Landsat 6 was launched on 5 Oct 1993, and had been variously reported as (1) having gotten into an improper orbit, or (2) being in the correct orbit but unable to communicate. The $228M Landsat 6 has now been declared MISSING. ``The object being tracked turned out to be a piece of space junk, officials said.'' [Source: The San Francisco Chronicle wire services, 9 Oct 1993]
The Soviet military constructed a surefire system for retaliating against a U.S. nuclear strike without direct human involvement, and it could still be activated today, a private U.S. expert on nuclear command systems said Friday. The expert, Bruce Blair, said that once the system is activated by senior Russian military officials, it could automatically send hundreds of nuclear-tipped missiles hurtling towards the United States. The system would be triggered if automatic sensors - which Blair said may be subject to error - detected a disruption of key military communication links, as well as seismic disturbances, and flashes caused by nuclear detonations inside Russia. The possibility that Soviet missiles could be launched without specific instruction from nearby military personnel was raised several years ago by Gennadi Pavlov, a retired colonel in the Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces who has spoken at length with Blair. (Excerpted from The Hartford Courant, 9 Oct 1993.) The risks are obvious, and horrific.
[Commenting on a variant of the same article, in the Cincinnati Enquirer] Well, this sure scares me. It's enough that everyone has taken for granted that the danger of massive nuclear war has passed, while nuclear missiles in the former Soviet Union remain pointed at U.S. and Western targets. But now if the software has a few bugs in the code that decides when all Russian military leaders are dead, and it is triggered by some anomaly, then a very serious, huge disaster would follow. Maybe it's time to start faxing RISKS to the Kremlin. Andrew W. Hagen email@example.com voice: 317 973-2528 (U.S.) [All Things Considered covered the same story, as noted by Ken Hoyme, Honeywell Technology Center, Minneapolis, MN, firstname.lastname@example.org PGN]
As reported in many places, such as Current Underground Digest, New York Times (Sept 21) and on AP, subpoenas were served on representatives from the companies ViaCrypt and Austin Code Works for materials related to a grand jury investigation in California associated with the U.S. Customs Office. Both warrants are dated 9 Sept., but were served and received two days apart (contrary to the NYT account), with the ViaCrypt on Tues 14 Sept and ACW on Thur 16 Sept: Austin Code Works: >Any and all correspondence, contracts, payments, and record, >including those stored as computer data, relating to the >international distribution of the commercial product "Moby >Crypto" and any other commercial product related to PGP and RSA >Source Code for the time period June 1, 1991 to the present. ViaCrypt: >"Any and all >correspondence, contracts, payments, and records, including those >stored as computer data, involving international distribution related >to ViaCrypt, PGP, Philip Zimmermann, and anyone or any entity acting >on behalf of Philip Zimmermann for the time period June 1, 1991 to the >present." ViaCrypt just announced publicly a few weeks ago its intent to market a commercial version of PGP. G. Ward, author of Moby Crypto, has been very vocal on various newsgroups (sci.crypt, et. al.) indicating that an NSA agent had previously contacted him over the book, essentially a cryptography tutorial intended to be bundled with disks. Nevertheless the investigation appears at this point to be primarily PGP-oriented based on subpoena wording, and my following comments will focus on that aspect. If the case progresses beyond this initial inquiry, the issues related to the ITAR code (International Traffic and Arms Regulations) restricting the flow of cryptographic software and documentation long debated in