The RISKS Digest
Volume 29 Issue 15

Wednesday, 9th December 2015

Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems

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

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Reboot not a solution—especially for commercial aviation
Mark Richards
Working on Cheaper Sensors, Deeper Learnings
Gabe Goldberg
How Electronic Health Records Are Harming Patients
Hopeless failure of Dutch telecom providers & Phone House to protect personal data: How I could access 12+ million records
Kees Huyser
Car calls 911 to report accident after Florida hit and run
Fired Kemp worker says he is a scapegoat re: Massive Georgia data breach
Trend Micro finds security bugs in over 6M devices
Help Net
"New payment card malware hard to detect and remove"
Jeremy Kirk
The attack that broke Tor, and how Tor plans to fix it
Kashmir Hill
France looking at banning Tor, blocking public Wi-Fi
Sebastian Anthony
Interesting hack to gain backstage access
BBC via Ken Olthoff
"I gave my students iPads—then wished I could take them back"
"Why Node.js waited for OpenSSL security update before patching"
Fahmida Y. Rashid
I thought it was "https://"
Dan Jacobson
Road to Robotic Parking Is Littered With Faulty Projects
UK National Crime Agency *via The New York Times*
Your child is a CYBER-CRIMINAL!
UK National Crime Agency via Lauren Weinstein
How not to report on the encryption 'debate'
Terrorists Mock Bids to End Use of Social Media
Re: Database Error Complicit In Turkish Airlines Landing Accident
Dan Jacobson
"Post on Facebook - and get a tax bill."
Kate Palmer via Chris Drewe
Re: Everyone is lying about the downed Russian jet?
David Damerell
Re: reply@not.possible
Dimitri Maziuk
Voter Privacy in the Age of Big Data
Ira Rubenstein
Info on RISKS (comp.risks)

Reboot not a solution—especially for commercial aviation

Mark Richards <>
Sat, 5 Dec 2015 10:40:24 -0500
Terrestrial-bound computer users blindly accept a system reboot as a problem
solution.  In my experience this remains a constant in Windows (version 7
and below... I have no experience with 8 or above, thanks), and various
Apple OS's.  (My Linux boxes just keep on running).  This mindset has crept
into the maintenance practices of the commercial airlines.  For many years I
have read frequently the exploits of in-flight failures resolved by cycling
a circuit breaker; of a "maintenance engineer" doing much the same on the
ground to fix a "glitch".

I think a read of the NTSC's report on the crash of an Indonesia Air Asia
Airbus A320-200 which killed all aboard on 28 December, 2014, is worthy for
its potential to sober flight crews, maintenance and regulators:

That CRM, basic recovery procedures, and a host of other
allegedly-well-trained responses went out the window, including the
continued lack of side stick conflict detection in Airbus designs, can, I
think, be implicated in this mess... but it all began with a hard failure
and a "reboot", taking us back to the old principle of the straw that breaks
the camel's back.

In flight, system restarts must remain the option of the crews.  The very
hint of restricting flight crew access to the hardware meets with a strong
objection.  However, we also see in this instance that the act of shutting
off a system completely was not met with an appropriate crew response.
Reversion to lower levels of flight dynamic protections simply return the
airplane to stick and rudder. One may rightly ask why this is so
problematic.  In the thinner upper levels, with tighter speed/stall margins,
are crews simply not familiar enough to manage these extremes?

Among the lessons: things that go bump in the night tend to leave bits
floating on the ocean.  Need a reboot?  There's a good reason why.  Let's
abandon the cheap and easy way out as it only puts off the inevitable

Working on Cheaper Sensors, Deeper Learnings

Gabe Goldberg <>
Fri, 4 Dec 2015 18:22:56 -0500
Automotive Intelligence - Consumer Technology Association

It is crucial for an autonomous car to be able to understand and learn
behaviors, weigh factors and make judgment calls, not simply to follow
rules, asserts Jim Buczkowski, global director of electronic systems,
research and innovation at Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, MI. "I don't think
you can program for every single individual situation but you can't have a
situation where the machine comes back and says, 'I don't know what to do,'"
he says. Further, autonomous vehicles must be engineered for "graceful
failure" when technology can't function—for example, when one of the
vehicle's sensors is blocked by dirt or inclement weather—meaning "you
still have some capability for driver assistance, but you don't have full
autonomy," he explains. "Those are things that are part of the strategy that
folks are looking at and working on."

...what could go wrong?

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

How Electronic Health Records Are Harming Patients

Lauren Weinstein <>
Fri, 4 Dec 2015 08:22:55 -0800
CIO via NNSquad

  EHRs are designed to support billing more than patient care, experts say
  ... It shouldn't come as a surprise that most doctors are unhappy with
  their electronic health record (EHR) systems, which tend to be clunky,
  hard to use and may actually get in the way of truly excellent patient
  care ... Doctors' biggest complaint about the EHR is that it slows them
  down, especially in the documentation phase. "Compared to handwriting or
  dictating, EHRs take doctors nine times longer to enter the data,"
  Anderson says. "Sure, you have more information in the EHR than in paper
  records, but it takes more time." ... Other alerts go off to prevent
  adverse drug interactions with other medications, allergies, or foods.
  Many of these are inapplicable to particular patients, and after a while,
  doctors may stop paying attention to them or turn them off. Three quarters
  of EHRs don't allow the customization of these alerts, according to

Hopeless failure of Dutch telecom providers & Phone House to protect personal data: How I could access 12+ million records

Kees Huyser <>
Tue, 8 Dec 2015 14:31:54 +0100
A (long) story of exposed passwords and lax security.

"The sales guy started renewing my Vodafone subscription and therefor needed
to log in at a dealer portal from Vodafone. He didn't remember the login
password, and, here it comes, on the screen he opened an Excel file which
contained *all* their passwords.

Is this happening for real? I had just told him minutes ago I'm an
experienced professional hacker, and we had both laughed about the
password-taped-on-monitor leak.

Curiously and intensively I looked on the screen to get a picture of the
treasure trove that was in front of me. Passwords to view and modify
customer data of KPN, Vodafone, Telfort, T-Mobile, UPC, Tele2 and other
companies were right in front of me.

Kees Huyser

Car calls 911 to report accident after Florida hit and run (ABC)

Jim Reisert AD1C <>
Tue, 8 Dec 2015 08:31:58 -0700
ABC 7, Chicago, 4 Dec 2015, Port St. Lucie, FL

A hit-and-run mystery was solved and a woman arrested in Florida after an
unusual call to 911.  It wasn't the driver who picked up the phone, but
instead it was the car itself that called for help.

Port St. Lucie police say a car safety feature helped them to track down
57-year-old Cathy Bernstein, who they say hit a truck and then [p]lowed
through a van on Prima Vista Boulevard.

Bernstein allegedly fled the scene, but her car's emergency assistance
feature didn't just make a record of the crash, it automatically contacted

Fired Kemp worker says he is a scapegoat re: Massive Georgia data breach (AJC)

Lauren Weinstein <>
Thu, 3 Dec 2015 19:36:37 -0800
AJC via NNSquad

  The employee fired after being blamed for a massive data breach at the
  Georgia Secretary of State's Office said Wednesday he has been made a
  scapegoat by the agency.  In an exclusive interview with The Atlanta
  Journal-Constitution, longtime state programmer Gary Cooley said he did
  not have the security access to add millions of Social Security numbers
  and birth dates to a public data file—something Secretary of State
  Brian Kemp accused him of doing.  And while he acknowledged a role in the
  gaffe, he also outlined a more complicated series of missteps and
  miscommunication both within the office and with PCC Technology Group, an
  outside vendor tasked with managing voter data for the state.

