A new law has caused outrage in Japan where the government has given itself the authority to hack into so called IoT devices which includes in its definition very non-futuristic things like the in-built camera in your laptop.
According to media reports, the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) will begin hacking away at 200 million devices next months.
That includes internet routers and other devices in citizens’ homes as well as in enterprise networks with the ostensible aim of finding default passwords.
A list will then be compiled and sent to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who have to promp citizens to secure the device in question.
This is apparently in preparation for the Olympics which is to be held in Japan next year with the argument being that basement hackers and foreign governments alike could break into insecure devices and use them as part of a botnet or otherwise to cause damage.
The idea seemingly being that the government could do that itself instead, although hopefully without the causing damage part.
“I can see how privacy advocates would see this as very intrusive; on the other hand, if your device is vulnerable or acting as part of a botnet and you don’t have the resources to detect the activity, or even fix it — who else is going to?” – so said Ian Thornton-Trump, international head of security at AmTrust.
The ISPs, arguably, who could set up random password generation systems and then ensure they don’t actually store these passwords anywhere.
Unlike their stupendously outdated systems which apparently allows the Japanese government “to use default passwords and password dictionaries to break into devices.”
A good guess would say that even 10% of such vulnerable devices probably won’t have their password changed by their owner once they are informed it can easily be broken into.
Routers in particular are somewhat infamous for being a complete black box as far as ordinary citizens are concerned with many such routers shared in rented properties where non techies probably wouldn’t dare touch it beyond turning it on and off.
The suggestion thus being that instead of the now all things boogie man Russia hacking into your web cam, your own government could do it and perhaps so populate the “trendy” amateur X section.
Not that they ever would, of course. Complete angels the lot of them. For your own good citizens. They won’t compile libraries of your most intimate parts with legal authority.
They’ll instead send you a link to reset your password which you probably won’t click because you’ll probably think it’s a phishing attempt because why on earth is your government contacting you about such things rather than demanding better security from ISPs.
Well, perhaps because that’s just a cover. The real aim may well be to gain an advantage on the propaganda war so that your government can be better at brainwashing you than foreign governments.
They first lifted the prohibitions against engaging in propaganda aimed at own citizens under the excuse that they can’t counteract foreign propaganda without they themselves propagandizing even more efficiently.
Now they want to be in your own laptop or phone so that they can send the propaganda directly onto your own device and so that they can target it more effectively.
The speaking TV microphone may perhaps be an exaggeration to bring up, but the test “emergency” text message by the US presidency to all US phones may well suggest the exaggeration is only slight.
We tend to find out a lot more about our own governments by looking at other governments as there we aren’t within the bubble. Hence 1984 arguably wasn’t describing Russia, but it was describing the west primarily or at least in addition.
Japan may well be late to this game and perhaps in their civil service they dream of having such “emergency” texting capability, with the US government perhaps far more of an expert at hacking citizens’ devices.
Hence the cypherpunks movement and more importantly the crypto movement. The former a product of far more free times, but even the launch of the latter was during a more free world than now.
The pendulum swing is hard to pinpoint in position, but at least in this digital world we can know, and in this 2019 we can still say, that surveillance by our own governments is very much everywhere.