* Posts by Pseu Donyme

216 posts • joined 10 May 2011

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SWIFT finally pushes two-factor auth in banks – it only took several multimillion-dollar thefts

Pseu Donyme

How can this happen?

What I find puzzling is that substantial amounts of money can be stolen with fraudulent bank transfers. Or not that so much, actually, but that it can remain missing with the perps uncaught.

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One ad-free day: Three UK to block adverts across network in June

Pseu Donyme

>Some might argue...

There is that. At the same time ads are commercial propaganda (i.e. designed not to inform, but to manipulate). At any rate there is a better way on-line: search paid by its users (with, say, micropayments).

>"Google-dominated ad market"

DoubleClick's (=Google) ad servers market share of 69 % * seems dominant to me; this seems the most relevant single figure to the freedom of speech -angle mentioned above - maybe along with a global search market share of 71 % / 95 % (desktop / mobile) **.

* https://www.datanyze.com/market-share/ad-servers (as of 26MAY2016)

** https://www.netmarketshare.com/search-engine-market-share.aspx?qprid=4&qpcustomd=0 / https://www.netmarketshare.com/search-engine-market-share.aspx?qprid=4&qpcustomd=1 (April 2016)

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Pseu Donyme

Micropayments or some other scheme amounting roughly to what sites get from adverts would be vastly preferable for a number of reasons:

- the current ad business model is a privacy disaster (for a typical user, at least)

- ads are commercial propaganda designed to manipulate and mislead; they undermine the key premise of an efficient market economy i.e. that of transactions between well-informed parties

- the Google-dominated ad market is a market failure / disaster in its in its own right: this is essentially not a market, but a set of interlocking multi-sided markets (search, Android, Google Analytics, Google Maps, ... and the ad distribution itself) where even some of the component markets are practically uncontestable monopolies due to the network effect

- a single company's de facto control of funding for news and other content is a freedom of speech disaster waiting to happen

- ad funded is not really free: the cost is added to the price of products and services; content providers could actually be paid somewhat more if the admen in the middle were cut out

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French authorities raid Google's Paris HQ over tax allegations

Pseu Donyme

Re: Google doesn't have sales in France

> ... it does appear to be legal.

Presumably the French authorities disagree (hence the raid at dawn).

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Half of EU members sidle up to EC: About the data-sharing rules. C'mon. Chill out

Pseu Donyme

Re: More barriers please

I quite agree, although instead of mere barriers I would insist on insurmountable bulwarks against any commercial use of personal information* without freely given, informed consent, revocable at any time; business models must be compatible with data protection (i.e. privacy), not the other way around.

* any data about a natural person, unless it is strictly impossible ever, under any circumstances for the holder of the data or a third party to identify the person to whom the data is related

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EU mulls €3bn fine for Google

Pseu Donyme

While this is a worthy pursuit in its own right - Google has a dominant market position* which it is busy abusing - the really big deal is Google's business model of, essentially, privacy violation for profit on massive, unprecedented scale. For the latter I wouldn't, at all, mind seeing them driven out of the EU (if not existence) by humongous fines (or whatever means, really)**. It is worth noting that the issues are intertwined: ignoring EU privacy / data protection law has given Google a substantial and rather unfair competitive advantage to EU-based outfits having to abide by the same.

* not only with search, but with Android and web advertising, at least

** sadly, the likely outcome is that current arrogance and foot-dragging is replaced with enthusiastic bootlicking once it dawns to Google that serious monies are at stake and with this they emerge relatively unscathed, just a couple of $ billion poorer

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The EU wants you to log into YouTube using your state-issued ID card

Pseu Donyme

From a privacy point of view the idea of using national id cards for logging on to the likes of Google (=Youtube) or Facebook is remarkably clueless. Instead there ought to be an explicit ban against letting them anywhere near the real identity of their users, or, actually, any information which could possibly be used to deduce the same by them or a third party (possibly with a narrow exception to enable investigation of serious crime by allowing IPs to be kept for a limited time for that sole purpose, only to be disclosed by a court order).

