The RISKS Digest
Volume 28 Issue 59

Wednesday, 22nd April 2015

Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems

ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy, Peter G. Neumann, moderator

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…


Passenger, avionics networks still not separated in B787, A350, A380
Mary Shaw
GAO report on FAA vulnerabilities to Cyberattack, and a news report on a claimed attack method
Peter Bernard Ladkin
First F-35 Jets Lack Ground-Combat Punch of 1970s-Era A-10s
Gabe Goldberg
Driver follows GPS off demolished bridge, killing wife
Gabe Goldberg
Automakers Say You Don't Really Own Your Car
Gabe Goldberg
Tweeting Fridges and Web Controlled Rice Cookers: 9 of the Stupidest Smart Home Appliances
Gabe Goldberg
"Smart home hacking is easier than you think"
Colin Neagle
Virginia decertified WinVote voting system
Jeremy Epstein
Australia government attacks researchers who reveal online election flaws
Lauren Weinstein
Curious election statistical observation
danny burstein
Bob Wachter on Technology and Hospitals at Medium
Prashanth Mundkur
Lawyers smell blood in electronic medical records
Lauren Weinstein
`Routine maintenance' and the EMR
Robert L Wears
"End-To-End Web Crypto: A Broken Security Model"
Banks undermine chip and PIN security
Steven Murdoch via Prashanth Mundkur
Tewksbury police pay bitcoin ransom to hackers
Bob Frankston
State of the Internet
The Internet Ruined April Fool's Day
The Atlantic
Hacked French TV network admits "blunder" that exposed YouTube password
Gabe Goldberg
Tech companies are sending your secrets to crowdsourced armies of low-paid workers
Gabe Goldberg
ISOS mass-defaceng websites
"How ICANN enabled legal Website extortion"
"GitHub still recovering from massive DDoS attacks"
Jeremy Kirk
FBI would rather prosecutors drop cases than disclose stingray details
Cyrus Farivar
Cyberspace and the American Dream: A Magna Carta for the Knowledge Age
Daniel Berninger
"Lost in the clouds: 7 examples of compromised personal information"
Steve Ragan
French Senate Backs Bid To Force Google To Disclose Search Algorithm Workings
Lauren Weinstein
"4 no-bull facts about Microsoft's HTTP.sys vulnerability"
Serdar Yegulalp
Congress cannot be taken seriously on cybersecurity
Trevor Timm
How the New York Times is eluding censors in China
Lauren Weinstein
"Large-scale Google malvertising campaign hits users with exploits"
Lucian Constantin
Insurance co. wants to track you 24/7 for a discount
Fire TV Stick OS 1.5 Update
Gabe Goldberg
Internet Naming Body Moves to Crack Down on '.sucks'
Good news and bad news: Android Security State of the Union 2014
Lauren Weinstein
Re: Kali Linux security is a joke!
Henry Baker
Info on RISKS (comp.risks)

Passenger, avionics networks still not separated in B787, A350, A380

Mary Shaw <>
Thu, 16 Apr 2015 11:23:17 -0400
In 2008, RISKS reported that the design of the B787 onboard network did not
completely separate the passenger entertainment network from the flight
control network; the FAA was imposing special conditions for testing.

According to Wired and CNN, a new GAO report says the vulnerabilities

Neither article cites the report, though CNN names one of the authors.

The GAO site shows only one new report that seems relevant, “FAA Needs a
More Comprehensive Approach to Address Cybersecurity as Agency Transitions
to NextGen seems to be mostly about the Nextgen ATC system, considering as
one significant element the possibility of unauthorized remote access to
aircraft avionics systems via the passenger entertainment system.'' This report (April 14)

Mary Shaw, AJ Perlis University Professor of Computer Science, Carnegie
Mellon University,

  [PGN suggests: see also

GAO report on FAA vulnerabilities to Cyberattack, and a news report on a claimed attack method

Peter Bernard Ladkin <>
Sat, 18 Apr 2015 10:07:36 +0200
The US Government Accounting Office has published a report on the
vulnerability of FAA equipment and avionics to cyberattack . It makes three main points.  The
third one is organisational; I am concerned here with the first two.

First, the FAA has not developed and apparently doesn't intend to develop a
threat model for its ground-based systems. Unsurprisingly, the GAO thinks it
might be a good idea to do so.

