Look what I found at the end of the Hoyts ticket counter:
It contains some interesting content.
“Remove unauthorised material from your computers”
“While not required under the new law, illegally obtained copyright protected material may still be file shared and therefore should be removed.”
Read: buy the files you downloaded illegally in the past. Helpful advice would be to remove peer-to-peer software from your computer if you’re not using it, or to stop sharing illegally obtained material if you’re doing so (eg. stop seeding).
“What are the risks of P2P file sharing?”
“P2P file sharing can expose your computer to harmful viruses, worms and trojan horses as well as annoying pop-up advertisements. There is also a real danger that private information on your computer may be accessible to others on P2P networks.”
Finding files through moderated sites (which can remove harmful torrents), reading the comments on torrents and having up-to-date anti-malware software all reduce this small risk of harm.
The “real danger” of private information being inadvertently shared is practically impossible with torrenting. LimeWire, FrostWire and friends were possibly deceptive about what user’s folders were actually being shared in the past, but now LimeWire is dead and FrostWire exclusively uses torrents, so it shouldn’t be a problem anymore.
But points for including the relatively unbiased URL of NetSafe’s The Copyright Law, albeit in tiny print down the very bottom on the back page.
This site is interesting, especially when you compare its list of legitimate places to buy movies and TV shows to the US version‘s list.
Our list for TV shows is basically the On Demand sites for the free-to-air TV stations, plus iSky. On the movies side we have iSky, the console networks and iTunes, which is also listed as having TV shows, but that’s not the case in New Zealand.
In comparison, the US site lists 43 legal alternatives, including iTunes (which you can actually get TV shows from in the US, or by using a US iTunes account), Hulu and Netflix.
And the MPAA wonder why people illegally download movies and TV shows in New Zealand?
Good news on the music front though. Music streaming subscription service Spotify is coming to Australia and New Zealand, possibly around February next year. The downside is that they’re now in bed with Facebook, so you’ll need a Facebook account to use it.
Jonathan Hunt and Lance Wiggs illustrate how inadequate the sites MPAA lists are. MPAA, NZFACT and friends love harping on how people pirating movies like Boy are harming our movie industry in New Zealand.
But you still can’t download it legally from iTunes.
A van was crushed by rubble following the February Canterbury earthquake, containing Israeli tourists. One of them, Ofer Benyamin Mizrahi, was killed instantly. Michal Friedman, Liron Sadeh and Guy Yurdan escaped. It’s been revealed that Israeli involvement after the quake has been investigated by the SIS and the police.
What appears to be the original Southland Times article that broke the investigation seems to have been poorly fact checked and shows a lack of editorial oversight. Shemi Tzur, Israeli’s ambassador in the South Pacific is said to have flown from Australia, where he is based, except a quick Google search shows that he is actually based in Wellington.
The same article talks about a piece of suspected Russian malware named “agent.btz” and says that “attempts to remove the malware have so far been unsuccessful”, which gives the impression that the computers of the United States Military are still infected. The next part of the sentence states that “new, more potent variations of agent.btz are still appearing”, so what is probably meant is that attempts to eliminate the malware out of existence have been unsuccessful, which isn’t surprising considering the nature of malware and software in general.
The Southland Times article says that Ofer Mizrahi “was reportedly found to be carrying at least five passports.” John Key said “according to his information, Mizrahi was found with only one passport”, of European origin.
The group of three that left Christchurch gave Israeli representatives his Israeli passport. So that makes at least two passports.
Shemi Tzur says that he was handed Ofer’s effects and they contained “more than one passport.” Does that makes at least three passports or does this include the Israeli passport handed off at the airport?
He says it’s common for Israelis to have dual citizenship because Israeli passports aren’t welcome in some countries, which is understandable. However that doesn’t explain why Ofer was traveling with both/multiple passports—I am an expert thanks to watching Border Security on TV and conclude that less eyebrows would be raised at an airport if, when searched, someone wasn’t in the possession of more than one passport.
Within 12 hours of the quake the three remaining Israelis had evacuated Christchurch, driven to the airport by Shemi Tzur himself.
This raised eyebrows because they left Ofer behind in the van, but in their defense there was nothing they could have done and it wasn’t like they were leaving someone injured behind. Guy Yurdan, one of the three, said that Ofer was killed instantly.
The advice from many countries to citizens in Christchurch would have been to get out of there as soon as possible. The potential lack of accommodation, food, and water, plus the risk of further aftershocks would have supported their decision to leave as quickly as possible.
A mysterious seventh Israeli
Concerns were raised about a “mysterious seventh Israeli” who was in New Zealand illegally and was reported missing after the earthquake, but weeks later was reported to have left the country. Not sure whether there was anything suspicious about the person apart from their visa situation.
Five Facebook likes
A Facebook tribute page for Ofer came to the attention of investigators because it only had five likes over four months (now 32). Apparently many Israelis don’t have social network accounts. Perhaps those on Facebook who knew Ofer didn’t know of the page? It seems a stretch to say that this is suspicious.
Four phone calls
It’s been reported that Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu phoned John Key four times on the day of the earthquake. John Key says that they only actually spoke once in “those first days.” It seems reasonable that a Prime Minister is hard to get hold of, especially during a state of emergency. I’m not sure what the significance of prime ministers calling each other is, I assume representatives from many countries spoke to John Key as a result of the earthquake.
Two search and rescue teams
There was reportedly one Israeli search and rescue team but then there were two? Either way it seems at least one either wasn’t allowed access to the red zone or was removed from the red zone by armed personnel. According to Shemi Tzur, a team was sent by the parents of Ofer Levy (other Ofer?) and Gabi Ingel, two Israelis who died in the earthquake.
