The truth, the whole truth . . .

October 16, 2012

When Keith Ng blogged about the leaks on the MSD servers which could be accessed from WINZ offices he said he’d acted on a tip-off.

Only later in the day did he explain who gave him the tip:

So. The guy who tipped me off is Ira Bailey. He was one of the Urewera 17. He currently works as a system administrator, has a young child, and is not interested in being the media limelight. That’s why he asked for anonymity.

He did not have any special access to the system – he just had half an hour to kill at a WINZ office. He plugged in his USB drive and it didn’t appear, so he had a poke around the system to find it – and found the giant vulnerability instead.

He called MSD to ask if they had a reward system for reporting security vulnerabilities. This is not unusual practice, and it’s certainly not blackmail. . .

The additional background puts a different complexion on the story and raise several questions, not least of which is: why someone who is employed happened to have half an hour to kill and chose to spend in at a WINZ office?

Yesterday we might have wondered why the person who found the security hole chose to go to a blogger rather than the Ministry.

Today we know that Bailey did go to the Ministry, asked for money in exchange for the information and when none was forthcoming chose to go public.

What’s the difference?

There’s a reason court witnesses are asked to tell not just the truth but the whole truth and nothing but the whole truth.

By telling only part of the truth yesterday the people involved looked a whole lot more public-spirited than they do today. Now the element of personal gain and possible desire to do political damage have been added.

Had we known this when the story first broke it would have been seen in a different light.

This doesn’t change the fact that there was a massive hole in MSD’s computer security.

But it does raise questions about the people who exposed it, their motivation and whether or not we now know the whole truth.


MSD privacy holes

October 15, 2012

Keith Ng followed a tip-off that parts of the Ministry of Social Development’s corporate network could be accessed from public computer kiosks in WINZ offices.

What he found wasn’t so much leaks as gaping holes.

This looks like more than a systems failure.

Any organisation which has private information ought to have someone who ensures that it is kept private and can’t be accessed accidentally or deliberately by anyone not authorised to it.

Ng is a freelance journalist and spent almost a week uncovering this huge security lapse. If you want to support his work you can make a donation here.


HP on TV

September 4, 2010

Q&A’s bloggerhead slot aims to give two different positions on the issue of the week.

Tomorrow it’s Keith Ng from Public Address, chosen because he’s young, urban and financially literate and me because I’m not so young, rural and . . . ?

The media release says:

On Q + A this Sunday:                                                                                                         

Paul Holmes interviews former South Canterbury Finance Chief Executive Sandy Maier about what went wrong and what chance taxpayers have of recovering the losses.

South Canterbury Finance’s collapse has its origins in the global financial crisis. Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard joins Guyon Espiner to talk about his new book, Crisis: One Central Bank Governor & the Global Financial Collapse and his battle to save our finance sector during the worldwide meltdown. Was the deposit guarantee scheme that saved SCF this week well conceived? Did anyone see this coming? And what does he really think of the government’s efforts to counter the crisis?

Paul and Martin Sneddon talk rugby.  One year from RWC kick-off, are we ready? Or are the critics right to be sceptical?

Dr Therese Arseneau is joined on the panel by 2025 Taskforce head, the former Reserve Bank Governor and National Party leader, Dr Don Brash and Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey, who’s soon to take over development of the Auckland waterfront.

@ Bloggerheads, are Keith Ng from Public Address and Ele Ludemann from Homepaddock.

Q + A is broadcast live 9-10am Sunday on TV ONE and repeated at 9.10pm on Sunday nights and 10.10am and 2.10pm on Mondays on TVNZ 7. 

 (TVNZ 7 screens on Freeview Channel 7 and Sky TV Channel 97)


Edison Hour vs Earth Hour

March 28, 2009

While some people are returning to the dark ages and increasing their carbon emissions by celebrating Earth Hour they’re facing supposedly enlightened competition from Edison Hour.

And me? I’m not deliberately using more or less electricity than usual, but we went out for dinner (Speights Ale House in Wanaka, Morrocan lamb salad, delicious; took the waitress’s advice that the Sheep Shagger pinot noir was for tourists and enjoyed a Mt Difficulty  Roaring Meg instead) and as we were paying the bill at 8.28 the lights dimmed.

We had walked there and walked home, as we usually do, noting that it was pretty dark, but then Wanaka always has the bare minimum of street lights. That’s because most residents prefer it that way because less light pollution lets them appreciate more stars in the sky.

I think that means we observed earth hour by accident and by doing so we burned neither candles nor bonfires, used no batteries and no petrol, so we probably did more for the planet than a lot of people who deliberately turned their lights off but created more carbon with alternative sources of heat and light.

P.S. Thanks to Madeleine who left a comment on the previous post which pointed me to Keith Ng at Public Address who sees the flaws in both earth hour and Edison hour:

I was inspired to write the first part of this after hearing of people who turned off all the lights during Earth Hour, then lit up their fireplaces and burned candles instead. From sixth form chemistry: Burning organic material (like wax and wood) produces CO2. Tell your friends. . .

. . . Going out of your way to waste energy is the antithesis of technological progress and human enterprise, so don’t you dare claim to be on the side of rationality and science.

Lucyna Maria at NZ Conservative  is also neither sacrificing anything to the green god nor joining Edison hour.

And Frenemy has a photo of the dark.


%d bloggers like this: