["Shipping Continued After Computer Inspection System Failed at Meat Plants" *The New York Times*, 17 Aug 2013, with Doug's summarizing and commenting, although I retitled the subject line. Sorry. I couldn't resist. PGN] A nationwide system that controlled meat inspection went down for two days. It was recently installed, and one user is quoted as saying the installed system was subject to the same troubles as an early demo system that he was trained on. Presumably the system was built on contract, as almost all government systems are. Yet, the contractor is never mentioned in the article. This is a slightly different twist on a well-known risk: software vendors who avoid responsibility--in this case the NYT gave them a pass in the court of public opinion, not a court of law, but nevertheless a pass. [Subsequent PS: After sending the note, I bethought myself of the stark comparison with the stories about airplane battery fires. There the emphasis was not on the owning of airlines, but on the makers of the airplane and the batteries. Doug]
*The New York Times* Web Site Returns After Hours Offline http://j.mp/15G1QFl (*The New York Times* via NNSquad) "The Web site ofd* The New York Times* was offline for about two hours on Wednesday in what company officials say was a failure during regular maintenance of NYTimes.com, and not the result of a cyberattack." DNSSEC administration likely cause of .gov outage http://j.mp/16lSbtP (Fierce) A GSA official said on background the website outage was triggered by a now-resolved DNSSEC issue and the agency is "still working on analyzing the whole thing." The outage, he added, did not effect [sic] users on secure government networks.
Civilian GPS is vulnerable to being spoofed—and researchers are looking for ways to ensure the signals are legit. ... The yacht's captain offered up his boat for the experiment after seeing Humphreys give a presentation at this year's SXSW conference. The takeover took place in June while the boat was traveling in the Mediterranean off the coast of Italy. From a perch onboard the yacht, the spoofing researchers shifted the ship's course three degrees to the north. They also convinced the yacht's GPS system that the boat was underwater. Humphreys: “[The captain] invited me to basically try kicking the tires of his security system. And yeah—they were flat.'' Until now, the threat of spoofing existed mostly on paper. Humphreys's team had demonstrated the device in experiments with unmanned aerial vehicles. Those tests established that the technology can work from up to 30 kilometers away, Humphreys says. Now the yacht experiment shows it can be used to fool a navigation system in the real world. This has implications for any system that relies on civilian GPS—a list that includes commercial aviation, smartphones, and the stock market. Humphreys: “Civilian GPS is not encrypted and not authenticated, so that means it's entirely predictable. Predictability is the enemy of security.'' http://www.technologyreview.com/news/517686/spoofers-use-fake-gps-signals-to-knock-a-yacht-off-course/
“In this article I present in which way scanners / copiers of the Xerox WorkCentre Line randomly alter written numbers in pages that are scanned. This is not an OCR problem (as we switched off OCR on purpose), it is a lot worse—patches of the pixel data are randomly replaced in a very subtle and dangerous way: The scanned images look correct at first glance, even though numbers may actually be incorrect.'' http://www.dkriesel.com/en/blog/2013/0802_xerox-workcentres_are_switching_written_numbers_when_scanning? And so it goes, as Vonnegut would say. robert schaefer, Atmospheric Sciences Group, MIT Haystack Observatory Westford, MA 01886 http://www.haystack.mit.edu 781-981-5767
http://www.dkriesel.com/en/blog/2013/0802_xerox-workcentres_are_switching_written_numbers_when_scanning or: http://tinyurl.com/ouvlf96 Summary: JBIG2 compression looks for repeated "patches" within the image, and replaces all occurrences with references to a single copy. Except, that the matching isn't exact, so e.g. a 6 may be treated as a copy of a patch that's actually an 8. Any scanner has limits to its accuracy, and any form of lossy compression has some loss. But unlike e.g. JPEG, where the artifacts are often clearly visible, there is no indication of the degree of uncertainty involved. Possible risks: * Changes to account numbers, debiting or crediting the wrong account. * Changes to monetary amounts. * Sending police, bailiffs, demolition crew, etc to the wrong address. * Using the wrong part number in a safety-critical design. * Using the wrong dimensions or tolerances in a safety-critical design. * Administering the wrong dosage of a drug, or the wrong number of dosages (or even the wrong drug if it's referenced by catalogue number). -- From a legal perspective, the mere fact that such scanners exist brings into question the authenticity of any document unless its entire history is known.
The US National Weather Service's website <www.weather.gov> returns a forecast for Manhattan when the location "evil" is searched. Finding rogue search results for a US Government service that is critical to safety is concerning enough, but when I tried to make an HTTPS connection to the National Weather Service's website to verify the "validity" of the results, I immediately received a warning that the SSL certificate is invalid. The cert was valid, but for Akami Technologies (07:27:A4:69), and was flagged for possible hijacking of the connection. The risks? Farming out important, probably even critical, parts of the Weather Service's infrastructure with loss of control or even knowledge of what is going on, the opportunity for faked connections to www.weather.gov, and the introduction of incorrect behavior into critical code, probably for the sake of a very bad taste "joke".
"The National Security Agency, hit by disclosures of classified data by former contractor Edward Snowden, said Thursday it intends to eliminate about 90 percent of its system administrators to reduce the number of people with access to secret information." http://j.mp/1cyL8R4 (Reuters via NNSquad) “What could go wrong?'' [I am reminded of a meeting with U.S. Navy Admirals in June 1999, representing a rather different point on the spectrum. It was stated that the Navy was planning on using only Microsoft operating systems to minimize the training problems for system administrators, and also to outsource most of its system administration (because it was becoming very difficult to keep enough personnel with adequate sysadmin experience in the Navy). PGN]
"Today's high-end televisions are almost all equipped with "smart" PC-like features, including Internet connectivity, apps, microphones and cameras. But a recently discovered security hole in some Samsung Smart TVs shows that many of those bells and whistles aren't ready for prime time. The flaws in Samsung Smart TVs, which have now been patched, enabled hackers to remotely turn on the TVs' built-in cameras without leaving any trace of it on the screen. While you're watching TV, a hacker anywhere around the world could have been watching you. Hackers also could have easily rerouted an unsuspecting user to a malicious website to steal bank account information." http://j.mp/146NK3m (WPTV / CNN via NNSquad)
[Via Dave Farber] http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/41/4167.asp Afraid of refunds, Washington, DC and Salisbury, Maryland conceal evidence that could reveal camera inaccuracy. The firms operating red light cameras and speed cameras in the District of Columbia and Maryland are working to suppress evidence that could be used to prove the innocence of a photo enforcement ticket recipient. In Washington, the Arizona-based vendor American Traffic Solutions has repositioned cameras and cropped photos so that it is impossible to determine whether another object or vehicle happens to be within the radar unit's field of view. The change is important since DC hearing adjudicators have been throwing out citations whenever another vehicle was visible, creating the possibility of a spurious radar reading (view ruling). The cropping also makes it extremely difficult to use pavement lines to perform a secondary check of the speed estimate provided by the radar. Lines painted on the road for this purpose are visible in one photo, but not the other (view first photo, view second photo). No video is provided to the vehicle owner. The District has also recently been installing next-generation speed cameras that use infrared light instead of a visible flash when photographing vehicles. This means drivers will have no way of knowing whether they will receive a ticket until weeks after the alleged violation. In Salisbury, Maryland, the city and its private speed camera contractor Brekford are working together to prevent the Maryland Drivers Alliance from confirming whether the photo enforcement program is in compliance with state law. There is good reason to believe it is not, as other towns that allow Brekford to issue tickets, including Greenbelt and Hagerstown, have been forced to refund illegally issued citations. At issue is whether Brekford's cameras were properly certified under Maryland Code Section 21-809, which requires testing on an annual basis by an independent lab. The law states that the results of such testing "shall be kept on file" along with a daily setup log. The Maryland-based motoring rights group simply asked for a copy of the file. The city and camera company now insist that the group must pay $535 to the speed camera contractor for the calibration certificates and logs that the municipality is required to keep on file. These are documents that the State Highway Administration makes freely available on its website. "In regards to this request, it is anticipated to take six total hours to gather and assemble the requested documents," Brekford wrote in a July 16 letter to the Salisbury police chief. "The first two hours will be provided without charge, however the addition four hours shall