Many FAA ground-based systems are decades old and were installed in an era
which didn't need to worry as much about cybersecurity. Many of them are
dedicated systems, so some physical access would be required. But some are
not. Does anyone remember the NY ATC outage a quarter century ago? Failure of a commercial
4ESS switch took out ATC. I seem to remember (or was it another incident?)
ATCOs coordinating by using their private mobile phones. A DoS attack on ATC
communications nowadays could take out a commercial switch but would have to
take out the cellular phone comms also. So there's the first entry for the
threat model.

Second, the GAO queries the wisdom of critical avionics and passenger
in-flight entertainment systems (IFE) sharing network resources. So did many
of us when it was first mooted (for the Boeing 787, I seem to
recall). Because, after all, the best start on assuring non-interference is
physical separation of networks and good shielding. And indeed someone
recently claimed on Fox News to be able to hack avionics through the IFE
He was apparently subsequently pulled from a flight out of Denver by the
FBI, interviewed for a number of hours and relieved of some kit.

People may think: "shooting the messenger". But hang on. Roberts told Fox
News (I quote from Fox) "We can still take planes out of the sky thanks to
the flaws in the in-flight entertainment systems...."

Here is a guy who claims publicly to be able to "take planes out of the sky"
getting on an airplane with computer equipment. It is surely the task of
security services to ensure he is not a threat in any way. If you were a
passenger on that airplane, wouldn't you like at least to know he is not
suicidal/paranoid/psychotic? In fact, wouldn't you rather he got on with a
nice book to read and sent his kit ahead, separately, by courier?

Some of this is quoted from my blog post

First F-35 Jets Lack Ground-Combat Punch of 1970s-Era A-10s

Gabe Goldberg <>
Wed, 15 Apr 2015 09:12:27 -0400
The first F-35 jets ready for combat won't be able to protect forces in
ground combat as well as the nearly 40-year-old A-10s the Pentagon wants to
retire, according to the Defense Department's chief weapons tester.

One major problem yet to be solved is the plane's computer information
system that's designed to alert pilots to logistical problems, he said,
adding that he has a plan to improve it through a redesign.

Gilmore said the initial F-35s will fall short because "of the combined
effects of digital communications deficiencies, lack of infrared pointer
capability" to distinguish friendly from hostile forces and an inability to
confirm the Global Positioning Satellite ground coordinates programmed into
its two air-to-ground bombs.

To read the entire article, go to

Can't detect problems, can't tell friendly forces from foes, can't deploy
bombs accurately. But let's build and fly it now, redesign it later. What
could go wrong? It's only $12.7B/year for more than 20 years.

Driver follows GPS off demolished bridge, killing wife, police say

Gabe Goldberg <>
Tue, 07 Apr 2015 11:08:00 -0400
Title says it all; nothing new here...

...but how would self-driving cars handle this? Presumably their GPS data
was obsolete, but accuracy of data depends on local authorities supplying
it. Presumably robocars read road signs and notice roadway surface
ending. Presumably...

Automakers Say You Don't Really Own Your Car

Gabe Goldberg <>
Wed, 15 Apr 2015 23:19:37 -0400
If you have had problems with vehicle repair or tinkering because you were
locked out of your vehicle's computers, if you would have engaged in a
vehicle-related project but didn't because of the legal risk posed by the
DMCA, or if you or your mechanic had to deal with obstacles in getting
access to diagnostic information, then we want to hear from you—the
Copyright Office should hear from you, too.

Cars as black boxes with wheels, subject to manufacturer software updates
whenever they desire (I've heard advocated). Remember the joke about "If
Microsoft made cars..."?

Tweeting Fridges and Web Controlled Rice Cookers: 9 of the Stupidest Smart Home Appliances

Gabe Goldberg <>
Mon, 13 Apr 2015 18:19:54 -0400
There are a lot of incredible smart home devices out there that are worthy
of your time and money. Some of the examples that spring immediately to mind
include the Nest thermostat, which will save you energy and money by
ensuring you only heat your house when needed. Then there's the Philips Hue
Lights, which allow you to control the illumination in your home. Some will
even save your life. The Nest Protect is an incredibly precise WiFi
connected smoke and carbon monoxide detector.

They are all useful products that will ultimately become ubiquitous because
they're so incredibly helpful.

