"When power went out at Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford Springs [due to the hurricane, on 27 Aug 2011], the hospital switched to its backup generator. But then they lost the generator as well. A spokesperson says after discussions with the power company, they decided to transfer patients to other hospitals, starting with critical care patients." http://connecticut.cbslocal.com/2011/08/28/hospital-patients-transferred-after-storm-cuts-power/ Imagine the fun and RISKS. How well do computerized patient records, computerized billing systems, computerized medication systems, card access systems, etc. work in this situation? This seems highly prone to failure even if the transition happened on a planned basis, much less suddenly. It's rather scary how many different possible failure modes come to mind with only a few seconds of thought, much less a detailed study. I would have thought that generator testing would be one of the first things on the "to do" list as soon as they suspected Irene would affect their area (in addition to more regularly scheduled testing). It would be interesting to see what the root cause of the generator failure was.
Single worker caused massive power outage across Southwest, power company admits http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/09/09/2011-09-09_single_worker_caused_massive_power_outage_across_southwest_power_company_admits.html Feds launch probe of Southwest power outage Human error blamed for blackout that impacted about 5 million people http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44449688/ns/us_news-life/ [See also https://plus.google.com/114753028665775786510/posts/VevANeZmbDz]
SC Magazine <http://www.scmagazineus.com/> > Black Hat: Insulin pumps can be hacked, 10 Aug 2011 <http://www.scmagazineus.com/black-hat-insulin-pumps-can-be-hacked/article/209106/> A Type 1 diabetic said Thursday that hackers can remotely change his insulin pump to levels that could kill him. Jay Radcliffe, a security researcher, demonstrated to the crowd at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas how he is able to send commands to and wirelessly disable (within about 150 feet) the insulin pump he has been wearing since he was 22, when he was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease after dealing with extreme weight loss and an unquenchable thirst. Radcliffe, now 33, explained that all he requires to perpetrate the hack is the target pump's serial number, which can be obtained via social engineering or by running a simple computer scan. Then using hardware and a program he wrote to talk to the device, he can issue instructions. These commands can order the device to turn off, but more dangerously, they can significantly raise or lower the levels of insulin Radcliffe's body absorbs at any given moment. "It's basically like having root on the device, which is like having root on the chemistry of your body," said Radcliffe, who wears his $6,000 pump around the clock to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Radcliffe did not name the affected vendor because the threat requires a complete overhaul of the product and would result in panicked customers. "I don't think it's relevant to the purpose of my talk," he said at a press conference afterward. "If I name the vendor, then any bad guy or evil hacker...can start exploit code on it right away." Radcliffe said he isn't sure how many other vendors make insulin pumps that suffer from similar vulnerabilities. To remedy the problem, he suggested manufacturers implement a verification process, in which users have to approve changes to their devices. In addition, the pumps should contain a password-protected serial number. The vulnerability is more indicative, he said, of the chronic insecurity of embedded systems. "Everything has an embedded processor and computer in it," he said. "Every time you hide behind [security by] obscurity, it is going to fail." Brad Smith, a researcher and Black Hat conference staffer who also is a registered nurse, said the medical field largely looks the other way when it comes to securing patient devices. "I lecture at all the medical conferences," he said during the press conference. "They just hide it. Pay attention to what [Radcliffe] is saying. His life is in this pump."
