The Risks Digest

The RISKS Digest

Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems

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

Volume 31 Issue 22

Saturday 4 May 2019


World's Top Internet User Taps Fake News Busters for Elections
Wells Fargo and Post Office Horizon
Lindsay Marshall
Database Exposes Medical Info, PII Data of 137k People in U.S.
Bleeping Computer
Ladders Data Leak: Over 13M User Records Exposed Due To Cloud Misconfiguration
How angry pilots got the Navy to stop dismissing UFO sightings; UFO information not expected to go to general public, Navy says
Wash Post
This $1,650 pill will tell your doctors whether you've taken it. Is it the future of medicine?
"Telecom giants battle bill which bans Internet service throttling for firefighters in emergencies"
UK Police Have a Message for Crime Victims- Hand Over Your Private Data
NSA Reports 75% Increase in Unmasking U.S. Identities…
New Documents Reveal DHS Asserting Broad, Unconstitutional Authority to Search Travelers' Phones and Laptops
Zero-day attackers deliver a double dose of ransomware—no clicking required?
Ars Technica
Electronic Health Records and Doctor Burnout
Scientific American
Hertz, Accenture, and the blame game
Browser London
Monster screwup on dividends
Korea Herald
NSA-inspired vulnerability found in Huawei laptops
Bruce Schneier
Vodafone found hidden backdoors in Huawei equipment
Vodafone denies Huawei Italy security risk
Re: Huawei's code is a steaming pile...
Keith Thompson
Dmitri Maziuk
phil colbourn
Re: Should AI be used to catch shoplifters?
Richard Stein
Re: A video showed a parked Tesla Model S exploding in Shanghai
Roger Bell-West
Re: A 'Blockchain Bandit' Is Guessing Private Keys and Scoring Millions
Dan Jacobson
Re: An Interesting Juxtaposition
Gene Wirchenko
Re: Gregory Travis' article on the 737 MAX
Gregory Travis
Digital health ...
Rob Slade
Re: Is curing patients, a sustainable business model?
Toby Douglass
"Bernie Sanders wants you to expose your friends, Facebook-style"
Info on RISKS (comp.risks)

World's Top Internet User Taps Fake News Busters for Elections (Bloomberg)

the keyboard of geoff goodfellow <>
Sat, 4 May 2019 10:00:56 -1000
** Philippines' elections body cracks down on misleading posts*
** Media, academe team up to fact check election-related news*

In the Philippines—where 76 million Internet users stay online the
longest in the world—just a handful of people spend a few hours each day
to fight fake news about the upcoming midterm elections.

The Commission on Elections has formed a team of 10 government workers to
spot and report misleading online posts to Facebook Inc., with whom the
poll body has an agreement to quickly take down false information. Weeks
before the May 13 elections, the group has already identified hundreds of
fake news posts—mostly those claiming ballots have been tampered with,
or that the poll results are predetermined.

“What we're trying to do is to institutionalize this reporting process in a
way that Facebook will not have any other recourse but to act on it,''
Election Commission spokesman James Jimenez said in an interview. “Fake
news could affect how people see the credibility of the elections and the
mandate of the winner.''

Read more: What Happens When the Government Uses Facebook as a Weapon?

With more voters using social media now, the election body expects fake news
to spread faster this time compared to the 2016 vote, when President Rodrigo
Duterte won. Still, Jimenez said the team formed to fight fake news is not
enough to adequately combat disinformation...

Wells Fargo and Post Office Horizon

Lindsay Marshall <>
Fri, 3 May 2019 14:13:55 +0000
I was recently asked by the BBC to comment on two `computer glitches', and,
naturally, I turned to RISKS to get more information.  I found to my surprise
that neither seemed to have been mentioned.  Here are links for the cases:

Note that neither of these seem to be even remotely ´glitches'.

Database Exposes Medical Info, PII Data of 137k People in U.S. (Bleeping Computer)

Monty Solomon <>
Fri, 3 May 2019 21:25:56 -0400

Ladders Data Leak: Over 13M User Records Exposed Due To Cloud Misconfiguration (IBTimes)

Monty Solomon <>
Fri, 3 May 2019 21:27:20 -0400

How angry pilots got the Navy to stop dismissing UFO sightings; UFO information not expected to go to general public, Navy says (Wash Post)

geoff goodfellow <>
Thu, 2 May 2019 15:18:03 -1000

This $1,650 pill will tell your doctors whether you've taken it. Is it the future of medicine? (WashPost)

geoff goodfellow <>
Wed, 1 May 2019 14:26:17 -1000
When the Food and Drug Administration approved in late 2017 a schizophrenia
pill that sends a signal to a patient's doctor when ingested, it was
seen not only as a major step forward for the disease but as a new frontier
of Internet-connected medicine.

Patients who have schizophrenia often stop taking their medicine, triggering
psychotic episodes that can have severe consequences. So the pill, a
16-year-old medication combined with a tiny microchip, would help doctors
intervene before a patient went dangerously off course.

Seventeen months later, few patients use the medication, known as Abilify
MyCite. Doctors and insurance companies say it is a case in which real-world
limitations, as well as costs, outweigh the innovations that the medical
industry can produce.

In the case of schizophrenia patients, some doctors warn that Abilify
MyCite could exacerbate the very delusions that the medication is designed
to prevent.

“Patients who have a lot of paranoia might be uncomfortable with the idea
of a medicine that is transmitting signals. The patient may be afraid to
take it,'' said Richmond psychiatrist James Levenson.  “The science of this
one is kind of ahead of the data.''

The debate over Abilify MyCite underscores a dilemma American health care
will increasingly face as the medical industry and Silicon Valley try to
promote innovation. For decades, medicine has been effectively delivered
through a few simple mechanisms: a pill, a cream, a nose spray, a needle.

But in the hopes of improving outcomes further, the industry is turning to
an array of new technologies against one of the biggest, and most human,
challenges in treating disease: getting people to take their medicine in a
consistent way.

