Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Deal of the Day - Pay What You Want for the Learn to Code Bundle, includes AngularJS, Python, HTML5, Ruby, and more. ×

Comment Thanks for all your work... (Score 1) 290

I know it can sometimes be more of a burden, but thanks for all the work you have done Theo. I use OpenSSH everyday, and I find it to be one of the most reliable, most secure (even with all the NSA revelations) pieces of software in daily use around the world.

That being said, the more I investigate how to increase security, I am increasingly struck by how borked SSL is as a whole. (CA messes, vulnerable to MITM, DPI, etc).

My question is this: do you think at some point we should start re-evaluating our fundamental kernel architectures to help alleviate some of the security issues recently revealed? I mean, with hard-drive and bios level rootkits, etc, even SSH is standing on a foundation of sand it seems. Thoughts?

Comment Re:Linus's Law (Many Eyes) Problems (Score 1) 126

I have had it running on a spare old boxen for a few months now, but I would say you aren't addressing the point, which is mostly in how the code is written. I'm not claiming it's ready for production at all, but I think it is making a lot of changes based on principles that Linux/BSD are too entrenched to rethink, and I feel like we need to rethink the early days of OS design a bit more. Eg, lets have a new debate on kernel architectures.

Comment Linus's Law (Many Eyes) Problems (Score 2) 126

Hi, there is currently some debate about the many eyes theory over on HNews (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7342352) about why it's a fallacious argument, but in my view they have it all wrong, in that a core component of Linus's Law is that the amount of code is directly inverse to the amount of eyes that can hit all of that code (or a significant percentage).

Therefore, in my eyes it is the problem of code bloat that is undermining the open source movement more than anything. For example, the Linux kernel is now at, what, 10mil+ lines of code? That's insane. Minix 3, on the other hand, is at ~15k?

What are your thoughts on this problem?

Comment It can be done, but not in the current environment (Score 2) 124

Before I tell my anecdotal story, I want to touch on the fact that the current educational environment is not conducive to this kind of think for yourself learning. We could have a lengthy debate about why this is, and I would mostly refer you to the Reece Committee and Norman Dodd's investigation into tax-exempt foundations. Suffice to say, the fact of the matter is that TPTB don't want a mass influx of independent self-taught thinkers, they want people just smart enough to push the buttons and papers they want them to but not smart enough to go above that (unless they are part of the aristocratic oligarchic class). This is the result of the purposeful introduction of the Prussian education system as a tool of class warfare, but I digress.

I happened to be very lucky in this regard, my highschool was a middle of no-where Mormon-area HS full of hicks and religious people, but a local had been in industry and decided to come back and head the technology department of the school, and brought with him his industry contacts. It was one of the first high-schools to have the cisco networking academy, and I had my CCNA by the age of 17. Besides all that, it was the attitude of this man, who I called my mentor, (Barry Williams of Apache County, if anyone cares to look it up) which really encouraged this kind of thinking. He would encourage us to solve problems on our own, and mostly left us to our own devices. I will never forget the first year I was there, where he organized a wargame, and each of us hooked up our issued cisco routers to a network and the challenge was to be the first to take down everyone elses network. After a few minutes I had taken out two other guys, but then he told all of us to stop, walked over to all our boxen, and simply unplugged the cables.

For a 16 year old that really had an impact on me about thinking "outside the box" of given parameters. Of course this kind of teaching did have it's downsides. I was only a fringe member of the group that did it, but I will never forget the day that people in suits showed up and talked to everyone around the high-tech center but us, and then the FBI held an assembly for this school of hicks and religious people about hacking (of which maybe 15 of us knew what that even was), because, apparently "A" (a senior while I was a sophomore) wasn't joking when he told us he got into the FBI servers. (in his defense, he said he only changed a spreadsheet and then changed it right back just to see if he could). Last I heard "A" was still on the run from the FBI for crimes committed after HS, and I know I definitely was tempted a few times to do naughty blackhat things but resisted the urge. The point is that while teaching critical thinking and hacking is good for the thinking abilities of the student, there can indeed be farther reaching consequences especially if they are of a lower socioeconomic status.

Note: Wow, I haven't logged into /. in ages. Not sure how I feel about it these days, was just bored at work and saw this story.

Comment Privacy protection methods. (Score 3, Informative) 622

I've been meaning for a while to write a guide for friends/family about this. I thing that first you really have to have an understanding of why this is happening, what the goals (hidden and obvious) are for those engaging in the spying, and determine where you stand on the subject before you can't make any sort of plan for implementing the level of privacy you desire. From there the entire discussion is about capabilities and methods. I will forgo the first points in the hope that the hacker mentality still thrives at least somewhat on /.

First, there was metadata,

Metadata combined with modern algorithms and big data can give it's owner just about everything on you. Here is what I consider metadata
(this assumes every point compromised except local, imagine NSL's etc)
IP - Your ISP will always know this. Circumvention includes tor, i2p, other anonymizing technologies. VPN does not secure your metadata. Wardriving. Rooted boxes.
MAC - Much less of an issue, can be spoofed easily. Usually not know outside of edge network devices or ISP.
Time - Heavily used but not well understood. Correlation of login times to compromised activity elsewhere holds up pretty good in court. The longer they've been watching you, the more dangerous to security this is.
Other machine identifiers (agent strings, cookies, DNS, etc) - mostly a software (and knowledge) issue. Have to be able to prevent DNS leakage, spoof agent strings, keep machine clean of cookies (including harder to find/remove cookie types like flash) If you are on windows... this is your most likely failure point.

