Once again we have had an accident, and once again, a well-meaning RISKSer cries out "human error" (RISKS-24.16). The airplane didn't stop in time, went off the end of the runway, collided with two cars and killed one of the car's passengers. "Human error by the pilot, not failure of an "Automatic" system" says our faultless correspondent. Bad pilot, says our correspondent, bad. Or, to quote the precise words, "Perhaps in hindsight the captain honestly believes he "attempted" to deploy the Thrust-Reversers ... or maybe he's now ... trying to cover his error by an alleged system malfunction ??". I bet he feels good, our correspondent. He has shown the world that the pilot was at fault, and now he can rest easy. No failure here — just a bad pilot. Sigh. You know, some 75% of accidents are blamed on human error. Personally, I think that figure wrong: I think those other 25% are error as well. After all, if a part failed by metal fatigue, the designer failed in not considering the possibility of fatigue. Even so-called "Acts of God" are quite predictable, at least in the statistical sense. So every failure is caused by a human somewhere along the chain. Does blaming people help us stop accidents from happening? Nope. But, it makes people feel good to blame someone. Then they don't have think about the problem anymore, or at least not until the next time it happens. And it will, it will. Perhaps in a different form, but human error will be the culprit next time as well. It does no good to blame something on human error. That's like saying that the communication failed because of atmospheric noise, or perhaps a component failure. What do we do when we find these physical failures? Why we devise redundant circuits, error-resistant codes, noise-tolerant communication systems. We don't blame physics and then relax. No, we do something about it. So, why not design things so that it can tolerate the well-known forms of human error? Case in point: the Southwest Airlines crash in Chicago, where the plane didn't manage to stop in time on a wet runway. I always want to await the final NTSB report before reaching any conclusions, but given that this has been so badly discussed in RISKS (properly and well discussed by Peter Ladkin, I hasten to add, badly discussed by the second correspondent), let's see how we might have designed things differently. The suspected culprit at this moment is that although the pilots computed that they had sufficient runway, the computation assumed timely deployment of the engine thrust reversers. In fact, the thrust reversers were deployed 18 seconds after touchdown. Too late — that didn't give them sufficient time to stop the plane. I have seen this problem before: overly precise computations produce more trust than is warranted. In one famous incident, a large cruise ship (Royal Majesty) went aground causing $7 million of damage, to a large extent because when its GPS system failed, a dead-reckoning system took over, but still produced results accurate to two decimal places of minutes. After 30 hours of dead reckoning, the ship was 17 miles off course, but the position was still being plotted with extreme precision. Human error? Of course, although the NTSB did its usual excellent job of showing that the real culprit was the entire system, including the design of the integrated bridge navigation system. In the Southwest Airlines incident, why did the runway-length calculator give a precise answer when the variables entered into it were so imprecise: how wet really was the runway? Just how far along the runway will the plane actually touch down? What will be its exact speed at touchdown, its exact weight? How many seconds will it take the thrust reverser to be deployed (certainly not immediately — 5 seconds? 10? 18?). I propose a design rule: never give an answer with more precision than is warranted. Ideally show locations on a map as a smudge, the size comparable to the statistical likelihood. Why produce an exact stopping distance in feet? Why not produce a range, from one with everything working perfectly to one where, say, thrust reversers would not work at all, and all the other parameters were at their extreme worst ranges. Instead of displaying an exact position in hundredths of minutes or stopping distance to the foot (30 cm.), why not always show the ranges to be expected? I don't know if this solution would have prevented this particular incident. But I do know that this philosophy can be applied to a large range of situations where today calculations are done with great precision and questionable accuracy. More importantly, the real, underlying design rule should be to learn from mistakes. To change the procedures and technology so as to mitigate against reoccurrences. Blaming the human solves no useful purpose except to make the blamer feel self-righteous. Let those who are without error cast the first blame. That would lead to zero casting. I have tried to deliver this message many times before. I predict that I will have to give it many times again. Wouldn't it be nice if before I died, I would find it no longer necessary to deliver the message. Don Norman, Nielsen Norman Group & Prof. EE & Computer Science, Cognitive Science & Psychology, Northwestern University http://www.jnd.org [The RISKS archives themselves suggest that Don will have to continue this long-time consistent thread. PGN]
