Who controls your online accounts and identities? For most of us, the answer will be some combination of Big Social -- companies like Google and Facebook -- as well as a host of smaller platforms and services, all of them parceling up and selling our information for profit.

But after a series of high-profile hacks, trusting social media corporations to store and safeguard our personal information looks an increasingly bad idea. And many are understandably wary about letting platforms look after their cryptocurrency investments. Custody of our digital assets, it seems, is shaping up to be a key issue for network citizens.

Enter Dark Crystal, a project based around Scuttlebutt (interviewed in a previous episode) and recipient of a recent grant from Ethereum Foundation. Dark Crystal enables users to store private keys -- from Bitcoin to email encryption and beyond -- with and inside their communities and social networks.  To do this, i makes use of the mathematical magic behind Shamir's Shared Secret, allowing groups of friends to safely store different 'shards' of a key,  bringing it together as and when needed.

In this episode, we meet Peg and Kieran from Dark Crystal to discuss the implications of the project: what happens when custody of our most precious digital resources can be taken away from banks and megacorps and entrusted to friends, family and community? And do projects like Dark Crystal signal the beginning of a new, cryptography-based 'information commons'?



Embedded in an increasing number of the devices and objects surrounding us, computers are turning the everyday world into a radically programmable attack surface.  This is the subject of computer security & cryptography legend Bruce Schneier's latest book, Click Here To Kill Everybody.  In this episode we meet up with Bruce to explore how the profusion of insecure devices, capable of being put to a variety of unpredictable purposes, is radically shifting the balance of power. Via cyberattacks, smaller states get the ability to content with the great powers -- and an entirely new class of 'non-state actors' are being granted the power to disrupt nations.

Phenomena like the Mirai Botnet, Bruce argues, are just the beginning: we discuss a host of potential attacks on life and property, from car and thermostat hacking to ransomware against hospitals -- and how 'surveillance capitalism' is one of the most important vectors behind this worrying new paradigm.


Advanced Persistent Threat is a  STEAL THIS SHOW special series looking at the 2016 Bangladesh Bank Heist. Had it succeeded, this would easily have been the biggest bank robbery in history -- and it was carried out almost entirely in the digital realm, using a variety of exploits and malware, in order to leverage access to the SWIFT banking network and the US Federal Reserve.

In Part One, we look at exactly what happened in the Bangladesh heist, and walk through how it was carried out. To help us through the complex story, we hear from Cheryl Biswas, Strategic Threat Intel Analyst in Cyber Security at a Big Four consulting firm.

After covering the how of the robbery, we consider whether trusted systems like SWIFT can remain secure in an information environment replete with radically heterogeneous, eminently hackable devices.

Cheryl Biswas wishes to make clear that she speaks here on her own behalf Her views do not represent those of her employer.

This episode was completed in part with funding from Film Agency Wales.



 

In this episode, I reflect on STEAL THIS SHOW episode S04E03, with Cory Doctorow. One of the big themes to come up in the conversation was the European Copyright Directive -- which, if passed early next year, will threaten the future of the Web as we know it. But does this threat to the future of the the traditional Web mean the moment of decentralized services like IPFS and Blockstack has finally come?


In our second interview with Emin Gün Sirer (the first one being lost to a catastrophic file system failure!), we discuss the current state of cryptocurrency, and just what Emin means when he says that Satoshi Nakamoto is 'dead.' We discover the secret shared lineage between BitTorrent and Cryptocurrency, and how they both tackle the 'chaos of the commons'. Of course TRON's recent acquisition of BitTorrent, Inc. comes in for some scrutiny -- Emin remains, let's say, skeptical. And, finally, we look at Emin's work on and around the all-new Avalanche protocol, which he sees as the most significant contribution to cryptocurrency since Bitcoin itself. 

Emin Gün Sirer is a co-director of The Initiative For Cryptocurrencies & Contracts and associate professor of computer science at Cornell University. Known for significant contributions to peer-to-peer systems and computer networking, Emin was behind the first Proof-of-Work system for cryptocurrency, Karma, which debuted before Bitcoin. Having since become a respected commentator on and contributor to Bitcoin itself, Emin is now working on Avalanche, a new cryptocurrency protocol based on an entirely new model, promising fast, reliable transactions with significantly lower power overheads.

Hello to new Patreon supporters: Brett Gaddy, Alexander Sirazh and Liquid Reign! Thanks for your support, guys. We really appreciate it! 



In this episode we meet Zenna, Andre and Zack from Scuttlebutt, a P2P-based social 'network of networks' based around a BitTorrent-like distribution technology. 

After figuring out what Scuttlebutt is (and is not) we discuss: the roots of Scuttlebutt in New Zealand, the system's politically anarchist/libertarian ethos, how Scuttlebutt survived (or shrugged off) a right-wing deluge; and how SSB's technical architecture eliminates the need for moderators.

