1617 posts • joined 15 Mar 2007
Re: No sympathy.
There are two separate issues that the court seem to rightly have asserted : firstly that IN GENERAL the police, or anyone else, needs a warrant for such private information. That is the whole point of judicial oversight. The second point you appear to have overlooked is the court also ruled that in spite of this point, the evidence in this case stands.
Overall this is a triumph of common sense.
"The goal here isn’t to keep the NSA out, because realistically they will find a way in if they really care about you. The goal is to raise the cost so that bulk surveillance becomes impossible."
Amen to that. We all knew spy organisation perform spying activities, but we thought/hoped it was targeted on the basis of probable cause and court oversight. By raising the cost of doing so, it becomes targeted again, court or no court.
The other aspect of this is likely to be a general improvement in security practice, something that also helps against access by foreign gov (for any given definition of "foreign" that fits) and criminal hackers.
Re: Biological sciences
I suspect that biological sciences produce too many who might have been boffins, but end up as "mad scientists" due to feeling the need for a personal Igor to assist in the lab.
Re: The socks have it
@Lester Haines - agreed, the deci-Pyke is better, and in keeping with the decibel.
@Gray Ham - It helps to name things after dead folk, as there is no risk of them returning to a normal low-energy non-boffin state.
Magnus Pyke's genius
I remember when he was asked what time is, and his answer was quick, funny, and at a deep level actually true: "Its the stuff produced by clocks"
Re: The socks have it
I vote for the milli-Pyke as being a new El Reg measure!
Agreed, to be a boffin you need to meet several requirements:
1) To perform research in to something technical.
2) Said research is to create something new and special (i.e. not just a slightly cheaper/faster phone or similar). Physics/astronomy theory might just get in there, but only if well beyond normal comprehension.
3) Points 1 & 2 are more important to said boffin than "normal" social activities. Not to say they don't enjoy a pub, BBQ, or anything similar, but are quite likely to head back to test tube-bothering at unpredictable times.
Re: This is quite credible
Er, no. A typical PC is pretty immune to mobile phone signals, otherwise it simply crashes. What you are thinking of is interference to the audio systems, but that counts for nothing really (bar spoiling your YouTube videos, etc).
As already stated, it is easy with lots of power to crash a PC but much harder, to the point of being virtually impossible, to crash selective sections. And the PC is already in a Faraday cage, called its box.
An attack based on bluetooth/wifi is much, much more likely as a large number of PCs have those enabled by default and mobile phones can communicate with them. Even if logically "off" it is quite likely that the protocol stack has vulnerabilities that can be exploited to access the PC.
Hell, I once managed to wipe the boot sector of an XP PC when developing a USB peripheral while using MS' own stack and drivers. So if it can be done there, I have no doubt it is at least theoretically possible with wifi/bluetooth if the hardware is on and listening, even if not supposedly used.
Do you know anything about what you are talking about?
Buffer overruns and similar attacks (e.g. mal-formed pictures) require you to actually get the have the PC do something with the data that is subject to a lack of validation. That is simply not possible with a sound system bar, perhaps, voice-to-text-to-command conversion which is hardly likely.
Same for other routes, to actually inject data to a system that is not expecting it (wired network, USB cable, etc) needs a LOT of energy, not something that is going to go unnoticed and not something you will get from a mobile phone meters away.
First time I got an ESD test gun I did the obvious - ignored the instructions, wound it up to maximum (above 18kV) and tried it on my PC. It was fine, but I crashed an old (pre-EMC regulations) PC in the adjacent office.
To do so took a lot of peak power, and it is virtually impossible to induce such a crash in a controlled manner to exploit it. It is not like a buffer overrun where you can inject code in a specific place, you induce data/address corruption in a GHz clocked PC and you have no idea of just where it is going to bork at.
I see no feasible way of pushing malware on to an air-gapped computer. The sort of RF power needed to flip bits is simply going to crash it. Unless it has something like wi-fi or bluetooth operating of course!
Getting data off an already infected but now air-gapped computer is within the bounds of belief, but unless you are looking at very special hardware (i.e. not a mobile phone) then the data rate would be very low as it is not so easy to get most hardware to generate a wanted modulated signal that won't be drowned by the usual chatter of data and address bus activity of both the PC and the phone (along with the usual spread-spectrum clock typically used to help meet EMC requirements).
Security through Obscurity
Fails one again...
Default (or lame) administrator passwords in this day and age?
Re: @Gordon 10
I think his point is the secret requests, and being paid to honour them (e.g. PRISM), were hardly discussed or much in the way of objections raised until the full extent was exposed by Snowdon, and now they find their revenue threatened so are having to grow some and challenge the legality.
"It's a bit shocking to be honest"
What, that they had not funded such an audit themselves with that sort of a budget?
Re: you scratch my back and I'll spend tax payers money on you.
