Researchers Release 7th Annual World Happiness Report 2019

Yesterday, March 20th 2019, the World Happiness Report 2019 was released to the international public. Unsurprisingly, at least for the purposes of this article, the United States has yet again slide down the world rankings to 19th – down 7 spots since 2016. For those of you unfamiliar, the annual study ranks 156 countries globally in terms of employment rates, income, medical coverage, quality of life, purchasing power (GDP), poverty rates, voter turnout, perception of political relations – etc – and averages them into a combined scoring average.

While I will not get into an in depth analysis of the study here, some of the general highlights I’ve taken from it are the fact that countries throughout the America’s and Asia, including the US, Mexico, China and Vietnam are all generally considered on the downswing, whereas countries in North Africa and Europe, including Germany, Belgium, Morocco and Algeria are generally considered on the upswing. Interestingly and randomly enough, feelings of an impending sense of “Dystopia” were among the highest ranking feelings or criteria experience by citizens of essentially every nation on Earth – see lightest shade of purple in the graphs below. God knows I hear that!  🤪

Read More – America’s Dystopia or The New Reality?: https://roguemedia.co/2018/11/24/op-ed-americas-dystopia-or-the-new-reality-i-honestly-dont-know-which-anymore-2/

Top 25 Most Happy:

No photo description available.

Top 25 Least Happy:

No photo description available.

Another interesting take from the study is societies view of social media and how it’s largely presumed to be destroying civilized society as we know it – or perhaps more appropriately put, used to know it. Studying the data/graphs, it appears as though something of great significant happened in America between 2011 and 2013 – something which has fundamentally changed the way people perceive the world/humanity. For example, nearly every graph you can find points to peoples feelings and/or expressions of happiness peaking sometime around 2004 -2006, before momentarily faltering and outright crashing just after 2011. This is not just the case with American adults, but seemingly every age and demographic surveyed across the United States.

While there is no “smoking gun” to point to as a cause, so to speak, researchers point to the sharp rise of social media activity around that time to blame. For example, the amount of time people began spending on the internet is directly correlated to a crash in their feelings of happiness.

Time Online:

No photo description available.

General Feelings of Happiness (US):

No photo description available.

For example, when polled, a study of High School students found that outside of sleeping, in order, they spend the most amount of time either playing sports, listening to music or browsing the internet – in that order. Combined, high school students now claim to spend more time listening to music, browsing the internet, playing computer games and posting to social media each day than they do sleeping – just let that soak in for a moment.

Read More – 60% of Society Believe Social Media Is Destroying Society: https://roguemedia.co/2018/11/21/new-study-60-of-americans-believe-social-media-is-corrupting-society/
Download Full Report: https://s3.amazonaws.com/happiness-report/2019/WHR19.pdf

Browse Full Report:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/WHR19.pdf”%5D

CookieBot Report: 25 of 28 EU Government Websites not GDPR Compliant

Last night I came across and interesting study that just makes me shake my head. This would be the news that, according to a new study by researchers a fringe company known as “CookieBot,” 25 of 28 Government websites across the European Union (EU) are actively hosting ad tech trackers on their websites. This marks a significant discovery because this sort of activity logging is strictly forbidden under GDPR rules and regulations designed to protect user Anonymity and data confidentiality online.

To gather results, researchers scanned 184,683 pages affiliated with 28 .gov domains, discovering “third-party advertising technology (ad tech) trackers from 112 companies” on 89% of the pages scanned. CookieBot claims that the vast majority of these sort of trackers were discovered on third party plugins installed on the Governments pages, including plugin’s for things like “video players, social sharing widgets, web analytics, galleries and comments sections.” Other trackers were secretly installed to gather information on a visitors health condition so that they could later be targeted by ads for it, a practice strictly forbidden under Article 9 of the GDPR dating back to 2019. Through it all, the only countries found to be in full compliance with their own laws were Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. I could explain the results/methodology of the study in more detail, but I’d rather just have you read it for yourself – enjoy.

Read More – About How Other EU Policies Have Violated User Privacy/Security Online: https://roguemedia.co/2018/11/10/another-day-another-wordpress-plugin-designed-to-comply-with-eu-law-compromised/
Download CookieBot’s Report for Yourself: https://www.cookiebot.com/media/1121/cookiebot-report-2019-medium-size.pdf

Read Full Report:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/cookiebot-report-2019-medium-size.pdf”%5D

Anonymous Europe – Cyber Guerrilla Leak Files from Clandestine UK Operation “Integrity Initiative”

In news first brought to my attention via Sputnik, one of Russia’s largest news corporations, Anonymous hackers have published documents outlining a large scale clandestine operation undertaken by United Kingdom from 2015 to present entitled the “Integrity Initiative,” designed to create a “secret large-scale information service” across Europe. According to the leak, the operation was carried out under the pretext of countering the “Russian propaganda” and its main objectives were “to provide a coordinated Western response to Russian misinformation and other elements of hybrid warfare.

