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Australian encryption-busting Bill fatally flawed: UN Special Rapporteur

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The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy has called for Australia’s Assistance and Access Bill to be set aside, and a new approach to be taken to addressing the challenges faced by law enforcement from the use of encryption.

“The Assistance and Access Bill is unlikely to be workable in some respects, and is an unnecessary infringement of basic liberties in other,” Cannataci wrote in a submission [PDF] to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. “Its aims do not justify a lack of judicial oversight, or independent monitoring, or the extremely troubling lack of transparency.

“This Bill needs to be put aside. It is fatally flawed.”

Cannataci said the Bill is an example of “a poorly conceived national security measure that is equally as likely to endanger security as not”, and that it is technically questionable whether it can achieve its aims without introducing vulnerabilities.

The Special Rapporteur was dismissive of the oversight and transparency measures in the Bill, particularly the lack of judicial oversight and the ability for heads of agencies to approve actions by their own people.

“It is asserted that ‘The people who occupy these positions are trusted to exercise suitable judgment about the propriety of requests and well equipped to consider the reasonableness and proportionality of any requirements’,” Cannataci wrote.

“While heart-warming that such a state of trust exists in Australia, greater confidence would be generated in domestic and international quarters if the legislation established an independent mechanism that verifies proper conduct and use of far-reaching power by decision makers.”

Must read: Why Australia is quickly developing a technology-based human rights problem (TechRepublic)

Cannataci echoed concerns that a lack of privacy protections in Australia could see the nation be used a conduit for other countries to gain data.

“In the absence of a prohibition on or independent oversight to approve such requests, it will be important to establish conclusively that Australia is not becoming a ‘launderer’ of international requests for data,” he said.

On the technical front, the Special Rapporteur said it is “extremely questionable” whether access to encrypted content would be able to be restricted to one device.

“There are technical concerns around the assumption that it is possible to contain a vulnerability to one device or devices associated with one person,” he said. “The strong feeling is that ultimately, it would affect all users of that product and result in weaker security for everyone.”

Speaking last week, Director-General of Security at the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) Duncan Lewis said persistent monitoring would not fall under the auspices of the Assistance and Access Bill.

See: The race to ruin the internet is upon us

“In order to enable us to get through the encryption and understand what the content is behind the communication, it is very important we have the assistance of the company — nobody would be better informed as to how the system operates than the company themselves — but importantly it is not systemic, it doesn’t have an enduring time, it doesn’t have a breadth of — it’s not going to be ubiquitous across the community, it’s quite specific,” Lewis said.

Under the proposed law, Australian government agencies would be able to issue three kinds of notices:

  • Technical Assistance Notices (TAN), which are compulsory notices for a communication provider to use an interception capability they already have;
  • Technical Capability Notices (TCN), which are compulsory notices for a communication provider to build a new interception capability, so that it can meet subsequent Technical Assistance Notices; and
  • Technical Assistance Requests (TAR), which have been described by experts as the most dangerous of all.

Under the proposed laws, Lewis would be able to approve requests and assistance notices for ASIO.

In consultation on the Bill, a number of submissions have called for increased judicial oversight and for protections existing for the issuing of TCNs to be extended to TANs and TARs.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) specifically asked for the judicial oversight and disallowing of systemic weaknesses to be extended to voluntary requests for assistance, particularly in the case of small providers that may not have the resources available to determine whether complying to a TAR would introduce a systemic weakness.

“If passed, the Bill would invoke exceptions to the Australia Privacy Principles,” the OAIC said.

The ASIO chief said that although he can issue a TAN, and would only need the approval of the attorney-general for a TCN, often a warrant would already be in place.

“The only time the attorney-general [would] be invoked in any way in that equation [in issuing a TAN] would be if request for assistance involved us then looking for content,” he said. “But to tell you the truth, it normally happens the other way around: We would get the warrant for the content, and then discover that we had to approach the company to access that content.”

Related Coverage

There’s ‘bigger fish to fry’ than anti-encryption laws: Telstra security chief

What cyber crimefighters really need are better global collaboration and faster access to IP address data, not the content of encrypted data communications, according to Jacqueline McNamara.

Australia’s anti-encryption legislation fails to address human rights concerns: Committee

The Australian Parliament’s own human rights watchdog committee has identified a raft of concerns with the Assistance and Access Bill 2018, and is ‘seeking additional information’.

