Thursday, November 28, 2013

Founding an Analytics Consulting Service Business

Greetings from the Entry 29 co-working space in Canberra, where Gerrie Aldag,– Co-Founder of Innogence is talking about the origins of the business (subsequently sold to NTT Data Business Solutions). Gerrie started as a company accountant. He grew tired of manual calculations and started creating spreadsheets to summarize data. This lead to a new business extracting data from SAP and producing useful analysis.
Another fortnight, another Founders Series fireside chat.
This week's speaker is Gerrie Aldag.
Gerrie Aldag was one of four founders of Innogence. Formed in 2005, Innogence was a certified premier partner in both SAP Services and Business Objects, offering specialised consulting services in both SAP business analytics and HANA. NTT Data Business Solutions APAC acquired the company in December 2012.
At time of acquisition the company employed more than 100 staff across branches in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Gerrie will share his journey from concept to sale ...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Rights and Sustainability in Timor-Leste’s Development

Greetings from the Australian National University where Charles Scheiner, Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis, is speaking on "Rights and Sustainability in Timor-Leste’s Development". He questioned the Timor-Leste's government's policy of economic development based on petroleum extraction and processing. He presented a detailed analysis of the problems. However, these problems could equally apply to many small developing nations and some to Australia.

What was lacking from the analysis was proposals for fixing the problem. At question time Scheiner related an anecdote that junior public servants in the Timor-Leste government who related in private they agreed with the analysis but faced political pressure preventing putting this in official proposals.

Perhaps there is need for more emphasis in higher education courses on how to have policy proposals adopted.In the course "ICT Sustainability" (COMP7310) I have the students spend the first half working out what the problem is and the second what to do about it. Students discover that it is relatively easy to come up with a technical proposal, but much harder to put it in a way their boss will find compelling. This is something which we can teach over the Internet to students anywhere.

 There is a Timor-Leste Conference at ANU tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Verifiable e-voting schemes

Greetings from the Australian national University where Vanessa Teague ,University of Melbourne is talking on "End-to-end verifiable cryptographic voting schemes". She reviewed the various electronic voting systems which have been used in Australia, such as "iVote" used in the NSW 2011 state election. The iVote system had obvious flaws, as there is limited evidence trail. A new version is proposed for the 2015 NSW election. The process is described in "iVote Strategy for the NSW State GeneralElection 2015" (NSW Electoral Commission, August 2013). What is remarkable about this is not the process proposed is flawed, but how the NSW Electoral Commission could propose such an obviously flawed system on a second attempt.

I have used the EVACS system, developed by the local company Software Improvements, to vote in Australia is the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)  in the last two local elections. Also I have used a pilot system for one federal election. Dr Teague described EVACS as the only open source system, well thought out and extensive analysis. The audience pointed out that all the software may not be open source (Evoting pioneer plays politics with open source, Steven Deare, LinuxWorld, 11 August, 2004).

Dr Teague pointed out that as good as it is, even eVACS does not provide a way to verify the vote counting is correct. Cryptographic techniques can be used to do this, but it may not be practical. The system has the voter receiving an encrypted receipt of their vote. The voter can check their recipient against a list published by the voting system.

The encrypted system relies on the list of candidates being randomly listed for each voter. The list of what the voter voted for can then be published, without revealing who was voted for. Unfortunately there was not sufficient time in the talk to explain the detail of how this works.

One of the problems with any e-voting polling place system is the cost of the hardware. For the Australian local, state and federal systems a simple change would have it cheaper. The ACT and federal elections have e-voting at the larger polling palces used for pre-polling. Normally the pre-polling is just used for people who are unable to vote on polling day, but if citizens were encouraged to use this system, them most of the votes could be collected with a few electronic systems (and the other votes collected on paper).

There is a paper available "Verifiable Postal Voting", Josh Benaloh, Peter Y. A. Ryan, Vanessa Teague in Security Protocols XXI
Lecture Notes in Computer Science Volume 8263, 2013, pp 54-65.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Effect of Different Political Systems on Asian Security

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Robert Ayson, Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) is speaking on "Asia’s Security and the Problem of Values". His new book "Asia's Security" is due out in 2014. As Dr Andrew Carr pointed out, this topic is timely with several points of conflict in Asia current.

Dr. Ayson asks if avoidance of conflict requires shared values, or just shared interests. He discussed the idea that strong powers need to come to an accommodation with rising powers. Dr. Ayson is clearly referring to the USA and China. He used the analogy that the USA and USSR avoided a catastrophic war, during the cold war. But I am not sure that China would want to be cast in the role of the USSR, as it ultimately lost the cold war.

Dr. Ayson distinguished interests from values, with the latter being more deep seated. The assumption this analysis is based on is that nations need to have something in common, which I suggest need not be the case. As an example, in international trade, the parties involved need not agree on the intrinsic value of the item traded, just agree on a price. Nations going to war, I suggest, might be similarly seen as a trade, with a price. Two nations may not value human life equally, but could still achieve a balance of destruction to prevent war.

Dr. Ayson suggests that the AUSMIN 2013 Joint Communiqué (USA/Australia, 20 November 2013), emphasizes the shared values of the USA and Australia could make a tripartite agreement with China more difficult. However, I think that he is confusing a public relations statement with genuine beliefs. History has many examples of nations being military allies and presenting a common public image one day and being at war, vilifying each other the next. As the saying goes: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Dr. Ayson cited "Fairness and Freedom: A History of Two Open Societies: New Zealand and the United States" by David Hackett Fischer (Oxford University Press, 2012). In this Hackett asks how different the two nations view of what at first appear well understood values.

Dr. Ayson asks if China and Japan are competing for economic resources in the East China Sea, or if they are concerned with some more abstract concept of honor. He asked if security and economic growth as a value would encourage cooperation and compromise. But in this I suggest Dr. Aysonis still assuming that both parties need to want the same thing. It may be that China and Japan have different priorities for security and economic growth.

