* Posts by Graham Cobb

361 posts • joined 13 May 2009

Page:

US state legal supremos show lots of love for proposed CLOUD Act (a law to snoop on citizens' info stored abroad)

Graham Cobb

Re: Rapid legislation is never a good idea

Not only is it rapid, it is supported by Theresa May!

I am just waiting to see her insistence that the "bilateral agreement" between the US and UK for this is fair, symmetrical and based on human rights.

8
0
Graham Cobb

Re: Wow.... just... wow!

I would also expect such co-hosting situations, like the T-Systems owned and run Azure/Office365 installations in Magdeburg and Frankfurt, where Microsoft have no administrative or physical access to the servers, to mean that the CLOUD act would have no affect on the data held in those facilities.

I don't share your optimism. It will surely apply to any case where the US company has any access to the data at all, whether through its own employees or through contractual arrangements with third parties. It is nothing to do with ownership, or even control, of the servers.

Are you really sure there is nothing in the contract between T-Systems and Microsoft allowing Microsoft to access any customer data?

6
2

Australia joins the 'decrypt it or we'll legislate' club

Graham Cobb

Re: Sauce for the goose...

One of the problems with the whole debate is that Americans generally loathe and distrust their own government in a way that all other civilised societies don't.

Oh, how soon we forget.

I realise you are probably a Millennial, but my parents actually fought in WWII, and actually knew people who had been in concentration camps. Even I lived through a period where I expected nuclear destruction imminently.

I know why human rights such as the right to free speech, the right to free association and the right to privacy are critical to any functioning democracy.

Please read history. And, when you are holidaying in Germany please visit a Stasi museum.

14
0
Graham Cobb

It is important that we hold their chosen electricity company responsible when they use electric lights to plan unlawful activity.

As for the manufacturers of the vans used to deliberately run people down -- they are obviously accessories to the crime.

3
0

Opportunity knocked? Rover survives Martian winter, may not survive budget cuts

Graham Cobb

Robot manufacturing

As I am no expert on space (but very interested, ever since I read the Radio Times double page spread on how Apollo 8 would go around the moon, and watched the moon landing on TV), can someone who is, explain to me why we do not seem to be working on any projects to (learn how to) build autonomous manufacturing facilities somewhere convenient (as high up the gravity well as we can)?

It seems that sending squishies out for significant exploration is probably (i) very hard and (ii) very wasteful. So we need to send more unmanned devices. Surely some of the ones we should be concentrating on are those which would provide assembly facilities for others? Automated factories, if you will.

I don't know whether the best place to build stuff is on the moon (convenient for holding things still, maybe source for some material?), in moon orbit (not too hard to get to, reasonably stable and could be linked to static facilities on the surface if there is any advantage), geosynchronous orbit (convenient for comms but not sure it has any other advantage), low earth orbit (easiest to get to, could even be manned, but there is still significant gravity well to escape for whatever gets built), some Lagrange point?

Of course there are many hard problems to solve. But aren't these the sorts of problems we need to solve if we are to explore the solar system? They seem much more solvable and much more useful than just sending a tiny number of people to walk around briefly.

What am I missing?

9
1

Here we go again... UK Prime Minister urges nerds to come up with magic crypto backdoors

Graham Cobb

Re: Licensing of Operators

Except that the bad guys (terrorist groups, mafia, etc) have no need of collecting revenues for the service. So, they don't need a licence.

So, as always, the proposed restrictions just prevent safety for good guys and leave the bad guys untouched.

3
0
Graham Cobb

Re: Metadata

Bitmessage had some of those attributes. Its big downside was that it didn't scale as it effectively broadcast every message to every recipient as it has no idea who the destination was (if you could decrypt the message you must be the intended recipient).

I don't know if the bitmessage network is still running. It was an interesting experiment.