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Microsoft, Google bury hatchet – surprisingly, not in each other

Pseu Donyme

Re: encourage government regulators to investigate each other

>Sell them all naked, and make a pile of OS disks available.

Or maybe have Windows pre-installed, but have it ask for an activation code on the first run that'd be on a separate scratch card or somesuch, which could be left at the store for a refund in the amount the OEM pays Microsoft. (I don't see any compelling reason to keep OEM prices secret, on the contrary, requiring all Microsoft-OEM contracts to be public in their entirety would help to keep Microsoft - a de facto monopolist - (a bit more) honest and hence be in the public interest (in particular if the price of Win 10 is supposed to be zero)).

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Ad-blocker blocking websites face legal peril at hands of privacy bods

Pseu Donyme

Re: Bull

> ... ALL information ...

Indeed. While in the US the concern may be only PII in the sense of information sufficient in itself to identify a person (such as name, phone number, ...), the EU data protection regime deals with any and all information about a person even when that information doesn't directly identify a particular person. In practice I'd think it is enough if a such information could be tied to a person by a third party for it to become 'personal information', the collection, distribution or even 'processing' in the most general sense of which is subject to restrictions, a key one among them being that this requires consent of the person about whom the the information is. Hence, e.g. collecting IP addresses so that they can associated with other information such as pages visited is verboten - or at least this is the German data protection authority's stance (with which I quite agree).

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Tweak Privacy Shield rules to make people happy? Nah – US govt

Pseu Donyme

The real problem is that the US (govt and companies) ought to take the issue - right to privacy in general and its modern aspect data protection in particular - seriously, but obviously they don't; ultimately the solution is for the US to adopt proper data protection legislation like just about any other advanced country, for US companies operating in the EU the solution is simply making a sincere effort to abide by the law there.

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Prof squints at Google's mobile monopoly defence, shakes head

Pseu Donyme

Re: Clarification please

>does Google enforce this in some way?

The beauty of it (from Google's point of view) is that it doesn't need to: at this point the network effect* alone results in a practically unsurmountable competitive disadvantage for other app stores.

* i.e. the value of a product or service (to a user) gets higher the more other users there are (which happens because of the self-amplifying cycle of: more Google Play end users -> more apps distributed via Google Play -> more Google Play end users -> ... )

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So you’d sod off to China to escape the EU, Google? Really?

Pseu Donyme

>The West could make its own alternatives...

In theory yes, but in practice not really. The linchpin is the app store, which affords Google a stranglehold on the mobile market akin to what Microsoft has with PCs*. This is because of the network effect, where the value of a product or service is dependent on the number of others using it; in practice this means that once a player in a market gains some advantage to competition this will snowball into a self-amplifying cycle of increasing advantage resulting in a (de facto) monopoly, which also tends to be persistent because of the massive advantage from the network effect is also results in a practically insurmountable barrier of entry.

* the more people use Windows software [Google Play], the more sense it makes to develop software for Windows instead of other platforms [distribute via Google Play instead of other app stores], which results in more people using Windows software, which results in more Windows software being developed, which results in more people using Windows software, ...

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Panama Papers hack: Unpatched WordPress, Drupal bugs to blame?

Pseu Donyme

re: US connections, relative lack of

http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/panama-papers-why-arent-there-more-american-names

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US govt says it has cracked killer's iPhone, legs it from Apple fight

Pseu Donyme

>Okay, who called this off?

A possibility is that both Apple and FBI did i.e. there was an agreement behind the scenes to Apple to continue unlocking its devices as it has until recently and the FBI to back off from the court case with a mealymouthed explanation: stakes were high for both and the outcome was unpredictable (not only from the courts, but potentially from the legislators as well). I suppose this is unlikely and I would like to think better of Apple*, but then they were among the other prominent US tech corps on the PRISM slides courtesy of Ed Snowden. Also, in this case Apple seems to have found its zeal for privacy advocacy only after asking the FBI to issue its application for the unlock tool under seal**.

