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 24 Issue 92

Monday 17 December 2007

Contents

Private details of EVERY family in Britain 'lost' by taxman in major security gaffe
Peter Houppermans
UK Government disks were not well encrypted
Peter Houppermans
Whole of UK Child Benefit records on CD lost in the post
Peter Mellor
Bad Health Informatics Can Kill
Brian Randell
Space Shuttle Year End Rollover problem
Jan Wolitzky
Lost in Translation: Rail Signal Consistency + Questionable Reporting
Chuck Weinstock
Computer Security Meets Alcohol Breath Testing
Eric Van Buskirk
Miss California? Sensible vote counting did!
Peter G. Neumann
Daylight savings switch causes twins paradox
Tony Luck
Risks: Computer Glitch Leads To Kmart Brawl
Gabe Goldberg
DSL outage hits some AT&T customers
Yahoo! News via Stephen W Smoliar
Drunk a better guide than sat nav
Dan Jacobson
Info on RISKS (comp.risks)

Private details of EVERY family in Britain 'lost' by taxman in major

<Peter Houppermans <peter@houppermans.com>>
Tue, 20 Nov 2007 19:06:57 +0100
 security gaffe

The Chancellor was rocked by a new crisis this evening over the loss of
confidential bank details of virtually every family in Britain.

Alistair Darling had to make an emergency statement to the Commons revealing
that records of 7.2 million bank accounts of all parents or guardians who
claim child benefits had gone missing.

MPs gasped when he revealed that the names, addresses, bank numbers and
National Insurance numbers of all those affected had been on two computer
discs which had been lost.

A total of 25 million people's names are on the discs, potentially leaving
them all at risk of identity fraud.  Britain's most senior taxman, Paul
Gray, quit his 170,000-pound--a-year job as head of HM Customs and Revenue
in the wake of the Treasury blunder.

<http://tinyurl.com/2ubzzm>, full URL
<http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=495188&in_page_id=1770&in_page_id=1770>

At present it appears the information was at least encrypted, but it defies
belief that data of such sensitive nature was despatched in this form
without being accompanied with the most basic form of tracking.  Plus ca
change.


UK Government disks were not well encrypted

<Peter Houppermans <peter@houppermans.com>>
Wed, 21 Nov 2007 09:12:11 +0100

According to more recent reports, the extreme blunder made by the UK "HM
Revenue and Customes" by sending two CDs with the personal details of approx
25 million people per unsecured courier is worse than first reported.

Later news reports suggest that the original story of this data being at
least "encrypted" may be inaccurate, or may be a bit of an overstatement
when it comes to the kind of encryption used (ROT 13, maybe?).

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/pressass/20071121/tuk-astonishment-over-information-error-6323e80_1.html

This is an absolutely unbelievable blunder, especially given the sensitivity
of the data.  In addition, there are electronic connections on multiple
security levels between those departments - there was really no need at all
for that data to travel physically.  And this lot wants the population to
agree to a central IDcard scheme?


Whole of UK Child Benefit records on CD lost in the post

<MellorPeter@aol.com>
Thu, 22 Nov 2007 08:54:54 EST

Two CD-ROMs containing the entire Child Benefit database held by Her
Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have gone missing in transit from the
HMRC Child Benefit Office in Washington, Tyne and Wear, to the National
Audit Office (NAO) in London.

The information here is mostly a summary of pages of the BBC's site:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7103566.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7106366.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7104368.stm
... updated from BBC Radio bulletins of 21st and 22nd November.

Information from commentators to The Register is also interesting:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/21/reader_comments_on_hmrc/page2.html

The New York Times covered the story on 22nd November:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/22/world/europe/22data.html?th&emc=th

For non-UK readers, the Child Benefit is a fixed payment to parents,
(normally the mother) of every child in the UK under 16, and to older
children in full-time education.  It is taken up by almost 100% of those
eligible.  Amounts: 18.10 pounds a week for the first child; 12.10 pounds a
week for further children.  ($36.30 for the first child; $25 per additional
child - NYT) Payments are administered by HMRC.

