Please try the URL privacy information feature enabled by clicking the flashlight icon above. This will reveal two icons after each link the body of the digest. The shield takes you to a breakdown of Terms of Service for the site - however only a small number of sites are covered at the moment. The flashlight take you to an analysis of the various trackers etc. that the linked site delivers. Please let the website maintainer know if you find this useful or not. As a RISKS reader, you will probably not be surprised by what is revealed…
Uh oh: "the Navy's F-35C variant was grounded due to a software problem that could have caused the control surfaces to freeze in flight" F-35 Testing Suspended Officials have ceased all flight and ground operations for the Joint Strike Fighter after the integrated power package (IPP) on a U.S. Air Force variant test aircraft failed, Tuesday, during a ground maintenance run at Edwards Air Force Base. No injuries were reported as a result of the unit's failure and developers are working to source the cause. The particular aircraft is an AF-4, which is a conventional takeoff and landing version of the multi-role aircraft. The IPP combines functions performed by an auxiliary power unit, emergency power system and environmental controls. It's failure isn't the only electrical problem to ground F-35s this year. The cessation or limiting of specific operations during the test program is not particularly unusual, but putting a halt to ground operations is less common. Overall, the F-35 is ahead of its latest schedule, which was put in place in January. The F-35 has previously suffered delays this year. In March the fleet was grounded due to a dual generator failure on this same test aircraft. In June, the Navy's F-35C variant was grounded due to a software problem that could have caused the control surfaces to freeze in flight. In both cases, the problem was sourced and resolved, and aircraft were returned to testing shortly thereafter. Developers are aiming for a similar result now.
But it was being operated in manual mode by a human driver. Those darn humans, always messing things up. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2023072
[For the Inside Risks series in the Communications of the ACM, George Ledin has written two articles on the importance of teaching malware, also available at http://www.csl.sri.com/neumann/insiderisks.html, subject to ACM copyright as indicated on those web pages: * Not Teaching Viruses and Worms is Harmful (CACM 48, 1, January 2005) http://www.csl.sri.com/neumann/insiderisks.html#175 * The Growing Harm of Not Teaching Malware (CACM 54, 2, February 2011) http://www.csl.sri.com/neumann/insiderisks.html/cacm223.pdf I invited George to submit this new item to the Risks Forum, to give what tends to be an important but contentious topic broader audience. PGN] - - - - - The Anti-Malware Follies, George Ledin Jr If you eliminated Kung-Fu from Enter the Dragon, how much movie would be left? If you got rid of signature databases from all commercial antimalware products, what would these products be good for? We demand efficacy of our prescription medicines. Shouldn't we require that the antimalware services we purchase be useful and effective? Indexing ancient, archaic, vestigial malware is a relatively mundane, actually chiefly automated, menial task. It is also easily defeatable, even by amateurs. In our underground lab my students run a ridiculously simple experiment. Four sacrificial computers on a cart are wheeled in. Each computer has been preloaded with a popular, widely used antimalware package. Four computers, four different packages, one per computer because, curiously, competing antimalware packages don't tolerate being active on the same computer together. There are some fifty companies that offer similar antimalware `protection'. Although some of these companies have expanded their business horizons to include compliance, record retention, dataloss mitigation, password management, and various other services, the antimalware products continue to be the reliable cash-cows they've always been. Once the isolated cart is wheeled in and its four computers are booted up, students are invited to try to defeat the installed protection. They come prepared with CDs harboring different versions of a well- known virus or worm or trojan, such as Melissa or I Love You or others that we store safely in our archives. Students insert their CDs. The original, unaltered versions of the historical malware are promptly recognized by the antimalware packages, which communicate their findings on the computer screens and sandbox the troublemaking malware. The antimalware packages do not fare well when confronted by slightly altered versions of the same malware. Versions in which the main body of the malware is gutted and replaced by my students with innocuous `Hello World!' programs are still flagged by the antimalware packages as if these programs were dangerous. These false positives are expected, of course. That's because the original virus, worm, or trojan, now lacking a body, will not cause any harm, but its headers, the donors of signature data stored in the antimalware lists, remain. False negatives are also easily achieved by leaving the body of the malware unchanged while obfuscating or altering the malware's outer cladding. Students observe first-hand how commercial antimalware fails to deliver the protection it promises. Tweak a virus', worm's, or trojan's exterior bits but leave its interior bits intact and the antimalware package can't recognize the wolf in sheep's clothing. Keep the malware's exterior as is while commenting out its interior sets off righteous but false alarms. The most impressive demonstration comes from the students' own amateur efforts. Their own simpleton, primitive, but actual course-project programming work passes unnoticed. Improvised malware, the fruit of their limited experience but fertile imagination, slips by commercially available antimalware products. Well, not quite. The top quarter or so of the fifty antimalware firms, evidently and painfully aware of the obvious limitations (not to say much about credibility) of their signature-based products, have been experimenting with `behavioral' markers. This is a bold and at first blush promising idea. If, upon entering a computer, a program exhibits unusual or suspicious conduct that is unnecessary for the normal functioning of that computer, protection can be offered by way of warnings to the user and automatic, preventive quarantining of that program. The behavioral concept is intriguing and, once malware teaching and research are taken more seriously, the concept may blossom into testable hypotheses. Not yet, unfortunately. The antimalware firms' principal motivation is to keep their profitable services, and this cannot be done by admitting the truth—that these services provide little or no defense against new malware. Users today are eager to load up their digital devices with all kinds of applications, a good percentage of which exhibit unusual or unexpected behaviors. (But aren't necessarily malware.) The antimalware companies know they must tread carefully so as not to alienate their large numbers of pliant subscribers who thus far don't mind downloading these companies' upgrades and patches, but would be restive and annoyed by each unnecessary precaution and false alarm. Malware authors know all of this, of course. Some current and all future Confickers and Stuxnets of the world have nothing to fear. We, however, cannot afford to ignore our worries. Between 3 and 6 million botnets are at the beck and call of malware deployers; hence the consequences of business as usual are more than merely terrifying. Rustock, for example, was taken down by a very old-fashioned law enforcement raid that stopped a hundred servers from blasting spam, but the Rustock botmasters still managed to curtail the damage done to them by wiping incriminating information. Law enforcement raids to take control of the servers and legally seize and convert the botnets' backup domains are melodramatic events in which occasionally and very expensively good triumphs over evil. Like revenuers' raids on speakeasies and gin mills during prohibition, these `triumphs' are ephemeral and ultimately very cost ineffective. It's wishful, deluded thinking to expect Internet attacks to abate. We can, however, hope for greater effectiveness in dealing with malware. Dissemination of knowledge—widespread education—is essential. Teaching malware and openly exchanging research data will help everyone (e.g., http://www.cs.sonoma.edu/ledin/malware/). Informed users are better defenders. Like Bruce Lee's Kung-Fu, it should not be only in the hands of the bad guys.
http://www.infoworld.com/t/cringely/ie-and-me-who-looks-stupid-now-169025 InfoWorld Home / Notes from the Field IE and me: Who looks stupid now? Yes, the 'IE users are stupid' story is a hoax. Cringely says the joke's on him By Robert X. Cringely | InfoWorld selected text: "You know that survey that said IE users were dumber than paint, which I wrote about not once but twice earlier this week? It's all a hoax, perpetrated by a Web entrepreneur named Tarandeep Gill (if that is his real name). He fesses up here. Yes, I feel stupid, thanks for asking. At least I'm in good company. CNN, the BBC, NPR, and a number of other mainstream news outlets all took the bait. Really, who could resist? It was a story tailor made for the Web." It certainly was tailor-made. Hoaxes are.
[WNBC tv news] AT&T wireless subscribers in New York this morning probably cannot make or receive phone calls due to what the company calls a software upgrade. The problem likely started at 1:30 a.m. Thursday, according to a service representative with the phone giant. Smart phones do not appear to be affected to the same degree as mobile phones. When AT&T mobile phone users attempt to make a call, the caller likely receives a display that says the circuit or channel is not available. There is also no ring tone. If someone tries to call the user, the call typically goes directly to voicemail. An AT&T service representative told NBC New York that this problem appears to be restricted to phones within New York City. The representative could not offer a time frame for when the problem would be fixed. rest: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Phone-Outage-for-ATT-Customers-in-NYC-126758183.html
Exam officials launch investigation after 30,000 students in Scotland who opted to get grades by text were sent them early Severin Carrell and Jessica Shepherd The Guardian, Thursday 4 August 2011 Exam officials have launched an investigation after up to 30,000 students in Scotland who opted to get their grades by text message were sent them on Wednesday, a day early by mistake. Opposition leaders in the Scottish parliament said the blunder had given these students a clear advantage in finding places at university because the list of late courses available went live on the Internet at a minute past midnight on Thursday morning, nine hours before the results were officially due to arrive. ... http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/aug/04/text-error-scottish-exam-results
[From Network Neutrality Squad] Microsoft vs. Google: Patents, Society, and Greed http://lauren.vortex.com/archive/000887.html In his 1971 science fiction novel "The Futurological Congress," author Stanislaw Lem takes a dark look at the premise that most of what we see around us—even the seemingly obvious—is actually illusionary to some extent, and that even many people who believe that they know they underlying truths are themselves being fooled by deeper layers of reality's onion. In the worlds of finance and high technology, there is a great deal of truth to this interpretation, and we need only look to the warped and largely destructive world of patents to realize how far we've gone astray. Patents and related concepts have a long history, but this 1844 quote from a report to the French Chamber of Deputies in the debates preceding adoption of the French Patent Law of 1844 is noteworthy: "Every useful discovery is, in to Kant's words 'the presentation of a service rendered to Society'. It is, therefore, just that he who has rendered this service should be compensated by Society that received it. This is an equitable result, a veritable contract or exchange that operates between the authors of a new discovery and Society. The