Cyber terrorists 'a real threat'

DRINKING water supplies, sanitation and telephone exchanges would be prime targets in the event of a cyber attack on the region, a University of Wollongong expert has warned.

Dr Katina Michael, an associate professor in the university's informatics faculty, said a computer-based attack could be launched for a variety of reasons, ranging from corporate espionage to terrorism, and the consequences might be devastating.

"The main things to hit are [telephone] exchanges but also water supply - water is very much linked to electricity - and so on. Sewerage is another one - as soon as you get rid of sanitation in an area, we have the spread of disease," she said.

Dr Michael, who also lectures at the university's Centre for Transnational Crime Prevention, said Telstra exchanges, which act as a vital hub for internet and telephone services, were particularly vulnerable.

"If they wanted to knock out an exchange ... it's probably quite easy [because] it's a single building and unprotected; you walk past Telstra exchanges," she said.

And a strike at the region's economic heart via the computer systems of BlueScope Steel wouldn't be difficult "at all".

She said the biggest risk came from so-called "social engineering" attacks, where employees are tricked into giving up sensitive details like usernames and passwords, which are then used to "walk through the front door" of computer systems.

A BlueScope spokesman said all computer services at the steelworks were outsourced to multi-national technology-services company CSC, which has an office in Coniston.

A CSC spokeswoman said the company could not discuss individual clients, but said CSC was at the forefront of cyber defence.

It is also possible that Wollongong City Council's IT systems could come under attack, bringing vital services to a halt, or resulting in the theft of ratepayers' personal details from databases.

In August, a teenage hacker from rural Victoria gained unrestricted access to the files of Ballarat City Council, resulting in a week-long shutdown of the council's computer network.

A Wollongong City Council spokeswoman said the threat of a cyber attack was taken "very seriously".

Dr Michael's warning came as more than 50 Australian organisations faced simulated cyber attacks as part of an international security exercise dubbed Cyber Storm III.

Citation: Matthew Jones, October 9, 2010, "Cyber terrorists 'a real threat'", Illawarra Mercury, p. 21.

Govt launches security research network

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has sponsored a new online directory Australia's security professionals and academia, which aims to highlight leaders in the
industry.

zd.jpg

The National Security Research Directory is a brain's trust of hundreds of experts operating in a burgeoning list of fields across IT security, biometrics and counter-terrorism.

It includes research topic areas such as applied cryptography, physical security and "ubervelliance" — a system with the ability to automatically locate and identify individuals and predict their movements.

Nominated researchers must be members of the Research Network Secure Australia and clear its professional background checks. 

Deputy national security advisor Margot McCarthy said the network will tighten coordination on matters of national security in the public and private sectors.

McCarthy also announced the National Security Advisor's Group within the Department of the Prime Minster and Cabinet, which will report directly to the National Security chief information officer, Rachael Noble, on issues including cybersecurity.

Citation: Darren Pauli, "Govt launches security research network", ZDNet.comhttp://www.zdnet.com/govtlaunches-security-research-network-1339306227/

Spy in the sky zooms in on illegal backyard pools

ILLAWARRA councils are using eye-in-the-sky technology to identify illegal backyard pools and prosecute owners.

Wollongong and Shellharbour councils say they are using satellite imagery, including Google Earth, to research and investigate pools.

In some cases, officers use Google Earth as a check against council's own aerial photographs to confirm the presence of a pool before sending staff to inspect the site for compliance issues.

"The evidence gathered from this inspection may, after many other steps, lead to prosecution or a fine," a spokesman for Shellharbour council said.

But the method concerns privacy advocate and University of Wollongong associate professor Dr Katina Michael, who said the practice of using satellite imagery blurred the line between public and private space.

"While it is legal, I don't believe it is ethical," she said.

"Ratepayers should at least be made aware their councils are using this technology."

The Mercury put the question of satellite imagery use to Wollongong and Shellharbour councils after reports a council in the United States had voted against using Google Earth to check the legality of pools.

Wollongong infrastructure systems and support manager Kim Batley said using aerial photographs for basic council mapping, planning, regulation and enforcement was standard across all levels of government.

He said Wollongong council had used aerial photography for many years and recently utilised Google Earth satellite imagery in a safety campaign on backyard swimming pools.

"Council made use of Google Earth as part of its research, cross-referencing against our own property database, but it was not used in enforcement," he said. "The use of Google Earth is not a common practice but proved helpful in this particular project."

The council's environment and development compliance manager David Day said satellite imagery and aerial photography would only be used to investigate pools after a complaint was made.

He said aerial photography technology would form only part of an investigation and the council would not issue a fine based just on aerial images.

Shellharbour's spokesman said council staff also used Google Earth, but a physical inspection would always be carried out to determine compliance.