The NAO is the UK watchdog body on public expenditure, and needed to know
the amounts paid in Child Benefit, as part of its normal work.

The following was the sequence of events (adapted from the BBC report):

MARCH 2007

The head of NAO requested from the manager of Child Benefit a copy of the
Child Benefit records for the whole of the UK.  Only financial information
was needed.  The request made it clear that personal details could be
removed, to "de-sensitize" the data.

The manager of Child Benefit e-mailed the head of NAO to say that
de-sensitizing the data could not be done for reasons of cost, and that the
complete data would be sent.  This message was copied to one of the
directors of HMRC.

A "junior official" at HM Revenue and Customs sent to the NAO a full copy of
HMRC's child benefit data. That information was later safely returned.

18 OCTOBER

Child benefit data was again sent to the NAO by a "junior official", using
the courier company TNT, which operates the HMRC's internal mail system.
The package contained two CDs, containing details of 25 million individuals.
It has been reported that the data was password protected but not encrypted.

The package was not recorded or registered, and failed to arrive.  (The
repeated statements that the package was "not recorded or registered" are
puzzling.  See my comment below.)

24 OCTOBER

The NAO told HMRC it had not received the package. An HMRC
spokeswoman said the official believed it may have been delayed by
the postal strikes or in the NAO's office move and did not report it.
A second copy was sent by registered post and arrived safely.

8 NOVEMBER

Senior HMRC management were informed that the 18 October
package was missing.

10 NOVEMBER

The Chancellor, Alistair Darling, was informed and told Prime Minister
Gordon Brown.  Mr Darling ordered an immediate investigation and
searches of all premises where the package might be, as well as action
to ensure it does not happen again.

12 NOVEMBER

Mr Darling was told by HMRC that evidence has been found which might help to
find the missing package (as stated on the BBC web site: there has been no
public statement about what this "evidence" might have been).

14 NOVEMBER

The chancellor decided the HMRC searches had failed and told
HMRC chairman Paul Gray to call in the Metropolitan Police.

15 NOVEMBER

The chancellor went to Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, who agreed
that remedial action must be taken before a public statement is made.
(Keeping Joe Public and his missus informed is the lowest priority, as
usual!)

12-18 NOVEMBER

Mr Gray told Mr Darling he felt he should resign (i.e., Mr Gray, not the
Chancellor!).  The Chancellor sought the advice of the Financial Services
Authority and Serious Organised Crime Agency, while banks were alerted by
HMRC.

20 NOVEMBER

Mr Gray resigned following an announcement that Mr Darling was to
make a statement to the House of Commons.  The chancellor outlined
what had happened and announced an investigation of HMRC's security
procedures by PricewaterhouseCoopers chairman Kieran Poynter,
alongside the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which
monitors the HMRC.

 - - - -

Some interesting points arise from this comedy of errors:

We have been continually told that the posting of the CDs was done by a
"junior official" who was acting "in breach of security procedures", and a
23-year-old civil servant has duly resigned.

It was speculated that he might have been a temporary, but it has now come
to light that he was a permanent member of staff.  As such, he should have
known the "security procedures", whatever these were.  Also, as a civil
servant, he would have been subject to the Official Secrets Act.

Several serving or retired civil servants have made interesting comments to
The Register (see URL above) about this "junior" official.  For security
reasons, a junior would not have had a CD burner as part of his office
workstation.  The active co-operation, as well as authorisation, of his
manager would therefore have been required.

Also for security reasons, he would not have had a personal e-mail address
at the office.  There is, in any case, a 4Mb size limit to e-mail
attachments, which would preclude electronic transmission (encrypted or
otherwise) and was presumably the reason for sending CDs by snail-mail.  One
informed guess is that what was sent was a .mdb file, zipped using a
password.

