Workshop: ShareLab (https://labs.rs/en/)
Title : Exploitation Forensics
Dates: 15/16 november 2018
Location: Thursday 5008-138 / Friday 5008-131 (Helsingforsgade 8, 8200 Aarhus N)
Abstract: Exploitation Forensics is a collection of maps, documents and methodologies created as a result of investigations conducted in the last few years by the SHARE Lab. In form of the lecture and workshop we will explore the invisible layers of contemporary technological black boxes and their fractal supply chains, exposing various forms of hidden labor and the exploitation of material resources and data.
PART ONE: Network Topology and Tracking Forensics
In this segment, which is crucial for further understanding of the rest of the workshop, the emphasis is on the process of network topologies and data flow mapping. With the help of various methodologies and tools for mapping we will learn how to map and visualize structure of different Internet service providers (ISP) and their interconnections, that allow us to create a visual view of the invisible infrastructure hidden within the global network. By reading and interpreting these maps we will be able to detect the structure, forms of centralization, monitoring points and power relations within these technological systems. Through the tracerouting of individual Internet packages, we will discover step by step the story of physical infrastructure embodied in millions of kilometers of cables, huge impersonal and dehumanized facilities for data storage and analysis and various parasitic systems of the surveillance economy. The shapes and topographies of communication networks - which we will explore in this whole program - represent a reflection of complex geopolitical and economic relations, colonial and neocolonial practices, and one of the modern metrics of power.
PART TWO: Email Metadata Analysis (Do-It-Yourself NSA)
The metadata represent one of the basic resources in the processes of exploitation, monitoring and control in the digital environment. What are the opportunities and risks in the context of individual privacy and what is revealed by the meta-data analysis are the questions raised in this segment of the workshop. We will play with a sample of over 100,000 once private now public emails of one of the most notorious cyber-weapon manufacturing companies in the World. Through the unique Do-It-Yourself NSA style of data analysis, we will investigate their organizational structure, the main actors in communication, create their network communication graphs, investigate the locations of the individual actors and their patterns and behavioral anomalies. The results of this analysis process will be presented in a series of visualizations that represent a specific meta-portrait of this murky organization.
PART THREE: Browsing Surveillance
In his 2005 study, the industry analyst John Battelle describes Google as a ‘database of intentions’, ‘a massive clickstream database of desires, needs, wants, and preferences that can be discovered, subpoenaed, archived, tracked, and exploited for all sorts of ends’. Exploring search queries from someone’s browsing history can give us some clues about this common relationship, probably the most personal one, between a person’s mind and this giant company. We are creatures of habit, and we tend to create repetitions and patterns in our everyday behaviour. We tend to go to bed and wake up at similar times, to create our morning routines and create rituals of our social interactions. Since many segments of our lives are mediated by technology, those patterns are replicated and visible through the different digital footprints. In this session we will explore, analyse and visualize browsing history sample of one journalist. We will try to deep dive into his thoughts and patterns of behaviour. This part of the program is about the power of ISPs, companies such as Google and various governments that can have access to our browsing history data.
PART FOUR: Mapping Information Warfare
Technical infrastructure, processes of analysis and exploitation of data explored in the previous segments form an environment and architecture that is used for different forms of information and disinformation production as well as different forms of information warfare. Based on collected data and monitoring reports about various forms of technical attacks on online media and journalists in the past four years, we will try to visualize and quantify various forms and methods of information and psychological warfare in the context of modern information technologies. This series of visualizations and maps will cover various forms of interventions, attacks, tools and methodologies used in this process. Data collected during analysis of DDOS attacks on technical infrastructure, data traces of systematic manipulation of public discourse in the comments on media sites, activities of human and artificial groups and systems for manipulation and the role of mediators in communication, such as social networks and content browsers, are visualized here.
PART FIVE: Investigating Corporate Black Boxes
Systems based on artificial intelligence and big data analysis are increasingly used to replace human decision making. Therefore, questions about algorithmic ethics, accountability and transparency are becoming more and more important. One of the largest global systems based on the algorithmic process of production and moderation is the Facebook social network with about 2 billion users in 2018. What is happening inside the invisible walls of this complex algorithmic machine? This question will be posed in this part of the program. We will explore a unique map that describes the process of exploiting user data, storage and algorithmic data processing. This map represents the visualization of a process in which the behavior and activities of the individual, their immaterial work, is transformed with the help of algorithms in the product and the mechanism of control. We will then learn how to investigate thousands of publicly available patents of the internet giants in order to have a clue about architecture of their surveillance economy factories.
Vladan Joler is SHARE Foundation founder and professor at the New Media department of the University of Novi Sad. He is leading SHARE Lab, a research and data investigation lab for exploring different technical and social aspects of algorithmic transparency, digital labour exploitation, invisible infrastructures, black boxes, and many other contemporary phenomena on the intersection between technology and society.
Andrej Petrovski holds a MSc degree in Digital Forensics and is currently Director of Tech at SHARE Foundation (sharefoundation.info). He leads the Computer Emergency Response Team - SHARE CERT in helping journalists, media and CSOs in becoming more resilient in the digital environment, as well as providing legal and technical aid in cases of a cyber attack. He has authored numerous publications on Cybersecurity and Data Protection and has participated in recommending policies in the process of accession of Serbia to the EU (Chapters 23 and 24). He has also been working on issues related to Open Data, Copyright, as well as researching internet phenomena and creating multimedia content with a multidisciplinary team gathered around SHARE Lab (labs.rs).
SHARE Lab is a small, independent research and data investigation group exploring various technical aspects of the intersection between technology and society. They use a variety of research and forensics methods to map the landscapes of surveillance capitalism, exploring black boxes and contemporary forms of power and the exploitation of labour, material resources and quantified nature.