* Posts by Cynic_999

1418 posts • joined 15 Aug 2013

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UK cops run machine learning trials on live police operations. Unregulated. What could go wrong? – report

Cynic_999
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Re: Sigh...

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Because god forbid the data ever shows cultural influences/background actually DO have something to do with criminality. Can't be having that now can we."

Not when it comes to assessing the risk of a particular individual, no. Statistical data has absolutely no relevance when it comes to the characteristics of an individual. You should not base a decision on whether or not to arrest a particular person on the percentage of people who share that person's skin colour/postcode/style of clothes who happen to be criminals or saints. The only relevant data is the past and present behaviour of *that particular individual*.

Statistics and probability apply only to a group as a whole, not to individuals within that group. Which is one of the most misunderstood things about statistics in general.

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UK.gov isn't ready for no-deal Brexit – and 'secrecy' means businesses won't be either

Cynic_999
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Re: Y2K all over again

@codejunky

"... to the EU or its dreadful currency."

Dreadful? How? Had you switched to using Euro in 1973, it would have been a wise move, because it is worth twice as much now compared to the pound. So either it's not as dreadful as you think, or the pound is even more dreadful (probably the latter).

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Cynic_999
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Y2K all over again

On the day we leave, deal or no deal the Earth will keep turning and nothing too serious will happen. Life will go on, things will get done in pretty much the same way, and problems will be quickly solved or temporary workarounds agreed pragmatically between the interested parties even if the bureaucracy is not yet in place. The only "insurmountable" issues will be those deliberately engineered by people with an axe to grind in order to prove a point.

I am totally opposed to leaving the EU for several reasons, but that doesn't mean that I think that leaving will cause immediate disaster.

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Leeds hospital launches campaign to 'axe the fax'

Cynic_999
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Fax machines are inherently more secure that t'internet

It is highly difficult to hack into a fax machine (you have to physically cut the line - you cannot "T" into a fax communication because it's bidirectional with the same frequencies used on both sides so you usually have to insert a hybrid in-line to separate Tx from Rx), and it is impossible to do so from outside the country.

And if you do manage to hack the machine, you'll only get the real-time faxes sent to & from that particular machine from that time on, not a database of the past 10 years' email correspondence from all users on the server.

All the security and reliability issues mentioned are due to failings in the way faxes are used and is no different to Internet based communications. Yes, an unattended fax machine is a security risk. So is an unattended logged-in terminal, or an unattended printer or an unattended filing cabinet. And if the fax does not get to the person it is supposed to get to, that's a failing of the way it is managed, not the fax. Exactly the same can happen to an email (or snail-mail) - e.g. when the recipient has left or away on holiday, or when they delete your email without reading because it's buried amongst last night's spam, or when it is sent to the wrong email address and not forwarded to the correct person. Or when the email server crashes after receiving the email and gets restored using last weeks' backups.

The fax machine sends back confirmation that the fax was correctly received and printed which works 99% of the time (if it is out of paper or has a mechanical jam it will send back an error to the originating machine, but a few other failures can occur that result in an "OK" response with nothing printed). It cannot confirm that anyone bothered reading the fax, any more than your email receipt confirmation means that anyone actually read the contents of your email rather than e.g. the confirmation being automatically generated by a computer running an email client behind an empty desk (which like the fax, would be a problem with the configuration and/or policy, not emails in general).

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Cynic_999
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Re: Easy for internal

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And who confirms receipt? How do you know there's paper? what happens when they move the printer?

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You could say exactly the same about emails sent to a staff member who is on extended holiday or has left the NHS.

It boils down to exactly the same thing - having a procedure in place that ensures that such things are dealt with appropriately.

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Brit airport pulls flight info system offline after attack by 'online crims'

Cynic_999
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Re: Good for them

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So it is possible to have an IT outage in an airport without generating hordes of angry passengers who have been kept in the dark about what's happening to their flights.

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I can assure you that both passengers were in fact pretty angry.

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Teardown chaps strip away magic from Magic Leap's nerd goggles

Cynic_999
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I'm unexpectedly impressed

Well, there is a heck of a lot of pretty good technology there. The optics seem to be particularly sophisticated - way better than I expected to hear. I'd really like to see the result. The projection of IR dots and camera pick-up to map a room's dimensions also seems to be a good way to go (except for those who like very dark décore in their room), although the test will be in how well the processing can interpret the data. In fact processing speed is likely to be the major make or break. If the final result lags too badly it will just end up inducing motion sickness.