The junior official was therefore following his manager's explicit
instructions, and using a procedure which had become routine.  His
responsibility should have ended at the point when he dropped the package
into the internal mail, but he became a convenient scape-goat when the
procedure failed, as it would sooner or later.

However, that was before the existence and contents of the e-mail from the
head of Child Benefit Office to the head of NAO were made public on the 21st
November.  (It seems that it was leaked to the Conservative Party, who were
not slow to use it as a rod with which to beat the government.)  The fact
that it was cc'd to a director of HMRC means that the top brass were fully
aware that unencrypted personal data for half the people in the UK were
routinely being shipped on CD by an insecure route.

The contention that de-sensitizing the data would have been too expensive
does not bear scrutiny.  If all that was needed was to delete names,
addresses and NI numbers, then this amounts to deleting some columns from a
relational database. which is a few minutes' work.  However, it is likely
that the NI number would be at least a part of the primary key, so that it
could not be removed without compromising the integrity of the data.  It
would have been necessary to have replaced it with another unique but
arbitrary identifier.  Also, the NAO might have required at least the first
part of the post code in order to break down payments by region.  All of
this is pure speculation, of course.

Regarding the peculiar statement that the package was "not recorded or
registered":

"Recorded delivery" and "Registered mail" are special services provided by
the UK Post Office, and mean that, for a charge, one can ensure that a
valuable package obtains VIP treatment or that its movements can be fully
traced, which is not the case with normal postal delivery.  I use it if, for
example, I need to send my birth certificate somewhere for an official
purpose.

One would expect a courier to "record and register" every item entrusted to
its care.  (If I buy a pair of socks over the internet, I have to sign for
it when the man in the van turns up on my doorstep.)  TNT would (surely?)
have signed in and out *every* package that they shipped, and must have been
able to demonstrate basic competence in doing this in order to get the
contract for handling HMRC's internal mail.

Regarding the possibilities of fraud:

The data includes: National insurance (NI) number Name, address and birth
date Partner's details Names, sex and age of children Bank/savings account
details ... quite useful for an identity fraudster, particularly the NI
number.  There is plenty of scope here for a fraudster to redirect payments.

We have been told by the Chancellor and Prime Minister that there is no
evidence that the data has fallen into the "wrong hands", but since no-one
knows whose hands it is in (if anyone's: it might be lying in the back of a
van) this is just the usual reassuring bull***t from the government.

In two separate incidents in September, records of about 15,000 people's
details went missing after being sent by HMRC to Standard Life Insurance,
and a laptop containing around 400 ISA (individual savings accounts)
customers' details was stolen.  (HMRC deals with tax as well as benefits.)

Government data security is now a *very* hot political potato.

Paul Gray has at least had the decency to resign.  Whether his head will
placate the mob remains to be seen.  In the meantime, the allegations that
the government could not guarantee adequate security for the data to be held
for the proposed national Identity Card scheme have gained new force.

Peter Mellor;   Mobile: 07914 045072;   email: MellorPeter@aol.com
Telephone and Fax: +44 (0)20 8459 7669


Bad Health Informatics Can Kill

<Brian Randell <Brian.Randell@ncl.ac.uk>>
Mon, 10 Dec 2007 22:30:56 +0000

I've just come across the document
  Bad Health Informatics Can Kill
from the Working Group for Assessment of Health Information Systems of the
European Federation for Medical Informatics (EFMI)

"ICT can have positive impact on health care, but there are also examples on
negative impact of ICT on efficiency and even outcome quality of patient
care. Medical informaticians should feel responsible for the effects of ICT
on patients and public. Systematic analysis of ICT errors and failures is
the precondition to be able to learn from negative examples and to design
better health information systems. This document contains summaries of a
number of reported incidents in healthcare where ICT was the cause or a
significant factor. For each incident or problem at least one link to a
source will be provided. With the following list, we want to raise awareness
on this important issue, and provide information for further reading"

Full document at:
http://iig.umit.at/efmi/badinformatics.htm

School of Computing Science, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne,
NE1 7RU, UK +44 191 222 7923 http://www.cs.ncl.ac.uk/~brian.randell/


Space Shuttle Year End Rollover problem

<Jan Wolitzky <jwolit@optonline.net>>
Sun, 09 Dec 2007 17:39:01 -0500

NASA has been flying the Space Shuttle for more than a quarter century
without ever having a mission in space over New Year's Eve, because its
computer software could not be trusted to behave correctly when the Julian
date rolled over from 365 or 366 to zero.  Earlier this year, NASA announced
that it had finally fixed the Year End Rollover (YERO) problem
(<http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/content/?cid=5026>).

