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Comment: Re:not in my tank! (Score 1) 56

by ancientt (#48982525) Attached to: Lowering the Cost of Biofuel Production

In the 1980's, a think tank with access to classified information and all the data they could put their hands on about oil and food calculated that when US oil access decreased to a certain threshold there would be a cycle of problems ending in wide spread starvation. They also realized that it would be possible to minimize the starvation deaths if enough land and equipment were dedicated to corn production, but at the same time realized that there was no way the market profit margins would entice anyone to make the investments. So they had the necessary secret meetings and ethanol fuel additives were the result; essentially they created a government incentive to ramp up the capability to produce food in an environment where the food isn't needed.

That's my guess anyway.

Or else, you know, it's just government bureaucracy making poor decisions, but that seems unlikely.

Comment: Re:my prayers go out to my fellow nerds at IBM (Score 5, Insightful) 331

by ancientt (#48976021) Attached to: Massive Layoff Underway At IBM

Thank you for some perspective. I've been reading the other posts and I've been just a little disgusted by the entitlement attitude throughout. I've worked for a company that went under, worked for a division that was eliminated, worked for a company that couldn't pay me for a while and been fired for problems that weren't my fault (that's four different employers.) It sucks, but none of them owed me a job. I'm not owed a job even now when I feel I'm doing great work for the company that employs me.

I was very close to writing a snarky post.

Your comment reminded me how much it sucks to wonder how you're going to get by, what you're going to do to take care of your children and if you'll ever get back to where you were. IBM may need to do this; they've been slowly building to an implosion for decades. I'd love to have IBM come back. I root for companies that can come back from the brink of oblivion, like Yahoo is, like Microsoft is trying to and like Radio Shack has failed to manage. I hope that in ten years, when my children are telling me about how cool IBM is, I'll be able to say that there was a time it looked like they were doomed before they turned it around however painfully.

To those who have to find new jobs, I add my heart goes out to you and I hope I get to work with you some day when we can both look back on this as a point when things started to get better.

Comment: Re:Internet Explorer (Score 1) 99

by ancientt (#48896579) Attached to: In Addition To Project Spartan, Windows 10 Will Include Internet Explorer

Yeah, I know, that's funny and yes, for a good three seconds, I had a moment of incoherent and dumbfounded shock at the idea someone could be seriously saying that. Then I saw the moderation and realized I'd been had. I paused for a second and realized I had some actual experience that wasn't so far off.

There was a time I liked VMWare. I used it until I discovered how much better Xen performed for me. I was a fan of XenSource until they were taken over by Citrix. When I took a job with Microsoft as the standard (no kidding, the boss sat me down and gave me the lecture my first week for daring to use VNC instead of MS Remote Desktop) I learned to use Microsoft virtualization instead. This was before Hyper-V and it.. well lets just say it was a hard acclimatization, so when I needed something that actually worked well, I convinced them that VMWare was a big enough enterprise player that we could use it where MS just couldn't do the job. That didn't mean I got a budget of course, it just meant I could use the free version. It wasn't great, but it was good enough. IE worked with it but keeping IE patched meant that IE stopped working, so now I had a system that couldn't work with anything but outdated and insecure software. Long story short, until I retired that system years later, I had portable Firefox 2 to run the interface.

I still don't love Hyper-V but it has performed better than VMWare free crap and if it still doesn't do some things (seriously, when will they enable USB access for clients?) at least I don't have to keep ancient browsers around to manage it. I miss Xen and still don't think KVM is as good. For that matter I miss the Phoenix browser. The best thing that could have happened to the Mozilla browser was to throw away all the crap that kept it from doing the one thing it was supposed to do best. I will appreciate it if Spartan is even half the improvement Phoenix was over Mozilla. I won't be surprised to write a comparison on how both started out with noble goals and decent performance before they were killed by the same loss of focus by their parent company in ten more years.

+ - Arrested For Not Giving Up Camera->

Submitted by ancientt
ancientt (569920) writes "The cop told him to hand over his camera, but he knew his rights. It didn't keep him from being arrested.

Andrew Flinchbaugh was approached by NJ police and ordered to give up his camera but he recorded the incident on his mobile phone. That recording has now gone viral. They did give him his camera back, but not without arresting him and not without going through the photos first, something that should require a search warrant they did not have. At one point he says that if they take his camera, they will have a lawsuit on their hands. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Flinchbaugh is true to his word."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Poor choices to use proprietary cause this! (Score 1) 129

by ancientt (#48707461) Attached to: Google Researcher Publishes Unpatched Windows 8.1 Security Vulnerability

Why are you bringing up the average user when he was talking about the end user who has a strong reason to keep something patched? That's comparing a Mint home user to someone running the distribution upgrade servers.

If you are in charge of managing an important system or network, then you can either fix the problem yourself, have your programming team fix it and commit the fix back to the upstream vendor or you can potentially hire the work out. Even if you are an average end user, you could actually fix it if you were willing to put in the work, however unlikely that scenario might be.