If the hardware works as the description suggests it should, and if there is software that can make good use of that hardware, then I think it will be worth the steep asking price, albeit not something everyone could afford to spend on something as unnecessary as video gaming.

I may just end up raising a company purchase request. For R&D purposes. I'd even put in some overtime (working from home).

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Tax the tech giants and ISPs until the bits squeak – Corbyn

Cynic_999
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Re: tax dodgers

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Probably the best way to avoid corporate tax avoidance is to reduce corporation tax to a very low level and raise income taxes ...

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All that will then happen is that people will demand a salary increase to compensate them, and companies will eventually have no choice but to raise salaries, thus paying the increased taxation indirectly. Same goes for raising sales tax, council tax and anything else paid by "the people".

Some companies will avoid that by outsourcing to overseas countries and shedding employees. Or moving their entire operation offshore. Which will of course decrease the total tax take.

The general standard of living in the UK has been decreasing slowly but steadily for well over a decade. The government cannot increase taxation without increasing the rate at which our living standard goes down, because all forms of taxation left will ultimately impact the ordinary person. So long as it does not happen too quickly the "boiling frog" effect will keep people reasonably content, but do something to speed up the decline and you're facing massive civil unrest.

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Cynic_999
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The BBC had its chance

The BBC had a chance to compete honestly with Netflix, Sky and other content providers when we had the "digital switchover". At that time the standard could have included a requirement for all digital boxes & TV's to contain a card slot, enabling the BBC to become a subscription service whenever it wanted. It could today make its online services subscription based the same as Netflix et al.

But why should it want a level playing field when it can force people to pay regardless of whether they watch BBC content or not?

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Use Debian? Want Intel's latest CPU patch? Small print sparks big problem

Cynic_999
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What to do?

Should we install updated microcode that will with 100% certainly cause a significant hit to the performance of our computer, or should we live with a bug that has a miniscule but finite probability of being exploited in a way that would cause us any harm?

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Connected car data handover headache: There's no quick fix... and it's NOT just Land Rovers

Cynic_999
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Is this really any different from the key set you get when you buy a non-Smart motor?

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Quite a bit different, yes. Once I have sold my car I usually have no idea where it is. A duplicate key cannot locate where the car is currently parked but this application can. I cannot do anything with my duplicate key unless I physically travel to the location where the car is parked. With the application I can start the engine or drain the battery from a different continent. Few people would want to physically steal a car and risk being caught in the real World, but many people wouldn't see a problem with a few "practical jokes" from the (supposed) anonymity of an Internet connection.

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Cynic_999
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How does this "feature" work?

If I buy a car with this feature, what do I need to provide in order to set up an account on their server and so gain remote control capability? What checks are made to ensure that the person setting up an account really does have ownership of the car?

The article mentions that with BMW the previous owner is locked out of their account as soon as the new owner creates their own account. But how is it verified that the new account really is being created by a new owner rather than a thief wandering around car parks taking note of the reg. numbers and VIN of parked vehicles? Or spots a car parked in the driveway of a house, finds out who lives in that house (not too difficult to do) and registers using the real owner's name and address (assuming that the real owner has never bothered creating such an account).

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The future of humanity: A Bluetooth ball hitting your face – forever

Cynic_999
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Promotional video

I note that the promo vid helpfully showed a target fictional creature perched in front of a top floor window with a young girl holding a ball and eying it from below. So any parent with more than a couple of brain cells has been warned of the likely consequences of buying this for their sprog.

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Cynic_999
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Re: Just great!

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... became quite risky at the height of the craze, as I frequently had to jam my breaks in order to ...

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I sometimes have jam during my breaks. On bread together with a cup of coffee. Though what that has to do with this article evades me.

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London's Gatwick Airport flies back to the future as screens fail

Cynic_999
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3Mbps?