Toward the end of his talk, Dr. Ayson completely lost me. He first referred to Tolken's the Lord of the Rings "One Ring to Rule the All" and then to Isaiah Berlin's experience in Europe, before moving to Oxford.
The audience member next to me took Dr. Ayson to task over how genuine USA's democratic values are, given that the nation has carried out international actions which seem to contract such values, including the invasion of Iraq, torture of prisoners and tapping of telecommunications globally. He responded that when a nation talked of values, they set themselves up to criticism. 

In his inaugural address President Kennedy said "Pay any price, bear any burden ... in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty." Clearly in practice Kennedy was not prepared to pay any price, confining armed conflict to limited wars. The current US President may need to decide what price his country is willing to pay, if an incident occurs in the East China Sea.

From the talk invitation:
Robert Ayson is on research leave from Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) and is currently Visiting Fellow with the ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC). Formerly Director of Studies for the SDSC, in 2010 he was appointed Professor and Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies at VUW. He has also held academic positions with the Massey University and the University of Waikato, and official positions in New Zealand with the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade select committee and what is now the National Assessments Bureau. He is also an Honorary Professor with the New Zealand Defence Force Command and Staff College. Ayson completed his PhD in War Studies at King’s College London as a Commonwealth Scholar and an MA at the ANU as a New Zealand Defence Freyberg Scholar. He is the author of Thomas Schelling and the Nuclear Age (Frank Cass, 2004) and Hedley Bull and the Accommodation of Power (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), and is currently writing a book on Asia’s Security.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Options for E-waste Plastic

The New Zealand Government has issued reports of two studies it commissioned on how to dealing with plastic which contains Brominated flame retardant (BFR) chemicals. These plastics have been commonly used in computers and other electronic devices. The chemicals are banned under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). The result is e-waste which is difficult to dispose of. Available are:
  1. Managing waste that may contain brominated flame retardants,
  2. Brominated flame retardant research: A pilot study of e-waste plastic sorting in New Zealand (AS140193), Geoff Latimer, NVIRON Australia Pty Ltd, for NZ Ministry for the Environment, September 2013. The study found most CRT TVs in NZ were manufactured in Asia after 1990 without POP-BDEs. A small number of older units from Europe may contain the chemical. Photocopiers and printers are likely to be POP-BDE free. There was limited evidence on POP-BDEs in CRT computer monitors, so the authors recommended monitors should be assumed to contain them. But LCD computer monitors are unlikely to contain the chemical.
  3. Brominated Flame Retardant Research: A cost-benefit analysis of sorting options for e-waste plastics, ACIL Allen Consulting Pty Ltd, for NZ Ministry for the Environment, October 2013. The report compared visual inspection of items versus use of a handheld "XRF scanner" which uses X-rays to detect the chemicals.  The report concludes that the scanners can't sufficient distinguish between POP-BDE and the more benign chemicals used to replace them, resulting in a large number of false positives. The report concludes XRF is more expensive and does not give any better identification result.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cyber War Will Take Place

Thomas Rid's book "Cyber War Will Not Take Place" (Oxford University Press, 2013), is readable and well researched. It argues that on-line attacks on nation states will be at most an adjunct to the use of conventional military force. The limits to the effectiveness of an on-line attack are discussed, using documented cases. The conclusion is that cyber-war will not happen, because it is unreliable in its effect, cannot be well targeted and can't cause violence directly. Surprisingly, Queensland, Australia, features prominently as one place where a cyber-attack on infrastructure had a significant effect. In 2000 the Maroochy Shire SCADA system was commanded to dump millions of liters of raw sewage into waterways.

Rid soberly counters the hype around "cyber-war", but perhaps goes too far in dismissing it altogether. There are many weapons which have uncertain military value, but are nonetheless made ready for use. An example is Barnes Wallis' bouncing bomb, used to breech the Möhne and Edersee Dams in WW2. The bomb had a mostly indirect effect, by breeching the dam wall, cutting off hydroelectric power and flooding the land below. The bombs has some propaganda value, but were of limited military value.

It is unlikely there will be a pure cyberwar, but very likely that any future major conventional war will involve extensive use of on-line attacks. These will be intended to cause confusion and degrade the enemy infrastructure to make conventional kinetic attack more effective, rather than replace it.

Compared to conventional warfare, cyber-war takes little hardware. Office computers are cheap compared to missiles, submarines and supersonic aircraft. A country with a conscription army also has a ready supply of recruits, who can be screened for computing skills. Reserve personnel, who work in the ICT, can be used, with most of their technical training taken care of by their civilian employers (previously I proposed such a "Australian CyberWarfare Battalion").

Nations with less developed infrastructure may also see this as a useful form of asymmetric warfare. A less developed nation has little to fear in terms of retaliation when  disrupting the water, transport and power infrastructure of a developed nation.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fund for Humanitirian Software to Support Disaster Response

The Sahana Software Foundation has launched a Philippines Appeal. The foundation provides free open source disaster response software and training.   The software is used by government and non-government organizations around the world to coordinate relief operations after natural disasters. The software is in use by the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Philippines Red Cross for Typhoon Haiyan recovery operations.

The Sahana Software Foundation is non-profit organization registered in the State of California, USA. In 2010 it received the PPBI Best Practices Award for its work on Haiti Earthquake and in 2013 was named Computerworld Honors Laureate for information technology to benefit society.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Security Professionals Register

One topic at the Australasian Council of Security Professionals and combined Associations’ Seminar was the Security Professionals Register. which was created to raise the standard of professionalism in the security industry. So far the register appears to have only 15 people on it.

Security challenges in the Indian Ocean littoral and the US pivot to Asia

Greetings from the Australasian Council of Security Professionals and combined Associations’ Seminar at the Australian National University in Canberra, where  Peter Leahy, former Chief of the Australian Army and Director of the National Security Institute, is speaking on "Security challenges in the Indian Ocean littoral and the US pivot to Asia".

Professor Leahy pointed out that the Indian Ocean was surrounded by many unstable states and 50% of the world's shipping cargo crosses the region, with a number of vulnerable choke-points. The Australian warships were sunk in the Indian Ocean in WW2. HMAS Stirling is the main naval base for the west.