former supply the noble products of their intelligence and Society grants to them in return the advantages of an exclusive exploitation of their discovery for a limited period". The emphasis on "service rendered to Society" is particularly striking. Fast forward to 2011, and the concept of "serving society" seems to have been painfully marginalized as a prime mover in the titanic patent battles and associated atrocities that are increasingly a millstone around the necks of society and consumers—creating mainly enormous monetary and lost opportunity costs. This sorry situation didn't appear overnight. Back in 2002, in "Stop the Patent Process Madness" ( http://j.mp/cYeqEz [Wired] ), I briefly described the rise of stealth and protective patents, and how the enormous expansion of both software and business method patents has further distorted the picture. Since then, I would argue that matters have gotten far worse, with patents now being explicitly wielded as weapons of financial destruction, rather than as the instruments of innovation that were originally intended to serve society. The current very public arguing between Microsoft and Google regarding massively expensive "bundles" of patents purportedly associated with smartphone systems (and Android in particular)—well explained and analyzed on Groklaw ( http://j.mp/psztN3 )—is a notable current example. Leaving aside Microsoft's flagrant and disingenuous attempt at mischaracterizing the situation, including their obnoxious, out of context release of an email from Google that Microsoft clearly hoped would cast false aspersions on Google's motivations, the overall landscape related to high technology patents is nothing short of insane. To use the vernacular, a "simple" DVD player involves a lot of patents. A typical PC invokes an amazingly large range of patents. And a modern smartphone can trigger a stupefyingly gigantic mountain of patents -- perhaps as many as a quarter of a million. Notably (and especially in the smartphone case), the technical term for most of these patents is "bull"—they shouldn't really have been granted in the first place. But we've reached a point now where even good players feel obligated to file patents left and right in order not only to protect themselves from malevolent patent sharks, but also to try preserve openness for future developers. If core Internet technologies had been patented decades ago in the manner that tech is patented today, I would assert that the Net we'd have now would be an enormously more closed and restricted environment—if the Internet had even managed to really continue developing at all under such conditions. Average consumers are largely unaware of how grossly these "layers" of the patent system not only effectively create a "tax" on the technology that they purchase, but also create such a fear of litigation that many creative individuals choose not to proceed with developing products or services that otherwise could have benefited society greatly. There is an imperfect—but still fairly horrifying—analogy between the way "bundles" of patents can be treated by the unscrupulous as anticompetitive weapons, similar in some respects to how bundles of sub-prime mortgages were manipulated in manners that helped lead to our recent economic collapse. Another relevant example is ICANN's atrocious "gold rush" scheme for massive generic top-level domains expansion ( http://j.mp/r4yRRt [Lauren's Blog] ). In all of these cases—patents, mortgages, domains—the original, society-serving functional purposes of these concepts have been largely lost in the rush to treat the buying and selling of these "instrumentalities" (or related derivatives) as mechanisms mainly of financial gain for a relative few, but with society at large losing enormously as a result. Peeling the onion down another layer, I believe that this is symptomatic of a deeper failing, an increasing tendency to value not the creation of new products and services that benefit society and consumers generally, but rather the manipulation of the systems themselves by the unscrupulous to serve greed—forcing even the benevolent players into the game on a purely defensive basis. A practical path out from this nightmare is not entirely clear. To call Congress dysfunctional these days is to be charitable beyond measure. At the very least, as individuals we can try to stay informed regarding the reality of these situations—the inner layers of the onion. This will not only help us to see through ignoble tactics such as those employed by Microsoft in the current smartphone patents controversy, but more generally enable us to more accurately discern where many other matters of concern actually stand, and what society should be demanding from our legislators, leaders, the financial community, and major industries in general. In Lem's "Futurological Congress," most of the population lived in a carefully conceived, falsified representation of reality. We need not follow their example. Lauren Weinstein (email@example.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com Google+: http://vortex.com/g+lauren Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com
Having just been stung by Java in trying to write a simple parser: one little thing after another, I would have said that Java designers are Java's worst enemy. I might have been off, but only a bit: http://www.infoworld.com/d/application-development/oracle-javas-worst-enemy-168828 InfoWorld Home / Application Development / Fatal Exception August 04, 2011 Oracle: Java's worst enemy The buggy Java SE 7 release is only the latest misstep in a mounting litany of bad behavior By Neil McAllister selected text: Oracle shipped Java SE 7 with a serious, show-stopping bug, and who was the first to alert the Java community? The Apache Foundation. Oh, the irony. This is the same Apache Foundation that resigned from the Java Community Process (JCP) executive committee in protest after Oracle repeatedly refused to give it access to the Java Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK). Now we learn that Oracle knew about the Java SE 7 bug fully five days before it shipped the product. And yet it shipped anyway because five days wasn't enough time to fix the problem.