Seems a bit of overkill, and implies that each screen is fully refreshed individually whenever the slightest thing changes. If the displays had a tiny bit of intelligence so as to all use the same raw flight information which they format and scroll themselves, a 500Bd link (at the most) would be more than sufficient. I shouldn't think that all the information needed to be displayed on any screen would take more than 50 bytes per flight, so even at 10 bits per character (e.g. 8 data, 1 start, 1 stop), 500Bd would be able to handle 1 new flight per second, which is at least 2 orders of magnitude faster than aircraft arrive & depart, so historical information can easily be interleaved between new flight data for initialisation of freshly powered-up screens. Thus already powered screens would update within 2 seconds of new flight information becoming available, and a freshly powered-up screen would be fully populated with a list of flights in under 2 minutes.

Compared to the rest of the hardware costs, a simple CPU and a few KB of RAM would be an insignificant cost. Add a radio receiver and a 500Bd radio link could be implemented that needs no cabling to the screens other than plugging into the mains.

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London fuzz to get 600 more mobile fingerprint scanners

Cynic_999
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Re: Too one-sided

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They aren't taking your fingerprints, they are scanning one or two fingers and comparing them with their database to see if you are wanted.

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I was replying to a person who stated that it would enable police to verify that a driver is who he says he is. It wouldn't unless the driver's fingerprints are already on record.

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Cynic_999
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Re: Too one-sided

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This will probably mostly be used to verify that drivers stopped while commiting offences are who they say they are, and not the person insured on the car. No verifiable ID, then please put a hand on this device Sir.

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And if neither you nor the insured party (if different) has ever been arrested, exactly how would it do that? If you are driving a car the police officer already has the right to see your driving licence, which has a photograph with which to identify you - and if you don't have your licence with you the police officer has the right to arrest you (though they will usually issue a "producer" unless there is significant doubt).

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Cynic_999
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Too one-sided

Best thing to do is refuse to submit to having your prints taken on the street. If the police officer has sufficient grounds to believe that you have committed a crime, they should arrest you so that you get a free lawyer and start the clock ticking. If they don't have sufficient grounds to believe that you have committed a crime they should be leaving you alone rather than carrying out speculative identity checks on people who happen to be in a particular area on the grounds that there are bound to be one or two illegals amongst the hundreds checked.

Or maybe wet your finger with a plastic solvent before pressing it against the officer's scanner.

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Lo and behold, Earth's special chemical cocktail for life seems to be pretty common

Cynic_999
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Not good logic

Just because the building materials are common does not mean that its likely that they get put together in the particular (and as yet unknown) way necessary to form life. For all we know the exact events that must occur in order to cause them to come together to produce the "spark of life" may be almost impossibly unlikely to happen. There is only one Taj Mahal despite the fact that the building materials are not particularly uncommon!

The other thing we don't know is how long life is likely to exist on a planet, on average, since we don't have a single example of a complete cycle. If a complete life cycle is a tiny fraction of the total life of the galaxy, the probability of there existing two life-bearing planets *at the same time* diminishes.

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Boss regrets pointing finger at chilled out techie who finished upgrade early

Cynic_999
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Re: "Can you turn it back on. Please?"

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True, but @Mk4 didn't claim it was a hack job

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He did however state that it was written in a language that the company did not permit to be used on their system, so it was an unauthorised (and hence unapproved) modification. So I honestly cannot see that it would have been nicely documented in the appropriate place. Things like that end up being a mess that someone else will have to deal with at some time in the future. Perhaps it was needed to circumvent the consequences of someone else's unauthorised mods ... ?

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Cynic_999
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Re: Oh so familiar

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Two words. Direct Debit.

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Only pretty large, established companies are authorised to take out a direct debit. Most companies have to make do with a "push" system such as a standing order. Few "Cloud" companies would have the facility to take payment by direct debit

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Three more data-leaking security holes found in Intel chips as designers swap security for speed

Cynic_999
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Re: Looking at the wrong holes

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It would be interesting to think how this could work for, say, a machine running a web browser. You'd need (say) all the JS that you ever ran from anywhere to be signed, or you'd want formal proofs of non-maliciousness of the JS.

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No, you just have to ensure that the JS interpreter that the browser runs when it downloads js ensures that no js program can ever do anything naughty. Similar to running it in a sandbox. It should not be possible for any script or plugin etc. downloaded from a web site to be able to access anything on the PC except a harmless portion of the system. It's the *browser software* providing the security, not the hardware, so only the browser needs to be signed and trusted.

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Cynic_999
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Re: Looking at the wrong holes

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Otherwise what exactly is the point?