* a trivial reason being that I'd like to eventually replace my Blackberry with something decent, privacywise, of course it is great to see a big tech player putting emphasis on privacy, but then doubt towards tech from the US is not without reason

** http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/19/technology/how-tim-cook-became-a-bulwark-for-digital-privacy.html

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London's $40m 'flash crash' trader is to face extradition to the US

Pseu Donyme

Re: Fix

Indeed. As far as I can see a stock market would work perfectly well if the highest bids were matched with the lowest asks (where bid >= ask, of course) at the end of the day and where the price paid would be the mean of the two ((bid+ask)/2) for each match: after all, stock markets are closed overnight and during weekends so the need to have a current price by the nanosecond simply isn't there. (The bids and asks should also either be final (no canceling) and/or only published at the end of the day after the trades are final to further avoid manipulation.)

(re: free market, a bit of an oxymoron, really, as anything free in the sense of lacking enforced rules ceases to be a market in a practically useful sense. A fair market, in the sense of a level playing field, would seem like a more pragmatic goal.)

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Apple tells iPhone court 'the Founders would be appalled' by Feds

Pseu Donyme

Re: @ Pseu Donyme

> How do you come to that conclusion? The SCOTUS ...

While a pragmatic summary of the Citizens United decision might be "money = speech" it is still not "code = speech". Also, Citizens United was in the context of campaign (advertising) financing intimately tied to political speech, whereas Apple's 'speech' here is software i.e. algorithms for computers to carry out, not disseminating and/or discussing facts and opinions between people. (Also, the crux of Citizens United was elsewhere: whether campaign financing may give rise to corruption or the appearance thereof. The implausible finding was that it doesn't )

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Pseu Donyme

If the best Apple('s lawyers) can do here is to invoke free speech, the odds of them prevailing don't look very good: this is quite a stretch at best, not made any better by a corporate entity claiming what at its core is an individual right.

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Hand in hand, TSMC, ARM head to 7nm server chip land

Pseu Donyme

Somehow this reminded me of the boast: "In the USSR we have the biggest microchips in the world." (a mock one making fun of their propaganda, of course)

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Obama puts down his encrypted phone long enough to tell us: Knock it off with the encryption

Pseu Donyme

I'm mystified, ...

...deeply mystified as to what a terrorist could possibly have against the local building society.

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Google gives ringing endorsement to US VPN providers with 'right to be forgotten' expansion

Pseu Donyme

Re: bollocks this is not about personal data

>There is no 'personal data' in search results as personal data is currently defined.

The US definition of PII is rather narrow (~data from which an individual can be directly identified such as a name, SSN, phone number ...), however, the EU data protection directive definition of personal data is much wider (~data about a person, even if it doesn't directly identify a person, but can potentially be connected to a person by a third party). Still, I can't see how a search by a person's name could be carried out and the results displayed in the US without exporting the name from a server in the EU at some point, if that is where the information related to the name originally resides.

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Pseu Donyme

Re: Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Say no more...

>Data collected in Europe should remain exclusively in Europe...

This can be an issue with (Google) search even if the results 'to be forgotten' are not displayed within the EU, but personal information has been exported from the EU to display or otherwise use it elsewhere. Such export is legal only if the receiving jurisdiction has proper data protection in place. Until recently the lack thereof in the US was supposedly covered with 'Safe Harbour', which meant that Google & other US companies taking advantage of it were supposed to honor the EU data protection principles with the exported data, the problem being that they not only don't but can't.

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How the FBI will lose its iPhone fight, thanks to 'West Coast Law'

Pseu Donyme

Indeed

For science to have a change to defy law with the iPhone Apple would need to implement encryption in a way they themselves cannot circumvent. (One way of doing this would be adding a tamper-proof chip akin what is in a SIM to keep the encryption key, which would only spit it out given the correct passcode, and, unlike a SIM, would irrevocably erase its contents after too many misses).

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Facebook can block folks using pseudonyms in Germany – court

Pseu Donyme

This is a bit of a surprise given the ECJ's Weltimmo* -decision, which would seem to say that even a minimal legal presence in a EU member country means that a company is subject to the data protection law / DPA of that member country.

