LLPress: World Bank’s own charter might obligate it to accept BTC, even if it refuses to provide further assistance with crypto adoption

Originally published by Liberland Press

El Salvador requested the World Bank’s help with its transition to add Bitcoin as legal tender. The World Bank flatly refused. However, the World Bank’s own charter may force it to at least accept Bitcoin, if nothing else.

The World Bank’s excuses for rejecting El Salvador’s request were the following, according to Yahoo Finance, “While the [Salvadorian] government did approach us for assistance on bitcoin, this is not something the World Bank can support given the environmental and transparency shortcomings”.

RELATED: Bitcoin and ecology: What activists forgot

On their website, the World Bank specifies their “Environmental and Social Policies”, saying,

When we provide governments with financing to invest in projects — such as building a road, connecting people to electricity, or treating waste water — we aim to ensure that the people and the environment are protected from potential adverse impacts. We do this through policies that identify, avoid, and minimize harm to people and the environment. These policies require the borrowing governments to address certain environmental and social risks in order to receive World Bank support for investment projects. We know from experience that including environmental and social considerations into project design and implementation improves development outcomes.

World Bank

According to the “International Bank for Reconstruction and Development” Articles of Agreement, which is found on the World Bank’s website,

SECTION 12. Form of Holdings of Currency
The Bank shall accept from any member, in place of any part of the member’s currency, paid in to the Bank under Article II, Section 7 (i), or to meet amortization payments on loans made with such currency, and not needed by the Bank in its operations, notes or similar obligations issued by the Government of the member or the depository designated by such member, which shall be non-negotiable, non-interest-bearing and payable at their par value on demand by credit to the account of the Bank in the designated depository.

World Bank

For those who do not speak legalese, it basically is saying that “The [World] Bank shall accept from any member [in this case, El Salvador]… notes or similar obligations issued by the Government of [El Salvador] or the depository designated by [El Salvador]…”

Thus, it seems that the World Bank may be forced to accept Bitcoin (or at least an asset derived from Bitcoin) from El Salvador.

Additional assistance from the World Bank related to Salvadorian BTC adoption, on the other hand, probably faces a more uphill battle.

This article by Martin Leo Rivers in Forbes lays out a case for why the World Bank must accept Bitcoin, plus how the environmental standard held for Bitcoin by the World Bank is apparently different from the standards which it has held for its own fossil fuel investments in the recent past.

As far as the World Bank’s transparency concerns go, Rivers says that Bitcoin’s nature as a distributed public ledger makes it, “by far, the most transparent monetary network that has ever existed.”

Bitcoin’s transaction history can be easily viewed by visiting a BTC block explorer website. However, instead of actual names, the transactions record what the public keys of the senders and recipients were. As soon as an investigator is able to link one’s public key to their actual identity, then the investigator is able to know their entire transaction history for that address. Privacy coins, on the other hand, (like Monero, Zcash, Dash, and Pirate Chain, among others) use technological means to (so far as possible) hide the transaction histories and/or balances while still retaining the anti-double-spend property of Bitcoin.

Despite the above, Reuters reports that a spokesperson for the World bank said, “We are committed to helping El Salvador in numerous ways including for currency transparency and regulatory processes”.

Trump is a dollar supremacist

Former U.S. President Donald Trump condemned Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, saying, “I want the [U.S] dollar to be the currency of the world–that’s what I’ve always said.”

Not only that, but, in the same interview which he had with Fox’s “Varney & Co.”, Trump said that Bitcoin “just seems like a scam”.

These remarks are not surprising. Trump is a member of the legacy system of finance. He grew up in a different generation. It is common for members of the older generations to not be open to the revolutionary idea of a new form of money which lacks a central governing authority. Of course, there are notable exceptions, like Trump’s personal friend Robert Kiyosaki, who said, “Money without borders and without government control will change the entire world. Blockchain may take us out of the Information-Age and bring about the Decentralized-Age.”

In addition to his old age, Trump also is an economic nationalist in other areas, like when he would impose tariffs in order to incentivize Americans to purchase more expensive products that are made in America.

It is clear that Trump values American dominance more than he values individual liberty, especially on the economic front.

It remains to be seen exactly how much the Biden Administration will be attempting to suppress Bitcoin, but one member of his team—Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen—has openly declared intent to persecute the use of cryptocurrencies. Yellen said back in January, “Cryptocurrencies are of particular concern. I think many are used, at least in a transaction sense, mainly for illicit financing. And I think we really need to examine ways in which we can curtail their use, and make sure that anti-money laundering [sic] doesn’t occur through those channels.”

Notes:

“Donald Trump” image by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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Ammunition startup ditches Big Tech social media platforms

The ammunition subscription startup AmmoSquared announced Thursday that it will “no longer post or provide customer support through” the platforms “Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube”.

