance the internet in such a way that internet service providers can’t use the laws to their benefits. This year (2017), a repeal against net neutrality is to be decided upon by the FCC in the United States. The United States is a country where the internet service providers are mostly monopolies created by the government. Therefore, the government, which controls the internet, will be biased in favour of these big businesses. And these businesses, owned by wealthy businessmen, will want to take advantage from removing such regulations and safeguards.

Despite the fact that the FCC in the United States is asking for net neutrality to be gone, the aftermath effects the whole world. The supporters of the repeal against net neutrality spread a list of countries which lack net neutrality in their law, trying to convince the public that even without net neutrality, such countries are doing great in regards to free and cheap internet use.

However, these European countries they keep listing never had a bandwidth or network issue, due to their strong enough internet infrastructure. The United States internet infrastructure, on the contrary, has been like a cheddar cheese. It is exploited by the ISPs to such a degree that the US can’t meet the quotas anymore, since they oversold the lines. Even the public funding that was used by such ISPs on public lands was never returned by these big business owners. Subscriptions were also oversold and all profits went to these companies. All ISPs laid the internet infrastructure with public funding on public land because they were allowed to. And nothing was ever paid back.

As a result, the internet infrastructure of the US was weakened, and will soon be handed over as private property to these ISPs, if they would be succesful at appealing the net neutrality law. This draconian overtake is expected to happen on 14 December 2017.

Without real competition among ISPs, the internet is nothing more than a heavily regulated tool of the elite and the people in power, for controlling news and discourse. Isn’t that what happened with your TV channels as well? Being subjected to the controlling mechanisms of the government, it is now hard to find informative and neutral news or programs and even while more TV channels become available, the price is also increasing and the quality is dropping.

When net neutrality is absent, it is ofcourse unlikely carriers would block entire services from being accessed by their customers because it will harm their business. However, they can use bandwidth throttling, since they will aim to force the users to select the carrier’s preferred alternative, to earn more on the packages they will be selling. If smaller companies wanted a better deal, ISPs like Comcast would ask for fees in exchange for such services.

Such deals will make the services small companies are selling to their customers more expensive, while paying for internet use as one fixed price package will be a thing from the past. Monopolized by the government, ISPs will be able to ask whatever price they want from site owners. Those not able to meet the demands, will see their sites slow down to a degree they can’t reach their followers anymore. In this case, both users and the site owners would have to pay for the services. Users for the internet access, and site owners to make sure the ISPs will not be not slowing down their website speed or the speed at which their videos stream.

In addition, customers will be accessing features like social media through service providers. Such redirected routes will make the internet experience for users complicated, even slower and more expensive.

Bigger companies like Google and Netflix (as they had to pay for Comcast in the past), will be able to pay for the fees ISPs will demand. For small companies, like alternative news sites and personal bloggers (for example, activists), it will be much harder to afford such fees..

ISPs, as big businesses, already have been abusing the internet while working with the government, by functioning as a regulator. Now in the US it will be even easier to block social media and any site unpopular with the big businesses or government. While small companies and a lot of sites all over the world may disappear, the big corporations will control the internet, even growing bigger and now armed with an effective strategy of creating an everlasting monopoly.


The inside story of how Netflix came to pay Comcast for internet traffic

Is Bitcoin a curse or is it the future? And should you invest in it?

Probably one of the most discussed subjects online in recent years is Bitcoin. What do we think of it, and is it smart to invest money in it?

Bitcoin created a shockwave through the financial world. Together with other crypto currencies it provided an alternative to the FIAT currency markets and created an entirely new economy. One that is global and does not care about the economic situations of the different countries around the world.

But what is it? In simple terms Bitcoin and other crypto currencies are blockchains. A chain that is comprised of all transactions that ever happened, an algorithm and a huge amount of code. Nothing very special to the common man, but to computer technicians it is probably one of the most impressive things that ever happened.

Should you put your money in it? Especially over the last year the value of a single Bitcoin has risen to thousands of dollars. If you invested in Bitcoin at the start, and you bought a serious amount, you are likely laughing right now, because you made those millions. You are officially a millionaire and you did not really have to work for it. But what is the real tangible value of it?

Really the blockchain is nothing more than digital code. The only thing that makes a difference is that there is a limited amount of coins available. You can mine the coins, but the total amount of Bitcoin is a pre defined number. For this reason, in a technical sense, it can only deflate. Meaning the value should become higher, always. The only thing that is needed for that is that it is used more. So as more stores start accepting it, the value will keep rising. As more miners arrive, and more buyers, the value will keep on increasing. Focu on hyping it, and collectively you are forcing the world to make you a millionare.

Both Bitcoin and the alternative coin Litecoin have now been embedded in to the CFD market. Respected internet brokers like Plus500 allow you to invest in it without actually buying the coins, you simply buy the CFD contracts on the market. Using just 500 bucks you can invest in up to 100.000 dollar worth of Bitcoin. It works with a leverage system. And when it grows you make a huge profit. Want to learn more? Just visit that website. Big business is doing it, so why wouldn’t you?

On the other hand, it is just digital code, and like FIAT currencies, there is not much difference there. It is not a real thing, like a house, or a golden ring. It exists in the digital world and nowhere else. No matter how sophisticated the system is, in a true sense, it is not much more than a number inserted in a digital database. Like credits on a Poker site, really. The big difference there is that the blockchain is managed by all its users, and is completely open. Meaning every single event that ever happened is visible In the blockchain. Every payment, every coin mined, yes, really all of it.