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Which was exactly *my* point - there *is* no point in trying to gain such software security because it's like trying to nail jelly to the ceiling and you're not going to achieve it 100%. Anything significant that you *do* manage to achieve in the CPU itself will be at the expense of performance. If you cannot set up a VM to be as safe as the main OS, run it on a physically different machine.

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Cynic_999
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Looking at the wrong holes

In my opinion nobody should be expecting to rely on the hardware taking care of software security, and in many ways it's a great pity that it was ever attempted. If I understand correctly the original idea was only to protect against buggy software *accidentally* causing mayhem, not to protect against a deliberate attack.

Once any malicious software has managed to get itself running on a computer it will always be able to do damage by one means or another. Effective security means preventing anything malicious being executed by the CPU in the first place, just as you protect machinery from sabotage by physically shielding it (or the entire building its housed in) in some way, you do not design it with gears that can withstand a spanner being poked between them, you prevent the spanner from getting to the gears in the first place.

I develop embedded systems, and in critical systems, in order to protect against a malicious firmware update, all new code is signed with a private key that exists only on a secure machine within the company. All firmware contains the same public key used to check the signature before the code is flashed to memory or executed.

Of course a malicious actor with physical access could remove the Flash memory and substitute firmware that contains no checks, but that's not the threat that's being guarded against. A person with a hammer could also crash the unit!

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Linux 4.18 arrives fashionably late while Zorin OS shines up its Windows

Cynic_999
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Wanted to try but couldn't

It sounds interesting - especially the "lite" version that I will try out on a 15 year old Dell PC with limited memory that sometimes struggles just a little with Linux Mint. But they sure make it difficult to find the buttons needed to download the free versions - it doesn't bode well for the design of the user interfaces. (Hint, it's disguised as a "Buy Zorin Core Now" donation button defaulting to a 10 Euro charge, but you can change it to 0 Euro which gets you to the free download screen) Their default automatic download site brought up an error, but hitting the "download now" button eventually initiated a download from Sourceforge.

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US voting systems: Full of holes, loaded with pop music, and 'hacked' by an 11-year-old

Cynic_999
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I heard that ...

China hacked the voting system and downloaded all of next years election results.

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Hackers can cook you alive using 'microwave oven' sat-comms – claim

Cynic_999
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Re: Risk to people?

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Ummm lots of satellite Ariel (ariels, whatever) point towards earth ?

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Only the ones on satellites, which are too far away to present any safety concern wherever the aerial is pointed. Oh - and satellite systems are not usually connected to the Internet, and the control channel has very strong security.

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Cynic_999
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Re: I truly hope so

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Or are you not counting GPS as satellite communications?

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Not within the parameters of the risks postulated by this article, no.

GPS is completely self contained. It does not have a control unit (the aerial is fixed), and is not connected to the Internet, so I really fail to see how it could be "hacked".

Oh - and the GPS is still only an auxiliary system for navigating a commercial airliner. The main navigation is done via inertial nav and/or ground stations (ADF, VOR, DME, ILS etc). Pilots are told not to rely on GPS position. In addition ground stations would soon pick up on an aircraft straying significantly off-track.

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Cynic_999
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Risk to people?

The location of steerable antennas on aircraft and the vast majority of ships (whether steered mechanically or electronically) means that the aerial cannot physically (or electronically) be lowered to a declination where it could irradiate people. There is never any need for a satellite aerial to point below the horizon so they are not designed to be able to point below the horizontal. Aircraft satellite aerials are situated on the top of the aircraft (for obvious reasons), so cannot ever point at anyone inside the fuselage. Almost all ship aerial systems are mounted a fair bit above the height of the top deck, so again cannot be aimed at anyone on board. Outside of the main beam angle the EIRP is too low to be any safety concern.

Satellite comms that use non-steerable antennas emit barely more energy than a mobile phone at max power, so are no concern.

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Cynic_999
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Re: [no need to] communicate off the aircraft

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"[The company] assumes all responsibilities for analyzing engine data in real time* to manage customers’ engine maintenance and maximize aircraft availability.

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That's strictly one-way. Data is sent and possibly analysed in real time, but nothing is sent back to the aircraft to change the engine's settings. If the live data indicates a bogus problem then the most that would happen is an unnecessary delay at the next stop for an engineering inspection (which would quickly find that the live data was not the same as the data recorded on-board).

