#AxisOfEasy 207: Biden: Cyber War Can Lead To Shooting War



Weekly Axis Of Easy #207

Last Week’s Quote was “Rhetoric is no substitute for reality,” was Thomas Sowell. I missed his birthday (same as mine) so I wanted to get one in belatedly. Winner was Thomas Gill.

This Week’s Quote: “Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different. Life would undergo a change of appearance because we ourselves had undergone a change of attitude.” … by???

THE RULES: No searching up the answer, must be posted to the blog- the place to post the answer is at the bottom of the post, in the comments section.

The Prize: First person to post the correct answer gets their next domain or hosting renewal is on us.

In this issue:

  • South Africa awards world’s first patent that lists an AI as inventor
  • Exiled citizens behind .IO want their TLD (and nation) back
  • Crypto regulation gets tucked-in to infrastructure bill
  • Biden: cyber war can lead to shooting war
  • How multi-variant phishing attacks look
  • Pegasus spyware found on French journalists phones
  • Big Tech to coordinate against far-right content
  • The definitive mega thread on why normal people are vaccine hesitant


South Africa awards world’s first patent that lists an AI as inventor

A University of Surrey professor has been awarded a patent in South Africa after being rejected in Europe, the UK and the US. The issue? The patent’s listed inventor is an AI.

Dr. Stephan Thaler has been fighting legal challenges since 2018 to win the right for AI’s to be recognized as inventors, stating that the current framework for recognizing and awarding patents is outdated. His AI, a neural network called Dabus (Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience), was the sole creator of “a food container that improves grip and heat transfer.”

Dr. Thaler, as the owner of the AI is now the owner of the patent, while Dabus is officially recognized as the inventor. At least in South Africa.

Read: https://www.globallegalpost.com/news/south-africa-issues-worlds-first-patent-listing-ai-as-inventor-161068982

Exiled citizens behind .IO want their TLD (and nation) back

Two character Top Level Domains (TLDs) like .CA, .US, .UK are all country codes. Even .TV is really Tuvalu, .FM is Micronesia, and .WS wasn’t actually created to mean “Web Site,” it’s the ISO 3166 code for Western Samoa, and these smaller countries with more brandable codes often contract out their TLDs and allow foreign registrations.

I remember during the .COM Heyday of 1998-1999, a news item that after Tuvalu had signed a deal with a Western hedge fund to develop .TV (they were based right here in Toronto, actually), they officially had the highest per capita income in the world. Briefly. That deal never consummated and .TV ended up being run by Verisign.

Another one is .IO, which is quite popular among techie sites and in recent years crypto-currencies specifically. .IO is listed in ISO 3166 as British Indian Ocean Territory, to its native citizens, it’s the Chagos Islands. And they’ve filed a suit with the OECD against Afilias, who operates the TLD.

The Brits operate a “secretive naval base” on of the Chagos Islands, and decades ago they forcibly deported the islanders:

“The United Nations General Assembly, African Union, and International Court of Justice have all found that Britain’s forcible deportation of the Chagos Islanders a generation ago and continued occupation of the Chagos Archipelago (British Indian Ocean Territory) is a serious violation of international law. The Chagos Islanders are banned from the island chain by apartheid like laws and do not participate in the island chain’s booming Internet and defense oriented economy.”

Afilias purchased the contract to operate the .IO TLD for $70 Million USD, before they themselves were acquired by Donuts, Inc.

Seems like everybody is getting a piece of .IO except the Chagoians themselves.

Read: https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO2107/S00306/chagos-islanders-seek-control-of-popular-io-domain.htm

We’ve been offering .IO domains for decades and I have a few myself, including my recent start-up TheCryptoCapitalist.io, so we’re looking into this further. The person who sent me this story is trying to arrange an introduction with a relevant contact at the OECD. Meanwhile there has been a documentary called “Stealing a Country” made by Bullfrog Films, 
PDF synopsis here.

