Militants in Iraq have used $25.95 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with essence, the Predator video link to the ground station is unencrypted. Insurgents are sniffing the link and reconstructing the video. The U.S. government has known about this flaw for a decade, but ignored it, offering the usual litany of problems: encrypting the link would delay the program, cost more, and complicate operations. ``But the Pentagon assumed local adversaries wouldn't know how to exploit it, the official said.'' The stolen video feeds also indicate that U.S. adversaries continue to find simple ways of counteracting sophisticated American military technologies. [Source: Siobhan Gorman, Yochi J. Dreazen and August Cole, $26 Software Is Used to Breach Key Weapons in Iraq; Iranian Backing Suspected, Wall Street Journal, 17 Dec 2009, front page; PGN-ed] The myth of security by obscurity strikes again. http://ebird.osd.mil/ebfiles/e20091217723006.html I've seen arguments that key management would be too difficult to manage, although some reports say that efforts are now underway to encrypt. Other arguments are that uncleared soldiers need access to the video streams, but that seems to confuse "encryption" and "classification". Don't forget that the former does not require the information to be classified for confidentiality or that it is not important for integrity! Also, the new Reaper drones cost over $10 million each and have the same vulnerability. Jeremy Epstein noted that *WiReD* reports that it's not just drones, but also regular combat aircraft - although it's harder to intercept the (unencrypted) signal from the regular planes. The talk I've heard today that "it's not such a big deal" seems odd - if you were an insurgent, having a few minutes warning that there's a drone coming your direction would be useful data. http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/12/not-just-drones-militants-can-snoop-on-most-us-warplanes/ Also, see Bruce Schneier's essay on the topic: http://www.wired.com/politics/security/commentary/securitymatters/2009/12/securitymatters_1223
The circumstances of this incident seem very similar to the incident a few years ago in which changing batteries cleared the offset between the observer's GPS position and the target position on his Garmin. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1236087 When the target position is cleared, it would probably be better to initialize it 100 meters to the east or something, rather than right on top of the observer position.
Security in the Ether: Cloud Computing? Or "Swamp" Computing? [From NNSquad, Network Neutrality Squad, http://www.nnsquad.org] An important article worth reading: http://bit.ly/4uYabf (MIT Technology Review) My personal "thumbnail" view on this is that: a) Cloud Computing" holds enormous promise. b) Most of the key security and other operational issues associated with cloud computing are solvable, including aspects of pervasive encryption that would protect cloud computing clients from potential snooping by theoretically postulated unscrupulous cloud service providers. c) The financial and intellectual resources (including basic policy analysis) required to understand and solve these problems on an *a priori* basis, rather than on an "after there's a mess" reactive basis, are in general insufficiently emphasized and deployed. d) Given (c), not all of the current rush to cloud computing on today's widely available platforms can necessarily be justified as wise, particularly where sensitive and/or privacy-critical data is involved. Or in other words, Cloud Computing can be a Really Good Thing if done right, but let's not get the cart in front of the horse.
[From Dave Farber's IP] This is awkward. It appears that HP's new webcams, which have facial- tracking software, can't recognize black faces, as evidenced in the above video. HP has responded: > We are working with our partners to learn more. The technology we use is > built on standard algorithms that measure the difference in intensity of > contrast between the eyes and the upper cheek and nose. We believe that > the camera might have difficulty "seeing" contrast in conditions where > there is insufficient foreground lighting. > HP Face-Tracking Webcams Don't Recognize Black People - Hp - Gizmodo > (21 December 2009) http://gizmodo.com/5431190/hp-face+tracking-webcams-dont-recognize-black-people http://snipurl.com/tsfli Archives: https://www.listbox.com/member/archive/247/=now
Twitter has apparently been hacked. Invalid security certificate for wrong site on the Twitter https: home page, Iranian Cyber Army hack page on main twitter.com. This looks much like an SQL injection exploit I've dealt with in the past, but I don't know for sure at this point if the actual Twitter infrastructure has been hacked or if this is a DNS hack. Presumably this won't last long, but more info when available. Date: Fri, 18 Dec 2009 09:47:59 -0800 Twitter has not officially released details on last night's hacking-related outage of their Web site, other than to state that it was (as many of us suspected) a DNS-related attack. There are some other details floating around unofficially. Twitter's DNS services are provided by Dyn Inc.'s Dynect Platform. Dyn is insisting that their systems were not compromised and that nobody accessed Twitter's DNS data without appropriate (login) credentials. This suggests (but again, this is *not* confirmed) that Twitter's account on Dyn was somehow itself compromised, possibly through "social engineering" or other techniques that resulted in the attackers gaining login access to the Twitter account on Dynect, allowing them to change the