When they scrubbed today's STS-122 Atlantis launch attempt because of
problems with the engine cut-off fuel sensors, NASA set the next try for no
earlier than January 2, 2008, in part (reportedly) because of YERO software
concerns.

It appears that NASA doesn't have a great deal of confidence in their date
problem fix.  Does anyone have details of where this issue stands now?


Lost in Translation: Rail Signal Consistency + Questionable Reporting

<Chuck Weinstock <weinstock@sei.cmu.edu>>
Wed, 5 Dec 2007 19:36:52 -0500

On 30 Nov 2007 an Amtrak passenger train approaching Chicago's Union Station
slammed into the rear of a freight train occupying the same track. Speed
recorders showed that the train was doing 40mph when the engineer went into
emergency about 9 seconds before the crash. The signal on the line, operated
by Norfolk Southern, was set so that the train should have been going 15mph,
prepared to stop.

According to an article in the 4 Dec 2007 edition of the *Chicago Tribune*
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-traincrash_04dec04,0,6705498.story
a cause of the accident may have been a combination of the engineer's
relative inexperience and the surprising (to me) fact that the same signal
indication on different railroads may mean different things. According to
the Tribune: "The system of color-coded signals evolved over the last
century or more, and the operating rules that govern them were created
independently, based on the need of individual railroads."

The NS signal was showing red-over-yellow which, on that railroad signifies
the 15mph restriction. The Amtrak train in question began it's journey from
Grand Rapids, MI to Chicago on a different railroad where the
red-over-yellow indication can mean something else.

Also from the article:

"An engineer's job these days is a lot more difficult than people realize,"
said Chip Pew, a safety specialist in the rail division of the Illinois
Commerce Commission.

"Envision something as simple as a stop sign to mean as many as four
different things depending on what railroad territory and what state you are
in," Pew said. "We need to consider at least some national operating rules
so red over yellow means red over yellow everywhere to eliminate the
possibility of misinterpretation."

Not from the article: according to a friend who is knowledgeable about
railroad signaling systems says that red-over-yellow always means some form
of "slow down stupid" even if not exactly the same form on each railroad.


Computer Security Meets Alcohol Breath Testing

<Eric Van Buskirk <swiver@cox.net>>
Mon, 3 Dec 2007 21:23:55 -0700

Recent developments in DUI litigation unexpectedly bleed into the realm of
computer security.

INTRODUCTION

Computer security enthusiasts are naturally interested in software quality.
They know that proper software engineering and development is necessary for
the justified extension of trust to computing and communication systems.
The search for trust appears to have lately received an unexpected ally:
according to a small but growing number of DUI defendants, breath alcohol
testing devices cannot be trusted unless defense experts are permitted to
analyze the source code for the software that controls them.

Is there now an alliance between DUI defendants and computer security
professionals?  To the extent that they are both interested in trust of
computing services, the answer is, "yes."

The search for trust is really a search for dependability.  Dependability is
an umbrella concept in computer science that includes five core components:
integrity, availability, safety, maintainability and reliability.1  Those
who pursue computer security recognize the first two components as
essential.  Those who use evidence that is i) scientific or technical, and
ii) the output of a computer should recognize the last as critical.2  Thus,
DUI defense and computer security are indeed joined by their respective
pursuits of computer dependability and trust.