RISKS are likely to receive intense scrutiny and perhaps the first significant judicial test. Many aspects are related to the possibility of ITAR infringement in international PGP distribution, involving highly complex import and export issues, some of which follow. PGP 1.0 was developed in the U.S. and soon spread internationally after its official release in the month of June 1 1991 (the significance of the subpoena date). Various sections of the ITAR govern the legal export of cryptographic software and technical documentation, one critical clause defines technical data as follows: $120.21 Technical data. Technical data means, for purposes of this subchapter: (a) Classified information relating to defense articles and defense services; (b) Information covered by an invention secrecy order; (c) Information, in any form, which is directly related to the design, engineering, development, production, processing, manufacture, use, operation, overhaul, repair, maintenance, modification, or reconstruction of defense articles. This includes, for example, information in the form of blueprints, drawings, 1 photographs, plans, instructions, computer software, 1 and documentation. This also includes information which advances the state of the art of articles on 2 the U.S. Munitions List. This definition does not 2 include information concerning general scientific, 2 mathematical, or engineering principles commonly 2 taught in academia. It also does not include basic marketing information or general system descriptions of defense articles. The critical question: Is PGP (1) `computer software related to defense' or (2) `technical documentation encompassing general scientific & engineering principles'? Other sections of the ITAR definitely classify cryptographic software as a defense article. In a hypothetical legal case against PGP distribution, the defense might argue that the interpretation of PGP as (2) takes priority over, or is more relevant and applicable, than (1). A wide variety of respondents on the the `cypherpunks' list have indicated that the RSA *algorithm* embodied in PGP is unequivocally public domain knowledge in the U.S. and regularly `taught in academia'. As a peripheral issue to *export* of PGP above, some sources point out that the IDEA algorithm was implemented outside the U.S. and apparently *imported* into the US in PGP. The legality of this may be affected by sections of the ITAR that bar import of material not legally exportable: "123.2 Imports. No defense article may be imported into the United States unless (a) it was previously exported temporarily under a license issued by the Office of Munitions Control; or (b) it constitutes a temporary import/in-transit shipment licensed under Section 123.3; or (c) its import is authorized by the Department of the Treasury (see 27 CFR parts 47, 178, and 179)." Many armchair-ITAR-experts have noted that the act does not appear to specifically address distribution mechanisms intrinsic to an Internet PGP distribution, specifically either via newsgroups ([x].sources etc.) or FTP. It refers to traditional outlets associated with the "public domain" such as libraries but has questionable, ambiguous, and debatable interpretation on what might be termed `cyberspatial distributions' including BBSes. Finally, If the case reaches a court, the actual outcome may also hinge on the apparent court precedent that *willful* violation of the ITAR ("criminal intent") must be demonstrated to exist for valid convictions under the law, seen for example in U.S. v Lizarraga-Lizarraga (in 541 F2d 826). I thank the following people for accounts, information, and analysis which particularly influenced my post (which should in no way be considered representative of their own opinions): J. Bidzos, G. Broiles, H. Finney, J. Markoff, G. Ward, P. Zimmermann Note: complete ITAR text can be found via anonymous FTP at ripem.msu.edu:/pub/crypt/docs/itar-july-93.txt. thanks to M. Riordan and D. Bernstein.
