A group of researchers has demonstrated 2 attacks on the Indian Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), which has been used to conduct general elections in the world's largest democracy for over a decade. The attacks are simple and cheap to carry out. A video of the attacks is available at: http://indiaevm.org/ The press release is at: http://indiaevm.org/press.html and the full technical paper will be available at: http://indiaevm.org/paper.html Given the black-box testing, "validation" and certification of the EVMs over the past few years by "noted experts" in India, this raises questions about the experts' competence and the will of the Government of India to actually have tamper-proof electronic voting (if such a thing is possible). This also raises questions in retrospect of the validity of all elections carried out in India since the EVM was introduced. Looking forward with interest (and, I must admit, scantily-concealed glee) to the Government of India's response. Raj Mathur email@example.com http://kandalaya.org/ [scantily-clad glee? PGN]
[In our long-standing discussions of the risks of election systems, electronic or otherwise, this video seems worthy of your attention. PGN] J. Alex Halderman, Hari K. Prasad, Rop Gonggrijp, http://indiaevm.org/ Abstract: Elections in India are conducted almost exclusively using electronic voting machines developed over the past two decades by a pair of government-owned companies. These devices, known in India as EVMs, have been praised for their simple design, ease of use, and reliability, but recently they have also been criticized because of widespread reports of election irregularities. Despite this criticism, many details of the machines' design have never been publicly disclosed, and they have not been subjected to a rigorous, independent security evaluation. In this paper, we present a security analysis of a real Indian EVM obtained from an anonymous source. We describe the machine's design and operation in detail, and we evaluate its security, in light of relevant election procedures. We conclude that in spite of the machine's simplicity and minimal trusted computing base, it is vulnerable to serious attacks that can alter election results and violate the secrecy of the ballot. We demonstrate two attacks, implemented using custom hardware, which could be carried out by dishonest election insiders or other criminals with only brief physical access to the machines. This case study contains important lessons for Indian elections and for electronic voting security more generally.
A recorded downturn in Central Market shoppers that had been attributed to the global financial crisis has now been blamed on a faulty doorway sensor system. The Adelaide City Council (ACC) and traders have been in a panic during the past year over a sharp downturn in visitor figures and fine-tuned advertising campaigns to attract shoppers. An ACC report obtained by *The Advertiser* has found faulty sensors caused the dramatic drop in recorded visitors, and the ACC has now been forced to review at least a year of data. One sensor has been blind to 95 per cent of visitors, the report states. The council's best estimate is that the drop in actual visitor numbers over the past year is less than 1 per cent, compared with about 10 per cent previously believed. [PGN-ed] http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/faulty-sensors-sends-council-in-a-spin-over-central-market-patronage/story-e6frea83-1225861761513
See: http://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1108748 Summary: Ars moved to new provider. Old provider did not lock down/wipe old customer's data soon enough. Old provider cracked. Cracker gets email addresses of Ars subscribers. Ars users spammed/phished. As a sysadmin in the oil patch, this is a very familiar story. When the price of oil goes south, they lay off staff and attempt to survive the downturn. When price goes back up, they hire me to clean up the mess (including disabling no longer current logins). They never budget for the future (secure inactive accounts before they can hurt us). They just bet on making it up on the next go-round. I blame shareholder greed, but that's just me. [Quite an E-Shops' Fable. Moral: What's YOURS is ARS. PGN]