With social networks like Facebook, Twitter and 4Chan increasingly becoming propagation tanks for viciously partisan net cultures, we talk about what makes Scuttlebutt different: it's a network that resists aggregation, massification,  and centralisation. Scuttlebutt is succeeding where Diaspora failed precisely because it doesn't seek to replace the social media behemoths: Scuttlebutt is tiny by design, happy to be human, and based around the ethos of 'solarpunk' -- a vision of a future we actually want, where high technology is put in service of humans and the environment.


Showrunner & Host Jamie King | Editor Lucas Marston (Hollagully)
Original Music David Triana | Web Production Eric Barch


Presented by TorrentFreak Season SponsorPrivate Internet Access

Episode Sponsor ZCash Company

 

Executive Producers: Mark Zapalac, Eric Barch, Nelson Larios, George Alvarez, Adam Burns, Daniel, Grof.

Sponsorship slots are currently full. For future sponsor opportunities, please email [email protected]

In this episode we meet Cory Doctorow, sci-fi author and co-founder of Boing Boing. Cory's most recent book, Walkaway, is a story of refusing a life of surveillance and control under a high-tech oligarchy and the struggle to live in a post-scarcity gift economy where even death has been defeated. Over this one hour plus interview we discuss:
  • Whether filesharing & P2P communities have lost the battle to streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, and why the 'copyfight' is still important
  • How the European Copyright Directive eats at the fabric of the Web, making it even harder to compete with content giants
  • Why breaking up companies like Google and Facebook might be the only way to restore an internet -- and a society -- we can all live with.
After taking a detour into Cory's views on cryptocurrency and Bitcoin's chances of ''bailing out' an economy saturated with fictitious money,  we move onto discussing Walkaway and a future of 'Fully Automated Luxury Communism' versus one of mega-rich plutocrats (think Bezos) controlling the economy -- and our lives -- via massive machine empires.  How do we exit from a scenario in which machines make everything plentiful -- but none of them are owned by us?

Showrunner & Host Jamie King | Editor Lucas Marston (Hollagully) Original Music David Triana | Web Production Eric Barch


Presented by TorrentFreak

Sponsored by Private Internet Access

Executive Producers: Mark Zapalac, Eric Barch, Nelson Larios, George Alvarez, Adam Burns, Daniel, Grof.

Sponsorship slots are currently full. For future sponsorship opportunities, please email [email protected]

In this episode, we meet Primavera De Filippi, author of the recently published 'Blockchain and the Law', from Harvard University Press (co-authored with Aaron Wright). Primavera is interested in how the law will change to accommodate blockchain -- and how blockchain might replace parts of the law. We've already seen how P2P filesharing strained the world's copyright law: what changes will be ushered in by P2P money? We discuss the future of blockchain-based technologies, and whether decentral systems are doomed to create new incumbents and new forms of centralisation; whether (and how) forking could be a solution against this 're-centralisation'; and how Ethereum's smart contracts may have a fatal flaw that the philosophy of law already knows about.
Primavera De Filippi is a permanent researcher at the National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris, a faculty associate at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and a Visiting Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute. She is a member of the Global Future Council on Blockchain Technologies at the World Economic Forum, and co-founder of the Internet Governance Forum’s dynamic coalitions on Blockchain Technology (COALA). Her fields of interest focus on legal challenges raised by decentralized technologies, with a particular focus on blockchain technologies. She is investigating the new opportunities for these technologies to enable new governance models and participatory decision-making through the concept of governance-by-design.

Showrunner & Host Jamie King | Editor Lucas Marston (Hollagully) Original Music David Triana | Web Production Eric Barch


Presented by TorrentFreak

Sponsored by Private Internet Access

Executive Producers: Mark Zapalac, Eric Barch, Nelson Larios, George Alvarez.

For sponsorship enquiries, please email [email protected]

In this episode we meet Abhishta, one of the authors of the paper 'The Business Model Of A Botnet', from the University of Twente in Netherlands.  This fascinating research was widely discussed on release, at least partly due to its insights into the astonishing sums of money botnet operators are making -- and how they're doing it. We sit down with Abhishta to discuss  how Botnets are created, and the multiple ways they can be used to make profit for their operators; attacks on critical internet infrastructure like Dyn; and the surprising actors behind some big DDOS attacks on banks in the Netherlands. Abhishta fills us in on so-called 'stresser' botnet operations like Lizard Stresser, a kind of rent-a-botnet model, and we consider the surprising accessibility of mother of all attacks: a DDOS against the internet itself -- and how it could be used to net billions of dollars.

Showrunner & Host Jamie King | Editor Lucas Marston (Hollagully) Original Music David Triana | Web Production Eric Barch


Presented by TorrentFreak

Sponsored by Private Internet Access

Executive Producers: Mark Zapalac, Eric Barch, Nelson Larios, George Alvarez.

For sponsorship enquiries, please email [email protected]