The RISKS Digest
Volume 29 Issue 58

Tuesday, 21st June 2016

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…


A Hacking of More Than $50 Million Dashes Hopes in the World of Virtual Currency
Technician broke the Internet by thinking Hong Kong was in the USA
Dagens Nyheter via Debora Weber-Wulff
Attacking NYC by computer
NY Magazine via Jeremy Epstein
One Million IP Addresses Used In Brute-Force Attack On A Bank
Critical MSDOS program can't get license renewed
Henry Baker
Russian bill requires encryption backdoors in all messenger apps
Daily Dot
Citing Attack, GoToMyPC Resets All Passwords
Krebs on Security
Man Inadvertently Broadcasts His Own Killing on Facebook Live
Autonomous harmful robot
Daily Mail via Mark Thorson
Re: Tesla Model X autonomously crashes into building, owner claims
Ian Macky
Re: The Air Force Had a Totally Accidental Computer Disaster
Steve Lamont
Info on RISKS (comp.risks)

A Hacking of More Than $50 Million Dashes Hopes in the World of Virtual Currency

Monty Solomon <>
Sun, 19 Jun 2016 11:10:50 -0400

The project, known as the Decentralized Autonomous Organization, is raising
broader questions about the security and viability of virtual currencies
like Ether and Bitcoin.

  [Not very DAO-ist.  Lao Tze would be shocked!  Actually, the hack
  reportedly resulted from a TOCTTOU problem—nonatomic transactions
  exploiting a time-of-check-to-time-of-use flaw.  This might be considered
  as a converse of Tom Lehrer's Don't Write Naughty Words on Walls If You
  Can't Spell: Don't Write Critical Code If You Can't Think.  The risks of
  TOCTTOUs are as old as the hills.  PGN]

Technician broke the Internet by thinking Hong Kong was in the USA

Debora Weber-Wulff <>
Tue, 21 Jun 2016 21:30:19 +0200
The Swedish Daily "Dagens Nyheter" reports on June 21 on the reason that
many sites (Reddit, Whatsapp, Slack, and others) were hard to reach the day
before in Europe.

It seems that the Swedish operator Telia Carrier is one of the few Tier 1
companies that are responsible for directing European Internet traffic.
While a technician was reconfiguring part of the network, they mixed up a
few things and sent all traffic to the USA via Hong Kong.

The resulting slowdown led people to believe that the transatlantic cable
had been damaged.

Telia would not comment on the issue.

The Register has a short report from June 20:

Prof. Dr. Debora Weber-Wulff, HTW Berlin, 10313 Berlin  +49-30-5019-2320

Attacking NYC by computer

Jeremy Epstein <>
Mon, 20 Jun 2016 08:59:46 -0400
NY Magazine has a long description of a scenario where basically everything
in NYC is (successfully) attacked - vehicles, hospitals, power systems,
thermostats, etc.  There's nothing in here that we haven't seen before --
and they footnote each of the claims, but it's a well-written if somewhat
breathless description of how attackers could put all the bad things
together into a fairly catastrophic attack.  (Yeah, some of the elements are
misleading - for example, the reference to hacked elections isn't actually
about hacking voting, but rather spying on elections.  But the overall
pictures is IMHO fairly accurate.)

One Million IP Addresses Used In Brute-Force Attack On A Bank (Slashdot)

Lauren Weinstein <>
Sun, 19 Jun 2016 16:02:33 -0700
Slashdot via NNSquad

  Cisco says in just one week in February they detected 1,127,818 different
  IP addresses being used to launch 744,361,093 login attempts on
  220,758,340 different email addresses—and that 93% of those attacks
  were directed at two financial institutions in a massive Account Takeover
  (ATO) campaign.

Critical MSDOS program can't get license renewed

Henry Baker <>
Sun, 19 Jun 2016 15:25:37 -0700
What should happen to software that the vendor wants to stop supporting?

So long as the vendor is left blameless and without any liability, why not
allow continued use through abandonment to the public domain?

I'm sure that all of us have tons of stories of software that works just
fine w/o requiring any support for years and years.

Why "upgrade" to SW that costs 10-50X more, which requires a huge additional
investment in new HW, and—most importantly—requires the *retraining*
of lots of people ?

Nowadays, it is possible to run such old MSDOS software through HW or SW
emulation, and this enables accessing the software through modern I/O
devices.  Such software can often access memories 1000X bigger than
available when the MSDOS SW was in its prime, thereby enabling many
additional years of useful life.

There's an additional hope that legislation will eventually allow software
copyrights on such old SW *source code* to also join the public domain, so
that computer museums, at least, can demonstrate these old systems.

