The Dim-Post

August 29, 2014

How most people get hacked

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 9:13 am

Chris Trotter writes about hackers

LISBETH SALANDER is the archetypal hacker: a damaged outsider; phenomenally clever; contemptuous of society’s rules; but possessed of an unflinching, if somewhat quirky, sense of right and wrong. Without Lisbeth, the journalist hero of Stieg Larsen’sThe Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Mikael Blomkvist, could never have brought the guilty to justice. In a world of mendacious millionaires, giant corporations and impenetrable public bureaucracies, the hacker provides the only credible means of moving the plot forward.

 In mythic terms, Lisbeth is Ariadne, the Cretan princess whose precious linking threads allow the Greek hero, Theseus, to find his way through the impossibly complex Labyrinth and destroy the Minotaur – the monstrous, bull-headed man who dwells in its depths.

Maybe whoever hacked Cameron Slater is a Salander/Ariadne-like computer hacker, but most people carrying out this sort of activity have minimal technical skills. Here’s what usually happens: 

  1. You set up your accounts with gmail, facebook etc, all of which are password protected. 
  2. You set up an account at, say, Adobe, to download acrobat reader, or Apple or Ebay to buy stuff, and use the same password as your gmail and facebook account
  3. Ebay, or Adobe, or some other entity with your account credentials gets hacked. 
  4. The hackers post the list of account credentials online where anyone can download them
  5. Someone decides they want to hack you. They download a bunch of these lists, find your name, use free, publicly available, easy to use software to crack your password and then try logging onto your gmail account. Since the passwords are the same across both accounts they succeed. 

Obviously the people hacking the Apple database are technically skilled, But Slater’s email and Facebook could, in theory, have been hacked by anyone with the ability to download a couple torrent files. 

The way to prevent this happening are: 

  1. Change your passwords on your important accounts. Use different passwords. 
  2. Set up two-step verification on your gmail so that only certain computers can access your account. 

Quick post debate comment

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 8:28 am

The general consensus seems to be that Cunliffe ‘won’ the debate although not overwhelmingly. Various pundits have wondered what happened to Key. Why wasn’t he funnier? Didn’t he prepare enough? 

I think Key’s problem last night went a bit deeper than that. The premise of National’s campaign is that everything is basically okay; they haven’t introduced any significant policy this election, but Key ‘hopes’ that there will be tax cuts at some stage in the future. 

If you look at the polls most people agree that the country is heading in the right direction, so National’s ‘don’t rock the boat’ strategy makes a lot of sense. But when you put Key up on the debate stage with Cunliffe, who hammered issues like house prices and foreign land sales which the majority of the country thinks are not okay, and which Labour has policy solutions for but National does not, then Key is at a huge disadvantage. Most of the debate consisted of Cunliffe identifying problems and proposing solutions, with Key insisting that the problems didn’t exist and Cunliffe’s solutions wouldn’t work. Key never had the chance to articulate his solutions or his vision, because he doesn’t have any. It’s hard to joke your way past that. 

August 28, 2014

Debates don’t change anything unless they do

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 3:23 pm

Leaders’ debate tonight! Reading through some of the political science about debates over lunchtime and the general consensus seems to be that debates don’t really change voters’ minds unless one of the debaters dramatically under-performs or over-performs.  But all other things being equal, viewers generally think the politician they liked going into the debate ‘won’, and the greatest impact of most debates is to persuade viewers towards the policies and viewpoints of the politician they’re already predisposed to like. 

But its possible that either candidate tonight could dazzle us, or disgrace themselves. Key is likely to be the usual chilled out entertainer who sees everything in All-Blacks analogies and played golf with Barack Obama, but he’s very crafty and quick-witted when he wants to be: he ran rings around Phil Goff in 2011. On the other hand, his judgement over the last couple weeks hasn’t been great. 

And then there’s Cunliffe. I was one of those idiots who thought he’d make a better Labour leader than David Shearer, because Cunliffe could ‘take the fight’ to Key, and I had events like tonight’s debate in mind. So this would be a good time for Cunliffe to deliver on what now seems like his very distant promise. Sadly I think he’s just as likely to say something inane and narcissistic and further repel voters. I hope he doesn’t do that. 

I also hope the pundits and commentators lined up to comment on the debate have more substantive critiques to make than, ‘He looked masterful,’ or ‘He seemed nervous.’ 

In terms of strategy, I think Cunliffe will attempt to speak to older voters who are deserting his party for New Zealand First. Key will speak to current National voters and frighten them into turning out and voting ‘Unless you want David Cunliffe, Hone Harawira and Kim Dotcom running the country.’  

August 27, 2014

PVR advice

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 1:48 pm

Yesterday I called Vodafone’s customer support line to get some help with my broadband internet. Today I cancelled my Vodafone account and signed up with Spark because that seemed like an easier way to get my internet working again. 

Anyway, part of the deal with Vodafone was the ‘T-Box’ which we used for recording/time shifting tv shows and Spark don’t got nothing like that. We could sign up for Sky and get MySky, but that’s $50/month and all we want to do is record and rewatch free tv. So buying a Personal Video Recorder looks like the way to go. 