I suppose Facebook might have been careful not to have any formal legal presence in Germany, in which case (by the Weltimmo decision) the German DPA should request the Irish one to act (and, if not happy with the result, they'd probably need to take the Irish DPA to the ECJ, likely by the way of Irish courts as happened in the Safe Harbour case).

* http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2015-10/cp150111en.pdf

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Ad-blockers are a Mafia-style 'protection racket' – UK's Minister of Fun

Pseu Donyme

Re: Ad-blockers are a Mafia-style 'protection racket

Advertising itself is a protection racket in that it provides only a relative advantage: if you were the only one to advertise there would an advantage to competion, when everyone does there is just a cost (ultimately paid by the costomers, of course).

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Facebook's Latin America veep set free by appeals court

Pseu Donyme

Re: "What, you mean that this wasn't written by script kiddies?"

> ... those in power would understand things like math ...

The Guardian piece linked to would seem to say that WhatsApp has simply ignored the Brazilian requests: "Investigators first contacted WhatsApp, which was bought by Facebook in 2014, about four months ago but have yet to receive a response". If so, the fault lies with WhatsApp / Facebook not the judge's understanding IT issues. Also, the detained executive seems to have gotten out on a legal technicality: "A judge ruled he was wrongly detained because he was not named personally in the legal proceedings".

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Safe Harbour v2.0 greenlights six bulk data collection excuses

Pseu Donyme

"Privacy shield"

I suppose it is aptly named in a sense: it shields privacy from us EU plebs.

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ICO fined cold-call firm £350k – so directors put it into liquidation

Pseu Donyme

Methinks directors should be personally liable for ICO fines in case a LLC fails to pay them for any reason (unless, of course, they go to court to argue otherwise and the court finds in their favor).

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Apple fires legal salvo at FBI for using All Writs law in iPhone brouhaha

Pseu Donyme

Re: One thing I don't understand

@Steve Todd, the way I have understood it, there is a 256-bit constant unique to each chip baked into it at manufacture. The AES-key(s) are derived from this and the passcode. The constant (AFAIK) is physically read-only*, it cannot be overwritten. Unless there is persistent, writable storage outside the phone's flash, a flash emulator should work to defeat the retry limit as anything to be wiped would have to be in the flash which would be restored as needed (or possibly be read-only altogether). What I think is overwritten when the 10 try limit is hit is some more key material stored in the flash without which the AES-keys needed to decrypt the file system cannot be derived. Likewise the delay would be defeated (to some extent) by a reboot with the emulated flash restored, if the only place to keep a persistent copy of the retry counter is the flash.

*or strictly speaking not even quite that from software point of view: it can't be accessed directly, only fed to to the AES-hardware. Still, firmware can brute force the passcode as it can generate the AES keys for all passcodes and see what decrypts.

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Pseu Donyme

Re: One thing I don't understand

In an earlier related discussion a fellow commentard suggested replacing the flash with an emulator with a copy of the original data. Since this could be restored to original (or maybe be read-only to start with) it would defeat the erase-after-10-passcode-mismatches feature (provided that the flash is the only persistent storage in the device as it likely is (?)). The increasing delay between tries would still be there, but this might be worked around to some extent by rebooting the device with the original flash content loaded into the flash emulator.

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Zuck: Facebook won't retry Free Basics in India

Pseu Donyme

Facebook is an exploitative* parasitic** monopoly*** that should not exist in the first place, but unfortunately does due to the lack of data and consumer protection law in the US and inefficient enforcement thereof in the EU.

*ads are commercial propaganda designed to manipulate and misinform; they are ultimately paid by their victim, the consumer as a higher price of products/services

**akin to doping in sports advertising provides only a relative advantage: if you were the only one among competition to do it there would be a real advantage, assuming everyone else does it, it is just amounts to an extra cost, effectively a tax to paid the admen

***not in a strict dictionary sense, a more accurate term would be "controlling market position" (a synonym in colloquial use?)

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US DoJ files motion to compel Apple to obey FBI iPhone crack order

Pseu Donyme

Re: Nope...

> 1) ... they'll almost certainly plug forever in the next release to avoid a repetition.