Companies are producing apps for substance abuse treatment, diabetes
management, and heart and blood pressure monitoring at a rapid clip.
Studies are underway for more digital pills to treat cancer, cardiovascular
conditions and infectious disease.

And while many of these may pass regulatory hurdles that show they're safe
— especially at a time when the Trump administration has been leaning into
medical innovation and pushing back against excessive regulation—doctors
and insurers are not convinced that the technologies will so easily make
the difference that the pharmaceutical industry is betting billions on.

“I think that these technologies have a lot of potential benefits, but it's
going to be a question of evidence—that they can demonstrate value to
patients and payers,'' said Scott Gottlieb, who stepped down this month as
FDA commissioner, a job in which he made approval of leading technology a

The first digital therapy to win FDA market clearance, Abilify MyCite's
sensor-embedded pill remains off the market because of physician and
insurance industry reservations.

Now Maryland-based Otsuka Pharmaceutical, which makes the medication, may be
able to jump-start its acceptance by offering it to mentally ill people who
qualify for low-income government health insurance. Otsuka won approval from
Virginia Medicaid authorities last month to begin coverage. The company also
is starting a pilot program in Florida and is considering another in

Otsuka considers itself a pioneer. Abilify is an older brand-name drug
marketed by the company to treat schizophrenia and other serious mental
illnesses. Abilify MyCite adds the electronic tracking component and, at
$1,650 a month, costs almost 30 times as much as a 30-day supply of generic
Abilify at a Costco pharmacy.

Otsuka developed the treatment with Proteus Digital Health, a Silicon
Valley company that markets the digital component. Proteus is pioneering
its use in other therapies including cancer patients taking chemotherapy

After the daily antipsychotic pill is swallowed, a digital sensor the size
of a grain of sand (and made of copper, magnesium and silicon, which Proteus
says are all found in food) transmits a signal when it comes into contact
with stomach acid. The signal is captured by a patch worn on the patient's
torso. The patch sends a signal to an app on the patient's smartphone. The
app uploads data to a secure website for viewing by doctors. Otsuka has won
special federal approval to provide smartphones “with highly limited
functionality'' to people who can't afford them.

The goal is to solve a vexing problem: Schizophrenia patients often stop
taking their medicine, triggering psychotic episodes that can have severe
consequences. Abilify MyCite is supposed to help doctors keep track of
which patients are staying on their medication. The app also allows
patients to enter information about their mood.

The approval led to debate among psychiatrists about the ethics of invasive
monitoring for patients whose mental competency at times may be borderline.
They raised questions about patients' autonomy, data privacy and ability to
navigate the technical challenges of the system.

But proponents say the medical need is so great that Abilify MyCite
deserves a close look.

Virginia state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), who chairs a special mental
health committee in the legislature, said he had not heard of the therapy
until contacted by The Washington Post. But he said in an interview that he
was intrigued by a technology that could help people like his mentally ill
son, Austin `Gus' Deeds, 24, who slashed Deeds on the face in 2013 before
taking his own life. Deeds said his son had stopped taking medication nearly
a year beforehand.  “There is a need for people who are caregivers to make
sure the person's taking the medicine, The other side of it is the civil
liberty issue for the person who is sick.''

Gus Deeds thought his medications “made him less of who he was. It dumbed
down his personality,'' Deeds said. But, he added, “a person does not have
the right to destroy their life, or the life of others.''

He said he did not have an opinion on whether Virginia Medicaid should add
Abilify MyCite to its list of approved prescription drugs.

Otsuka emphasizes that no patient will be asked to use Abilify MyCite
without showing a clear desire to do so. Schizophrenia patients who have
paranoid feelings about ingesting a digital pill are unlikely candidates for
the drug, the company said.

“It's unlike a pharmaceutical launch where you proactively blitz all the
states. We're not doing that,'' said John Bardi, Otsuka's vice president
for public affairs and digital business development.  “It's really about
patients who want to improve their treatment goals. If they have any
concerns, it's probably not the right solution for them.'' ...

"Telecom giants battle bill which bans Internet service throttling for firefighters in emergencies" (ZDnet)

Gene Wirchenko <>
Wed, 01 May 2019 10:15:03 -0700
      [What a PR blunder by the telecom industry!]

Charlie Osborne for Between the Lines | 26 Apr 2019
The industry faced backlash following last year's wildfires and
firefighter service throttling.

selected text:

Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecom firms are fighting a bill
which would force them to provide unfettered broadband services and prevent
them from throttling data use in emergency situations.

The proposed legislation is due to voted upon by California's Communications
and Conveyance Committee next week.

As reported by StateScoop, the bill—introduced in February—aims to
prevent a repeat of what happened in summer 2018 during the Mendocino
Complex Fire, one of the largest wildfires recorded in California's history.

As firefighters from the Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District
fought to contain the fires, they found their Internet service drastically
reduced, having been throttled in what Verizon Wireless later called a
"customer support mistake."

Such connectivity can be crucial in emergency situations to coordinate
rescue and firefighting efforts. The fire department had an "unlimited" plan
with Verizon, but Ars Technica reports this service was throttled to speeds
of either 200kbps or 600kbps once 25GB—the monthly cap—was surpassed.

Verizon said at the time that the company has an internal policy to remove
"data speed restrictions when contacted in emergency situations," but this
did not happen during the wildfires.

To lift the throttling, instead, Verizon told the department to upgrade to a
more expensive plan.

UK Police Have a Message for Crime Victims- Hand Over Your Private Data (NYTimes)

geoff goodfellow <>
Wed, 1 May 2019 14:31:01 -1000
The British police delivered a striking warning to crime victims on Monday:
If you want the case to be pursued, be prepared to turn over personal data
from your mobile phone, laptop, tablet or smart watches.

