The Risks Digest

The RISKS Digest

Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems

ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy, Peter G. Neumann, moderator

Volume 20 Issue 9

Friday 27 November 1998


o German stock exchange bond futures goof
Chris Brand
o Palo Alto 911 system crash
o Security risks delay online registration system
Chenxi Wang
o Internet speech is "on the record"
Martin Minow
o Organized mail theft in Seattle
Jon Becker
o Risks of being ostentatious when embezzling
Mich Kabay
o New Zealand: Pledge on destroyed net sites
Mich Kabay
o Frames security hole
Lindsay Marshall
o Internet Explorer 4.01 Son of Curatango cut-and-paste flaw
o 100-year-old woman "too old to vote"
Michael Zastre
o Naming Swedish Names on the Internet
Martin Minow
o REVIEW: "Cryptography and Network Security", William Stallings
Rob Slade
o REVIEW: "Java Cryptography", Jonathan Knudsen
Rob Slade
o DCCA-7 preliminary program
Mike Reiter
o Info on RISKS (comp.risks)

German stock exchange bond futures goof

Chris Brand <>
Thu, 19 Nov 1998 16:36:14 -0800
From the Electronic Telegraph (, 19 Nov 1998:

A junior trader cost his employers an estimated 10 million pounds yesterday
after a training exercise went disastrously wrong and he ended up taking
part in an 11.5-billion-pound transaction.  The trader, who is believed to
work for a German financial institution, pressed the wrong buttons on his
computer and caused panic on dealing floors in the City. Screens flashed up
with the news that someone wanted to sell 130,000 German bond futures
contracts, worth in excess of #11.5 billion.  [...]

The German-based trader's employers are contractually obliged to carry out
the transaction, and will be forced to buy futures contracts in the open
marketplace to complete it. One banker said: "His employers must have
extremely lax controls. A trade that size should have sent alarm bells
ringing."  [...]

German bond futures are now predominantly traded on Eurex, a German-based
electronic exchange, on which traders say it is relatively easy to enter the
dealing programme instead of the training simulation programme.  [...]

Chris  [also noted by  Nathaniel Borenstein <>
       and "Koblizek, Vaci" <>.   PGN]

Palo Alto 911 system crash

"Peter G. Neumann" <>
Mon, 23 Nov 98 8:48:56 PST
Palo Alto's 911 emergency system crashed on 11 Nov 1998 when the backup
power supply (UPS with batteries) failed, but the phone calls were
successfully switched over to the Santa Clara County center in San Jose
within 45 seconds.  In this case, the backup had a backup.  However, the
outage also knocked out the city's main police and fire department radio
transmitters for about 45 minutes, the backup for which uses walkie-talkies.
[Source: *Palo Alto Daily News*, 12 Nov 1998, p.6, via Glenn Story]

Security risks delay online registration system

Chenxi Wang <>
Fri, 20 Nov 1998 09:30:36 -0500 (EST)
Reported on *The Cavalier Daily* (20 Nov 1998), officials at the University
of Virginia decided to delay activating the online registration system
because of security concerns associated with the NT operating system. This
system will allow students to register for classes over the internet, and
will serve in addition to the phone-based system now in use. Security
problems with the online system, according to the article, involved
malfunctioning features that allowed access to student information without a
PIN and a Social Security Number.

Chenxi Wang

Internet speech is "on the record"

Martin Minow <>
Tue, 24 Nov 1998 22:30:08 -0800
The current issue of Salon Magazine <> has
an interesting article on the permanence of the net by J.D. Lasica
<>. titled "The Net Never Forgets."  (This URL will direct
you to the current article, but Salon archives its "back issues".) The
content will probably not surprise Risks readers, but might be worth reading
for the range of issues Lasica raises.

  "Once, words were spoken and vanished like vapor in the air; newsprint
  faded and turned to dust. Today, our pasts are becoming etched like a
  tattoo into our digital skins."

Martin Minow <>
P.S.: For at least 10 years, I've recommended "never post anything you don't
want to see on your resume."