However, this alliance is certainly not to the exclusion of police, crime
labs, and prosecutors.  To the extent evidence is the output of a computer,
such as a breath test device, law enforcement pursues computer dependability
with zeal equal to (probably exceeding) that of the defense.

Law enforcement pursues the reliability of breath test evidence using a
range of elaborate methods.  Central to those methods is black box testing.
In this context, black box testing involves the input of certified known
solutions of ethanol into a breath testing instrument.  The idea is that, if
the instrument measures the known inputs correctly both before and after the
defendant's tests, then by implication the instrument must be working
properly and accurately at the time of the defendant's tests.  At trial,
prosecutors depend, in part, on this "before/after" testing to persuade
judges and juries that evidence from a given breath testing instrument is
reliable and trustworthy.

Some DUI defendants are recently claiming that this black box testing is
insufficient to establish the reliability of breath test evidence.  One
notable example is the case of State v. Chun, a consolidated case involving
20 defendants who collectively demanded that the State of New Jersey
(hereinafter, "State") disclose the source code for its breath testing
instrument, the Draeger brand Alcotest 7110 MKIII-C.3  The Chun defendants
alleged that the reliability of the State's breath test evidence could only
be established by a post-hoc source code review or audit.  In particular,
they claimed that "an actual source code review is necessary as there could
be hidden techniques [in the software] that would allow for altering data
and/or blatant coding errors that skew the accuracy of the instrument's
results."4  If permitted, a post-hoc source code review would be quite a
commitment, since the firmware for the Alcotest breath tester contained more
than 45,000 lines of C/C++ code.

After protracted litigation, the Chun defendants convinced a court to grant
review of the Draeger Alcotest source code firmware, version NJ3.11 (the
actual version at issue in New Jersey).  So that the defense was not left
with the first, last, and only word on the "quality" of the NJ3.11 firmware,
Draeger also contracted an expert to conduct a source code review.  Finally,
to resolve anticipated differences and to facilitate understanding, the
court appointed its own expert to report on the work of the parties'
experts.

THE CHUN SOURCE CODE REVIEWS

The defense hired Base One Technologies to conduct a static source code
review.  Base One used the following tools to conduct its review: Lint, MS
Visual C++ Development Environment and Compiler, Borland C++, IAR Embedded C
Compiler, Understand C code analyzer, Source Format X, Beyond Compare, and
others.  Since at least some of the comments for the NJ3.11 source code were
in German, Base One used AltaVista Babelfish web translation service to
translate the comments into English.5

In its final report, Base One made a number of criticisms of the NJ3.11
firmware.6  Perhaps the most incendiary charge, and the one most quoted on
DUI defense attorney blogs, was that, in some cases, if a diagnostic routine
fails, then the Alcotest "will substitute arbitrary canned data values"
thereby affecting the breath measurements.  The apparent implication of this
allegation is that the Alcotest (at least for version NJ3.11) fabricates
breath test evidence.

Base One made other notable findings.  It said there was "proof of
incomplete testing" of the code.  This is an odd observation to make since
it is well established that complete testing of non-trivial software is
"impossible."7  Base One also wrote that "catastrophic error detection" was
improperly disabled; that the firmware would not pass "U.S. industry
standards" for software and testing; that the programming "does not
insulate/protect modules or data"; and that "incorrectly coded or modified
functions can inadvertently modify a data value not part of that routine's
sphere of influence."

Prior to submission to the Chun court, Base One's report was assessed by the
court's source code expert, the CMX Group.8  CMX was mostly critical of Base
One's report.  In particular, CMX wrote that more than a few of Base One's
claims were "unsupported," or contained "misleading observations," or were
"pure speculation," or had no supporting evidence, or were flatly
contradictory.  CMX also impugned Base One's knowledge of software standards
as being "inaccurate."  Further, CMX said that Base One used inappropriate
"innuendo" as well as unsubstantiated phrases such as "clearly" and "ample
evidence," and also used non-specific phrases such as "industry standards"
without sufficient elaboration.  Finally, CMX found as empirically
unsupported Base One's claim that the NJ3.11 firmware substitutes arbitrary
data values for authentic ones.