Professor Leahy referred to "Gateway to the Indo-Pacific: Australian Defense Strategy and the Future of the Australia-U.S. Alliance" (Jim Thomas, Zack Cooper, and Iskander Rehman, November 2013, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments). He pointed out that despite the title, this publication, like much US strategic thinking is fixated on China. I did a quick check and found "India" occurs 10 times in the document, "China" 13 times. What worried me more was that "Cyber" occurs only twice and "Internet" and "World Wide Web" not at all. The RAAF's E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft are mentioned as providing early warning of approaching aircraft. An expansion of the JORN Over the Horizon Radar is suggested. While the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft is mentioned once, but not the pod-mounted, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar option.

Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre

Greetings from the the Australasian Council of Security Professionals and combined Associations’ Seminar at the Australian National University in Canberra, where someone from Edith Cowan University (ECU) is talking about a bid for a Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). So far the bid has CSIRO, QUT, Deakin University, University of South Australia, University of Adelaide, Hannover University and Groningen University. There is a 2013 CyberCRC Prospectus available. ECU is also running a  Control Systems: Cyber Security Training Course on 9 December 2013.

Protective Security Policy Framework

Greetings from the the Australasian Council of Security Professionals and combined Associations’ Seminar at the Australian National University in Canberra, where someone from Attorney General's Department is talking about the "Protective Security Policy Framework". They made the point that rather than a rigid set of rules on what to do, the framework is designed help agencies identify their needs. Australian personnel vetting practices include a physiological profile of each individual, which can help identify future problems.

Staff of the Australian Cyber Security Center will move into the new ASIO building in Canberra, when it is ready.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Law and New Technologies In Warfare

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Knut Doermann, head of the legal division of the International Committee of the Red Cross, military and legal experts are discussing "Australia: New technologies and warfare". Questions of the legal and ethical questions of technology in warfare are not hypothetical. Previously I worked at the Department of Defence. Now I teach ICT ethics to students, some of whom work on radar, UAV and other military systems. Yesterday I attended a seminar on revolutionary new nano-technology, which has its own ethical issues.

Dr. Doermann in his opening address drew a distinction between "drone" which are remotely controlled by a human operator and autonomous systems. I and no a lawyer, or an ethicist, but in my view there is still no such distinction. The person who launches a smart weapon is accountable for the effect it has. Before they launch the weapon they must be satisfied its effect will be legal. If the weapon fails to perform as the soldier expected, then they may share responsibly with the designer and builder.

Machines already take life and death decisions every day, in motor vehicles, medical devices and air traffic control. I warn my students that when their programming goes wrong, they may be held to account in court for their actions.
Join the ICRC and the Australian Centre for Military and Security Law for a thought-provoking panel discussion on new technologies and warfare, as we launch the latest edition of the International Review of the Red Cross.

Event Info

Where: Australian National University, Canberra, 6pm-7.30pm
When:  19.11.2013
From nanotechnology enhanced weapons to autonomous robots, advancements in technology herald the possibility of a quantum leap in how war is waged. In this timely discussion, we bring together local and international experts to put the spotlight on the potential legal, ethical and humanitarian implications of such a profound change to armed conflict as we know it.


Knut Doermann, head of the legal division of the ICRC
Ian Henderson, Group Captain, RAAF and director of the Military Law Centre
Hitoshi Nasu, senior lecturer, ANU College of Law and acting co-director of Australian Centre for Military and Security Law
Eve Massingham, international humanitarian law officer, the Australian Red Cross
Chaired by Helen Durham, director IHL, strategy, planning & research, the Australian Red Cross

Discontent with the Arab Spring

Greetings from the Australian National University, in Canberra, where Professor Nazif Shahrani of Indiana University is speaking on "Why is the Arab Spring turning to the season of Arab discontent?". Professor
Shahrani suggested that an examination of what went wrong in Afghanistan could be applied to other Islamic nations. He mentioned the role of "professional demonstrators", but I was not sure what is meant by this. Ba'athism was mentioned as a preceding revolution. He pointed to the large numbers of protesters who occupied streets and squares in the Arab Spring. He asked why these protesters then called on the military to take control.

But I was not clear as to how  Professor Shahrani could know what the population of Egypt wanted. The idea of the state security apparatus taking over government in a crisis is not that unusual. Even in Australia there is provision for a state of emergency, with provision of the police and army to issue orders.

Professor Shahrani argued that a tradition of kingship has a tradition in the Islamic world. Under this approach "winner takes all" with a ruler and their family and associates controlling the security forces. However, I can think of other countries with other state religions and secular states with autocratic governments.

Professor Shahrani argues that the regimes dehumanize opponents, to the point where political opponents are considered non-people. But this would seem to be the stock and trade of politics. As an example, the Australian Minister for Immigration has directed his department to refer to asylum seekers with the prefix "illegal", even though this is contrary to Australian law (which says that everyone is innocent until proven guilty by a court). The new Australian Government has continued the practice of the previous ALP government of placing asylum seekers in remote detention centres, to prevent the media having access to detainees, so as to de-humanise them and limit public sympathy.

Professor Shahrani argued that religion doesn't form a basis for behavior in Egypt currently, but is being used used to justify military control. While less extreme, I suggest the same is seen in western democracies. Military ceremonies frequently feature a religious element. Even secular states co-opt the forms of religious ceremony.

Professor Shahrani claimed that the Egyptian army depended on US funds and this is now supplemented by the Gulf states. He argued that the source of the funds did not matter, just the fact of the subsidy. However, I suggest that large aid givers are likely to have an influence on the recipient. Provision of aid is not necessarily a reliable way to control a country, with some changing from block to block, to with their own agenda.

Professor Shahrani argued a destruction of the old political system was needed with the Arab Spring. The Muslim Brotherhood took over the existing political system, with vested interests, particularly the army. However, I suggest Indonesia is an example of a country where the military had a central role written into the constitution and significant business interests, but where there has been a relatively stable transition to democracy. Turkey also has a military which has had significant political power, alongside an elected government.

