NYT makes up another election threat + DOJ actually threatens encryption | Tech for the People Today – October 13th

NYT makes up another election threat + DOJ actually threatens encryption | Tech for the People Today – October 13th

New York Times makes up another election threat

A recent NYT article reports on Microsoft and U.S. Cyber Command working separately, but at the same time, to take down the Trickbot botnet network. While there are significant questions about whether and how a private company should be interacting with outside threats, the most jarring thing about the Times article is the political perspective. The title of the article starts “Microsoft Takes Down a Risk to the Election.” A quoted Microsoft executive says that targeting U.S. election infrastructure would be “a huge win for Russia. They would be toasting with vodka well into next year.” Later, the Times goes on to admit that any connection to Russia “remains an open question.”

The original Microsoft report suggests doesn’t make any mention of election systems at all. Instead, it points out that Trickbot has been used to target financial and healthcare systems. Tricky, tricky, NYT.

DOJ actually threatens encryption

As far as I can tell, the Times hasn’t actually written about this. On Sunday, the Department of Justice released a statement along with Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom calling for measures to effectively end our ability to communicate securely. Along with the EARN-IT Act, which was recently introduced in the House of Representatives, the DOJ is taking aim at end to end encryption: the ability for two or more people to send messages between each other that the messaging service (iMessage, Facebook, etc) can’t read. By using the creation and distribution of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) as an excuse, the DOJ using the same think of the children strategy that we saw in the 1990s against video games and music. These attacks on encryption will only result in the further strengthening of the national security state and degradation of our privacy.

HomePod Mini: I still don’t trust “smart devices”

Apple today released the HomePod Mini, a $99 slimmed-down version of its $299 HomePod smart speaker. HomePod Mini features the same Hey Siri voice interface as the original HomePod, Macs and iPhones, which comes with its own set of worries. As I’ve reported here, these devices can be tricked into thinking that other phrases are their trigger words.

A friend pointed out on Twitter that you can turn Hey Siri off. Without a physical hardware switch that cuts off the signal, I don’t trust that any device’s microphone or camera is actually not working.