But then there are the WiFi enabled, smartphone-powered appliances that
aren't quite as useful. The kinds that should never see the light of
day. Here are 9 of the worst.

Biggest risk here might be wasting money—though surely some of these
will be hack-vulnerable network entry points.

"Smart home hacking is easier than you think" (Colin Neagle)

Gene Wirchenko <>
Tue, 07 Apr 2015 18:20:59 -0700
Colin Neagle, Network World, 3 Apr 2015
Scary stories of hacking Internet of Things devices are emerging, but
how realistic is the threat?

opening text:

Last March, a very satisfied user of the Honeywell Wi-Fi Thermostat left a
product review on that shed some light on an unexpected benefit
of the smart home—revenge.

The reviewer wrote that his wife had left him, and then moved her new lover
into the home they once shared, which now featured the Honeywell Wi-Fi
thermostat. The jilted ex-husband could still control the thermostat through
the mobile app installed on his smartphone, so he used it to make the new
couple's lives a little less happily ever after:

  “Since this past Ohio winter has been so cold I've been messing with the
  temp while the new love birds are sleeping. Doesn't everyone want to wake
  up at 7 AM to a 40 degree house? When they are away on their weekend
  getaways, I crank the heat up to 80 degrees and back down to 40 before
  they arrive home. I can only imagine what their electricity bills might
  be. It makes me smile. I know this won't last forever, but I can't help
  but smile every time I log in and see that it still works. I also can't
  wait for warmer weather when I can crank the heat up to 80 degrees while
  the love birds are sleeping. After all, who doesn't want to wake up to an
  80 degree home in the middle of June?''

In the past year, more than 8,200 of the 8,490 Amazon users who have read
the review deemed it "useful."

Virginia decertified WinVote voting system

Jeremy Epstein <>
Wed, 15 Apr 2015 18:17:19 -0400
The Virginia State Board of Elections decertified the AVS WinVote machine,
after releasing a brief but damning report on the vulnerabilities.  Among
the items they identified are:

* The machines use an unpatched version of Windows from 2004.
* The machines use the WEP protocol for WiFi encryption, which has been
  broken for over a decade.
* The machines use a hardwired WEP encryption key ("abcde").
* Even if configured to disable the wireless communication, the machines
  allow numerous services, including file services.
* The adminstrator password is "admin", which can't be changed through the
  user interface provided to the election administrator.
* The database is an obsolete version of Microsoft Access, with a hardwired
  password of "shoup" (the family that owned the company).
* The entire database can be replaced without any verification (i.e.,
  there's no MD5 checksums).

Oh, why keep piling on.

More details at

Press coverage at

And much more.

In nearly 30 years of working in security, this is the single worst system
I've seen.  Jeremy

Australia government attacks researchers who reveal online election flaws

Lauren Weinstein <>
Tue, 7 Apr 2015 20:17:50 -0700
EFF via NNSquad

  While moving to Internet voting may sound reasonable to folks who haven't
  paid any attention to the rampant security problems of the Internet these
  days, it's just not feasible now. As Verified Voting notes: "Current
  systems lack auditability; there's no way to independently confirm their
  correct functioning and that the outcomes accurately reflect the will of
  the voters while maintaining voter privacy and the secret ballot."
  Indeed, the researchers' discovery was not the first indication that New
  South Wales was not ready for an Internet voting system. Australia's own
  Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters concluded last year,
  "Australia is not in a position to introduce any large-scale system of
  electronic voting in the near future without catastrophically compromising
  our electoral integrity."

Curious election statistical observation

danny burstein <>
Sat, 4 Apr 2015 09:33:01 -0400 (EDT)

Bob Wachter on Technology and Hospitals at Medium

Prashanth Mundkur <>
Fri, 10 Apr 2015 16:41:18 -0700
A 5-part series of articles by Bob Wachter, a UCSF MD and author of "The
Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine's Computer
Age", that would be appreciated by the RISKS audience, collected here:

with the following titles:

"How Medical Tech Gave a Patient a Massive Overdose"

  Pablo Garcia went to the hospital feeling fine. Then the hospital made him
  very sick.

"Beware of the Robot Pharmacist"

  In tech-driven medicine, alerts are so common that doctors and pharmacists
  learn to ignore them—at the patient's risk.

"Why Clinicians Let Their Computers Make Mistakes"

  We tend to trust our computers a lot. Perhaps too much, as one hospital
  nurse learned the hard way.