Jacqueline Mroz, *The New York Times*, 5 Sep 2011 Cynthia Daily and her partner used a sperm donor to conceive a baby seven years ago, and they hoped that one day their son would get to know some of his half siblings - an extended family of sorts for modern times. So Ms. Daily searched a Web-based registry for other children fathered by the same donor and helped to create an online group to track them. Over the years, she watched the number of children in her son's group grow. And grow. Today there are 150 children, all conceived with sperm from one donor, in this group of half siblings, and more are on the way. "It's wild when we see them all together - they all look alike," said Ms. Daily, 48, a social worker in the Washington area who sometimes vacations with other families in her son's group. As more women choose to have babies on their own, and the number of children born through artificial insemination increases, outsize groups of donor siblings are starting to appear. While Ms. Daily's group is among the largest, many others comprising 50 or more half siblings are cropping up on Web sites and in chat groups, where sperm donors are tagged with unique identifying numbers. Now, there is growing concern among parents, donors and medical experts about potential negative consequences of having so many children fathered by the same donors, including the possibility that genes for rare diseases could be spread more widely through the population. Some experts are even calling attention to the increased odds of accidental incest between half sisters and half brothers, who often live close to one another. ... http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/06/health/06donor.html
Jaikumar Vijayan, item in *Computerworld* 07 Sep 2011 Ten Years After 9/11, Cyber Attacks Pose National Threat, Committee Says [Excerpted from ACM TechNews; Friday, 9 Sep 2011] Catastrophic cyberattacks are a very real threat to U.S. security, according to a study from the Bipartisan Policy Center's National Security Preparedness Group (NSPG). The study underscores worries from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the intelligence community about terrorists striking against U.S. assets without ever penetrating national borders, with the threat against critical infrastructure systems being especially potent. "As the current crisis in Japan demonstrates, disruption of power grids and basic infrastructure can have devastating effects on society," the report says. The NSPG report acknowledges that the U.S. government has made significant strides in meeting many of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations, but notes that progress has been slow in several key areas. For example, the availability of radio spectrum for public safety purposes still needs to be substantially broadened, while a recommendation to establish a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board with the federal government's executive branch is still not completely implemented. "If we were issuing grades, the implementation of this recommendation would receive a failing mark," the report concludes. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9219756/10_years_after_9_11_cyberattacks_pose_national_threat_committee_says
Nominet UK proposing police shut down domains without court order http://j.mp/nFs4z5 (eWeek Europe) [ NNSquad] "Nominet, the registrar that handles .uk domains, is moving ahead with proposed rules (PDF) that could allow law enforcement agencies to request a domain be shut down without a court order." Go ahead, keeping pushing the evolution of non-centralized DNS alternatives not subject to extrajudicial tampering. The more governments interfere with DNS operations, the more clear it is to everyone that DNS has outlived its usefulness. The real irony is that increasingly entities who feel vulnerable to government DNS takedowns are taking preemptive steps for alternatives to maintain connectivity. So governments really are unwittingly helping "Darwin" in this area. Lauren Weinstein (email@example.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
During the evening of 10 Sept 2011, Channel 5's second digital channel had a windows Internet browser information window overwriting the weather information for at least 30 minutes. (I gave up checking.) [Attached .jpg omitted. You've probably seen something like it before. PGN.] This is yet another example of how attempting to run systems without operational access and monitoring shows the seams where unmonitored automation fails. I had to laugh at the Internet Explorer window, but I also imagined home viewers attempting to call the station and provide information to the single employee trying to keep the evening television shows running.
Researchers crack APCO P25 public safety encryption, find DoS flaws http://j.mp/n0WXG7 (Slashdot) [NNSquad] "Two Australian security researchers, Stephen Glass and Matt Robert, have published a paper that details flaws in the encryption implementation (PDF) in the APCO Project 25 digital radio standard, used by emergency services and police departments world-wide. The paper details flaws in the DES-OFB and ADP encryption that enable the encryption key to be recovered by traditional brute force key searching. Also detailed is a DoS attack that makes use of unauthenticated radio inhibit mechanism."
