Freezenet’s Official Podcast: November 2019: 1 Year of Freezenet!

In this 13th episode of the Freezenet official podcast, “1 Year of Freezenet!”, we take a look at the news and reviews we covered for November.

Welcome to the public version of the 13th episode of the Freezenet official podcast. This episode is entitles “1 Year of Freezenet!” because we have officially made it to year 2 of this podcast. Here’s to another exciting year of the official Freezenet podcast!

Besides talking about the big milestone, this month, we talk about the continuing escalation of the war on encryption. This time, Facebook seems to have decided to step things up by saying that they will encrypt video and audio calls as well. Also, we talk about the lawsuit filed by WhatsApp against an alleged malware maker. Additionally, we talk about the copyright blow up between Taylor Swift and Big Machine Records.

Also, we cover all the usual music and video game reviews. We even talk about why it might be a good idea to plug you initials in a search engine before emblazoning them on your H&M clothing line.

You can check out our official podcast on Soundcloud or Anchor. Alternatively, you can take a listen below:

Edit: This podcast is now publicly available via Patreon.

What follows below is a transcript to this episode:

Intro

1 Year Of Freezenet

Hi, I’m your host, Drew Wilson. Welcome to the thirteenth episode of the Freezenet official podcast for November, 2019. Here are your top 3 headlines:

The Top 3

The Freezenet official podcast is now 1 year old

The Facebook encryption battle continues with the site moving to encrypt audio and video calls

Also, an alleged malware company is sued by the makers of WhatsApp

Top Stories

First, we begin this months podcast by pointing out that the Freezenet official podcast is now one year old. It’s kind of hard to believe that, but it is true. In November of 2018, I would carry through one of the many plans I have had for some time. By the time I got to the point of actually creating the podcast, others were actually encouraging me to follow through with these plans.

So, I wrote out a template of how these shows would work, then tweak things a bit. After that, I wrote out the script for the first podcast. With a nervous “here goes nothing” thought going through my mind, I hit the record button and recorded the podcast through a simple headset microphone. With a few takes on different sections later, I was able to put the podcast together.

By January, Nolan joined in and helped by offering his equipment and mixing services to improve the overall quality of the show. Now, more recently, I was able to acquire a better microphone for added convenience. Here we are, 1 year later, still putting together a show every month for you, the listener. It’s been quite a ride so far and we hope to continue this one with you. Here’s to another great year here on Freezenet!

Now, turning to the Facebook encryption debate, we’ve been tracking a couple of new developments in the story. As many of you are aware, Germany, Australia, the UK, and the US are currently pressuring Facebook to halt all encryption plans. Well, it seems that Facebook decided to not only ignore those calls, but also decided to expand on that idea. Facebook, this month, announced that they would also pilot a project that would allow for the encryption of audio and video calls as well. No doubt this is not a move the various governments were hoping for, though we have yet to see a reaction from them about this.

In a follow-up we brought you, there is political fallout for US Attorney General, William Barr. US Democrats are calling on the Trump administration to stop their efforts to kill effective security. They say that the pretense that this is about protecting the children is false.

In a somewhat related story, an alleged malware vendor is being sued by the makers of WhatsApp. NSO Group, a company some are calling an Israeli Cyberweapons company, is accused of selling malware to third parties including third world country governments. It is alleged that some of that malware is tailored specifically to WhatsApp.

The malware at the center of the lawsuit is known as Pegasus. That malware would get into a targets cell phone via what looks like a missed phone call. When the victim answers, the phone call would immediately hang up. Unbeknownst to the victim, that act of answering the phone call also caused them to be infected with the malware.

People who receive those malware laden phone calls include journalists and activists. Some reportedly received threats of violence and a few even faced assassination attempts as a result.