All said, The Integrity Initiative has an annual operating budget of $2.4 million dollars and is said to consists of groups of local politicians, journalists, military personnel, scientists and academics across over a dozen countries. Working together, the team is dedicated to finding and publishing alleged evidence of Russian interference in European affairs and, at the same time, influencing community policy.

In response to the leak, in statements to Sputnik, Konstantin Kosachov, chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the Council of the Russian Federation said that “The hackers’ information on the actions of the British special services against Russia requires a thorough investigation. The Commission for the Protection of State Sovereignty will analyze the data just published.

Full Leak from Anonymous:

Greetings. We are Anonymous.

We have obtained a large number of documents relating to the activities of the ‘Integrity Initiative’ project that was launched back in the fall of 2015 and funded by the British government. The declared goal of the project is to counteract Russian propaganda and the hybrid warfare of Moscow. Hiding behind benevolent intentions, Britain has in fact created a large-scale information secret service in Europe, the United States and Canada, which consists of representatives of political, military, academic and journalistic communities with the think tank in London at the head of it.

As part of the project Britain has time and again intervened into domestic affairs of independent European states. A most demonstrative example is operation ‘Moncloa’ in Spain. Britain set to prevent Pedro Baños from appointment to the post of Director of Spain’s Department of Homeland Security. It took the Spanish cluster of the Integrity Initiative only a few hours to accomplish the task.

https://www.scribd.com/document/392195691/Moncloa-Campaign-6-AttTwitter-08-06-18

For now, Britain is capable of conducting such operations in the following states:

Spain: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195775/Spain-Cluster

France: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195457/France-Cluster

Germany: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195486/Germany-Cluster

Italy: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195660/Italy-Cluster

Greece: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195527/Greece-Cluster

The Netherlands: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195718/Netherlands-Cluster

Lithuania: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195170/Baltics-Cluster

Norway: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195748/Nordic-Clusters

Serbia and Montenegro: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195208/Central-Eastern-Cluster

London’s near-term plans to create similar clusters include Latvia, Estonia, Portugal, Sweden, Belgium, Canada, Armenia, Ukraine, Moldova, Malta, Czechia, countries of the Middle East and North Africa, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Hungary, Cyprus, Austria, Switzerland, Turkey, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, and the USA.

https://www.scribd.com/document/392195321/Cluster-Roundup-Jul18

All the work is done under absolute secrecy via concealed contacts in British embassies, which gives rise to more suspicion that Britain uses plausible excuse to create a global system of information influence and political interference into affairs of other countries.

Covert structures for political and financial manipulative activities under control of British secret services are created not only in the EU countries but also on other continents. In point of fact, quiet colonization of both former British neighbors in the EU and NATO allies is taking place.

The government of Great Britain has to come out of the dark and declare straight its intentions and unveil the results of the Integrity Initiative activities! Otherwise, we will do it!

Today, we make public a part of the documents we have available. In case London gives no response to our demands during the following week, we will reveal the rest of the documents that contain many more secrets of the United Kingdom.

Integrity Initiative Handbook: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195560/II-Handbook-v2

Integrity Initiative Guide to Countering Russian Disinformation May 2018: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195802/The-Integrity-Initiative-Guide-to-Countering-Russian-Disinformation-May-2018-v1

Austria Cluster: https://www.scribd.com/document/392194912/Austria-Cluster

Cluster leaders: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195250/Cluster-Leaders

Cluster participants: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195286/Cluster-Participants

UK Cluster: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195849/UK-Cluster

USA and Canada Cluster: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195882/USA-Canada-Cluster

xCountry: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195906/x-Country

xOutreach: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195933/x-Outreach

FCO application form 2017-18: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195350/FCO-Application-Form-2017-18

FCO application form 2018v2: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195390/FCO-Application-Form-2018-v2

FCO proposal Integrity budget 2017-18: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195430/FCO-Proposal-Integrity-Budget-2017-18

Integrity 2018 Activity Budget v3: https://www.scribd.com/document/392195593/Integrity-2018-Activity-Budget-v3

Top 3 deliverables (for FCO): https://www.scribd.com/document/392195825/Top-3-Deliverables-for-FCO

We are Anonymous.

We are Legion.

We do not forgive.

We do not forget.

Expect us.

