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Comment: Re: Not to say it's unnecessary (Score 1) 834 834

I don't have statistics on hand, but since WWII, I am aware of dog fights have played into air battles of the following wars with us pilots involved:

Korean War
Vietnam War (quite famously as we thought the days of day fighting were over.)
Kosivo et al.
First Gulf War.

Guam, Afghanistan, and Gulf War II did not , too my knowledge and I and not sure if there are others I've forgotten.

Comment: Orion is the best counter for large incoming mass. (Score 3, Interesting) 272 272

If you actually want to effectively counter the "Dinosaur Killer" scenario, the best answer is early detection and a large "Orion" ship. See:

We could have build a large Orion propulsion ship anytime in the last 40 years. It would probably cost less than an aircraft carrier. A large Orion propulsion ship could get almost anywhere in the inner solar system in a few weeks. And the propulsion system will work just fine to redirect another large mass. Yes, there will be a bunch of fallout damage from the initial take-off, but we can decide where to place it. and the fallout damage from Orion's propulsion is tiny compared to the damage from an asteroid strike.

I have always hoped that there was a secret plan to convert our offensive arsenal into Orion propulsion if the need occurred.

Comment: A bit obtuse, but not bad. (Score 2) 55 55

As security definitions go, "Security is the set of activities that reduce the likelihood of a set of adversaries successfully frustrating the goals of a set of users." is not bad. It is a bit obtuse. It lends itself to Venn diagrams and powerpoint. It is also weakened by it's fixation on adversaries. Adversaries are nice if you can blame them, but usually, you are your own worst enemy.

The worst security definition that I have seen is the one currently used by the US Security communities. Geer stated it as: "..the absence of unmitigatable surprise." This definition is horrible. It offers you no guidance on prioritization or limits. This definition says you are insecure until you have achieved omniscience and omnipotence.

The best definition of security that I have found is: "Security is a MEANINGFUL assurance that YOUR most important goals are being accomplished." This is easily understood by everybody and it guides you to effective action. Using this definition you are guided to create and maintain the potential for success. The other definitions ultimately force you to focus your efforts on less important objectives.

Comment: Re: LEOs (Score 1) 615 615

Breakdowns, flattires, hitchings or straps come loose. There's more than just "normal driving" and " turn now or die." Sure, we could detect a lot of these problems and dispatch a service vehicle, but why suffer the down time when we can have a guy right there to handle all the myrid little tasks that crop up. Hell, somebody has to pump the gas!

+ - UMG v Grooveshark settled, no money judgment against individuals

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: UMG's case against Grooveshark, which was scheduled to go to trial Monday, has been settled. Under the terms of the settlement (PDF), (a) a $50 million judgment is being entered against Grooveshark, (b) the company is shutting down operations, and (c) no money judgment at all is being entered against the individual defendants.

Comment: Re:TFS just has marketing (Score 2, Interesting) 71 71

Yeah I'd like some more meat to the story as well. Amazon Glacier achieves its pricing by using low-RPM consumer drives plugged into some sort of high-density backplanes; supposedly they are so densely packed that you can only spin up a few drives at once due to power and heat issues. Hence the delay.

I assume Google is doing something similar, maybe with somewhat better power or cooling since they're offering faster retrieval times which implies that perhaps they can spin up a higher percentage of drives at a time.

Comment: Only 3K PPS of attack? I thought it would be more. (Score 4, Interesting) 58 58

We see 3k PPS of attack and we probably have 1/8th of their address space. Remember, you need to scale by address space. Utah's state network is one of 3 early Utah experiments in municipal broadband. The other 2 are UEN and Utopia. When it was set up, IP addresses were allocated in /8, /16 and /24 chunks. They probably got a /16 (65K addresses) for each major department. In total, the Utah state government network probably has at least a million public IP addresses.

If you have a million public IPs, you catch about 3 million attacks every time somebody messes around with Z-Map or MasScan. They always try it at least 3 times. That is 1% of that scary 300 million per day total. And there are a lot of people in the world playing with Z-Map.

I do IT Security for Utah State University. We are at the North end of the state. We see about 3k PPS of attack all the time. We have 128K of public IP address space. Most days, we are at about 300K PPS at the border. 3K PPS of attack is about 1% of the total. Having 1% attack be incoming packets is normal for the last few years for us. This works out to about 1 attack packet per IP address every 30 seconds. Of course, almost all of them are rejected at the border. Most of my peers are seeing the same attack levels. But, all my peers are at universities.