In a paper titled "Doppelganger Domains", Garrett Gee and Peter Kim describe how by registering domains that match someone else's subdomain, less a dot or two, such as "cslsri.com" (for csl.sri.com), someone can capture email which has a typo in the address. http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2011/09/Doppelganger.Domains.pdf By forwarding the mail (and the reply) to the appropriate real address(es), the capturer can cover his tracks, meanwhile collecting whatever valuable information (passwords, business secrets, etc) is contained in the emails. The authors also describe some defensive measures domain owners can take. [Also noted by Amos Shapir: Bad spelling opens up security loophole. PGN] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14842691
Why Governments Are Terrified of Social Media http://lauren.vortex.com/archive/000891.html [NNSquad} In Missouri, teachers and others are up in arms over a law that would ban most contacts between teachers and students through social media, not only via systems like Facebook, but even apparently mechanisms such as Google Docs ( http://j.mp/pSqX11 [ABC News] ). In the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron has proposed censoring or cutting off BlackBerry and other social media systems based on the misguided and false assumption that this would prevent planning and communications by potential rioters or other "undesirable" persons. And back here in the U.S., BART shut down parts of the cell phone network, in an attempt to block communications in advance of a legal protest that never took place, though we know full well from history that protests -- even of enormous scope—do not require high technology to be organized and deployed ( http://j.mp/rq7SO9 [Lauren's Blog] ). Around the world, including here in the U.S., governments are demanding unencrypted access to supposedly "secure" communications systems. The common thread is very clear. Governments are increasingly terrified of the communications abilities that Internet and other technologies have provided their citizenry and other residents. While usually careful to express their concerns in the context of seemingly laudable motives like fighting crime or terrorism, in reality these governments have revealed the distrust and contempt with which they view their populations at large. This is by no means a new phenomenon. Throughout human history, governments and many leaders have cast a jaundiced eye on virtually every new technological development that enabled communications, particularly if that technology made it easier for direct person-to-person messages to be exchanged outside the view of government services and minders. These government efforts to suppress and control communications have virtually all failed in the end, though a great deal of damage has been done to individuals and groups in the process. At one time, even the ability to read and write was considered too dangerous a skill set for the commoners. The invention of the printing press threw government and churches alike into convulsions of apprehension. And now "social media" is the new scapegoat, the whipping boy, the technological designated evil that short-sighted politicians of both major parties, and their various administrative minions and supporters, are demanding be monitored, leashed, and controlled. In reality of course, it's not the technology that these persons wish to leash—it's ordinary people. It's you and me and the vastness of other law-abiding persons who have become the targets of the 21st century law enforcement mantra: "Screw the Bill of Rights—treat everybody like a suspect, all the time." The broad implications of this "guilty until proven innocent" mindset are all around us now. They're at the heart of the newly revealed alliance between CIA and the New York Police Department to monitor the activities of innocent citizens, using surveillance techniques that would have seemed comfortably familiar to the old East German Stasi secret police. They're seen in the massive government-mandated Internet data retention demanded by "The Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011"—now moving rapidly through Congress, and disingenuously titled to suggest it only applies to child abuse, when in reality its true reach would broadly encompass all manner of Internet access activities ( http://j.mp/o13jMO [Atlantic] ). Governments seem to increasingly no longer feel that it's necessary or desirable to have "probable cause" or court orders before spying on individuals, tracking their movements via hidden GPS units, building dossiers, or even disrupting communications. Constitutional guarantees are more and more viewed by our leaders as quaint artifacts of the past, to be ignored today merely as annoying inconveniences. The innocent are now being treated largely as potential "future criminals" -- and so subject to many of the same sorts of surveillance and other law enforcement techniques that in the past were generally limited to specific suspects of specific crimes. To the extent that these activities for now appear to be mostly aimed at persons with skin colors or religions different from us, it becomes easier to "go with the flow" of this new law enforcement mentality, to not make waves, to be quiet, to be sheep. But the same techniques used today against one group can be easily repurposed for others. Government ordered records of users' Internet activities will affect us all, and the infrastructures created to support these surveillance-related systems may be be extremely long-lived. When governments no longer trust the people, when officials make the mental and physical leaps to targeting vast numbers of innocent persons in the manner of criminal suspects of yesteryear, we have embarked on a road that leads to a very dark place indeed. Today, social media is the cross-hairs. Governments certainly are enthusiastic about using social media for their own investigatory and enforcement purposes, but they appear to be desperately seeking ways to control and limit the ability of ordinary persons to communicate privately and securely on these systems, or to use them at all in some cases. This is hypocrisy of the highest order. It is a serious risk to innocent individuals being targeted by its adherents today. Unchallenged, tomorrow it will be a serious risk to us all.
