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Category: Idea

Shepherds & Sheepdogs (Botnets)

Good Rolling Stone November 2016 article on Medium with this description of how botnets may operate:

“To explain how they work, Ben Nimmo, a fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, uses a shepherding analogy. “A message that someone or some organization wants to ‘trend’ is typically sent out by ‘shepherd’ accounts,” he says, which often have large followings and are controlled by humans. The shepherds’ messages are amplified by ‘sheepdog’ accounts, which are also run by humans but can be default-set “to boost the signal and harass critics.” At times, the shepherds personally steer conversations, but they also deploy automation, using a kind of Twitter cruise control to retweet particular keywords and hashtags. Together, Nimmo says, the shepherds and sheepdogs guide a herd of bots, which “mindlessly repost content in the digital equivalent of sheep rushing in the same direction and bleating loudly.””

Overall description bears similarity to the description of LOIC/Low Orbit Ion Cannon, as described in this February 2011 Wired article about the guy who brought the HB Gary leaks down on himself:

“The report that came back focused on the Low Orbit Ion Cannon, a tool originally coded by a private security firm in order to test website defenses. The code was open-sourced and then abandoned, but someone later dusted it off and added “hivemind mode” that let LOIC users “opt in” to centralized control of the tool. With hundreds or thousands of machines running the stress-test tool at once, even major sites could be dropped quickly.”

Function: Retroactive detection and inter-linking of subtle & ephemeral timecalls

Patent pending.

Timecall.

Forum shopping for data protection

Interesting conversation has developed here with some data protection guys (from personaldata.io), who offered this:

“If you want to “forum shop” as a data subject — which is only fair given that companies do it to avoid data protection laws — then you might consider VPNs and the like. I am not sure what level of legal protection this would afford you, this is a completely untested area of law (but I don’t expect it to remain so for much longer).”

There’s just something about data protection for me… it just fits in neatly with my own internal near future science fiction universe. It’s a world that sort of sets the imagination free with all the weird twisted possible outcomes which will develop as people experiment…

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