3
0
Graham Cobb

And I still don't know if I've forgiven the LibDems for this yet

For what? For killing off ID cards? Both Labour and the Conservatives were in favour of ID Cards but the Lib Dems killed it by making it a condition of supporting a coalition.

It is a shame they weren't able to get both that and no tuition fees as conditions but I think they made the correct choice. I realise others may disagree.

It is a shame that people chose to punish them for not achieving the impossible (killing both) and so have left us with this intolerable unrestrained Conservative government instead.

5
0

Blockheads changing company names to surf crypto wave get a warning from the SEC

Graham Cobb

Re: A bit like job ads with 5 years experience wanted of a 2 year old technology

Er, no. You may want to re-read the paragraph. All the early adopter needs to do is not "immediately offer securities, without providing adequate disclosure to Main Street investors about those changes and the risks involved".

All he is saying is... if you aren't an expert, and you decide to cash-in for some publicity, then you can't go fooling inexperienced investors.

3
0

The Reg visits London Met Police's digital and electronics forensics labs

Graham Cobb

Re: A question for all my fellow (and fellowess) El-Reg readers.

Three main reasons:

1. The inaccuracy problem and the fact that a hard-working and over-stretched officer is likely to attach too much weight to either a match or a rejection. Particularly as it may have the effect of meaning someone has to "prove they are innocent" instead of the other way around.

2. The massive increase in trackability. It becomes much too easy for a lazy (or over-worked) officer to assume that someone who has come to their notice (even if not convicted of any offence) is likely to offend and so should be tracked and watched. So, for example, someone stopped, questioned and free to go at a demonstration may find they are noted by an automatic system every time they appear on any camera and even prevented from accessing future demonstrations (in the interest of keeping out so-called troublemakers). This has already been a real and documented problem with vehicles (see the "John Catt extremism" case and also the Witney Cat Farm). Treating someone as a suspect before they have committed any crime is not how policing is done in a free society.

3. The general principle: one determining feature of UK society is that you are free to go about your business without explaining or identifying yourself, carrying any identification or even staying limited to one identity, as long as you are not committing a crime. In the 1960's there was a real danger of nuclear war and, as a small child, I was frightened by this. My parents didn't try to tell me not to worry, or that they would keep me safe, they explained why we would fight against communism, whatever the cost. The example they used was that communist police stopped people on the streets and demanded to see their papers: which would never happen in a free society.

13
0

Good lord, Kodak's stock is up 120 per cent. How? New film? Oh. It launched a crypto-coin

Graham Cobb

Re: Forget the Coin

an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way

Yes. The important parts are "open" and "distributed".

Closed and centralised ledgers recording transactions have been around since the invention of legal systems. The whole point of blockchain is to allow these ledgers to be open and decentralised. So, not owned by a particular company, or part of a particular service.

That is what 80% of these blockchain startup scams miss. It isn't an application for blockchain if the ledger is owned, controlled or operated by a single entity -- it is just an old fashioned business that wants to pretend to be something new to fool investors.

8
0

Woo-yay, Meltdown CPU fixes are here. Now, Spectre flaws will haunt tech industry for years

Graham Cobb

Re: 2020 vision

For Intel? You may apparently have missed out the step to "fund and recruit a team of managers and technical people with a clue", which may not happen quickly.

I am no lover of Intel (I have used AMD exclusively for many years because I believe it is important to support diversity) but I am absolutely certain that Intel have some of the very best managers and technical people in the CPU design business, and they also have strong links with excellent academics.

Of course, with hindsight, both Meltdown and Spectre expose "obvious" design faults but it has taken, what? thirty years? for these to come to light since speculative execution became a common design feature.

I am sure Intel have some of the world's best working on the various issues exposed: how to close the cache exfiltration side-channel specifically; careful review of all other (previously unnoticed) system state changes caused during speculative execution to find other side-channels before the world does; redesign of cache, branch-prediction, translation-buffer and other features to reduce the opportunities both for influence from one process/ring/core on another and to reduce their use as side channels for attacks; and a whole lot more which we (as not CPU designers) can't even think of.

