Monthly Archives: July 2016

The Hidden Cost of Your Tech Products

No matter which way you slice it or no matter how much you consider yourself a virtuous or believer in the rule of law and justice if you live in the United States and use almost any kind of tech product the reality is that you are participating in an industry that exploits the use of child labor and slave labor like conditions to mine to precious materials that enable your product to work. Even the most food justice hipster vegan who has a raised bed garden, if you are using your macbook to post your outrage of the injustice in the world, you are a hypocrite. The device you’re using to read this story has roots in child labor and its something the Tech Industry needs to take action about and address if they are going to step up to the plate and their false sense of morally upstanding. “These Children are suffering life long problems that are just astounding. And it has to stop. “there is gold inside your phone. There is cobalt inside the lithium battery. There’s colt an that used in the miniature circuitry in your phone. These are minerals that are being mined in areas where law enforcement and government oversight is very weak. and what you find is that a lot of children end up going to work in these regions.” A startling reality is that children usually work in mines because they’re small, and able to squeeze into tiny tunnels to harvest minerals. This is extremely dangerous work due to the unsafe conditions like tunnel collapse and toxic chemicals in the air.

“its not just that its children labor and that these are missing school and they are missing childhoods. These children labor advocacy and coordinators for child labor coalition. These are suffering life long neurological damage and health problems that are just astounding and it has to stop.”

So this seems all very overwhelming but there are things you can do to become an informed consumer and if this problem ever has a chance of being reversed wide action has to be undertaken. One way is look up what your favorite tech companies are doing and demand transparency if they are not. “if even half the people who own smartphones spoke up and said, ‘you know I’m really worried about these kids mining these minerals in my cellphone, ‘ I really think that would get companies attention. If there were enough evidence of consumers concern the company would then be forced to take the lead on that.” 

Another thing you can do is to donate to organizations that are aimed towards working to end child labor. This again like anything requires that you do your research and make sure you are giving to the right ones, but they are out there and they really do make a difference. There is going to be a huge. and really we need to see that this problem is so much larger than tech. The U.S. department of Labor leis identified 136 products from 74 countries that are made by forced child labor.



Mobile Ransomware Gains Speed

Since the internet went mainstream, malware has existed in ever-changing reiterations. In the past year, phishing scams, Trojan viruses, and a variety of other kinds of malevolent software have given way to ransomware, the most common type of malware currently circulating the web. Ransomware poses a threat not just to personal computers and corporate systems; according to a report published by Kaspersky Lab, now more than ever, ransomware targets people’s mobile devices.

mob2Kaspersky software was able to protect over 135,000 users targeted by ransomware spanning from April 2015 to March 2016. That’s up from 35,413 in the year prior, meaning the amount of mobile ransomware victims quadrupled last year.

“The growth curve may be less than that seen for PC ransomware, but it is still significant enough to confirm a worrying trend,” it reads in the report.

How and why did this trend come about? The software firm attributes the spike in ransomware targets to the fact that people are willing to pay ransoms and that the value of information stored on digital devices is high enough that paying that ransom is actually the most cost-effective way to recover the data. In addition, law enforcement has been incapable of effectively responding to the problem and new payment tools and anonymous currencies are making it easier than ever for hackers to collect their fees.

“The problem for criminals is that legitimate payment systems, reacting to the rise in fraudulent payments, have started to track and block suspicious transactions, making money transfer a far more risky business for cyber crooks,” the report states. However, it goes on to explain that criminals have found new payments systems that allow them to work around this.

“With underground and semi-legal payment systems the problem is that no guarantees are given to the users of such systems (no refunds, no protection from other criminals) and the privacy of these transactions is also questionable.”

Then cryptocurrencies like bitcoin made it fundamentally easier for criminals to obtain money made illegally:

“Criminals have started to exploit the advantages crypto-currencies offer over other types of e-currency: anonymity and a distributed nature, which both allow them to hide fraudulent transactions and make it possible for a law enforcement agency to do anything… These features help to support individual privacy rights but, unfortunately also give cybercriminals a very reliable and secret payment tool. The main outcome of this is that ransomware has become the new black in the underground.”

mobWireless extortionists approach hacking mobile devices differently than they would approach hacking a personal computer:

“With a PC, the ransomware encrypts your files, encrypts your backup and leaves everything as garbage on our machine and then [demands] a ransom payment,” explained Ryan Naraine, global research and analaysis team head at Kaspersky Lab.

“On mobile, in some cases they’re doing encryption, but in most cases, they’re just locking the screen and not allowing you to get into the phone at all… It’s the same model. You make the end user completely desperate to get access to his files, and that desperation leads to paying the ransom.”