All posts by 12Bytes

The Pirate Bay and its cryptocurrency mining script – why this might be the best thing since DOOM

People are now creating scripts to mine cryptocurrencies using your computing power while you visit any websites which employ these scripts. I first learned about this when The Pirate Bay used such a script in certain sections of their website.

This is an extremely interesting development and it will be just as interesting to see how wide-spread it becomes. Just days after TPB was found running such a script, there was already a cryptocurrency miner WordPress plug-in on wordpress.org with 300+ active installs as of Sep. 27, 2017.

At first i categorized this as outright malware and, in fact, i would say this was accurate in the case of The Pirate Bay when they introduced it secretively and didn’t make it an opt-in option for its users. It also appears that ad-blockers, including uBlock Origin, as well as anti-virus software vendors, are targeting these mining scripts. After giving it some thought however, this seems like it might be an excellent way for independent journalists and others to generate some “cash” to support their work whilst dumping, or at least cutting back on their intrusive ads.

The company apparently responsible for all the hub-bub is Coinhive and, frankly, i very much like what they have to say about their cryptocurrency miner. There are millions of people — me being one of them — running ad-blockers to remove all the in-your-face garbage that people and corporations use to monetize their websites and the service offered by Coinhive could be a revolution in this regard in that everyone, from the Google’s of the world to individuals like yourself, could monetize websites and services with cryptocurrency miners that are virtually transparent to their visitors. I say “virtually” because i think it is absolutely critical that such mining scripts only run if the visitor chooses to run them. Apparently Coinhive feels the same way. Here’s some comments from the Coinhive blog:

Our goal was to offer a viable alternative to intrusive and annoying ads that litter so many websites today. These ads are not only a distraction to end users, but also provide notoriously unpredictable and non-transparent revenue numbers. We set out to change that.

[…]

We’re a bit saddened to see that some of our customers integrate Coinhive into their pages without disclosing to their users what’s going on, let alone asking for their permission. We believe there’s so much more potential for our solution, but we have to be respectful to our end users.

[…]

It’s probably too late to do anything about the adblockers that already prevent our current JavaScript from loading. Instead, we will focus on a new implementation that requires an explicit opt-in from the end user to run. We will verify this opt-in on our servers and will implement it in a way that it can not be circumvented. We will pledge to keep the opt-in in tact at all times, without exceptions.

I like their ethics and motivation for creating this service. Their privacy policy is also very good, at least for the time being.

Right now i’m blocking these scripts, but hopefully this will change in the future.

So you’re looking to make a small splash in the cryptocurrency pool? Try this…

I wanted to finally get in on the cryptocurrency ‘thing’ and so i started poking around and found several guides that discussed how to buy a cryptocurrency, primarily Bitcoin. One of the better guides i found is 101+ Best Ways to Buy Bitcoins Online in 2017. After spending a lot of time looking at these coin brokers and reviewing their “privacy” policies and what personal information they required, i got rather disgusted with the whole thing. And then i thought about another approach…

Why not just find a private party that has the cryptocurrency i wanted and offer to trade for dollars? And so i emailed one of my favorite independent journalists/analysts and said “hey, if i donate $60 to you, will you send me $50 in Bitcoin and you can keep the $10?”. For me this was a win-win-win thing because the $10 went toward a worthy cause instead of some cryptocurrency broker and i got my coin and i didn’t have to create any website accounts or give up any personal information.

So if you’re looking to make a small splash in the cryptocurrency pool, you might want to try my method.

Good luck!

Update: Firefox Configuration Guide for Privacy Freaks and Performance Buffs

The article, Firefox Configuration Guide for Privacy Freaks and Performance Buffs, has heavily been updated with new information while other parts were edited to bring the information up to date. The most important changes include the addition of two sections, one dealing with how to sanitize the default search engines that ship with Firefox and another which details how to remove unwanted system add-ons which are packaged with the browser and install themselves without prompting the user.

I am currently testing Waterfox with the guide and so far, so good. Waterfox is a 64 bit web browser for Linux, Mac and Windows that, though based on Firefox, is more privacy-centric than Firefox. Its features include the removal of Telemetry and Pocket, as well as other methods which collect user data.

Truth and Lies

YAMR (Yet Another Mozilla Rant) – Battling “fake news”

This is it folks. This is a ‘rotten cherry on the top of the stinking cake’ moment with a big fat pit right in the middle of it.

I recently learned that the multi-million dollar Mozilla corporation has decided that i (and you) are idiots; that we are incapable of analyzing news stories in order to determine whether they are creditable; that we should be reading the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times and the like to get our “news”. And so Mozilla has decided that it is they, the developers of a freaking web browser, that should step in to help steer us back on the right track by saving us from … FAKE NEWS!

Yes, on 8 August, 2017, the Mozilla foundation launched their incarnation of the Great Firewall of China by deciding to combat “fake news” via The Mozilla Information Trust Initiative, aka MITI. And what news does the Mozilla Information Trust Initiative consider “fake news”? Well, apparently any news that doesn’t originate from a mainstream source:

Imagine this: Two news articles are shared simultaneously online.