The lawsuit is being described as unprecedented. This is especially so given that many makers of malware long argue that they do not know who their clients are, therefor, they can’t be held liable for what damage the malware causes. Instead, some defend themselves by saying that their code is used to track down terrorists as a reason to justify their actions. This lawsuit puts a lot of those assumptions and general ideas into question. So, it’ll be interesting to see what the California court has to say about this.

There is a lot of other interesting things happening here on Freezenet. Let’s take a look at some of the other stories making news this month.

Other Stories Making News

There has been a major court ruling in India about social media. The Delhi High Court has ruled that social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and others must globally remove material deemed “offensive”. The court said that such sites must globally disable the material because people could theoretically circumvent the geo-blocked material. The lawsuit was filed by Ramdev and Patanjali Ayurved Ltd. who were arguing that such sites are hosting material that they say is defamatory to Baba Ramdev.

A former FBI and DOJ official is having a change of heart on encryption. Jim Baker, who worked on the case brought against Apple, is saying that organizations have to “[e]mbrace reality and deal with it.” Baker also said that, after reflecting on the reality of technology and security, governmental organizations, including law enforcement, have “to embrace encryption because it is one of the few mechanisms that the United States and its allies can use to more effectively protect themselves from existential cybersecurity threats”

The US is launching an investigation into social media app Musical.ly. TikTok, the makers of Musical.ly, was recently bought by Beijing based company, ByteDance, for $1 billion. The investigation was, ironically, sparked by fears that China would have access and power to take down content the government might not like. It’s a charge that TikTok has explicitly denied.

The fight over DoH encryption is continuing to heat up. This month, Mozilla accused ISPs of lying to congress, saying that their positions contain “factual inaccuracies”. One of the points they dispute is the idea that browsers like Chrome would automatically switch users to their DNS servers. Mozilla says that this claim is not true. The story comes as a follow-up to our story last month where a Comcast slideshow meant to lobby lawmakers was leaked. That leak helped change the narrative of this being a debate between government spy organizations vs Mozilla and Google to big US ISPs vs Mozilla and Google.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are hailing the victory of a recent court ruling. For years, US border security have been doing what some call “digital frisking”. Essentially, they demand travellers hand over their devices, such as cell phones and laptops, so they can search them and, in some cases, obtain a full copy of the data. In one case, border security obtained material that is supposed to be kept confidential through attorney-client privilege. In another case, a Harvard student was denied entry into the US because some of his Facebook friends made alleged anti-American posts on Facebook. The Boston court this month ruled that such searches are unconstitutional.

Some more positive news came out this month. Digital rights organizations and anti-virus companies are teaming up to form an alliance known as The Coalition Against Stalkerware. Stalkerware is a form of malware that takes information from a victims cell phone and sends it to a malicious third party. The coalition hopes to raise awareness of the issue as well as inform the public about what Stalkerware is and the legalities behind it. The website can be found at StopStalkerware.org

Taylor Swift and Big Machine records got involved in a spat over the rights of Swift’s older music. Swift says that she was invited to the AMA awards. She accepted and wanted to play her older music. Swift alleges that Big Machine Records, the current owner of her older catalogue, denied her request to play her own music. She then said that she would just perform a medley of her older music. The label allegedly told her that this would constitute a re-recording of the music which would not be authorized. Swift then took to social media which caused the hash tag I Stand With Taylor to start trending. Billboards were purchased to advertise the hash tag. Big Machine records responded, saying that they would allow her to play her older music. It’s worth noting that the two sides dispute certain points in this controversy.

Privacy oriented search engine, DuckDuckGo, is implementing what it calls “Smarter Encryption“. The idea is that users will be encouraged to access websites that offer HTTPS instead of plain HTTP. With encouraging users to access secure versions of different websites, the hope is that this will contribute to safer web browsing.