Organized mail theft in Seattle

Jon Becker <>
Wed, 25 Nov 1998 00:38:01 -0800
An Associated Press item reported on the compromise of the single master key
being used for tens of thousands of streetside and apartment mailboxes in
the Seattle area, and the massive theft of U.S. postal mail.  A ring of at
least bandits is suspected of nightly raids.  Voting officials urged voters
to go straight to post offices with their absentee ballots.  [Source:
Letterless in Seattle -- region struck by mail thieves, *USA Today*, 24 Nov
1998,; PGN Abstracting]

  [I may never mail anything again.  Jon]

    [Another terrible example of the one-key-fits-all theory, which of
    course has its implications for the use of master keys and escrowed
    keys in cryptography and digital commerce.  PGN]

Risks of being ostentatious when embezzling

Mich Kabay <>
Wed, 25 Nov 1998 07:49:36 -0500
In Gloucestershire, England, 32-year-old Martin Keys was convicted on 19 Nov
1998 of using data diddling to enter fraudulent orders for chocolate bars --
500,000 pounds (~US$830,000) worth.  A co-conspirator would take possession
of large loads of Mars Bars and other treats and return part of the profits
to Keys.  Keys lived far beyond his official means as a shift supervisor and
fabricated a series of preposterous stories to account for why he was rich
enough to drive a new Saab, travel to the Caribbean and purchased an
expensive new home for his girlfriend.

M. E. Kabay, PhD, CISSP / Director of Education
ICSA, Inc. <>

  [Also bad: Mars-ter Keys.  He should have been named Mars-ton Keys.  PGN]

New Zealand: Pledge on destroyed net sites

Mich Kabay <>
Sun, 22 Nov 1998 07:54:14 -0500
Follow-up on previous IHug story:
*New Zealand Herald* 20 Nov 1998

The Internet Group says most of the Web sites destroyed by a hacker this
week will be restored by Monday.  A director, Nick Wood, said only five
commercial customers had so far reported losing a complete site. Most
customers had a back-up which they were reinstalling.  Electronic commerce
sites were on another server.  The company, usually known as IHug, believes
an Auckland man used a sub-program in a customer's site to access the
homepages server, and deleted about a third of the files.  About 4500 sites
were affected.

Frames security hole

Fri, 20 Nov 1998 12:27:16 +0000 (GMT)
There is a description and demo of a security hole with frames in web
browsers at - there is
a version that works without javascript enabled as well.

Internet Explorer 4.01 Son of Curatango cut-and-paste flaw

"Peter G. Neumann" <>
Fri, 27 Nov 98 10:33:11 PST
BugNet earlier reported the so-called Cuartango Hole in Internet Explorer
4.01 and Windows 98.  Microsoft has now issued a security bulletin on a
variant thereof that exists despite the earlier patch.  In essence, the
cut-and-paste function bypass IE4 security.  A new patch now exists.
[Source: An article by Bruce Brown in MSNBC, 23 Nov 1998:,4586,2168253,00.html]

100-year-old woman "too old to vote"

Michael Zastre <>
Fri, 27 Nov 1998 11:13:14 -0800 (PST)
The Quebec '98 election Website reported on 27 Nov 1998 that several elderly
residents in a Montreal nursing home are ineligible to vote in Monday's
provincial election.  One of these is a 100-year-old woman.  The chief
returning officer for the riding sees no reason why they can't vote, but he
is prevented by law from giving the woman back her right. (link may go stale)

I would guess the problem is a Misinterpretation of Dates bug in the
Electoral Office software, but there could be other reasons for the
centenarian's plight.  However, what is RISKy about this story is the part
that existing legislation might play in exacerbating the fallout from
MoD/Y2K related failures.  It is one thing for a computer to remove the
right-to-vote from the young at heart aged 100+, but quite another to have
legislation that inadvertently *forbids* a bureaucrat to fix the resulting
mess; a computer system creates a situation for which a piece of legislation
must be applied (e.g., withdrawing a citizen's civil right), but in a
context never envisioned by lawmakers.