Any recommendations? The DishTV devices look pretty cheap but the reviews suggest they’re horrible. Maybe the new generation ones are better? Has anyone used one of the Panasonic PVRs? Anything else out there on the market? 

August 21, 2014

The SIS OIA

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 10:23 am

Via Stuff:

Labour MP Phil Goff says he has evidence the prime minister was briefed about a decision to release Security Intelligence Service documents to WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater.

John Key, who is also the minister responsible for the SIS, has denied his office had anything to do with the release in 2011 of the documents used to embarrass Goff, who was then Labour Party leader.

Goff had denied being briefed by then SIS director Warren Tucker on a security matter, but the documents showed he had been fully briefed.

Nicky Hager’s book, Dirty Politics, alleges Slater was tipped off by Key’s staff to ask for the papers.

Key has insisted that this absolutely did not happen, and that the SIS released the information themselves. Why did they do it so quickly? Because Phil Goff had questioned Tucker’s word, and so Tucker obviously had an incentive to get the information out as quickly as possible.

There are a few problems with that version of events. The biggest is that Fairfax had requested the same document a few days earlier and the SIS refused to release it to them. The second big problem is this dialog in the Slater/Bhatnager correspondence dumped by whaledump yesterday:

Cameron Slater, 8/2, 9:03am Should be a big day tomorrow if my PO Box has a nice brown envelope with OHMS on it
Aaron Bhatnagar, 8/2, 9:04am oh, whats that about?
Cameron Slater, 8/2, 9:05am I OIAd the briefing minutes and notes for Goff’s SIS briefing it has been expedited in the public interest
Aaron Bhatnagar, 8/2, 9:05am oh yes
Cameron Slater, 8/2, 9:06am it is devastating for Goff I am told

Surely if the SIS wanted this information to be published they’d have released it to Fairfax, who asked for it first? It is also hard to imagine the SIS Director’s office calling up Cameron Slater and crowing to him about the contents of his request that they’d just ‘expedited’. 

August 15, 2014

DPF Hacked!

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 11:18 am

Via Stuff

David Farrar, whose company does polling for National and who operates the National-sympathetic Kiwiblog, was also a subject of Dirty Politics.

He posted on Kiwiblog this morning that after a careful reading of the book, he realised Hager had information “that could not have come from the hacking of Cameron Slater, but could only have come from my computer, my apartment or my office”.

The two most likely scenarios were that his computer system had also been hacked, or someone had physically removed documents from his office or apartment, Farrar said.

Or, y’know, Hager could have talked to one of Farrar’s employees, who read the scripts hundreds of times, and if you look in the footnotes to Hager’s book it turns out that information about Curia is attributed to an ‘employee’. 

June 24, 2014

I love this shit

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 6:15 am

So here’s my theory about the great Labour/Donghua Liu mystery.

  • Like I said in my previous post there are two separate stories about two separate donations. The ‘party source’ who told the Herald that Liu gave Labour $15,000 for a book signed by Helen Clark at a Labour Party fundraiser and the mystery source who obtained a signed statement from Liu shortly after the Williamson story broke and then gave the statement to the Herald over the weekend. The statement claims that Liu paid ‘close to $100,000″ for wine at a 2007 Labour Party fundraiser’.
  • We’ve also seen this photograph of former Cabinet Minister Rick Barker handing over a bottle of wine signed by Helen Clark to Liu’s partner at a 2007 fundraising auction.
  • It’s weird, isn’t it, that the first source didn’t say anything about the $100,000 donation for wine and Liu’s statement doesn’t mention anything about a $15,000 donation for a book. It matches up with the way Labour’s made a big deal about ‘nobody remembering a $100,000 donation’.
  • My guess is that the different sources are all talking about the same donation with inaccuracies in each story: that Liu paid $15,000 for a bottle of wine signed by Helen Clark – which is the bottle of wine we see Rick Barker handing over in the Herald photo – that the ‘party source’ – let’s call him Shane Gones – misremembered slightly and said it was a book, and that Liu misremembered the amount and claimed it was $100,000.
  • If Liu eventually fronts up with proof he donated $15,000 – and not $100,000 – it will be a bit awkward for Labour, but it will be awful for the Herald.

June 21, 2014

It’s all a big nothing!

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 7:43 am

I think Fran O’Sullivan has the right perspective on the great Cunliffe/Liu scandal of June 2014. That it is, in almost immediate retrospect, trivial nonsense.

Maybe it’s because the elegance of the trap – such an artful piece of political gamesmanship – was almost instantly undermined by National’s clumsy attempts to publicly gloat over their handiwork while simultaneously denying they were involved while also promising there was more to come. I mean, WTF?

And it looks like there’s not ‘more to come’. Stuff ran a story last night:

Labour is bracing for the expected release of an affidavit claiming six-figure donations were made to the party by wealthy businessman Donghua Liu.

