A three-hour failure in three long-range air-traffic radar systems and radio communications in Memphis on 25 Sep 2007 caused the FAA immediate problems with 150 aircraft and subsequently affected perhaps 1000 planes in eight southeast/midwest states. Memphis-area regional controllers had to use their personal cell phones to contact controllers at other facilities. "The outage was the latest in a string of embarrassing air traffic control equipment and other problems this past spring and summer that spotlighted the aging system that handles thousands of flights daily." [Source: Reuters, 25 Sep 2007: PGN-ed] http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSN2541697920070925 [Also noted by Ben Moore. PGN]
According to a *NY Times* blog (Pogue's Posts), Excel 2007 for Windows doesn't cope properly when multiplying two numbers that should yield 65535 (http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/09/27/a-big-excel-boo-boo/). Instead, it gets 100,000. For a very nice explanation and discussion of its relevance, see Joel Spolsky, Joel on Software blog http://joelonsoftware.com/items/2007/09/26b.html
Sometimes redacting just isn't enough! Especially if you don't know what you're doing. Formula-1's governing body has apparently blown of dozens more McLaren and Ferrari secrets. Technical and financial information in 200 pages of World Motor Sport Council transcripts had been redacted, but the blackened pdf text was of course easily copy-pasted and recovered. Although later removed from the website, the cat was out of the bag — including technical team and car details, suspended McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan's annual salary, the precise weight distribution of the MP4-22 and systems adopted by Ferrari, the "philosophy of variable brake balance systems on both the McLaren and the Ferrari", and details about Ferrari's unique method of inflating its tires. http://formula-1.updatesport.com/news/article/1190624301/formula_one/F1headlines/FIA-blunder-reveals-secrets/view.html
RISKS readers are familiar with the difficulty of deploying new software systems. Even with the best will in the world, some things with just break. In an effort to forestall this, Arizona State University decided to act like a 90s-style .com: deploy first, even if the software is buggy, try to cope with the problems, and fix the code later. As I read the Wall Street Journal story (for subscribers, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119067729479838055.html), it didn't work very well. 3,000 employees were unpaid or underpaid, and the backup procedures couldn't scale by nearly enough. Some of the trouble was that many employees in, say, janitorial positions didn't have their own computers, and not enough departmental machines were available. More of the trouble was the usual: the new system didn't behave the same way as the old one did, especially when handling minor errors. They had a backup plan: the HR department would write checks, no questions asked, for any employee who received an inaccurate paycheck. But there were too many errors, and HR couldn't keep up. Mr. Reinke says instead of writing him a check to replace his blank paycheck, he was told that a change would be made in the system. He received his check a week later. In the meantime, he had to extend his overdraft protection in order to pay his $800-a-month mortgage. Hundreds of other employees had to wait as many as 12 days to have their paychecks fixed. A spokesman for the Arizona State Credit Union says that 55 people took out short-term loans. The new strategy's pain is undeniable. "Morale is the lowest it's been in the 14 years I've worked here," says Allan Crouch, who works in the university's human-resources department. The university seems to be blaming HR, not IT. Two HR employees have been placed on leave. And the IT folks? They think the conversion was a success: While unpaid employees may have been less than thrilled, school administrators, and consultants and software companies involved in the project rave about Arizona State's strategy. Oracle hailed it as a model for both universities and corporations to follow in a report it published in April 2007. In a statement, Jim McGlothlin, an Oracle vice president called the project "highly successful." Gary Somers, who worked on the project for CedarCrestone, Inc., the consulting company that helped implement the system, calls Arizona State's method "the wave of the future." Ship first, debug later, use employees who haven't volunteered for financial hardship as your test subjects. Imagine the reaction of the school's Institutional Review Board if a professor has proposed a human subjects study with similar characteristics. Steve Bellovin, http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~smb
Sometimes redacting just isn't enough! Especially if you don't know what you're doing. [Source: FIA blunder reveals secrets, 22 Sep 2007] http://formula-1.updatesport.com/news/article/1190624301/formula_one/F1headlines/FIA-blunder-reveals-secrets/view.html With seemingly no end to the espionage saga, it now emerges that F1's governing body earlier this week contributed to the widespread distribution of dozens more McLaren and Ferrari secrets. A day before releasing the nearly 200 pages of World Motor Sport Council transcripts to the public on Wednesday, the FIA had sent the documents to both teams so that confidential technical and financial information could be redacted. But when the PDF documents were initially made available on the Internet, it soon became clear that the blackened sections could easily be revealed if copy-pasted into another text editor. The offending copies were quickly removed from the FIA website and replaced. But a plethora of sensitive information, including not only technical team and car details but private figures such as suspended McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan's annual salary, and the precise weight distribution of the MP4-22 and also systems adopted by Ferrari, is therefore now widely known in various corners of the formula one world. The philosophy of variable brake balance systems on both the McLaren and the Ferrari was also inadvertently revealed by the FIA, as well as details about Ferrari's unique method of inflating its tyres, and other secrets. We can confirm that some of those in possession of the formerly private information have been approached by motor racing figures asking to be let in on the secrets. An FIA spokeswoman admits that the Paris based Federation is aware of the mistake. She would not comment further, but the FIA confirmed last week that the transcripts had been recorded by a professional stenographer and formatted by an independent transcription company.