"Should Hospitals Be More Like Airplanes?"

  “Alarm fatigue at Pablo Garcia's hospital sent him into a medical
  crisis. The aviation industry has faced the same problem—and solved it.

"How to Make Hospital Tech Much, Much Safer"

  We identified the root causes of Pablo Garcia's 39-fold overdose—and
  ways to avoid them next time.

Lawyers smell blood in electronic medical records

Lauren Weinstein <>
Tue, 14 Apr 2015 09:15:07 -0700
Computerworld via NNSquad

  EMRs require physicians to perform their own data entry, stealing precious
  face time with patients. What had been a note jotted into a paper record,
  now involves a dozen or more mouse clicks to navigate a complex EMR
  workflow.  Healthcare providers can be prone to taking shortcuts on
  entering the data or not entering it in a timely manner, Klein said. Vital
  sign data is often duplicated as it moves between hospital departments,
  but it remains part of one integral patient record.  Data administrators
  may copy and paste patient information from an older record to a newer
  one, supposing that the data would remain the same. And the sheer
  complexity of EMRs pose issues with accuracy, as being able to track who
  has entered what data, and when, over time can become confusing.  "This is
  a fire hydrant," Klein said.  "Try to take a drink out of it. That's what
  it's like trying to read an EMR."

`Routine maintenance' and the EMR

"Robert L Wears, MD, MS, PhD" <>
Wed, 08 Apr 2015 14:30:52 -0400
The entire outpatient EMR for a large multihospital system in a major US
city had to be taken off-line after it suffered a "severe unanticipated
issue" during a maintenance update to improve performance this weekend.

Yesterday, the decision was taken to roll the system back to its pre-update
(presumably, last-known-good) state, which was late Friday evening.
Everything entered after that point until Monday evening has been lost and
must be re-created and re-entered.

The hospital system is trying to ascertain which patients and charts may
have been touched during that time.  Staff are being asked to gather all
their paper records (!) from Friday onwards to see if they are present in
the read-only version of the system.  The live system is still not yet

Robert L Wears, MD, MS, PhD, University of Florida 1-904-244-4405 (ass't)
Imperial College London +44 (0)791 015 2219

"End-To-End Web Crypto: A Broken Security Model"

Lauren Weinstein <>
Mon, 6 Apr 2015 17:29:47 -0700
Indolering via NNSquad

  "Researchers have been testing the efficacy of security iconography for
  over a decade, and the results are dismal.  The most dramatic "experiment"
  was performed by Moxie Marlinspike in 2009.  Marlinspike removed
  encryption from connections using a malicious Tor exit node, which also
  removed the browser encryption icons.  Despite drawing his sample from a
  population with above average technical acumen and paranoia, he achieved a
  100% "success" rate; meaning that every user who visited a login page
  logged into to their account. Marlinspike collected over 400 logins and 16
  credit card numbers in 24 hours."

Banks undermine chip and PIN security (Steven Murdoch)

Prashanth Mundkur <>
Mon, 6 Apr 2015 21:00:42 -0700
Steven J. Murdoch, The Conversation, March 30 2015

  Contactless cards are being promoted because it appears they cause
  customers to spend more. Some of this could be accounted for by a shift
  from cash to contactless, but some could also stem from a greater
  temptation to spend more due to the absence of tangible cash in a wallet
  as a means of budgeting.

  Greater convenience leads to increased spending, which means more fees for
  the card issuers and more profit for the merchant—this is the real
  reason why the PIN check was dropped from contactless cards. The risk of
  fraud is mitigated to some degree by limiting transactions in the UK to
  20 (rising to 30 in September), but it's been demonstrated
  that even these limits can be bypassed.

Tewksbury police pay bitcoin ransom to hackers

"Bob Frankston" <>
Tue, 7 Apr 2015 08:26:29 -0400
*The Boston Globe*

Tewksbury had joined the list of police departments victimized by
"ransomware," an insidious form of Internet crime that is crippling
computers worldwide.