ACM TechNews; Wednesday, August 3, 2011 Read the TechNews Online at: http://technews.acm.org (c) 2011 INFORMATION, INC. This service may be reproduced for internal distribution. Sponsored by http://software.intel.com/en-us/academic/?cid=sw:iacstn4 Report on 'Operation Shady RAT' Identifies Widespread Cyber-Spying *The Washington Post*, 3 August 2011, Ellen Nakashima, Julie Tate Over a period of several months, 72 corporations and government organizations--49 of them U.S.-based--were hacked by an extensive cyberspying operation, according to a new McAfee report. McAfee researchers analyzed logs generated on a single server to trace the hacks, which targeted the Hong Kong and New York offices of the Associated Press, the networks of the International Olympic Committee, 12 U.S. defense companies, a U.S. Energy Department lab, and the United Nations Secretariat, among others. McAfee says the hackers were seeking information on sensitive U.S. military systems, along with material from satellite communications, electronics, natural gas companies, and even bid data from a Florida real estate firm. James A. Lewis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies says the intrusions are likely Chinese in origin, noting that the target list's stress on Taiwan and on Olympic organizations in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Games "points to China" as the culprit. McAfee says that hackers had erroneously configured a command-and-control server based in a Western nation to produce logs that identified every Internet protocol address the server had controlled for the past five years. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/national-security/report-identifies-widespread-cyber-spying/2011/07/29/gIQAoTUmqI_story.html [See also http://news.yahoo.com/biggest-ever-series-cyber-attacks-uncovered-u-n-040749882.html PGN]
A column on the acmqueue website (http://queue.acm.org/) questions the decision by C/UNIX/Posix creators Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, and Brian Kernighan to use NUL-terminated text strings. Bikeshed columnist Poul-Henning Kamp surveys the impact of this choice and its relationship to the frequent failure of the CS/IT industry to recognize and learn from mistakes. The column (http://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=2010365) went live this week and registered more than 70,000 views in the first three days. In that time frame it recorded 23,000 slashdot hits (http://developers.slashdot.org/story/11/08/03/011244/The-Most-Expensive-One-Byte-Mistake), and generated more than twice that amount of traffic to the acmqueue site. Follow the comments on Slashdot or the acmqueue website (http://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=2010365#content-comments).
ACM TechNews, Friday, August 5, 2011 Gregg Keizer, Microsoft Kicks Off $250,000 Security Contest, *Computerworld*, 3 Aug 2011 Microsoft has launched a $250,000 contest for security technology researchers that challenges them to find ways to defend against entire classes of exploits. "We want to make it more costly and difficult for criminals to exploit vulnerabilities," says Microsoft's Katie Moussouris. "We want to inspire researchers to focus their expertise on defensive security technologies." The contest, which runs through April 1, 2012, asks researchers to developing mitigation technology for preventing the exploitation of memory safety vulnerabilities. The winner will receive $200,000, the second-place winner will receive $50,000, and the third-place winner will receive a subscription to Microsoft's developer network. "Overall, it seemed to us that to take an approach to block entire classes was the best way to engage with the research community and protect customers," Moussouris says. The contest shows that Microsoft is looking for solutions to return-oriented programming, which can be used by attackers to breach current Windows security technologies such as ASLR and address space layout randomization, says nCircle Security's Andrew Storms. A panel of Microsoft employees will judge the contest. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9218845/Microsoft_kicks_off_250_000_security_contest?taxonomyId=85
(Hiawatha Bray) Hiawatha Bray, *The Boston Globe*, 6 Aug 2011 AT&T Inc. is changing the default method by which cellular customers check their voice mail, after reports that the company's policies made messages more vulnerable to hackers than on other cellphone carriers. The giant telecommunications company said it will start requiring users to enter a password to access their voice mails from their own cellphones. Until now, AT&T users calling from their own phones would immediately get access to their voice mails without entering a password. ... http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2011/08/06/att_increases_voice_mail_security/
8 Technical Methods That Make the PROTECT IP Act Useless http://j.mp/poow9T (ZeroPaid) [From NNSquad] "We've been running a series of guides that show just how easy it is to [bypass] general DNS censorship. It's general DNS censorship that has been proposed in the PROTECT-IP Act among other things. Rather than simply debate philosophically on why the PROTECT-IP act will do absolutely nothing to deter copyright infringement, we decided to do one better and prove it instead."