However, In the last couple years the attack has shifted. Now, about 1/2 of our detected attack is sponsored or condoned by the Chinese government. The rest is evenly divided between other governments and organized crime. We assume that this shift is the inevitable consequence of the current cyberwar. The shift has also made it easier to do most attribution. Almost all attack by civil servants is easier to identify. It is predictable. It follows patterns. It has preferential quality of service. When you report abuse from a non-government attacker, it shifts methods, or stops, or moves to another target. When you report abuse to a government attacker, it increases. Sometimes it improves.

The shift in attack may be local to Utah and due to the NSA facility, but I think it is more likely that we are all screwed.

Comment: Don't know about hackers, but China is helpful.. (Score 1) 69 69

I don't know about hackers, but lately China has done more to help me secure my university than the NSA, FBI, and Homeland Security combined.

I do network and computer security for a university. In the last couple years we have received a couple alerts from the FBI. The info was fairly old and limited in scope. And, they didn't want us to share the info with those who really needed to have it.

In the same period, the Chinese government has instituted a program of rigourous scanning and vulnerability assessment against my university. If I pay close attention, I discover all kinds of useful information. They have shown me 0-day exploits. They have taught me devious manipulations. They have even taught me a ingenious method of detecting firewall failure.

The Chinese give me daily updates on the latest hacking techniques. They never complain if I share the info. And they don't waste my time with meaningless paperwork. If I wasn't getting it for free, I would be willing to pay for this service. I don't understand why my government can't be as helpful

Comment: Depends on your attacker. (Score 1) 467 467

My experience may not be applicable to you. I do IT Security for a university. We encounter a wide variety of attackers from script-kiddy to aggressive hostile government.

When our attackers desire to remain hidden, we usually can not detect and remove them using any common tool. The techniques for remaining in hidden control of systems are straightforward, effective and available to any attacker. We can detect all kinds of stuff by carefully inspecting network activity, but learning to do it takes years. And, analyzing 1 machine's traffic is slower than real-time.

For example, a while ago one of my coworkers managed to crack the C&C for a major fake-antivirus group. For 2 months we grabbed the rootkits as they went by. Code on compromised machines was updated daily. VirusTotal pronounced it all clean. Usually, the victims had no clue. None of the virus or malware detectors/removers would regain control of a compromised system. Sometimes the utilities would claim to have done something. It was never complete or successful. On the other hand, if we isolated a compromised machine from the C&C for 3 weeks, some of the utilities would start to be effective. At 6 weeks, almost all of them were effective. Of course, this fake antivirus group was indiscriminate and had a huge footprint.

We still use Microsoft Security Essentials or EndPoint Protection. It almost never prevents compromise, but in some circumstances it will let us know that that we have been had. Some attackers get what they want immediately and don't try to hide. Others break discipline after a few days or weeks. Then there are the ones that get what they want and sell you to less capable attackers. Finally, if the user/machine is vulnerable to attack then the machine eventually gets infested with multiple attackers. Once multiple attackers start interfering with each other, something always gets dropped.

We always recommend a "change passwords/backup/wipe/rebuild/restore" when we discover compromise. Even then, sometimes an attacker regains control by hiding hostile code in user files.

The preventative measures that seem to be most effective for us are:

  1. 1) Some form of Addblock. The primary attack vector for most of our people is hostile browser adds.
  2. 2) Limiting the execution of unwanted browser code. We recommend Chrome/Click-To-Run for most users. Motivated users can get better protection with Firefox/NoScript.
  3. 3) Working with our users to improve our defenses. See:

Comment: Inexplicable gaps in Crypto products. (Score 1) 421 421

In my completely uninformed opinion, there seem to be inexplicable and congenital faults in IT's use of cryptography.

A few crypto products need efficiency and performance. But, many don't. Many existing products are optimized for efficiency and performance, even when these goals are contrary to the stated goals of the product. Frequently, crypto solutions unnecessarily limit the size of keys. They extend the lifetime of keys. They limit the number of available keys. In many cases, all three of these latter goals are false savings.

We rarely use symmetric crypto, even though it is frequently simpler and more robust. Public Key is almost always preferred, even when it is easy to distribute keys.

Reliable, trustworthy sources of truly random numbers seem to be very useful, inexpensive, and straightforward to create. See:

If we are interested in secure communications, it should be normal and expected that we would pick up several hardware random number generators. We should have multiple simple, robust, trustworthy tools to generate symmetric keys. We should have multiple tools to utilize simple, robust, trustworthy symmetric crypto.

Instead, we seem to focus on always using a single complex public key solution even when it is not appropriate.

In my ignorance, I have been trying to map out a simple, robust tool for system administration, that makes use of symmetric crypto. See:

I would really like to learn that I have been wasting my time.

Hacking's just another word for nothing left to kludge.