associated DNS data. (From Dyn's standpoint, this could still be considered to be "appropriate login credentials.") It goes without saying that the "Iranian Cyber Army" hack page is almost certainly a fraud, and there are no indications that Iran actually had anything to do with this attack (breathless statements blaming Iran being made by some media points notwithstanding). By the way, I've seen this exact page resulting from various bot-based, non-DNS attacks in the past. Presumably more "official" statements about what transpired will be forthcoming at some point, after the finger-pointing slows down a bit. Of course this once again demonstrates the fragility of DNS, but that's hardly a headline news revelation at this stage of the game. Date: Fri, 18 Dec 2009 12:14:27 -0800 Now confirming [ Ref: http://www.nnsquad.org/archives/nnsquad/msg02460.html ] that the Twitter DNS diversion last night was the result of someone using Twitter's own login credentials to change DNS data at Dyn's site, according to Dyn's CTO: http://bit.ly/80Ve4Y (Wired) So as suspected, this was not a "sophisticated" attack (e.g., DNS cache poisoning) but rather a conventional login attack. It is interesting to consider that apparently a single username/password pair was able to take Twitter's entire Web site effectively offline globally. At the very least one would hope that more advanced account control mechanisms (e.g., certificate-based access authentication) would be employed with critical accounts for organizations at this level.
The Decemeber 27, 2009 Sunday New York Times Magazine (p. 8) contains a Letter to the Editor from Liz Cantarine entitled "Artificial Car Noises". Ms. Cantarine describes how she accidentally left her hybrid automobile running in her garage. Apparently, when returning from a shopping trip, she became preoccupied with the packages in the trunk, and forgot to turn off the car. The car continued running, filing the garage space with fumes. It is an interesting problem. Synthetic noise generators are being required due to a hazard to visually impaired pedestrians, but this is the first report I have seen describing a danger to owners and their families from silent cars.
From the United Airlines website 20 December 2009 Weather-related delays and cancellations resulted in a significantly higher volume of calls into United's reservations centers. Our voice recognition software was hampered by the volume, which in turn drove longer wait times. We sincerely regret the inconvenience faced by our guests, and are pleased to report that our voice recognition software is fully up and running and wait times have been significantly reduced. We are still experiencing higher than normal call volume, which may result in sporadic call interruptions.
The real world gives another instance of what can go wrong: A man in Epping tried to deposit $580 into an ATM but neglected to note the transaction had not completed and walked away without the returned cash. The next person pocketed the cash, but of course was identified. [Source: AP item, 25 Dec 2009] Sean W. Smith firstname.lastname@example.org www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~sws/ Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, Dartmouth
Sometimes the real world and cyberspace are truly separate realms. The other day, I experienced two episodes of just such a disconnect. I was trying to verify the hours for a branch bank in the area. Checking the bank's www site, I discovered that the branch was not listed. Calling the customer service line, I was assured that if the branch was not listed, it must have closed. Three hours later, I visited the branch. It was quite active, with no signs of closing or relocation. A discussion with the officers revealed that I was not the first person to note the error. It had been reported to corporate, but for some reason the data had not been corrected. The same day, I had a similar experience with a major international distributor. A local branch was not listed as one of their locations, even though it was open and active. It is an interesting question of IT governance when a company is unable to keep its list of branches up to date. A longer discussion of this episode can be found in "Bricks and Mortar Hidden by Cyberspace". http://www.rlgsc.com/blog/ruminations/bricks-and-mortar-hidden-by-cyberspace.html Robert "Bob" Gezelter, +1 (718) 463 1079 35-20 167th Street, Suite 215 Flushing, New York 11358-1731 http://www.rlgsc.com
The discussion of GPS issues with BMWs reminded me of a recent GPS navigation problem I ran into using my brand-new Garmin nuvi 275T. The Garmin maps of Washington DC have an unfortunate mistake: they don't understand that K Street runs *under* (and parallel to) the Whitehurst Expressway. The Whitehurst Expressway intersects Key Bridge (well, actually it runs into M Street a block from Key Bridge), but K Street does not except when separated by 100 vertical feet. Specifically, if you ask the GPS for directions from northwest Washington DC (I was coming from the Tenleytown neighborhood) to Fairfax VA, it tells you to take Rock Creek Parkway south, exit onto K Street west, then drive along K Street and then make a left on Key Bridge - which is 100 feet above you. Google Maps, on the other hand, gets this right. The RISK is thinking that GPS errors only occur in out-of-the-way locations. This is in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington DC, hardly remote! [Alarmin' Garmin Swarmin' Harmin' not Charmin'. PGN]