CMX also wrote that the Base One reviewer may be "unaware" of some system
testing tools necessary to perform an adequate review, or may not have had
much experience in the relevant technologies.  CMX noted that Base One's
unspecific, misdirected, or false statements demonstrated "why companies do
not want to expose their internal code.[since] [i]t looks as if they are
covering up error while, in reality, this is the way that all code has to be
written for controlling and coordinating hardware."  In sum, CMX concluded
Base One "[did] not succeed" in dislodging the presumption of reliability of
the Alcotest 7110 MKIII-C breath testing device, firmware version NJ3.11.9

For its part, Alcotest manufacturer Draeger hired SysTest Labs, a nationally
known software testing company, to review of the NJ3.11 firmware.  SysTest
conducted a line-by-line, static code review, but did not stop there: it
also performed code tracing, reverse engineering, code navigation and code
metrics.  SysTest used Understand C, Fortify SCA, and in-house software
assessment tools.  Instead of using Babelfish, SysTest employed a
professional, human translation service to interpret the German source code
comments.  SysTest documented 602 hours of labor on its source code review.

SysTest also found problems with the NJ3.11 code.  It noted that critical
test data was stored in global variables, a practice that is undesirable
"because any function in the application can [theoretically] change the
data."  SysTest noted at least 56 uncalled functions, at least as many
documented uncalled objects, one documented unused type, numerous functions
with higher than recommended "cyclomatic complexity,"10 non-descriptive
variable names such as "dummy" and "temp," and a buffer overflow.  However,
in spite of the problems found, SysTest concluded that none affected the
reliability of the NJ3.11 firmware breath tests.

As opposed to assessment of Base One, the Chun court's expert (CMX) wrote
favorably of SysTest's review.  CMX found almost all of SysTest's claims
were "substantiated," and that its analysis was "impressive" in that it were
not only able to run both "code stylistic" tests, through the use of
automation tools, (as Base One did) but also a series of logical tests of
the application by submitting combinations and permutations of data that
would expose the potential buffer overflow condition.  CMX also noted that,
"[i]n contrast to the Base One Technologies review, the SysTest Labs report
is replete with empirical listings and line counts of examples of the
conditions, and criticisms they found."

CONCLUSION

The facts in Chun presented an enormous opportunity to advance the cause of
dependable computing.  Were the defense able to raise legitimate reliability
issues regarding the NJ3.11 firmware, it is likely that the issue of
dependable computing would have received increased attention, understanding
and respect from the public at large.

Unfortunately, however, the defense flubbed this important opportunity.
Interested readers who take the time to read the Chun litigation material
will likely conclude that the defense accomplished very little with its
source code review.  Base One's review was contradictory, undocumented,
non-empirical, misleading, and speculative.  And although the SysTest report
was mostly supportive, some will undoubtedly question whether 602 hours of
post-hoc analysis, by a manufacturer-contracted expert, is sufficient to
guarantee the reliability of NJ3.11 code.  Consequently, computer security
enthusiasts and genuine dependable computing advocates shall continue to
wait for the untutored establishment to understand and to appreciate the
importance of proper software quality assurance.

1 Avizienis, et al. "Basic Concepts and Taxonomy of Dependable and Secure
  Computing," IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing, Vol. 1,
  No. 1, at 13, January March 2004.
2 Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999).
3 Supreme Court of New Jersey, Docket No. 58-879, available at
  http://www.risk-averse.com/index_files/chun.pdf.
4 Norman Dee, CMX Group "Comments on the Source Code Reviews," available at
  http://www.risk-averse.com/index_files/sm.pdf.
5 John J. Wisniewski, Base One Technologies, "Report on Behalf of the
  Defendants," available at http://www.risk-averse.com/index_files/bo.pdf.
6 Id.
7 Kem Caner, "The Impossibility of Complete Testing," SOFTWARE QA, v.4, #4,
  p. 28 (1997), available at http://www.kaner.com/pdfs/imposs.pdf.
8 Supra note 3.
9 Supra note 3.
10 In its report, SysTest defined "cyclomatic complexity" as a "standard
  measure of source code complexity indicative of both understandability and
  maintainability."  See SysTest, "Assessment Report for Draeger Safety
  Diagnostics, Inc.," available at
  http://www.risk-averse.com/index_files/st.pdf.