The company says that this was not only the smart move from a “business” perspective, but that “it was also a moral decision,” due to the fact that tech giants profit from user engagement, including that of companies that post content to their platforms.

It is refreshing to see a company that is willing to vote with its digital feet and go to greener firing ranges in the social media landscape. I really should start following their example with Outsmart Big Brother.

I am an investor in AmmoSquared. I am also a person who is familiar with Big Tech’s hostility to free speech, especially things like firearm freedoms. To see this kind of leadership from AmmoSquared makes me extremely proud.

Here is AmmoSquared’s statement which they posted at the end of their May 13 update.

Lastly, on a completely different topic, we have decided to discontinue our use of the “Big 4” social media platforms. We have pages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube but will no longer post or provide customer support through those platforms.

This was primarily a business decision: we don’t have the resources to keep posting content for a questionable return – or under constant threat of deletion. However, it was also a moral decision because we can’t, in good faith, support companies that engage in politically motivated censorship.

The reality for a 2A company is that these platforms can delete our business profile in the blink of an eye without so much as a warning – so why should we play their game and invest in building up a community and content on their platforms? So we won’t.

So in the mean time we’ll utilize email and blog posts more often and look for other freedom loving platforms to support in the future. Or maybe we’ll just build our own. 😉

Outsmart Big Brother has reached out to AmmoSquared for more information on where they plan to go from here.

Notes

Original ammo image by Brett Hondow from Pixabay

How to use Secure SHell (SSH)

SSH (Secure SHell) is used in order to use one computer to control another computer. This can be done over insecure networks (like the Internet) because of the cryptography used to protect the data transferred between the computers involved.

In this example, I use Parrot Security OS (a hacking-oriented operating system based on Debian Linux) as the computer that I physically touch and interact with. The other computer (which I remotely control) is my Raspberry Pi single-board computer (SBC), which I have already installed Ubuntu Server on. Ubuntu Server is another Debian-based Linux distro, but the “Server” part of its name means that it only comes with the command-line interface (CLI) and not a graphical user interface (GUI) which most people are used to. By the way, none of these links are affiliates. Feel free to try out substitutes (like a cloud server instead of a Raspberry Pi, Linux Mint instead of Parrot Security, etc.)

Having a CLI means that you do not have the same experience of navigating your computer like the 2-D world of the GUI, but it does reduce the storage footprint of your OS (Graphics take up a lot of space.) Using a CLI can speed up your computer’s processes, and (once you get the hang of it) can also speed up your own processes of navigating your computer. Plus, when you use a CLI, it makes you look like a total badass in front of your friends and family!

Open terminal in Parrot Security OS

To start, you need to make sure that you have SSH already on both computers. From what I recall, both of my computers in this situation included SSH capability automatically when I installed each OS.

In this example, I assume:

  1. You already have an account with the server that you are trying to SSH into,
  2. You know your username, password, and IP address for the host that you want to SSH into.

How to SSH

Open a terminal and type the following command. Replace “USERNAME” with your actual username and “IP_ADDRESS” with your actual IP address. Keep in mind, these credentials are for the target computer, not the computer you are already using.

ssh USERNAME@IP_ADDRESS

Press the “Enter” key.

The server will prompt you to enter your passphrase (again, for the target computer).

After typing your passphrase, press “Enter”.

If you are prompted whether you are sure or not that you want to connect, select in the affirmative (unless you don’t want to connect. I’m not the boss of you).

You should now be connected to the target computer. Congratulations!

Notice how the username and hostname of your command prompt has changed. Here is a picture of my original terminal (left) for my Parrot Security computer, and my SSH terminal (right) for my remote server.

While normally you are only capable of controlling only the computer that is physically present where you are, SSH-ing into another machine enables you to choose which machine you use to perform tasks.

“jonathan@parrot” means that I am interacting as the user “jonathan” on the machine named “parrot”.

Likewise, “flossboss@smartsauce” means that I am interacting as the user “flossboss” on the machine named “smartsauce”. However, if you use a similar arrangement to what I have set up here, your remote server terminal will probably look more like “ubuntu@ubuntu”, since that is the default for Ubuntu Server. I have already changed both my username and hostname for this server, so that is why it looks unique.

Once you are finished with what you wanted to do through your remote server, you can close the connection by typing the following simple command in your remote terminal.

logout

There. That wasn’t so bad, now was it?

⌨️

Notes

Music by aldermansweden from Pixabay

Terminal vector graphic by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Keyboard vector graphic by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

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How to become a citizen of Liberland

I became a Liberland citizen this month! Let me share some information for those of you who are considering doing likewise.

First, what is Liberland?