State of the Internet (Akamai)

"David Farber" <>
Tue, 31 Mar 2015 19:46:36 -0400

"The Internet Ruined April Fool's Day" (The Atlantic)

Lauren Weinstein <>
Wed, 1 Apr 2015 08:50:09 -0700
*The Atlantic* via NNSquad

  "What that means is that, this time of year, we become trained to doubt
  the people and institutions--news outlets, businesses, fellow humans--we
  are meant, ideally, to trust. Everything operates in a kind of limbo of
  credibility: Wait, is that a real thing or an April Fool's thing? How can
  we know for sure? What would it mean to know for sure?  What is truth

I agree. And I'm not sharing or resharing any "joke" items today in any of
my venues. The more sophisticated and heavily produced these "joke" items
become, the less amusing I'm finding them. And I can tell you from my own
inbox, that confusion and doubt sowed on 1 April lasts throughout the
year. Just *too much* of what was once a reasonably fun thing. Thanks a

Hacked French TV network admits "blunder" that exposed YouTube password

Gabe Goldberg <>
Mon, 13 Apr 2015 15:42:14 -0400
Can you say “DOH''? I knew you could!

Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, 12 Apr 2015

The head of the French TV network that suspended broadcasting following last
week's hack attack has confirmed the service exposed its own passwords
during a TV interview, but said the gaffe came only after the breach.  "We
don't hide the fact that this is a blunder," the channel's director general
Yves Bigot, told the AFP news service.

The exposure came during an interview a rival TV service broadcast on the
TV5Monde attack. During the questioning, a TV5Monde journalist sat in front
of several scraps of paper hanging on a window. One of them showed the
password of for the network's YouTube account. As Ars reported last week,
the pass code was "lemotdepassedeyoutube," which translates in English to
"the password of YouTube."

Bigot stressed that the passwords were broadcast only after the hack attack,
which occurred overnight Wednesday when hackers compromised TV5Monde servers
and social networking accounts. A TV5Monde manager told AFP that the gaffe
came in the immediate aftermath of the hack attack, when network managers
were scrambling to quickly hand out new temporary online access codes.

Tech companies are sending your secrets to crowdsourced armies of low-paid workers

Gabe Goldberg <>
Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:30:53 -0400
A couple of months ago, Laura Harper, a 44-year-old freelance writer and
editor from Houston, Texas, got upset while reading a Jezebel story about a
service called "Invisible Boyfriend."

Let us count the risks...

Gabriel Goldberg, Computers and Publishing, Inc.
3401 Silver Maple Place, Falls Church, VA 22042   (703) 204-0433

ISOS mass-defacing websites

"Peter G. Neumann" <>
Tue, 7 Apr 2015 21:24:23 PDT
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is warning that individuals
sympathetic to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) are
mass-defacing websites using known vulnerabilities in Wordpress.  The FBI
also issued an alert advising that criminals are hosting fraudulent
government Web sites in a bid to collect personal and financial information
from unwitting Web searchers.

"How ICANN enabled legal Website extortion" (Cringely)

Gene Wirchenko <>
Wed, 15 Apr 2015 10:08:38 -0700
Robert X. Cringely, Notes from the Field InfoWorld, 14 Apr 2015
The .sucks domain was all fun and games until a greedy but enterprising Web
registry decided to blackmail major corporations into paying up

"GitHub still recovering from massive DDoS attacks" (Jeremy Kirk)

Gene Wirchenko <>
Wed, 01 Apr 2015 13:11:05 -0700
Jeremy Kirk, InfoWorld, 30 Mar 2015
The attacks, which started Thursday, were particularly aimed at two
GitHub-hosted projects fighting Chinese censorship

selected text:

Software development platform GitHub said Sunday it was still experiencing
intermittent outages from the largest cyber attack in its history but had
halted most of the attack traffic.

Starting on Thursday, GitHub was hit by distributed denial-of-service (DDoS)
attacks that sent large volumes of Web traffic to the site, particularly
towards two Chinese anti-censorship projects hosted there.

Anthr@X wrote that it appeared advertising and tracking code used by many
Chinese websites appeared to have been modified in order to attack the
GitHub pages of the two software projects.

"In other words, even people outside China are being weaponized to target
things the Chinese government does not like, for example, freedom of
speech," Anthr@X wrote.