We'll see, as long as it is possible to do it with a special build of the firmware it would have to be the next hardware release though*. (Secure enclave doesn't apply to a 5c, but it doesn't really help since it too runs replaceable firmware - or that is my take from: http://blog.cryptographyengineering.com/2014/10/why-cant-apple-decrypt-your-iphone.html ).

* e.g. add a tamper-proof chip akin what is in a SIM to keep the encryption key which will only spit it out given the correct passcode (and unlike a SIM, will irrevocably erase its contents after those ten misses).

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Confused as to WTF is happening with Apple, the FBI and a killer's iPhone? Let's fix that

Pseu Donyme

Re: Simple solution...

> ... if the flash memory were to be cloned ...

I was thinking along these lines myself, but it turns out that there is a unique per chip 256-bit number baked in the A6 chip (in an internal ROM section or somesuch on the silicon); this and the passcode are used to derive the encryption keys; since there is no external interface to access this* it cannot simply be copied / cloned to be used in a VM.

* even the firmware cannot read this directly, it can only have it fed to the AES hardware

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Why Tim Cook is wrong: A privacy advocate's view

Pseu Donyme

> http://blog.cryptographyengineering.com/2014/10/why-cant-apple-decrypt-your-iphone.html

Thanks for the link! :)

The article explains why Apple can in fact decrypt an iPhone given physical access. A simplified version seems to be that the AES keys are ultimately derived from the passcode and a 256-bit unique per chip key (UID) baked in the core SoC (A6 in the case of a 5c) at the time of manufacture. The UID is not accessible to software as such, but can be fed to the AES hardware via an internal hardware path. This means that firmware could brute force the derived key(s) by going trough the passcodes using the AES hardware and seeing what decrypts. For simple/short keys at least this is quite feasible: using the 80 ms per iteration from the above article a 4 digit code space would be completely covered in 800 s.

The 5c / A6 does not have the 'secure enclave' so this is not a consideration for the case at hand, but since the code running there is also a part of the firmware provided by Apple this wouldn't seem to make a difference for the newer models (from 5s / A7 onward) with it. Also, apparently, the ten try limit and the increasing delay between tries are just firmware features.

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Depressed? Desperate for a ciggie? Blame the Neanderthals

Pseu Donyme

Absolutely, give the man a beer. On a related note - as we now know that the snap has been taken within the Reg US offices - the chap on the left is surely our dear hack A. Orlowski?

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No, HMG, bulk data surveillance is NOT inevitable

Pseu Donyme

Re: This is not just a UK problem

Fortunately the ECJ has found this invalid (http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2014-04/cp140054en.pdf).

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AdBlock Plus, websites draft peace deal so ads can bypass blockade

Pseu Donyme

Selling (us) out (to a greater extent than they used to) then. Then again, how else to run a business? Then again - with the way Capitalism is apparently heading - Communism is beginning to sound more alluring than it used to.

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It killed Safe Harbor. Will Europe's highest court now kill off hyperlinks?

Pseu Donyme

Re: Case should not be about hyperlinks at all

@AC

The 'cookie law' mandates user consent for persistent cookies. The cookie banners and such are ICO's (flawed) idea as to how obtain that consent. While all persistent cookies may not be tracking cookies, all tracking cookies need to be persistent to be useful, so ICO's guidance at the time could have been using session cookies only without freely* and actively given user consent (for persistent cookies). The result of this guidance would have been eliminating tracking cookies without consent (which I think was the 'cookie law' 's intent).

It seems that ICO could have issued the above guidance at the time. This would have been much more consistent with the 'cookie law' 's spirit as a privacy law, so I'd be inclined to blame ICO, rather than the law itself for the current mess. What the 'cookie law' 's authoritative interpretation is , though, will eventually be sorted out in the ECJ, the key issue being the question of user consent (where I think ICO has has made a particular mess of it).

*freely = consent can be given or *not*, that is, the site must work regardless

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Pseu Donyme

Re: Case should not be about hyperlinks at all

>... ridiculous 'cookie law' ...