The article by Dorothy Denning et al. reminds me a little of a civics class summary of "How a bill becomes law." Like such a presentation, it was interesting and useful as an introduction to the subject; but I couldn't help feeling that there were probably important "real-world" aspects being omitted. Here are some of my concerns. 1. I was struck by the following statistic about wiretaps in 1992: number of interceptions authorized (919), denied (0), and installed (846) No judge saw fit to deny *any* wiretap request that year. I find it difficult to reconcile this statistic with the protections that are enumerated in the report. I think I would feel better if there had been at least a couple of denials out of more than 900 requests. As it is, it seems as though either the judges aren't really filtering requests carefully, or the agencies aren't presenting any cases that are marginal. 2. I am unconvinced by the rationale for having only a select set of judges hearing wiretap requests. I would worry that having one judge hear multiple wiretap requests probably encourages the review process to become routine: "this request is just like the one you approved last week, so just issue the court order, please." 3. Knowing that "the entire process can take as long as a month" is not nearly as interesting as knowing how *fast* the entire process can happen. 4. Being at least vaguely aware of some cases when people in law enforcement agencies have placed unauthorized wiretaps, I would be interested in knowing how often people have actually been tried and convicted of those offenses. Simply knowing what the law says is useful, but one also needs a sense of how well the law is enforced. --Mark Day email@example.com
Although the article by Dr. Denning et al. is very interesting and enlightening on the subject of _legal_ wiretaps, it would seem however that she and others continue to miss the most important issue involved in the key-escrow/cryptography debate. That being the fact that the citizenry has absolutely NO ASSURANCE that the ability to monitor communications will not be used in an extra-legal fashion. The last 30 years of history (for starters) are rife with de-facto, documentable, pervasive violations of the rights of individuals by a government that has used the ability to tap/monitor/intercept or otherwise spy on individuals outside of the bounds of what-ever wiretap laws are in effect with impunity. Some small examples perhaps? Watergate, Dr. Martin Luther King and other members of the Civil Rights Movement, Groups opposed to the wars in Viet Nam, Central America, and elsewhere, Anti-nuclear activists... Need I go on? Arguments that "good choices" for the escrow agents will end this problem border on insulting. Perhaps Dr. Denning could explain how we can be assured this power will not be abused in this fashion? Perhaps a guide to "What happens then the US Government ILLEGALLY taps a line?" David HM Spector Spector_David@JPMORGAN.COM These opinions are my own, and do not in any way represent my employer...
Well, I've finally been bitten by a banking system, other than the standard ATM problems. Our local credit union just started a phone-based bill payment system to add to their system which allows one to check balances, transfer funds, list cleared entries, etc. I signed up and thought it was wonderful for the first month. This month all seemed to go well, but a couple of days after paying all three phone bills and a MasterCard bill, I found a message on our answering machine from VanCity asking one of us to give them a call. I was positive that I hadn't bounced a cheque, so I phoned. It turns out that when I paid on of my phone bills, the confirmation number that I was given by the automated system wasn't unique after all and when the batch processing took place later that day only the first transaction with that identifier was actually carried out. I got to hear about it three days later - two days after the due date. "A work request has been filled in to look into this problem" was what I was told. I phoned in another transaction as soon as I hung up, and am hoping that one went through and that some magic will prevent me from finding a late payment charge on next month's bill. Just when you thought it was safe to use sequence numbers, eh? Peter Grant Database and Systems Administration, Controls Section, TRIUMF "Canada's National Meson Facility" firstname.lastname@example.org
To whom it may concern: The Swiss Federal Agency for Informatics (Bundesamt fuer Informatik, Bern) is preparing a legislative act against distribution of malicious code, such as viruses, via VxBBS etc. You may know that there have been several attempts to regulate the development and distribution of malicious software, in UK, USA and other countries, but so far, Virus Exchange BBS seem to survive even in countries with regulations and (some) knowledgeable crime investigators. In order to optimize the input into the Swiss legal discussion, I suggested that their draft be internationally distributed, for comments and suggestions from technical and legal experts in this area. Mr. Claudio G. Frigerio from Bern kindly translated the (Swiss) text into English (see appended text, both in German and English); in case of any misunderstanding, the German text is the legally relevant one! Any discussion on this forum