So there is a system that is owned by the users, not so much by a single entity. In the case of FIAT currencies, like the dollar or the euro, these are also just digital numbers. Everything is digitalized meaning banks can simply change the number in the database and you are dependent on what happens next. There are the financial watchdogs who make sure there is no abuse. But with the blockchain, every user is a watchdog.

How does it relate to previous metals like gold and silver? Traditionally these resources have been used as an alternative to FIAT currencies. Whenever the economy went bad, investors jumped on the metal market and gold and silver would rise in value. Because there are limited amounts as well, and those metals are tangible. You buy a silver coin, its a real coin, and it can be exchanged for money at millions of locations worldwide. Usually at a rate that is very close to the market value. But gold can be mined as well, like crypto currencies, and there is no real way of knowing how much gold actually exists in the ground. So should a big discovery be made, the value might drop. However, countries in the world choose to keep their reserves in gold and silver. And it is used in the industry, so there is something to say for that.

At the moment I am writing this article the price of Bitcoin is close to 10.000 dollars for each coin. The real remaining question is, is something digital, something invented by some random guy on the internet, really worth the 10.000? I am not convinced of this. The hype is incredible and it is likely it will still grow bigger. So right now, yes, you can invest in it. Do not put all your hard earned money in it, but get at least a bit of Bitcoin. As it hits the mainstream markets now, it will surely increase more and you will make a profit. But for the long term? No. Make that profit and get something tangible with it. Buy a house, or a piece of land. Why? Because that is not created out of thin air by some internet guru, but it is something in the real world, and there is limited availability as well. And with real estate it is not a question of availability and demand, the demand will always increase in the long run, if the population grows.

Good luck!

A Bug Bounty Hunter Gets Threatened With CFAA For Sharing Evidence

A Chinese drone manufacturing company called DJI had their private keys both the “wildcard” certificate for all the company’s web domains and the keys to cloud storage accounts on Amazon Web Services exposed publicly in code posted to GitHub by company developers for years.

Kevin Finisterre used this data to reach important private information uploaded by DJI customers such as images of flight logs, government IDs and passports, even associated with military domains. When he found out there was a bounty program by the company, he applied for it. The program was launched after the US army issued a ban on using DJI drones for any military purpose due to ‘operational security’ concerns. Firmware of DJI drones were also hacked, reports said.

DJI appreciated the finding by Finisterre of the company’s SSL certificates and firmware encryption keys having been exposed via GitHub for years and rewarded the bounty hunter with $30,000 top prize. However, after exchanging 130 email messages with the IT department of the company and communicating with the legal department which offered no legal protection for Finisterre’s research about the exposed data, the company stated if the bounty hunter did not destroy all his findings he was going to face prosecution under the CFAA. Finisterre did not accept the agreement since it included a threat and also being silenced, he decided to go public about it. He got called a ‘hacker’ for this and company acted as if they barely knew who he was despite the 130 exchanged email messages concerning the exposed data.

DJI’s Phantom brand quadcopter drone

As you all will remember, last April, Marcus Hutchins, a British cybersecurity researcher, was arrested by the FBI at a Las Vegas airport while he was returning home from the annual Def Con hacking conference. He was the researcher who discovered a hidden ‘kill switch’ for Wannacry to stop this worldwide ransomware attack which resulted in a lot of damage. The authorities blamed him by being a part of this attack as the creator of the Kronos malware that caused the attack.

Cases like these are discouraging for security researchers towards finding out about a problem and reporting it. While the issue got resolved in both cases by researchers, they were threatened, silenced and even got punished with a trial for a jail time.

There is a high threat by drones used by the military on areas where civilians live, causing many lost lives. When the sensitive data cannot be protected, it would even be more dangerous by any malicious attacks. Security researchers are an important part for preventing such threats.


Million Mask March 2017 – The day activists and hackers unite and march together

There is one day each year that is special to both activists and hackers. Every year on that day they unite and march together, all over the world, to fight against censorship and oppression. They are united by hiding their faces, walking anonymously through each big city, showing the world they exist.

It started small, a few years ago, with an operation called #OpVendetta, created by the collective of Anonymous. This collective is often portrayed by the media as being some sort of shady hacker group, but really Anonymous is just an idea. Everyone can be anonymous and it doesn’t have any members or leaders. People involved with Anonymous hide their identities, for safety reasons, but also to be united as one. To show they do not act as seperate entities, but rather as one big block.

Over the years the operation once known as #OpVendetta became famous as the Million Mask March. The name #OpVendetta ofcourse refers to the movie V for Vendetta, wich ends with thousands of people marching while wearing their Guy Fawkes masks. It became a symbol for global protest in large numbers. Nowadays the Million Mask March attracts thousands, some say millions, of activists all over the world. Mostly marching in their capital cities, but marches also exist in smaller cities.

The protest marches do not carry any group opinion. It is said that you can join the march for whatever reason you want. Most of the activists march for their freedom, and to combat censorship. But it is not necessarily limited to that. The last few years there are many animal rights activists as well, for example. What unites everyone is the concept of anonymity.

Do you want to know if there is a march close to you? The easiest thing you can do is go to Facebook, then type Million Mask March Yourcityname to find a march you can visit. Also search for the hashtags #millionmaskmarch or #mmm2017 on Instagram or Twitter. You will see many people advertising their marches or talking about this subject. Even if you don’t plan to march, it is truly an event that touches the hearts of everyone.