"Network Security Lacking at Major Stock Exchanges -- GAO cites susceptibility to outages, tampering" ``The General Accounting Office (GAO) found a total of 68 computer and network security and control problems at five of the nation's six major exchanges during reviews it conducted this past year for the Securities and Exchange Commissions. The lack of adequate controls at the five stock markets could impair their ability to maintain continuous service, protect critical computer equipment and operations, and process correct information.'' The worst three in terms of numbers of problems were the Midwest (24), Pacific (18), and Philadelphia (18) exchanges, which were all faulted for their inadequate risk analysis. The biggest problems were in the areas of contingency planning and disaster recovery. The NY and American stock exchanges came off relatively well. [Source: article by Wayne Erickson, Network World, 16Sep91, pp.23-24.]
A previous poster discussed how a firm would send out false traffic reports over 2-way radios to confuse a rival firm. It is indeed the case that planting of false data to detect copying or misuse of information has a long, long history. In fact, many companies explicitly tell their customers that there is false data to discourage misuse, while others don't advertise the fact but don't make a secret of it either. For example, in the mailing list industry, it is common practice for some names/addresses to be "dummies" that are people in the pay of the mailing list firm. These addresses are used to try detect if the terms of list use (e.g. one-use only) are being violated. If two many mailings show up at one of those addresses from the company, the list firm knows there's a problem. Of course, this also means that the company sending out the mailings is wasting some money sending materials to those "planted" addresses. Another field where this technique is used involves maps. Street maps may show little side streets that don't really exist. If a competing map shows up with the street... blammo! Larger scale maps may show tiny towns that don't really exist. It goes on and on--all manner of databases may have planted entries that are used for detection purposes. Of course, false entries aren't the only method to do such detections--other methods involve use of unusual spellings, "typos" that are really intentional, unique word orderings, etc. [Even the RISKS Forum? PGN]
>... presumably these are logarithms that have truncated ... They are not truncated logarithms. Both schemes rely on arithmetic in a finite field (modulo n arithmetic where n is the product of two large primes) being RSA's operating field. If a**b .eq. c (all modulo n), then finding a given b and c is called the discrete logarithm problem. For RSA, it turns out that you can do it in (at least) two ways: one is brute force, and for sufficiently large numbers is infeasible, and the other is factoring n. However, the problem being solved is still the discrete logarithm problem for both of them. > ... It is possible that my recollection is dated, but to my knowledge the RSA system is still the only known "reversible" system, where the private and public keys can be used for both privacy and authentication. Assuming that the other system doesn't allow this reversible use, the standard is significantly less useful than it could be. >... These advances have forced made it necessary to >increase the length of encryption keys for the RSA method. However, each extra ten digits in the key at least doubles the brute-force difficulty. This behaviour seems able to keep ahead of hardware advances fairly easily. (I have no relation to RSA Inc, other than admiration for the elegance and utility of the system.) Greg Rose - Chance Airlines email@example.com (914) 945 1179
What NIST has proposed is not an encryption standard, but a digital signature standard. Digital signatures provide authentication but not secrecy. That, to my mind, is the major reason this scheme was proposed instead of RSA. Dating back at least to the adoption of the Data Encryption Standard, it's been obvious that (at least some part of) NSA is hostile to the widespread deployment of encryption technology. RSA inherently provides secrecy as well as authentication; the NIST scheme provides only the latter. (Incidentally, discrete logarithms are logarithms in a finite field, such as the integers modulo some prime. For example, given that c = (a^b mod p), b would be the discrete logarithm. It is indeed a hard problem to find b, though not as hard as had once been thought. Put another way, p needs to be much larger than was realized a few years ago. At least one important authentication system based on the discrete log problem has been cracked.) Numerous aspects of the NIST proposal are controversial, including the claim that it is free from (other) patents. Other oddities: signing a message in this scheme is less expensive than verifying a signature. That seems strange; for many applications, very many parties will need to validate a message that will be signed only once. (I doubt that there is any real RISK to forged RISKS messages, but most people I know would be much happier if they could validate security fix announcements from CERT.) The claim has also been made that the scheme either has a trapdoor, or is insufficiently secure against a determined attack. Without going into details, the nature of the standard is such that an attack on the system per se would permit solution of everyone's key; with RSA, on the other hand, each public/private key pair must be attacked individually. Note, though, that this is a signature mechanism, not a privacy mechanism; finding a party's private key allows you to impersonate that party in network communications, but does not disclose their secrets without an active attack. We can all imagine the kinds of mischief that can result from forgeries — but NSA is generally more interested in listening than in speaking. --Steve Bellovin