“Police have a duty to pursue all reasonable lines of enquiry,'' Assistant
Commissioner Nick Ephgrave, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for
criminal justice, said in a statement. “Those now frequently extend into
the devices of victims and witnesses as well as suspects—particularly in
cases where suspects and victims know each other.''

But the new policy raised concerns about potential invasions of privacy and
the risk of discouraging people from reporting crimes, particularly
offenses like sexual assault that are already underreported because victims
fear being treated like the guilty ones.

In many cases, the police already search digital trails, which can produce
evidence that either backs up an accusation or casts doubt on it. Privacy
advocates say that police departments often improperly download cellphone
data from people they detain, without their knowledge or consent.

Under the new approach, victims and witnesses will routinely be asked to
sign a form saying that they consent to the police extracting data from
their electronic devices, which can mean text messages, emails, contacts,
social media records, Internet browsing history and more. Otherwise, the
case might not proceed...

NSA Reports 75% Increase in Unmasking U.S. Identities... (WSJ)

the keyboard of geoff goodfellow <>
Wed, 1 May 2019 14:29:09 -1000
*The National Security Agency, responsible for electronic eavesdropping,
disclosed the identities of people or entities that are normally redacted
in intelligence reports*

The National Security Agency revealed to federal agencies the identities of
almost 17,000 U.S. residents or corporations whose information was
collected under a foreign surveillance law in 2018, registering about a 75%
increase in unmaskings over the previous year, according to an annual
transparency report released Tuesday.

The NSA, responsible for electronic eavesdropping, disclosed the identities
of people or entities that are normally redacted in intelligence reports
in response to specific requests from other government agencies to reveal
the identities, a process known as unmasking.

In 2018, NSA said it unmasked 16,721 U.S. identities caught up in
intelligence intercepts produced by a foreign intelligence law, the report
said. It unmasked 9,529 in 2017 and 9,217 in a 12-month period across 2015
and 2016.

The surge in the number of unmaskings last year was fueled in part by an
effort to determine the identities of victims of cyberattacks from foreign
intelligence agencies, according to Alex Joel, head of civil liberties and
transparency at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence which
released Tuesday's report.

Mr. Joel, in a call with reporters, said there were a number of varied
factors—including world events and evolving threats that could result in
statistical fluctuations in a given year for a certain type of surveillance.

Unmasking is a term used when the identity of a U.S. citizen, lawful
resident, or corporate entity is revealed in classified intelligence
reports. Unmasking is designed to be only used for national-security
reasons, such as helping officials assess intelligence by providing the
identity of someone two foreign spies may be discussing on a call. But the
process is governed by strict rules across the U.S. intelligence apparatus
that make it illegal to use unmaskings for political purposes or to leak
classified information...

[...] story.html

New Documents Reveal DHS Asserting Broad, Unconstitutional Authority to Search Travelers' Phones and Laptops (EFF)

geoff goodfellow <>
Wed, 1 May 2019 14:32:01 -1000
*EFF, ACLU Move for Summary Judgment to Block Warrantless Searches of
Electronic Devices at Airports, U.S. Ports of Entry*

BOSTON–The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the ACLU today asked a
federal court to rule without trial that the Department of Homeland Security
violates the First and Fourth Amendments by searching travelers' smartphones
and laptops at airports and other U.S. ports of entry without a warrant.

The request for summary judgment comes
after the groups obtained documents and deposition testimony revealing that
U.S.  Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement authorize border officials to search travelers' phones and
laptops for general law enforcement purposes, and consider requests from
other government agencies when deciding whether to conduct such warrantless

 EFF Senior Staff Attorney Adam Schwartz: “The evidence we have presented
the court shows that the scope of ICE and CBP border searches is
unconstitutionally broad.  ICE and CBP policies and practices allow
unfettered, warrantless searches of travelers' digital devices, and empower
officers to dodge the Fourth Amendment when rifling through highly personal
information contained on laptops and phones.''

The previously undisclosed government information was obtained as part of a
lawsuit, Alasaad v. McAleenan
EFF, ACLU, and ACLU of Massachusetts filed in September 2017 on behalf of
11 travelers — 10 U.S. citizens and one lawful permanent
resident whose smartphones and laptops were searched without warrants at U.S. ports of

Esha Bhandari, staff attorney with the ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and
Technology Project: “This new evidence reveals that government agencies are
using the pretext of the border to make an end run around the First and
Fourth Amendments, The border is not a lawless place, ICE and CBP are not
exempt from the Constitution, and the information on our electronic devices
is not devoid of Fourth Amendment protections. We're asking the court to
stop these unlawful searches and require the government to get a warrant.''

The government documents and testimony, portions of which were publicly
filed in court today, reveal CBP and ICE are asserting broad and
unconstitutional authority to search and seize travelers' devices.  The
evidence includes ICE and CBP policies and practices that authorize border
officers to conduct warrantless and suspicionless device searches for
purposes beyond the enforcement of immigration and customs laws. Officials
can search devices for general law enforcement purposes, such as enforcing
bankruptcy, environmental, and consumer protection laws, and for
intelligence gathering or to advance pre-existing investigations. Officers
also consider requests from other government agencies to search devices. In
addition, the agencies assert the authority to search electronic devices
when the subject of interest is someone other than the traveler—such as
when the traveler is a journalist or scholar with foreign sources who are of
interest to the U.S. government, or even when the traveler is the business
partner of someone under investigation. Both agencies further allow officers
to retain information from travelers' electronic devices and share it with
other government entities, including state, local, and foreign law
enforcement agencies.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to rule that the government must have a
warrant based on probable cause before conducting searches of electronic
devices, which contain highly detailed personal information about people's
lives. The plaintiffs, which include a limousine driver, a military veteran,
journalists, students, an artist, a NASA engineer, and a business owner, are
also requesting the court to hold that the government must have probable
cause to confiscate a traveler's device.