Mike Zastre <>

  [Note added in archive: This is incorrect.  See RISKS-20.10.  PGN]

Naming Swedish Names on the Internet

Martin Minow <>
Thu, 26 Nov 1998 23:31:52 -0800
A recent RISKS-20.05 article by Jacob Palme, archived at
< > noted that a new Swedish
law made it illegal to name an individual by name on the Internet. According
to an article in the Swedish Newspaper Svenska Dagbladet's web page, people
who name individuals without their permission need not fear prosecution. "I
intend to take a liberal interpretation of the law and use some common
sense" said the Data Inspectorate's chief, Ulf Wideback. ... "But, if
someone posts personal information that is sensitive, we will act." he

The Personal Information Law follows an EU directive that predates the
Internet's recent growth. Ulf Wideback understands that people may believe
that the law has strange consequences for Internet users.

Martin Minow,

REVIEW: "Cryptography and Network Security", William Stallings

"Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Trevor" <>
Mon, 23 Nov 1998 11:10:07 -0800

"Cryptography and Network Security", William Stallings, 1999,
%A   William Stallings
%C   One Lake St., Upper Saddle River, NJ   07458
%D   1999
%G   0-13-869017-0
%I   Prentice Hall
%O   +1-201-236-7139 fax: +1-201-236-7131
%P   569 p.
%T   "Cryptography and Network Security: Principles and Practice
      2nd edition"

This book is intended to serve both as a textbook for an academic course of
study, and as a self-study and reference guide for practicing professionals.
The material has been extended to emphasize encryption and its central
position in network protection.  The structure and flow have been
reorganized with both classroom use and solo instruction in mind, and
additional teaching material, such as additional problems, have been added.

Chapter one is an introduction to the topics to be covered.  In a practical
way it outlines the concerns involved in the phrase computer security, and
the priorities occasioned by the networked nature of modern computing.
There is also an outline of the chapters and sequence in the rest of the
book.  While the text does note that cryptographic techniques underlie most
of current security technologies this is only done briefly.  Examples in the
major categories listed would help explain this primary position.

Part one deals with conventional, symmetric, encryption and the various
methods of attacking it.  Chapter two covers the historical substitution and
transposition ciphers.  Symmetric block ciphers are discussed in chapter
three, illustrated by an explanation of DES (Data Encryption Standard).  The
additional conventional algorithms of triple DES, IDEA (International Data
Encryption Algorithm), and RC5 are reviewed in chapter four.  The use of
conventional encryption for confidentiality is outlined in chapter five.

Part three looks at public-key encryption and hash functions.  Chapter six
introduces public-key encryption and its uses in confidentiality,
authentication, and key management and exchange.  Number theory is the basis
of these modern algorithms, so some basic mathematical concepts are outlined
in chapter seven.  Digital signatures and message authentication is
introduced in some detail in chapter eight.  The algorithms themselves are
explained in chapter nine, including MD5 (Message Digest algorithm), SHA
(Secure Hash Algorithm), and others.  Protocols using digital signatures are
described in chapter ten.

Part three takes this background material and relates its use in security
practice.  Chapter eleven looks at authentication, concentrating on Kerberos
and X.509.  The examples of e-mail security systems given in chapter twelve
are PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) and S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail
Extension).  Security provisions for the Internet Protocol (IP) itself are
reviewed in chapter thirteen.  Web security, in chapter fourteen, again
concentrates on protocol level matters, but also discusses the SET (Secure
Electronic Transaction) standard at the application level.

Part four outlines general system security.  To the general public the
primary concern of security is to deal with intruders and malicious
software, so it may seem odd to the uninitiated to find that both of these
subjects are lumped together in chapter fifteen.  Chapter sixteen finishes
off the book with a description of firewalls and the concept of trusted
systems that they rely on.

Each chapter ends with a set of recommended readings and problems.  Many
chapters also have appendices giving additional details of specific topics
related to the subject just discussed.