FBI would rather prosecutors drop cases than disclose stingray details (Cyrus Farivar)

"Dewayne Hendricks" <>
Apr 8, 2015 11:11 AM
New documents released by NYCLU shed light on Erie County's use of spying
Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, 7 Apr 2015

Not only is the FBI actively attempting to stop the public from knowing
about stingrays, it has also forced local law enforcement agencies to stay
quiet even in court and during public hearings, too.  An FBI agreement,
published for the first time in unredacted form on Tuesday, clearly
demonstrates the full extent of the agency's attempt to quash public
disclosure of information about stingrays. The most egregious example of
this is language showing that the FBI would rather have a criminal case be
dropped to protect secrecy surrounding the stingray.

Relatively little is known about how, exactly, stingrays, known more
generically as cell-site simulators, are used by law enforcement agencies
nationwide, although new documents have recently been released showing how
they have been purchased and used in some limited instances. Worse still,
cops have lied to courts about their use. Not only can stingrays be used to
determine location by spoofing a cell tower, they can also be used to
intercept calls and text messages. Typically, police deploy them without
first obtaining a search warrant.

Ars previously published a redacted version of this document in February
2015, which had been acquired by the Minneapolis Star Tribune in December
2014. The fact that these two near-identical documents exist from the same
year (2012) provides even more evidence that this language is boilerplate
and likely exists in other agreements with other law enforcement agencies

The new document, which was released Tuesday by the New York Civil Liberties
Union (NYCLU) in response to its March 2015 victory in a lawsuitfiled
against the Erie County Sheriff's Office (ECSO) in Northwestern New York,
includes this paragraph:

In order to ensure that such wireless collection equipment/technology
continues to be available for use by the law enforcement community, the
equipment/technology and any information related to its functions, operation
and use shall be protected from potential compromise by precluding
disclosure of this information to the public in any manner including but not
limited to: press releases, in court documents, during judicial hearings, or
during other public forums or proceedings.

In the version of the document previously obtained in Minnesota, the rest of
the sentence after the phrase "limited to" was entirely redacted.  Mariko
Hirose, a NYCLU staff attorney, told Ars that she has never seen an
agreement like this before.

"This seems very broad in scope and undermines public safety and the
workings of the criminal justice system," she said.

Your tax dollars at work

The FBI letter also explicitly confirms a practice that some local
prosecutors have engaged in previously, which is to drop criminal charges
rather than disclose exactly how a stingray is being used. Last year,
prosecutors in Baltimore did just that during a robbery trial there,
Baltimore Police Detective John L. Haley cited a non-disclosure agreement,
and he declined to describe in detail how he obtained the location of the
suspect.  [...]

Cyberspace and the American Dream: A Magna Carta for the Knowledge Age (via Dave Farber)

"Daniel Berninger" <>
Apr 15, 2015 10:07 AM
IP'ers might enjoy revisiting Dyson, Gilder, Keyworth, Toffler's 1994
manifesto - Cyberspace and the American Dream: A Magna Carta for the
Knowledge Age.

The longish 7000+ word essay (see link below) anticipates the disruptions of
the present moment to an amazing extent.

The Internet remained a government project in 1994 and the Web included all
of 3000 or so websites.

The futurist group identifies the regulatory risk to computer networks as
the primary threat to the benefits of the Knowledge Age.

The past provided plenty of evidence to doubt the benefits of industrial
policy in the domain computer networks.

The FCC's implementations of telephone network industrial policy in the
Telecom Act of 1996 failed without exception otherwise known as the telecom

The steady stream of public interest benefits generated by the information
technology sector left computer networks classified as non-regulated
information services.

The group did not predict the Commission would vote to impose telephone
network industrial policy on the Internet after 20 years of successful
non-regulation (and failed regulation of the telephone network).

Daniel Berninger, Founder, Voice Communication Exchange Committee
e:  tel SD: +  w:

Cyberspace and the American Dream: A Magna Carta for the Knowledge Age
Esther Dyson, George Gilder, George Keyworth, and Alvin Toffler
Future Insight, Release 1.2,  August 1994


The central event of the 20th century is the overthrow of matter. In
technology, economics, and the politics of nations, wealth—in the form
of physical resources—has been losing value and significance. The powers
of mind are everywhere ascendant over the brute force of things. [...]

"Lost in the clouds: 7 examples of compromised personal information" (Steve Ragan)

Gene Wirchenko <>
Fri, 10 Apr 2015 11:09:01 -0700
Steve Ragan, CSO, Apr 6, 2015
While having instant access to your information via the cloud is a
major bonus to productivity and convenience, there's a risk that the
security trade-off will be too high.

opening text:

Google has indexed thousands of backup drives

Each day millions of people across the globe create backups of their
files. These backups are supposed to offer a measure of assurance that their
files are safe, but that's not entirely true.