My fear is not that Intel doesn't have clever-enough people to do this, but that they will do it in private and not share their results. As the industry leader, I hope they are willing to share their learnings with the industry.

10
0

Developers, developers, developers: How 'serverless' crowd dropped ops like it's hot

Graham Cobb

Re: Cloud, REST, HTTP, PHP, trendy NoSQL DB de-jour, blah blah, whatever...

If the new app can be built as small seperate RPCs (because thats all this really is) communicating via queues then its A) not realtime, B) inefficient C) become an unmanageable mess at any reasonable code size and far harder to debug than even the worst event driven program.

Complete rubbish. You have no idea what you are talking about.

Real-time, efficient, message-passing kernels have been around in embedded systems for over 30 years. Large real-time applications have been designed and built on them very successfully. I can tell you, from personal experience, that they are much more manageable and much easier to debug than integrated, event-drive programs.

Just the built-in, optional but always available, real-time message tracing makes it a breeze -- I never added a single debugging printf to a piece of professional code until I stopped using those environments! And the simulators we had which allowed us to simulate the message-passing kernel as a user process on a workstation with the full real services running and a full debugger attached allowed us to do easy debugging of complex kernel and driver-level code.

Of course, AWS Lambda is not a real-time, efficient, kernel for embedded systems. But the development process it enables is extremely powerful, friendly, efficient and already widely used. Only toy (or "enterprise") applications are built as monoliths.

5
1

European Commission intervenes in Microsoft Irish data centre spat

Graham Cobb

Re: I wish the European Commission luck in getting any US court to listen to it.

Clearly the US can make any laws it likes, US courts will enforce them, and US entities must follow them.

However, the result of the current laws are that US companies will be unable to do business in Europe (and maybe other parts of the world) due to conflicts of laws. This isn't the first time such laws have been made (for example, in 1977 the US passed a law preventing US companies complying with the Arab boycott of Israel, which impacted US companies' business in Arab countries). Usually these are then fudged. It is pleasing that in this case the DoJ has overplayed its hand and ended up likely to see a Supreme Court judgement supporting it but destroying the current fudge enabling US business in Europe.

I am guessing that as soon as the judgement is delivered, the real US powers (corporations) will call in the government and tell them to fix it.

4
0

Europe Commission thunders: Tech firms must do more to remove extremist content

Graham Cobb

On the contrary... I believe the platforms should have more protections: open debate and discussion are the answer, not censorship. The way to win is to win the hearts and minds: better education and understanding, less discrimination, better jobs and future, redirecting the energy and resentment from young people towards providing better lives for their community. Oh, and stopping feeding the foreign wars they feel compelled to support.

The war against terrorism is being won: terrorists are already reduced to running people over in vehicles. It will take a long time to win the war, because it requires turning around institutional problems, but it will be won by positive actions, not censorship. Think back to the Irish troubles and how long that took to resolve. It wasn't done by censorship.

7
0

London mayor: Self-driving cars? Not without jacked-up taxes, you don't!

Graham Cobb

Re: Missing the point.

I think this is the point. And I will be surprised if this isn't TfL's real main concern.

Driverless, electric cars will encourage people to not own them but use them like much-cheaper taxis. That will drive a lot of people away from much more efficient mass-transport (trains and even buses) to very inefficient (in terms of road space as well as other resources like energy) driverless cars with one occupant. Much more convenient, door-to-door, and no parking, insurance, capital, etc costs.

That will really screw up transport in London.

I think the only answer will end up being some form of congestion-based road-pricing (at very high rates in congested areas) for driverless cars. The tax revenues will be enormous but the personal freedom we all imagine that driverless cars will bring will be non-existent.

Presumably TfL aren't talking about this now because no one wants to point out that the automated cars emperor has no clothes. At least while there is money to be made from gullible investors.