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/AnonymousEurope_Leak01.pdf”%5D

Dutch Authorities Seize Encrypted IronChat Servers, Arrest Owners

Earlier this year I wrote an article explaining why country of origin is particularly important when either installing a security service or buying security products from an international company. In it, I explain how the Netherlands has recently lost the respect/trust of the cyber security community, essentially doing a complete 180 on their stance towards the cyber security industry over the course of the last 3 years – drastically cutting down on internet privacy/security companies operating out of their country. This includes the closing of Ghostmail servers in 2015 and the raiding/confiscation of servers belonging to Dutch VPN service providers in 2016.

Imagine my surprise then when I come across another headline this morning explaining how Dutch authorities have once again raided/confiscated the private servers of another security based company – Ironchat. In a press release made available to the public on November 6th 2018, Dutch authorities announced that they had arrested “a 46-year-old man from Lingewaard, and his partner, a 52-year-old man from Boxtel.” Explaining how police have already been able to decrypt the data, giving them access to over 258,000 chat messages sent across the server – revealing countless illegal activities and opening the door to numerous new investigations in the future.

For example, about the arrests in question, according to Aart Garssen, Head of the Regional Investigation Service in the Eastern Netherlands, “we rolled up a drug lab in Enschede. We have also found more than € 90,000 in cash in various campaigns, automatic weapons and large quantities of hard drugs (including MDMA and cocaine). In addition, we received an imminent retaliatory action in the criminal circuit of Twente. Four arrests have been made this morning. This brings the total number of arrests today to 14.” This is also just the tip of the iceberg, police have already indicated that the data uncovered today is only going to be “used to start new criminal investigations.

Unfortunately, there is no justifying the behavior of IronChat, their owners or what they used their encrypted service/servers for. As an outspoken and self proclaimed “privacy hawk,” it is just unfortunate to see another group of thugs soil the industries reputation. It only serves to undermine the trust of legitimate privacy/security companies trying to make a name for ourselves and do the right thing. Needless to say though, IronChat’s website and servers have been taken offline, and will remain offline permanently.

Fact-Sheet Prepared by Dutch Police:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Netherlands.pdf”%5D

Data Servers, Country of Origin & Sound Cyber Security

The other day I sent out a “Tweet” and proceeded to lose 30% of my combined followers, literally overnight. The Tweet explained how the 53rd Street Library in New York City had expressed weariness over allowing me to instruct or teach lessons at their facility after coming to the realization I work with and source a great deal of my content through international partners. I had cracked the joke; “Rogue Security is getting the Kaspersky treatment? Must be moving up in the world?…

For those of you who might not be familiar with the backdrop or sarcasm expressed here, Kaspersky Lab has recently become one of the most polarizing names in cyber security dating back to the 2016 US Presidential election. This is because many people have come to believe that the Kremlin deliberately altered Russian Law in order to corrupt/compromise Russian based businesses, which Kaspersky is, into handing over confidential information relating to customer databases. Moreover, considering that Kaspersky Lab was one of the most widely utilized software developers purchased by US Government employees and contractors over the years, it is now believed that Kaspersky Lab itself was one of the key players behind the whole Russian hacking election fiasco – whether they voluntarily intended to be or not. For this very reason, dating back to December 2017, all Kaspersky products have since been banned on the Federal level and their software has been pulled off the shelves of stores including Staples and Best Buy – though their products still remain legal on the civilian level.

However, it must be noted that what the Kremlin did is nothing new. In fact, this practice has been employed by the United States Government for far longer. You might be surprised to know that it is 100% illegal for any computer, privacy or cyber security company based out of the US to refuse to hand over their data, servers or customer records to the US Government, provided those servers and data are stored within United States borders. Believe it or not, it is even illegal for US based businesses operating servers/companies overseas to refuse to hand over their data if requested by US authorities. While Microsoft is currently taking this obligation to the Supreme Court, throughout the course of 2016 and 2017 multiple lower courts have upheld the US Governments right to demand this information. Not only this, but the acting attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has also vowed to make unfettered end-to-end encryption illegal as long as he is in office.

Therefore, at least when it comes to your data privacy, claiming that “those Russians” are any better or any worse than “those Americans” is nothing more than farcical, and your information is no more protected in the hands of The White House than it is the Kremlin. So, no matter how strong your sense of Patriotism or Nationalistic pride may be, the fact of the matter remains that your computer isn’t more secure just because you buy from an American company. In fact, you might be surprised to know that multiple independent tests and studies have confirmed Kaspersky Lab is the most secure software platform for Windows based devices, and other studies list Microsoft’s own platforms as the worst. Moreover, there is a very real reason none of the world’s top privacy/security companies host their services inside US territories.

With that established, let’s take a closer look at some of the other most notable countries in the field of cyber security these days.