I have been closely following the difficulties the Tokyo Stock Exchange has been having with its trading and order management systems. As you may remember, a series of "fat finger" trades revealed that the system, which was, as it turns out, apparently in the process of being swapped out, was unable to cancel an erroneous order, causing, in the most egregious case, a $333 million loss to the broker whose trade was input incorrectly. The software provider, Fujitsu, took the blame, and eventually a new CIO from NTT was brought in on a platform of "international best practice" for the exchange's systems. So when the OMX, operator of a group of Scandinavian and Baltic exchanges, had what sounded like a similar problem at its Stockholm facility, I watched to see how they would handle the situation. I blogged my observations here: http://blogalization.nu/marketmachines/?p=3D1307 ... The gist: All trades possibly affected by the order management fubar were automatically routed aside for manual confirmation or cancellation. The process took one hour, after which normal trading resumed. I'm not up on the full details, but it does seem to illustrate an important point: glitches happen. What's most important is how you plan for handling them so that they don't snowball from minor glitches into loud screaming from senior government officials Colin Brayton, Brooklyn email@example.com
Earlier this month it was revealed that more than 100 mobile phone numbers belonging mostly to members of the Greek government and top-ranking civil servants were found to have been illegally tapped for a period of at least one year . Apparently, the tapping was implemented by activating Ericsson's lawful interception subsystem installed at the Vodafone service provider. How could this happen? After one looks at the design and implementation of Ericsson's Interception Management System (IMS), the real question that comes to mind is how come such events are not happening all them time (or maybe they are?) The system is clearly not designed with security in mind. The major problem of the design is the lack of compartmentalization. IMS is an extremely sensitive application, because it can setup and monitor the tapping of arbitrary phones. Good security engineering practice dictates that such applications should run isolated on trustworthy platforms, minimizing the surface area exposed to malicious attacks. In such a design the system's modules serve the same role as a ship's bulkheads: they provide structural stability and contain damage to specific areas. Instead, according to its user manual , IMS runs on top of Ericsson's general purpose AXE exchange network management platform XMATE, which in turn runs on top of a Solaris system chock-full of support software. Among other things, XMATE provides an application programming interface, a command terminal, a macro command tool, and a file transfer application. Any of those could be conceivably exploited to activate the IMS or its functionality. In addition, the XMATE Solaris installation includes many large third party applications: the Common Desktop Environment (CDE), the Applix business performance management software , X.25 networking, and the OSI file transfer (FTAM). Again, security vulnerabilities in these large components could be used to seize control of the system and activate the IMS. Even if the IMS was not installed on the network management platform, the design of the platform apparently allows a malicious user to craft the "remote control equipment" MML commands that set up voice communication monitoring and send them to the exchange. In a recent thought-provoking article Matt Blaze identified a number of signaling vulnerabilities in (mainly) older wiretapping systems . Vulnerabilities associated with the way modern systems are designed and implemented are apparently also very important. Disclaimer: The above is my limited understanding, based on the few documents that are publicly available. Unfortunately, documentation that would allow independent experts to assess the security of these systems is scarce. The IMS User Manual , although available on a number of Internet sites, is marked with red letters as "Strictly Confidential". (I guess simply "Confidential" would mean that the manual was available for download from Ericsson.) Also, the ETSI standard TR 101 943 V2.1.1 (2004-10) states in section 7.3.2: "It is also to be recommended that operational information about the LI systems, such as how they are implemented, where they reside and how they are operated and maintained, should be kept within a small group of authorized persons." Another instance where obscurity is probably used as a cover for insecurity.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_telephone_tapping_case_2004-2005  http://cryptome.org/ericsson-ims.htm  http://www.applix.com/index.asp  http://www.crypto.com/papers/wiretapping/ Diomidis Spinellis - http://www.dmst.aueb.gr/dds
