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Comment: Re:Why do companies insist on producing shit ? (Score 2) 64

It's seriously difficult to understand the mindset of the organization and how they came into this. Did they even bother hiring a competent cryptographer when designing their product ? Were they duped by someone they hired and led to design a insecure product ? Or is encrypting an RFID communication a difficult and non-trivial task with no known vetted solution ?

I don't think that the problem is difficult in some fundamental way (the problem of verifying a remote host with asymmetric crypto has been reasonably well explored with SSL/TLS, and an access control system has the advantage of being able to trust only a CA it controls, and the advantage that you need to get physical access to an RFID reader pad to attempt attacks); but there are significant practical challenges.

RFID chips are pretty power constrained, since they only get whatever energy they can scavenge from the reader's RF output; and customers want them to be cheap. The industry also has fairly long product lifecycles (since, once you've put in a zillion card readers and integrated it with all your other building security stuff you don't want to rip it out and upgrade in 2 years).

It isn't so much a 'there is no known cryptographic solution to this problem' issue as a 'Why yes, we still have major customers using the 'security' provided by the lousy proprietary cryptosystem that our engineers were able to cram into a cheap, power-constrained, chip using the fab processes available in the mid to late 90s, and we really don't want to fix that' issue.

Comment: Re:If you can't do, sue! (Score 1) 64

Most of the world knows that security is fleeting, and those that deepend on the law to preserve obscurity is the fleetingness of all. Do they not even consider that citizens of nations that don't give a shit about legal protections are the very people their customers need to be protected against? These companies should be paying rewards to anyone who can defeat their protections, not punishing them.

Aside from pure cultural dysfunction (of the sort that causes even some software companies to threaten the people who do free security testing for them, and even offer them time to fix bugs before releasing the proof of concept), the issue is that HID and friends are closer to locksmiths than to software companies.

RFID (and non-standardized but conceptually similar contactless short range RF fobs and slightly longer range button-cell-powered keyless entry systems) tends to be painfully computationally limited, since the tags need to be cheap and need to work on a tiny power budget. The older ones are even worse, of course, since they had less efficient silicon fabrication options to work with. For the same reason, such devices aren't usually little microcontrollers with flashable software; but mostly or entirely fixed-function implementations of crap proprietary crypto systems. Depending on when the corresponding card readers and access control stuff was installed, and what the customer picked, those parts of the system may also be hard to upgrade without ripping them out and replacing them(and, since this is a physical security issue, the readers are more likely to be embedded in walls/bolted to stuff/otherwise tied down and hardwired, so it won't just be swapping out a bunch of desktops.

Because upgrading in-software/firmware is often difficult or impossible, and upgrading involves ripping out hardware that was supposed to have years of service life, HID and friends really don't want to hear about it. They'd much rather just try to tamp down public awareness of the issue, hope that there are no high-profile breaches of customers capable of suing them, and pretend it isn't a problem until the flawed parts have aged out.

As much as it's a repulsive, dishonest, and definitely-unworthy-of-support-by-the-courts tactic, it must be admitted that plenty of known-broken lock designs continue to more-or-less do their jobs (if attackers are still forcing doors rather than just picking locks, the lock is apparently still effective) for years after their weaknesses become public knowledge, so it is entirely probable that various HID access fobs will quietly age out without any major incidents. No need to threaten the researchers about it, though.

Comment: Re: Most hated character flaw (Score 1) 64

Incidentally, while iced coffee is refreshing and invigorating, you can also get refreshing and relaxing by icing irish coffee. I don't think I've ever seen the option on a menu; but I was pleasantly surprised by the effectiveness of the experiment; and a place that offers irish coffee will usually be willing to put some over ice on request.

Comment: Re:Eh (Score 1) 193

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#48185043) Attached to: The Woman Who Should Have Been the First Female Astronaut
At this point, I'd be tempted to make any would-be astronaut pass the 'n months in standby and hard vacuum before the signal from mission control wakes you up' test, because Our Robot Overlords have gotten considerably better; but it'd be no worse, and possibly better, than the John Glenn launch a few years back.

Comment: Re:That's absurd, aim your hate cannon elsewhere. (Score 3, Interesting) 305

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#48183517) Attached to: If You're Connected, Apple Collects Your Data

People love to hate Apple. It's a thing. Also, is there any evidence this data is not anonymised by Apple?

'Anonymised' is mostly a weasel word. It isn't always impossible; but the more interesting the dataset is, the more likely it is that there's a clever re-identification attack with good odds of success. If you are serious about preventing those, you tend to have to nuke the data so hard that they aren't of much interest anymore.

Unless robustly demonstrated to the contrary, it's an essentially worthless claim.

Comment: Re:Overly broad? (Score 3, Insightful) 406

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#48182003) Attached to: Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres
I'd go with 'no' and 'no'. Yes, the end goal is to discover the cause, the mechanism, and the effect as precisely as possible; but the universe of possibilities is absurdly gigantic, easily larger than you could ever afford to study.

So what do you do? You start by trying to cut the search space into more manageable chunks with this sort of study, which doesn't provide the level of precision you ultimately want; but can (relatively) cheaply and easily provide some leads on what is worth looking at in greater detail and what isn't.

Comment: Re:FOSS (Score 1) 183

Next up, after negative user response, ChromeOS to publish full source code and become free user-respecting software.

ChromeOS tends to ship on Tivoized hardware, which isn't exactly Gnu-Freedom; but, in terms of the software on top of the bootloader, what are the deficiencies? I know it ships a proprietary Flash, and whatever bullshit makes Netflix work; but is there anything else?

Comment: Re:Designed in US, Built in EU, Filled in Iraq (Score 2) 376

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#48154589) Attached to: Pentagon Reportedly Hushed Up Chemical Weapons Finds In Iraq
If memory serves, the tricky bit was that any evidence we had based on receipts or equivalent, either ours or those of other Good Guys, would be both embarassing and largely obsolete; since the Iran/Iraq war was not exactly a moral triumph on our part, and it long enough past that any remaining munitions would be hazmat but close to useless for military purposes. Evidence of anything more recent, though, was hampered by being almost entirely bullshit.

Comment: Incidentally... (Score 1) 212

I can definitely appreciate the value of some skills that fall under 'coding', some logic, thinking about breaking down problems in a rigorous way, gaining the ability to make a computer do boring stuff programmatically rather than one-by-one by hand.

However, my understanding(both in personal experience and from what I've read on the subject) is that actually-good, especially actually-really-scary-good, programmers have to be born and then polished, and that just throwing more practice at the unsuited doesn't actually improve them as much as you'd hope.

Is the theory that current education, lacking in CS, is failing to identify promising candidates? That we should be ensuring more suitable people go into CS rather than other areas that require similar talents? That the world really needs more rote-learned java monkeys to keep wages safely low?

Comment: Re:Systems perpetuate themselves (Score 1) 228

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#48138955) Attached to: Pentagon Unveils Plan For Military's Response To Climate Change

birth control is escapist fantasy.

Tell that to basically anywhere in the first world... Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, countries seem to go through a generation or two where modern sanitation and medicine have kicked in; but modern prophylaxis hasn't, which goes really badly; but once you get past that, results have been excellent the world over.

Do not underestimate the value of print statements for debugging.