In fact, depending on how you've configured the device, your backups are
freely available online to anyone who knows what they're looking for.

French Senate Backs Bid To Force Google To Disclose Search Algorithm Workings

Lauren Weinstein <>
Sun, 19 Apr 2015 22:13:28 -0700
French Senate Backs Bid To Force Google To Disclose Search Algorithm Workings

TechCrunch via NNSquad

  "Meanwhile in France, the upper house of parliament yesterday voted to
  support an amendment to a draft economy bill that would require search
  engines to display at least three rivals on their homepage. And also to
  reveal the workings of their search ranking algorithms ..."

Give in to bullies, and they'll never stop demanding more. I've been saying
this all along, and efforts like this—whether or not they actually become
law—show that even when dealing with countries in the West politicians
are attempting to take total control of information for their own purposes
and their own pandering political ends. They cannot be permitted to succeed
-- the end result could make Orwell's vision of government information
management and censorship look like a walk in the park by comparison.

"4 no-bull facts about Microsoft's HTTP.sys vulnerability" (Serdar Yegulalp)

Gene Wirchenko <>
Thu, 16 Apr 2015 10:04:52 -0700
The latest Web server vulnerability affects desktop systems as well
as Microsoft products
Serdar Yegulalp, InfoWorld, 16 Apr 2015

Congress cannot be taken seriously on cybersecurity (Trevor Timm)

"Peter G. Neumann" <>
Sat, 18 Apr 2015 13:09:16 PDT
Trevor Timm, *The Guardian*

How the New York Times is eluding censors in China

Lauren Weinstein <>
Mon, 6 Apr 2015 20:41:37 -0700
*The New York Times* via NNSquad

  "The New York Times' English and Chinese-language websites have been
  blocked since an October 2012 article about the wealthy family of prime
  minister Wen Jiabao. But according to employees in the company, outside
  observers, and mainland Chinese readers, the Times is quietly pursuing a
  new, aggressive strategy to reach readers in China."

"Large-scale Google malvertising campaign hits users with exploits" (Lucian Constantin)

Gene Wirchenko <>
Fri, 10 Apr 2015 11:21:56 -0700
[The closing text about responsibility does not bode well for a solution soon.]

Malvertising has been a growing problem for years
Lucian Constantin, InfoWorld, 8 Apr 2015

opening text:

A large number of ads distributed by a Google advertising partner redirected
users to Web-based exploits that attempted to install malware on users'

closing text:

A 2014 investigation into malvertising by the U.S Senate concluded that "the
online advertising industry has grown in complexity to such an extent that
each party can conceivably claim it is not responsible when malware is
delivered to a user's computer through an advertisement."

That's because a typical online advertisement goes through five or six
intermediaries before being displayed in a user's browser and it can be
replaced with a malicious one at any point in that chain.  Website owners
also have no control over what ads will be displayed on their websites, the
U.S. Senate said.

Insurance co. wants to track you 24/7 for a discount

Lauren Weinstein <>
Wed, 8 Apr 2015 10:10:38 -0700
CNN via NNSquad

  "John Hancock is partnering with Vitality, which many people probably know
  as one of those work-related wellness programs. The program is available
  in 30 states.  If you sign up for this, John Hancock will send you a free
  Fitbit monitor. That's a tiny, pill-shaped device that some people wear in
  sleek-looking bracelets to track how far they walk/run, the calories
  burned, and the quality of sleep.  That means the insurance company would
  know exactly when a customer does a sit-up, how far she runs—or when
  she's skipped the gym for a few days ... Second, that personal data --
  your heart rate, preferred exercises, what gym you visit and when—ends
  up on insurance company computers. And these databases are a target for
  hackers, who steal this information and sell it on the black market to
  identity thieves and fraudsters.  CNNMoney has just asked John Hancock
  where the data will be kept, and whether it will be sold to other
  companies. The company has not provided an immediate reply."

Yeah, like WHAT COULD GO WRONG? Slap it on the wrist of the nearest
healthy 22-year-old?