Eric Van Buskirk, JD, MA, CISSP


Miss California? Sensible vote counting did!

<"Peter G. Neumann" <neumann@csl.sri.com>>
Tue, 4 Dec 2007 11:23:12 PST

A human accounting mix-up led to the wrong woman being crowned Miss
California USA.  Apparently lowest points were given to the winner and
highest points to the fourth runner-up.  Christina Silva, 24, was declared
the winner of the annual state beauty pageant, but after the error was
detected, she gave up the title to Raquel Beezley, who was originally named
the second runner-up.  New Miss California Named After Error, The Huffington
Post, 3 Dec 2007 [PGN-ed]
  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20071203/odd-miss-california
  Miss California USA: http://misscaliforniausa.com


Daylight savings switch causes twins paradox

<"Luck, Tony" <tony.luck@intel.com>>
Tue, 20 Nov 2007 10:36:04 -0800

Peter is Allison's older brother because he was born 34 minutes before her.
Yet his birth certificate says 1:32AM on November 4th, while his sister's
birth certificate says 1:06AM making her apparently 26 minutes his senior.
  http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/2011296/


Risks: Computer Glitch Leads To Kmart Brawl

<Gabe Goldberg <gabe@gabegold.com>>
Tue, 27 Nov 2007 15:56:47 -0500

Computer Glitch Leads To Kmart Brawl; 2 People Arrested

The store was running a promotion to give away $10 to anyone applying for
its credit card, but the computer glitch led to everyone's application being
approved, giving up to $4,000 in instant credit to anyone who applied, even
if they shouldn't have qualified.

http://www.nbc4.com/money/14702622/detail.html?treets=dc&tml=dc_12pm&ts=T&tmi=dc_12pm_1_10500211272007

Gabriel Goldberg, Computers and Publishing, Inc.          (703) 204-0433
3401 Silver Maple Place, Falls Church, VA 22042        gabe@gabegold.com


DSL outage hits some AT&T customers (Yahoo! News)

<Stephen W Smoliar <smoliar@sbcglobal.net>>
Tue 04 Dec 2007 06:41:08 -0800

Some AT&T customers in nine states in the U.S. Southeast were unable to
connect to the Internet via DSL for several hours on the evening of 3 Dec
2007, officially ``because of an equipment problem'' -- although AT&T's
domain servers were reportedly suspected.  Dave Burstein (editor of DSL
Prime) is quoted: ``Broadband goes down much more often than telephone lines
because they didn't build the system for the same level of reliability.''

Yahoo! News, 4 Dec 2007  http://news.yahoo.com/ [PGN-ed]
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071204/ap_on_hi_te/at_t_outage

My own feeling is that the system vulnerability is not the problem.  Rather,
it is the casual acceptance of the vulnerability and the comparatively lame
excuse for it.  My guess is that we shall see more stories like this on the
broadband front for both wired (e.g. cable) and wireless connectivity.  Steve


Drunk a better guide than sat nav (Shapir, RISKS-24.91)

<Dan Jacobson <jidanni at jidanni.org>>
Wed, 21 Nov 2007 04:48:51 +0800

> Village auto crashes blamed on sat nav

Ah! Every time somebody uses a GPS to get to my house,
  http://maps.google.com/maps?q=24.181706,120.866039&t=h&z=14
they need to pay the local drunk to escort them the 13 kilometers back
around the north way, as that fat juicy (to the GPS) south road just doesn't
connect!
  http://maps.google.com/maps?q=24.181706,120.866039&z=15

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