The district court previously rejected the government's motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

The number of electronic device searches at the border has increased
dramatically in the last few years. Last year, CBP conducted more than
33,000 border device searches, almost four times the number from just three
years prior. CBP and ICE policies allow border officers to manually search
anyone's smartphone with no suspicion at all, and to conduct a forensic
search with reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. CBP also allows
suspicionless device searches for a `national security concern'.
    [PGN-pruned for RISKS ...]


   For more information about this case:

Zero-day attackers deliver a double dose of ransomware—no clicking required? (Ars Technica)

geoff goodfellow <>
Thu, 2 May 2019 15:16:07 -1000
*High-severity hole in Oracle WebLogic under active exploit for 9 days.
Patch now.*


Attackers have been actively exploiting a critical zero-day vulnerability
in the widely used Oracle WebLogic server to install ransomware, with no
clicking or other interaction necessary on the part of end users,
researchers from Cisco Talos said on Tuesday.

The vulnerability and working exploit code first became public two weeks
ago on the Chinese National Vulnerability Database, according to
researchers from the security educational group SANS ISC, who warned that
the vulnerability was under active attack. The vulnerability is easy to
exploit and gives attackers the ability to execute code of their choice on
cloud servers. Because of their power, bandwidth, and use in high-security
cloud environments, these servers are considered high-value targets. The
disclosure prompted Oracle to release an emergency patch on Friday.

On Tuesday, researchers with Cisco Talos said CVE-2019-2725, as the
vulnerability has been indexed, has been under active exploit since at least
April 21. Starting last Thursday—a day before Oracle patched the zero-day
vulnerability, attackers started using the exploits in a campaign to install
`Sodinokibi', a new piece of ransomware. In addition to encrypting valuable
data on infected computers, the malicious program attempts to destroy shadow
copy backups to prevent targets from simply restoring the lost data. Oddly
enough, about eight hours after infection, the attackers exploited the same
vulnerability to install a different piece of ransomware known as GandCrab.

No interaction required...

Electronic Health Records and Doctor Burnout (Scientific American)

Richard Stein <>
Fri, 3 May 2019 21:23:06 +0800
  [Beware of Dr. Burnout.  He is notoriously unready.  PGN]

The essay cites numerous factors contributing to physician burnout, the the
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) identifies: "family
responsibilities, time pressure, chaotic environment, low control of pace,
and the electronic health record."

A few cherry-picked items from the essay follow. Attributed to the EHR, the
author writes:

"In 2013 the Journal of Emergency Medicine reported that, over the course of
a 10-hour shift, resident physicians in a busy emergency room spent 28
percent of their work time with patients and 43 percent on data entry,
during which they made 4,000 keystrokes."

These input keystrokes trace to patient outcome/care/administration metrics:
"159 publicly available measures of outpatient care and that physicians
spent 2.6 hours and staff 12.5 hours per week attending to them. Insurers
and government massaged clinical and billing data with over 500 insurer and
1,700 government standards."

"No matter how good your intentions, if you just keep piling onto a harried
clinician's workday more stuff to do and more data to collect, you run the
risk of actually making care worse, angering patients and alienating
providers. Time pressure, chaotic environment, and low control of pace are
all exacerbated by overzealous oversight via the EHR."

The author suggests one technological fix to lighten clinicians' manual data
entry load: "To date, no maker of an electronic health record has figured
out how to do adequate justice to [patient] stories without sacrificing
data. Automated transcription of dictated notes is a start.  Artificial
intelligence that can parse sentences and paragraphs into data should help a

Certain speech-to-text (STT) platforms advertise transcription success rates
at 99% for certain vocabularies and contexts, with medical specialties of
particular focus.

"Error rates increase as the vocabulary size grows: e.g. the 10 digits
'zero' to 'nine' can be recognized essentially perfectly, but vocabulary
sizes of 200, 5000 or 100000 may have error rates of 3%, 7% or 45%

Single word error rate and command success rate are two key metrics which
are influenced by numerous usage/capability attributes:

"Vocabulary size and confusability, speaker dependence versus independence,
isolated, discontinuous or continuous speech, task and language constraints,
read versus spontaneous speech, and adverse conditions." on early voice
recognition/transcription. There are numerous commercial blogs that offer
automated voice transcription systems. See
for example.

Risks: Patient outcome benefit by replacing manual data entry with
speech-to-text (STT) transcription. Physician burnout reduction attributed
to STT deployment v. manual data entry.

Why not hire more physicians to unburden their clinical load? $, probably.

Hertz, Accenture, and the blame game (Browser London)

Gabe Goldberg <>
Thu, 2 May 2019 23:52:26 -0400
The author says:

Either way, much of the reporting I've seen on this story has focused on the
sheer cost of the works and made many excellent points suggesting that the
business model of companies such as Accenture deliberately works to inflate
fees once the client is already heavily committed.  Beyond $7 million for
the initial discovery work doesn't
say what the agreed contract fee was, but it does detail how—once tied in
Hertz was continually billed by Accenture for fixes or new technology of
dubious value.

What stands out to me, however, is the other aspect of this situation.  How
did the amount spent by Hertz balloon up to $32 million before a stop was
called to the work?

This highlights to me the fundamental issue many businesses seem to
encounter when embarking on large projects that are not within their own
core competency “ namely their engagement with the day to day running of the
project. After all, it wasn't until Hertz executive asked about progress on
tablet views that the penny dropped that Accenture simply hadn't done many
of the things Hertz has asked of it.

I've read anecdotal evidence on this project with
Accenture, Hertz, in fact, fired much of its internal digital and
developmental talent, handing over full control to Accenture. This, in my
opinion, is its first (if not biggest) mistake.