For the instructor, student, and professional, this work provides
thorough coverage, clear explanations, and solid information.

copyright Robert M. Slade, 1998   BKCRNTSC.RVW   981010
Find virus and book info at

REVIEW: "Java Cryptography", Jonathan Knudsen

"Rob Slade" <>
Tue, 17 Nov 1998 10:06:21 -0800

"Java Cryptography", Jonathan Knudsen, 1998, 1-56592-402-9,
%A   Jonathan Knudsen
%C   103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA   95472
%D   1998
%G   1-56592-402-9
%I   O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
%O   U$29.95/C$42.95 800-998-9938 fax: 707-829-0104
%P   372 p.
%T   "Java Cryptography"

This book is intended to teach experienced Java programmers how to add
cryptographic elements to their applications.  The text is not intended to
teach encryption algorithms, basic Java programming, or the overall Java
security model: there are other books that fulfill those functions.  There
is one other limitation: much of the book relies on the Java Cryptography
Extensions (JCE) which are only available to those in the United States and
Canada (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

Chapter one lists some fundamentals of encryption and the relationship to
security.  There are also a couple of programs right off the bat that will
let you explore message digests, and encrypting and decrypting messages.
The basics of confidentiality, authentication, and some major cryptographic
algorithms are outlined in chapter two.  The explanations are quite terse,
but not out of line with the aim of the book.  Java Security Architecture
(JCA) is explained in chapter three, along with a quick overview of the API
(Application Programming Interface) and SPI (Service Provider Interface).
Chapter four introduces Java's own pseudo-random number generator, plus
programming for key seeds from keyboard timing.  Key management, in chapter
five, is somewhat weak.  The APIs only deal with hierarchical key
certification, but this may simply be an example of Knudsen dealing strictly
with the language, and leaving the concepts to others.  I was, however,
bemused at some passages that may have suffered from a lack of copy editing:
for example, one section that seemed to confuse production of Message
Authentication Codes with working on Macintosh computers.  Authentication of
various types is covered quite well in chapter six.  Chapter seven's guide
to encryption covers details not normally dealt with in cryptography texts
because it must handle all matters related to getting an encryption
algorithm to actually function in an application.

Chapter eight gives enough detail about signed applets to prove that they
are going to be browser specific for a while.  Security provider programming
is covered in chapter nine, using the ElGamal algorithm as an example.  A
sample application is created using an encrypted version of the talk utility
in chapter ten.  An e-mail application is created in chapter eleven using th
provider previously generated in chapter nine.  Chapter twelve closes off by
looking at security design for the system overall.

Appendices review BigInteger arithmetic in Java, the Base64 encoding scheme
(an option for converting binary objects to text characters for e-mailing),
Java archive files, Javakey, and a quick reference for the Java cryptography
classes as covered in the book.

Knudsen states that the book is written, as far as possible, without
assuming any prior knowledge of cryptography.  In this aim he succeeds
rather well.  The programmer with no background in encryption can still add
a reasonable layer of security to his or her application.  Those who study
further, of course, will be able to ensure a higher level of protection and

copyright Robert M. Slade, 1998   BKJAVCRP.RVW   981018

DCCA-7 preliminary program

Mike Reiter <>
Fri, 27 Nov 1998 11:02:38 -0500
               Seventh IFIP International Working Conference on
           Dependable Computing for Critical Applications (DCCA-7)
                             The Fairmont Hotel
                          San Jose, California, USA
                              January 6-8, 1999

IFIP Working Group 10.4 on Dependable Computing and Fault Tolerance + ...
[Abridged for RISKS.  PGN]  Early Registration deadline 6 Dec 1998.
Full info and online (secure) registration form is available at
<> or from