The situation over the Equifax data breach is continuing to evolve. As many know, this story has been going on for some time now. Following a breach which saw 147 million people’s information compromised, Equifax wound up settling for $700 million. $31 million of that settlement was earmarked for Americans who were affected by the breach. American’s had a number of options to get compensation for the breach. One option, which was actively encouraged, was to get free credit monitoring. Alternatively, American’s could also get a $125 settlement. American’s ended up taking the latter option and it quickly became apparent that not everyone would be getting that dollar amount. Now, it seems more bureaucratic hurdles are being erected to deter American’s from getting the monetary compensation. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is crying foul over the development, saying that American’s are entitled to that money in the first place.

Speaking of security incidences, we’ve been able to cover our share of them this month.

First up is the AutoClerk data leak. In all, 179GB of data has been compromised. AutoClerk is owned by Best Western. What really raised eyebrows over the leak are the victims. Those victims include the US government, the US military, and the Department of Homeland Security. After multiple attempts to contact authorities, it took contact with the US ambassador in Tel Aviv befor action was taken to close the security lapse. In all, it took 19 days before corrective measures took place.

Shortly after, Adobe suffered their own data leak. In all, 7.5 million Creative Cloud users had their information compromised. In this case, the leak was quickly plugged after contact was made.

Then, Whirlpool became another organization to suffer from a data leak. In all, 28.1 million records were exposed. The exposed data contained information of people’s appliances which were pinged ever 60 minutes.

In a follow-up to a story we brought you back in June, the Desjardins data breach has worsened. Originally, the people affected totalled 2.7 million people. Now, the number has been revised to total 4.2 million people. While some might worry that the number will only grow from here, that is likely not going to happen. This is because that number represents the companies entire customer base. In essence, everyone is now affected.

Later on, the Quebec government has now said that they will look into the Desjardins data breach. Reportedly, they have been dragging their feet up to this point, but have finally said that they will investigate. Opposition party members worry that the inquiry will not go deep enough into the matter, though.

After that, we brought you news that threatens to divide by zero. BriansClub, a darknet website that deals with the buying and selling of stolen credit cards has been hacked. In all, 26 million active payment cards have been stolen, again. Security researcher, Brian Crebs, who this carding site has been named after, published his own take on the data breach as well. He points out that, among other things, this shows just how severe the problem of stolen credit cards have become.

In another follow-up, there has been another development in the CapitalOne data breach case. Back in July, CapitalOne suffered from a 100 million account data breach. Lawsuits were filed and one executive has been jailed for insider trading in all of this. This month, the Chief Security Information Officer has been moved to a different position within the company. It’s worth noting that it’s hard to determine if this is a promotion or demotion at this time.

Certainly a lot going on this month here on Freezenet, so let’s turn to a more lighter topic: entertainment.

Video Game Reviews

Before we get into this months game reviews, we wanted to point out that we posted another first impression video. This time, we played the game Half-Life 2: Episode One. It’s an expansion that was released in 2006 and builds on what was published with the Lost Coast expansion as well as the original game. The video is posted on YouTube. I’ll leave a link in the transcript of this months episode as well if you are interested in checking it out.

Now, here are video games we’ve reviewed this month:

First, we played Rescue on Fractalus! for the Atari 5200. Interesting core concepts, but the confusing controls and steep learning curve leaves a lot to be desired. So, this game gets a barely passable 50%.

From there, we tried Jungle Hunt for the Atari 5200. Good variety in the levels, but mastering each level takes quite a bit of effort. Still, this game gets a solid 70%.

After that, we tried Star Raiders for the Atari 5200. Unresponsive controls and a steep learning curve holds this game back by quite a bit. As a result, this game gets a passable 56%.

Next up is Dig Dug for the Atari 5200. Nice difficulty curve and an interesting level system. This game gets an impressive 88%.

Finally, we played Pengo for the Atari 5200. A slightly steep learning curve, but certainly some originality to be found here as well. This game earns a very solid 76%.