In RISKS-12.33, Tom Slone comments on the NIST DSA public-key proposal. Discrete logarithms are not logarithms which have been ``truncated to a finite but large length.'' Can you tell me what power I have to raise 3 to in order to get 77710 mod 157931? That's a discrete logarithm. Slone then repeats a statement from Jim Bidzos (president of RSA Inc., and of Public Key Partners) saying that the NIST DSA is weak, and adds ``there is some merit in his statement since knowledge of prime-factoring has a long mathematical history,'' while discrete logarithms are ``presumably a new sub-field.'' Actually, Bidzos's claim is entirely unjustified. We have learned a lot about both factoring and discrete logs over the last thirty years or so, and at this point there's no reason to believe that one will be easier than the other. The NIST DSA has the clear advantage of being free of patents. For that reason alone I will use it. ---Dan [I usually unjustify short or long lines to save paper/screen length or make them readable on 80-character screens, but left this message as received because it was remarkably right justified without having any extra blank spaces inserted! With such arguments you can have a message that is entirely justified even if the contents are entirely unjustified. Just if I tried ... PGN]
The recent posting by Tom Slone on the NIST proposal for a digital signature standard contained some unfortunate mistakes that I would like to correct. First of all, the NIST standard is for digital signatures - not encryption. If you don't know what a digital signature is, then briefly it is a means to "sign" an electronic document in much the same way that you would sign a paper document. Its purpose is to protect the authenticity of information, not the privacy of information. It provides much more than a hash or checksum, since a hash can be produced by anyone, but a digital signature can only be produced by the legitimate signer. Second, the discrete logarithm problem is not something that was plucked out of thin air by NIST. In fact, discrete logarithms were applied to cryptography before factoring, because the discrete logarithm problem was used by Diffie and Hellman in their original paper on public-key cryptography, whereas factoring came along the following year in the RSA paper. Certainly the problem of factoring is old - but the discrete logarithm problem has also been studied by computational number theorists going back at least to the time of Gauss in 1801. For more information on the discrete logarithm problem, see "Computation of Discrete Logarithms in Prime Fields", by B.A. LaMacchia and A.M. Odlyzko, Designs, Codes, and Cryptography, volume 1, (1991), 47-62. Also cited there is a survey I wrote in 1990: "The discrete logarithm problem", pages 49-74 in "Cryptology and Computational Number Theory", volume 42 of Proceedings of Symposia in Applied Mathematics, American Mathematical Society, 1990. Finally, I would like to point out that there has been relatively little progress made on the problem of "factoring primes". More progress has been made on the problem of factoring composites... Perhaps the biggest risk is in forming opinions based on incomplete information. The NIST standard itself is based on a method published by ElGamal in 1984, but incorporates several innovations that improve its performance. The NIST proposal included a call for comments, which appeared in the Federal Register of August 30. Interested parties have 90 days from that date to send their comments to NIST. Kevin S. McCurley, Sandia National Laboratories
>The computer-based RISK here is based upon permitting morons to make decisions The risk here is trying to use technology as a pawn for politics. Israel has for the past 3 years tried to obtain export licenses for a vector processor upgrade for a 3090-200. Articles about this have appeared in the Washington Post and the NY Times. There was a period of a year where we could not get 486 PCs until the Far East started producing them and then suddenly the export license ban was "relaxed". We have had cases of Vax 4100s being restricted and as the compute curve moves upward we never know what we can obtain and what will be restricted. We looked into buying a Japanese mainframe but it turns out that Japan and the USA have an export agreement - whereby if the USA says no to one country, Japan has to abide by that agreement. The risk here is not of morons making decisions but of using computers as a carrot for political policy decisions. The USA government can't control weapons making their way to various terrorists groups so there is absolutely no possible way for the USA government to restrict computer technology to these same terrorist groups. The reason these decisions are made is to restrict access to countries who wish to use these systems for education or research but who don't follow the exact views of the current adminstration. Hank Nussbacher, Israel P.S. The views expressed above are my own and do not reflect the views of my employers nor of the government of Israel. [Note: I normally delete all disclaimers, particularly jokey ones, hoping that they are adequately covered by the masthead generic disclaimer. This one seemed appropriate, however. PGN]
> ... The US could probably require US companies to place > appropriate restrictions in their licensing agreements. They U.S. not only could, but the already do! Export licenses are needed for all high performance U.S. CPUs. These licenses carry the restriction that the equipment may not be reexported without U.S consent. Lars-Henrik Eriksson, Swedish Institute of Computer Science, Box 1263 S-164 28 KISTA, SWEDEN (intn'l): +46 8 752 15 09