http://gizmodo.com/5530178/top-ten-reasons-you-should-quit-facebook Disclosure by Dan Yoder: I'm the VP of Engineering for a Hollywood-based social media startup, BorderStylo. The opinions expressed here are purely my own and are not in any way endorsed by my employer. While I do not see our applications as directly competitive to Facebook, nor have I presented them As such, it would be disingenuous not to mention this. Twitter: @dyoder. After some reflection, I've decided to delete my account on Facebook. I'd like to encourage you to do the same. This is part altruism and part selfish. The altruism part is that I think Facebook, as a company, is unethical. The selfish part is that I'd like my own social network to migrate away from Facebook so that I'm not missing anything. In any event, here's my "Top Ten" reasons for why you should join me and many others and delete your account. 10. Facebook's Terms Of Service are completely one-sided. 9. Facebook's CEO has a documented history of unethical behavior. 8. Facebook has flat out declared war on privacy. 7. Facebook is pulling a classic bait-and-switch. 6. Facebook is a bully. 5. Even your private data is shared with applications. 4. Facebook is not technically competent enough to be trusted. 3. Facebook makes it incredibly difficult to truly delete your account. 2. Facebook doesn't (really) support the Open Web. 1. The Facebook application itself sucks. [In a Network Neutrality Squa posting, Lauren Weinstein noted this article at http://bit.ly/bk7ROb (Gizmodo) as well as "How to Delete Your Facebook Account with Extreme Prejudice" (and a Bit of Style): http://bit.ly/fb-privacy-with-style (YouTube) ]
Dan Goodin, *The Register*, 3 May 2010 [PGN-ed] http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/05/03/treasury_websites_attack/ Websites operated by the US Treasury Department are redirecting visitors to websites that attempt to install malware on their PCs, a security researcher warned on 3 May 2010. The infection buries an invisible iframe in bep.treas.gov, moneyfactory.gov, and bep.gov that invokes malicious scripts from grepad.com. The code was discovered late the night before and was active at time of writing, about 12 hours later. To cover their tracks, the miscreants behind the compromise tailored it so it attacks only IP addresses that haven't already visited the Treasury websites. That makes it harder for white hat-hackers and law enforcement agents to track the exploit. Indeed, Thompson initially reported that the problem had been fixed until he discovered the sites were merely skipping over laboratory PCs that had already encountered the attack. The attack is most likely related to mass infections that two weeks ago hit hundreds of sites hosted by Network Solutions and GoDaddy, said Dean De Beer, founder and CTO of security consultancy Zero(day) Solutions. [...] [Thanks to Jeremy Epstein for spotting this one. PGN]
If you don't permit Windows 7 updates to install without your individual approval, be sure to pay attention to KB980408, which is rolling out right now. You probably want this one. Titled "April 2010 stability and reliability update," most of the items fixed by the update seem relatively innocuous, until you get to this gem at the end of the list: "You are not warned when you delete more than 1000 files at the same time. Then, the files are deleted permanently and are not moved to the Recycle Bin." Ouch. Given how easy it is in Windows Explorer to delete entire folder paths, this is a non-trivial situation! The official MS writeup on the update is at: http://bit.ly/aa3eSH (Microsoft)
I'm a British immigrant to France so I read the ex-pat forums for information. Recently, I read a post on such a forum that made me choke. Red security flags exploded before my eyes and alarm bells nearly stunned me: http://britishexpats.com/forum/showthread.php?t=665410 (it's post number 7 on the thread) “I hired a car last Wednesday afternoon from Paris, and have never had any problems with my old style driving license. I did however forget all my credit card pin numbers for the deposit. As my card sat in the machine, and the woman said regrettably there's nothing they can do if I can't remember the pin, the payment went through. She said she'd never seen that happen before - because the card had been left for such a long time, it took the payment. I think my lucky stars were with me, as I'd arrived complete with baby and carseat and was already running late.'' The thing that I want to point out is not so much the bad design that allowed this to happen, even though it is heart-stopping, but the *mentality* of the person to whom it happened and the person at the hire car desk. The hiree thought he was *lucky* and the hire car woman was indifferent. According to the above post, both took a look at something that shouldn't have happened, something that they would not want to have happen with a stolen credit card, and said, hey, this is great, it saves me all sorts of problems. This is one more reason that security problems are not caught.