URLs in this post should be considered as unsafe. Fake sites and SE poisoning are nothing new. The use of blogs for this is far from new, either. Thousands of new fake blogs pop up every day on blogspot, livejournal, etc. Web spam is a subject I have written about in the past, and some of you may be familiar with it regardless of me (no kidding), especially if you run a blog yourself. A new fake blog which looks like blogspot, but has its own "domain", recently popped up in a Google alert on my name. I get hits on these fake pages all the time as my name is a key word used by some of these spammers to grab attention to their pages. This time around they really over-did it. The page has a blogspot layout, and continues with ads to pornographic sites or malware (is there any difference anymore?). Then the site shows the YouTube video which can be found under my name. Following that is a post I made to a mailing list recently (poorly formatted). Then we have a few pictures of girls, linking once more either to pornographic sites or malware drive-by sites (if there is a difference, again). They finish the page off by adding comments, which are actually some old securiteam posts by me. Heck, it looks fake, but it is obvious the bad guys are investing more in their fake web pages. Their auto-creation tools seem to be getting more impressive, and I believe we will see much improved believable sites, soon. Google Blog Search displays this site as (nasty words replaced with beep): Gadi Evron 2 Sep 2007 [Text that would certainly tag this issue as s*p*a*m deleted by PGN] URL: http://newadult.celeberia.com/Gadi-Evron Again, I am unsure if these URLs are safe. For those of you wondering if these web pages mean anything to the bad guys, the answer is absolutely yes. Search engine ranking, indexing, etc. helps them advance their own sites (or their clients'). Then of course, there is advertising and Google ads. It works. And the advertising space on unrelated key words is a plus. The concept is very similar to comment spam. Comment spam may not contribute to SE ranking anymore due to the nofollow tag attached to links in comments, but these get indexed and that's all the bad guys care about. Nofollow is crap, and what shows up when you search is what matters. As an example of how these things work, in a recent blog post of mine a buddy left a comment (see here http://gevron.livejournal.com/8859.html for the example). He left a URL for his legitimate Python/math/music/origami blog in his comment, and now when you search for his blog you find my post placed in the 4th place with the title 'A Jew in a German Camp' (about the CCC Camp in Germany). He is not pleased, but it is obvious how the bad guys abuse this, and infect millions of computers just because their owners surf the net.
On Wattflyer forum (for radio control eflight) a new filter was installed. It turns words like 'class' into 'clrear'. A list of bad words are changed against less offensive ones. Even word parts! So, for example, all occurrences of "ass" are changed into "rear". Just think of grass, glass, pass, embassy... http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24929 It was deactivated after less than a day. Wonder why :-) [Surprised that things like this keep happening? We're not. PGN]
Oakland 2008 29th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, The Claremont Resort, Berkeley/Oakland, California, USA, May 18-21, 2008. http://www.ieee-security.org/TC/SP2008/oakland08.html (Submissions due 9 November 2007) Since 1980, the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy has been the premier forum for the presentation of developments in computer security and electronic privacy, and for bringing together researchers and practitioners in the field. Previously unpublished papers offering novel research contributions in any aspect of computer security or electronic privacy are solicited for submission to the 2008 symposium. Papers may represent advances in the theory, design, implementation, analysis, or empirical evaluation of secure systems, either for general use or for specific application domains. The Symposium is also open to the submission of co-located half-day or one-day workshops. Topics of particular interest include, but are not limited to: - Access control and audit - Anonymity and pseudonymity - Application-level security - Biometrics - Cryptographic protocols - Database security - Denial of service - Distributed systems security - Formal methods for security - Information flow - Intrusion detection and prevention - Language-based security - Malicious code prevention - Network security - Operating system security - Peer-to-peer security - Privacy - Risk analysis - Secure hardware and smartcards - Security engineering - Security policy - User authentication