is helpful; please send your comments (Cc:) also to Mr. Claudio G. Frigerio (as he's not on this list). "The Messenger" (Klaus Brunnstein: October 9, 1993) ############################################################### Appendix 1: Entwurf zu Art. 144 Abs. 2 des Schweizerischen Strafgesetzbuches "Wer unbefugt elektronisch oder in vergleichbarer Weise gespeicherte oder uebermittelte Daten loescht, veraendert oder unbrauchbar macht, oder Mittel, die zum unbefugten Loeschen, Aendern oder Unbrauchbarmachen solcher Daten bestimmt sind, herstellt oder anpreist, anbietet, zugaenglich macht oder sonstwie in Verkehr bringt, wird, auf Antrag, mit der gleichen Strafe belegt." P.S.: gleiche Strafe =JBusse oder Gefaengnis bis zu 3 Jahren; bei grossem Schaden, bis zu 5 Jahren Gefaengnis sowie Verfolgung von Amtes wegen (Offizialdelikt) ############################################################### Draft of article 144 paragraph 2 of the Swiss Penal Code (English translation) Anyone, who, without authorization - erases, modifies, or destructs electronically or similarly saved or data, or anyone who, - creates, promotes, offers, makes available, or circulates in any way means destined for unauthorized deletion, modification, or destruction of such data, will, if a complaint is filed, receive the same punishment. P.S.: same punishment = fine or imprisonment for a term of up to three years; in cases of a considerable dam-age, five years with prosecution ex officio. Author: Claudio G. Frigerio, Attorney-At-Law, Swiss Federal Office of Information Technology and System, e-mail: email@example.com
It's even worse: apparently the password must be stored in the Newton's in-memory dictionary, or the handwriting recognizer will refuse to recognize the password! To be fair, you *can* instruct the Newton to recognize words not in its dictionary, but then there is another set of problems getting it to accept what you write. --berry
The report misstates what must have happened. > [The couple in the Cessa 150] forgot to turn off their transmitter and > broadcast their moments of passion to air traffic controllers To talk on a radio frequency, it is necessary to depress, and to maintain depressed, the `talk' button either on a microphone or on the horn of the control column. The condition reported in the note above is a `stuck mike', in which release of the button does not terminate the transmission as it should. Stuck mikes happen infrequently, although all moderately experienced pilots have heard them. The Cessna pilot was not the cause of this abnormal condition, neither can he be held particularly responsible for not detecting it. He *may* be held responsible for not flying with due care and attention, under the presumption that one cannot effectively make love and fly at the same time, but proving that would be hard (how does the CAA know that it wasn't just a tape on his stereo?). If one is alert, then one might notice that radio traffic was abnormal, and use the radio to query ATC (`Edinburgh Control, how do you read?'), thereby (usually) `unsticking' the mike. This happens less frequently in my experience than the case in which the mike just unsticks itself (I've never had a stuck mike myself that I've noticed). I don't see what any of this has to do with the subject matter of RISKS. It's another example of amusing but misleading journalism. Peter Ladkin
>The couple, flying in a private Cessna 150 plane near the Scottish city of >Edinburgh, began by debating whether they should have sex 5,000 feet (1,500 >metres) above ground and join the "Mile High Club." Their conversation grew >more and more passionate and then ceased. Of course, the real RISK here relates to a mile being 5280 feet, which is about three or four feet more than *1600* meters. If another plane was at 5000 feet, a near Miss would not be as good as a smile. -Peter Wayner
Last week, many of us at the company where I work were astonished to receive an e-mail message from our parent company's legal department asking everyone to send them all the passwords everyone had used on our LAN servers since January, 1991, except for current passwords. Fortunately, it was shortly revealed that this did not apply to our division, but not before I had sent back a reply telling the person in the legal department how dangerous I thought this was. Later we found out at a company meeting that another division in our family of companies is being sued because of some possibly suspicious stock trading, and our legal department wants to make sure that it can get at any records on their network servers. I, of course, suspect that they are being spectacularly ignorant of how little use the password lists would be to them and the security risks involved with having lists of individual passwords laying around in plaintext form. Even though none of the passwords should be current, my experience suggests that many people stick to certain themes and patterns for passwords, especially when password aging is used, as it is on our servers. Our passwords expire every 40 days, which means that everyone working at our company since January 1991 has gone through 25 passwords by now, giving any crackers a sizable database to extrapolate from. And of course, everyone will probably send their password lists by e-mail, giving crackers an easy opportunity to intercept such lists.