Guide to Democracy in the UK

Dan Jellinek's book "People Power: A user's guide to democracy" (Bantam Press, 2013) is a useful overview, but concentrates on the UK. As an Australian I found the differences in levels of government and voting systems of limited interest. However, the book got interesting just before the end, when Dan discussed the potential of the Internet to be sued for governance. I would like to see a follow-up book which concentrated on this aspect, with examples from around the world. Before reading this book I didn't know Dan had an interest in government, as I only knew him through his excellent E-Access Bulletin on web accessibility.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Indian Ocean Security Issues

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Clive Williams is speaking on "Security Issues in the Indian Ocean: Maldives Case Study". Professor Williams pointed out that the Maldives is smaller than the ACT and vulnerable to sea level rises. There were 108 people killed in the 2008 tsunami. The RAF had an airbase in the Maldives, but this was moved to Diego Garcia, about 1,000 km south. The Commonwealth suspended the Maldives from its democracy and human rights committee due to suspected violations. The Maldives is a  Sunni Islam state. The defence force has a budget of $45M with some patrol boats, acting essentially as a supplement to the police force, which are essentially water police.

The Chinese Peace Ark hospital ship recently visited the islands. However, the Maldives government is unlikely to permit a permanent PLA Navy presence due to pressure from India. Professor Williams referred to "Indian Ocean : a sea of uncertainty", by Leighton G. Luke (Future Directions International, 2012).

Professor Williams  discussed the idea of an Australian funded police training centre for the Indian Ocean region located in the Maldives. Although I did wonder if Western Australia would be a better location.

The issue of Indian Ocean security is topical with the Australian Prime Minister having just announced that two second hand Bay-class patrol boats would be donated to Sri Lanka. These vessels are used by customs in Australia and so are very lightly armed with one machine gun, but are likely to be up-gunned by Sri Lanka. 
The Centre for Military & Security Law, ANU College of Law invite you to attend a Public Lecture: Security Issues in the Indian Ocean: Maldives Case Study, to be presented by Clive Williams MG, Visiting Professor at the Centre for Military and Security Law, ANU College of Law.

The Maldives is seen by many Australians as a tranquil paradise and ideal holiday destination - but it faces serious security challenges related to growing Islamisation, stymied democracy, political corruption, organised crime, and a subverted judiciary. It also has a constitution that is in breach of human rights law. The Maldives has a range of connections to regional countries and these often affect the Maldives' security situation.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Book About Five Years in Goa

On the new books display at the National Library of Australia today I found "What Westerners Have for Breakfast: Five Years in Goa" by John McBeath

China E-waste Draft National Standards

The China Electronic Standards Association (CESA), distributed seven draft national standards the handling of e-waste. These cover the dismantling of obsolete equipment, general requirements for premises, equipment procedures, pollution control, health and safety, and documentation. These cover desktop computers, copiers, printers, laptops, plasma, LCD and CRT TVs and computer monitors. It is not clear why seven separate standards are needed, as most of the procedures will be common for all types of equipment. One standard could be issued with appendices, or supplements, for variations in equipment type. These standards are important for Australia, as much of the  e-waste collected through the Australian National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme, goes to China for recycling.

Here are the original Chinese texts of the proposed standards:
  1. CRT TVs and Monitors: 20083080-T-339
  2. LCD TVs: 20083081-T-339
  3. Plasma TVs: 20083082-T-339
  4. Notebook computers (laptops): 20083083-T-339
  5. Printers: 20083084-T-339
  6. Copiers: 20083085-T-339
  7. Desktop computers (PCs): 20083086-T-339

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Why Was I Banned from LinkedIn?

A few days ago I blocked my access, due to complaints from members that I "... sent or posted unsolicited messages via groups that appear to be phishing, spam, or abusive in nature ...". However, in a Kafkaesque twist, the complainants, messages and groups were not identified. Instead I had to agree to "... adhere to the LinkedIn User Agreement and Privacy Policy from this day forward", thus admitting my guilt, without knowing what it was that I was supposed to have done.

As well as blocking access to sending positing to discussion groups and administering the groups I run, my LinkedIn profile was also blocked. As I was blocked, I could not appeal to other LinkedIn members for support, or even to ask what I had done wrong.

So I agreed to LinkedIn terms. I was admonished to "... make sure any links and comments you post are appropriate for the Group ...", still without saying what group or what had been inappropriate. My access and profile were then restored:

As I still don't know what it was I said to cause offense, or in which group I said it, this has made me wary of posting anything to any LinkedIn group on any topic. I have resigned from most of the LinkedIn groups I was was a member of, to prevent accidentally posting something which may give offense and might get me banned. Also I found myself avoiding responding to, or even looking at, postings in non-LinkedIn groups, in case there was something I might do wrong there.

Previously I had reported some postings to LinkedIn, usually of the "Have your PHD Thesis Written for $10!" variety. I assumed there was a process where the poster would be told which posting was objected to and why. But this is not the case, instead you just find yourself banned.

It is worrying to think of the power which those administering such social media services have. A corporation, or government, could impose very effective social control by these means.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Political Economy of Governance and Public Policy in Indonesia

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Dr Boediono, Vice-President of Indonesia, is speaking on  "The Political Economy of Governance and Public Policy in Indonesia", after receiving an honorary doctorate. Dr Boediono, focused on three issues: democracy, decentralization and anti-corruption.

Dr Boediono, identified the development of a vibrant and vigorous media as an important development in Indonesia. It happens that my colleague Dr. Idris Sulliman (ANU Adjunct Lecturer) , has just had an opinion piece "‘Trashed’ documentary and meaningful technology solutions" published in the Jakarta Post (13 November 2013). This reports on the screening of the UK documentary film ‘Trashed’", in which Jeremy Irons discusses the global pollution  problem.

Idris suggests that Indonesia can leapfrog to a low-carbon economy, in part by investing in Internet broadband access. He is taking part in Meaningful Broadband Indonesia 2013: Towards the Activation of the Indonesia Broadband Plan, 13 to15 November at the Jakarta Convention Center.

In 2012 Dr. Sulliman and I were guests of an Indonesian university to discuss green computing education in Indonesia. Students in Indonesia, and elsewhere, can learn how to do this in my course "ICT Sustainability" which starts in February 2014.