Monster screwup on dividends (Korea Herald)

Gabe Goldberg <>
Tue, 30 Apr 2019 00:30:34 -0400
But someone screwed up. Instead of issuing a ₩1,000 per share dividend, the
person in charge of hitting that button issued a 1,000 share per share
dividend. As the Korea Herald reported, dividends offered to employees due
to the `fat-finger' slip-up came to 112.6 trillion won (about $100
million), over 40,000 times the intended value and 33 times greater than the
company's market cap.  Suffice it to say that, if the company couldn't
reverse the error, the company would cease to exist once these 200 or so
employees sold these phantom shares.

NSA-inspired vulnerability found in Huawei laptops

Bruce Schneier <>
Mon, 15 Apr 2019 06:51:56 +0000
CRYPTO-GRAM, April 15, 2019

This is an interesting story of a serious vulnerability in a Huawei driver
that Microsoft found. The vulnerability is similar in style to the NSA's
DOUBLEPULSAR that was leaked by the Shadow Brokers—believed to be the
Russian government—and it's obvious that this attack copied that

What is less clear is whether the vulnerability—which has been fixed
was put into the Huwei driver accidentally or on purpose.

Vodafone found hidden backdoors in Huawei equipment

"Peter G. Neumann" <neumann@CSL.SRI.COM>
Tue, 30 Apr 2019 15:24:55 -0700
For more than a decade, executives, intelligence agencies and conspiracy
theorists have been warning about the dangers of equipment from China's
Huawei Technologies Co.

And for almost as long, Huawei has denied that its telecommunications
products pose any kind of security threat.

The West has finally found its smoking gun. Yet it may not be enough
to sway those on either side of the debate.

As far back as 2009, Vodafone Group Plc—one of the world's most powerful
and far-reaching telecom companies—found hidden backdoors that could have
given Huawei access to its fixed-line network in Italy, Bloomberg News's
Daniele Lepido reported Tuesday, citing security briefing documents from the
London-based company.

Vodafone denies Huawei Italy security risk (BBC)

geoff goodfellow <>
Tue, 30 Apr 2019 11:53:53 -1000
Vodafone has denied a report saying issues found in equipment supplied to it
by Huawei in Italy in 2011 and 2012 could have allowed unauthorised access
to its fixed-line network there.

A Bloomberg report said that Vodafone spotted security flaws in software
that could have given Huawei unauthorised access to Italian homes and

The US refuses to use Huawei equipment for security reasons.

However, reports suggest the UK may let the firm help build its 5G network.

This is despite the US wanting the UK and its other allies in the "Five
Eyes" intelligence grouping—Canada, Australia and New Zealand—to
exclude the company.

Australia and New Zealand have already blocked telecoms companies from using
Huawei equipment in 5G networks, while Canada is reviewing its relationship
with the Chinese telecoms firm.

Re: Huawei's code is a steaming pile... (Shapir, RISKS-31.21)

Keith Thompson <>
Mon, 29 Apr 2019 18:53:09 -0700
Amos Shapir <> writes:
> C does not force anyone to use strcpy() etc., it had always provided also
> similar length-limiting functions strncpy() etc.

strncpy() is not a "safer" version of strcpy(), as I've discussed here:

Even a length-limiting string copy function would not necessarily be
"safe".  Consider a copying operation that silently truncates

    "rm -rf /home/username/tmpdir"
    "rm -rf /home/user/name"

Re: Huawei's code is a steaming pile ... (Ward, RISKS-31.21)

Dimitri Maziuk <>
Tue, 30 Apr 2019 13:51:04 -0500
First, nobody's *forcing* anyone to juggle chainsaws.

Second, short answer is no, longer one is "define 'better'". Programming
language is a tool just like a hammer: you can make one that won't hurt your
thumb when you hit it. There will be a trade-off, though. Those trying to
drive in nails might even call that trade-off "undesirable".

(There is in fact a whole "c-minus" argument along the lines that modern
C has already gone too far in the "thumb safety" direction.)

Third, and on another tangent, the idea that computer programs are not aware
of the larger context seems to a recurring motif in RISKS lately.

The problem with "unsafe foo()-like functions" is whether the tool that
classified it "unsafe" based on the context in which the function is
invoked; if not, it may well be a false positive. Without knowing the
specificity and sensitivity of the "safety" test, assertion that "22% of
foo() invocations are unsafe" isn't really worth much, and if lack of
context awareness is a systemic problem, it likely isn't.

Re: Huawei's code is a steaming pile... (RISKS 31.16)

phil colbourn <>
Fri, 3 May 2019 14:01:17 +1000
If Cisco is correct (see
then Huawei's code may still be Cisco's code (or based on it).

Comparing Cisco STRCMP and Huawei's [CODE]: “It must be concluded that
Huawei misappropriated this code.''

“Because of the many functional choices available to the Huawei developers
(including three of their own routines), the fact that they made the same
functional choice as Cisco would suggest access to the Cisco code even if
the routines had implementation differences.  The exactness of the comments
and spacing not only indicate that Huawei has access to the Cisco code but
that the Cisco code was electronically copied and inserted into [Huawei's]

“The nearly identical STRCMP routines are beyond coincidence.  The Huawei
[CODE] routine was copied from the strcmp routine in Cisco strcmp.c file.''

Therefore, HCSEC [Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre] should consider
reviewing code of other manufacturer's equipment used in UK critical
national infrastructure.

If Cisco is correct, then Huawei's code may still be Cisco.

Re: Should AI be used to catch shoplifters? (, R 31 20))

Richard Stein <>
Tue, 30 Apr 2019 18:54:34 +0800
Busted! That is, I have been busted for expressing highly cynical and
condescending, even snarky, remarks about AI deployment as a crime deterrent

A software stack that can accurately and consistently detect larceny or
discriminate larcenous intent from a random customer pool, and then alert
authorities, would be astonishing.

The article mentions:

1) The "VaakEye" algorithm was trained against 100K hours of
   store-captured surveillance video;
2) A 77% reduction in shoplifting across 50 stores in Japan;
3) Global retail shoplifting losses accrued to $34 billion in 2017.