It was widely reported that the names, SSNs, and other personal information for 6000 current & former McAfee employees were potentially compromised. An auditor from Deloitte had the information on an unlabeled (but unencrypted) CD that was left in an airplane seatback pocket. It's unknown whether the CD simply went in the trash as part of airplane cleaning, or whether someone picked it up. McAfee is offering employees and ex-employees two years worth of credit monitoring through Experian. The really interesting part (which I saw in the *San Jose Mercury* article, but not elsewhere) is that the auditor "had made the CD for backup purposes, and it was their decision not to encrypt the data." McAfee's spokesperson aid they have policies to prevent such actions, but they can't control what the auditor does with the data. So if McAfee didn't have policies in place to prevent storing sensitive data in an unencrypted form (and/or to safeguard the media), Deloitte would have flunked them on their Sarbanes-Oxley audit. But because it was Deloitte who did the dirty deed, it looks like no one will be held accountable. One hopes that the Deloitte employee who made the CD is now a former employee. Some of the news reports are commenting on the irony of it being McAfee (a security company) that lost the data; the more I think about it, the less I think that's relevant, since the fault appears to lie with Deloitte, not McAfee. http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/13950371.htm&cid=0 http://news.com.com/Auditor+loses+McAfee+employee+data/2100-1029_3-6042544.html P.S. I'm an ex-McAfee (actually, Network Associates) employee and did not get notified, presumably because I moved after I stopped working for them. I've been trying to find someone at McAfee to tell me whether my information was on that CD, and if so how to get my Experian monitoring, but they make it very hard to find a contact point. If anyone has suggestions, I (and many other ex-McAfee people) would appreciate it! [Also noted by Martyn Thomas: http://software.silicon.com/security/0,39024655,39156741,00.htm PGN]
Thousands of [AU] Canterbury University students had their personal information exposed when online services were shut down leaving private records available to anyone with a user code and password last night. Information such as IRD numbers, transcripts, results, outstanding payments, medical conditions, and personal addresses could all be easily accessed online and could be changed by system users. The university's information technology department shut down the webfront. The university had installed a new online system late last year but there had not been any problems until now. [Source: *New Zealand Herald*, 20 Feb 2006; PGN-ed] http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=1&ObjectID=10369269
Rights Groups Say Database May Include Innocent People By Walter Pincus and Dan Eggen, *The Washington Post*, 15 Feb 2006, A01 The National Counterterrorism Center maintains a central repository of 325,000 names of international terrorism suspects or people who allegedly aid them, a number that has more than quadrupled since the fall of 2003, according to counterterrorism officials. The list kept by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) — created in 2004 to be the primary U.S. terrorism intelligence agency — contains a far greater number of international terrorism suspects and associated names in a single government database than has previously been disclosed. Because the same person may appear under different spellings or aliases, the true number of people is estimated to be more than 200,000, according to NCTC officials. <...snip...> <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/14/AR2006021402125.html?referrer=email&referrer=email> Archives at: http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/
"May include?" Unless Coffin vs. the United States and the Presumption of Innocence have been suspended, then the Terrorism List contains 325,000 "innocent" names. Robert Alberti, Sanction, Inc., PO Box 583453, Mpls, MN 55458-3453 CISSP, ISSMP http://www.sanction.net (612) 486-5000 x211 firstname.lastname@example.org
In the following URL for a (quick & dirty) write-up (which is too big for sending into RISKS) I start by discussing some recent threats network operators should be aware of, such as recursive DNS attacks. Also, a bit on the state of the Internet, cooperation across different fields and how these latest threats with DDoS also relate to worms and bots, as well as spam, phishing and the immense ROI organized crime sees. Then I try and bring some suggestions on what can be done better, and where we as a community, as well as specifically where us, the "secret hand-shake clubs" of Internet security fail and succeed. Over-secrecy, lack of cooperation, lack of public information, and not being secret enough about what really matters. On the surface you can read about the attacks, how registered domains with a name created by a specific algorithm to serve as a botnet command and control server, while spammers use name servers other than their own to spamvertise from and switch back, while the DNS RR's change IP addresses every few minutes. Below the surface you will have to see what you understand as I get different responses from different people. Looking behind the smoke screen of the Internet: DNS recursive attacks, spamvertised domains, phishing, botnet C&Cs, International Infrastructure and you The write-up can be found here: http://blogs.securiteam.com/index.php/archives/298
Here's a piece that will interest some RISKS readers: Cecil Adams ("The Straight Dope") on the risks of using cell phones while driving: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/060210.html Nico Chart, Paradigm Geophysical [Cecil says. "Accumulating evidence suggests gabbing on the phone while driving is definitely dangerous, probably more so than other distractions."]