be charged at the rate of $75.00 per hour. An additional $235.00 will be charged for the copying and mailing services rendered in providing the requested information. Additionally, Brekford does not release or provide technical specifications on any of our camera systems." The city also delayed responding to the request for thirty days, which the motorist group says is one of many violations of the state's public records laws. The refusal to provide basic specifications regarding the camera's operation is also raising eyebrows. "Basically they are saying the public is just supposed to 'trust us' when Brekford says their equipment is of a sort which is reliable, since they are withholding all documents which describe the technology," said Ron Ely, the Maryland Drivers Alliance chairman. [Source: Response to Maryland Public Information Request (Brekford, 16 Jul 2013)]
[Via Dave Farber] The Public/Private Surveillance Partnership Bruce Schneier, 5 Aug 2013 <http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2013/08/the_publicpriva_1.html> [Also in Bruce's latest CRYPTOGRAM, PGN] Imagine the government passed a law requiring all citizens to carry a tracking device. Such a law would immediately be found unconstitutional. Yet we all carry mobile phones. If the National Security Agency required us to notify it whenever we made a new friend, the nation would rebel. Yet we notify Facebook. If the Federal Bureau of Investigation demanded copies of all our conversations and correspondence, it would be laughed at. Yet we provide copies of our e-mail to Google, Microsoft or whoever our mail host is; we provide copies of our text messages to Verizon, AT&T and Sprint; and we provide copies of other conversations to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or whatever other site is hosting them. The primary business model of the Internet is built on mass surveillance, and our government's intelligence-gathering agencies have become addicted to that data. Understanding how we got here is critical to understanding how we undo the damage. Computers and networks inherently produce data, and our constant interactions with them allow corporations to collect an enormous amount of intensely personal data about us as we go about our daily lives. Sometimes we produce this data inadvertently simply by using our phones, credit cards, computers and other devices. Sometimes we give corporations this data directly on Google, Facebook, Apple Inc.'s iCloud and so on in exchange for whatever free or cheap service we receive from the Internet in return. The NSA is also in the business of spying on everyone, and it has realized it's far easier to collect all the data from these corporations rather than from us directly. In some cases, the NSA asks for this data nicely. In other cases, it makes use of subtle threats or overt pressure. If that doesn't work, it uses tools like national security letters. The result is a corporate-government surveillance partnership, one that allows both the government and corporations to get away with things they couldn't otherwise. There are two types of laws in the U.S., each designed to constrain a different type of power: constitutional law, which places limitations on government, and regulatory law, which constrains corporations. Historically, these two areas have largely remained separate, but today each group has learned how to use the other's laws to bypass their own restrictions. The government uses corporations to get around its limits, and corporations use the government to get around their limits. This partnership manifests itself in various ways. The government uses corporations to circumvent its prohibitions against eavesdropping domestically on its citizens. Corporations rely on the government to ensure that they have unfettered use of the data they collect. ... Dewayne-Net RSS Feed: <http://www.warpspeed.com/wordpress>
Internet Society Board of Trustees Calls on the Global Internet Community to Stand Together to Support Open Internet Access, Freedom, and Privacy Fundamental ideals of the Internet are under threat [Berlin, Germany, 4 Aug 2013] The Internet Society Board of Trustees during its meeting in Berlin, Germany today called on the global Internet community to stand together in support of open Internet access, freedom, and privacy. Recently exposed information about government Internet surveillance programs is a wake-up call for Internet users everywhere: the fundamental ideals of the Internet are under threat. The Internet Society Board of Trustees believes that government Internet surveillance programs create unacceptable risks for the future of a global, interoperable, and open Internet. Robert Hinden, Chair of the Board of Trustees, stated, “Berlin is a city where freedom triumphed over tyranny. Human and technological progress are not based on building walls, and we are confident that the human ideals of communication and creativity will always route around these kinds of attempts to constrain them. We are especially disappointed that the very governments that have traditionally supported a