Dutton frames Encryption Bill debate as battle between protecting Silicon Valley or protecting Australians

Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton claims the Bill is already watered down, and Labor should support it.

Australian industry and tech groups unite to fight encryption-busting Bill

The new mega-group has called on Canberra to ditch its push to force technology companies to help break into their own systems.

Encryption Bill sent to joint committee with three week submission window

Fresh from rushing the legislation into Parliament, the government will ram its legislation through the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

Home Affairs makes changes to encryption Bill without addressing main concerns

Services providers now have a defence to use if they are required to violate the law of another nation, and the public revenue protection clause has been removed.

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Defeating Distributed Denial of Service Attacks

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It seems like every day the news brings new stories of cyberattacks. Whether ransomware, malware, crippling viruses, or more frequently of late—distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. According to Infosec magazine, in the first half of 2020, there was a 151% increase in the number of DDoS attacks compared to the same period the previous year. That same report states experts predict as many as 15.4 million DDoS attacks within the next two years.

These attacks can be difficult to detect until it’s too late, and then they can be challenging to defend against. There are solutions available, but there is no one magic bullet. As Alastair Cooke points out in his recent “GigaOm Radar for DDoS Protection” report, there are different categories of DDoS attacks.

And different types of attacks require different types of defenses. You’ll want to adopt each of these three defense strategies against DDoS attacks to a certain degree, as attackers are never going to limit themselves to a single attack vector:

Network Defense: Attacks targeting the OS and network operate at either Layer 3 or Layer 4 of the OSI stack. These attacks don’t flood the servers with application requests but attempt to exhaust TCP/IP resources on the supporting infrastructure. DDoS protection solutions defending against network attacks identify the attack behavior and absorb it into the platform.

Application Defense: Other DDoS attacks target the actual website itself or the web server application by overwhelming the site with random data and wasting resources. DDoS protection against these attacks might handle SSL decryption with hardware-based cryptography and prevent invalid data from reaching web servers.

Defense by Scale: There have been massive DDoS attacks, and they show no signs of stopping. The key to successfully defending against a DDoS attack is to have a scalable platform capable of deflecting an attack led by a million bots with hundreds of gigabits per second of network throughput.

Table 1. Impact of Features on Metrics
[chart id=”1001387″ show=”table”]

DDoS attacks are growing more frequent and more powerful and sophisticated. Amazon reports mitigating a massive DDoS attack a couple of years ago in which peak traffic volume reached 2.3 Tbps. Deploying DDoS protection across the spectrum of attack vectors is no longer a “nice to have,” but a necessity.

In his report, Cooke concludes that “Any DDoS protection product is only part of an overall strategy, not a silver bullet for denial-of-service hazards.” Evaluate your organization and your needs, read more about each solution evaluated in the Radar report, and carefully match the right DDoS solutions to best suit your needs.

Learn More About the Reports: Gigaom Key Criteria for DDoS, and Gigaom Radar for DDoS

The post Defeating Distributed Denial of Service Attacks appeared first on GigaOm.

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Assessing Providers of Low-Power Wide Area Networks

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Blog Title: Assessing Providers of Low-Power Wide Area Network Technology

Companies are taking note of how Low-Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) can provide long-distance communications for certain use cases. While its slow data transfer rates and high latency aren’t going to be driving any high intensity video streaming or other bandwidth-hungry situations, it can provide inexpensive, low power, long-distance communication.

According to Chris Grundemann and Logan Andrew Green’s recent report “GigaOm Radar for LPWAN Technology Providers (Unlicensed Spectrum) v1.0,” this growing communications technology is suitable for use cases with the following characteristics:

  • Requirement for long-distance transmission—10 km/6 miles or more wireless connectivity from sensor to gateway
  • Low power consumption, with battery life lasting up to 10 years
  • Terrain and building penetration to circumvent line-of-sight issues
  • Low operational costs (device management or connection subscription cost)
  • Low data transfer rate of roughly 20kbps

These use cases could include large-scale IoT deployments within heavy industry, manufacturing, government, and retail. The LPWAN technology providers evaluated in this Radar report are currently filling a gap in the IoT market. They are certainly poised to benefit from the anticipated rapid adoption of LPWAN solutions.

