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Thursday, 04 July 2019 11:02

YouTube's latest ban? Infosec instructional videos are outlawed Featured

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YouTube's latest ban? Infosec instructional videos are outlawed Courtesy YouTube

Google's video-sharing site YouTube has started to ban videos that show users how to get past software restrictions and provide instructions on information security.

One user, Kody, a self-described infosec researcher, writer and researcher who has created a YouTube series known as Cyber Weapons Lab, discovered the new restriction when he was contemplating uploading a video about launching fireworks over Wi-Fi to mark American Independence Day which falls on 4 July (5 July in Australia).

In a tweet thread, he said YouTube had given him a strike about an earlier video detailing the WPS-Pixie Wi-Fi vulnerability and he had been unable to even try uploading the fireworks video.

"YouTube now bans: 'Instructional hacking and phishing: Showing users how to bypass secure computer systems'," he wrote in a tweet.

On its YouTube help pages, Google says that, "Content that aims to encourage dangerous or illegal activities that risk serious physical harm or death is not allowed on YouTube."

And it provides the following list:

  • Extremely dangerous challenges: Challenges that pose imminent risk of physical injury.
  • Dangerous or threatening pranks: Pranks that lead victims to fear imminent serious physical danger, or that create serious emotional distress in minors.
  • Instructions to kill or harm: Showing viewers how to perform activities meant to kill or maim others, such as providing instructions on how to build a bomb meant to injure or kill people.
  • Hard drug use or creation: Content that depicts people abusing controlled substances such as cocaine or opioids, or content providing instructions on how to create drugs. Hard drugs are defined as drugs that can (mostly) lead to physical addiction.
  • Eating disorders: Content in which people suffering from anorexia or other eating disorders are praised for weight loss, are bragging about it, or are encouraging others to imitate the behaviour.
  • Violent events: Promoting or glorifying violent tragedies, such as school shootings.
  • Instructional theft: Showing users how to steal money or tangible goods.
  • Instructional hacking and phishing: Showing users how to bypass secure computer systems or steal user credentials and personal data.

Google itself has a division known as Project Zero which releases details of software vulnerabilities after 90 days of notifying the vendor, no matter whether the bugs are fixed or not.

This has brought the company into conflict with Microsoft on occasion, with one recent spat pitting Google researcher Tavis Ormandy against security industry veteran Richard Bejtlich.

Prior to that, Microsoft and Google have exposed bugs in each other's software, seemingly resorting to tit-for-tat on occasion.

Kody added: "I'm worried for everyone that teaches about infosec and tries to fill in the gaps for people who are learning. It is hard, often boring, and expensive to learn cyber security."

iTWire has contacted Google for comment.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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