Trend Micro finds security bugs in over 6M devices (Help Net)

Tue, 8 Dec 2015 07:55:16 -0600
An estimated 6.1 million smart phones, routers, and smart TVs still use old
versions of software with security bugs for which fixes were available in

This is because many ap developers are using obsolete versions of Universal
Plug & Play (UPnP) SDK library (libupnp).

See chart in Help Net article, & Trend Micro blog, listing 20  popular apps
in this condition.

  [Incidentally OWASP has published top 10 security flaws found in modern apps.]

"New payment card malware hard to detect and remove"

Gene Wirchenko <>
Tue, 08 Dec 2015 15:05:35 -0800
Jeremy Kirk, InfoWorld, 7 Dec 2015
FireEye finds that Nemesis, which comes from a suspected Russian group,
is a bootkit

The attack that broke Tor, and how Tor plans to fix it (Kashmir Hill)

Henry Baker <>
Mon, 07 Dec 2015 08:41:23 -0800
Kashmir Hill, Fusion, 30 Nov 2015

Law enforcement has been complaining for years about the Web "going dark,"
saying that encryption and privacy tools are frustrating their ability to
track criminals online.  But massive FBI operations over the last year that
have busted 'hidden sites' used for the sale of drugs, hacking tools, and
child pornography suggest the digital criminal world has gotten lighter,
with law enforcement bragging that criminals can't "hide in the shadows of
the Dark Web anymore."  While mysterious about its tactics, law enforcement
indicated that it had found a way to circumvent the tool on which these
sites relied, a software called Tor.  But criminals are not the only ones
who rely on it.

  [Henry also suggests other sites as well.  PGN]

France looking at banning Tor, blocking public Wi-Fi (Sebastian Anthony)

Henry Baker <>
Mon, 07 Dec 2015 08:48:14 -0800
  FYI—'So will they shorten it to égalité, fraternité?'

Sebastian Anthony (UK)—7 Dec 2015
Leaked docs from Ministry of Interior show worryingly illiberal trend for

According to leaked documents from the Ministry of Interior the French
government is considering two new pieces of legislation: a ban on free and
shared Wi-Fi connections during a state of emergency, and measures to block
Tor being used inside France.

Interesting hack to gain backstage access (BBC)

"Peter G. Neumann" <>
Thu, 3 Dec 2015 21:26:36 PST
Ken Olthoff saw something (on the BBC web site, IIRC) about a guy who went
to a concert and got backstage by on the spur of the moment editing the
band's Wikipedia web page to include his name as a step-brother to one of
the band members. He showed it to the guard at the door to the backstage
area ("See? Here's my ID, here's what it says on the Wikipedia web page
about the band - I'm his step-brother!"). Luckily, the guy and the band got
along well when he met them in the green room, and they deemed him "a
legend" for his hack.

"I gave my students iPads—then wished I could take them back"

Lauren Weinstein <>
Sat, 5 Dec 2015 18:06:11 -0800
*WashPost* via NNSquad

  A study released in September by the Organization for Economic Cooperation
  and Development looked at school tech initiatives in more than three dozen
  countries (although not the United States) and found that while students
  who use computers moderately show modest gains over those who rarely do,
  heavy technology use has a negative impact.  "Students who use computers
  very frequently at school do a lot worse in most learning outcomes, even
  after accounting for social background and student demographics," the
  report concluded.

"Why Node.js waited for OpenSSL security update before patching" (Fahmida Y. Rashid)

Gene Wirchenko <>
Fri, 04 Dec 2015 14:21:29 -0800
Fahmida Y. Rashid, InfoWorld Tech Watch, 4 Dec 2015
Node.js Foundation fixed two critical vulnerabilities in its open
source server-side JavaScript platform and addressed the newly patched OpenSSL

selected text:

The fact that Node.js Foundation chose to delay its patches to incorporate
OpenSSL fixes highlights the reality of open source code.  There are so many
dependencies between various projects that maintainers have to track bugs in
related libraries along with vulnerabilities in their own code. Modern
software development typically consists of only 10 percent original code and
90 percent from third-party libraries, said Christopher Frohoff, a security
researcher with SourceClear. It's the developer's responsibility to make
sure the applications don't link to vulnerable libraries.