Depending on the use case you’re looking to fulfill, you can select from four basic deployment models from these LPWAN providers:

  • Physical Appliance: This option would require a network server on-premises to receive sensor data from gateways.
  • Virtual Appliance: Network servers could also be deployed as virtual appliances, running either on-premises or in the cloud.
  • Network Stack as a Service: With this option, the LPWAN provider fully manages your network stack and provides you with the service. You only need devices and gateways to satisfy your requirements.
  • Network as a Service: This option is provided by mobile network operators, with the provider operating the network stack and gateways. You would only need to connect to the LPWAN provider.

Figure 1. LPWAN Connectivity

The LPWAN providers evaluated in this report are well-positioned from both a business and technical perspective, as they can function as a single point of contact for building IoT solutions. Instead of cobbling together other solutions to satisfy connectivity protocols, these providers can set up your organization with a packaged IoT solution, reducing time to market and virtually eliminating any compatibility issues.

The unlicensed spectrum aspect is also significant. The LPWAN technology providers evaluated in this Radar report use at least one protocol in the unlicensed electromagnetic spectrum bands. There’s no need to buy FCC licenses for specific frequency bands, which also lowers costs.

Learn More: Gigaom Enterprise Radar for LPWAN

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The Benefits of a Price Benchmark for Data Storage

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Why Price Benchmark Data Storage?

Customers, understandably, are highly driven by budget when it comes to data storage solutions. The cost of switching, upkeep and upgrades are high risk factors for businesses, and therefore, decision makers need to look for longevity in their chosen solution. Many factors influence how data needs to be handled within storage, including data that is frequently accessed, or storing rarely-accessed legacy data. 

Storage performance may also be shaped by geographic location, from remote work or global enterprises that need to access and share data instantly, or by the necessity of automation. Each element presents a new price-point that needs to be considered, by customers and by vendors.

A benchmark gives a comparison of system performance based on a key performance indicator, such as latency, capacity, or throughput. Competitor systems are analyzed in like-for-like situations that optimize the solution, allowing a clear representation of the performance. Price benchmarks for data storage are ideal for marketing, showing customers exactly how much value for money a solution has against competitor vendors.

Benchmark tests reinforce marketing collateral and tenders with verifiable evidence of performance capabilities and how the transactional costs relate to them. Customers are more likely to invest in long-term solutions with demonstrable evidence that can be corroborated. Fully disclosed testing environments, processes, and results, give customers the proof they need and help vendors stand out from the crowd.

The Difficulty in Choosing

Storage solutions vary greatly, from cloud options to those that utilize on-premises software. Data warehouses have different focuses which impact the overall performance, and they can vary in their pricing and licensing models. Customers find it difficult to compare vendors when the basic data storage configurations differ and price plans vary. With so many storage structures available, it’s hard to explain to customers how output relates to price, appeal to their budget, and maintain integrity, all at the same time.

Switching storage solutions is also a costly, high-risk decision that requires careful consideration. Vendors need to create compelling and honest arguments that provide reassurance of ROI and high quality performance.

Vendors should begin by pitching their costs at the right level; they need to be profitable but also appealing to the customer. Benchmarking can give an indication of how competitor cost models are calculated, allowing vendors to make judgements on their own price plans to keep ahead of the competition. 

Outshining the Competition

Benchmark testing gives an authentic overview of storage transaction-based price-performance, carrying out the test in environments that imitate real-life. Customers can gain a higher understanding of how the product works in terms of transactions per second, and how competitors process storage data in comparison.

The industry-standard for benchmarking is the TPC Benchmark E (TPC-E), a recognized standard for storage vendors. Tests need to be performed in credible environments; by giving full transparency on their construction, vendors and customers can understand how the results are derived. This can also prove systems have been configured to offer the best performance of each platform.

A step-by-step account allows tests to be recreated by external parties given the information provided. This transparency in reporting provides more trustworthy and reliable outcomes that offer a higher level of insight to vendors. Readers can also examine the testing and results themselves, to draw independent conclusions.

Next Steps

Price is the driving factor for business decisions and the selection for data storage is no different. Businesses often look towards low-cost solutions that offer high capacity, and current trends have pushed customers towards cloud solutions which are often cheaper and flexible. The marketplace is full in regard to options: new start-ups are continually emerging, and long serving vendors are needing to reinvent and upgrade their systems to keep pace. 

Vendors need evidence of price-performance, so customers can be reassured that their choice will offer longevity and functionality at an affordable price point. Industry-standard benchmarking identifies how performance is impacted by price and which vendors are best in the market – the confirmation customers need to invest.

 

The post The Benefits of a Price Benchmark for Data Storage appeared first on GigaOm.

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