1
0

For goodness sake, stop the plod using facial recog, London mayor told

Graham Cobb

Re: Of course the police dont want a national strategy

I am not particularly worried about crime. I am certainly not worried about terrorism -- terrorists reduced to running people over in vehicles and attacking with knives are no longer a serious threat to public safety.

I am worried, however, about political surveillance: surveillance of the people protecting my freedoms and way of life such as journalists, campaigning lawyers and even the many political activists I do not agree with. I need to be confident that the police are not returning to 1970's levels of involvement in politics.

Tracking, watching or recording people who are not already suspected of a crime (or their cars) interferes with our rights of free expression, assembly and political activity and must be illegal.

23
1

Anonymized location-tracking data proves anything but: Apps squeal on you like crazy

Graham Cobb

Re: Don't worry

To be fair, laws like this are important and do help with the many commercially-oriented concerns (most big consumer companies do not like to be caught out systematically breaking laws). So, this law is important to stop, for example, insurance companies de-anonymising data to drive health insurance premiums.

Of course, the law needs to be well-drafted, and include serious penalties for commercial infringement, while also protecting research. None of those apply in this case, unfortunately.

8
0

ATM fees shake-up may push Britain towards cashless society

Graham Cobb

It isn't just the government... I always pay by cash in supermarkets because I don't want the shop, or the card company, profiling me. Particularly if they are thinking of selling the data on ("this guy buys a lot of wine -- probably a good idea to put his health insurance premiums up").

When the shops & banks are willing to pay me for giving them useful data (I would require well over 1% cashback) I will consider using cards.

6
0
Graham Cobb

Re: Hang on a sec...

I suspect many of the ATMs round here (a rural area) do make a loss. They are mostly inside small shops and I suspect the shopkeepers tolerate a small loss in order to get the additional foot traffic (I have certainly gone to use the ATM and left having bought several things I hadn't planned). A really big problem with village shops is just getting volume of traffic so they can sell stuff before it hits end-of-life. This is the same reason some are still willing to have Post Office functions -- not to make money but to get people into the shop.

Even a small reduction in charges probably will cause several of those to disappear as the shopkeeper decides they can't afford the fractionally higher loss on already very small profits. Which is a shame as in these cases they really do provide an important service, often offering the only ATM in a village.

3
0

UK financial regulator confirms it is probing Equifax mega-breach

Graham Cobb

Re: What Exactly Was The Breach ???

As I said in an earlier thread, it is time we forced the credit reference agencies to clean up their act and severely limited their capabilities:

Reform should mean that data kept must be limited to a small number of permitted categories, all recent and personal (not hearsay or "linked"), with the sources clear, and limited to clear factual data which can be easily either confirmed or refuted and immediately fixed without the co-operation of the source.

Combine that with full control by the subject: full visibility not only of the data but history of all requests and responses (with future notifications if they wish) and full control over who may or may not make requests (able to be changed at any time).

Yes, this would mean credit checks would be less conservative, and there would be more bad debt. But the world won't end.

2
0

uBlock Origin ad-blocker knocked for blocking hack attack squawking

Graham Cobb

Re: disagree with Scott and Troy

I'm curious how your privacy is decreased by sending a CSP report, especially if that report is sent back to the same host.

I don't know. Possible issues may be discovering how I use GreaseMonkey, or DeCentralEyes.

But just because neither of us can work out how to abuse a new feature not widely in use at all yet, that does not give me any confidence that it cannot be abused. It hasn't been very long since no one realised that canvas was a privacy violation.

As a general principle, I do not permit anyone to receive anything except the most limited information. I don't use UBO (I have other tools) but certainly will not be permitting CSP reports to be sent to most sites. I might make a few exceptions if it seems particularly worthwhile for some site and I particularly trust them. Just like I make a few exceptions to allow some applications to report crashes.

2
0

Microsoft faces Dutch crunch over Windows 10 private data slurp

Graham Cobb

Re: Blaming North Korea?