Liberland flag

Founding

Liberland (officially the “Free Republic of Liberland”) is a tiny, libertarian country in Europe nestled between Serbia and Croatia. The territory was claimed by Liberland since it was previously a “no man’s land” after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

Src: https://liberland.org/en/about

The Danube River serves as a border mark between Serbia and Croatia. However, since all rivers tend to evolve over time, a dispute arose between the two countries over which version of the border was valid: the old river path, or the new river path. The old river path gave Croatia a net increase in territory, while the new river path gave Serbia a net increase. Since every country wants to have the maximum possible claim to territory, each side asserted that the border was on the opposite river path from what the other claimed. Since each side wanted to not undermine their own claim to their own version of the map, there ended up being pieces of land that were claimed by NEITHER country. The biggest of those unclaimed pieces was eventually claimed as the newly formed Free Republic of Liberland by President Vít Jedlička, First Lady Jana Markovicova, and Jaromír Miškovský on 13 April, 2015. That day is also the birthday of the American Revolutionary icon Thomas Jefferson.

Liberland founding document

Principles

Liberland is aspiring to become the most libertarian nation on earth.

Former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, Bitcoin.com Founder Roger “Bitcoin Jesus” Ver, and Nomad Capitalist Founder Andrew Henderson are among the many notable people in libertarianism who are counted among Liberland’s citizens.

While the details of the Liberland Constitution are still being worked-out, some of the key features that are proposed include:

  • Zero taxes (with the possible exception of a “land fee”).
  • All government operations funded with voluntary crowdfunding.
  • Blockchain-powered political systems.
  • Merit system where those who contribute more to the country are rewarded with more influence in the political process.
  • No restrictions on civilian ownership of “small arms” as defined internationally.
  • No standing army, but rather a “territorial defense force” which only defends the defined borders of Liberland in the event of invasion.
  • No regulations on marriage.
  • Freedom of speech, the press, religion, etc.
  • No government involvement in education.
  • A legislative, an executive, and a judicial branch.
  • No government debt obligations.

Status

Since Liberland claimed its territory before any other country, it has rightful claim to it.

However, since the border dispute between Croatia and Serbia is ongoing, the Croatian police have been occupying Liberland’s territory (despite not claiming it as their own), refusing to allow Liberlandians to enter Liberland. However, that fact has not stopped Liberland from making progress with arranging a free trade zone with Serbia and encouraging settlement communities on the Serbian side of the Danube.

Within the first few years, there were Liberlandians who attempted to enter Liberland, but were stopped and arrested by the Croatian police. However, that seems to be happening less now.

In the meantime, President Jedlička and the many Liberland representatives in countries around the world have been working to achieve recognition and support of Liberland’s right to exist.

The Liberland Aid Foundation has also been doing humanitarian work around the globe to help show that Liberlandians are willing to help make the world around them a better place.

While Liberland has diplomatic passports, there are not yet “normal” passports for everyday Liberlandians. However, that is something that is being worked on. In the meantime, citizens can receive a certificate of citizenship.

Who should apply for Liberland citizenship?

Liberland citizenship is for people who are willing “To Live and Let Live” as the Liberland national motto goes.

This includes, but is not limited to, libertarians, capitalists, minarchists, anarchists, and classical liberals. Liberlandians come from a diverse range of professions, nations, religions, ethnicities, etc. The unifying theme, however, is that of a global community of people who want to help build the freest, most innovative nation on earth.

Who should NOT apply for Liberland citizenship?

Given the libertarian nature of Liberland, there are a number of people who should probably stay away from it. Take the following conversation I had with someone on Facebook, for example.

JM: “I am now a US-Liberland dual citizen!”
DWV: “You’re just greedy. You already have great citizenship. I’m stuck in South Africa. …So how do I get it?”
JM: “[M]y first tip for you is to be nice and not call people ‘greedy’ for wanting to become global citizens. …Besides, if you can’t help but complain out of envy at the success of others, then you probably would hate life in Liberland. Liberland is for people who are willing to tolerate unequal success among legally equal individuals.”

Simply put, collectivists would not enjoy life in Liberland. The intolerant would not enjoy life in Liberland. The envious would not enjoy life in Liberland. There are naturally going to be some individuals who are more successful than others. There are also inevitably going to be a diverse range of people who are successful. Therefore, the aforementioned groups (collectivists, intolerant, and envious) should all stay out of Liberland for their own sakes.

In addition to that, Liberland explicitly denies citizenship to Nazis and Communists.

Prerequisites for citizenship

E-residency

People who are interested in Liberland citizenship can start by registering an account on the official Liberland website at liberland.org and completing the application form for e-residency.

Liberland e-residency card

My advice here is to BE HONEST. Regardless of your net worth or income right now, you still have a shot at being accepted.

