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Comment: Re: Great, fully owned by Silent Circle (Score 4, Interesting) 53

The issue with Silent Circle isn't their jurisdiction. It's that their code is of deeply questionable quality. They recently had a remote code execution exploit that could be triggered just by sending a text message to their phone. It's been literally years since one of these affected mainstream software stacks, so how was that possible?

Well, they wrote their own SMS parsing code, in C, and used JSON to wrap binary encrypted messages and there was a bug that could cause memory corruption when the JSON wasn't exactly in the form they expected.

The amount of fail in that sentence is just amazing. They're a company which justifies its entire existence with security, writing software to run on a smartphone where the OS itself is written in a memory safe language (Java) and yet they are parsing overly complex data structures off the wire ..... in C. That isn't just taking risks, that's playing Russian roulette over and over again. And eventually it killed them. Remote code execution via SMS - ye gods.

After learning about that exploit and more to the point, why it occurred, I will strongly recommend against using Silent Circle for anything. Nobody serious about security should be handling potentially malicious data structures in C, especially not when the rest of the text messaging app is written in Java. That's just crazy.

Comment: Re:fees (Score 2) 359

by j-turkey (#49151671) Attached to: Verizon Posts Message In Morse Code To Mock FCC's Net Neutrality Ruling

I fail to understand just why so many here want federal solutions to their local market problem, which greatly stems from your local gov't (PUCo and such)

There are a few reasons. First, a federal solution makes sense because the problem is systemic throughout the nation. Further, these abuses of local/regional monopolies are happening at the hands of a handful of national companies. Finally, I don't think that local PUC's are able to understand and manage the issue at hand.

Comment: Re:Old rules (Score 1) 359

by j-turkey (#49150865) Attached to: Verizon Posts Message In Morse Code To Mock FCC's Net Neutrality Ruling

Those are *really* antiquated, but they're not government regulations. These government regulations are even more antiquated than the common carrier Title II regulations, and we (Americans) are still forced to live by them.

The rules have only been modified only twenty seven times in over 200 years.

Silly, antiquated regulations.

Comment: Re:When groups like this attack you... (Score 0) 97

I think the Gemalto response seems reasonable, actually. The documents suggest they weren't doing anything more sophisticated than snarfing FTP or email transfers of key files, which Gemalto say they started phasing out in 2010. And the documents themselves say they weren't always successful.

NSA/GCHQ are not magic. They do the same kind of hacking ordinary criminals have been doing for years, just more of it and they spend more time on it. If Gemalto are now taking much better precautions over transfer of key material and the keys are being generated on air gapped networks, then it seems quite plausible that NSA/GCHQ didn't get in. Not saying they could NEVER have got in that way, but these guys are like anyone else, they take the path of least resistance.

Besides, it's sort of hard for them to do something about a hypothetical hack of their core systems that they can't detect and which isn't mentioned in the docs.

Comment: Re:Ugh. Just ugh. (Score 5, Insightful) 406

by IamTheRealMike (#49121137) Attached to: NSA Director Wants Legal Right To Snoop On Encrypted Data

It's hilarious. For a moment I wondered if the transcript is even real. This makes Eliza look sophisticated.

Q: Which of those countries should we give backdoors to?

MR: So, I’m not gonna I mean, the way you framed the question isn’t designed to elicit a response.

AS: So you do believe then, that we should build those for other countries if they pass laws?

MR: I think we can work our way through this.

AS: I’m sure the Chinese and Russians are going to have the same opinion.

MR: I said I think we can work through this.

He seems to believe, "I think we can work through this" is an acceptable answer to a simple yes/no question. The guy doesn't even have a coherent answer to one of the most basic and obvious questions he could possibly be asked. I thought Comey did a poor job of explaining his position but this takes it to a whole other level.

Comment: Re:Terrorists steal registered SIMs (Score 1) 134

by IamTheRealMike (#49119617) Attached to: Pakistanis Must Provide Fingerprints Or Give Up Cellphone

Why would people not report a SIM as stolen currently? They have every incentive to. They'd need to do so, to get their old number back anyway.

But seriously, if you're a terrorist, you're not going to be fazed by just doing some street muggings to obtain cell phones first. It doesn't matter much if the cards get de-activated a day later. Heck, just point a gun at a SIM vendor and force them to activate the cards with fake data. If the vendor doesn't have the IMSI codes for every SIM in their inventory, they can't even report them as stolen.