Wednesday January 6, 1999
9 am: Assessment of COTS Components
   * The Taxonomy of Design Faults in COTS Microprocessors by Algirdas
     Avizienis and Yutao He of UCLA, USA
   * Assessment of COTS Microkernels by Fault Injection by J.-C. Fabre, F.
     Salles, M. Rodriguez-Moreno, and J. Arlat of LAAS, France
11am: Coping with COTS
   * Minimalist Recovery Techniques for Single Event Effects in Spaceborne
     Microcontrollers by Douglas W. Caldwell and David A. Rennels of UCLA,
   * Building Fault-Tolerant Hardware Clocks from COTS Components by
     Christof Fetzer and Flaviu Cristian of UCSD, USA
2pm: Formal Methods
   * A methodology for proving control systems with Lustre and PVS by S.
     Bensalem, P. Caspi, C. Parent-Vigouroux, and C. Dumas, D. Pilaud,
     VERIMAG, France
   * Prototyping and Formal Requirement Validation of GPRS: A Mobile Data
     Packet Radio Service for GSM by Luigi Logrippo, Laurent
     Andriantsiferana, and Brahim Ghribi of University of Ottawa, Canada
   * Formal Description and Validation for an Integrity Policy Supporting
     Multiple Levels of Criticality by A. Fantechi, S. Gnesi, and L. Semini
     of Universite di Firenze, Italy
4:30pm: Distributed Systems
   * Proteus: A Flexible Infrastructure to Implement Adaptive Fault
     Tolerance in AQuA by Chetan Sabnis, Michel Cukier, Jennifer Ren,
     William H. Sanders, David E. Bakken, and David Karr of University of
     Illinois and BBN, USA
   * Improving Performance of Atomic Broadcast Protocols Using the
     Newsmonger Technique by Shivakant Mishra and Sudha M. Kuntur of
     University of Wyoming, USA

Thursday January 7, 1999
9am: Time-Triggered Architecture
   * The Transparent Implementation of Fault Tolerance in the
     Time-Triggered Architecture by Hermann Kopetz and Dietmar Millinger of
     TU Vienna, Austria
   * Formal Verification for Time-Triggered Clock Synchronization by Holger
     Pfeifer, Detlef Schwier, and Friedrich W. von Henke of University of
     Ulm, Germany
11am: Fault Tolerance and Safety
   * PADRE: A Protocol For Asymmetric Duplex Redundancy by Didier Essame,
     Jean Arlat, and David Powell of LAAS, France
   * Experimental Validation of High-Speed Fault-Tolerant Systems Using
     Physical Fault Injection by R.J. Martinez, P.J. Gil, G. Martin, C.
     Perez, and J.J. Serrano of the University and Politecnica of Valencia,
2pm: Models of Partitioning for Integrated Modular Avionics
    * A Model of Cooperative Noninterference for Integrated Modular Avionics
     by Ben L. Di Vito of ViGYAN/NASA Langley, USA
   * Invariant Performance: A Statement of Task Isolation Useful for
     Embedded Application Integration by Matthew M. Wilding, David S.
     Hardin, and David A. Greve of Collins Commercial Avionics, USA
   * A Model of Non-Interference for Integrating Mixed-Criticality Software
     Components by Bruno Dutertre and Victoria Stavridou of SRI
     International, USA
4:30pm: Dependability Evaluation
   * Dependability Modeling and Evaluation of Phased Mission Systems: a
     DSPN Approach by Ivan Mura, Andrea Bondavalli, Xinyu Zang, and Kishor
     Trivedi of University of Pisa and CNUCE/CNR, Italy, and Duke
     University, USA
   * Dependability Evaluation using a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis
     Procedure by Divya Prasad and John McDermid of the University of York,

Friday January 7, 1999
9am: Panel: Certification and Assessment of Critical Systems
11:30am: Probabilistic Guarantees
   * Probabilistic Scheduling Guarantees for Fault-Tolerant Real-Time
     Systems by A. Burns, S. Punnekkat, L. Strigini and D. R. Wright of the
     University of York and City University, UK
   * Fault Detection for Byzantine Quorum Systems by Evelyn Pierce, Lorenzo
     Alvisi, Dahlia Malkhi, and Michael Reiter of University of Texas at
     Austin, and Bell Laboratories, USA

Phone: 412-268-7388 (inquiries only)
Fax: 412-268-7401

General Chair: Charles B. Weinstock, Software Engineering Institute, USA
Program Chair: John Rushby, SRI International, USA

Please report problems with the web pages to the maintainer