Antique automobiles are typically grandfathered out of modern requirements
so they can still be driven on public roads.  This particular MSDOS SW
doesn't even drive on the public Internet—at least so far as I can tell
from this article.'-safety/7522934

Software legal battle could put South Australian patients' safety at risk,
Government outlines in court documents

Angelique Donnellan, ABC Net (AU), 18 Jun 2016

The South Australian Government has warned that patient safety will be at
risk if it is forced to stop using a crucial software system in country
hospitals.  The ABC obtained court documents which reveal the extent of a
bitter legal stoush between the Government and the maker of the patient
records system.  The system called, CHIRON, is used at 64 country health
sites in South Australia, including at the Mount Barker Hospital.

In technology terms, the program is ancient and based on the MS-DOS
platform. It was installed in SA hospitals in the early 90s.  In the Federal
Court CHIRON's maker Working Systems demanded the State Government stop
using it because the licence expired in March last year.  The Government
said complying would jeopardise patient safety and there would be a material
risk to SA Health's ability to provide an effective health service.

According to court documents the Government argued without CHIRON hospital
staff would not have access to critical information such as patient
allergies to medication and there was potential for new patient data being
lost or incorrectly recorded.

Working Systems said any risk to patient safety was the Government's fault
because it had failed to plan and refused to sign up to updated software in
2003.  The company said a licence extension for CHIRON was not possible
because it was too old and no longer supported.

Court documents show in 2014 the Government assured Working Systems it was
seeking a replacement.  That system known as EPAS, which has been dogged by
delays, controversy and cost blowouts. It is currently only operating at
three sites, including Port Augusta.

The CHIRON matter is listed for trial in December.

Russian bill requires encryption backdoors in all messenger apps (Daily Dot)

Lauren Weinstein <>
Mon, 20 Jun 2016 18:45:35 -0700
Daily Dot via NNSquad

  Backdoors into encrypted communications may soon be mandatory in Russia.
  A new bill in the Russian Duma, the country's lower legislative house,
  proposes to make cryptographic backdoors mandatory in all messaging apps
  in the country so the Federal Security Service—the successor to the KGB
 —can obtain special access to all communications within the country.

Citing Attack, GoToMyPC Resets All Passwords (Krebs on Security)

Lauren Weinstein <>
Mon, 20 Jun 2016 16:38:08 -0700
Krebs via NNSquad

  GoToMyPC, a service that helps people access and control their computers
  remotely over the Internet, is forcing all users to change their
  passwords, citing a spike in attacks that target people who re-use
  passwords across multiple sites.

Man Inadvertently Broadcasts His Own Killing on Facebook Live (NYTimes)

Monty Solomon <>
Sun, 19 Jun 2016 11:11:06 -0400
A 28-year-old man in Chicago who accidentally caught his own fatal shooting
on video is the latest example of the *no gatekeeper* world of live

Autonomous harmful robot

Mark Thorson <>
Mon, 20 Jun 2016 08:52:18 -0700
The first of a new class of robots.  It's all downhill from here.

Re: Tesla Model X autonomously crashes into building, owner claims

Ian Macky <>
Sun, 19 Jun 2016 06:22:46 -0700 (PDT)
Teslas are instrumented.  When there's a crash like this one, it's probably
a good idea to wait until the log contents are revealed before repeating the
driver's claims; the logs often show the opposite.

Unintended acceleration is almost always caused by the driver pushing the
wrong pedal, then, thinking they are pushing the brake, when the car takes
off, they push yet harder.  Happens all too frequently.  Cognitive error.

Anyway, in this case, here's Tesla's response:

  "We analyzed the vehicle logs which confirm that this Model X was
  operating correctly under manual control and was never in Autopilot or
  cruise control at the time of the incident or in the minutes before.  Data
  shows that the vehicle was traveling at 6 mph when the accelerator pedal
  was abruptly increased to 100%. Consistent with the driver's actions, the
  vehicle applied torque and accelerated as instructed. Safety is the top
  priority at Tesla and we engineer and build our cars with this foremost in
  mind. We are pleased that the driver is ok and ask our customers to
  exercise safe behavior when using our vehicles."

Re: The Air Force Had a Totally Accidental Computer Disaster

Steve Lamont
Sun, 19 Jun 2016 11:15:05 -0700

  Air Force recovers crashed database, *The Hill*, 15 Jun 2016

  The Air Force has recovered a database that holds thousands of
  inspector general records after it crashed, the service said Wednesday

  "After aggressively leveraging all vendor and department capabilities, the
  Air Force made a full recovery of the Automated Case Tracking System
  database, the Air Force inspector general system of record for all records
  related to IG complaints, investigations and appeals," the Air Force said
  in a statement.

  Last week, the Air Force announced that a database known as the Automated
  Case Tracking System (ACTS) had crashed and that records for more than
  100,000 Air Force inspector general cases dating back to 2004 were lost.

    [Martyn Thomas noted that this should act as a warning to those who
    trust irreplaceable data to any cloud service provider. But I'd wager it
    won't be heeded.  PGN]

    [PGN via LW: See also BoingBoing:]

Please report problems with the web pages to the maintainer