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Cynic_999
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Re: I truly hope so

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Should we therefore "presume" that none of the control systems use SATCOM, not even as a redundant backup for reason a, b or c.....

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Yes, you may safely make that assumption. Satellite comms are not used for flight control, only for communications. You could possibly feed erroneous position information to ground operations (though that does not include ATC), but not to the flight crew or flight systems.

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Devon County Council techies: WE KNOW IT WASN'T YOU!

Cynic_999
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Re: dispatch or despatch

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So how many people reading this would write "despatch", where did they learn their English spelling, and when did they learn it?

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"Despatch" was the way I was taught in the 1960's

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Cynic_999
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Now we know what is acceptable ...

Maybe the guy should send them a cheque for 60p and when they complain that the fine is £60 he can say, "I'm trialling a new cheque printing software, so sorry, can't be helped."

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Phased out: IT architect plugs hole in clean-freak admin's wiring design

Cynic_999
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Re: Wiring limits

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...rather slow web browsing. Eventually had a look at the switch stats and found it's negotiating at 100Mb instead of 1000Mb

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You won't notice the difference between web browsing at 100Mbps and web browsing at 1000Mbps. The data is probably coming over an Internet link at below 100Mbps anyway. It's far more likely that the switch keeps re-negotiating the link speed due to long wires or Cat5 rather than Cat5e wiring being used - just configure the PC or router to fix the LAN at 100Mbps and it should be fine.

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Cynic_999
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Is that legal now?

Decades ago when I had to read up on electrical regulations in order to re-wire my father's house which was supplied by 3-phase mains, there was a regulation that clearly stated that all the (single-phase) plug sockets in the same room had to be on the same phase.

So I assume that either that regulation has been rescinded, or there is now an exemption for server rooms?

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Top Euro court: No, you can't steal images from other websites (too bad a school had to be sued to confirm this little fact)

Cynic_999
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"

What if you can't find the copyright holder? Are you supposed to just not use an image in case there is a copyright?

"

Let's say I want to use a bicycle. I see a bicycle parked outside a shop, but I have no idea who owns it in order to ask them whether I might borrow their bike. Am I supposed to just not use the bike in case there is an owner who doesn't want to let me borrow it?

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'Unhackable' Bitfi crypto-currency wallet maker will be shocked to find fingernails exist

Cynic_999
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"

Given that cryptocurrency wallets are open to all to view - only the most idiotic physical attackers would not check the wallet's contents. <...> I would be very nervous if I held any significant amount of cryptocurrency in a nation with kidnapping for profit..."

Yes, you can easily find out how much cryptocurrency a wallet with a certain ID holds. But how do you find out who owns that wallet? And how do you find out the ID of a wallet a particular person has? If you were to buy something from me using BTC, I would create a new wallet and transfer the amount you want into that wallet before transferring it to you. You can trace both transactions, but for all you know the fat wallet belongs to a BTC vendor that I bought the BTC from to pay you.

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Cynic_999
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Re: No need to hack anything?

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... you lose your imaginary money.

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It is no more imaginary than the bits of coloured paper or plastic in your wallet, or the magnetic ones and zeros on the HDDs of your bank's computer. Earlier this year I enjoyed a very nice holiday in a distant and exotic land paid for entirely by what you are calling "imaginary money"

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Cynic_999
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"

What next? "Incredible: You can die of poisoning if healthy food is mixed with poison" ?

"

You can see that, yet you fail to see the stupidity of a food producer who sells loose items of food while claiming that their product cannot be poisoned. Planting malicious code that transmits passwords to a 3rd party is an extremely common method that hackers use to gain unauthorised access. If I can plant a backdoor in a device by gaining physical possession of it for a few minutes, then it cannot possibly be described as "unhackable." At the *very* least the case should be made such that it would be obvious if someone had opened it.

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UK 'fake news' inquiry calls for end to tech middleman excuses, election law overhaul

Cynic_999
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Re: Easy solution ...

No, only the people who believe that voting is more important that Twitter or Facebook would get to vote. Which I submit would be a *good* thing.

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Cynic_999
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Easy solution ...

Don't allow anyone who has a social media account to vote. QED.

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Sysadmin trained his offshore replacements, sat back, watched ex-employer's world burn

Cynic_999
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On the other side of the coin ...