[Excerpt from Cipher Newsletter, IEEE CIPHER, Issue 80, September 17, 2007] Endpoint Security, by Mark S. Kadrich Addison-Wesley 2007. ISBN 0-32-143695-4 Amazon.com $54.99 Bookpool.com $29.95 Book Review By Richard Austin, 20 Jun 2007 Security professionals must face the fact that our networks are acquiring new types of endpoints at a frightening pace. They range from PDA's to smartphones to network-attached printers to even network manageable power strips. And, unfortunately, as Kadrich is quick to point out, these devices are all about features and functionality with little attention being focused on securing them before they attach themselves to our networks. His second chapter, "Why Security Fails," provides an excellent summary of the reasons why security fails ranging from a check-the-box mentality ("if I do this, then I will be secure") to the fact that vendors always position themselves to stop the last threat (rather like the military is often criticized for planning to fight the last war). Chapter 3 presents his idea of what is missing using the surprising analogy of the flush toilet and its control system. He points out that we need to approach the process of network security as a process control problem by identifying control points (routers, VPN gateways, etc) and establish control processes that integrate signals such as failed logon attempts, IDS alerts, etc and business processes such as user termination, software decommissioning and so on. He defines (yet another) new way of diagramming networks to reflect the control system analogy. While we need a new network diagramming standard like we need another compliance initiative, thinking about the denizens of our network infrastructures from a process control perspective is a source of useful insights. Chapter 4 (Missing Link Discovered) introduces the proposed components of a solution that predictably includes network access control (NAC), But Kadrich also includes what is often the missing link in NAC decision making: host integrity. The basic concept is that a device must demonstrate a defined level of trustworthiness before it is allowed to join a more trusted part of the network. If the device cannot demonstrate integrity of its operating system, and a valid system configuration (anti-virus, firewall rules, etc), it will not be granted access. Additionally he makes the important point that the device needs to be remotely manageable so that remediation can be performed. For example, if a host is missing a critical patch as required by the integrity/configuration standards, it can be automatically installed as part of the NAC process. The next two chapters flesh out the underlying components of the NAC process with a discussion of network capabilities and details on how to create a secure baseline for hosts. In chapter 7 (Threat Vectors), the general ways an endpoint can be attacked are presented to prepare for a more in-depth look at threats and defenses for common software environments (Windows, OS X and Linux) in their own chapters. The chapter on OS X is especially recommended as security discussions of this increasingly popular operating system are rather rare. Chapter 11 (PDAs and Smartphones) provides a good overview of these very common endpoints and their software (Windows Mobile, Symbian, Palm, Blackberry and Mobile Linux). One could have wished for more detail but that would easily have doubled the size of the book and taken it further afield from its focus on endpoints in general. Chapter 12 covers the important topic of embedded devices which include things ranging from a network-attached printer to the SCADA systems that run railyards and power plants. Kadrich notes that this is mainly an awareness chapter as there are almost no tools to implement anything approaching a NAC solution for them as yet. The final chapter is devoted to brief case studies that illustrate the book's concepts and how they should be applied in practice. In summary, "Endpoint Security" is a good overall look at the problems presented by the proliferating variety of endpoints seeking to attach to our network infrastructures. The presentation is concept-based which can be frustrating when one is seeking specific guidance but it more keeps the book from becoming mired in product details and quickly dated by their changing features. Practicing security professionals would be well advised to read the advice in this book and use it in examining just where the endpoints of their networks lie. If you're like me, you will find a few surprises along the way. Richard Austin recently retired as the storage network security architect at a Fortune 25 company and currently earns his bread and cheese as an itinerant university instructor and security consultant. He welcomes your thoughts and comments at email@example.com
%A Andy Oram %A Greg Wilson, eds. %T Beautiful Code %I O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. %C Sebastopol, CA 95472 %D 2007 %K book, text, %X 1: Brian Kernighan, A Regular Expression Matcher 2: Karl Fogel, Subversion's Delta Editor: Interface As Ontology 3: Jon Bentley, The Most Beautiful Code I Never Wrote 4: Tim Bray, Finding Things 5: Elliotte Rusty Harold, Correct, Beautiful, Fast (in That Order): Lessons from Designing XML Verifiers 6: Michael Feathers, Framework for Integrated Test: Beauty Through Fragility 7: Alberto Savoia, Beautiful Tests 8: Charles Petzold, On-the-Fly Code Generation for Image Processing 9: Douglas Crockford, Top Down Operator Precedence 10: Henry S. Warren, Jr., The Quest for an Accelerated Population Count 11: Ashish Gulhati, Secure Communication: The Technology Of Freedom 12: Lincoln