It depends on what you use Amazon for. If it is cloud backup then you never have to send the keys - just have the TrueCrypt volume on there, even with DropBox that works (diff sync only changes/ sends the blocks that are updated not the multi-GB file).
If its a VM running something then yes, it is fairly easy to grab the system memory while it is running.
If $SPYAGENCY with billion $CURRENCY budgets is willing to go as far as knobbling your OS via a targeted update (as opposed to a general 0-day vun or _NSAKEY style of arrangement) then you don't stand much chance anyway.
Re: SELinux eh?
"a computer not connected to the internet"
Yes, that makes for a very useful smartphone...
Re: SELinux eh?
So, when faced with the two choices:
1) Trust me, and here is the NSA-supplied code to review
2) Trust me, I'm a big US company with NSA connections.
Which do you prefer?
I have had errors on trying to save in Word saying the document was too big to save - think some corrupted embedded objects were reporting '-1' as the size so 4GB or something.
Sadly only option was to delete said object, save, start gain and re-embed it. I just hate Word...but it is probably the least-sucking word processor :(
I have seen Word fsck-up on embedded equations and occasionally on embedded images on EVERY version from 95 to a fully-patched (as of a few months ago) version of Word 2010, that is 15 years of at least one unfixed bug!
Also seen crap from OpenOffice/LibreOffice.
Try some Marmite - the Devil's very own lubricant.
Re: An even better solution
From my recent cases of helping family & friends with their PCs:
Setting up Linux on a PC to stop the infestations (little ones have not worked out how to shag Linux yet), payment in kind was a bottle of wine.
Reinstalling Vista (against my better judgement, but they really wanted that), after getting them to spring for 4GB memory instead of 1GB it came with, result was 12 bottles of wine.
"How can anyone take open source seriously when major bits of software are managed by pouty children?"
Have you ever worked in a large company? The management layer can be every bit as bad, though for subtly different reasons.
In any case there are plenty of examples of closed source products that only ever got reluctantly patched once a breach had occurred, and not when they were notified of it. Should we not take commercial software seriously as a result?
Re: Buffer Overflow
It is possible, but often not done for historical or laziness reasons.
The most common problems are copying or printing a string of characters in to a destination that is too small, so it overflows into somewhere else that can then be exploited. The usual culprits in the C/C++ language are strcpy() and sprintf() (and similar) but you can often use alternatives such as strncpy() and snprintf() instead which take the destination size and enforce that limit (though with strncpy() you should also enforce nul-termination of the string as it won't do that).
If the destination buffer is allocated by the malloc() family, then in Linux you can also use the electricfence library for debugging and that puts each buffer in to a separate page and any violation results in a segmentation fault that you can then debug from the core dump. However, you would not normally use electricfence that for release code as it has a performance penalty, it is really intended for testing and debugging.
Re: Someone is actually using GnuTLS?
Hopefully like the heartbleed fall-out some big Linux corporate users/backers will put some money in to having it properly reviewed and re-written as needed.
Instead of dicking around with the GUI yet again...
Re: @Sander van der Wal
"What it also did was make the world a worse place. The three letter agencies got free and easy access, and all they had to do was look at the code, find the bugs and do nothing about them."
And how is this worse than closed source from US companies where the three letter agencies got access by one means or another, found the bugs and do nothing about them as they could be used for spying?
Re: And the clients?
"I mean what did they actually do ?"
Probably what most IT folk and businesses do - turn existing stuff in to a product/service that works/sells according to demand.
Re: Look at page 113 of the 'Greenwald' file
I think you will find slide "Page 113" is on page 27 of the PDF.
Re: "who are shamelessly stealing from TrueCrypt"
You might want to look up what stealing means. It implies depriving the rightful owner of something of value.
Given that the moral owners of the TrueCrypt name are not coming forward, and that there is absolutely no sign of them commercialising this product in any way, I don't see what is being "lost" to justify a copyright infringement charge, let along "stealing".
Sure it is an infringement of the license terms, but who is actually suffering? Certainly not the end users who otherwise would have to go to something else that might be much worse in terms of privacy.
Won't that need IE9 or above?
I thought "11 levels above Top Secret" was the latest Spinal Tap album...
I would have hoped that "3 levels above Top Secret" would be flying saucers and such like, not yet another politically sensitive spying-at-scale program.
Re: Greg D
I find that I work at around 60cm from my monitor, so for a 24" HD monitor that is about 0.5mm per pixel. According to Wikipedia the limit of human eye resolution is about 0.21mm at that distance, so I would hardly call that "terrible" resolution.
However, I heartily agree with you that modern monitors are piss-poor and have worse capabilities than ~2002 CRT devices. So yes, 4k is welcome and long overdue, but I still would argue that most folk (OK, those of my age range) will not be working close enough with comfort to benefit so much from the "retina" style DPI.