I saw this release today, and just had to share it with anyone I could find. "Every paper, plastic, metal and ceramic surface is microscopically different and has its own 'fingerprint'. Professor Cowburn's LSA system uses a laser to read this naturally occurring 'fingerprint'. The accuracy of measurement is often greater than that of DNA with a reliability of at least one million trillion." I love it when old technologies and science are used in interesting new ways to impact the future. http://nanotechwire.com/news.asp?nid=2254 I expect to see this technology at an airport near you, in five years or so. Gadi Evron, firstname.lastname@example.org. Blog: http://gevron.livejournal.com/
In the past year I have been working in collaboration with psychologists Robert Cialdini and Rosanna Guadagno on a paper analyzing some of what I saw from the social perspective in Estonia, when I wrote the post-mortem analysis for the 2007 attacks, but didn't understand at the time. We analyze how the Russian-speaking population online was manipulated to attack Estonia (and Georgia) in the "cyber war" incidents, and how it could happen again (regardless of if any actor is behind it). Article on El Reg: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/04/28/web_war_one_anonymity/ Paper (for download with pay :( ): http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/cyber.2009.0134 Gadi Evron, email@example.com Blog: http://gevron.livejournal.com/
The statistics on distracted driving are pretty scary. Just making cellphone calls increases your chances of crashing by four times; sending text messages increases the risk 23 times. We know this, we get this, but we keep doing it. About half of all teenagers admit to texting while driving, for example, no matter how many statistics and horror stories we pass along to them. ... [Source: David Pogue, *The New York Times*, 28 Apr 2010; PGN-ed] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/29/technology/personaltech/29pogue.html
It's been many years since my last RISKS contribution, but I just got a (somewhat agitated) phone call from my wife which prompted me to do so again. She's got a Prius which was subject to the recall for faulty anti-lock brakes. Apparently the fix was to to load new software. We're all used to warnings from software vendors to back up our data before installing a new version, but the concept seems to have escaped Toyota's notice. She had the fix/upgrade done yesterday. Today she noticed that her phone contact list (the car has bluetooth pairing with her cell phone and has its own contact list) is all gone. I guess they didn't bother to back up the car before reloading the OS. Or whatever. Oversight? Maybe. More likely, just standard procedure and to heck with that fact that they destroyed their customer's data.
First..... Subject: Cloud Risks and McAfee's blunder [Trusted for what? The risk in the clouds is of course trusting something that is not trustworthy . PGN] Finally, someone having the knowledge and gumption to actually point this out. This was the first thing I said about "cloud computing" when they started talking about it in our academic circles. Before that, it was Certificates. What possible reason do I have to trust that one of the commercial certificate providers will not sell my private key to an outsider? Or, one of their employees, for that matter. Trust in all things computer related is nothing new, and after all these years of pointing out Risks nothing has changed. [Aw, shucks. I've been railing against having to trust untrustwortiness for many years now. But yes, nothing seems to change in that regard. PGN] And, second...... Subject: Re: Your Cell Phone May Be Hazardous to Your Health (R 25 93) Shall we call this "Risks of relying on GQ as a source of reliable information?" ... Please check reliable sources, such as Wikipedia Am I the only one who ended out rolling on the floor after reading this comment? Bill Gunshannon University of Scranton Scranton, Pennsylvania firstname.lastname@example.org
In regard to speaking sensitive info over the phone, I've always felt uncomfortable about, e.g. service providers who ask you to tell them your account number during a phone call. Not because I don't trust their employees (I don't really, but I can't really do anything about that), but because I could be anywhere—a doctor's office, a sports venue, on a train, etc.—and be overheard speaking, for example, my name and Social Security number. A nefarious party could probably make off with a great deal of valuable info by standing outside a hospital (or sitting in its cafeteria) with a notepad and an open ear, listening for people talking to their medical insurance provider.—Joe
That's going to make those "Wonderbra" billboards even more hazardous. [Yes, imagine one's reaction upon crashing into the sign! PGN]
> I was ASTONISHED that I could put in a USPS Change of Address for > her. Stunning! I'm sure no one can imagine anything that could go wrong > with that. Just pick up your new credit card in Lagos Nigeria! Some critical points are omitted here. Yes, you can, but it costs $1. And you have to pay for it with a credit card. And the credit card must validate using either the old or the new address. Clearly the $1 charge is for security, not for the cost of the service. And as always, an acknowldgement is snail-mailed to both old and new addresses. The same procedure appears to apply to change of address by telephone. (They say it costs $1; I'm assuming that the same credit card requirement applies.) While not perfect, consider the old way: you fill out a form, sign it, and drop it in a letter slot at the post office servicing the old address. Or you mail it to the postmaster at the old PO. The verification is only a signature, though the snail-mail acknowledgments are sent. Neither is perfect, but is the new really worse? Both depend in large part on heavy penalties for misuse. The credit card validation has holes, but it's the same technique used by many merchants. Physical signatures are easily forged. As for picking up your credit card in Lagos, virtually all mail containing a credit card has a "non-forwarding endorsement", and USPS policy is that mail with such an endorsement will not be forwarded, either domestically or internationally. I found all the USPS information easily on the USPS web site. A little research goes a long way.