Comment: Re:This is why "biometric" authentication is usele (Score 1) 80

As for remembering, is it harder to remember "username" and "password" or "usernamepassword"? It's the same. You just don't press return in between them.

Logically? No. But in practice, I support both approaches and yes, for no obvious logical reason, it makes a huge difference.

Comment: Re:This is why "biometric" authentication is usele (Score 1) 80

How is 8 letters username + 8 letters password harder or easier to crack than a 16 letters password?

It isn't easier to crack, but people remember usernames easier, so you get people who will enter 16 characters instead of eight. The validating server can treat them as separate lookups or not without impacting the efficiency of brute force attacks. The advantage of using multiple entries is that you end up getting more characters that have to be guessed correctly, which is a compound effect, so adding a PIN or multiple choice question compounds it further and isn't pointless at all.

Say you are trying to brute force my slashdot password and it's eight characters. That's 7213895789838336* possible combinations you have to work through to target one user, but I'm user 166417, which means you'd be 166417 times more likely (at least) to get illicit access if I weren't using a separate username.

Now, if my username were hidden and combined with the password entry and had to be eight characters, you'd have 52040292466647269602037015248896 potential combinations, which is obviously harder to crack, but you'd sacrifice functionality for that trade off and 7213895789838336 is a reasonable number of permutations for the level of security required. In reality, I'm not limited to eight characters so the real number is even higher.

Now, you have a valid point if you say that 16 characters would be a better length for passwords, but if you required that, there would be far fewer people who would sign in and make comments which would degrade the value of the whole system.

* - I know there is additional math that can be done here, not limited to but certainly including the tendency of people to use words and pseudo words in their passwords. I've read the manuals and brute force cracking articles too but I'm not getting paid to figure it out so my motivation to get a more accurate number is low.

Comment: Re:This is why "biometric" authentication is usele (Score 1) 80

If we're talking about protecting against unauthorized access in the real world, we do want a username and password combination because that's harder to guess than just a password. If I am running a website where I'm using a cookie as part of the authentication process, then yes, it is best to keep a database where I tie the cookie to an IP address because that makes it harder to hijack a session.

When I can force you to hand over one thing you know, I can force you to hand over two things you know.... that second factor would keep me out.

Over and over you are stuck on this idea that you're defending against a physical attack, which is quite nearly pointless. The attacker who takes family members hostage will bypass pretty much any security you can put in place.

If you're really wanting to discuss security against physical force, then you're not thinking big enough, why not discuss defending against the attacker with a gun pointed at your family member or a bomb in a school? Why not discuss defending against the attacking country with ICBM with nuclear warheads? Pick your action movie plot of choice, I'm willing to go down Diehard lane with you. I just need to make sure we're talking about the same thing.

Comment: Re:lemme guess (Score 4, Interesting) 158

by ancientt (#48688769) Attached to: Norse Security IDs 6, Including Ex-Employee, As Sony Hack Perpetrators

You're making this too hard. You can upload terabytes of data using good old SSL or encrypt files with zip tools like 7-zip and there is nothing in the stream of data that will be recognized... that's what encryption is for.

The person wanting to get data out doesn't have to work hard at all to ensure it can't be recognized as it is being transmitted. The difficulty is in making sure that the users of the system don't notice the decrease in disk IO and loss of bandwidth. If they've got a good perimeter defense or the right heuristics for the server, they may notice "hey, that's more activity than usual" and respond, but that's about the only way to catch somebody in the act of transporting data out of a system.

Unless they're stupid. Which, with Sony's security, they could have been.

Comment: Re:This is why "biometric" authentication is usele (Score 1) 80

Soon we will be wearing, burkas, sun glasses and gloves to make sure our identities will not be lifted.

No. Biometric authentication won't replace all other methods of security anytime in the foreseeable future, nothing that requires serious security will rely on them alone. I have a hard time believing they ever could. If any serious company tries anytime in the next twenty years, you have my advice to place bets that it will be compromised in short order.

I keep seeing this idea that biometrics are flawed because you can't change them if someone's information is compromised, but that idea ignores the reality that biometrics are not and will likely never be used alone as significant security.

Comment: Re:This is why "biometric" authentication is usele (Score 3, Insightful) 80

Minor quibble: using two of one group is not useless either, it is only less useful.

  • Most login prompts require a username and a password, which are both things you know, but that combination is better than requiring only one thing you know.
  • Requiring answers to security questions, yet another thing you know, is often considered better still.
  • Iris scans can be faked as can fingerprints, but both together is harder to fake than either alone.
  • Bribing one guard is easier than bribing two.
  • Checking that a browser supplies a cookie is a good thing, but checking that the IP and the cookie are paired correctly is better.

"Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit!" -- Looney Tunes, "What's Opera Doc?" (1957, Chuck Jones)