1. The good Communist
Back in Cold War days Prime Minister Robert Menzies attempted to ban the Communist Party of Australia. The Australian people rejected the idea – not that the Communists were not subjected to zealous monitoring by intelligence agencies. That went on into much more recent times, and no doubt people on the extremes both of left and right still attract attention. I remember when my Wollongong friend The Red Dragon (cordon bleu cook extraordinaire and avid Bridge player) rang me in the early 1980s to warn me that now she was General Secretary or some such of the Illawarra Branch of the party her phone was tapped. She knew this because one night there was a click on her phone and a voice cut in saying “You take this Bill, I have to go and have a leak.” Since her phone mostly was used for social – not socialist – purposes such as Bridge and recipes, she subsequently used to apologise to the tappers from time to time for boring them so much.) Unfortunately during the Dragon’s term of office the Communist Party of Australia dissolved itself.
All that aside, Australia’s favourite Communist no doubt has been Jack Mundey – and perhaps poet Dame Mary Gilmore. Last night Talking Heads had a good interview with Mundey.
PETER THOMPSON: Jack, you’ve never been just a hardliner. You’ve always been…
JACK MUNDEY: Intelligent. My interest has always been organisation for the cause that I’m fighting, and I’ve just stuck to that.
PETER THOMPSON: Australia is pretty much a paradise, though it’s far from being the sort of workers’ paradise you had in mind.
JACK MUNDEY: I don’t know about paradise, but I hope that the future for humanity is all the things that I expect it to be.
Not a dogmatist in other words.
2. Scary computer stuff
Four Corners last night was really quite scary, especially after my recent sad experience of malware eating my Toshiba – and that Malware disabled the antivirus and deleted all the restore points before itself as well as disabling the USB ports and the CD/DVD.
…Authorities are now working hard to keep up with the crooks. They are having trouble though. Crooks working from countries in Eastern Europe are hard to catch. Home-grown criminals are easier to bring down, but police reveal the legal system doesn’t treat cyber-theft with the seriousness it deserves. One young man stole more than 50,000 credit cards card details but received a suspended one year sentence, $2,000 good behaviour bond and court costs of $150.
Adding to the problem, most computer users don’t realise how vulnerable they are. Four Corners took an e-security expert to an ordinary city street and asked him to assess computer security. Using a basic wireless interceptor our expert found he could tap into up to 20 per cent of wireless computer networks, potentially accessing bank accounts and other personal information. Even those systems that had been encrypted took just 10 minutes to crack. No wonder police are warning we are right to have"Fear in the Fast Lane".
Whether this story in today’s Sydney Morning Herald is entirely true or not – and it may well be – it certainly highlights another concern.
AUSTRALIA’S diplomats have been warned about a fake email amid concerns it could be part of a cyber espionage attempt, possibly originating from China.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed yesterday staff had been briefed about a suspicious email sent to several staff last month. The source of the email is under investigation by the department’s communications experts. ASIO and the AFP would not comment yesterday on whether they were also investigating the email.
A report in the Canberra Times said the email was suspected to have originated from China and was headed ”Australia-China Free Trade Agreement Negotiations Update”. It reportedly targeted officials who work on China-related matters.
A spokeswoman for the department would not say whether the email was believed to have come from China.
”It is not Government practice to comment on intelligence issues,” she said.
Prompted by Major Geeks I downloaded and installed a-squared Free 4.5. Yes, I have lots of other “condoms” on, including Malware Bytes, Windows Defender, Avast!, Spyware Doctor and Threatfire, but on its first test run at on demand scanning a-squared found two major threats that had thus far escaped detection: Backdoor:Win32/VB.IK and TrojanDownloader:Win32/Banload.IK! Both are rated severe threats by Microsoft.