When you hear "censor" these days, I would imagine most people think of the little devices in for instance smartphones that detect movement, temperature, and more and not the person who has been delegated to decide what we can watch, read and listen to.

Or which video games we can play too for that matter.

We do have a chief censor though, and he has been stirring lately. Slingshot is in the sights of Dr Andrew Jack who is apparently considering prosecuting the internet provider for the Global Mode service which bypasses geo-blocking and lets Kiwis watch paid material not otherwise available in the country.

Read also:
Censor eyes 'global mode' internet access
TV networks scramble after Slingshot's Netflix move

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Unclassified material, I should add. Global Mode provides access to stuff that the censor's office has yet to watch, and that seems to be a really bad thing.

I agree with InternetNZ that the chief censor is going over the top here: Global Mode is not a broadcast or video on demand service provider, and not even the conduit for the content. It just provides access to unclassified material.

Airlines that fly passengers to country where they are able to watch unclassified material fall into that category too. There are video game delivery services like Steam that may contain unclassified content.

If it is deemed that services like Global Mode fall can be prosecuted by the censor for providing access to unclassified material, it could be used as an anti-competitive tool.

Complaint to the censor by competing providers and telcos who want to close down services like Global Mode to favour their own pay per view or on-demand content service which shows classified content is not inconceivable at all.

It's quite ironic that the censor's office might be able to close down Global Mode when Big Content has failed to do so.

Where does it stop though? What about providers and users of encrypted Virtual Private Network (VPNs) connections which among other things are used to bypass geo-blocking and most likely transmit unclassified material to New Zealanders? Should they be prosecuted too?

In fact, Internet providers in general act as conduits for unclassified material. Think that thought through.

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Going viral

Hanging out at esoteric conferences such as the Association of Anti-Virus Researchers or AVAR one in Sydney this week is rather fun, believe it or not.

AVAR is a gathering of brilliant minds focused on IT security and you learn a lot about not just computer viruses, malware and networked advanced persistent threats, but also human behaviour and psychology and this year's conference didn't disappoint.

So much so that I was perhaps a little surprised that there would be a conference in the first place. There aren't that many great anti-virus and security researchers in the world and putting them all into one place at the same time is a juicy physical target for cyber criminals, surely?

IT security firm ESET's chief technology officer Pavel Luka estimated that while the AV industry is about US$5 billion in size, the best figures he has for the "bad guys" say they're raking in at least $6 billion.

Big business in other words, and an incentive for the bad guys to facilitate it if you see what I mean.

Stemming that business which is purely destructive and devoid of ethics is an uphill struggle for security companies - the number of new malware detected each day has grown to a whopping 350,000 a day, apparently, and shows no sign of ebbing.

No wonder then that the AV crowd were nostalgic about the days not so many years ago when their VXer (virus exchanger, later virus creator) adversaries only managed to pump out a few hundred pieces of malware every month.

Speaking to the AV researchers, they seem resigned to the fact that things will get worse, possibly quite a bit so, before improving and that it'll be many more years before a combination of precautionary measures and also, less gullibility and blind trust from users will prevail.

That's being dark, so here's a merry ditty delivered by world famous anti-virus and security consultant Graham "Wibbling" Cluley as shot by yours truly with sound and editing by the incomparable Stilgherrian.


App users: Tap here to watch a video of the AntiVirus Industry Song
Juha Saarinen attended AVAR 2014 as a guest of ESET.