Just like how Dale Carnegie’s iconic bestselling book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” says, you must “Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.”* Therefore, when you answer the questions on the form, focus on how you will help Liberland. While it is fine to mention what you are looking to gain from Liberland, do NOT focus on your own wants or needs. There are literally hundreds of thousands of applicants for Liberland citizenship worldwide. I am sure that many of them also “want” or “need” to get citizenship. However, Liberland is unable to accept all applicants. Can you really blame them when their territory is just seven square kilometres?

That is why you need to make your application stand-out by saying how you will help make Liberland better. You can be a software developer, an architect, a lawyer, a physician, a mechanic, a welder, an entrepreneur, a libertarian activist, a journalist, a songwriter, and more. Whatever career you have, you can be a contributor to the Liberland economy. If you are an investor, Liberland is also ready to welcome you by offering a business-friendly regulatory environment, starting with the Apatin Free Trade Zone in Serbia.

KYC

New applicants must go through KYC (Know Your Client) vetting to make sure they have a reasonably clean criminal record. After all, nobody wants to live next door to a convicted terrorist.

The Liberland KYC-Chain interface

Contribute value to Liberland

Once you become a Liberland e-resident, you need to contribute value to the country in order to achieve citizenship.

Donate and/or volunteer for Liberland

This is the way I personally became a citizen. I wrote articles for Liberland Press and received Merits based on how much I wrote.

The Merit is Liberland’s official (crypto)currency, which is still being developed, but nonetheless is being used to quantify the contributions an individual has made. You need 5,000 Merits to become a citizen. I also made a few USD and BTC donations to Liberland, and was rewarded Merits for those as well.

As of the time of this writing, you can purchase 1 Liberland Merit for 1 USD. So, a $5,000 USD donation would be enough for citizenship. As far as citizenship by investment countries go, that is SUPER affordable. If you don’t believe me, watch some videos by Nomad Capitalist. The numbers for more widely recognized countries sell at around $100,000 USD and up.

Eventually, Merits will probably be used as a governance token for secure and verifiable elections. Therefore, you are incentivized to keep paying voluntary taxes in order to grow your Merit holdings and thus your voting power.

Invest in Liberland waterfront property

Alternatively, you can buy a property in the Liberlandian community on the Danube River through floating.ll.land and receive citizenship as part of the deal. Here are the three property types that are currently on the site.

Bitcoin Freedom cabin: €50k

Bitcoin Freedom is being renovated and has cabin(s) for sale.

Bitcoin Freedom src: https://www.floating.ll.land/
Cunami houseboat: €80k

A relatively large houseboat.

Cunami houseboat src: https://www.floating.ll.land/houseboat
Katamaran houseboat: €45k

A relatively small houseboat.

Katamaran houseboat src: https://www.floating.ll.land/katamaran

Follow up

If you have done everything that you are supposed to do according to the forms on the official sites and you still have not heard back regarding your application within a week or two, then send a (respectful) follow-up email. Explain how you want to help Liberland succeed and what you are already doing to help.

Conclusion

Best of luck to you!

Stay free, everyone!🕊️

Notes

*Carnegie, Dale. How to Win Friends and Influence People. P. 93.

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Create a basic website with HTML, CSS, and JS

Here I walk you through the process of creating a very basic web page, including my process of debugging and searching for solutions. We will use Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and just a touch of JavaScript (JS) to build a beginner-level web page document.

This video is designed for beginners.

Hopefully I will go over the process of actually making your website live on a server in a future video. Please let me know in the comments if you would find that helpful. 🙂

Find the code used in this lesson on GitHub here: https://github.com/Outsmart-Big-Brother/create-a-basic-web-page-using-html-css-and-js

For legal stuff, check out OBB’s Terms of Service.

If the Bitchute embed does not work, you can try the copy on YouTube here:

OBB is (finally) on Parler!

After many attempts during the past couple of months, I am proud to announce that Outsmart Big Brother is finally on Parler.

Parler is a alternative social media platform that has had a shaky start to the year, since they were formerly hosted on AWS, but were then booted from it.

That upheaval resulted in OBB not being able to create an account. What luck, right?

Fortunately, OBB had a stroke of good fortune today and successfully joined Parler. Those who are interested in following OBB there can find OBB’s profile at @OutsmartBigBrother.

Outsmart Big Brother looks forward to sharing useful content to this recovering platform, in addition to all the others.

To view OBB’s updated list of content distribution platforms, please check out our social media list.

For legal stuff, check out OBB’s Terms of Service.

What is Bitcoin? Why is it special?

Bitcoin is the OG cryptocurrency.

But what is a cryptocurrency and why should I care?

Find out in this episode.


What is a cryptocurrency?