Jeff James, Private Yale Student Info Accessible via Google Search 25 Aug 2011 While we're normally flooded with news about hackers who routinely bypass security systems and exploit zero-day vulnerabilities to gain access to sensitive systems, recent news from Yale University underscores that the vast majority of IT security failures are caused by human error, neglect, or plain ignorance. I've written about how users are often the weakest link in IT security, but that maxim can apply to simple human error in general. According to the Yale student newspaper, the University is notifying 43,000 staff, students, and alumni that sensitive personal information—like names and social security numbers—were inadvertently made accessible to Internet searches when a file containing that information was left unprotected and unsecured on an FTP server that was used as a storage location for open source software. ... http://www.windowsitpro.com/blog/security-blog-12/security/private-yale-student-info-accessible-google-search-140325
Yale Student Allows His Privacy To Be Obliterated For A Class Project Kashmir Hill, *Forbes*, 12 May 2011 Six Yale students needed a guinea pig for a class project. The guinea pig had to be willing to hand over access to his cellphone and to his Facebook and email accounts so that the students could figure out which of the three held the most revealing and intimate details about a person's life. Amazingly, they found a volunteer. And now the details of his life have been posted online for your perusal. The Yalies called it "The Gavin Project." They wanted to find out "which source of personal information reveals the most personal information." One nod to privacy: "Gavin" is not the Yale senior's real name. So what did they find out about him? His smartphone revealed he's well-connected, yielding some interesting contacts, including former New York governor Elliot Spitzer, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, blogger Matt Yglesias, and former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo. Given that social circle, I wasn't surprised when one of the students involved in the data scrape, Sebastian Park, told me Gavin has political ambitions. (So perhaps his fellow privacy-invading students were doing him a favor. Lots of politicians these days are paying "online reputation companies" to go through their digital dossiers to find potential landmines, reports Politico.) ... http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2011/05/12/yale-student-allows-his-privacy-to-be-obliterated-for-a-class-project/
Vermont State Police say a Massachusetts woman drove her car into a river from a road that had been damaged by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene after she drove around a road closed sign while following directions from her GPS, according to the Associated Press. Police say 25-year-old Sarah Ho of Boston was driving on the Dover Road in South Newfane late Saturday afternoon when she came upon a road closed sign. She told police she drove around the sign after seeing other vehicles drive around the sign. Police say Ho was driving too fast when she came upon a one-lane section of gravel road with large potholes. As a result her car went into the adjacent river. She was not hurt and her vehicle suffered minor damage. http://rutlandherald.typepad.com/vermonttoday/2011/09/woman-goes-into-river-after-entering-closed-road.html Sean W. Smith firstname.lastname@example.org www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~sws/ Professor, Department of Computer Science, Dartmouth College, Hanover NH USA
http://www.infoworld.com/t/internet-privacy/zombie-cookies-wont-die-microsoft-admits-use-and-html5-looms-new-vector-170511 InfoWorld Home / InfoWorld Tech Watch August 22, 2011 'Zombie cookies' won't die: Microsoft admits use, HTML5 looms as new vector Despite lawsuits, bad publicity, and Adobe's promise to end their use in Flash, zombie cookies persist and could find a new host in HTML5 By Woody Leonhard | InfoWorld opening paragraphs: One year ago this week, I wrote about zombie cookies, describing how Disney, MySpace, and NBC Universal had just been sued for using zombie cookies to track people even if they have gone to great lengths to disable, block, or delete cookies. Seven months ago, I mentioned that Adobe had taken up the pitchfork and vowed to make Flash zombie cookies a thing of the past. So it's pretty shocking that Jonathan Mayer, a Stanford researcher, caught Microsoft using both a cache-based zombie cookie and a more advanced type of persistent "supercookie" to track folks even if they blocked or deleted browser cookies. Microsoft surreptitiously tracked users who had the temerity to visit MSN.com (in the United States, Canada, and Spain), the U.S. English home page of www.microsoft.com, or the Microsoft Store. Perhaps even scarier, as HTML5 gains traction: Its local storage is a great feature, but one wide open for abuse for such items as zombie cookies. And Internet Explorer's InPrivate Browsing, Firefox's Private Browsing, and Chrome's Incognito browsing modes won't protect you from the ETag form of zombie cookies or from HTML5-based zombies.