So what happens when you need to open a very formatted MS Office documents.

Yes, the Microsoft Office software is good, if rather expensive. Particularly Outlook. I can certainly understand why medium-to-large businesses use it, and why it drives them to run Windows. Personally, I have MS Office running under PlayOnLinux for use when I absolutely need it, but I acknowledge that it took some effort.

Most consumers, however, do not need MS Office installed on their PC and are perfectly happy with LibreOffice and/or online tools. Small businesses have to make the choice: LibreOffice and Thunderbird (maybe combined with web-based tools) are probably fine for their needs. Unfortunately I think it is other tools (payroll, accounting, tax & HR software, SEO and marketing tools, photo & video processing, etc) plus cheap and easy support (local PC company) which drive them to use Windows.

8
2

UK Treasury Committee chairman calls on Equifax to answer for breach omnishambles

Graham Cobb

Regulation of credit references

The credit reference business needs some serious regulation. Yes, credit checks (for businesses and individuals) are important to keep our economy functioning but the processes and data behind that should be extremely heavily regulated (one level down from health data).

Reform should mean that data kept must be limited to a small number of permitted categories, all recent and personal (not hearsay or "linked"), with the sources clear, and limited to clear factual data which can be easily either confirmed or refuted and immediately fixed without the co-operation of the source. The data subjects must be able to see all data held on them, all requests made, and all analysis/reports made and the data subject must be able to put blocks on access to their data from certain sources or for certain types of requests (understanding that that might mean they are refused credit).

Yes, this would make credit reporting less useful -- with a higher risk of bad debt. But so be it -- the economy won't collapse over that. That should be the price paid by an industry which gets a free pass in terms of receiving, keeping, and processing, personal data without permission.

4
0

Seagate fires NASty volley of 12TB spinners with lifebelt for fried data

Graham Cobb

Re: Don't buy Seagate

On the other hand, I bought a Seagate 10TB IronWolf in July 2016, run continuously since, with well over 100TB of writes in that time and have had no problems with it at all. No reallocated sectors or uncorrectable errors at all. I am just replacing it with a 12TB drive and will move it to being a backup disk in my NAS.

I have several other Seagates with no problems with any. I don't believe they are any better, or any worse, than any other major manufacturer nowadays.

So, don't believe the anecdotes about one drive being more reliable than another. With current technology they all seem to be very close in reliability. Any drive can fail at any time; most will not fail until well after you have stopped using them; and no ordinary user will see any measurable difference between manufacturers.

2
0

Home Sec Amber Rudd: Yeah, I don't understand encryption. So what?

Graham Cobb

Who defines what is "terrorist material"? Government could decree any sites working on disrupting their plans are "terrorist material".

Or what happens when the government go all Spanish and decide that calls for Scottish independence are illegal?

Seriously, after this weekend, in a supposedly civilised, EU country with military levels of force against people expressing peaceful support of their elected representatives by just voting, I don't think the government have a leg to stand on when discussing supposedly anti-terrorist legislation.

19
2

How Apple is taming the ad biz. Just don't expect Google or Zuck to follow

Graham Cobb

Re: Logical move for Apple

As it said, Google is not really affected.

That is only true if you visit Google at least once a day.

Sure, most people do visit the search engine once per day, although not everyone searches for something every day - plenty of people spend whole days in Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram. if you miss a day does Google lose the info about what you were doing that day?

More interestingly, some people have switched to another search engine. For example, I search using Startpage. I don't use Gmail so that means I almost never visit Google at all!

So, does this mean that those trying to make big advertising less effective should push really hard for people to search using Startpage or DuckDuckGo? If a significant number of people using Safari did that, would that make a noticeable dent in Google's advertising capabilities?

6
0

More are paying to stream music, but YouTube still holds the value gap

Graham Cobb

What has UGC got to do with streaming?