A cryptocurrency is a type of digital money, especially one that uses cryptography and decentralization to make sure that you can only spend each unit once and that you can only create new units after performing some service to the community.

You might ask, “But if I use digital US dollars already, what benefits do I gain by using crypto?”

There are many problems with the US dollar, which crypto can solve. Since this episode is an introduction, I will focus on Bitcoin—the “original gangsta”—and the solutions and limitations which it offers.

First, let’s analyze fiat currencies, like the US dollar, the euro, and the Chinese yuan.

Fiat

  1. Centrally controlled.
  2. Potentially unlimited quantity (think: inflation).
  3. Total quantity is tied to arbitrary decisions by the central authority.
  4. Can potentially be anonymous if dealt in cash. Not private if dealt digitally.
  5. Requires trust in people and institutions with whom you do business, along with intermediaries.
  6. (If deposited in a bank) Can be easily confiscated by authorities.
  7. Can be difficult to make cross-border payments.
  8. Transactions tend to be reversible.
  9. Transactions can be censored by governments, banks, and other institutions.

Bitcoin

  1. Decentralized. No single entity has power over the Bitcoin network. This is due to the fact that Bitcoin uses blockchain technology as its foundation.
  2. Total quantity limited at 21 million.
  3. Quantity of new bitcoins created is determined by an exponential decay function.
  4. Pseudonymous. Instead of using your real name, you use your public key. But beware: as soon as someone is able to link your public key to your real identity, your entire transaction history for that wallet is revealed.
  5. If you can understand the code, it is trustless. However, those who cannot read code must trust the code itself. However, they still do not need to trust any third party.
  6. If private keys are well-hidden, Bitcoin can be extremely difficult to be confiscated by authorities.
  7. Easy to send Bitcoin to anyone’s wallet, regardless of where they are in the world.
  8. Transactions are irreversible.
  9. Transactions can be completed despite what governments, banks, and other institutions think.

At the end of the day, no, Bitcoin the protocol can’t be regulated. Obviously, men with guns wearing costumes are scary, but a gun can’t change the mathematics behind Bitcoin.”

Roger Ver aka “Bitcoin Jesus”

Keep in mind, Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency as we know it. Obviously, there are a TON of improvements that have been made to the concept. That’s why you see many different types of cryptocurrencies, from Bitcoin, to Bitcoin Cash, to Ethereum, to Litecoin, to Dogecoin, to Marscoin. Each of these cryptos has its own set of pros and cons, which I hope to address in future episodes.

My challenge to you all this week is to do a self-assessment of your own financial situation.

“If the dollar were to go into hyperinflation, would my family be prepared?”

“Is crypto a viable alternative to cash and card payments?”

“What if the government were to seize my entire bank account tomorrow through civil asset forfeiture? Would my entire net worth be down the tubes?”

Then decide what you should do NOW to prepare yourself for when trouble comes.

Special thanks to Jenni Thee Libertarian for giving myself, Outsmart Big Brother, and the Mars Initiative a shout-out on Twitter.

Jennifer works for Young Americans for Liberty. Her persistence is the reason I went ahead and submitted my application for YAL’s Revolution 2021 event this coming August.

By the way, did you know that the Mars Initiative (a nonprofit dedicated to funding humanity’s first trip to Mars) accepts (and HODLs) crypto donations? I volunteer for them and think that is really cool.

What topics would you like me to cover in future videos? Let me know in the comments.

Please like, follow, and share if you enjoy this content.

Stay free, everyone!

⚛️


Description:

Links for all outside content:

BTC image by xresch from Pixabay.

Music by Twisterium from Pixabay. Sped up by Jonathan McCormick.

Mars Initiative website.

For further study:

On civil asset forfeiture:

https://www.charleskochinstitute.org/issue-areas/criminal-justice-policing-reform/civil-asset-forfeiture/

https://www.aclu.org/issues/criminal-law-reform/reforming-police/asset-forfeiture-abuse

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/civil_forfeiture

Legal inquiries:

See OBB’s Terms of Service page: https://outsmartbigbrother.com/terms-of-service/

Cybersecurity for startup political organizations and news outlets

It is easy to underestimate your vulnerability…until it’s too late.

The problem

Websites get hack attacked.

Websites that are political or journalistic in nature are at an increased risk of being hacked, since not only do they attract the “regular” attackers, but they are a more likely target for ideologically-driven attackers as well. Hackers can be literally anyone.

Organizations on all sides of the political spectrum can be targeted.

Gab, a social media platform dominated by the Right and Alt-Right, was targeted, and so was Liker, which appears to be a more Leftist social media platform, especially when they characterized their own hack incident as being a politically-motivated attack by “Trumpers“.

A thought experiment:

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that you are a startup political activism organization that relies heavily on your resources connected to the Internet (like a website, databases, communication channels, social media, banking, etc.).