Dr Michael, who is a board member of the Australian Privacy Foundation and a Kiama resident, said there were potential privacy issues in using satellite imagery but admitted it had not really been debated.

"It's grey territory," she said.

Dr Michael said residents who didn't want their homes included in Google Earth imagery could email Google or write to them requesting its removal.

Citation: Shannon Tonkin, September 22, 2010, "Spy in the sky zooms in on illegal backyard pools", Illawarra Mercury, p. 13.

What is Uberveillance? IEEE Technology News

Uberveillance, a newly emerging term in the name of national security, refers to surveillance that applies across all space and all time and supports some organisation that is omniscient, at least relative to some person or object. Uberveillance insists on embedding the surveillance mechanism within the person or object to be monitored and sends the report to the monitoring organisation periodically or continuously. With this will our society become more safe to live in or will it be heading towards self-destruction through the denial of the very freedoms of individuals?

IEEE Staff. "What is uberveillance?" IEEE Technology News, August 6, 2010.

Tracking apps could 'undermine trust'

Friday, 11 June 2010 Anna Salleh ABC

Technology like Google Latitude enables people to track their friends, relatives and even partners in real time (Source: ABC News)

New social networking technologies that enable people to track each other's location are challenging everyday notions of trust, says one information technology researcher.

PhD researcher Roba Abbas from the University of Wollongong is presenting her research on "location based social networking" at two conferences this week.

"There are fundamental trust issues where this technology is concerned," says Abbas.

Applications such as Google Latitude and Foursquare are examples of such tracking technology, which can be used on a mobile phone.

It allows people to monitor the location of their partners, friends, relatives and others in real time on an interactive map.

In a focus group study, to be presented to the 9th International Conference on Mobile Business in Greece this week, Abbas found the majority of participants would not adopt the tracking technology.

Participants were concerned about such things as the potential for unwanted surveillance, invasion of privacy, and the ability of the technology to undermine trust in relationships.

A separate pilot study, involving 20 to 25-year-olds asked to carry commercially-available GPS data loggers, revealed some of the scenarios that might arise.

"While the data logging devices were initially perceived as a novelty by participants, significant concerns emerged after further consideration and extensive utilisation of the devices," says Abbas.

Keeping track of loved ones

In the pilot study, participants were interviewed after a period of carrying the GPS devices with them wherever they went, keeping a manual diary of their location and observing the difference.

In some cases, people thought tracking technology could be useful for providing evidence to a partner on their whereabouts.

"Today I was supposed to finish work at 9, but being Easter I didn't get out until 10. When I got to my boyfriend's house he questioned me about where I'd been," said one participant.

"I was able to say 'check the [device] if you don't believe me'. I then realised that in a situation where you had to prove you had been somewhere, the [device] could be used as evidence."

One participant also thought a small version of the device could be used to covertly collect evidence against a potentially guilty partner.

But participants became worried when they discovered the loggers were not always accurate, sometimes recording their location a street away from where they actually were.

Abbas says they were uneasy about the possibility of inaccurate location information being used against someone.

Another participant said, "The [device] has the potential to ruin people's lives because it has the potential to give an incorrect location. For example, if a husband were to track his wife's car, she may have gone shopping, but it's showing the location of the car in the street next to the shopping centre, this could cause many trust issues to arise unnecessarily."

Abbas' research has also found concerns about the ability of people to tamper with the tracking technology and "lie" about where they are.

Human trust

Accuracy aside, people were concerned about the potential for the technology to erode trust among friends and family, says Abbas, who presented the pilot study results at this week's IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society conference in Wollongong.

"You're working towards trusting a technology rather than trusting someone you're in a relationship with," she says.

Abbas says while technological solutions such as privacy settings that allow one to hide locations would go some way to alleviating some concerns, human trust issues are difficult to account for.

"These devices provide you with information on where someone is but it doesn't provide you with information on why they're there and what they're doing," she says.

"It doesn't actually tell you what a person's motives are."

She says this means "inferences and misrepresentations" can be easily made by users.

Abbas PhD research is being supervised by Dr Katina Michael and funded by the UOW and the Australian Research Council.

She says information from her research will be provided to industry to help in the development of "ethically sound location based services".

Tags: information-and-communication, computers-and-technology, social-sciences, relationships

Citation: Anna Salleh, June 11, 2010, "Tracking apps could 'undermine trust'", ABC Science Onlinehttp://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2010/06/11/2922784.htm

Cyborgs walk among us

Cyborgs walk among us

Higher education Conference

A university conference is tackling the big issues of technology and features speakers who have devices implanted under their skin, writes BENJAMIN LONG.

Program chair Associate Professor Katina Michael is expecting plenty of robust debate at the 2010 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society this week at the University of Wollongong.

