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Comment Re: Jupiter Tape? (Score 2) 621 621

There's a huge difference between this claim and lawful intercept on demand -- meaning that a formal request is made to the Telco to intercept such and such number for a period of time, then the calls are re-routed to special recording equipment.

In this case you'd need to have active real-time recording capability for every call made on every switch in the entire national phone network. You'd also have to hide this capability from the techs who work on the switches and/or swear them all to secrecy. That would be tens of thousands of switches, and many thousands of technicians.

Leaving aside the fact that you'd have to re-engineer the switches themselves, since they were not designed to support this kind of logging (no storage capacity, limited CPU, etc.)

All it would take at this point is a single wagging tongue or a Wikileaks dump to break the whole thing open. Since we've seen this happen for much smaller wiretapping deployments, I'm skeptical that you could pull anything like it off without everybody knowing.

What you can do is monitor trunk lines (which is what happened in the case of the Folsom Street tap, mentioned above) and you can certainly build your own wireless interception hardware. But this is a very different thing than what TFA claims.

Comment Re:Jupiter Tape? (Score 2) 621 621

For the Boston Marathon bombers, this would have been a perfect investigative tool. Once you have the phone number of a target, you simply scan backwards through all of their recorded calls.

When I say nobody needs to mine the data, I don't mean nobody every looks at it. I simply mean that you don't mine it in real time. You simply record the text along with the call metadata, and wait until you have some specific targets to investigate. At that point you construct a graph from that starting point, and go back to listen to the relevant calls.

I think you're overestimating the need for voice recognition. People with burner phones still leave records. After the fact you'd look for obvious connections, paying particular attention to numbers classified as likely disposables.

(I have no doubt that some of this already happens at the metadata level, anyway. The question here is whether they actually record call contents to go with it.)

Comment Re:Jupiter Tape? (Score 3, Informative) 621 621

Nobody needs to actively mine the data. The goal would be to collect it. Once you've collected it, you have the ability to follow leads you wouldn't have been able to follow had you not captured it in the first place.

You become aware that an individual may be a person of interest. Ordinarily you'd begin your investigation at that point. With this technology you can now go 'back in time' and figure out not only who that person spoke with, but exactly what was said in those calls. It would be incredibly useful.

I could even see Executive Branch lawyers convincing themselves that this was legal, provided the communications were not actually accessed without some sort of due process.

Of course, the problem with this theory is that it would be very hard to implement, since it would require massive and detectable changes to local telco infrastructure. On the other hand, intercepting wireless communications could be done without any such tampering, provided that the government could obtain a database of SIM credentials for decryption.

Comment Re:The real problem (Score 1) 347 347

They're patenting a method of exchanging the keys to use for that cipher, and claiming using SSL/TLS to exchange the keys to use for RC4 violates their patent.

Not precisely. Here is Claim 1 of the patent:

providing a seed value to both said transmitter and receiver,
generating a first sequence of pseudo-random key values based on said seed value at said transmitter, each new key value in said sequence being produced at a time dependent upon a predetermined characteristic of the data being transmitted over said link,
encrypting the data sent over said link at said transmitter in accordance with said first sequence,
generating a second sequence of pseudo-random key values based on said seed value at said receiver, each new key value in said sequence being produced at a time dependent upon said predetermined characteristic of said data transmitted over said link such that said first and second sequences are identical to one another a new one of said key values in said first and said second sequences being produced each time a predetermined number of said blocks are transmitted over said link, and
decrypting the data sent over said link at said receiver in accordance with said second sequence.

So note that the keys are already provided (exchanged) in the first limitation. Then there's the issue of deriving the receiver and transmitter keys. This could refer to the pseudo-random function (PRF) used to generate session keys in TLS, but my understanding is that they're only asserting this against RC4 configurations.

That last clue is what makes me think that the "first sequence of pseudo-random key values" is RC4 output, and "encrypting" is XORing the plaintext with those values.

Comment The real problem (Score 4, Interesting) 347 347

Nevermind that the patent was actually filed in 1989, long before the World Wide Web was even invented.

The problem here is not that the patent was filed before SSL was invented (about 1995) -- that could be fine, if SSL was using a patented technology that pre-dated its own invention.

The problem here is that the attorneys are accusing the practice of 'sending network records over a wire and encrypting them with a stream cipher', where in this case the cipher is (I believe RC4). However RC4 was invented in the 1980s and should pre-date this patent. I'm certain that somebody used it to encrypt network traffic in an almost identical manner, so there should be prior art.

Moreover, stream ciphers in general have been around for much longer than that. Someone somewhere has published/deployed this idea before. It should not be a live patent. Note that the case has never been tested by a court.