Humans are often the weakest link: http://www.itpro.co.uk/635422/hundreds-of-bank-account-details-left-at-london-pub “Saving personal information on to an unencrypted memory stick is as risky as taking hard copy papers out of the office,'' said Sally-Anne Poole, acting head of enforcement at the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). “This incident could so easily have been avoided if the information had been properly protected.'' Jim Reisert AD1C, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, http://www.ad1c.us
Liz Kowalczyk, Hospital reports a possible data loss; Doctor misplaced drive that had held patient records *The Boston Globe*, 6 Aug 2011 A doctor who works at Brigham and Women's and Faulkner hospitals lost an external hard drive in June, and the computer device may have contained medical information for 638 patients, the hospitals said yesterday. ... Information related to inpatient hospital stays from July 10, 2009, to Jan. 28, 2011, may have been on the device, including patient names, medical record numbers, dates of admission, medications, and information about diagnosis and treatment. The device did not contain Social Security numbers, insurance numbers, or other financial account information. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/08/06/hospital_reports_a_possible_data_loss/
WinFall, raking in huge profits (RISKS-26.51) State Treasurer Steven Grossman severely restricted yesterday the number of Cash WinFall lottery tickets any store can sell in a day, closing a loophole that has allowed a handful of high-stakes gamblers to win most of the prizes. Just three gambling companies collected 1,105 of the 1,605 Cash WinFall prizes statewide after a May drawing, each following a strategy that involved buying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of the $2 tickets at selected stores over a few days. Under the new rules, no store will be allowed to sell more than $5,000 worth of Cash WinFall tickets in a single day, making it much harder for the gamblers to continue their high-volume purchases. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/08/02/lottery_restricts_high_level_players/ Jim Reisert AD1C, <email@example.com>, http://www.ad1c.us
Gene Wirchenko <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: > > There has been a big commotion over real names with Google+ with accounts > being terminated. Kirrly "Skud" Robert has done a lot of informative analysis on the problems caused by the "real name" policy and its erratic enforcement. http://infotrope.net/category/tech-2/ Over a year ago Patrick McKenzie wrote an amusingly ranty checklist of assumptions that programmers should not make about names. http://www.kalzumeus.com/2010/06/17/falsehoods-programmers-believe-about-names/
So you are riding on a highway with the key in your (backpack, pocket, etc), and it falls out on the ground. Does the steering now lockup? That would be more than just a tip-over.
> I've seen that report before and wonder if there simply isn't some lousy > reporting going on. [...] It sounds to me like the only change proposed > is lengthening out the period as well, perhaps, as allowing the error to > accumulate further before it is corrected. No, the proposal is to completely stop correcting the accumulated phase error for a year. http://www.nerc.com/page.php?cid=6%7C386
[Given the lack of discipline concerning quantitative and qualitative approaches to computer-related risk management, I thought it might be useful to compare what is done in analyzing and ameliorating risks in various other application areas—many of which of course have computer-related components. Perhaps the lack of far-sighted and non-local optimization is endemic there as well. However, there are sometimes more hoops to jump through. PGN] Berkeley Electronic Press The Policy Studies Organization and Berkeley Electronic Press are pleased to announce the latest issue of Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy. http://www.psocommons.org/rhcpp/announce/20110803 Articles: * Managing Risk through Liability, Regulation, and Innovation: Organizational Design for Spill Containment in Deepwater Drilling Operations * What's Your Position on Nuclear Power? An Exploration of Conflict in Stakeholder Participation for Decision-making about Risky Technologies * Opportunities and Challenges of Incorporating Climate Change Threats into Disaster Risk Management Planning: A Case Study in Costa Rica * School District Partner Choice in Emergency Management Collaboration * Assessment of an Emergency Disaster Response to Floods in Agadez, Niger * Climate Disaster Resilience of Dhaka City Corporation: An Empirical Assessment at Zone Level Response/Comment: * Assumptions Can Kill
Please report problems with the web pages to the maintainer