46 per cent of on-demand music streaming is from Google's video website

OK. But how much of that is from UGC vs. uploaded deliberately by the musician/copyright holder/agent?

This is a genuine question. I imagine that it is a tiny proportion. Is it actually a significant proportion? How much? Pointers to published data, please.

I realise I am not in the target demographic (I don't stream or pirate music -- I buy it), but the (very small amount of) music I stream from YouTube is to check out something a friend has recommended to see if I am interested in buying more of it. And I don't think it has ever been UGC -- it has always been a clearly authorised upload, exactly for that purpose. Why would YT pay anyone for that advertising?

Of course, I know that people post video captured from concerts but, again, surely that is a tiny part of the "on-demand music streaming".

2
0

What's that, Equifax? Most people expect to be notified of a breach within hours?

Graham Cobb

At the time that I started my IT career (1978), Music was quite a common degree for other entrants. Personally I did Maths. Very few of my peers did a specifically computing degree.

I seem to remember that at that time Music was the most common non-STEM (we didn't call it that then) degree for computing professionals.

0
0
Graham Cobb

Re: How?

Or, maybe, Equifax can tell them which of their customers might cause them grief (lawyers, politicians and other rich people) and so should be dealt with politely, helpfully and efficiently and which ones (everyone else) can be ignored or sent to a useless website,

A strategy I am assuming they are using themselves.

10
0

Bloke fesses up: I forged judge's signature to strip stuff from Google search

Graham Cobb

Digital signatures

So when will all documents signed by judges also be given a digital signature (with public keys available from the official court website)?

There is no need to go all techy and stop judges really signing real documents, but every court should also issue a digital version signed by the judge's (or, at least, the court official's) electronic signature.

Recipients could then trivially check for authenticity.

8
0

Whoosh, there it is: Toshiba bods say 14TB helium-filled disk is coming soon

Graham Cobb

I don't believe them

Two manufacturers announced 12TB He drives about New Year, saying they would be available mid-2017. Then 3-4 months ago they announced they were now available. Except they aren't. You can't buy them anywhere, that I can find.

A couple of suppliers have had them listed for a couple of months, but with no stock and no sign of when they will receive any stock. For the last month or so I have been checking major retailers and even comparison sites almost daily but no one has any available (even though the couple of sites that list them keep changing their prices slightly every day).

So, I don't believe these 14TB drives will be available by the end of the year.

1
0

15 'could it be aliens?' fast radio bursts observed in one night

Graham Cobb

Re: Bad news travel fast!

If only it hadn't taken them quite so long to charge up their 10 million trillion trillion joules the warning from their model of the end of the universe 3 billion years into their future might have arrived on time.

3
0

Samsung keeps the smartwatch alive. Just

Graham Cobb

Re: They all try to do so much

all I want is at-a-glance read of texts or notifications and an easy control for the music features of my phone / iPod.

All I want is the exact opposite! I am over middle-age so I need reading glasses. I really want to be able to control my watch from my phone. Have it get accurate time periodically from the phone, be able to set complex alarm patterns from the phone, be able to choose which time zone(s) to display from the phone, etc. I want the phone to replace the horrible tiny display and fiddly buttons for the control stuff, leaving the watch (with an analogue display, preferably with real hands) just looking nice, showing me the time, sounding an alarm and having a really long battery life (over a year without charging/replacement).

5
0

US government: We can jail you indefinitely for not decrypting your data

Graham Cobb

Good quality encryption results in random data, which can be decrypted to anything.

Citationn, please. The first part is true, the second does not follow. I am not an expert, but as the key length is shorter than the file, there are far, far fewer possible decryptions than there are possible data files of the right length.

15
2

WikiLeaks a 'hostile intelligence service', SS7 spying, Russian money laundering – all now on US Congress todo list

Graham Cobb

Re: Do you realize...

If Snowden would come back and do this... and win, then he'd be considered a hero

You do realise that there is no "public interest" defence permitted to a charge of revealing classified information in the US?