Fire TV Stick OS 1.5 Update

Gabe Goldberg <>
Tue, 14 Apr 2015 08:14:54 -0400
Mixed feelings, this gives me:

/Your Fire TV Stick has received a software update that contains features
requested by customers like you. The update has been applied automatically
to your device and you will notice the new features when you next use it./

There seems to be no option controlling updates. Nor for Roku boxes, nor my
cable box. But at least that last one isn't on my home network. I've no idea
about security/authentication for Fire Stick and Roku updates so I wonder
how hackable they are. Same for promised/threatened automatic automotive
software updates.

And, while I requested these updates—sigh, I see no Unsubscribe link.

  [... Long message from Amazon truncated for RISKS.  Check with gabe.]

Internet Naming Body Moves to Crack Down on '.sucks'

Lauren Weinstein <>
Thu, 9 Apr 2015 17:59:30 -0700
ABC via  NNSquad

  The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, on
  Thursday sent a letter to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Canada's
  Office of Consumer Affairs to see if the actions of company Vox Populi
  Registry Ltd. are illegal.  ICANN initially approved of the so-called
  top-level domain name, among nearly 600 it has added recently to expand
  beyond common names such as ".com," ''.org" and ".us."  But it is
  backtracking after an advisory panel made up of industry groups and
  companies like Microsoft, Verizon and eBay complained last month.  Vox
  Populi began accepting registrations using ".sucks" on March 30 from
  trademark holders and celebrities before it's released to public
  applicants. It has recommended charging $2,499 a year for the privilege,
  and according to Vox Populi CEO John Berard, most of the names have been
  sold by resellers for around $2,000 a year.  So far, purchased names
  include,,,,, and other major brand names.

Good news and bad news: Android Security State of the Union 2014

Lauren Weinstein <>
Thu, 2 Apr 2015 11:44:58 -0700
Google via NNSquad
Android Security State of the Union 2014

  "In 2014, the Android platform made numerous significant improvements in
  platform security technology, including enabling deployment of full disk
  encryption, expanding the use of hardware-protected cryptography, and
  improving the Android application sandbox with an SELinuxbased Mandatory
  Access Control system (MAC). Developers were also provided with improved
  tools to detect and react to security vulnerabilities, including the
  nogotofail project and the SecurityProvider.  We provided device
  manufacturers with ongoing support for fixing security vulnerabilities in
  devices, including development of 79 security patches, and improved the
  ability to respond to potential vulnerabilities in key areas, such as the
  updatable WebView in Android 5.0."

I just finished reading the entire report. I must simultaneously
congratulate Google for their work improving app security on newer versions
of Android—and I must express my strong disappointment that the report
seems to effectively ignore the impact of vulnerabilities associated with
known WebView bugs affecting vast numbers of Android users who cannot update
their phones to the newer versions, having been abandoned in this respect by
OEMs, mobile carriers, and/or Google itself. Nor has (as far as I know)
Google reached out proactively to the extremely large number of affected
Android users to warn them of these vulnerabilities and inform them about
potential workarounds that are available in various instances.

Re: Kali Linux security is a joke! (Jackson, RISKS-28.58)

Henry Baker <>
Wed, 01 Apr 2015 06:46:02 -0700
This issue has been discussed at length on the crypto email list, and here
are the conclusions, as I see them:

* md5 itself is broken; there are better hashes around, so the
recommendation of md5 on the Kali web page is indeed a joke (although not
quite the same joke I originally had in mind).

* https/TLS does not solve all SW distribution problems, but using it in
conjunction with various signature mechanisms does make an attacker have to
work harder and actively; http makes passive observation way too easy.  Once
an attacker knows exactly what SW you have, you are much easier to attack.

* http makes a MITM/DOS attack trivial; you may never get a bad piece of SW,
but you may also never get any SW update at all.

Regarding "what would Henry Baker do" when designing a SW update mechanism:
I'm not completely sure.  The threat model for SW distribution today
includes nation-states with "acres of Crays", with no regulatory, budget or
location constraints, and with the entire Internet as a "free fire zone";
this threat model may not have been anticipated by many of the SW
distribution systems in existence today.

SW distribution has been successfully attacked before (Stuxnet), and will
continue to be attacked, because it is a Willie Sutton target—"that's
where the money is".

"You must reboot your computer now to finish installing the latest security
updates.  NSA/GCHQ/... thanks you for your support in their war of^Hn

Please report problems with the web pages to the maintainer