Music Reviews

As for music we’ve listened to this month, we’ve got…

Janet Jackson – Escapade

Garfield – Cool Cat (Radio Mix)

Taylor Dayne – Love Will Lead You Back

Tommy Page – I’ll Be Your Everything

Madonna – Vogue

Wilson Phillips – Hold On

Roxette – It Must Have Been Love

… and Glenn Medeiros feat. Bobby Brown – She Ain’t Worth It

Picks of the Month

So, that, leads us to our pick of the month. This month, our pick of the month belongs to Garfield – Cool Cat (Radio Mix). Also, be sure to check out Dig Dug for the Atari 5200.

Oddities

And in other news…

It’s one of those gaming dilemma’s many gamers face. You are enjoying a great game, but suddenly, you get hungry for a snack. Of course, who wants all that salt, saliva, crumbs, and other germs on your fingers and, consequently, on your device? Not very many people. So, chip maker Pringle’s has created the Hunger Hammer headset. While you are playing, simply tap the side of your headset or press the button on the remote, and the Hunger Hammer does the rest. It pops out a chip from the side canister perched on the side of your head onto an arm. Then, it swivels that arm over to your mouth, allowing you to munch down on that potato chip. Of course, as the writer testing this points out, it’s not a real product you can buy and it doesn’t really do a good job at what it’s supposed to do. Still, there is a video that certainly exists of this where people try everything they can to make this product work anyway. I mean, hey, why not?

A fashion designer wanted to put his name on his brand of clothing. So, Giambattista Valli decided to imprint his initials along with the letter “I” and a heart shape. The end result was I heart GBV being emblazoned on the H&M clothing line. What happened next was something neither he nor the store likely would have predicted. Women’s rights organizations and activists were furious that this even exists. As it turns out, the letters GBV also stands for Gender Based Violence. So, for them, the line read “I Heart Gender Based Violence”. A spokesperson pointed out that this is definitely unintentional, but that didn’t exactly quell the anger much. Personally, I didn’t know about the acronym myself. At the same time, you’d think someone would’ve Google the initials first to see if it stood for anything else first.

The Mint Hill Police Department has released a scam alert on Facebook. In the alert, the police say that less than trustworthy drug dealers are using an iPhone app instead of a legitimate scale to weigh their illegal drugs. Instead, the app supposedly shows any number the dealer wants to show buyers. So, in an effort to help potential victims of the scam, the police department suggested that customers could contact the police. They would be happy to arrange for an officer to meet up with them so they can weigh the drugs themselves. This apparently is to ensure people didn’t get scammed after all. The Internet responded by asking for mugshots of those who actually asked police to weigh their illegal drugs so they could point and laugh. I’d certainly be one of those pointing and laughing, that’s for sure.

Outro

So, before we close out this months episode, we’ve got two announcements to make. The first is a more minor announcement. As mentioned earlier, we are now trying out a new microphone for this podcast. As such, we’ll be gradually phasing out the headset microphone used in our first impression videos. Hopefully, the sound isn’t too different to you podcast listeners because this will mean much more convenience for recording purposes.

As for the other announcement, it’s more of a teaser of something to come. We are producing a rather large project that is currently code named “BFP9000”. Yes, that is a Doom reference and the “P” stands for project. This is an extremely large project that will likely take a few months to put together just to make it to public release. Suffice to say, though, we are very excited for it. If you are a subscriber to Patreon, you’ll be able to learn more about this project and get even more detailed updates.

Also, shout out to Nolan for providing mixing services. It’s very much appreciated.

Speaking of Patreon, if you’d like to get your hands on some behind the scenes stuff, exclusive content, and early access material, you can check out our Patreon page at Patreon.com/freezenet. Through this, you can help make Freezenet just that much better all the while getting some pretty cool stuff in the process. That’s Patreon.com/freezenet!

…and that’s this months episode for November, 2019, I’m Drew Wilson for Freezenet. Be sure to check out our website at freezenet.ca for all the latest in news and reviews. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @freezenetca. Thank you for listening and see you next month.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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