Let’s also assume you ideologically align with position “A”.

There are bound to be computer-savvy individuals somewhere who align with other positions that conflict with position “A”. If those individuals also are willing to hack attack you based on that difference of beliefs, then you are a natural target.

These attackers could be citizens of your own country, or another country. They could be private individuals acting out of their own animosity, or they could be government officials attacking to achieve some political goal.

Regardless of where the attacker comes from, they can deal a whole lot of damage to your organization if they are both motivated and able to find a way to do so. Imagine an attacker hacking into your one of your employees’ poorly-passworded email accounts and sending fraudulent emails to all your donors, asking them for money, when in reality it is a scam. When your donors read the emails, they will see that it comes from a legitimate email address. So the donors click on the link in the email, which takes them to a page that looks practically identical to your own fundraising site. The attacker’s fraudulent site accepts your donors’ payment information, withdraws money from their accounts, and makes them think that it was all legitimate.

Imagine that the attacker also hacks into your admin account for the website, and puts malware into your website so that when visitors think they are getting one thing, they end up with their computer becoming useless and acting as a carrier of self-replicating malware that tries to spread itself like a disease to other computers.

Imagine the attacker not only wants to plunder you, but also wants to shame you as well. They hack into your (again) poorly-passworded official social media accounts and change all the email and phone number settings, then start posting propaganda that goes directly against what your organization stands for. Your followers start “unfollowing” you en masse and comment how disappointed they are with your organization. It’s a public relations mess!

Finally, the attackers encrypt all your organization’s data and demand a ransom for it, but never actually decrypt it for you, even if you pay up.

You want to hire a security firm to “clean things up” for you, but you don’t have enough funds and your donors have just been milked for all they have to spare.

Needless to say, that would be a mess.

It would also be a preventable mess. While there is no way to guarantee that all cyberattacks will fail, you can stack the deck in your favor by following some basic cybersecurity best-practices.

The solutions

Here are some of the things that I consider most important:

Passwords Passphrases

“Shift your thinking from passwords to passphrases.”

Edward Snowden

While all elements of cybersecurity can be important, passphrases are probably the single most important category. Keep your password only to yourself. If you have a collaborator, add an account for them, but never share your passwords.

Brute forcing a password (using a computer to guess it), and/or guessing a password based on a user’s personal life, can be extremely easy for those hackers who know what they are doing.

Before you read the following passphrase tips, please understand that there are plenty of password managers to help you out. Most modern browsers like Brave already have a password manager built-in.

Use math to your advantage

In order to beat the attackers at the password-guessing-game, you must recognize the power of almighty math.

If you were to pick a single lowercase letter (and I knew it was a single lowercase letter), then it would take me a maximum of 26 attempts before I would correctly guess it. This is because there is only one character and it is limited to only one type of character–the lowercase English alphabet. The probability of me guessing your letter correctly the first time (assuming I eliminate each possibility after it proves to be incorrect), can be represented mathematically as 1/26.

However, if you were to now pick two lowercase letters (and I knew they were two lowercase letters), then I would not have 1/26 chance of guessing it the first time, but rather 1/(26*26), which equals 1/676.

Likewise, if you were to pick two characters, but this time were to have the characters be either lowercase letters OR digits OR a combination of them, I would be forced to assume that either character could be either type. Thus, my likelihood of guessing on the first try would not be 1/(26*26) or 1/676, but rather 1/(36*36), which equals 1/1296.

Do you notice what is happening? As the quantity and diversity of the characters INCREASES, the likelihood of me guessing correctly DECREASES. With each additional character, the added security is not simply linear, but exponential.

However, since hackers can use computers to automate their guessing, our passphrases must be longer than what we would reasonably expect them AND their computers to be able to guess.

The longer your passwords, the better. Go for around 17+ characters, but understand that–as technology progresses–it will become easier for attackers to overcome longer passwords.

Use a diverse range of character types, including lowercase letters (“abcd”), uppercase letters (“ABCD”), digits (“1234”), and special characters (“!@#$”).

Do not use the same password across multiple platforms. This prevents an attacker from gaining instant access to multiple areas of your online life in the event they are able to successfully crack one of your passwords. When you get attacked, you want the damage to be as limited as humanly possible.

Do not use words that you associate yourself with. Do not use your pet’s name, your favorite political slogan, or your mother’s maiden name in your password. Hackers can easily do reconnaissance on your social media profiles and figure out a TON of info about you. If you mention something to your friends and followers online, a hacker recognizes that you just might be using that thing in your password. Therefore, try to go for a passphrase along the lines of these:

NewbieJokerzR3picly(ool

H@tsOff2DodoTheCl0wn

EatYour404ErrorsWith$33

4BoxingBatsFight2,000FatRats

WikipediaBoomersAre30%NewAge

YoMamaTakesFiftyD@yzToFind1Gym

!!_({{symmetry|||yrtemmys}})_!!