Stein, Growing Beautiful Code in BioPerl 13: Jim Kent, The Design of the Gene Sorter 14: Jack Dongarra and Piotr Luszczek, How Elegant Code Evolves with Hardware: The Case of Gaussian Elimination 15: Adam Kolawa, The Long-Term Benefits of Beautiful Design 16: Greg Kroah-Hartman, The Linux Kernel Driver Model: The Benefits of Working Together 17: Diomidis Spinellis, Another Level of Indirection 18: Andrew Kuchling, Python's Dictionary Implementation: Being All Things to All People 19: Travis E. Oliphant, Multidimensional Iterators in NumPy 20: Ronald Mak, A Highly Reliable Enterprise System for NASA's Mars Rover Mission 21: Rogerio Atem de Carvalho and Rafael Monnerat, ERP5: Designing for Maximum Adaptability 22: Bryan Cantrill, A Spoonful of Sewage 23: Jeffrey Dean and Sanjay Ghemawat, Distributed Programming with MapReduce 24: Simon Peyton Jones, Beautiful Concurrency 25: R. Kent Dybvig, Syntactic Abstraction: The syntax-case Expander 26: William R. Otte and Douglas C. Schmidt, Labor-Saving Architecture: An Object-Oriented Framework for Networked Software 27: Andrew Patzer, Integrating Business Partners the RESTful Way 28: Andreas Zeller, Beautiful Debugging 29: Yukihiro Matsumoto, Treating Code As an Essay 30: Arun Mehta, When a Button Is All That Connects You to the World 31: T. V. Raman, Emacspeak: The Complete Audio Desktop 32: Laura Wingerd and Christopher Seiwald, Code in Motion 33: Brian Hayes, Writing Programs for "The Book"
Nearly 11 years after my Ph.D., the topic software maintenance is still hot and demanding attention from management echelons. My thesis is now available in electronic format published by Universal Publishers. I thought you might be interested to check this at the link: http://www.universal-publishers.com/book.php?method=ISBN&book=1581129807 Find out more about "Software Maintenance - A Management Perspective" by Vellanky, Phaneendra Nath at: http://www.upublish.com/book.php?method=ISBN&book=1581129807 >From the abstract: Computer systems play an important role in our society. Software drives those systems. Massive investments of time and resources are made in developing and implementing these systems. Maintenance is inevitable. It is hard and costly. Considerable resources are required to keep the systems active and dependable. We cannot maintain software unless maintainability characters are built into the products and processes. There is an urgent need to reinforce software development practices based on quality and reliability principles. Though maintenance is a mini development lifecycle, it has its own problems. Maintenance issues need corresponding tools and techniques to address them. Software professionals are key players in maintenance. While development is an art and science, maintenance is a craft. We need to develop maintenance personnel to master this craft. Technology impact is very high in systems world today. We can no longer conduct business in the way we did before. That calls for reengineering systems and software. Even reengineered software needs maintenance, soon after its implementation. We have to take business knowledge, procedures, and data into the newly reengineered world. Software maintenance people can play an important role in this migration process. Software technology is moving into global and distributed networking environments. Client/server systems and object-orientation are on their way. Massively parallel processing systems and networking resources are changing database services into corporate data warehouses. Software engineering environments, rapid application development tools are changing the way we used to develop and maintain software. Software maintenance is moving from code maintenance to design maintenance, even onto specification maintenance. Modifications today are made at specification level, regenerating the software components, testing and integrating them with the system. Eventually software maintenance has to manage the evolution and evolutionary characteristics of software systems. Software professionals have to maintain not only the software, but the momentum of change in systems and software. In this study, we observe various issues, tools and techniques, and the emerging trends in software technology with particular reference to maintenance. We are not searching for specific solutions. We are identifying issues and finding ways to manage them, live with them, and control their negative impact. >From the acknowledgments: If software development is an art, maintenance is craft. The nature of software maintenance and its study precludes originality. The practical nature of the field, the vast horizons that it covers, extensive product line - particularly hardware platforms, software, and applications, the experience with products, the budding tools and techniques, professionals entering almost from every other field and into various levels, makes software maintenance a peculiar field of study. This author draws inspiration and resources from his experience in software development and maintenance extending many years since 1972, and various courses and seminars attended on software maintenance, CASE Tools, Software Development Methodologies.
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