Crypto regulation gets tucked-in to infrastructure bill

US Lawmakers seemed to open a can of worms with a last minute “tuck-in” to the Biden Administration infrastructure bill to generate additional tax revenues from the crypto-currency industry.

While all legitimate investors and businesses within crypto accept the reality of taxation (when we sold our Bitcoin in 2017, we dutifully cut an enormous cheque to Revenue Canada that year), the bill was lambasted by the industry as ill-conceived and nebulous. It could be interpreted so broadly that everybody even touching crypto, from miners to validators, even decentralized wallet developers, could be viewed as “brokers”  and be required to report transactional data to the IRS of which they have no visibility in many cases.

The EFF is calling the legislation as drafted “a disaster for online privacy” and put out an analysis on exactly what’s wrong with it, and how it should be changed to be usable.

The crypto industry mobilized quickly and pushed back hard, possibly more vigorously than lawmakers expected.

Read: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2021/08/cryptocurrency-surveillance-provision-buried-infrastructure-bill-disaster-digital

And: https://www.coindesk.com/podcasts/the-breakdown-with-nlw/senate-meets-cyber-hornets-crypto-lobby-effective

Biden: cyber war can lead to shooting war

When foreign powers interfere with each others communications mediums, infrastructure grids or social media platforms via electronic means, it is increasingly being viewed as acts of foreign aggression.

In a recent speech before the National Counterterrorism Center of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, President Biden said:

“You know, we’ve seen how cyber threats, including ransomware attacks, increasingly are able to cause damage and disruption to the real world, I can’t guarantee this, and you’re as informed as I am, but I think it’s more likely we’re going to end up — well, if we end up in a war, a real shooting war with a major power, it’s going to be as a consequence of a cyber breach of great consequence.”

A recurring theme throughout some of my musing is a thought experiment that the world is already immersed in a global conflict, World War Three is already in progress, we just don’t know that yet because it’s being fought on entirely new fronts, “war by other means,” and nobody has told the plebes.

Biden also continued on a theme heard so often from those in power, the specter of “disinformation” from official sources must be countered:

“Biden also implied that Russia is already involved in 2022 elections disinformation campaigns targeting US citizens getting their information from the Internet rather than other vetted sources.”

That last sentence for me is one of the more far reaching aspects of this story. If there is one recurring theme throughout AxisOfEasy it’s the idea that there are those who feel that information needs to be “curated” via “vetted sources” with of course, themselves as curators. Then anything that runs counter to the narratives they produce are by definition unvetted misinfo (even as we’ve seen often lately, it turns out to be substantive).

This is a problem, because if you believe in the necessity for officials to vet information sources, you are disincentivizing critical thinking, instead, penalizing or even demonizing it. We don’t wind up in a more robust and intellectually resilient society if we do that. We wind up with the opposite, a population of pliant zombies.

Read: https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/biden-severe-cyberattacks-could-escalate-to-real-shooting-war

How multi-variant phishing attacks look

A few weeks ago we noticed a batch of suspicious looking domains come onto the system. They smelled bad, but until we knew exactly what they were up to, we couldn’t really do anything about it.

After about a week we realized they were part of a multi-variant phishing / email hooking scheme:

  1. They spammed out emails about bogus payments from your PayPal account to some big box store
  2. Get you to call the toll free number in the email to dispute the payment
  3. Tell you somebody stole your personal data to set up a fake PayPal account
  4. Send you to a website (the aforementioned domains that came here, and elsewhere), where you would be instructed on how to “un-blacklist” your IP

We got this far after we terminated the domains because we received one of their newer mailings ourselves and were able to call them. We went up to the point where they wanted us to enter a code into the website. We figure from there you would be prompted into downloading malware to your computer.

