Tuesday, 21 June 2011


Time for another political post guys! But before I do, I'm going to happily give a paragraph or two on the recent cyber related stuff happening in my own life.

Yesterday, my desktop made me worry. My desktop frequently makes me worry, at least once a year there is always something wrong with it that needs fixing. But hey cest la vie, that's what I get for having an old computer. Fortunately for me though the problem was easy to fix. Indeed I doubt it was hardware related at all. The old girl failed to boot. on closer inspection it seemed some drivers were missing, either my HDD was dying or I got a virus.

So I then used it as an excuse to buy a new SSD, reinstalled windows 7 on it, reinstalled my graphics driver and voila, back to the old status quo except with a much faster (and reliable) system disk and as a result, a much faster shell, kernel and computer as a whole. I'm still trying to figure out what caused the issue. Checkdisk found a few parsing errors and right now I am running a virus scan on my terrabytes of hard drives. I will find out what caused it. But overall I am quite happy. Once upon a time I would have cried over virus but they seem pretty benign (and rare) these days, I haven't had a virum in years and last time I did I just reformatted the system disk and problem solved. Easy Peasy.

I understand that for many people out there a virus can be devastating though. Indeed, if my laptop got a virus I would be devastated because unlike in my desktop where the operating system is on a separate drive to pretty much everything else, my laptop only has one hard drive. That and I would have a hard time reinstalling the drivers for my laptop . For others it is worse though. There are computer users out there who haven't even heard of a reformat.

Cybercrimes, are of course, perpetrated by Cybermen

But virus's are peanuts compared to other plagues for the PC. There's bot nets. Where your computer becomes a slave for a remote master who controls it at will and generally without you even knowing it's occurring. You probably will never find out unless your ISP is kind enough to call you up about the suspicious traffic going to and from your computer. Or unless you are paranoid enough to monitor each and every bit that travels to and from your computer. Thankfully most bot net masters don't generally directly hurt their bot slaves, some get them to click on their own ads to bring them extra revenue, some just use them for extra traffic. Some masters use them to attack and bring down sites. All of these are very serious issues that must be addressed but we can all be grateful that the zombie-computer-user doesn't have to directly suffer.

One of the more scarier things I worry about is keyloggers. Obviously it must not be a problem anymore though because, while my hotmail account has been hacked before, my bank account has never been touched, despite how often I log in to check it.

Then there's things like spyware, which really belong to the same family as keyloggers but instead of a hacker trying to retrieve your bank account login and password so he can "steelz allz ur moniez" it's generally just a company trying to mine some good demographic data. Of course spyware wreaks psychological trauma on the average computer user when they log in and find that their screen is covered in ads.

So these are some of what I would call "cybercrimes". There are plenty of others out there. But I really am no expert on the issue, they are just the serious ones I know about. For the record, I don't believe piracy is a serious cybercrime and DMCA violations are a joke.

Piracy is illegal in most western countries and the laws regarding it should be enforced. But law enforcers, politicians and companies need to recognise the difference between torrenting and piracy. A person who illegally downloads a movie is a pirate, the person who owns the website that links you to the trackers to the pirated movie which was uploaded by a user is NOT a pirate. I have no respect for anyone who tries to persecute a torrent website. Torrent websites enable the free flow of peer to peer filesharing; whether it be a scientific abstract, the complete works of Tacitus or pictures of your mum. There really is no other method of filesharing that is more efficient than torrenting. I'ts like an uber fast online library.

As for DMCA law. I will be honest with you: I utterly, utterly loathe it. Whenever I read those 4 dreadful letters my stomach clenches in sync with my fists and I feel the vitriol surfacing on the tip of my tongue. Ever since the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed in the states it has been abused again and again. Even people who don't live in the states have to abide by it for fear of lawsuits, despite the fact that they are not under US jurisdiction. My main beef with it is how it is used time and time again to shut down YouTube videos by viewers who don't agree with the contents of the video. NOT because the video violates the DMCA. No, some time ago viewers realised that by reporting a youtube video as violating DMCA to YouTube/google, YouTube would remove the video. So if you see something you don't like on YouTube, just report a DMCA violation and you can suppress that YouTuber's right to free speech.

In short I think DMCA needs to die.

Back to the more "serious" cybercrimes... I think we can all agree that bot nets, virus's, spy ware, key loggers and the like need to be brutally removed from the internet. Before we get all gung ho about online law enforcement though, we need to make sure that law enforcers and politicians don't end up destroying online anonymity or our sacred right to free speech. An ISP level Internet filter would certainly allow authorities to catch up to cyber criminals but it would completely destroy online anonymity and free speech. It would be the equivalent of an online fascism. Sure the criminals get caught but the innocent populace suffer from an oppressive government that has power to control what the see and hear online and as we all know, power corrupts.

But what are the alternatives? There really isn't one (apart from the status quo). You can't catch criminals when they are anonymous.
Although honestly, I would much prefer anonymous criminals in a free society than being part of a powerless plebiscite in a political police state.

As good ole Benny Franklin once said "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both".


  1. i hate virus' so much, except it is pretty funny when you give someone a virus which shuts down their computer whenever they open something

  2. I utterly and completely hate the DMCA -.-

  3. I'm a cyberman!

    But, srsly, I hate viruses ._.

  4. So many videos have been taken down because of some copyright claim in Youtube that I can't see the point of it anymore. Even where someone just added a song to their own video, they get taken down too.

  5. Hate the copyright claims that brings so many youtube videos down.

  6. Seeing as there are about a 100 pirated DVDs (I live in China. It's totally legal.) on my shelf right now....no comment.

    But yes, I must admit that piracy is terrible and it's really unfair to those who shelled millions to come up with a watchable production. However, without piracy and the illegal downloading of movies, I'm betting the viewership of most movies would significantly drop. In China, anyway, because going to the movies is 16 DOLLARS. And the films are dubbed in weird, ultra fake Chinese accents anyway.

    Understandably, theaters here are pretty much deserted.

    The nice part is that whenever I go back to Singapore, I go on cinema binges. (Might or might not be due to the good make-out ambiance.)

  7. If Cybermen were the cause of Cyber Crime, i'd be 100% for it. Those guy rock.

  8. Hey cybermen look cool !!! lol i wanna own one