I will be convinced of VaakEye's product efficacy when/if statistics are
published that confirm accuracy and consistency of larcenous detection, and
show a sufficient reliability guarantee of false positive/negative findings.
Sufficient means 3+ nines, preferably 4+ nines, of accurate and consistent
theft detection.

Until then, a big warning sign should be posted at the shop entrance that
states something like:

"These premises deploy automated shoplifting surveillance technology to
deter stock theft. The surveillance captures and analyzes your shopping
habits, including hand/arm motion between the stock items and your clothes
and/or shopping cart/toke bag. Your facial profile is automatically
constructed and mapped to improve future theft detection capabilities. We
hope your shopping experience is pleasant. Come back again soon!"

Re: A video showed a parked Tesla Model S exploding in Shanghai (Stein, RISKS-31.21)

Roger Bell-West <>
Tue, 30 Apr 2019 09:14:17 +0100
But the energy density of petrol (gasoline) is over ten times as much
(46.7MJ/kg), which is what makes it such a good fuel in the first place;
and yet, somehow, parked conventional cars rarely catch fire.

Re: A 'Blockchain Bandit' Is Guessing Private Keys and Scoring Millions (WiReD via Meacham)

Dan Jacobson <>
Tue, 30 Apr 2019 19:27:25 +0800
>>>>> "BM"—Bill Meacham <> writes:
BM> ... the odds of guessing a randomly generated Ethereum private key is 1 in
BM> 115 quattuorvigintillion. (Or, as a fraction: 1/2256.) That denominator is
BM> very roughly around the number of atoms in the universe. ... But as he

I just see "1/2256" above. One in two thousand.

Re: An Interesting Juxtaposition (Wol, RISKS-31.21)

Gene Wirchenko <>
Tue, 30 Apr 2019 18:57:24 -0700
"I think Gene should be blaming the expensive GPS's, not the cheap ones!
Many of my colleagues use Google Maps or Waze because they're so much

  How about I blame them all?

  Google Maps has some, ah, interesting quirks.

Re: Gregory Travis' article on the 737 MAX

Gregory Travis <>
Sat, 4 May 2019 00:23:39 -0400
First, I am delighted to once again be a part of the RISKS community.  Some
may remember postings I made in the (very) early 1990s here, including a
(humorous) sendup of the A320.

Second, the point of my article was to convey to the lay public:

1. Unlike previous 737 models, Boeing's 737 MAX 8 airframe could (and does)
   not meet the pitch stability and control force requirements of FAR part 25.
2. Boeing realized this fairly early in the development process with wind
   tunnel and computer simulations.
3. Boeing determined that a fairly simple bit of software would make the
   problem "go away."  Namely programming that took AOA input from a single
   (AOA) sensor and used that input to determine whether or not to drive the
   horizontal stabilizer trim.
4. Later, during actual flight tests, it was determined that the pitch
   instability and control force problems of the airframe were far more
   serious than the early wind tunnel and simulations indicated (this is
   somewhat common in the industry).
5.  Conversely, the software was changed to MUCH more aggressively trim the
   horizontal stabilizer.  In fact, it could drive the stabilizer to its
   mechanical stops in roughly 20-30 seconds.


1. There is an inherent and deep engineering problem in any system that
   relies on a single sensor as input without any data validation,
   particular a system that can use that data to drive very large flight
   surfaces to their mechanical stops in seconds (I am sure some pedant will
   complain that the electric motor running the jackscrew has a different
   set of stops than the mechanical trim wheel.  I am tired of responding to
   such irrelevant nonsense).
2. What is often not mentioned is that Boeing explicitly changed the trim
  disconnect function for this system.  It will not stop if the pilot exerts
  countering control force.  This is a nonintuitive behavior for any pilot who
  are used to autopilots and electric trim automatic disconnects if the pilots
  exert a control force contrary to the direction of trim.
3. Aerodynamic loads on the horizontal stabilizer can exceed a human's
  ability to move the stabilizer trim manually.  Boeing has known this for
  nearly thirty years, yet they suggested a fix to the problem was to
  disconnect the electric trim (use the cutoff switches) and manually trim.
  As the Ethiopian Air pilots found out, that is impossible.  Boeing knew


1. Boeing intentionally hid the existence of this system (so that pilot
  training would not be required) not only from the line pilots flying
  revenue, but from its own test pilots.
2. For example, the Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL) for the 737 MAX
  makes no mention of the system.  Although there are cockpit failure
  indications for the yaw damper, the speed trim system, the mach trim
  system, etc. there is no failure indication for MCAS.
3. Angle of attack sensor failure is common, contrary to assertions
  otherwise.  The service difficulty database has about 200 entries and that
  typically represents 5% of the real-world situation.,  Frozen water
  (heater failure) in the system is a very common failure cause.
4. The 737 MAX MMEL allows the 737 MAX to take off with all angle of attack
  sensor heaters inoperative.even though Boeing knew that a single angle of
  attack sensor failure could render the aircraft uncontrollable with this
5. In contrast, the MMEL for the A320 requires that at least two of the
  three angle of attack sensor heaters be operational before flight.


1. All of this can be traced back to a change in Boeing's corporate culture
  that began with the McDonnell Douglas takeover of Boeing in 1997 (where they
  used Boeing's own money).
2. Because the cultural change was most manifested in the tying of executive
  compensation to stock price, not revenue or other metrics.  Stock prices
  are irrational, as John Maynard Keynes so famously noted and easily
  manipulated by statements from management that sound good to Wall Street
  but are devastating to the company's ability to create new products, build
  quality products, or even stay in business (as McDonnell Douglas
3. 1&2, above, were enabled by regulatory changes, particularly the 2005
  change, that delegated virtually *all* certification from the FAA to Boeing

Finally, I am delighted that some of the most substantive criticism of my
article has been the inaccuracy of equating Lycoming pistons to dinner
plates.  Some people just don't get it, and never will.

Digital health ...