I think Jerry Leichter's response to the thread started by John Markoff and PGN's posting, Export controls for workstations, may be missing the point of the original DoD proposal. If the original posting and its followups had been specifically about sales to terrorist organizations or undesirable foreign governments, I might have agreed with Jerry's posting. Since the IRA does not normally apply directly for export licenses for Sun workstations, the DoD proposes to restrict ALL exports of workstations to reduce the likelihood of the IRA getting one from their Belfast Radio Shack. Jerry's choice of the South African security forces as an example also moves the discussion on in an interesting way. If Jerry chooses to argue by analogy - always a RISKy endeavor - lets try another one. We disapprove of international terrorists robbing banks, so we should shut down the export of all equipment used in banks overseas. Of course, since the disclosures about the BCCI, it appears that international terrorists don't rob banks, they own them - but that's the risk of not really understanding the problem. I admire Jerry's wish to use the influence the US has in technology to bring about worthy goals. In cases such as the sale of armaments where the goods being sold have no peaceful use, his approach seems feasible. However, I think his perception of American influence in the world of workstations and UNIX is not shared by those of us who have spent most of our lives elsewhere. The rest of the world is willing to license American workstations and UNIX because they perceive the cost of developing alternatives not to be worth the effort. This is based on widespread agreement that these things would not be easy to replace. If American policy makes dependence on American products unacceptable to the rest of the world, it will create an opportunity for competition that would not have arisen purely on technical merit, and this will mean jobs in Singapore or Malaysia or wherever. Of course, views on the goodness of this outcome will vary depending on where you live. As I said above, the rest of the world might applaud if the US significantly reduced its arms exports - to everyone - but it tends not to understand the logic behind placing controls on the export of Kleenex because it has been discovered that international terrorists are unusually susceptible to colds.
[Forwarding from Gideon Yuval, Microsoft, 1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052-6399 206-882-8080] Newsgroups: comp.os.os2.misc Subject: 'OS/2 Rumours' Clarification From: Conrad.Bullock@comp.vuw.ac.nz (Conrad Bullock) Date: Wed, 11 Sep 1991 12:11:16 GMT Organization: Dept. of Comp. Sci., Victoria Uni. of Wellington, New Zealand. Originator: firstname.lastname@example.org Back on September 2nd, I posted an article about some rumours which I had heard from an IBM dealer, in relation to pricing and release dates for OS/2 2.0. As it turns out, he was in no way speaking for IBM officially, and any information that he passed on to me was purely conjecture on his part. Due to the numbers that he mentioned, and in the absence of any mention to the contrary, I took that information at face value, and assumed it to be relatively reliable. Unfortunately, I took the route of posting the information that I had here, in order to verify whether it was true or not. (The subject line was "'Rumours' about OS/2 2.0 release", and I ended my message with "Can anyone confirm or deny any of this?"). The message caused some concern to IBMers, and I can understand why. Larry Salomon, Jr. passed on the message to John Tiede, who said: > Larry, If you could respond on USENET that the information was not > correct and IBM is going to inform the misinformed IBM party (note - no > witch hunt, as we only want to insure accurate information and not deter > open dialogue, which is so important in this evolving electronic world, > he said stepping down off the soap box......). Thanks for your help in > this......... Unfortunately, it has developed into a witch-hunt in a large way at the New Zealand end of things. I received a call from IBM New Zealand today, asking for a categorical statement saying what I had been told, and by who. The dealer concerned, and at least one person at IBM Wellington really are in quite serious trouble, and the relationship between the parties concerned, including myself, is strained, to say the least. I have spoken to the dealer and the IBMer concerned since, and having just been hauled over the coals, they were understandably angry at me — the dealer even spoke to my boss, concerned that it was some form of malicious message aimed at `making a name for myself'. It sounds as if umbrage was taken at my mention of NZ pricing policies, and any parallel that I was trying to draw between NZ and US pricing - for that I am sorry, and for the information about release dates and final prices. Anyway, I would just like to stress that the rumours which I posted here were just that - rumours. There was no malice on my part. It was essentially a misunderstanding on my part of some conjecture from the dealer concerned. There was no IBM involvement, and I am dismayed to hear that an IBMer has got into trouble over my posting. I am writing letters to try and help his situation. For some real misinformation about OS/2, try this message, posted in comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware today: > I also forgot a new version of OS/2 is coming out about the same time, > it is said to co-exist with DOS. It will run under MS-DOS. Perhaps this sort of misinformation is less dangerous, as it's so obviously incorrect, while 'feasible' misinformation is a bit more insidious? I really want OS/2 