000kn0wledge\\|\\is\\|\\flwr\\|\\pwr000

Only38.2Boulders&StonesCrushThrones

<#42>IsNEVERdaAnswr2YaProblumz

@theistPengu1nsWantPhi$h

Password examples: the longer and more complicated, the better!

Obviously, you want to be creative and come up with original passphrases. These are just some examples to hopefully inspire you.

2FA

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is basically when you are required to use not only your username and passphrase to login, but also another means of showing that the person logging-in is really you, like sending a login approval notification to your phone. This is basically a fail-safe for users having weak passwords, in my opinion, and can be very useful for preventing the impact of some human errors.

I personally have a bias against 2FA because very often 2FA systems are extremely inflexible. For example, suppose a user is required to use their phone to perform 2FA. What is that user supposed to do if they lose or break their phone? What if they change their number and forget to update their account information ahead of time? While I was in college at Andrews University, I literally resigned from my job as a writer for Student Movement (in part) because of their arbitrary 2FA requirement for all employees.

Use secure connections to the Internet

This is where a VPN can come in handy.

Also, if you are typing or receiving sensitive information (like login info, for example) make sure to always use https. The “s” means that your connection between you and the site is encrypted.

[RELATED: What is encryption and why do I need it?]

Use antivirus software

Use software to recognize and stop malware.

I personally use ClamAV, which is a free and open-source option.

Have email filters to prevent your employees’ inboxes becoming filled with spam

While no filter is bulletproof, having one in place can certainly help. Many email providers have a separate “spam” folder as the default, but check to make sure.

Having a filter helps limit the amount of phishing emails that you get.

Also, never click on email links that you just randomly see in your inbox. If you see an email from Company X that says you must log in now, open a new tab and manually type-in Company X’s domain name. See if it is legit. If anything seems phishy, talk with your IT person.

Limit permissions to only the essentials for each user

You wouldn’t give your personal credit card to a random 16-year-old. Why would you give administrator-level control over your entire website to someone who is new to the field of technology?

Don’t get me wrong: young professionals DO NEED opportunities to prove themselves, to fail, to succeed, but you don’t have to put your whole business at risk in order to achieve that opportunity for them. Give them more permissions gradually as they become more and more competent and prove themselves worthy of more of your trust.

Update/upgrade your software regularly

Often, companies update their software because they discovered a vulnerability and have now made a patch for it. If you don’t update it for your team, then you still have that vulnerability, which makes it easier for attackers to beat you.

Never reveal sensitive information

If some random person calls you asking for your date of birth, bank account info, login credentials, or anything else, DO NOT GIVE IT TO THEM, even if they seem “nice” or “legitimate.”

Back up and encrypt your data

Backing up your data helps shield you from permanent loss if something happens to your primary store of data.

Encrypting your own data helps shield you from the attackers understanding your data in the event they find it.

The human element

Hackers don’t play by the wider society’s preconceptions about what the “rules” are. Hackers try to figure out how to play by what the rules of reality are. Hacking is the guerrilla warfare of the Internet.

As humans, we often like to think of our fellow humans as being trustworthy and of goodwill. However, it is often this tendency to trust that can do the most damage to your organization.

When a hacker manipulates your employees in order to gain unauthorized access to your organization’s information, that is called social engineering. Twitter said last year that social engineering of Twitter’s employees is what led to the famous Twitter hack where several high-profile accounts appeared to post a Bitcoin scam which took an estimated $120,000 USD worth of BTC from users.

This goes to show that training your employees is super important if you care about the cybersecurity health of your organization. At the end of the day, your IT people can be stellar, but if your other employees are untrained, they remain a liability. Talk to a technical/cybersecurity professional about the possibility of them speaking to your team about this issue. Don’t just bury your head in the sand and hope you never get targeted.

If there is any context in which you should be paranoid, THIS IS IT. Cybersecurity can make or break your organization, so take it seriously.

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Description:

Link to GitHub for that mini-project:

https://github.com/Outsmart-Big-Brother/content-themes/blob/main/CyberSec4PoliticalOrgs.py

Links for all outside content:

Video by Life-Of-Vids from Pixabay.