The multidisciplinary conference, which closes tomorrow (with a further workshop being held on Thursday), has attracted the world's leading experts in the area of new technology and its social impacts.

"What is fresh about this conference is that it is bringing people from different disciplines to discuss the same subject matter from different angles" says Dr Michael, a senior lecturer in the School of Information Technology and Computer Science at UOW.

"There should be a clash of sorts, because I don't think everyone will agree with what is being put forward.

The conference is looking at issues related to cyborg technology, microchip implants, nanotechnology and social networking

"We've got information and communication technology specialists. We've got applied ethics researchers. We've got political scientists. We've got lawyers talking about regulation and legislation of emerging technology such as nanotechnology.

"We've also got commercial entities that have invested heavily, for example, in GPS innovations. We've even got a theologian talking.

"It's not just engineering focussed or humanities focussed. It's going to create a lot of dialogue between those who conceive, those who implement and those who eventually critique the technology."

More than 100 speakers from 17 different countries will address the conference, and 70 academic papers will be presented.

It is the first time the symposium has been held in Australia, says Dr Michael, who has been working on it since UOW was awarded the hosting rights in 2007.

Speakers are looking at emerging technologies in four broad categories - location-based services, social networking, nanotechnology and automatic identification - and looking in particular at issues of security, privacy and human rights.

A number of the keynote speakers are addressing issues around implantable devices.

Professor Rafael Capurro of the Steinbeis-Transfer-Institute Information Ethics, Germany, is a leading ethicist in this area. He has been writing about these issues, says Dr Michael, since a time when "most other people were thinking this was the stuff of conspiracy theory".

Prof Capurro writes that while "ICT (information and communication technology) implants may be used to repair deficient bodily capabilities they can also be misused, particularly if these devices are accessible via digital networks. The idea of letting ICT devices get under our skin in order not just to repair but even to enhance human capabilities gives rise to science fiction visions".

Dr Mark Gasson, a senior research fellow in the Cybernetic Intelligence Research Group at the University of Reading, in the United Kingdom, has an engineering background and looks at implants from a different angle.

In particular he is interested in implantable RFID (radio-frequency identification) devices, which have evolved to the point where they can be considered simple computers.

Dr Gasson recently became "the world's first human infected with a computer virus" when he had a chip implanted in his hand and then infected with a computer virus.

Taking a more idiosyncratic approach is another keynote speaker, Amal Graafstra, who is not an academic but rather an RFID implant enthusiast from the United States.

The owner of several technology and mobile communications companies, Graafstra has two RFIDs implanted in his body which do things like allowing him keyless access to his home and car.

Another of the keynote speakers, Dr Roger Clarke, a consultant on eBusiness, information infrastructure, and dataveillance and privacy, and a Visiting Professor at the School of Computer Science at ANU, addresses the subject of cyborg rights.

"The first generation of cyborgs is alive, well, walking among us, and even running," Dr Clarke argues.

"Pacemakers, clumsy mechanical hands, and renal dialysis machines may not match the movie image of cyborgs, but they have been the leading wave."

He points to the case of South African athlete Oscar Pistorius, a double leg amputee whose prosthetic legs enable him to run faster than most able-bodied people. Pistorius doesn't want to be known as a Paralympian and would rather race against able-bodied athletes. Should he be allowed to run in the Olympics?

Dr Michael hopes that one of the outcomes of the conference is a greater awareness of how technology is affecting our lives.

"Technology can be used for positive means, but it can also be exploited," Dr Michael says.

"It is a great medium to communicate with other people on, but just be aware that even intelligent and street-savvy people can be fooled, and that harm can come from it.

"For example, one of the issues of location-based social networking is that Facebook now has a function that enables you to have a status update, which is automatic and which identifies your location based on where your mobile phone is.

"People can look at that without your knowing - if you've got 400 friends on your friends list - and see that you are in Figtree or you are in Wollongong.

"That might not mean much to people at the moment, but somebody might be able to use that to say, okay, well you're not at home right now so I can go around there and take everything you have. Or they could use it to stalk you.

"We are talking about technology that is not just in the virtual world, but which has repercussions in the physical world."

Citation: Benjamin Long, June 8, 2010, "Cyborgs walk among us", Illawarra Mercury, pp. 1, 23.

Robots of the flesh open door to future

Man with a chip-implanted hand at uni symposium

IMAGINE a world where a wave of a chip-implanted hand opens doors, turns on your computer, or starts the family car.

Or a world where your entire medical or personal history is carried inside your body to be accessed at the flick of a government controlled button.

Will there be a time when cyborg athletes running and jumping on artificial legs, arms, or even hearts, smash world records with ease?