> What to me seems an obvious risk was not mentioned, namely the risk of > trusting untrusted software to perform downgrade at all, ... This discussion would not be complete without mentioning that the more careful one wishes to be with respect to keeping something secret, the more important it may be to ensure that it is made public. The Russian success at bugging the American embassy in Moscow gave them confidence that we were NOT planning imminent hostile actions and thus kept the cold war cold somewhat more securely. Security failures in criminal and terrorist organizations are particularly valuable even in Palestine, Afghanistan, and Iraq, whether state sponsored or not. Sometimes, mistakes and inadequacies are good for us.
Markus Schumacher, Eduardo Fernandez-Buglioni, Duane Hybertson, Frank Buschmann, Peter Sommerlad Security Patterns: Integrating Security and System Engineering John Wiley and Sons, New York, 2006 565+xxxiii Following Christopher Alexander's inspiration, this book purports to span "the full spectrum of security in systems design", and addresses enterprise-, architectural-, and user-level security. It is the seventh book in the Wiley Series in Software Design Patterns. It includes lots of RISKS-relevant material.
BKROLBAC.RVW 20051106 "Role-Based Access Control", David F. Ferraiolo/D. Richard Kuhn/Ramaswamy Chandramouli, 2003, 1-58053-370-1 %A David F. Ferraiolo %A D. Richard Kuhn %A Ramaswamy Chandramouli %C 685 Canton St., Norwood, MA 02062 %D 2003 %G 1-58053-370-1 %I Artech House/Horizon %O 617-769-9750 800-225-9977 fax: 6177696334 email@example.com %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1580533701/robsladesinterne http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1580533701/robsladesinte-21 %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/1580533701/robsladesin03-20 %O Audience a Tech 2 Writing 1 (see revfaq.htm for explanation) %P 316 p. %T "Role-Based Access Control" The original papers on role-based access control (RBAC) saw it as an extension of mandatory access control (MAC): a given role in an organization would have a given requirement for clearance, and therefore a particular person in a role would have access to material labeled at a specific sensitivity. In the preface, the authors state that they are following current interest in RBAC as a means of identity management, with little distinction made between the use of discretionary or mandatory access control policies. The intended audiences are security professionals, software developers, and instructors and students in security courses. Chapter one outlines the basics of access control, moves to a history of access control and RBAC, and ends with a justification for the use of RBAC in the enterprise. More details of access control concepts are provided in chapter two, along with some repetitions of the models in chapter one. The basics of role-based access control are outlined in chapter three. Chapter four examines role hierarchies and the inheritance of privilege. Separation of duties (somewhat oversimplified in the equation to the "two man rule") addresses the issue of conflation of roles, although chapter five is rather weak in terms of practical implementation. Chapter six looks at the use of RBAC with both mandatory (MAC) and discretionary (DAC) access control. The NIST (US National Institute of Standards and Technology) RBAC standard is explained in chapter seven. Chapter eight examines the intriguing idea of using role-based adminstration to manage the assignments and permissions of RBAC itself. (This material is highly formal, and would require dedicated study by those attempting to implement it.) Enterprise access frameworks (EAFs) are proposed in chapter nine, reaching back to mandatory access control for a kind of automated assignment of permissions direct from corporate policy. (Much of this text is taken up with XML code.) The relation of RBAC to various popular technologies is suggested in chapter ten. A short case study of the transition of a company to RBAC is provided in chapter eleven. Chapter twelve deals with RBAC facilities in a number of commercial products. The writing is frequently uneven and repetitious, but the concepts are generally clear enough. The book also uses lots of acronyms, and isn't always careful about providing an explanation for them. In regard to the stated audiences, most security professionals will find much of interest and value in the first half of the book, and it would act as a useful text in a number of security courses. Software developers might not find as much to their advantage. The second half of the book is questionable. For those involved in the formal and theoretical study of role-based access control, this work will have much merit, but that is a select audience, and the demands on the reader will be significant. copyright Robert M. Slade, 2005 BKROLBAC.RVW 20051106 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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