Dont Necessarily Buy Into The Swiss Hype

Over the course of the last 3-4 years one of the biggest trends I’ve noticed is all of the “hype” surrounding Switzerland and their world renown reputation for protecting business privacy and confidentially. Traditionally, Switzerland has acquired this reputation for protecting foreign investors within their banking systems. However, it must be noted that the same protections afforded/granted to the multi-billion dollar banking system are not necessarily extend to the cyber security industry, and you can bet your ass that you are never going to get the same level of privacy or protection from the Swiss Government for your $50 a year VPN connection or email account that an investor is going to get for their multi-million dollar bank account – get it? Any thought to the contrary is just, well, dumb – really.

For lack of a better term, in 2018 it is a generally known fact that many companies are simply trying “bank” on Switzerland’s historic reputation and turn it into a few extra dollars for their cyber security companies. This is not to say however that there are not some top notch countries currently operating out of Switzerland.

In fact, for the very laws as they now exist inside Russia, Eugene Kaspersky has vowed to move all of his companies servers out of Russia and into Switzerland to provide his customers with a greater level transparency in hopes of regaining their trust. Other companies such as ProtonMail and Tutanota also operate out of Switzerland and are two of cyber securities most trusted vendors. Many of the industry’s top VPN service providers also operate their servers out of Switzerland. As always though, do your research and just be weary/cautious of all new tech startups in the country.

Don’t Trust The Netherlands

The Netherlands really started to lose the trust of the cyber security community dating back to 2016, following the closing of GhostMail email servers and a series of raids on VPN service providers around the country. Dutch authorities have remained quite about their recent change of policy, but prior to 2016 the Netherlands was considered by many to be one of the worlds fastest growing and most trusted names in cyber security/digital privacy. Because of this, the underground hacking community has long since speculated that the Dutch Government was ultimately pressured to crack down on digital privacy providers following a joint effort undertaken by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and European Police (EUROPOL), whom had essentially had enough of criminals and/or terrorists taking advantage of security platforms operated out of the country. Fast forward into 2018, while there are still a few legacy companies operating out of the country, almost all new startups know not to do business there.

In March of 2018 I personally reached out to GhostCom Ltd, the original founders of Ghostmail, for comment on their closing and the true extend of the operation undertaken by Dutch/International police, but their legal team has declined any comments to this day.

Belgium & Ecuador Offer The Strongest Privacy Protections In The World

Ecuador is world renown for protecting digital privacy, internet rights and international freedom fighters. This is not only evidenced by Julian Assanges continued political asylum, Ecuador has also granted asylum to some of the worlds most elite and dangerous hackers over the course of the last several decades. By now, it is a well known fact that the Government of Ecuador is willing to do more than almost anyone else to shelter/protect political activists and members of the digital underground, helping them to continue doing what they are do safely and securely. For example, despite all of the “hoopla” surrounding Wikileaks, the Ecuadorian Government actually controls 100% of Julian Assanges internet connectivity. Yet, have you ever heard of any one of Assanges sources being compromised over the years? That is also exactly my point. For all these reasons, Ecuador is considered one of, if not the most trustworthy country in the world when it relates to data privacy and cyber security related practices.

Belgium on the other hand has a legal system in place which ensures Government accountability and restricts potential abuses of privacy/authority. This is because every request, subpoena or warrant for information, data, servers and digital accounts made in Belgium must first be brought in front of a judge, officially in court, and proven to be valid or legitimate before any Belgium authorities can have access to it. In other countries such as the United States for example, Federal employees can simple print out a file document, sign your name onto it and automatically have the right to search your accounts – it’s literally that easy for them. For this very reason, Belgium is considered to be one the most trustworthy and accountable countries in the world to do cyber security business with, leading the way in terms of informational security. On a side note, if I was a betting man, I would expect to see many more privacy/cyber security companies start popping up all over Belgium throughout the course of the next 5-10 years, especially given all of the recent changes/overhauls to internet/data laws now being enforced by the European Union.

Colombia On The Up & Up?

This really has nothing to do with computer security, it’s just a growing trend you might have started to pick up on recently. Starting around 2015, first led by small time internet activists and Anonymous, more and more website owners across the world began shifting or creating new domains with .co – this was done for a multitude of reasons. First off, .co is often times much cheaper than .com domains. Second, it is becoming harder and harder to find an original, unique or appropriate .com domain for your business, third because more people associate the word “company” with .co instead of .com, and lastly, .co helps make your website that much more unique and stand out from the crowd – which can be an asset in today’s overcrowded online marketplace.

As for Colombia itself, I think the rise of the .co domain only helps the country look that much more innovative comparatively to the rest of the world, which is why the Colombian Government has never really pushed back on all the international vendors registering new domains through their country, including myself.