2
0

CrashPlan crashes out of cloudy consumer backup caper

Graham Cobb

Re: The real reason ?

"wget -r https://google.com" simply doesn't work

That is obviously because you forgot the span-hosts option. Try "wget -rH https://google.com" instead.

1
0

Good Lord: Former UK spy boss backs crypto

Graham Cobb

We have to be careful that we oppose the right things. The government have stopped talking about banning encryption -- they have changed to talking about a modern form of key escrow (without using those words). They want to get rid of (maybe even ban) end-to-end encryption, where the users control their own keys, and have keys controlled by someone else (not the government, oh no, we aren't interested in your keys, oh dear me, we just want your service provider to have the keys, in your own interests, so that you can recover them if you need them, or something).

But (i) I actually trust Amazon even less than I trust the government (believe it or not), and (ii) if the UK government can put legal and other pressure on the service provider to decrypt my data then so can any other government in the whole world. Do you trust all of Trump, Putin, Kim Jong-un, Maduro and May?

We need to make sure that the discussion isn't about banning encryption -- that is what the government would like us to be talking about because they can then just say "we aren't going to ban encryption". It is about key escrow.

10
0

Can GCHQ order techies to work as govt snoops? Experts fear: 'Yes'

Graham Cobb

Re: Supply chains

It is this case which worries me. Could (for example) Alan Cox be served with a warrant requiring him to sneak a tiny vulnerability into the Unix kernel? He is certainly sufficiently clever, well known and trusted to be able to do it (so the "not practical" exemption doesn't apply). Although I suspect he may also be bloody-minded enough to be a poor choice (thankfully).

More realistically, maybe, a one-man maintainer of a very popular Github project (plenty of those -- for example rclone) could be served a warrant. And if the project was to do with communications, and had over 1000 users, he might even qualify as a telecom operator!

8
0

Snopes lawsuit latest: Judge orders disputed cash can flow to fact-checking site

Graham Cobb

Re: Corporate vs. Individual

It turns out that it is more complicated than that. Techdirt has a detailed explanation, but basically, the particular corporate structure used means that only individuals can hold shares, not companies. So, Proper paid for the share but the shares are held individually by the directors. So the court has to decide whether Proper can be regarded as the "beneficial owner".

9
0

Reminder: Spies, cops don't need to crack WhatsApp. They'll just hack your smartphone

Graham Cobb

Re: Simpler way

I have always assumed that there are already standardised, and legally required, mechanisms in the baseband processors to allow certain remote operations from the air interface. In the past I assumed that included remote monitoring of audio and with the rise of smartphones I presume that includes some way to run code in a highly privileged environment (which can then be used to download and run anything they want). If so, these cannot be bypassed by anything you might install on the device.

The interesting question is whether these hacks only exist in chips for communications where a licence is required (and hence including the feature is a condition of the device getting the necessary licence) or whether they also now exist in chips for unlicensed usage (such as WiFi).

If I was a political activist, or an investigative journalist, and thought I was likely to be the subject of targeted surveillance from government agencies, I would assume anything with an air interface can be monitored.

2
0

US Homeland Sec boss has snazzy new laptop bomb scanning tech – but admits he doesn't know what it's called

Graham Cobb

Re: The theatre opens another season......

"$70 a flight"

I would say that certain recent actions by the US government have just put the price up.

I wonder who gets to benefit...

0
0

Q. What's today's top language? A. Python... no, wait, Java... no, C

Graham Cobb

Re: On Another Note

The IEEE has a royal charter? That must annoy the IEE.

3
0

'Millions of IoT gizmos' wide open to hijackers after devs drop gSOAP

Graham Cobb

Re: SOAP

It would be good to have a list of all the software which relies on the libraries.

Fortunately it seems to be less than I feared. I note that the package is not installed on my systems (Debian workstations) and a quick apt-cache rdepends libgsoap10 doesn't show any well-known things using it. So it may be that the IoT devices are the biggest vulnerabilities.