Music by ASHUTOSH-MUSIC from Pixabay.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

For further study:

https://www.campusreform.org/article?id=14941

https://www.wired.com/2015/04/snowden-sexy-margaret-thatcher-password-isnt-so-sexy/

https://techjury.net/blog/what-is-brute-force/

https://brave.com/

https://www.clamav.net/

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/twitter-says-social-engineering-led-to-the-massive-hack-that-targeted-high-profile-accounts-like-barack-obama-and-jeff-bezos-here-s-what-the-technique-involves-and-how-to-avoid-it/ar-BB16PrrV

Legal inquiries:

See OBB’s Terms of Service page: https://outsmartbigbrother.com/terms-of-service/

Social media site “Liker” goes offline, claims “We were attacked by Trumpers…”

WARNING: sensitive content mentioned.

UPDATE – 17 March, 2021: OBB has reached out to Liker to request evidence of why they concluded that the hack on their platform was committed specifically by Trump supporters

Liker.com, a social media site based in North Hollywood, California, claims it was hacked by politically-motivated “Trumpers,” resulting in the platform going completely offline.

This hack comes in the wake of right-wing social media company Parler being booted off the App Store and AWS, resulting in it being down completely and only recently starting to gain back some limited functionality for users. For example, I was able to now log in and post while in the web app, but the iOS app still is empty for me.

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3… — Jonathan McCormick, Jr. McCormick Tuesday, March 16, 2021

https://parler.com/post/7e328fd6-445b-4fd5-a61d-c64fa352bed2

The Liker.com hack also comes in the wake of Gab, another social media site apparently dominated by right and alt-right individuals, being hacked. As news of the hack came out, Outsmart Big Brother™ (OBB) noticed uncharacteristic material being posted by Gab CEO Andrew Torba‘s account, including a porn video with a caption indicating that it was depicting incest. After seeing that, OBB promptly blocked Torba, not realizing at the time that the porn video was probably posted by a politically-motivated hacker who had already gained access to Torba’s account. OBB has reached out to Torba for clarification on this.

RELATED: What to do if you were a Gab user during the hack

Back to the Liker hack.

Here is the email that was sent by Liker.com to OBB on March 14:

Why Liker is down: We were attacked by Trumpers…

This is very difficult email to write. As many of you all know, Liker is a grassroots social network that set out with a difficult, herculean mission of creating a kinder, smarter social network where hatred is unacceptable and thoughtfulness, love, and humanity flourish. After over a year of testing and tweaking in preparation for our full public launch, we were well on our way toward achieving that, and were only days away from launching our brand new, world class version of Liker to the public when disaster struck.

Computer savvy Trump supporters, angered by Parler being de-platformed, decided to retaliate against Liker. Unfortunately, they were successful in extracting their revenge, breaching our system and gaining access to the accounts of many of our users. As soon as we were alerted to their attack, we made the difficult decision of taking Liker offline in order to protect our community.

But it’s not all bad news. We have been overwhelmed by all the emails from our users who are sad that their go-to social network, their Liker family, has been temporarily taken from them. While we share your pain, we are glad to know that the Liker family is stronger than ever, and that we have succeeded in creating an amazing community of over a quarter million thoughtful and kind individuals who call Liker home. 

Thankfully, we have hired a top-notch security firm, and expect Liker to be back on line within the next 4 to 8 weeks. The great news is that the next time you all see Liker, it will have our updated design that will blow your socks off, strike fear in the heart of Parler, Facebook, Twitter, and other networks, and never again be vulnerable to digital attacks from Trump’s alt-right henchmen. 

Please stay tuned! We will send you all an email when Liker is back up , and we promise that it will be worth the wait. 

Until then, please accept our heartfelt apology for not being able to share our home while we make these upgrades. Soon, we will all once again be together and toasting to a smarter, kinder social media. 

Thank you all, 

Liker staff


OBB Statement

Jonathan McCormick wrote the following statement on behalf of Outsmart Big Brother™ in response to this incident:

Free expression and property rights are essential to any decent and civilized society.

Outsmart Big Brother™ condemns all efforts to silence people through deliberately interfering with the free flow of information, including the unauthorized hacking of social media platforms and individual accounts. Regardless of a person’s political views, they should be free to peacefully express their beliefs.

If authoritarianism really is as terrible as we believe it to be, then we should be able to debate it and win easily. Censorship not only violates the right to free speech, but it also can be counterproductive to the goals, however just they might seem, of those who engage in censorship. When a minority group is censored, their ideology does not simply disappear; it goes underground, where there is even less opportunity for opposing viewpoints to debate it. Censorship also provides fuel for the passions of those who are upset at the censorship, which can lead to groups resorting to violence as an outlet for their anger, which OBB also condemns.

Because of alleged politically-motivated interference by hacktivists and corporations, OBB has been unable to post content to the online communities on platforms like Liker and Parler. OBB looks forward to joining the conversation on these platforms once they are functional again.

Official statement by Outsmart Big Brother™ 16 March, 2021, at 11:19 GMT-6.

Outsmart Big Brother has reached out to Liker and Parler for comment.

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