Tuesday, August 02, 2005


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

The greatest wonder of computers is how they can be wrest away from the Powers that Be and harnessed by us to do whatever we want if we can figure out how to do it.

Since our rulers are conspiring to destroy us or at least put us in chains, the computer/internet interface is our battlefield. The war has broken out in the open this month on several fronts. Aside from the rulers yelling about blogger ethics, a real joke, yes? They are desperately trying to stop us from using our computers like tools and get us into just using them passively.

This battle features lawyers and politicians who listen only to those with lots of money except if the peons get too restive then they do our bidding for a few months then sneakily return to doing business as usual with the real rulers.

The latest entry onto the cyber battlefields is Darknet.

Cymru's Darknet:
Tracking compromised machines can be difficult. Security solutions often don't scale to the size of larger networks. Technologies such as IDS are flawed, producing copious false positives. When solutions are scaled to fit the larger providers, they often require considerable care and feeding, thus taking time away from problem mitigation. There must be a better way!
Enter the Darknet! A Darknet is a portion of routed, allocated IP space in which no active services or servers reside. These are "dark" because there is, seemingly, nothing within these networks.

A Darknet does in fact include at least one server, designed as a packet vacuum. This server gathers the packets and flows that enter the Darknet, useful for real-time analysis or post-event network forensics.

Any packet that enters a Darknet is by its presence aberrant. No legitimate packets should be sent to a Darknet. Such packets may have arrived by mistake or misconfiguration, but the majority of such packets are sent by malware. This malware, actively scanning for vulnerable devices, will send packets into the Darknet, and this is exactly what we want.

Darknets have multiple uses. These can be used to host flow collectors, backscatter detectors, packet sniffers, and IDS boxes. The elegance of the Darknet is that it cuts down considerably on the false positives for any device or technology.

The goals of the Darknet are simple - to increase awareness, and to ease mitigation. With a Darknet in place, it is far easier to determine the amount of naughty traffic on a network, as well as the sources of said traffic.
Note how much of this latest fighting is about routers? I do believe this is where we should keep our focus. For routers are the backbone of the internet. The governments across the planet need to control routers in order to control our access to the information on the internet. Information like this blog, for example.

All governments are worried about the internet. They all have to work in concert with the big corporate entities to see that denizens on the net don't get too uppity. At the same time, the providers of data and content all want to feed us with a bottle dropper and not let us glom onto the creative energy the computer complex gives us. They don't want us messing with their stuff. Yet they won't give it to us in a form which exploits the speed and power of the computer complexes we now own.

The glacial rate which has been created under archaic systems irritate people who want to enjoy content. Getting it to people swiftly and yet profitably is a problem. For the content makers need to make money. But they don't want to change the data stream to make it more convenient and consumer-friendly.

From Wired
Hollywood is terrified of your computer. Movie industry bigwigs know your PC can help you create your own movies, or, worse, copy and tweak theirs. So, like a jealous lover, the entertainment industry worries: Is your computer offering you the fulfillment we can't? Are you going to buy fewer of our movie tickets, DVDs and CDs?

Author J.D. Lasica says Hollywood is waging battles on several fronts to make sure that doesn't happen. In his comprehensive, sometimes chilling new book, Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation, Lasica details the entertainment industry's strategies for maintaining control of content in the rip-mix-burn age.
Silverman writes well about this. I will note here that China has dealt with the riddle of costly content by simply doing what America did to Britain for many years back in the 19th century: steal copywritten materiel. Gilbert and Sullivan were constantly suing Americans over theft of their operettas. Dickens and even Tolkien in the 20th century had to sue Americans stealing copywrites.
The software provided by MovieMask and its rival, ClearPlay, quickly came under attack by Hollywood, which argued that even in the privacy of their own homes, consumers don't have the right to mess with trademarked films. Though Congress came down on the side of ClearPlay (the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, passed last April, kept scene-scrubbing software legal), Hollywood's aggressiveness surprised even Lasica.

"(Hollywood's) view still is in the vein of, 'We are the artists. We are the creative professionals. You are the audience, and you don't have the right to change anything that we do in any small way,'" he said. "But that's just a holdover. It's 20th-century analog thinking -- that there isn't a place for the audience in the movie-viewing experience, that we are just passive receptacles for the artists. That won't work in the digital age."

Turf wars between the entertainment and technology industries are nothing new. Music companies sued to thwart the player piano in 1908. AM radio broadcasters marshaled their forces against the coming of FM. VCRs very nearly went extinct in 1984 until a 5-4 Supreme Court vote (with Sandra Day O'Connor passing the tiebreaker) kept them legal.
Always, when a new medium is created, the old systems fight it off as fiercely as possible. Yet they always end up making oodles of money anyway, once they clear their brains and figure out how the new system works. All recording systems have been attacked. Yet they always expand the market! This is pretty obvious yet is a lesson that has to be learned again and again.

From the NYT:
Briefly buoyed by their Supreme Court victory on file sharing, Hollywood and the recording industry are on the verge of confronting more technically sophisticated opponents.

At a computer security conference in Las Vegas on Thursday, an Irish software designer described a new version of a peer-to-peer file-sharing system that he says will make it easier to share digital information anonymously and make detection by corporations and governments far more difficult.
Even the NYT, servant of the corporate entity, has sat up and noticed the possible existence of Darknet.
The Irish programmer, Ian Clarke, is a 28-year-old free-speech advocate who five years ago introduced a software system called Freenet that was intended to make it impossible for governments and corporations to restrict the flow of any kind of digital information. The system initially used a secure approach to routing between users and employed encryption to protect the information from eavesdroppers who were not part of the network.

Unlike today's open peer-to-peer networks, the new systems like Mr. Clarke's use software code to connect individuals who trust one another. He said he would begin distributing the new version of his program within a few months, making it possible for groups of users to establish secured networks - available only to them and those they choose to include - through which any kind of digital information can be exchanged.

Though he says his aim is political - helping dissidents in countries where computer traffic is monitored by the government, for example - Mr. Clarke is open about his disdain for copyright laws, asserting that his technology would produce a world in which all information is freely shared.
Ah, the free speech movement! I remember it all very fondly. I remember a Black Power advocate being banned from the University of Arizona for using the word "Fuck" in public. I then recorded as many statements as possible of coaches of the football team yelling "Fuck" at the players, my boyfriend at the time was a tackle. Heh.

We forced the university to recind the banning.

One of our rulers, China, is none too pleased about this uppity Irishman's creation. Heck, Homeland Security, our neo-Nazi organization set up to spy on us is none too happy, either. Time, once again, for the despots of the world to unite to crush freedom of speech.

As usual.

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