World Energy Outlook 2013

Mr Ian Cronshaw, of the International Energy Agency, will speak on the "World Energy Outlook 2013 at the ANU Energy Update, 5 December 2013. The event is free and is hosted by the Australian National University in Canberra.
The ANU Energy Change Institute (ECI) is pleased to host Mr Ian Cronshaw from the International Energy Agency (IEA) to present the latest insights from the 2013 World Energy Outlook. This year the IEA published the WEO on November 12th, providing a snapshot of international energy trends.

The Energy Update will provide Australian researchers, policymakers, industry and members of the public with the latest state of play in the world’s energy markets.

The inaugural Energy Update has a particular focus on Asia, where energy demand is growing faster than anywhere in the world. In addition to the rapid growth in China and India, Southeast Asia as a region is rising fast as a global energy player. The region’s booming economy is expected to drive this trend in years to come. Efforts to close the development gaps and sustain economic growth using fossil fuels could result in a significant rise in greenhouse gas emissions, while efforts to secure energy supplies could potentially redraw the global map of energy security and geopolitics.

The full day event features national and international presenters from government, universities and the private sector to discuss a range of issues such as global and regional energy outlook, sustainable energy technologies, energy security and energy poverty. The speakers participating are at the cutting edge of politics, economics and trade, and each session will focus on opportunities and challenges in these fields. ...
The ANU Energy Update is organised in by The ANU Energy Change Institute in conjunction with the ANU College of Asia and The Pacific.
Presenters include (in alphabetical order):
  • Dr Marwansyah Lobo Balia, National Energy Council of the Republic of Indonesia, Special Advisor to the Energy Minister of the Republic of Indonesia
  • Professor Ken Baldwin, Director of The ANU Energy Change Institute
  • Professor Andrew Blakers, Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems, ANU
  • Dr Paul Burke, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU
  • Mr Allaster Cox, First Assistant Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Mr Ian Cronshaw, International Energy Agency
  • Dr Matthew Dornan, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU
  • Professor Peter Drahos, Regulatory Institutions Network, ANU
  • Mr Bruce Godfrey, Board member of ARENA
  • Professor Quentin Grafton, The Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU
  • Professor Chris Greig, UQ Energy Initiative, University of Queensland
  • Dr Edward Halawa, Centre for Renewable Energy, Research Institute for the Environment
  • Professor Andrew MacIntyre, Dean of the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Professor Hugh Outhred, School of Electrical Engineering & Telecommunications, UNSW
  • and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University
  • Dr Michael H. Smith, Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU Mr Bruce Wilson, Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics
  • Professor David Stern, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU
  • Dr Ivor Frischknecht, Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)
Registration is required at:
E T 02 6125 6599

This event is free and open to the public


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Challenges with New Technologies In Warfare

Knut Doermann, head of the legal division of the International Committee of the Red Cross, military and legal experts will discuss "Australia: New technologies and warfare", at the Australian National University in Canberra, 19 November 2013.
Join the ICRC and the Australian Centre for Military and Security Law for a thought-provoking panel discussion on new technologies and warfare, as we launch the latest edition of the International Review of the Red Cross.

Event Info

Where: Australian National University, Canberra, 6pm-7.30pm
When:  19.11.2013
From nanotechnology enhanced weapons to autonomous robots, advancements in technology herald the possibility of a quantum leap in how war is waged. In this timely discussion, we bring together local and international experts to put the spotlight on the potential legal, ethical and humanitarian implications of such a profound change to armed conflict as we know it.


Knut Doermann, head of the legal division of the ICRC
Ian Henderson, Group Captain, RAAF and director of the Military Law Centre
Hitoshi Nasu, senior lecturer, ANU College of Law and acting co-director of Australian Centre for Military and Security Law
Eve Massingham, international humanitarian law officer, the Australian Red Cross
Chaired by Helen Durham, director IHL, strategy, planning & research, the Australian Red Cross

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sri Lanka’s post-war troubles

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena is speaking on "Braving the seas: Sri Lanka’s post-war troubles". Pinto-Jayawardena argues that a climate of impunity existed in Sri Lanka for decades and remains after the end of the Sri Lankan Civil War, with the concept of justice loosing meaning. They argue that poor rural members of the Sinhalese, majority suffer along with other groups from government endorsed military oppression, the example of land takeover ("Is Sri Lanka a military state that devours land?", Kishali Pinto-Jayawarden, November 3, 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian). Pinto-Jayawarden questioned if the Australian government's support for Sri Lanka's CHOGM meeting was in return for cooperation on the return of boat people. While Pinto-Jayawarden presneted no evidence, it should be noted that Australian Senator Lee Rhiannon was recently detained on a visit to Sri Lanka. In April I presented a paper at the 2013 International Conference on Computer Science and Education (ICCSE 2013) in Colombo, Sri Lanka. I visited universities and IT companies in Sri Lanka with links to Australia, the USA and the USA. So I asked Pinto-Jayawardena if such links were beneficial to the situation Sri Lanka, they suggested it was (which was a great relief to me).

Typhoon Haiyan International Relief Operations Underway

Reports on the effect of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) have been slow to arrive due to the severity of the event. Reports through my colleagues at the Sahana Foundation and the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) are indicating the severity of the situation in the Philippines:

Many government staff and emergency workers are themselves causalities. Debris block roads, electricity supply is limited, as is fuel, vehicle tires, food, clean drinking water. Maintenance of law and order is also an issue.

In 2011 landing ship HMAS Choules (former RFA Largs Bay) was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy. Choules has a flight deck for heavy Chinook helicopters and two 2 Mexeflote powered rafts to transfer cargo to shore. Choules also has a diesel/electric propulsion system, which may also be of use for supplying on-shore power.

There were early problems with Choules, but these have been overcome an it performed well in recent military exercises. The Australian government should now make urgent preparations, should Choules be required for Typhoon Haiyan relief operations.