to succeed as much as anyone. I am frustrated by the disinformation about OS/2 which is spread by many channels, especially in the press, and I did not wish to contribute to that. I am excited by the impending release of OS/2 2.0. I hope it takes the market by storm, and becomes the success it deserves to be - programmers the world over (not to mention the users), will be eternally grateful. With such a product on the horizon, and as yet, no official words from IBM on features or release dates, it should be of no surprise to IBM that there is a lot of speculation on what will or will not be included, and when, especially amongst the OS/2 faithful. I should have perhaps asked IBM NZ directly for clarification on these points, although they have generally not been much help in the past - I assume that they are not allowed to tell me anything anyway. In summary: - There was a misunderstanding - the dealer should have made it clear that he was speculating, I should not have taken the information as reliable. - I shouldn't really have posted the information here. - An IBMer is in trouble, and he shouldn't be. - I probably should not have passed on the dealer's name and details to the IBMer concerned, but in my naivity, I did not imagine that it would snowball in quite this fashion. Conrad Bullock, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Fidonet 3:771/130
I think (based on my personal experience) that a much bigger RISK is that this type of media (i.e., Email, Computer Conferencing) might find its use curtailed or, in the case of schools, restricted, based on a concept that has not been researched enough to justify it. I believe that the apparent hot-headedness seen in Email, BBSes and USENET are only signs of an immature communications media and do not accurately reflect what we can expect in the future. My own experience tends to bear this out. When I was first introduced to USENET and NEWS, in 1982, I was very quick to flame people for the slightest remark with which I didn't agree. Today, if I come across something that I feel requires a response, I save the offending message and give the whole thing some thought. Somewhat akin to stopping to count to 10. In 95% of the cases, I then decide it isn't worth raising my blood pressure about and throw the article away. As more and more people become exposed to this form of communications, I feel it will develop the same mores and customs as other more conventional forms of communication. After all, we don't consider the telephone to be a disadvantage to communication even though we may receive the occasional obscene phone call. Bill Gunshannon, University Computing Systems, University of Scranton, Scranton, PA email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
In RISKS-12.31 in Re: +&*#$ (Moore, RISKS-12.21) Mike Morris writes: > ... Once I was pulled over by a cop who was as fascinated as > I was when my plate wouldn't come up and we spent some time with his patrol > car terminal discovering this quirk. [...] It seems to me that we are all missing the risk to society here and thinking only of the individual. The society we live in gives each motor vehicle a <supposedly> unique id so that those who need to do so can identify that vehicle easily. The society we live in takes money from each and every one of us to spend on the common good. Some of that money pays policemen to prevent and/or detect and recover from crime. Society allows people to advertise themselves by writing their name, slogan, etc as big as they like on their vehicles - many elements of society do that and the results can be seen driving down any road any day. I think Mike (and many others - nothing personal) confuse the need for a unique vehicle id with their wish for self-advertisement to the detriment of society in general. The way to do what he appears to want is to paint his call-sign in big letters on the side of his vehicle and accept a standard issue vehicle number for the tiny little plate that is there for those who "need-to-identify". Or am I missing something?? David Roberts PS. I think he also owes all the other John Does paying taxes for the time of one cop and one car and one computer system for the wasted effort caused by his insistence on a misuse of vehicle number plates; the RISK is loss of availability of a cop who could be doing something useful instead. PPS. Whether traffic cops in patrol cars EVER do anything useful is not a topic for this newsgroup - we all pay them so we all think that they do!
Since the people involved with the initial creation of UNIX are very much alive today, we could probably get the truth. Mr. Rice's version is very different from the one I tell. I claim that far from Bell Labs deciding to create a variant of Multics, Ken Thompson used a neglected PDP-7 lying about in a store room to build a little system to permit him to play a little space-war. It might actually be that before it could be said to be even the origin of UNIX, it had become a vehicle to test some of Ken's theories about building appropriate systems. Even so, I'm sure that years passed before the labs decided to use and support the system. To keep this short, I believe the development of the UNIX system was more like the stories James Burke tells than like the steady, intended progress so often reported in textbooks. Dick Karpinski [I try not to interject my own historical perspective into too many messages but at this point I might as well interject that Dick is indeed closer to the truth — except for the space war. By the way, another interesting historical perspective is provided by F.J. Corbato's Turing Address Lecture in the September 1991 CACM, relating to CTSS, Multics, and (incidentally) Ken Thompson and UNIX. PGN]
Please report problems with the web pages to the maintainer