Even though Node.js 0.10.x (Maintenance) was not impacted by the
above-mentioned vulnerabilities, users should still upgrade to the new
Maintenance version because it depends on OpenSSL v.1.0.1.

Many developers don't even know all the components being used in their
applications, making it difficult to tell when a vulnerability in a project
actually impacts their code. They may be aware of the libraries they're
calling, but not what additional libraries those libraries are including,
and the nesting can be several layers deep.  And some of those buried
libraries may never show up in the program's dependency tree.

=== End of Quotes ==
  Now that I have covered that risk, let me add another one.  I recently
  installed some software whose licencing agreement stated that I was
  responsible for any violations with libraries used by the product.  If the
  programmers of a package have difficulty keeping track of the
  dependencies, imagine how much tougher end users have it.  (Please do not
  bother stating that such terms would not hold up in court, because 1) they
  just might, and 2) even being threatened with court action can get
  expensive.)  [GW]

I thought it was "https://"

Dan Jacobson <>
Sun, 06 Dec 2015 22:45:43 +0800 :

"Is this website secure?

Our website is very secure. We use 128-bit SSL encryption to secure all
traffic to and from the web server.  This is the industry standard for
ensuring a high level of security when transmitting sensitive information
over the Internet.  The website also receives its SSL certificate from
VeriSign, the industry leader in providing SSL certificates. The lock icon
at the bottom of the screen and the "https:\\" address are other indications
that the site is secure."

I thought it was "https://".   [LaTeX influence?  PGN]

Road to Robotic Parking Is Littered With Faulty Projects (National Crime Agency *via The New York Times*)

Gabe Goldberg <>
Sun, 6 Dec 2015 11:08:24 -0500
Having watched "A LEGO Brickumentary"
(last two-thirds much more interesting than beginning), maybe they should
have prototyped an automatic Lego garage parking tiny Lego cars before going

It sounds like some of these robogarages were built by the people who've
created car-crushing machines. Combining those functions would be efficient
-- push one button, park the car. Push the other, crush it into a cube.

Software and hardware mishaps, including some that have smashed or trapped
cars, have occurred at robotic garages around the country, but dozens of
them are proposed or underway.

Your child is a CYBER-CRIMINAL!

Lauren Weinstein <>
Wed, 9 Dec 2015 09:58:04 -0800
UK National Crime Agency via NNSquad

The UK has just published their warning signs that your child may be
a CYBER-CRIMINAL! Among their top concerns:

 * Are they interested in coding? Do they have independent learning material
   on computing?

 * Do they use the full data allowance on the home broadband?

The horrors! The horrors!

How not to report on the encryption 'debate'

Lauren Weinstein <>
Sun, 6 Dec 2015 14:14:07 -0800
CJR via NNSquad

  RARELY HAS A PUBLIC DEBATE been ignited so fast as the one about whether
  to ban online encryption after the tragic Paris attacks two and a half
  weeks ago.  And rarely has the coverage of such a debate been so lacking
  in facts—especially considering that encryption is a tool reporters
  increasingly need to do their jobs.

