Asian-American Hatred Turns Tragic

Hatemail: Newsletter and Intel from the LaBac Hacker Collective

Shooting Heightens Fears Amid Anti-Asian Violence

On Tuesday, eight people were killed by a white gunman who opened fire at three different massage parlors in Georgia. Six of the eight victims were Asian women. Seven of them were women. At the time of publishing, police have maintained that the motive of the shooter remains unclear. It has also been implied by police and by news reporting that some of the victims may have been sex workers, though the occupations of some the victims officially remain undisclosed. The police have so far parroted the narrative brought forward by the shooter. We will continue to watch and find the facts around the circumstance of this massacre. 

More information will surely be revealed over the next few days, but the following should still be stated: 

Tuesday’s shooting was a misogynic attack on women and femme people. It was also an attack rooted in histories of colonialism, the fetishization of Asian women, and socio-political disregard for the working class – sex workers in particular (with the understanding that questions still remain around some of the victims’ occupations). All of these elements are informed by anti-Asian racism in various ways, and we recognize this attack as an act of racialized and gendered hate.

New information may alter how the public processes this tragic shooting, but the shock and anger expressed by impacted communities will remain valid in a system that has continually disregarded the lives of Asians and sex workers even before this tragedy.

We humbly ask readers, with means and resources, to consider donating to one or more of the following organizations: Red Canary Song, Butterfly, SWAN Vancouver, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Atlanta.

Major Hacks and Ensuing Fall Out 

  • [The Hill] Embedded devices, which include common device categories like the “Internet of Things” or connected devices, are growing in popularity with American consumers. Naturally, this means that the attack surface is growing as well. This well-researched piece from the Red Balloon Security CEO Ang Cui does an excellent job summing up the attack vectors for all the computers we tend to forget about.

  • [Reuters] [arsTechnica] Security researchers typically have no qualms sharing with peers; it’s the most academic part of the industry. That’s why many in the community were surprised when GitHub removed a published exploit for an ongoing security vulnerability in Microsoft’s email software. Many think that Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub played a part in deciding whether the code should stay up or not.

  • [Wall Street Journal] [arsTechnica] That Microsoft vulnerability is major in that there seems to be a fair amount of organizations exposed to it. Because of the prevalence of hackers attempting to exploit the vulnerability, Microsoft is now probing whether information about the vulnerability was communicated sooner than they had originally planned.

Online Disinformation and Hate Campaigns

  • [Wall Street Journal] Vaccines have proven to be a dramatically effective tool against the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite this, Russian disinformation about vaccines manufactured by Western companies seems to be making the rounds on the internet, with experts now citing Russia as a major perpetrator of the spread of the disinformation materials.

  • [The Verge] Likewise, a team of Facebook researchers have found that a small group of users are responsible for the majority of Covid-19 vaccine disinformation. Even more alarming, some of this content isn’t being removed by Facebook.

  • [NPR] Meanwhile, researchers at NYU have determined that a majority of information spread from far-right sources on Facebook was misinformation. The same phenomenon was observed on the far-left, though not to the same degree. We wonder, is there an information deficit that tracks along the political pendulum?

  • [The Intercept] This write-up on Gab, the far-right social media platform that was recently hacked, is based on data provided to the reporter by the hackers. The data provides a rich look into the communities Gab hosted, and how extreme they could get.

On Our Radar...

  • [arsTechnica] In our last issue of Hatemail, we wrote about the digital porn industry and argued in favor of indie porn outlets – and against popular “tube sites” like Pornhub for not protecting sex workers and for, until recently, hosting nonconsensual content and footage of real abuse on its site.  This investigation by reporter Bianca Bruno uncovers more details about the GirlsDoPorn fraud scheme and how the women victimized by it worked together to take it down. 

  • [Vice] Journalist Joseph Cox explores a major flaw in SMS that allows hackers to easily reroute text messages via a messaging service designed to help businesses send alerts, marketing campaigns and confirmations to customers all for $16. The flaw also allows hackers to take over social accounts (such as Bumble and WhatsApp) associated with the rerouted phone number. 

  • [Consumer Reports] Digital and cybersecurity are critical in protecting the information of people who are in abusive relationships or have left abusers. Technology is increasingly being used as a monitoring tool by abusers, some of who may even install stalkerware on devices used by their target. Tech reporter Yael Grauer has put together a few ways individuals can lock down their phones and mitigate stalkerware threats. 

  • [PennLive] A disturbing story about cyber abuse and deepfakes: Earlier this month police arrested Raffaela Spone, a 50-year-old woman residing in Pennsylvania, for spreading fake photos and videos of her teenage daughter’s cheerleading teammates in an attempt to get them kicked off the team. After determining that the photos and videos were deepfakes, law enforcement traced them back to Spone’s cellphone and subsequently charged her with several counts of harassment and cyber harassment of a child.

Hate speech website: youtube[.]com

Who hosts: YouTube, Google

According to YouTube themselves, the shooter in the Atlanta massacre had an account that the site’s trust and safety team flagged for removal. It is not known what kind of activity existed on the page and its behavior, but given how big of a role YouTube typically plays in racist mass shootings, we’re going to go ahead and say they win for this week’s “Who Hosts Hate”.

See a list of known white identitarian  YouTube channels here.

Abusability: Designing for Human-Centered Security (Thursday, March 18 - 1 pm ET) - This workshop at the annual MozzFest tech conference will examine the ways that tech can make an actual difference by accounting for abuse rather than reacting to it. [Attend]

PancakesCon: Removing Nudes with Law and Cyber, AND how to (fake) DJ (Sunday, March 21 - 10:45 am ET) - Farah and Aaron from LaBac will be speaking at PancakesCon, with an instructional portion on how we typically try to get sexual imagery removed for folks. (PancakesCon is a beginner's security conference that requires speakers to talk about 2 totally unrelated things in one talk). [Attend]