The kitchen in the rooming house where I live has a gas stove and microwave oven, both having clocks. Usually they are right but occasionally if PEPCO has had a power failure of a second or longer, then both will reset, and if someone puts the wrong time in either then there's no guarantee they'll be right. Which is why when I want the exact time, I depend upon the $7 battery- powered analog clock that sits on the wall, and that I change the AA battery once every six months, basically each time Daylight Savings Time either starts or ends. Much more accurate and reliable, and absolutely immune to power company failures, spikes or other problems.
CALL FOR PAPERS 9th International Conference on Integrated Formal Methods (iFM 2012) in conjunction with ABZ 2012, in honor of Egon Boerger's 65th birthday for his contribution to state-based formal methods June 18 - 22, 2012 - CNR - Pisa - ITALY http://ifm.isti.cnr.it Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche=20 Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell'Informazione “A. Faedo'' Formal Methods && Tools Lab. Via Moruzzi 1 - 56124 Pisa OBJECTIVES AND SCOPE Applying formal methods may involve the modeling of different aspects=20 of a system that are expressed through different paradigms.=20 Correspondingly, different analysis techniques will be used to examine=20 differently modeled system views, different kinds of properties, or=20 simply in order to cope with the sheer complexity of the system.=20 The iFM conference series seeks to further research into the=20 combination of (formal and semi-formal) methods for system development,=20 regarding modeling and analysis, and covering all aspects from language=20 design through verification and analysis techniques to tools and their=20 integration into software engineering practice Areas of interest=20 include but are not limited to:=20 - Case Studies;=20 - Experience reports;=20 - Formal and semiformal modelling notations;=20 - Integration of formal methods into software engineering practice;=20 - Logics;=20 - Model checking;=20 - Model transformations;=20 - Semantics;=20 - Static Analysis;=20 - Refinement;=20 - Theorem proving;=20 - Tools;=20 - Type Systems;=20 - Verification SUBMISSION GUIDELINES iFM 2012 solicits high quality papers reporting research results and/or=20= experience reports related to the overall theme of method integration. =20= The conference proceedings will be published by Springer Lecture Notes=20= in Computer Science series. All papers must be original, unpublished,=20 and not submitted for publication elsewhere. All submissions must be=20 in PDF format, using the Springer LNCS style files; we suggest to use=20 the LaTeX2e package (the llncs.cls class file, available in llncs2e.zip =20= and the typeinst.dem available in typeinst.zip as a template for your=20 contribution). Submissions should be made using the iFM 2012 Easychair =20= web site. Papers should not exceed 15 pages in length. Each paper will=20= undergo a thorough review process.=20 All accepted papers must be presented at the conference. Their=20 authors must be prepared to sign a copyright transfer statement.=20 At least one author of each accepted paper must register to the=20 conference by the early date indicated by the organizers, and=20 present the paper. IMPORTANT DATES Paper submission: January 14, 2012 Paper notification: March 1, 2012 Final version paper: March 20, 2012 INVITED SPEAKERS Egon Boerger, University of Pisa, Italy Muffy Calder, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom Ian J. Hayes, University of Queensland, Australia ABZ - iFM 2012 GENERAL CHAIRS John Derrick, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom Stefania Gnesi, CNR-ISTI, Italy iFM PROGRAMME COMMITTEE CHAIRS:=20 Diego Latella, CNR-ISTI, Italy Helen Treharne, University of Surrey, United Kingdom=20
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