more balanced role in Internet governance are consciously and deliberately hosting massive Internet surveillance programs.'' In the brief period since these surveillance programs were revealed to the general public, the Internet Society Board stated there are already chilling effects on global trust and confidence on the Internet ecosystem. The fact that information about surveillance programs is emerging primarily from countries with a long history of supporting the open Internet is particularly disturbing. As the next billion people come online, these countries should be expected to demonstrate leadership in support of the values that underpin the global Internet. In the wake of these announcements, the Internet Society encourages a return to multistakeholder cooperation to preserve the benefits of the Internet ecosystem for all. The Internet Society Board of Trustees expects governments to fully engage with their citizens in an open dialogue on how to reconcile national security and the fundamental rights of individuals. Security should not be at the cost of individual rights and, in this context, the Board welcomes the initiative by some civil society organizations to promote "International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance." The Internet Society endorses these principles, and emphasizes the importance of proportionality, due process, legality, and transparent judicial oversight. The Internet Society believes that surveillance without any such safeguards risks undermining the sustainability of the open Internet. Lynn St. Amour, President and CEO of the Internet Society: “In the spirit of the pioneers and early innovators of the Internet that were honored this week at the 2013 Internet Hall of Fame ceremony, we urge the global Internet community to defend against attempts by governments to fragment the Internet either through overt regulation or hidden surveillance programs, We must reassert the global spirit of community that is at the heart of the Internet's growth and success, and stand firm in our belief that openness and collaboration is the best path forward.''
[Note: This item comes from friend Mike Cheponis. DLH] http://boingboing.net/2013/08/08/lavabit-email-service-snowden.html Remember when word circulated that Edward Snowden was using Lavabit, an email service that purports to provide better privacy and security for users than popular web-based free services like Gmail? Lavabit's owner has shut down the service, and posted a message on the lavabit.com home page today about wanting to avoid "being complicit in crimes against the American people." According to the statement, it appears he rejected a US court order to cooperate with the government in spying on users. The email service offered various security features to a claimed user base of 350,000, and is the first such firm to have publicly and transparently closed down, rather than cooperate with state surveillance programs. The email address Snowden (or someone sending emails on his behalf) is reported to have used to send invites to a press conference at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport in mid-July was a Lavabit account. Below, the full message from Lavabit's founder and operator Ladar Levison: My Fellow Users, I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what's going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests. What's going to happen now? We've already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company. This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States. Sincerely, Ladar Levison Owner and Operator, Lavabit LLC Defending the constitution is expensive! Help us by donating to the Lavabit Legal Defense Fund here. Update: Spencer Ackerman at the Guardian has more: Several technology companies that participate in the National Security Agency's surveillance dragnets have filed legal requests to lift the secrecy restrictions that prevent them from explaining to their customers precisely what it is that they provide to the powerful intelligence service—either wittingly or due to a court order. Yahoo has sued for the disclosure of some of those court orders. The presiding judge of the secret court that issues such orders, known as the Fisa court, has indicated to the Justice Department that he expects declassification in the Yahoo case. The department agreed last week to a review that will last into September about the issues surrounding the release of that information. There are few Internet and telecommunications companies known to have refused compliance with the NSA for its bulk surveillance efforts, which the NSA and the Obama administration assert are vital to protect Americans. One of them is Qwest Communications, whose former CEO Joseph Nacchio -- convicted of insider trading—alleged that the government rejected it for lucrative contracts after Qwest became a rare holdout for post-9/11 surveillance. "Without the companies' participation," former NSA codebreaker William Binney recently told the Guardian, "it would reduce the collection capability of the NSA significantly."