I do beg to differ: from a privacy point of view the 'cookie law' (i.e. persistent (= tracking) cookies require user consent whille session cookies sufficient for most any other purpose do not) is about the most sensible law ever. It is another matter if ICO's intepretation thereof (failing to make the distinction between persistent vs. session cookies, among other things) is ridiculous.

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So. Are Europeans just a whining bunch of data protection hypocrites?

Pseu Donyme

The long and short of it ...

..., I daresay, is that prior to Snowden the US enjoyed a fair bit of trust, which, of course, has not been the case since.

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Safe Harbor ripped and replaced with Privacy Shield in last-minute US-Europe deal

Pseu Donyme

Re: These comments missing the point?

>Schrems case was not against Uncle Sam's processing of his private ...

Um, yes and no ... originally it was 'only'* about Facebook, but after the Snowden expose he added the Uncle Sam -angle to his complaint to the Irish DPA, which ultimately resulted in ECJ's rejection of Safe Harbour on this very basis.

* of course, the outcome could / would likely have wider implications, say, for Google

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Pseu Donyme

US puts up its usual smoke and mirrors show and EU Commission pretends to be impressed. This would have been a change for the latter to at least recognize the problem for what it is, which would have been a start in doing something about it. Hopefully this needs to get through EU Parliament and gets shredded there (?). I suppose a contribution to Max Schrems' europe-v-facebook.org wouldn't go amiss in any case.

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UK concerned over EU law plans on trade of data for digital content

Pseu Donyme

>Innovative = scammy. Kill with fire.

Indeed. It would be much better to have multiple (relatively) simple two-sided (buyer/seller) markets than complex multi-sided ones such as Google's or Facebook's advertising-targeted-by-snooping enabled by an emipre of interlocked, "free" services where the meaning (or even legality) of the consumer contract is unclear; that is, if the consumer is to sell bits and pieces of her privacy, then let those bits and the compensation for them to be precisely defined, for the latter this would seem to mean (a recurring) cash payment.

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Facebook tells Belgian government its use of English invalidates privacy case

Pseu Donyme

>If cookies originating outside the borders of Belgium...

It doesn't matter where the cookies originate. The issue is that by (EU wide) law setting cookies require user consent. (Strictly speaking this applies to persistent cookies only, session cookies do not require consent, AFAIK).

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Pseu Donyme

This and the earlier "security" excuse are so extremely weak that it can be concluded that Facebook's - most competent, no doubt - lawyers have no real defense here. A corollary is that Facebook has acted full well knowing that what they do is illegal (as the same or similarly competent lawyers must have throughly vetted what they do).

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'No safe level' booze guidelines? Nonsense, thunder stats profs

Pseu Donyme

Re: What's the point of living?

>Piracy causes terrorism.

Good to know: until now I was under the impression that it merely caused Communism.

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Obama: What will solve America's gun problem? What could it be? *snaps fingers* Technology!

Pseu Donyme

Re: Simple fix - Do what Australia did and ban them

>... they are rather easy to manufacture in the average kitchen.

With factory made components (propellant, primers, cases and bullets) and tools, as you say, rather easy; without them, however, rather hard if not practically impossible. Of these the hardest are probably the primers (for a want of a consistently stable yet sensitive enough compound to be reliably set off by the firing pin) and a propellant (powder) to produce a safe and consistent pressure curve (not that the mechanical precision of factory made bullets, cases and tools would be trivial). That is, while shooting supplies for a blunderbuss might be made in an average kitchen by a (rather) knowledgeable person, those for modern firearms are quite another matter.

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Windows for Warships? Not on our new aircraft carriers, says MoD

Pseu Donyme

>EUNIX?

EUNUX?

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Google gets all lawyered up for ‘ambiguous’ EU anti-trust case

Pseu Donyme

>Search is a contestable monopoly, ...

Um ... no, it is a case of a multi-sided market, which results in a incontestable monopoly* in practice.

*used colloquially: "dominant market position" would be a more accurate term (there is an apparent tendency of actual, real-life markets being too inefficient to result in a monopoly in a strict dictionary sense)

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