1
0
Graham Cobb

Re: Requires an incentive

Unfortunately that won't work. It places the incentive on the wrong people.

The people that have to be incentivised are the owners. If I own a crappy IoT device (I may not even know it is one: think teddy bears) I need an incentive to upgrade or replace it if it can be hacked. Even if a refund is available, I guess less than 1% of people will bother if it is "working" for them.

1
1

We'll hit THAT 95% Sigfox coverage target using telly aerials, says WND-UK

Graham Cobb

Re: Am I completely missing the point?

why can't these non-defined 'things' use the existing infrastructure of wired broadband and non-wired internet already blanketing the country?

Good question. The main answer is very low power devices. Don't think about consumer devices (they will be connected to the mains, or be rechargeable). Think about devices that are installed somewhere (inside a water meter, in a river, around the neck of a cow, on a container when it ships from China) and never touched. There are many use cases which only need to transmit a few bytes a day but need to last for many years without being touched.

Current mobile phone protocols can't support these sorts of devices. NB-IoT can (that is what the NB bit is about) but it doesn't exist yet. SigFox and LoRaWAN are trying to get up and running with blanket coverage before the mobile phone companies can roll out NB-IoT. Being first to market obviously puts them in a strong position (although there are also significant technical, and commercial business model, differences between the solutions).

[Full disclosure: my employer sells some of these technologies, although the above is my personal opinion only]

0
0
Graham Cobb

Re: That's nice

The demand for Sigfox and other similar solutions isn't primarily domestic consumer business: that is probably best served by WiFi, combined with either permanent power or phone-style recharging. The demand is primarily for applications which either need wide area coverage (like lorry or package tracking) or very low power (like collars that can be put on livestock and left without recharging for the lifetime of the animal, or monitoring of water flow and quality in streams).

Meter reading may also be a case (because it is hard to ask your customer to provide the power and connectivity necessary for you to send them a bill).

So, I expect that ordinary people won't do much with it. But that doesn't mean it won't be big. Personally I think these business uses are the real IoT business case.

0
0

G20 calls for 'lawful and non-arbitrary access to available information' to fight terror

Graham Cobb

Sure, PGP is great. But the remaining very hard part is the infrastructure that goes around it. Particularly ease of use, key management, and avoiding leaking metadata. PGP-encrypted email, for example, makes no attempt to hide the source and destination, the length of the email and most implementations don't even drop all the optional clear-text headers (such as Subject).

Also, messaging, as it has evolved from chat to today's messaging apps, has very different design priorities from email (such as little interest in store-and-forward or the large amount of metadata in email headers, and a tolerance of centralised or federated servers instead of complete decentralisation).

The lack of an open-source version of WhatsApp, Telegram, etc is proof that PGP is not enough and we have a lot of work still to do.

1
0
Graham Cobb

...nothing to stop the (nominal) targets of this legislation from authoring and using their own encryption tools that don't suffer from the limitation of being breakable

And I am sure this is well underway. Pick your favourite "state sponsor of terrorism" (Russia, Saudia Arabia, China, The Great Satan, Iran, ...): they all have plenty of smart computer scientists who can create a secure encrypted messaging system, with secure distribution (and, probably, a reasonable cover story for using it - like building it into a "community values dating app" or something).

Those who are not terrorists, but who may fear interference from major vested interests (political monitoring, state industrial espionage, etc) need an equivalent.

It is time we, in the global open source community, really invested in creating an open equivalent, where you can be confident that (i) if the endpoints are secure messages cannot be decrypted, and (ii) if the servers are secure metadata is also secure. And make it federated (so you can communicate with people on other servers if you want to, at the cost of possibly exposing your metadata).

Bitmessage was a good attempt, but does not scale. It is time we created a project like the Tor project to do secure messaging properly.

4
0

Page:

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018