At the time we put out a Twitter thread on it and you can view the unroll:

Read: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1420387998642937868.html

Twitter: https://twitter.com/easyDNS/status/1420387998642937868

Pegasus spyware found on French journalists phones

We’ve been covering the ongoing saga of NSO Group’s over the past couple issues. It’s beginning to surface now the extent to which various national governments have been using it to hack the devices of meddlesome journalists.

Until now, tracking the level of Pegasus penetration has been done by independent NGOs (like Toronto’s CitizenLab) and the recent Pegasus Project: a group of 17 media outlets and Amnesty International. They came into possession of a leaked list of 50,000 mobile numbers possibly targeted by NSO. Now the first official government source has corroborated a claim of hacking. In France  “The French National Agency for the Security of Information Systems (ANSSI)“ has identified remnants of Pegasus spyware on three devices owned by journalists who are French nationals.

Anssi has referred their findings to a Parisian public prosecutor who is conducting an investigation into the matter.
Read: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/aug/02/pegasus-spyware-found-on-journalists-phones-french-intelligence-confirms

Big Tech to coordinate against far-right content

Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism’s (GIFCT) is an organization formed by Big Tech platforms like Facebook and Microsoft to coordinate on the removal of extremist content from the internet. Until now this would mean radical Islamist materials, I imagine this is the sort of activities GIFCT was focused on.

Now they’re expanding their mandate to include far-right militias and extremists. They will incorporate the U.N. initiative Tech Against Terrorism’s list of URLs and file hashes that were compiled by the so-called “Five Eyes” of global surveillance (US, UK, New Zealand, Australia and Canada) to target groups like Proud Boys, Three Percenters and Neo-Nazis.

On it’s surface this is all fairly routine. When I ran a small file transfer website as a side project I came across a fair bit of Islamic terrorist content, including recruitment videos and bomb making handbooks, which was duly turned over, along with the meta data, to Canadian authorities. They even supplied me with a list of emblems, insignias and names to look out for.

What I find absent from the conversation, or at least biased, is the conflation of extremism with being exclusively a right-wing phenomenon.

Far left militias like Redneck Rumble and NFAC (Not F***ing Around Coalition) are not only armed and flourishing, they are seemingly also coddled by the corporate press. Here’s MSNBC trotting out an expert to explain why the NFAC, armed to the teeth and whose stated goal is to secede from the US, is different from far-right militias, many of whom have the same stated goal.

Read: https://www.reuters.com/technology/exclusive-facebook-tech-giants-target-manifestos-militias-database-2021-07-26/

Don’t get me wrong, I’m in favour of an armed citizenry (à la Switzerland) and those who’ve been reading me for long know I think the age of the nation state as we know it is coming to an end…

The definitive mega thread on why normal people are vaccine hesitant

A friend forwarded me a Twitter thread from Konstantin Kisen, one of the co-hosts of the UK podcast Triggernometry (which easyDNS has been sponsoring for about a year). They describe themselves as disenfranchised left-liberal pro-Remainers who feel a tad homeless in a world where cancel culture reigns supreme and what passes for news is really just V For Vendetta style propaganda.

It’s a mega thread that narrates the arc of ever-shifting narrative that gradually (then suddenly) stripped the mainstream media of any last vestiges of credibility.

“Imagine you’re a normal person. The year is 2016. Rightly or wrongly, you believe most of what you see in the media. You believe polls are broadly reflective of public opinion. You believe doctors and scientists are trustworthy and independent. You’re a decent, reasonable person who follows the rules and trusts authority.”

He then proceeds to hit all the main inflection points: 2016 Brexit, then Trump, then Russians, maybe not Russians, DON’T WEAR MASKS YOU MORONS, ffs follow the science and wear a mask Covidiot, even Kamala Harris’s declaration that she would never take a COVID vaccine that Trump made mandatory all the way to #NoVaxNoJob.

It lays out the case, fairly cogently, why the general public may just simply be confused, distrustful and hesitant as opposed to being morally reprobate monsters.

Read: https://twitter.com/KonstantinKisin/status/1422181544161128450

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