After just about two years of writing, hacking, analyzing data, writing some more, and editing, I'm ridiculously excited to announce that I'm now a published author! As of today, my book Hacks, Leaks, and Revelations is for sale.
Technically, the official release date is January 9, 2024, but it ships today if you order it directly from the publisher, No Starch Press (the physical book includes the DRM-free ebook too). If you order it from anywhere else, like bookshop.org to support independent bookshops, or Amazon if you want the Kindle version, it will be available January 9.
On Saturday, I published an article for The Intercept about how the Anti-Defamation League has included dozens of Gaza ceasefire protests that were organized by progressive Jews in its map of "antisemitic incidents and anti-Israel rallies," alongside genuine antisemitic vandalism, harassment, and assault by neo-Nazis.
ADL doesn't publish its raw data, but I managed to get it anyway while doing this reporting. In the spirit of sharing data journalism skills, I will show you exactly how I extracted it from the map.
In the 1970s, some wingnuts founded a UFO cult called Raëlism. It's an atheistic religion that believes that aliens called the Elohim created humanity on Earth using advanced technology. Raëlism was started in France but has since became an international cult. They proposed building an embassy for the Elohim, complete with a spaceship landing pad, in Israel. However, the Israeli government wasn't too keen on the idea because the Raëlism symbol includes a swastika in it -- a hate symbol mostly widely associated with Nazi Germany, though the symbol first originated in ancient religions like Hinduism in India.
About a month ago I started working on an OnionShare release, documenting the entire arduous process. It's always a painful process, but it's absolutely bonkers how much work has gone into this release.
A few weeks ago I intended to make an OnionShare release, documenting the entire arduous process. I made a lot of progress, but then ran into endless problems getting the Flatpak packaging working and so decided to delay the release. Now I'm back at it. In this post I will finish tackling Flatpak and start tackling the Windows and macOS releases.
I've spent the last two years writing Hacks, Leaks, and Revelations: The Art of Analyzing Hacked and Leaked Data, a book that teaches journalists, researchers, and hacktivists how to report on leaked datasets! Datasets like these get dumped online literally every day (much of it published by DDoSecrets), but few people have the technical skills to download it and uncover its secrets. I'm hoping to change that.
In August, I gave a talk at the DEF CON 31 Misinformation Village about one of the case studies from my book called Pandemic Profiteers and COVID-19 Disinformation, where I explain in detail how I analyzed hacked data from the anti-vax group America's Frontline Doctors ("the horse paste peddlers" that were "hilariously easy to hack," according to my source). They raked in millions of dollars selling ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, all while telling their supporters that COVID-19 vaccines are deadly and convincing them that things like wearing masks during a pandemic was a violation of their rights. My reporting led to a Congressional investigation into them.
In the nine years (!) that I've been working on OnionShare, a growing community of contributors have taken on more and more of the work, but I'm still the only one who has actually made any releases. I'm hoping to change that. Even though OnionShare is established open source software, making a release is an extremely cumbersome process. This blog post (and the ones after) documents all the work I'm doing to make the OnionShare 2.6.1 release. This way others who will take over making releases in the future (and anyone interested in releasing open source desktop software) can see what goes into it.
It's been nearly six months since Elon Musk threw one of his first tantrums as the King of Twitter and banned me (along with a bunch of other journalists) for tweeting about him censoring Mastodon. A few days later he "reinstated" my account but I was still locked out until I agreed to delete my forbidden tweet that the billionaire didn't like. And I've been locked out ever since.
This weekend I went to BSides SF 2023 and had a blast. I went to some really interesting talks (including an excellent one about adversarial machine learning), but mostly I spent my time solving CTF hacking challenges. And this time, I did it with the help of GPT-4, the latest generation of OpenAI's ChatGPT generative language model. GPT-4 straight up solved some challenges for me, which blew my mind. There were definitely several flags I got that I wouldn't have gotten without the help of GPT-4. For challenges that GPT-4 didn't solve on its own, it provided incredibly helpful tips, or quickly wrote scripts that would have been tedious or time consuming for me to write myself. Good thing there's (almost) no such thing as cheating in CTF!
An archived Twitter thread from December 2, 2022