Such Orwellian scenarios have now left the pages of science fiction to become a potentially frightening reality, with emergence of the latest generation of all-seeing, all-knowing technologies.

Just what the social implications of these emerging technologies might be will be explored during a three-day international symposium which starts at the University of Wollongong today.

Speakers from 17 countries will present more than 70 papers centred on automatic identification, location-based services, social networking, nanotechnology, and privacy and human rights.

Symposium chair, Associate Professor Katina Michael said some of the key topics to be explored will include ethical aspects of bar-code and microchip implants in the human body, the challenge of cyborg rights, tracking and monitoring living and non-living things, and internet filtering and regulation in Australia.

"We have seen an increase in the use of wearable and embedded technologies in everyday life, so I believe it's time for public debate on a range of associated issues," Prof Michael said.

"One recent example of an issue that has posed a number of social and ethical challenges regarding cyborg rights is South African runner Oscar Pistorius, who runs with the aid of carbon fibre transtibial artificial limbs," she said.

"Pistorius's artificial lower legs have allowed him to compete in open competitions, but this has generated claims that he has an unfair advantage over runners with prosthetic limbs," she said.

One of those presenting a paper at the symposium is Amal Graafstra, who has a radio-frequency identification chip implanted in the webbing between his thumb and forefinger.

One of about 300 implant "hobbyists" around the world, he can unlock his car and his front door and even turn on his computer.

Citation: Paul McInerney, June 7, 2010, "Robots of the flesh open door to future", Illawarra Mercury, p. 3.

Social Implications Behind Emerging Technologies Examined

WOLLONGONG, Australia, June 7 -- The University of Wollongong issued the following news release:

A three-day international symposium focusing on the social implications of emerging technologies including microchip implants for humans, cyborgs possessing artificial and natural systems and the growth in nanotechnology is being held at UOW from 7-9 June.

It is the first time that the IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society has come to the Southern Hemisphere in more than 25 years.

Symposium Program Chair, Associate Professor Katina Michael, said the IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society has attracted speakers from 15 countries who will be presenting more than 70 papers.

Discussions will centre on themes and ideas about:

* Automatic identification

* Location-based services

* Social networking

* Nanotechnology

* Privacy, security and human rights

The symposium has brought together academics and practitioners from multiple disciplines including information technology, engineering, law, sociology, ethics, policy, medical, business, accounting and economics.

Some of the key topics at the symposium are examining:

* Nanotechnology: Will it revolutionise health care?

* Ethical aspects of ICT implants in the human body

* The challenge of cyborg* rights

* Tracking and monitoring of living and non-living things

* Internet filtering and regulation in Australia

[*The first generation of cyborgs is alive, well, walking among us - and even running. Pacemakers, clumsy mechanical hands and renal dialysis machines may not match the movie but they have been the leading wave. Greater challenges are posed by the legs of sprinter Oscar Pistorius].

The full program is available here (http://www.uow.edu.au/conferences/2010/ISTAS/program/index.htm)

Targetted News Service, June 7, 2010, "Social Implications Behind Emerging Technologies Examined".

Uberveillance cements its position as an official dictionary word

uberveillance in macquarie dictionary.png

The word, ‘uberveillance’, coined by MG Michael and further developed by Katina Michael, is now gaining international acceptance and has been officially included in the fifth edition of the printed Macquarie Dictionary.

While uberveillance did not win the Word of the Year in 2008 it did top its category which was ‘Technology’.

The dictionary notes that uberveillance refers to “an omnipresent electronic surveillance facilitated by technology that makes it possible to embed surveillance devices in the human body”.

The word was coined in 2006 by UOW Honorary Senior Fellow Dr M.G. Michael and the concept has been further developed together with UOW senior lecturer Dr Katina Michael.

The first time the term was used by Dr Michael was in a guest lecture he delivered on the “Consequences of Innovation”.

The duo said the word simply ‘came out’ in a moment of inspiration, when Michael was searching for words to describe the embedded technologies. They said the term “surveillance” didn’t describe the full extent of the technological capabilities available today.

“Michael could find no other term but to bring together the German prefix “über” with the French root word “veiller” to describe the exaggerated surveillance conducted by governments in the name of national security,” Dr Katina Michael said.

“We needed a word to describe the profoundly intrusive nature of such technologies and it was no longer about Big Brother looking down, but rather about Big Brother on the inside looking out,” she said.

The Sydney Morning Herald noted in December last year in an article focusing on how the decade of the noughties was drawing to a close that words like uberveillance “might have not yet reached their peak”. The New York Times has also noted the coining of the new word.

Bernie Goldie, February 8, 2010, "Uberveillance cements its position as an official dictionary word", UOW Mediahttps://media.uow.edu.au/news/UOW073050.html