The first is a deeply reported and thoroughly fact checked story from a credible news-gathering organization. Perhaps Le Monde, the Wall Street Journal, or Süddeutsche Zeitung.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL!?!? “… a deeply reported and thoroughly fact checked story …“. Are You Kidding Me Right Now!

Let’s just have a quick look at the track record of the Wall Street Journal which, by the way, is essentially as biased and corrupt as any other mainstream government/corporate mouthpiece:

20 Reasons Not to Trust the Journal Editorial Page | FAIR (1-Sep-1995)

When Anita Hill took a polygraph test to try to substantiate her charges of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas, the Wall Street Journal attacked her in an editorial (10/15/91) titled “Credibility Gulch”: “Lie detector tests are so unreliable they are rarely allowed as evidence in court.”

But just eight months later (6/9/92), when the Journal argued against an Iran/Contra perjury indictment of former secretary of Defense (and editorial page contributor) Caspar Weinberger, this was its main evidence for Weinberger’s innocence: “Mr. Weinberger has taken and passed a lie-detector test on the matter.”

[…]

The Continuing Decline of McDonald’s : The Corbett Report (10-Jan-2017)

The global giant’s [McDonald’s] influential PR machine has used sleight-of-hand and other tricks to make this restructuring look like a smash success. They used their cheerleaders at the Wall Street Journal to hype “stronger-than-expected” profit and sales figures and their boosters at US News & World Report to hype some highly-selective earnings comparisons suggesting that this “turnaround” is, to use the WSJ’s phrase, “sustainable.”

But one doesn’t have to scratch too hard to reveal the rusty reality beneath this PR paint job.

Wall Street Journal circulation scam claims senior Murdoch executive | Media | The Guardian (12-Oct-2011)

One of Rupert Murdoch’s most senior European executives has resigned following Guardian inquiries about a circulation scam at News Corporation’s flagship newspaper, the Wall Street Journal.

The Guardian found evidence that the Journal had been channelling money through European companies in order to secretly buy thousands of copies of its own paper at a knock-down rate, misleading readers and advertisers about the Journal’s true circulation.

WSJ sourced Obama skinny quotes from Yahoo Message Boards (4-Aug-2008)

A journalist at the Wall Street Journal has been caught sourcing quotes for an article on Barak Obama being too thin to be President from a Yahoo Message Board.

In the article Too Fit to be President?, Wall Street Journal political correspondent Amy Chozick endeavored in the best News Corp tabloid style to create a story around the rather bizarre notion that voters wouldn’t vote for Obama because he was too thin, saying that “some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them.”

In the piece, she includes the quote “I won’t vote for any beanpole guy,” and originally didn’t attribute the source. Sadly No reports that the source was a Yahoo Message Board where Chozick actually asked for negative comments using her own name:

Plagiarizing? If the President Can Do it, Why Can’t We? – Lawyers.com (28-Dec-2009)

An online columnist for the Wall Street Journal was caught plagiarizing. Freelance writer Mona Sarika, who wrote the “New Global Indian” online column, used content from the Washington Post, Little India, India Today and San Francisco magazine.

Sarika copied direct quotes from other articles, without providing sources. She also changed the original speakers’ names apparently making up new ones.

WSJ Fakes a Green Shift Toward Nuclear Power | FAIR (24-Jun-2016)

The Wall Street Journal has a long history of editorial page support for nuclear power (4/17/01; 8/5/09; 11/9/09; 4/6/11; 5/24/13, to cite but a few) and against wind power (5/22/06, 3/1/10, 8/24/10, 11/8/12, 5/18/14 and others). In publishing this piece as edited, perhaps it is telling a story it wishes were true. As Harder’s article itself acknowledges, nuclear power is in decline due to a combination of economics, displacement by renewables and opposition. The green groups’ supposed change of heart “comes at a critical time, as several financially struggling reactors are set to shut down” even as other reactors already have, due to the low price of natural gas and state policies “that favor renewables over nuclear power.” As if to prove that point, the story provided a list of a dozen reactors that have been or will soon be shut down.

At Wall Street Journal, Government-Enforced Monopolies = ‘Free Market’ | FAIR (22-Jul-2015)

Ingram bizarrely touts the “flowing pipeline of new wonder drugs spurred by a free market,” which he warns will be stopped by “government price controls.” This juxtaposition is bizarre, because patent monopolies are 180 degrees at odds with the free market. These monopolies are a government policy to provide incentives for innovation. Ingram obviously likes this policy, but that doesn’t make it the “free market.”

Yes, Wall Street Journal, It’s Possible to Be Not Generous Enough | FAIR (10-Mar-2015)

The Wall Street Journal is soon to run a piece on improper denials of disability claims.

That’s inevitable, since any fair-minded newspaper that ran a column on improper approvals would surely want to balance it out.