Rob Slade <>
Tue, 30 Apr 2019 15:56:10 -0700
So Gloria found, and read to me, an article on "digital nutrition."  The
term seems to be promoted by one Jocelyn Brewer, and is probably trademarked
and copyrighted all to heck, even though is it just a variation on digital
detox/digital vacation, with some "vary your online activity diet" thrown in
for good measure.

Martin Ward wrote:
> For those who still think that competition improves heathcare, consider the
> drug naloxone hydrochloride. This is sold by five big pharmaceutical
> companies and demand is soaring, but far from driving the price down, the
> cost has soared:

Martin Ward wrote:
> For those who still think that competition improves heathcare, consider the
> drug naloxone hydrochloride. This is sold by five big pharmaceutical
> companies and demand is soaring, but far from driving the price down, the
> cost has soared:

I tend to think more in terms of a healthy attitude to the net.  The phrase
"benign neglect" somehow seems appropriate.

Every time I come across one of these pieces, it seems everyone is using the
Internet differently than I am.  Everyone else is madly glued to their
smartphones and the apps on them.  Mostly I use the computer, usually with a
Web browser.  At my desk.  Everyone else gets alerted by their apps.  I
allow most of my apps to notify me, but the volume is turned way down, and
often, when I'm out, I miss the notifications.  Sorry for those who are
desperately trying to reach me on Whatsapp, but I just haven't yet found
that any of those missed notifications could have changed my life.

I really wonder why I use the Internet so differently than most other
people.  I use the same social media applications.  I just use them
differently.  I really like Twitter.  To a certain extent I use it to follow
some of my friends.  But mostly I follow news sources.  CBC, BBC, NPR, The
Economist, Sydney Morning Herald, and others.  And, of course, a number of
sources of information security news.  I use other news sources, of course,
but Twitter gives me a bit more breadth.  (Knowing that Twitter, like most
social media, supports a kind of "bubble effect" of reinforcing views you
already agree with, I deliberately follow some people I don't like, just to
mess with the algorithm.)

It's possible that it's because I've been on the Internet a lot longer than
most people.  I was using the Internet in 1983.  At that time it wasn't even
called the Internet, yet, and the population, as near as I can estimate, was
about a thousand people.  Social media was mostly mailing lists (mail was
used for almost everything, including file transfers), with some people
having various levels of access to Usenet.  I had, perforce, to learn an
awful lot about the underlying technologies, since it was extremely unlikely
that I was going to find anyone to give me any help if I ran into any
problems.  This kind of background is not good if you want to continue to
view each new social media app as a magical new toy.  You tend to see each
one as yet another database, with yet another new interface.

Which tends to give you a different perspective.  Instead of a new bandwagon
to jump on, or group to join, you tend to think of new systems in terms of
"what new information can I get here that I can't get elsewhere?"  If I can
get this info elsewhere, is it sufficiently worthwhile, in terms of
accuracy, volume, or query granularity, to learn this new interface?  (The
answer, very often, is "no.")

I love the Internet.  I really do.  I have, ever since I first discovered
it.  I hate it, almost to the point of feeling physical pain, whenever there
is some new attack on it or through it.  But I've got more than three and a
half decades of experience on it.  I know how important it is, and isn't.  I
know which parts are important, and which are temporary fads.  (I get it
wrong, sometimes.  I admit it.  One of my biggest mistakes was in thinking
the World Wide Web was only another interface, like gopher.  Why did we need
it, when we had archie?)  (Anybody remember gopher?  Or archie?  No, I
didn't think so.)

The Internet is great.  It's informative, and entertaining.  But it's not

And now I'm going to stop wasting time posting this, and go for a walk.  In
the sunshine.

Re: Is curing patients, a sustainable business model? (Ward, R-31.21)

Toby Douglass <>
Tue, 30 Apr 2019 22:40:14 +0100
An increase in demand, all other things being equal, in a free market, leads
to an increase in price.  I may be wrong, and I certainly am not looking to
put words in your mouth so you must correct me if I am mistaken, but I think
perhaps what you may have in mind is that you expect, when demand increases,
for supply to increase, and so for prices not to soar.

> from $0.92 a dose ten years ago up to $15.00 a dose. Why is
> this?  Google "Opioid Crisis" for the answer.

Given an increase in demand, in a free market, supply should increase.
Although I may be wrong, when this does not happen, I always or almost
always find it is due to a lack of competition, and that lack usually comes
from State regulation.  For example, why are there only a few big
pharmaceutical companies?  I may be wrong, but I think the answer is that
regulation has led to enormous barriers to enter that market.  New entry is
basically impossible.

> Drug companies in the US spend tens of billions a year advertising drugs:
> how does this help anyone's health?  The USA has some of the highest levels
> of anxiety and depression in the world:

I suspect those living in repressive or violent countries, such as Venezuela
or Ethiopia, or those countries where mass poverty leads hundreds of
millions to live on one or two dollars a day, have a great deal more on
their plates.

It may be you have in mind *of comparable countries*, so first world Western
countries.  In this case, perhaps we are comparing on a scale of 1 to 100 a
range which goes from say 10 to 15, with the USA at 15 and Venezuela at say
80.  I don't know, though, since I've never seen a study investigating this
matter and so I've no idea how the research would be done, and so if it is

Finally, I would point out that happiness and unhappiness are not absolutes.
People can be happy for the wrong reasons, and it would be better if they
were unhappy, but living with their eyes open.  I see some cultures where
the people are when growing up and when educated inculcated with a certain
social uniformity, with certain sets of beliefs, and so they fit better into
the societies in which they live (Japan comes to mind—the recent case
where a girl with brown hair was instructed to dye her hair black so she
would fit in with the rest of the class).  This is really properly
tantamount to mild brainwashing, since the infants and children on the
receiving end have no choice in the matter, and so that it makes them
happier as adults does not mean it is actually a good thing.