The article says “Israeli families reacted that way when their children needed help anywhere in the world, often because it was demanded by insurance companies.” Insurance companies often demand that families hire and fly to a foreign country private search and rescue teams when search and rescue is already underway by the country?
“He served in the Israel Defence Forces in an elite paratrooper battalion specializing in special operations. He fought in the Attrition War, first lebanon war and the Yom Kippur War, remained a reserve officer for twenty years and served also in the intelligence community.”
Their team entered the red zone “accompanied by police, only to retrieve the personal effects of two people who died.” “There was only one rescue team and it was allowed inside the red zone to accompany police to retrieve backpacks belonging to Mr Levy and Mr Ingel.”
One Israel Civil Defense Chief
The Southland Times article says “In the hours after the 6.3 quake struck: Israel’s civil defence chief left Israel for Christchurch.” The New Zealand Herald reports that Matan Vilnai did visit Christchurch, but nine days later. And not from Israel, but from Australia where he was for a visit.
This doesn’t seem suspicious.
A groups of forensic analysts
An Israeli forensic analysis team sent by the Israeli government worked on victim identification in the morgue. A security audit of the national police computer database was ordered after someone connected that the analysts could have accessed it. The police say that their system is secure. Someone from the SIS says that it could be compromised with a USB drive:
“An SIS officer said it would take only moments for a USB drive to be inserted in a police computer terminal and for a program allowing remote backdoor access to be loaded.”—Stuff
It’s questionable why USB access would even be enabled on computers that have access to such confidential material.
Why New Zealand?
Gordon Thomas, who has written about Mossad says that Mossad trainees, possibly picked during compulsory military service, were usually planted overseas in groups of four. He says that the CIA and MI6 have offices in Auckland and have “held high-level meetings with New Zealand spy bosses”. They want to know what sparked the SIS investigation, what investigations were carried out and what passports the group possessed. He thinks New Zealand is a credible Mossad target because al Qaeda cells could expand into the Pacific Rim. Israel would want to know what our intelligence agencies know, what they are sharing and how good they are at getting information.
He says that Mossad has a reputation for using students as agents and that using two couples is “standard Mossad operation style. The reason they have a man and a woman … it’s easy to pass unnoticed, unchallenged, and the woman acts as back-up.”
New Zealand passports are readily accepted around the world. Anyone gaining one who had nefarious purposes would likely face no contest at a border. Paul Buchanan, who has worked at the Pentagon says that it’s unlikely the four were Mossad agents because of their age and the apparent low-level task of passport fraud they were undertaking, but they might have been recruits operating as sayanins, the Hebrew word for helper. He says that after the September earthquake, Christchurch may have been seen as a good target to get names of New Zealanders to use for false passports.
The three survivors from the van gave an interview to Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, days after the earthquake. It would seem unlike spies to put themselves out in the public eye like that, but maybe that’s reverse psychology. Who knows.
The “computer doctors” have been making their rounds in New Zealand. Consumer Affairs say about 17% of New Zealanders have been targeted by them. They called us, from Djibouti, from what seemed like a crowded call center. They knew our details, just like they’re listed in the phone book. I think they purposely tried to be hard to understand, using the assumption that overseas victims would think it would be rude to ask for clarification a number of times. The address they gave was actually a Border’s bookshop in Auckland. Eventually they hung up after repeated questioning.
Their story seems semi-plausible, but is fake: they’re calling from Microsoft or a computer repair shop and have noticed some strange activity from your computer. They tell you to go to a legitimate folder or the Windows Event Viewer and say that if there’s a lot of files or entries there (which there will be) that it’s very bad and means your computer is infected. But fear not! It can all be solved for a reasonable price, plus they’ll continue to support your computer. Just give them your credit card number to be charged a recurring fee and they’ll remotely fix your computer for you…
Don’t trust cold callers
NetSafe recommends asking for their company name and phone number and Googling them to see if they’re who they say they are. I haven’t heard of any legitimate tech support companies cold calling for customers and I don’t imagine it would be hard to create a professional looking website and redirecting a New Zealand phone number if someone overseas was truly determined. So I’d say don’t trust cold callers with remote access to your computer or your credit card information at all, even if they seem legitimate.
If you need help with your computer there are people on online forums like Geeks To Go that will help you for free, or ask friends and family for a recommendation of a quality company you can visit in person.
The NetSafe post has some good links. NetBasics is an animated video series by NetSafe on staying safe online. The real Microsoft has an article on speeding up your Windows computer, another line the callers use. And the Event Viewer might seem confusing, but Microsoft provides a tool to look up what the entries mean.
Symantec investigated a similar scam being run overseas, recorded the conversation and recorded what happened to the computer. The agent “Brian” gets Orla (who’s from Symantec and is pretending to be a novice computer user) to open the Event Viewer and tells her that she has a serious infection. But it’s alright, they can fix it!
A remote connection to the computer is set up using legitimate third-party software and it looks like their technician is doing something important by running check disk, disk cleanup and deleting some temporary files. Brian informs Orla that she has a lot of malicious files on her computer and gets her to sign up for a one year support contract to solve her issues. After receiving her credit card details insecurely via email, as well her name, address, phone number, email address, email password and getting her to fax a copy of her driver’s licence, the bad infection was “removed” by deleting the innocent items from the Event Viewer and turning off event logging. Of course, with unrestricted access to a computer, the people behind these operations have the ability to install malicious software they claim to be removing. The video is below. At the end the business is confronted about their misleading practices.
If you get called by these people, submit a report to NetSafe’s The Orb. Maybe you want to have some fun with them first. A Fair Go viewer said they apparently get very annoyed when after they’ve been trying to pitch you for half an hour you tell them you have a Mac instead of a PC.