Terrorists Mock Bids to End Use of Social Media

Lauren Weinstein <>
Mon, 7 Dec 2015 20:28:51 -0800

  In some cases, Internet companies have been criticized for not taking down
  websites that belong to the Islamic State, only to have it discovered
  later that the sites were critical of it. Matthew Prince, chief executive
  of CloudFlare, a San Francisco company, said that in one case Internet
  activists criticized his company for keeping several Islamic State
  websites online when, in fact, the sites in question were
  pro-Kurdish. "It's particularly risky to take a bunch of tech companies
  that are not certified policy experts and insert them into Middle East
  politics," Mr. Prince said. Pulling all terror-related content is not
  always preferred by law enforcement. In several cases, tech executives
  say, they have been asked to keep terror-related content online so that
  law enforcement agents can monitor terrorist networks or because the
  content was created by law enforcement agents to lure terrorists into
  divulging information. The issue is thornier for companies like Facebook,
  in which the bulk of posts are meant to be private. "Do you want Facebook
  looking at over 1.5 billion people's posts?" said Zeynep Tufekci, an
  assistant professor in technology policy at the University of North
  Carolina at Chapel Hill. "And if so, then for what?"

Re: Database Error Complicit In Turkish Airlines Landing Accident (RISKS-29.14)

Dan Jacobson <>
Thu, 10 Dec 2015 05:26:49 +0800
> some very important missing digits in the degrees, minutes and seconds
> marking the latitude and longitude of the runway end.

Maybe build an airfield at 0,0 (Gulf of Guinea) just in case?

"Post on Facebook - and get a tax bill." (Kate Palmer)

Chris Drewe <>
Fri, 04 Dec 2015 18:11:56 +0000
There was an item in the *Telegraph* this week about various organisations
finding out about customers and taxpayers by postings on social media web

In summary:

> Banks, insurers and Government bodies are trawling the Internet for any
> information we give away on our social media accounts to price products
> and catch anyone who cheats the system.  The City regulator has set its
> sights on whether insurance companies in particular are using Facebook and
> Twitter to unfairly increase premiums, for example.

Although there may be advantages:

> The City watchdog said it might not be "all bad news" for customers
> because they could be placed into a lower-risk category due to their
> online presence, and pay cheaper premiums.  "A person with more than 200
> LinkedIn connections, for example, is statistically less risky"

In my case I don't use social networking/media sites, my only on-line
presence being on this esteemed forum, and who knows what anybody would make
of my ramblings...  :o) However, personally I'd be concerned about the legal
status of posts; if I set up a fake persona as a millionaire playboy and was
then investigated by the tax authorities and had to confess that I wasn't
actually a millionaire, could I be in trouble for not having money that I
was supposedly avoiding paying tax on..?

Re: Everyone is lying about the downed Russian jet?

David Damerell <>
Thu, 3 Dec 2015 16:19:18 +0000

I am not a physicist (or a pilot), but from photos I have seen it seems
clear the jet is relatively intact immediately after the missile hit. It
doesn't seem implausible that the control surfaces are working well enough
that it could indeed make a sharp turn at that point while the pilot decides
if ejection is necessary (or, indeed, jumps out of his skin while holding
the joystick).  So is everyone lying? I'm not sure we can infer it from an
analysis based on the premise that as soon as the missile hits the aircraft
becomes entirely inert.

Re: reply@not.possible (Jacobson, RISKS-29.14)

Dimitri Maziuk <>
Thu, 3 Dec 2015 13:12:04 -0600
Dan, That sounds as if you haven't seen yet. Read and weep.

Voter Privacy in the Age of Big Data (Ira Rubenstein)

"Peter G. Neumann" <>
Sun, 6 Dec 2015 12:03:23 PST
Ira Rubinstein, New York University (NYU) - Information Law Institute (April
26, 2014), Wisconsin Law Review, Forthcoming$47956

Abstract: In the past several election cycles, presidential campaigns and
other well-funded races for major political offices have become data-driven
operations.  Presidential campaign organizations and the two main parties
(and their data consultants) assemble and maintain extraordinarily detailed
political dossiers on every American voter.  These databases contain
hundreds of millions of individual records, each of which has hundreds to
thousands of data points.  Because this data is computerized, candidates
benefit from cheap and nearly unlimited storage, very fast processing, and
the ability to engage in data mining of interesting voter patterns. [...]

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