[Whenever I fail to run an item you think I may have missed, please resubmit (with "notsp" in the subject line, of course. This is an instance of something I apparently missed 3.5 years ago. Sorry!!! PGN] GPS problems have been in the news more lately, so I thought that I would resubmit this item. I have since moved back to Canada. A key point: All of the events that I describe happened on a trip to my mom's and back. This is not a collection of events over a period of, say, months. On the Road with a GPS System There have been previous submissions of the joys of GPS systems used in driving. They have been brief. This writeup goes into much more detail and details more than one risk. I wrote this in June of 2006, but have kept the present tense. I am a Canadian citizen, but I live in Bellingham, WA, USA and work near it. At the beginning of April, I went to visit my mother who was then living in Greenwood, BC, Canada. At the car rental place, because neither of the cars available was acceptable -- perfumed cleaners are a non-computer risk some face -- and because I am a frequent customer, I was upgraded at no extra cost to a SUV, a SUV with a GPS navigator: the NeverLost system. I did not get lost, but that was not entirely due to the device. I lost little time in starting to play with this new toy. I found it interesting all of the streets that were nearby. Unfortunately, sometimes, the names were truncated, and in at least one case, the truncated name made sense as a word. I did not see any way to adjust the magnification. I saw that I could ask for a course to my mother's. Unfortunately, the interface was a bit confusing and rather than selecting the city of Greenwood, BC (the smallest incorporated city in Canada), I accidentally selected the then-current city and a street. There is a street named Greenwood in Bellingham. There is also one in Lynden (near to Bellingham). I found myself being directed to the south. My mother's home was north and east. The device was quite persistent: "Please proceed to the designated route." Later, it got desperate, words to the effect of "When legal, please make a U-turn." I finally shut it off. I tried again later, and it worked, mostly. My mom lived on Kimberley Street. It is one of, if not the, longest street in Greenwood. The device did not know its name. It did know many of the other streets, including the cross-street by my mom's then-home. The cross-street is two short blocks long. I finally programmed the device for the city centre of Greenwood. I crossed the border at Sumas. I then proceeded to Hope. While on the way, at one point I glanced at the display to see that a road was displayed to the right. This was disconcerting as that was where a cliff was. The road turned out to dead end. I think it was a deactivated road, possibly the old highway. I usually stop at a certain gas station in Hope to buy a sandwich and drink. In that area, there are under- and over-passes. The device got confused. It got its revenge shortly. When I restarted the SUV, I looked at the display and was confused. The USA operates on the Imperial system of measure, and Canada uses the metric system. The device, recognising that it was in Canada, had switched to metric. When I looked more closely, I could see the miles display. It was rather smaller than the digits. The gas station is on the old highway which parallels the current highway. To get onto the current highway involves a few tight turns. Some of these, the device knew and some it did not. I was directed to make turns when there was no other road, but sometimes, the curve had no instructions. This also happened when I left Keremeos, BC. The device warns about 2 Km before a turn and then just before. The turnoff for the Hope-Princeton Highway had already diverged from the main highway by nearly one lane-width before the device announced the just before warning that I should turn. I was already in the correct lane. Had I not been in the correct lane, I could not have safely switched. Not long after, I looked at the time display. As it was just after noon, I could not tell whether it was the time I would arrive in Greenwood or the time left before I would arrive in Greenwood. Later, I found that that detail was documented on the card that was dangling from the unit, but many other things were not. While driving on the Hope-Princeton Highway, I found that many roads that had no names were on the display, but that some roads that had names were not present. The Hope-Princeton Highway does run through wilderness, and in many places, there are no other roads nearby. That did not stop the device from telling me three times each way to "Proceed to the designated route." The voice is a bit startling when it is not expected. Glancing from time to time at the time-to-go display, I got suspicious. It seemed to be assuming 80 Km/h. This is the default highway speed in BC, but the Hope-Princeton Highway is known for being rather curvy in places. It has plenty of signs suggesting slower speeds. At one place, the advisory is 20 Km/h. In the summer, one can go bombing along much of the highway. In the winter, the curves get more dangerous, and you had better slow to 20 Km/h on the worst curve. This was near the end of breakup, so conditions could vary considerably. What was the device assuming? Princeton is at the west end of "The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen". The device displayed this from time to time clipped to "Okanagan-Similkameen Region". Much of this time, it displayed this next to the road on the other side of the Similkameen River. There was no differentiation of region or city names from street names. That road across the river is called "Old Hedley Road". When it finally was displayed, well, the device leaves off the road designation. The device did not display the river