My wife's driver license is up for renewal. A recent requirement in Florida is that she show her social security card to renew her DL. We lost both our SS cards decades ago, and until recently no one wanted to see the card, they just asked for the number. So we applied for duplicate cards. Of course, you have to provide an ID to get a duplicate SS card. What ID? Why, a driver license, of course! I think that we are farther than ever from getting anyone outside IT to understand the difference between identification and authentication.
I own a car with an RFID key. It will not lock with the key in the car or in the trunk. My wife insisted that the trunk would not lock. She could press the small rubber button on the trunk handle and the trunk would unlock. I told her that was because I was close enough with the transmitter in my pocket to allow the trunk to be opened. To prove that I walked a long distance away and sure enough the trunk would not open when she pressed the button. She insisted on testing my theory regularly. Then one day the bomb dropped! With me and the transmitter quite far away she was able to open the trunk. I was flabbergasted; what was going on? The cause was simple. Her purse, with the second transmitter, was in the trunk. The RFID computer will not let you lock the transmitter (or yourself) in the trunk. So how do we lock the trunk without removing the transmitter from her purse? You remove a physical key from the other transmitter and turn it in the trunk's physical lock. That takes care of the trunk, but now what about locking the car? It usually locks by pressing rubber buttons on the driver or passenger door handles or locks itself after 30 seconds, but that wouldn't work with a transmitter in the trunk. You have to prove to the RFID computer that there is still a valid transmitter outside the car by pressing its lock button. All this was learned because she insists on leaving her transmitter/key in her purse so it will not get lost.
Is this the military once again finding a scapegoat? It's like blaming the mirror for how we look. Sure, bullet points are convenient but not new with PowerPoint and it's not the only way to use it. I observe my son who has become facile with PowerPoint using it as a presentation medium with few bullet points if any. [Bob, Your son is wise. On the other hand, for many people The Medium is the Message. Marshall McLuhan PGN]
>* “PowerPoint makes us stupid.'' (Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Edward Tufte's short screed "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint" is required reading on this topic. Don't miss the poster "there's no bullet list like STALIN's bullet list!" I keep a few copies around for people who complain that I don't do jazzy enough slides. http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/powerpoint
*The NY Times* article PowerPoint slide appears to be a system dynamics diagram. If one does not know system dynamics then the diagram can look like jumbled nonsense. I would suggest the system dynamics chart is not the problem but instead the problem is that it was presented to people who apparently do not know system dynamics and then expecting them to make sense of it. As an engineer I am distressed how presentation programs such as PowerPoint short-circuit disciplined thinking. The further we remove technical discourse from this monstrosity the better!
As is pointed out here & elsewhere, the problem with the Afghan PowerPoint horror slide is not that it's PowerPoint, rather it's a fairly typical Systems Dynamics model, intended to present complex situations understandably, more or less. http://usacac.leavenworth.army.mil/blog/blogs/dlro/archive/2010/04/29/systems-dynamics-and-appreciating-complexity.aspx
Re: Frederic Rice: "I personally would like to be able to select the route which has fewer opposing left-hand turns": I agree that left-turns (in countries where one drives on right) are unhealthy. I suspect that some GPS devices are more equal than others, for my Garmin 350 will choose left turns only very reluctantly. Re: Arthur Flatau's Tom-Tom routes being poorer than Google's: When I check Google's choice versus my Garmin's, they generally agree; the outfits apparently use different maps, at least in US. I don't have any shares in Garmin (alas).
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