Then, there was low hanging fruit.
Low hanging fruit: cloud services (webmail providers, social networking, cloud apps, cloud storage/computing, voip/txt chat protocols, etc) If you use these services you must expect them to be compromised and not private. You can choose to not use these services, or compartmentalize use of them (which is my preferred method). Data poisoning becomes more relevant here. Now, you can attempt to be anonymous while using them (say tails(tor) for facebook), but the data is still compromised. But if they can't tie my identity to X, why does it matter. Two reasons: one, because if you are using a service like that, all it takes is one slip up to tie everything to you, and two, because there are other ways beyond even time-data correlation to do so (writing analysis for example)

So, assuming you have figured out how to be relatively anonymous and encrypt your data (ssh, tcplay, dm-crypt, gpg) You self host as many services as possible, and directly connect to people/sites you "trust". You have in intelligence terms "gone dark" or "dropped off". I'm going to ignore the issue of DPI for the moment.

This is where the majority of people who care about privacy want to be. They want to be just enough of a hard target that it's not easy to grab up their info. This is what the 90's cryptowars were about. The ability to go dark.

The problem with this state is twofold: First, your data can still be retroactively inspected. So that AES-256 you think is nice and secure is finally cracked by the NSA (if it isn't already). Then they run it on gobbled up data from the past, and suddenly your encryption is worth jack. (save discussion of storage feasibility for another time, some of the math has already been done over on Schneiers blog)

Second, once you become a target for other reasons, they will resort to other methods. First with off-site but close compromise. Usually ISP. Then escalated to remote compromise (trojans, keyloggers, etc through 0-days or backdoors) If for some reason you are still safe at this point, commence black bag operation. While you are at work, they break into your house and plant a physical keylogger, audio bug, copy HDD, install trojan (MBR not encrypted? evil maid!) or any other number of growing possibilities. This boils down to your physical security. Think your ADT alarm system works? Think again (well, this depends on who you pissed off, normal FBI team probably thwarted, special FBI team or JSOC/OSI/CIA/NSA etc? No problem. Cameras and a self-managed security system in parallel with a more obvious one like ADT might work here. Of course, by the time you reach this point... you have much bigger issues and are likely to be harassed consistently or suicided/plane crashed eventually.

Bottom line, security and usability have an inverse relationship, and you have to decide what level works for you. Just getting to hard-target mode should be fine for most people. Work in R&D and make frequent trips OCONUS though? You better step up your game.

Or you could just stop using technology and go live in the mountains.

Comment Grass is not always greener... (Score 3, Insightful) 608

Its not always about money. I recently (about a year ago) went from being a partner at an up and coming IT firm, to the number 2 IT guy for an agriculture company. Before, I was stressed out, always worrying about this client or that client, income, taxes, ticket systems, just in general had too much on my plate. I left due to business structure and strategy disagreements, but now I am working in a laid back environment where I do a good job, and can still take the time to study after hours. IT guys are far too often over-taxed, over-used, and under-appreciated. That is why I think there needs to be a shift in the work environment for IT people or else we will continue to see this constant migration to the always greener grass.

Comment Re:Aptitude (Score 1) 769

You touch on the main point but miss it a bit. Reza Aslan explains how if you are a Palestinian who lives in a trash heap, you are much less likely to be active in terrorism, poorer people are too busy just trying to survive. It is the middle and higher classes, who have the time to ponder the world, who begin to feel disaffected and then use cognitive dissonance to justify certain acts. The majority of real "terrorists" (minus the average brainwashed sunni suicide bombers, who are often minimally religious) are the middle class, which happens to usually be those who go to school. In the middle east, most middle class parents want their kids to be either a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or scientist.

Comment From Haystack Website (Score 3, Informative) 136

Haystack and Tor do fundamentally different things, and actually complement each other.

Tor focuses on using onion routing to ensure that a user's communications cannot be traced back to him or her, and only focuses on evading filters as a secondary goal. Because Tor uses standard SSL protocols, it is relatively easily to detect and block, especially during periods when the authorities are willing to intercept all encrypted traffic.

On the other hand, Haystack focuses on being unblockable and innocuous while simultaneously protecting the privacy of our users. We do not employ onion routing, though our proxy system does provide a limited form of the same benefit.

To a computer, a user using Haystack appears to be engaging in normal, unencrypted web browsing, which raises far fewer suspicions than many encrypted connections. Authorities can block Haystack only by completely disabling access to the internet, which gives Haystack greater availability in crises, during which the authorities may be perfectly willing to block all obviously-encrypted traffic.

Comment Re:"Anti-US" Hacker? (Score 1) 221

Translation: The Americans who are Neoconservatives, a political philosophy which supports using modern American economic and military power to bring liberalism, democracy, and human rights to other countries, and are also Facists, which advocates an authoritarian nationalist political ideology that seeks to organize a nation according to corporatist perspectives, values, and systems, including the political system and the economy, are at it again... Put that way, it really isn't that irrational, as those people in particular WERE the driving force for the invasions. **USMC Iraq Combat vet**

Comment Re:Luddite victims. (Score 1) 221

No one with a lick of self respect or sense believes "they" really thought it would remove armies from foreign lands. Reza Aslan says they just use things like foreign military bases, palestine, etc, as an excuse, but the mistake many make is assuming those aren't valid concerns all on their own. The leaders of AQ are too smart to think such a dumb thing.

Make it right before you make it faster.