...not ultra high DPI.
Few folk can work at distances from a monitor where the current DPI is terribly noticeable, certainly not for any length of time. Hence in my humble opinion the really useful market for 4k monitors in the 30" (or a bit more) where having in effect 4 x 15" HD monitors patched together is going to give you useful space for images, text, etc.
With a lot of broadband accounts having ~1GB/day upload limits, you are looking at just under 3 years to upload a TB of data, even assuming 24/7 connections with no down-time.
Yes, multiple sources would spread that burden around, but even so it is still a major problem. How many users, let alone businesses, can wait for months to get data back?
When I first heard of "bitcoin mining" and had not looked it up, I was under the impression that they were "earned" by doing something useful like this and not simple solving a pointless puzzle designed to create logarithmically increasing scarcity.
I doubt the limiting factor in practice would be the end user's storage space though, network bandwidth is going to make the practicalities of accessing TB-sized data sets distributed on home user's PCs a challange.
A great man
Such a shame he died young, but good to see some of his stuff is coming out from the metaphorical locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'.
An example of his mind is in the El Reg article when he died in 2001:
"What we are now focussed on at h2g2 is what happens when people start to share information while they are on the move. Soon we will start to see devices arriving that combine palmtop computers with cellphones with Internet devices with GPS systems. That - in a phrase we hear over and over again when people talk about the Internet - will change everything. You'll be able to read and write to the Guide wherever you are: at the station, in the plane, on a park bench, in your car (pulled over to the side of the road with the handbrake on, of course) in a café. And when you write in something as simple as 'The coffee here is lousy!' the Guide will know exactly what to do with that information and where to put it. And if you see, a few seconds later, a note which says 'Yes, but the cheesecake is good' it might be worth looking round the other tables to see who you've just made contact with."
See, basically he invented the iPhone and Facebook!
Just a shame there were not actually invented by him and he had lived, I bet they would have been a whole lot less shitty to the end user's respect.
Mr. President, we must not allow a lupine directed energy weapon gap!
Re: Where will it all end?
When folk take to putting tape over the cameras?
Re: king of foo
"But surely MS do something fundamentally wrong when it comes to security?"
It is more complex than that.
Modern versions of Windows can be locked down pretty good, but that requires a high level of skill and an attitude of not making life easy if it makes it vulnerable. Home users do not normally fall in to that category, and some (usually small) businesses are run by folk with little more IT knowledge.
What MS also has to battle is a legacy of folk just downloading and running stuff, often while logged in as admin, and just clicking "yes" to every annoying pop-up that asks them if shaftmesideways.exe should be allowed to do XYZ.
In that respect the typical *NIX system user is not expected to do that, and won't normally be logged in as root. Add to that the typical package manager approach to getting most software and it is a different mind-set, more like the Apple walled garden app store.
Re: Paul Crawford Whitter
Do SSD's have a bulk erase option? That would side-step the issue as you could arrange for the data to be erased on panic, and not just the key, thus no encrypted data left to be prosecuted over.
Re: Yes, but...
Yes, I can see how much fun your computer will be once your cat finds the laser spot...
"Tough luck if you have deleted the keys, you still go to jail."
Er, no. The requirement is to hand over any keys in your possession. If you don't know the key because you never memorised it nor backed it up, I'm pretty sure any attempt to jail you for lack of knowledge would fall foul of the human rights act.
Whether they could get you for destroying evidence is another matter, I suspect that would very much depend on showing you activated the destruction because you knew it was the police calling.
Interesting. What about Gallium, etc, for LED lights?
Seems like a very good reason not to use skype really. How many personal conversations would you really want written down?
Re: More Julian Clary I think
So he likes a warm hand on his entrance?
Ahem, to the stage...
Re: The problem with that
AdBlock allows non-intrusive adverts but stops the worst of them, which seems a reasonable deal as those advertisers who play nicely get shown. Also you can white-list sites you like to permit adverts, which is also a fair approach.
Re: Ergo sum
As opposed to rightists who are too busy following orders?
Re: There is one
The problem with the likes of the Chromebook pixel and the Macbook retina is they are expensive largely due to the high resolution. For example, my el-chepo Acer chromebook is 1366 x 768 on an 11.6" screen - that is enough resolution for any viewing distance I can actually use, but the overall screen is just too small!
The option for, say, 1366 x 1024 on a 15.4" screen (4:3 aspect ratio) would give me 33% more vertical space and should not cost much. Scaling to a 17" 4x3 monitor would be even better!
"heaps of suits are doing network diagrams in Visio"
No, probably spreadsheets. But same applies, having a 3x2 screen is much less sucky than 16:9
Re: 50% market penetration, but only 5% ever paid for.
No, just 0.1% phony...
Which bits were different to the official version might worry you, of course...
"Until they realised that no one wants to pirate Windows 8...."
Fixed it for you.
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