Unfortunately the more capable Landing Helicopter Dock ship HMAS Canberra,  is not due to be commissioned until 2014.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Australian National Resilience, Cyber Security and the US pivot to Asia

Michael Rothery, First Assistant Secretary,
National Security Resilience Policy Division, Attorney-General's Department, will speak on Cyber Security, at the Australian National University, 21 November 2013. Also Peter Leahy, former Chief of the Australian Army and Director of the National Security Institute, will speak on "Security challenges in the Indian Ocean littoral and the US pivot to Asia". This is part of the in the Australasian Council of Security Professionals and combined Associations’ Seminar. Registration is now open. The event is by ASIS Australia, RMIA, AIPIO, ISACA Canberra, ACSP, SPR-A, ARPI and ASMF.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Strategic Ecology for Cyberspace Security

Professor Paul CornishProfessor Paul Cornish will speak on "Connection, Communication and Conversation: Shaping a Strategic Ecology for Cyberspace", at the Australian National University in Canberra, 5.45pm,  12 November 2013.

Public seminar

Connection, Communication and Conversation: Shaping a Strategic Ecology for Cyberspace

Speaker: Professor Paul Cornish
Date: Tuesday 12 November 2013
Time: 5.45pm – 7.00pm, refreshments served from 5.15pm
Register: Register here

The expanding global communication infrastructure brings with it the possibility of a worldwide conversation across all dimensions and at all levels of human life. In most of the cases of human interaction, customs, protocols and ‘rules of the road’ emerge with usage. Where government interactions are concerned, however, there is a tendency to revert to established ideas and methods with which to stabilise and then manage competitive strategic relations – often those drawn from the Cold War.
Yet, while cyberspace should indeed be managed as an arena of human interaction and contestation, more thought is needed as to how this can be achieved in an efficient and durable manner. The relaxation of cyber tensions between China and the West, for example, will not come as a result of a technological fix of some sort, and nor will it lie in a Cold War-style strategic stand-off.
The current strategic narrative is dominated by mistrust, by claims of espionage, crime and terrorism, by rumours of worse to come and by disagreement over the basic terms of debate. Cyberspace appears to be a lawless frontier in which each actor operates according to the rules he prefers. Consequently, the governance of cyberspace is in a state of arrested development.
A strategic ecology for cyberspace is needed: a sense of cyberspace as a rule-bound political environment in which the scope and limitations of interaction can be discussed, in which trade-offs and compromise are made possible, and in which mutual interest can be pursued. Above all, this ecology should correspond more closely to the digital environment of the 21st century than to the missile environment of the 20th.
Paul Cornish is Professor of Strategic Studies at the University of Exeter, having previously been Carrington Professor of International Security at Chatham House. He has taught at the UK Defence Academy and at the University of Cambridge, and has served in the British Army and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. His work covers national strategy, cyber security, the ethics of armed conflict and civil-military relations. He is a member of the UK Chief of Defence Staff’s Strategic Advisory Panel, a Fellow of Oxford University’s Global Cyber Security Capacity-Building Centre, and a Senior Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute.
The National Security College is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Government and ANU.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Hacking Encryption Keys Demonstrated

Yuval Yarom from University of Adelaide has just demonstrated reading a RSA public key for SSL encryption being used by one user on a shared computer system, by another user's program. This "generic cache side-channel attack" exploits a security weakness in the Intel's X86 computer architecture (but also applies to other company's designs). There are ways to fix this problem, but this will reduce the performance of applications. There is a full paper available.

FLUSH+RELOAD and the Relaxed Security of Read Operations on the X86 Architecture

Yuval Yarom (University of Adelaide)


DATE: 2013-11-06
TIME: 14:00:00 - 15:00:00
LOCATION: CSIT Seminar Room, N101

FLUSH+RELOAD is a recently developed generic cache side-channel attack technique. It exploits a security weakness in the popular X86 architecture, which allows a spy program to monitor a victim program read from shared memory regions. Unlike previous cache side-channel attacks, the technique targets the last level cache. Consequently, the spy and the victim programs do not need to execute on the same processing core. The technique is not limited to a traditional OS environment and can be applied in a virtualised environment where it can be used to leak information from programs running in co-located virtual machines. In this talk I present FLUSH+RELOAD and the weakness it exploits. I also describe the spy program behind CERT advisory VU#976534 and Mitre CVE-2013-4242 which uses the technique to attack the GnuPG implementation of the RSA encryption. By snooping a single decryption or signature process, the spy program is able to recover over 98% of the secret key bits, effectively breaking the cryptosystem. Further information on the technique can be found in

Researching National Security in Cyberspace

A public forum on "Strategy and Statecraft in Cyberspace" is being held at the Australian National University in Canberra, 12:30pm, 8 November 2013. International security experts will discuss if we face a ‘digital Pearl Harbor’, or as I suggest in Australia's case, a Binary Bombing of Darwin.  The question is if Australia is vulnerable to a cyber attack on its national information infrastructure on a scale similar in effect to 19 February 1942, when Japanese aircraft attacked Darwin.

Strategy and Statecraft in Cyberspace

Date: Friday 8 November 2013 - 12:30 to 13:45 
Register: Register online now

Join us for a panel discussion and open forum to explore the complexities of cyberspace from a national security perspective – a domain in which states and non-state actors interact with each other in an increasingly contested environment.

This event has been organized by the ANU National Security College (NSC) as it finalises priorities for its new research program on Strategy and Statecraft in Cyberspace. The NSC has brought together leading researchers from Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom for this event which will be facilitated by the ABC’s Michael Brissenden:
  • Professor Roger Bradbury is a complex systems scientist with experience in international cyber issues, and is with the National Security College at ANU.
  • Professor Fred Cate specialises in information privacy and security law issues, and is Director of the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research at Indiana University, USA.
  • Professor Paul Cornish is an expert in cyber security and cyber war, and Professor of Strategic Studies at the Strategy and Security Institute at the University of Exeter, UK.
  • Dr Jon Lindsay is an expert in international relations at the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at UC San Diego, USA.
Like the traditional domains of land, sea, air and space, states and non-state actors are using the cyberspace domain to pursue their objectives in an increasingly complex world. The panel will discuss the rise of cyberspace, which has created a number of ‘wicked’ policy problems for global security including:

  • the proliferation of cyber weapons to state and non-state actors
  • the systemic vulnerabilities in the infrastructure of globalisation and military power
  • the friction between private sector actors who manage the Internet and the public sector actors who are supposed to defend them
  • the mismatch between the pace of policy formation and the pace of technological change
  • the failure to coordinate among government agencies responsible for national security, law enforcement and industrial policy
  • major disagreements about how the Internet should be managed domestically and internationally.

