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Comment: Re:Is this technically impossible - no. (Score 1) 190

by mean pun (#47921665) Attached to: Tim Cook Says Apple Can't Read Users' Emails, That iCloud Wasn't Hacked

Let's put it more simply. Aside from the one time pad, there is no publicly available encryption the NSA can't crack.

Although that might be the safest assumption to make, it is not at all clear that that is true. The standard algorithms and key sizes that are currently considered safe are certainly far too strong for brute-force attacks, even using massive and dedicated hardware, and they will remain so in the foreseeable future. It is always possible that there is a weakness in an algorithm, but there are no indications that there are, despite a lot of public scrutiny.

More directly: Edward Snowdon says that he trusts these algorithms.

Comment: Re:