A spokesman for Liu told Fairfax this week: “No comment is to be made at this stage.”

It is understood the affidavit was being pored over by lawyers today because there was a lack of documentation.

Prime Minister John Key this week referred to rumours about ‘‘hundreds of thousands’’ of dollars in undeclared donations from Liu, but refused to elaborate.

He said he would be ‘‘very amazed’’ if Liu had not donated more than the $15,000 he reportedly paid for a book signed by former Labour leader Helen Clark.

The rumours have been circulating for weeks in the media and in Parliament of much bigger payments by Liu to Labour, including suggestions a sworn affidavit existed.

And this morning the Herald’s run a story indicating that the rumours are probably mostly bullshit:

Millionaire businessman Donghua Liu has confirmed for the first time that he donated to the Labour Party.

The 53-year-old has been at the centre of political scandals involving National and Labour for months but yesterday broke his silence to say he had given “equally to Governments of both colours”.

But Liu said he would not make any further comments about political donations or swear an affidavit outlining dollar amounts.

May 1, 2014

National’s week

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 5:03 pm

This election isn’t about whether National can beat Labour. It’s about whether National can win enough seats to cobble together a nice manageable government for its third term, or whether they’re going to spend three long years dependent on United Future, New Zealand First, the Conservative Party, Te Ururoa Flavell and some ACT Party doofus to pass any legislation. That means maximising turnout, not alienating probable voters to stay at home on election day or to cast a protest vote for Colin Craig or Winston Peters.

So I think this Williamson resignation is a pretty big deal. Superficially it resembles the case of Nick Smith resigning after intervening in an ACC debacle. The big difference is that Smith intervened on behalf of a friend who was struggling in her dealings with the agency, while Williamson intervened on behalf of a National Party donor who assaulted his wife and her mother by informing the police that the accused was very wealthy. Smith looked like a Minister who abused his position. Williamson looks like a horrible, hateful crooked scumbag who obviously doesn’t accept that he’s done anything wrong: he’s given a ‘sorry if I caused a perception of wrongdoing’ non-apology and insists he’s going to stand again in September.

National can’t do much about Williamson. But putting forward two tobacco lobbyists as candidates in one week seems like another vote-suppression technique. Maybe I’m wrong, an out-of-touch liberal, yadda yadda yadda; but running this twenty-three year old tobacco shill in Southland just seems like its designed to provoke voters down there into saying, ‘Screw you guys! I’m voting for Winston.’

April 24, 2014

The Beatification of St Jonesy

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 8:19 pm

This has been even stupider than I thought it would be.

The majority of the media commentary regarding Jones has been – as Malcolm Tucker would put it – borderline homoerotic. Morning Report featured Damien O’Connor, Clayton Cosgrove, John Tamihere, Chris Trotter and progressive left-wing commentator Michael Bassett, all gushing over the horrible loss of this good, simple, plain-speaking, decent blue-collar man. Labour cast him out! Labour should be a Broad Church! It must tolerate diversity! Labour drove good honest St Jonesy away with its lesbians and political correctness and desire to form coalition governments with other parties under the MMP electoral system! 

Firstly, Jones wasn’t ostracised by the current Labour leadership. He was front bench. Fifth ranked. One of the top MPs in the party. Spokesman for Economic Development and Maori Affairs, and a host of other senior portfolios. What else were they supposed to do, exactly, to accommodate this guy who had passed no significant legislation, never won an electorate seat, immolated himself in several humiliating scandals, and came a distant third in the leadership race, winning only 13% of the members vote? Make him leader anyway? Is the definition of a ‘Broad Church’ a party in which you just hand the leadership to an underperforming MP who openly despises the rest of his party because if you don’t he’ll take a giant shit on you during the run-up to the election?

Secondly: St Jonesy hasn’t exactly stepped down to spend time with his family here. He’s not going to work in the community. He’s not even going into the private sector. He’s taking a massive payment of taxpayer cash from Murray McCully to leave Labour while inflicting the most damage possible on his former party. Labour are playing nice about this. They’re pretending that Jones is a good guy and they wish him well, because they want the story to go away, and because he was one of their highest ranked MPs and they don’t want him leaking anything to National that could damage them further during the campaign. That seems like a naive hope to me. If good old Jonesy knows it, McCully probably knows it, or will.

Thirdly: If Maori and the working class loved Jonesy so much, as we’ve heard hundreds of times over the last three days, why didn’t they, y’know, vote for him? Labour won 40% of the vote in Tāmaki Makaurau during 2011. Jones won 33% and failed to carry the seat. Shouldn’t this fertility demi-god, legendary orator and hero of the people have outperformed the horrible old Labour party during its worst election of all time?

It’s useful to compare the media treatment of Shane Jones with the way the press gallery conducted themselves over Chris Carter. When Carter betrayed his party because he was unhappy with Goff’s leadership he was treated with utmost contempt and the gallery – literally – chased him around Parliament. When Jones betrays his party because the Nats waved a cheque in front of his face its a nationwide tragedy and all the Labour Party’s fault.

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