Comment Re:not eliminated? (Score 3, Insightful) 628 628

50% of faculty would be transferred to other engineering departments (ECE, ISE, and BME)

Just to clarify: The other 50% of faculty will move to better Universities. All of the good ones anyway.

My University is already treating this as a huge hiring opportunity.

Comment Re:I like the local backup (Score 1) 332 332

written for MacOS and somehow been run through a translation layer that converts MacOS system calls to Windows system calls.

If that's the case, then the Mac version is converting MacOS system calls to Windows calls and then back again. In short: the problem is iTunes, not the Windows version.

Comment Re:Try the Netscape/Mozilla approach (Score 4, Interesting) 332 332

Set-up a separate team of programmers. One working on the original iTunes for one final release (11), and a new one rewriting the whole thing to produce a better cleaner iTunes (12).

And here's where you run into the real problem: Apple never devotes enough coding resources to do this sort of stuff. This is why it took a year+ to get copy/paste on the iPhone, and it's also why iCloud doesn't feel 'quite there yet'.

I'm not at Apple, but people who are tell me that there's basically an A-team of good coders, and they get shifted around to whatever project makes the most sense at the time. Apple probably has the cash to fix this, but they don't seem to want to.

As a more general complaint, why isn't iOS PC-free yet? iCloud cost Apple a fortune and it almost lets me do everything without iTunes -- yet try to put a video on my phone, suddenly I'm looking for my USB cable and trying to figure out which computer has my iTunes library on it (because god forbid I sync with the wrong one, I'll wipe my phone).

Comment Re:So, how did they discover the leakage? (Score 2) 64 64

So how, then, do they detect the breach, which is usually far more difficult than protecting the stuff in the first place.

A common approach is to insert 'canaries' into the datasets. These are wholly-invented users whose credentials should never show up in any system, anywhere. If they do start showing up in significant numbers, you have a breach. By measuring which, and how many of these fake users turn up, you get a read on how many records you lost.

Not that this necessarily has anything to do with this case. It's also possible that the thieves were openly advertising their haul on the 'net, and some law enforcement agent happened to be listening in.

Comment Re:Meta-post about social tensions evident on post (Score 2) 153 153

Note that I agree with everything the GP poster said, but his comments do have an inkling of truth. We are experiencing an economic change in the United States, and may have been experiencing it for 20 years -- masked only by the 90s stock boom and real-estate bubbles. The change is characterized by lower-than-expected growth, and a difference in the way that growth has been distributed. Much of the growth is occurring overseas, and while Americans are profiting off of it, the profits aren't being equally distributed.

This may or may not have something to do with increasing world population, but in the longer term, we do face real population pressures. Not the Stand-on-Zanzibar strawman, where the country literally gets too crowded. Rather, we're facing huge resource pressures. There's reason to believe that our economy is already being constrained by energy resource limitations (read: oil), and not so much because the world population is increasing (though it is) but because large swaths of it have decided not to live in poverty anymore. There are 2.5 billion people expected to come out of poverty in the next few decades, and nobody has a clue how that's going to work. You could live in the middle of the Mojave desert and still be affected by that. And it's not just oil -- look up 'peak potassium' if you want another reason to be concerned. And of course, there's nuclear proliferation and climate change, which appears likely to happen whether or not you believe that humans are involved.

Many of these concerns can probably be addressed, but not by the economic system we're currently operating. So while I don't think that the Occupy protestors are explicitly looking three to four decades into the future, I hope that they're successful because the only way I see our way of life lasting 50 years is if we all make some dramatic changes to the way our government and economic elites behave. It's going to be a bumpy ride, and our current arrangement is like locking 90% of the population into steerage and driving the ship with abandon through a field of icebergs.

Comment Re:Lol (Score 1) 153 153

there is truth to the point that many of the people at the protests didn't even know why they were there. Literally, when asked on camera, they couldn't give an answer. They just wanted to be part of an anti-authority movement.

Preserving and defending the right to peaceably assemble, all by itself is a good enough justification for doing it from time to time. I bet a lot of protestors initially who initially had no, or no good reason, to protest eventually found one when the cops teargassed them or otherwise used excessive force. They also probably learned a lot about our democracy.

And yes, every protest is going to have some bad apples. Welcome to reality. If this is unacceptable to you, maybe we should abandon our constitutional right to do it in the first place.

Comment Re:Just another class action suit (Score 2) 130 130

Yes. But you're making it as if Apple were Monsanto lying about 3 headed babies because their mothers ate corn in the 3rd trimester.

What I'm saying is that Apple collected a profit by lying to its customers, they should be liable for some or all of that profit.

Has our culture degraded to the point where this thought is shocking? If so, please kill me.

Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists. -- John Kenneth Galbraith