  • Some authors foresee grave new risks of a ‘digital Pearl Harbor’, while their critics dismiss these warnings as inflating the threat. Technological complexity has amplified political complexity, which in turn has complicated political analysis. Our panel will endeavor to unpick these issues from the perspectives of social policy, security policy and the future of technology. We look forward to welcoming you at this important event focusing on an issue of critical significance.

    Rack Mounted Micro-turbines for Data Centers

    Microsoft researchers have proposed rack mounted fuel cells to power servers in a data centre (No More Electrical Infrastructure: Towards Fuel Cell Powered Data Centers by Ana Carolina Riekstin, Sean James, Aman Kansal, Jie Liu, and Eric Peterson, Microsoft Data Center Genome Project, November 2013). But this is not the only option for local power generation. Natural gas can also be used to generate electricity, with modified internal combustion engines. Micro-turbines are now small enough that they could be located at each row of servers, if not in each rack. This might be an interesting topic for the students doing my ICT Sustainability Course to investigate.

    Syracuse University has twelve 780 kW microturbines, but these are in a centralized facility, not distributed. The units are in two groups of three each on a separate power bus. Heat from the turbines is directed to absorption chillers for cooling the servers. Recovering energy from the waste heat would be much more difficult if the generators were distributed around the racks.

    Tuesday, November 05, 2013

    Ipswich: Australia's First Online Community?

    There has been a recent fad for Australia cities and states to devise digital strategies. Policy makers could do well to read Mal Bryce's book "Australia's First Online Community Ipswich Queensland" (Xlibris Corporation, 2010). This recounts the efforts by an inland Australia city to reinvent itself as a high tech center. The book provides a useful history lesson in the early days of the Internet and the difficulties of attracting high technology ventures to a region.

    Of particular interest to me were the effort the Ipswich City Council wet to to attract a campus of the University of Queensland, the time this took and the political considerations in the eventual location (which is a former mental asylum). While Australia's capital cities can take for granted they will have tertiary education facilities, other regions have to work hard to obtain such facilities (see my study for the Great Southern Region of WA and proposal for Canberra).

    Mal Bryce spoke about the Ipswich proj3t at the "Public Access to Networked Information" conference at the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra, in 1994. This conference included a number of people who were influential in establishing the Internet in Australia, but are not known outside their own professional circles, such as Geoff Huston and Michele Huston. I recall this conference well, as after Roger Clarke gave his presentation I could hear him typing revisions to his paper at the back of the room on a very noisy laptop. Mal Bryce's "High Capacity Broadband: an Economic, Environmental and Social Imperative" (2009) is referenced by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications NBN report "Broadening the debate".

    ps: Thanks to the National Library of Australia for a copy of Mal's book, in their excellent reading room.

    Sunday, November 03, 2013

    How to Clear Out a Home

    Recently I helped clutter a home so it could be sold. The three bedroom terrace house had been a family home for 30 years, with the children moving out some decades before.

    There were therefore decades of possession, including items left behind by the children and some items never unpacked from the move in. As children moved out, their former bedrooms filled with discarded possessions, until much of the space was unusable.

    Unfortunately the home had external storage sheds, which also filled with materials. The residents dealt with this by having an additional shed built in the back-yard which also filled with materials, and then added an extra storage unit. This compulsive hoarding had caused the family distress, but it was not until the property had to be made ready to be put on the market it was decided to deal with it.

    Some tips for cleaning out a hoarder's house

    Keep in mind that while now listed as a mental disorder, compulsive hoarding is just an extreme form of normal human behavior. Most hoarders do not recognize that their behavior is abnormal. Julie Pruitt Barry and Jean Kampas, of the the Real Estate/Land Use and Environmental Litigation practice group suggest landlords deal with tenants who hoard by working out a staged cluttering agreement with them.

    With this form of harm minimization, the clutter is removed in stages and not completely removed. However, it may not be possible for the occupant to cooperate and the best you can do is get them out of the way, so they do not impede the cleanup (and do not suffer the anxiety of seeing all their "stuff" thrown out). Try to avoid the situation, which I found myself in, arguing over the value of retaining each of hundreds of plastic food containers. Reasoning with a hoarder does not work: they want to keep everything. I found I had to destroy and take away items such as plastic food containers, otherwise these would be retrieved.

    Work in Stages

    Clearing a home of stuff can appear an  overwhelming task. Try to work in stages, with aims for each one. The first will be to gain access to areas of the home, clearing a path so you can see what is there and also make it safe to move around.

    I found it useful to clear a path to the back wall in a room, to where the items which had not been used for a long time were located. These items are least likely to be worth keeping (as no one has been able to get near them for decades). Then I worked forward to the more recently used items.

    Wear Protective Clothing

    Make sure you have a covered pair of stout shoes and other protective clothing (a pair of gloves, eye protection, dust mask). Apart from the risks from the accumulated items there will be dirt, dropping from vermin and the effects of the cleaning products you use.

    Take Breaks

    Apart from the hard physical labor, there is the emotional effect of going through large amounts of "stuff". You need to get out and take a break regularly. At one stage I tried to lift a teapot by the handle, but found I could not as my hands hurt from tearing up cardboard boxes.

    Remove the Volume

    It can be very time consuming going through items to decide what is important and what is not. So concentrate on getting rid of large items first, which will quickly reduce the bulk. Surplus furniture, storage cabinets and shelving units take up space and provide somewhere for smaller items to accumulate.