At Wall Street Journal, Reporting Assault Through Israel’s Eyes | FAIR (13-Jul-2013)

In a news report on the Israeli military’s investigation of its own deadly raid on the Gaza aid flotilla, the Wall Street Journal (7/13/10) passes off as fact, with no qualifier, the Israeli government’s claim that members of IHH, a Turkish humanitarian organization, “attacked the Israeli soldiers as they boarded the ship.”

On Islamist Terrorism, WSJ Entitled to Its Own Opinions—But Not Its Own Facts | FAIR (16-Mar-2011)

This is a complete misrepresentation of the Rand report. The report is exclusively about Muslim radicalization and jihadism, not about domestic terrorism in general, as the WSJ would lead you to believe—if anything, it’s surprising that there are any non-Muslim jihadist plotters. (The exceptions were two men who agreed for their own secular purposes to collaborate with undercover FBI informants purporting to work for Al-Qaeda.)

The vast majority of “homegrown” terrorist attackers—those of all ideologies who successfully carry out an attack—are not Muslim, the report finds: Of the “83 terrorist attacks in the United States between 9/11 and the end of 2009, only three…were clearly connected with the jihadist cause.”

I could go on and on for months and months digging out the literal fake news pumped out by the Wall Street Journal or any other mainstream publication, but you can do that yourself if you’re so inclined. The point is, it is the mainstream media that is garbage; that is FAKE NEWS. Why? Simple: greed. Whenever there is greed involved — greed for money or greed for power or greed for control — there will always be corruption. Now granted, there is certainly boatloads of disinformation and misinformation all over the world wide web, but mixed in there are also some highly ethical people and small organizations that actually report the facts and back them with references. And who the hell is a multi-million dollar corporation (Mozilla) to dictate to you or i who is creditable and who is not? I have been watching probably an average of 50-100 news sites almost daily for many years and as a result of studying these sites and fact checking their content, i can confidently suggest some real news sites to follow if you’re interested:

How about NPR, Mozilla? Are they a creditable resource? I’ll bet they are in your eyes.

It is sites like those listed above that are actively being targeted by war-mongering, self-serving, psychopathic globalists who profit from endless war and stunting the development of the human species. The truth is irrelevant; all that matters is that you and i swallow whatever story it is that supports whatever agenda is being promoted at the moment by whatever government or corporation promoting it and now, to my surprise, even Mozilla has joined the ranks of those that want to control what information is available on the web, an architecture that was built with the free flow of information at its heart.

There must be some sort of funding that is being dished out to those willing to get on the “fake news” bandwagon. There is quite obviously a huge push to combat so-called “fake news” and return the masses to digesting the puke that spews out of the rancid bellies of corporate giants like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and all the rest of the mainstream presstitutes. Facebook, Google, Youtube – they are all doing the same thing. Are they getting paid to censor? Is Mozilla getting paid to take part in this? I don’t know, but i just may dig in and find out one of these days.

From The Mozilla Information Trust Initiative article:

This is why we’re launching MITI. We’re investing in people, programs, and projects that disrupt misinformation online.

Why Mozilla? The spread of misinformation violates nearly every tenet of the Mozilla Manifesto, our guiding doctrine.

Disrupt? So you want to use your corporate leverage to “disrupt” the flow of information? Sounds a lot like censorship, doesn’t it? Is that the principle on which the internet was built? From the Mozilla Manifesto:

The Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible.

Well tell us Mozilla, how is it that the internet can remain open and equally accessible when corporate gate-keepers intend to steer the rest of us in a direction that benefits the powerful few and leads to total information control for the rest of us?

I think i’ll take their survey once again. In the mean time, go screw yourself Mozilla – i’ll do my own homework and decide what’s fake news and what isn’t.

New tut: Firefox Search Engine Cautions and Recommendations

A new tutorial has been published titled Firefox Search Engine Cautions and Recommendations which covers the risks to your privacy when using any of the major search engines in general, but specifically when using the default search engine plugins that are packaged with the Firefox web browser, though this problem is certainly not limited to Firefox. I also cover how to circumvent the risks to your privacy when using the default Firefox search engine plugins, as well as make suggestions for alternative search engines.

I have to say that i’m becoming more and more disillusioned with the multi-million dollar Mozilla corporation and its flagship product, Firefox. Firefox was never a great web browser in my opinion, but it is/was appealing to many because of how completely customizable it is. In it’s earlier days it was just a little slow and buggy, but more recently Mozilla is making highly unethical choices with regard to the privacy-hating corporations they willingly partner with and how these partnerships have manifested and have been monetized in Firefox is a result of utter stupidity and greed in my opinion. I stuck with Firefox all these years because it has always been one of the most hackable browsers out there, but these days i stick with it primarily because i’m not (yet) able to reproduce the functionality i have added to it via add-ons with any other browser, and Chrome is out of the question, much less Google’s spyware version of it.

It’s sad and frustrating that a company who produced a decent, super-highly customizable browser for a niche market has lost its way and turned its back on the very market it once served by deciding to become a Google Chrome clone in order to appeal to the masses.

Screw you Mozilla.

But let’s end on a lighter note, shall we? Here, have a look.