I am of the view the USA, of all countries I know, has the most

> not surprising when you consider that the purpose of advertising is to
> make people more anxious and unhappy.

I may be wrong, but I find it hard to imagine advertising is so effective
that it is a primary factor in shaping the minds and characters of hundreds
of millions of people.  I suspect there are larger factors at work in
people's lives, such as their health, income, job security and personal
relationships with their family and partners.

> Naturally, the drug companies are ready with a handful of pills to relieve
> the anxiety: followed by another handful to alleviate the side-effects
> from the first lot!  A happy, contented population would be terrible for
> the drug companies bottom line: so must be averted at all costs.

I think you could say the same about any advertising.  Car companies wish
for a population of people wholly unsatisfied with their current vehicle; a
population happy with their current models would be a disaster!  Cue demonic
advertising to induce mass auto dissatisfaction.

MacDonald's, similarly, dreads a world where people are satisfied with
burgers from Burger King!  cue massive advertising budgets to convince
people they desperately need a Big Mac.

I rather think most people have become very good at ignoring most

A friend of mine once opined that advertising was a zero-sum game.  If no
one advertised, it would be the same as if everyone was doing it—so if we
could all trust each other never to advertise, we could use all that money
for something else!  the problem of course is that if even one company
begins to advertise, then all must, or their sales go through the floor.
Not sure if I agree or not, but it's interesting.

> Attempts to introduce competition into the NHS have been a disaster and,
> rightly, resisted by the public.

Attempts to introduce competition into the Soviet economy were a disaster.
However, attempts to run an economy (the Soviet economy again) without
competition were also a disaster.  It's entirely possible to fall between
two stools.  If you have for example a centralized, command economy, and you
attempt to introduce competition, it's a disaster.  The two are not
compatible—it's one or the other.  However, if you try to run a large
system or economy as a centralized, command economy, you find out it's
staggeringly inefficient and just doesn't work, so actually it's not one or
the other, it's competition only, because centralized control of any large
system doesn't work as there are fundamental problems of incentives and
information, to which no one has ever found a solution—the Soviets
certainty didn't, and the UK hasn't in the NHS either.  You pump more and
more money into these systems, for less and less output.  (There are other
problems too, such as a profound discouragement to technical innovation; you
need to meet your targets, and the disruption from introducing new
technology only hinders this.)

> How do you choose the people who are passionate about caring for others?
> Fortunately, they are largely self-selecting: you set up an organisation
> whose explicit purpose and top priority is caring for others.  Pay enough
> for a comfortable living, but not so much that you attract those who are
> "just in it for the money".

Whomever pays the money controls the organization, and it will, in the end,
be shaped to meet their needs.  If the State is paying the money, it will be
held responsible for the performance of the organization, and it will
consequently want to control that organization; there is no way, ever, under
any circumstances whatsoever, that the State will take a hands-off approach
and simply hand the money over.  No State has ever done this, and no State
ever will.

When the State intervenes, it is unavoidable that control as it is from
on-high fails utterly, purely to the law of unintended consequences, where a
simple system attempts to control a complex system, even without considering
the incredible blunders and appalling choices political control always
inflicts, in pursuit of populism, votes, pork-barrel politics or simply
hair-brained schemes.

Finally, I must mention supply and demand and the pricing of wages for
medical staff.  The economy is large and complex.  There are a multitude of
different professions.  All of these will then be priced by the market,
except for medical care.  What happens to the quantity and quality of the
supply of medical staff if the "comfortable-living" wages chosen by the
State are lower, or much lower, or if they are higher, or much higher, than
comparable wages in other professions for the same investment of training
and skill?  you end up either with too many, perhaps far too many, or too
few, perhaps far too few, people wanting to be doctors.

Talking about people only coming into the profession because they care, I
mean, how does this respond to and meet the actual level of demand for
medical care?  what if we actually *do* need to give people money to be
doctors, so there are *enough* doctors?  right now we live in a world with a
massive shortage of doctors, because the supply of doctors is so tightly
constrained by State regulation—we find it hard to imagine a world where
there could be a shortage of people actually *wanting* to become a doctor.
However, if the pay for the profession is, compared to other choices, far
too low, it would be so.  You cannot say "people would come because they
care" and then assume there would be enough people.  There is no mechanism
which links these two statements.

This then leads to the problem of getting the price right—of manually
emulating the mechanism which the free market provides.  The State is
incapable of this, absolutely and totally, because there is too much
information involved, and because of political meddling.  This can be seen
already in the UK, with the NHS.  Nurses are paid the same, everywhere,
except for an increment if they live in London.  Those nurses living in the
North do well, where living costs are lower.  Those living in the South, and
in London even with the increment, do badly and in the South, and in London,
there is a chronic shortage of nursing staff and as such, heavy use of
temporary staff.  Teams which work together and know each other are more
efficient, and morality rates in hospitals in the South and in London which
heavily use temporary staff are consequently significantly higher—people
are *dying* because of this—and this has never been fixed, and will never
be fixed, because span-of-control problems dictate simple solutions.

The State cannot handle large number of different options, because it is
impossible to process the data involved (let alone whether anyone actually
*cares* enough to solve this problem, or get past bureaucratic inertia).
This is why the Soviets had collective farms; the system couldn't handle a
few million farms of the correct size, but it could handle 50,000 or so
enormous farms (which were fabulously inefficient—far too big and this in
fact, along with general economic stagnation, ultimately led to the collapse
of the Soviet Union).

"Bernie Sanders wants you to expose your friends, Facebook-style"

Gene Wirchenko <>
Tue, 30 Apr 2019 21:44:01 -0700
Chris Matyszczyk for Technically Incorrect | 30 Apr 2019

The Democratic candidate launches an app that asks users to snitch on the
political beliefs of family, friends, and even strangers.

  [“even strangers'' is `even stranger'!  “odd strangers'' would
  certainly be uneven.  PGN]

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