    I found that about 20% of the space in the home was taken up by empty, or almost empty, containers. Typically there would be a large cardboard box, containing smaller boxes, with one or two small items inside. After emptying them, I suggest collapsing the smaller boxes (or tearing them up if there is a risk the hoarder will retrieve them) and putting them in the paper recycling. Use small clear zip-lock bags to hold items of value. This way you will be able to see what you have, whereas if you put them in a box, they will become invisible again. This can become a bit like a jigsaw puzzle: you find a small electrical cable, a few plastic parts, then the mobile phone, or camera they are for.

    Rather than reuse cardboard boxes I found it useful to bring in new boxes for items to be kept. This way the items to be kept would not be mixed up with the material for disposal. Clothing, bed linen and other light items can go in large boxes, but books and the like should go in smaller boxes, otherwise these are too heavy to lift.

    Reuse, Recycle

    It is tempting to simply throw all the material which has not been used for decades in the rubbish. But rubbish disposal costs money and there are social and environmental benefits to reuse and recycling. I found about one third of the material to be thrown out had to go to landfill, of the rest half was plastic/metal and half paper/cardboard for recycling.

    You can try selling items in good condition, but the effort in doing this may not be worth the money made and it can take a long time. Also you can offer items to friends, but then may be simply causing them a storage problem.

    Charities will collect items which can be used in homes of their clients, or resold in stores. However, items must be in good condition and must be something people will want to use or buy. Most charities will not take mains powered electrical items, due to the need for safety checks. Some charities may not take flat pack furniture which has been disassembled.

    Make sure you flatten boxes and plastic bottle as otherwise they will take up a lot of space in the recycling. I found that many small household appliances could be dissembled with a screwdriver and hammer. The plastic case and steel can go in the recycling, whereas the motors go into landfill. In the process of disassembling small appliances I found many were clogged with fluff and dust and showed signs of overheating: a good reason not to try and reuse them.

    Have a Toolkit

    If you are lucky, you will find tools to help with the work in the home. But you may need to bring your own. A folding multi-tool, with a set of pliers, screwdrivers and a blade is very useful. An electric screwdriver helps with disassembling flat-pack furniture. A hammer is needed for stuck parts. A hacksaw is useful for oversize items.

    Have a Cleaning Kit

    Wiping down items with a damp rag is a useful way to keep the dust under control. Floors will need vacuuming and sheds sweeping. Where there have been vermin, you will want to add some bl;each or other disinfectant to the water used for moping and wiping.

    Mold on walls behind items can be removed with bleach. Remember to wear rubber gloves and eye protection.

    Removing Dried Blu-Tack from Walls

    To remove old dried Blu-Tack from walls I found a blade from a box-cutter worked well. Just pulling the Blu-Tack was no use as this took off the paint and part of the wall (there were several walls covered floor to ceiling with hundreds of items). Instead I held the blade at 30 degrees to the wall and cut the Blu-Tack off.

    Holding the blade at 90 degrees, with a damp rag underneath, I scraped a think layer of paint off. Creme cleanser then took off the remaining stain. A wash with sugar soap over hte whole wall then removed any remaining residue. On plastered brick walls, this produced a near new finish. On less solid surfaces it was necessary to repaint (using paint, rollers, brushes and overalls found in the storage shed).

    Using the Local Waste Collection

    If you have the time you can make use of the local waste collection services. Offer to put out your neighbor's bins and fill them with your stuff in the process. Also I found the local waste transfer station charged for general household rubbish, but paper, plastic, computer, paint and chemical recycling was free. Local councils also have occasional collections for large items.

    Pay to Have the Heavy Stuff Taken Away

    After you have reused and recycled what you can, there will still be more than will fit in the bin or you can cart to the transfer yourself. You can pay a company to come and take away what is left. This is not cheap, but has the advantage that someone else does the heavy lifting for you.

    Shred Records and Erase Computer Media

    A major part of cleaning out is deciding what records to keep and what to throw out. As well as several cubic meters of paper records and photos, I had seven computers and thousands of floppy disks, CD and DVD-ROMs to deal with.

    Much of the paper records turned out to be empty space and blank pages. Removing papers from plastic sleeves and under filled ring binders made the problem much more manageable.

    Photographs were a problem as there is no good way to tell an important one from not. But as with paper records, removing excessive packaging makes the problem smaller.

    Paper records which could be disposed of were shredded, where they contained private information.  A medium duty crosscut shredder worked well for this (I found two clogged light duty strip shredders amongst the household items).

    Very old computers turned out to be easy to deal with: if the computer would not boot, then I removed any hard disk and put the rest in for recycling (Australia now has a national computer recycling scheme). To make the old hard disks unreadable I hammered a large chisel though the disk platter.

    For the four working computers dealing with the user data was an impossible problem.  It was not possible to go through the hundreds of thousands of flies to work out what might be important. So instead I transferred all files to a USB external 2TB drive and a backup on an existing 1TB drive. In a sense this is a form of digital hoarding, just delaying the problem. But this reduces the physical volume of material to be kept, from the size of several large suitcases, to pocket size.

    With data copied from the hard disks, I then erased disks, using a special program to overwrite them so the data could not be recovered. These computers were then ready for reuse or recycling.

    Dealing with CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs was also an impossible problem. There was no way to check the contents of hundreds of disks. Instead I recycled the jewel cases and put the disks on spindles holding 50 or 100. This reduced the volume of material to a manageable level. Curiously while some of the Jewell cases had carefully prepared labels listing the contents, all those cases were empty, making them useless.

    The thousands of floppy disks were another impossible problem. Those which appeared important were kept (even though there is probably no way to read them).  Surplus hard case 3.5 inch disks I put in a vice and cut thorough  with a hacksaw, to make unreadable. I found that I could pull the magnetic media out of a 5.25 inch disk with two fingers and then feed it into the shredder, but this proved tiring after a few hundred disks. Previously I have used a tape-eraser, which also works on floppy disks, but these appear to be no longer available.

    Look to Your Own Hoarding Before Criticizing Others

    It is easy to criticize the behavior of others, but all of us in a consumer society are at risk of being hoarders. After the experience of clearing out many cubic metres of "stuff" I found I had a mild form of post-traumatic stress disorder: going into a retail store and looking at all the items stacked for sale I had a panic reaction, thinking of how hard they would be to dispose of.