CryptoAUSTRALIA’s 2017 Year in Review and Future Plans

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Written By Gabor Szathmari

Wow, 2017 was a wild ride! CryptoAUSTRALIA is one-year-old this month, and we could not have done it without the generous support of the community. In this article, we express our gratitude to our friends and outline our exciting plans for 2018.

Wow, 2017 was a wild ride! CryptoAUSTRALIA is one-year-old this month, and we could not have done it without the generous support of the community. In this article, we express our gratitude to our friends and outline our exciting plans for 2018.

A Year Full of Events

This year we have been busy with bringing you a range of exciting talks and workshops. We kicked off the year with Roland Wen’s presentation about election hacking, as a reflection of the scandal around the US presidential elections. The following month, our guests had a chance to learn how they could sanitise their social media presence before job interviews or cross-border travels.

In May, we brought the privacy community together for Privacy Awareness Week with an insightful panel discussion with Dr Elizabeth Coombs [1]Dr Suelette Dreyfus [2]Jon Lawrence [3]David Vaile [4], and Professor Brian Martin [5]. The panel shared their thoughts on issues threatening the privacy of Australian citizens, such as the metadata retention scheme.

We also had a chance to welcome Stephen Blanks (NSWCCL), who gave us his insight into the lack of protection of fundamental rights in Australia. Julie Posetti also shared the findings from her UNESCO study about information source protection in the digital age. Additionally, we organised a joint-event with The Walkley Foundation, where journalists had a chance to learn secure communication practices and to develop metadata sanitisation skills.

We also covered numerous other technical areas with the hands-on workshops, such as secure communication by using the Matrix secure-chat platform, intrusion detection with honey tokens, and ad-blocking with Pi-hole. We finished off the year with an event demonstrating how breach data is routinely used to hack individuals. Besides our speakers, we would also like to thank our workshop instructors, namely Alexi ChiotisKate GoldenAdel Karimi and Daniel Reddi for their efforts.

Lastly, we would like to say a big thank you to Dr Suelette Dreyfus (Blueprint for Free Speech[6]) and Robin Doherty (ThoughtWorks) for bringing Marcy Wheeler to the CryptoParty event in Melbourne. Marcy (also known as @emptywheel) is an independent US journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. Due to the incredible efforts of Suelette and Robin, the Melbourne community had a chance to hear Marcy’s insights on the upcoming legislation changes affecting the Five Eyes Alliance.

We would also like to express our gratitude to all our volunteers for helping us this year, including Zoltan BalazsAndy BennettPeter BorbelyKarissa BreenMichael van CoppenhagenJohn GerardosDenis KhoshabaPawan KumarTakahiro NeiPeter Tonoli and Ed Yuwono for their dedication and passion.

We thank our very generous financial sponsors for helping us succeed. First of all, NCryptcellular for supporting us throughout this year. We thank Mercury ISSNTT Security and NCryptcellular (again!) for making the Privacy Awareness Event happen. We’d also like to thank Fishburners and Infopeople for generously allowing us the use of their spaces for events.

Lastly, we are grateful for all the support we received from the fantastic community. Our events could not have happened without your generous support both online and offline.

What Will the Year 2018 Bring?

In the next year, our goal is to focus on two main directions: events and projects. We will continue our tradition of bringing exciting speakers and workshops to the the general public. In addition to the events, however, we plan to expand our activities into research.

Workshops FTW

Our privacy is in danger, and this is not going away soon. State-sponsored hacking, mass-surveillance, metadata retention and cyber-crime are just a few things invading our privacy on a daily basis. In addition, governments have started pushing tech companies into backdooring their secure communication platforms (e.g. WhatsApp). To add insult to injury, private companies are now referring to our personal data as ‘the new oil’ that is fuelling the digital economy.

As a reflection to these threats invading our privacy, we intend to organise more hands-on workshops over the next year. We believe in the learning-by-doing approach, and reckon that we should possess the necessary skills to defend our privacy until data governance policies change for the better.

So keep an eye on our Events page for the latest workshops. If you are interested in being a workshop instructor on a one-off or regular basis, then please email us at [email protected]. In case you are keen on bringing our events to other cities, please apply as an event coordinator here.

Digital Privacy for Professionals

Professionals in industries such as law, medicine and accounting deal with confidential client information and communications. In 2018, we plan to provide events and resources for professionals that cater to the individual needs of specific professional industries.

Sign up for our special newsletter to get the latest on this initiative. We will keep you updated as the project is moving forward. If you would like to participate, let us know.

Closing Notes

We certainly have an exciting year ahead full of events and projects. The digial privacy of citizens has never been in such danger as it is now.

So help us to make our initiatives happen sign up as a volunteer today. We are also looking for content creators, social media and community managers, event coordinators, fundraising managers and project managers.

If your company is looking for a good cause to support, then please write to us for our sponsorship options at [email protected].

Keep an eye on our blog and library for the latest practical technical guides, research and reports about digital privacy and security. To never miss an event, sign up to one of our groups on Meetup. You can also follow us on Twitter or subscribe to the newsletter for the latest news and events.

Lastly, we finish this year off with an EOY party on Tuesday! Join us with our friends from SecTalks and Ruxmon for drinks and nibbles.

Hope to see you in 2018!
Gabor & The CryptoAUSTRALIA Team

Cover photo courtesy of Pixabay

  1. Former NSW Privacy Commissioner ↩︎
  2. Blueprint for Free Speech ↩︎
  3. Electronic Frontiers Australia ↩︎
  4. Australian Privacy Foundation ↩︎
  5. Whistleblowers Australia ↩︎
  6. Blueprint for Free Speech provides research and analysis in support of freedom of expression for all people, as described by the UN Declaration of Human Rights – ↩︎