I've known employees who attempt to make themselves irreplaceable by deliberately obfuscating and hiding data. One guy had been responsible for carrying out most of the data wiring in the building when we moved the main server/telecom room. Each cable and outlet was clearly marked - with a completely different number at each end! Only he had a translation table, so if a network or phone line needed to be re-patched to a different location, he was the only guy who could do it. Until we needed something done while he was on vacation so I spent an entire long weekend tracing, swapping, re-lacing and re-labelling all the cables so they were in a logical order with the same reference number at both ends.

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This is the contract you've been looking for: Pentagon releases JEDI bids

Cynic_999
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Security?

Wouldn't it be far more sensible to keep servers containing military information inside a military facility with strictly controlled access? I should think the average grunt employee of a commercial outfit might be tempted to clone a HDD or 10 if offered a large sum by someone in Iran, China or Russia.

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Windows 10 Insiders see double as new builds hit the deck – with promises to end Update Rage

Cynic_999
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Re: Update Hell

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(isolated via military grade firewall and air gap with data paths routed through a learning algorithm that only lets packets through that contain no data that might be malicious)

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If it's air-gapped your firewall and learning algorithm would appear to be somewhat redundant.

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Cynic_999
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Re: Whats wrong with

"

"Your windows PC needs updating.

please schedule a day and time within the next 7 days to download and update your PC

<open time and day manager window>

"

The thing that's wrong with it is that I don't want MY computer to dictate what *I* must do. Perhaps I am doing something that must not be interrupted for even a second, and that unasked-for window that just popped up has caused me to wreck £1000's of remote controlled equipment. Would you be happy if all of *your* goods had a similar policy .... e.g. your 'fridge says you must order more yoghurt within the next 2 days or it will order 4 litres from the local supermarket immediately. Your CH boiler says you need to order new loft insulation within 7 days or it will switch off all heating until you do.

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2FA? We've heard of it: White hats weirded out by lack of account security in enterprise

Cynic_999
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Re: Depends entirely on the risk

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Actually there are many ways that an attacker with a tiny foothold on the network could use that foothold to elevate their privileges and gain access to far more resources.

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You have "gained a foothold" onto this site by logging in to comment. Explain how that makes it easier for you to elevate your privileges.

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Cynic_999
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Depends entirely on the risk

I have a login to my company's private server, but there really isn't much damage that an attacker could do, because all that's on it is my daily calendar (when I bother to update it), current project status, leave applications and a few other things that allow damagement to get a basic picture of employee availability and what we are all currently working on. We are not a high-profile company doing secret stuff that leaked project statuses would be of benefit to anyone.

If there's nothing that really needs protecting, then anything that makes things a bit more difficult to log on is a disadvantage. Not many people fit steel doors with separate deadbolt locks on all 4 sides of the door to their house, because in most cases the risk is not high enough to warrant the expense and inconvenience of doing so. If however you were at significant risk of murderous attack, it might be worth doing.

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British Airways' latest Total Inability To Support Upwardness of Planes* caused by Amadeus system outage

Cynic_999
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Re: Amadeus

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Given that I plan on getting from point A to point B in one piece, fuel loading and weight and balance is something that's calculated before every flight.

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Why? If you calculated the W&B once, why do you believe it is necessary to do so every time you fly with that same (or very similar) load? The answer won't change because it's a different date!

I would calculate W&B if I was taking an unusual or marginal load, but in most cases I would be quite confident that full tanks plus 3 passengers (say) would be well within W&B unless the passengers were grossly overweight. But if I was taking 5 passengers plus luggage, then sure, I'd do a full W&B calculation to determine how much fuel I could carry (and yes, I'd weigh the passengers).

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Cynic_999
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Some can, but it's not accurate enough for reliable use. Sloping aprons, uneven tarmac, and wind will all throw off the calculation

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It will not always give a 100% reliable figure, but will certainly catch gross errors that are large enough to cause a disaster.

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Spectre rises from the dead to bite Intel in the return stack buffer

Cynic_999
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How serious is it ... really?

Yes, I've read the descriptions and the theoretical attack vectors of these CPU vulnerabilities. And am left wondering whether anyone would in practise be able to write an exploit that actually achieved anything useful for the exploiter except in a miniscule percentage of occasions.

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