The _New Haven Register_ had an AP story about the probe into the industrial spying performed by a group of cable system operators. This spying included surveilance, tracking down license plates and investigating long-distance call records. According to the cable companies all of this was done using publicly obtainable information. The money involved in the deals between cable and television has driven the cable companies to use such tactics because they are afraid that regulators are fraternizing with telephone company executives. I can almost see William Gibson's vision of the future unfolding before my eyes. I also see democracy being ground between the gears of industry and government. (Perhaps I should also mention the three part series of articles in _In These Times_ on the new pseudo-grass roots lobbying firms that sell the line "How many angry constituents do you want calling your legislators each day? Name your price.") According to the article, a company called _Scanners_ out of Denver will "fax a list of toll calls made by anyone, anywhere, for up to $125." (No doubt the company takes their name from the movie about people who make your blood boil and your veins pop out on your head.) It seems that while the content of calls is private and cannot be monitored without a court order, the billing information is not protected. The larger problem is that our law currently only provides us with a modicum of protection when we have a "reasonable expectation of privacy." At the same time, it is becoming increasingly clear that no reasonable person can ever expect to have any privacy. I wish that someone in the news media would get our legislators to WAKE UP by publishing a complete list of the legislators' calls. It worked in the Bork/Video-tape rental records case (or at the very least, a law addressing this was put on the books; I'm not sure it's enforced.) Jeffrey Sorensen firstname.lastname@example.org
> Moreover, he has to take control on the station (Canary Wharf) the software > is not yet able to deal with after all those years of operation. The conductor does not have to take control at Canary Wharf. What is happening is that the section from West India Quay to Canary Wharf is under reconstruction, and the control software, rather than being edited once a week, is set to be *extremely* conservative in its driving habits over this section. Most conductors would rather use the manual controls for this short section rather than delay the train. Clive D.W. Feather, Santa Cruz Operation, Croxley Centre, Hatters Lane, Watford, WD1 8YN, United Kingdom email@example.com Phone: +44 923 816 344
Jim Hudson writes: > The credit-card company readily admits that their customer-service agent > should NEVER have changed the mailing address of the card based on only the > magic three pieces of information. However, their security system clearly > failed in this case. I recently moved, and took the "easy way out" in several cases by filing my change of address by telephone. I was pleased to note that several companies sent me a followup letter of the form "we recently processed your address change; please contact us if this is incorrect." Unfortunately, in every case they sent the letter only to the *NEW* address! Duuuuhh. How about sending it to both the old and new locations, guys? Oh no, we wouldn't want to spend that extra 29 cents on postage. -- Geoff Kuenning firstname.lastname@example.org geoff@ITcorp.com
I got the following extract, supposedly from the "Lawyers Weekly", a UK publication I guess (can anyone with more information access verify this, or better, verify the account below?), on a jokes distribution a few weeks back. I know some aspects of libel laws are stricter there than in the U.S., but still wonder if some variant might be used to force information distributors (credit agencies, etc.) to correct their databases sooner, or even hold them liable for incorrect information in the first place. Sarah (email@example.com) >From: firstname.lastname@example.org >From: email@example.com (Terry Gerritsen) SPALDING, England - -In what is being hailed as a landmark decision, a bank that mistakenly bounced a client's cheques will pay more than 50,000 pounds in libel damages, a British court has ruled. The July decision from the High Court concluded a nine-year legal battle between Brian and Margaret Allen, operators of a Lincolnshire meat firm, and Llyods Bank. The conflict began in 1983 when several cheques from the Allen's company were returned by the bank unpaid and marked "Refer to drawer, please re-present," even though there were sufficient funds in the account to cover them. The Allen's counsel, Micheal Tugendhat, said that the couple took the bank to court because they wanted to "eradicate publicly any doubt about their financial soundness and credit worthiness" created by the error. The libel case is believed to be the first of its kind to reach British courts in this century. Expert Mark Stephens commented that the problem is common but "very few people, including lawyers, are aware that it amounts to libel. The suggestion is that someone issued a cheque knowing he had insufficient funds to meet it, and that can be a very serious libel. (The Lawyers Weekly)
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