Comment: Re:First Fascist! (Score 1) 36

by mcgrew (#49118761) Attached to: Welcome back, SlashPot (thank you failure machine samzenpus)

Coincidentally, I saw this JE this morning right after seeing a report on CBS's morning news program that said that marijuana is by far the least dangerous of all recreational drugs. They found the most dangerous was alcohol, followed by heroin, followed by cocaine. I did a quick search, it doesn't look like they've posted it to their web site.

I've found an incredible amount of misinformation about marijuana. This article says "Those who might remember pot from the 70s - the marijuana grown and sold in Colorado today is up to 10 times stronger."

The difference isn't strength of the pot, it's how its potency is measured and how pot is and was sold. They take the pot, grind up the entire bag and test it.

Today, pot is grown indoors so it has no seeds, and only the buds are sold. In the seventies, they put the whole plant; stems, seeds, leaves and all. Leaves are far less potent than buds, stems have very little THC and seeds have none at all, and the seeds are heavy. I saw pot in the '70s that the seeds were more than half the weight of the bag. So grinding up the whole bag would indicate that it's 10 times stronger, when stoners always threw the stems and seeds away and usually saved the bud for the weekend.

The best pot I ever smoked was in Thailand in 1973-4.

Now, even if pot wasn't the safest of all recreational drugs, even if it were the deadliest, how does your neighbor getting stoned affect you or society at large?

There's a chapter in a book that was required reading in a college history class in the late '70s that shows how incredibly moronic prohibition is. Alcohol and Al Capone

Look at Mexico and Columbia. Prohibition is purely stupidly evil.

Comment: Yes, a variety of ways (Score 1) 182

by IamTheRealMike (#49101113) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Can Technology Improve the Judicial System?

The judicial system is, at heart, a method of resolving disputes. Sometimes those are disputes between civilians (civil suits) and sometimes they are criminal cases, disputes between people and the state.

The most obvious and easy place to start is with small claims courts. Commercial arbitration handles many disputes that would otherwise end up in small claims courts, but we don't exploit this anywhere near enough. Most people just rely on their bank to act as a dispute mediator via the credit card chargeback mechanism, but this is a one-size-fits-all solution and banks are often not good at mediating disputes. There's lots of fraud and problematic outcomes.

The place where most of the better-law-through-tech research is happening right now is the Bitcoin community, because of the general focus on decentralisation, global trade and frequent desire to avoid relying on government. So we have for example BitRated which is a platform for doing dispute mediated Bitcoin transactions, where anyone can be the dispute mediator. So you can get a fluid, international market of specialised judges who are experts in very particular types of transactions, like software contracts etc where "I didn't get software of sufficient quality" is not a dispute that makes sense to handle via a chargeback. And it can all happen over the internet.

That's a very simple example. More complex examples involve specifying a contract in the form of a computer program and then effectively having the program be the "judge". I wrote about how to implement this, again with Bitcoin, several years ago. The technology is not that complicated actually. The hard part is figuring out the right user interfaces to make it easy. Presumably only very simple and precise contracts could be managed that way, so there's still open research in how to craft these digital contracts such that you can escape back to human judgement if there's an exceptional case.

When it comes to criminal rather than commercial cases, probably the best way to apply technology to reduce costs is to allow remote lawyering. That is, you should be able to outsource your legal representation to someone who isn't physically present. They may be rather good and experienced, but just lives out in rural areas or in a country where the cost of living is cheaper. The issue here is not really technical but rather just institutional inertia.

The UK is putting its judicial system under tremendous financial pressure at the moment, to the extent that some criminal cases are just being abandoned because there's insufficient money to run them. They're (finally!) starting to experiment with allowing small claims court cases to be resolved over the phone, and also looking at decriminalising TV license violations to reduce pressure on the system. But you get the idea - the judicial system innovates extremely slowly even when being sliced to the bone. So don't hold your breath.

Comment: Re:Where does Snowden get all this information fro (Score 1) 192

by IamTheRealMike (#49093689) Attached to: How NSA Spies Stole the Keys To the Encryption Castle

Snowden hasn't had any access to the NSA since he fled to Hong Kong.

However, the amazing thing about this dude is he was able to do full blown web crawls of the entire NSA and GCHQ intranets, including dumps/crawls of data he didn't have access to .... all without getting noticed or caught. He appears to have provided the journalists with what is quite literally a snapshot of their internal networks at the time he was operating. It's taking them years to go through it.

When the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the plane, the plane will fly. -- Donald Douglas

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