Ted Samson | InfoWorld, 09 Aug 2013 Email provider's move will further fuel concerns that American companies can't be trusted to keep customer data private http://www.infoworld.com/t/data-security/lavabit-shutdown-marks-another-costly-blemish-us-tech-companies-224582
Ted Samson | InfoWorld, 14 Aug 2013 Ladar Levison says pulling plug on secure email service purportedly used by Edward Snowden was lesser of two evils http://www.infoworld.com/t/data-security/lavabit-founder-says-he-cant-legally-explain-why-he-shut-down-email-service-224924
Better than ever, things just keep on getting ... [More via Dewayne via Dave Farber] Source: <http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/08/13/20008036-lavabitcom-owner-i-could-be-arrested-for-resisting-surveillance-order?lite> Feds Threaten To Arrest Lavabit Founder For Shutting Down His Service from the *either-you-help-us-spy-on-people-or-you're-a-criminal* dept The saga of Lavabit founder Ladar Levison is getting even more ridiculous, as he explains that the government has threatened him with criminal charges for his decision to shut down the business, rather than agree to some mysterious court order. The feds are apparently arguing that the act of shutting down the business, itself, was a violation of the order: * ... a source familiar with the matter told NBC News that James Trump, a senior litigation counsel in the U.S. attorney's office in Alexandria, Va., sent an email to Levison's lawyer last Thursday—the day Lavabit was shuttered—stating that Levison may have "violated the court order," a statement that was interpreted as a possible threat to charge Levison with contempt of court. * [snip] http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130816/14533924213/feds-threaten-to-arrest-lavabit-founder-shutting-down-his-service.shtml
"Today I presented at USENIX WOOT '13 a new vulnerability that we had found in BIND, the most popular DNS server. Exploiting this vulnerability allows to reduce the amount of effort required for an off-path (blind) DNS cache poisoning attack. The whitepaper is now publicly available, together with the presentation and ISC's (the organization behind BIND) notification. In this blog post I will describe the vulnerability in a less formal fashion." http://j.mp/13Zbwir (*Security Intelligence* via NNSquad)
I drive a 2012 Ford Focus. Maybe the lower models get a lower grade computer; the first thing I noticed when I started driving it, is that nothing I do happens immediately, including stepping on the gas or the brakes. There is always some delay, sometimes up to a second. I almost ran over a child once while I was getting used to it.
I have just received a copy of Jonathan E. Nuechterlein and Philip J. Weiser Digital Crossroads: Telecommunications Law and Policy in the Internet Age Second Edition MIT Press, 2013 xix+506pp This seems to be a really valuable compendium of many of the legal and policy issues underlying RISKS. The first edition of the book was published in 2005, and it is evident from the preface to the second edition that much has changed in the past eight years. For example, the second edition adds new analyses relating to mobile broadband, the seeming demise of conventional telephony, spectrum issues, network neutrality, online video, and lots more. The chapter titles give you an idea of the comprehensive scope of the book. 1. The Big Picture 2. Competition Policy in Wireline Communications 3. The Spectrum 4. Mobile Wireless Services 5. A Primer on Internet Technology 6. Net Neutrality and the Regulation of Broadband Access 7. Interconnection and Intercarrier Compensation 8. Universal Service in the Age of Broadband 9. Competition in the Delivery of Video Programming 10. The Future of Telecommunications Competition Policy These chapters are followed by a copiously annotated 100 pages of end notes. The book is highly accessible for readers with widely diverse needs and interests, from casual curiosity about specific subjects to serious needs to understand the details. It also seems to benefit from a dozen people acknowledged as proofreaders and indexers! This topic is obviously not devoid of controversy. However, irrespective of any quibbles someone might have with the devils in the details, this appears to be a huge contribution and deserves careful reading.
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