though earlier, it had displayed much smaller creeks. Leaving the village of Keremeos, BC, the road winds up a hill. At the bottom of the hill, there is a curve to the right (which the device told me about), a curve to the left at the top of the hill (which the device did not tell me about), and finally a right turn to the highway I wanted (which the device told me about). The up-shot was that I was told to make a right turn followed by a right turn, and it did not make sense. It was good that I knew the road. Had I blindly followed the advice, I would have gone down a 60 (or so) degree slope. In the hamlet of Cawston, BC, the device thought that the main street dead-ended and suggested accordingly. I get paid in US dollars, so I prefer to spend US dollars. Therefore, rather than continuing through Canada, I cross at Nighthawk, WA, proceed to Oroville, WA, fill up with gas, and cross back into Canada at Osoyoos, BC. The device kept trying to get me to turn around. I was wondering when it would give up. While I was wondering I saw a road displayed on the device, but there was no road there, no sign of there ever having been a road there, and no sign of anything else that the device should know about (such as a creek). A few miles past the border crossing, there is another road, a real one. The device seems to understand the world as segments. When I got off the segment, it recalculated. The road to Oroville is a nice drive, very pretty. At least one of the roads that the device shows is actually a long driveway. Ah, Canada. The device was displaying Imperial. Remember how the device switched measuring systems in Hope? It switched again after I restarted the SUV at the gas station in Oroville. The system in use depends not on what country you are in, but what country you were in when you started the vehicle. I found later that one can force the setting, but I did not experiment to see if that locked down the measuring system used or that it just lasted until the next vehicle startup. Imagine explaining to a border officer that you are experimenting with your GPS. Guessing is such fun. The device also had an odd idea of which way I should go. As far as I can tell, it intended to keep me on the highways. I know of a shortcut, and I took it. The device did not handle it well. Trying to get me back "on course", it suggested some bad ideas. 1) One road to the left comes down a hill which is steep enough that the road is broken into left and right branches. The device suggested that I take the far branch. This would have necessitated a turn of approximately 150 degrees. The near branch is about thirty degrees. 2) Later, it suggested that I take a right turn -- remember that the previous suggestion was for a left turn? -- onto a narrow road with patched potholes when I was on the best road around and which led straight to the programmed route. 3) I rejoined the programmed route and prepared to turn right. The device was instructing me to turn left! One thing that I never did solve was how to get the device to just display without having a route programmed. I wanted to see where I was without having to select a destination. The device has a safety feature that disables most of the user interface when the vehicle is in motion. It was also mounted so that the person in the front passenger seat would not be able to see the display. I thought this was rather counterproductive. When I set out to go home, I planned again to stop in Oroville for gas. While I did not know the exact address, I thought I could get close. For some reason, the highway was not listed. Unfortunately, the device requires you to select first what you want (nearest city centre, a particular city centre, or a particular intersection) then the city name. The other way around is much more natural to me. It also would have been much quicker as entering alphabetic was a slow process with no keyboard. Again, I crossed the border at Nighthawk. I crossed into the US a final time. The border between Canada and the USA is at 49 degrees north latitude. For some reason, the device told me I was in the USA when it still displayed me at seven seconds of latitude north of the border. According to my estimate, I was much closer. I decided to let the device tell me how to get to Bellingham. Understand that I take a short route. Roughly, I go west, then I go south. The system picked a route that was much longer and windier. Among other places that I saw, the oddly appropriate Chance Road. In Osoyoos, it was trying to keep me on the highways. Here, it avoided them until the end. I did make it home safely, and I certainly see where these devices are useful, but much salt is needed.
Like the in-bus GPS "next bus stop" LED marquee boards here in Taiwan. Between stops they have been programmed not to waste an idle moment, but instead scroll "thank you for riding XYZ Bus Co." to riders concentrating on them to learn the next stop's name. At least accompanying audio just chants the stops. Naturally everything must be repeated for each local language too.
Similar to recent reports of uncommanded acceleration, we had an incident where cruise control could not be disengaged. This link should bring up related news items.. http://news.google.com.au/news/more?um=1&cf=all&ned=au&cf=all&ncl=diIb-MX_41mrfpMRXwbgO6EIxST7M Or google news for "Cruise control Frankston"
The problem is also evident on motor vehicles with LED signal and stop lights. Snow is not melted away by the signal and stop lights and accumulation blocks the lights. new item: http://www.newser.com/story/76251/led-traffic-lights-efficient-but-cant-melt-away-snow.html
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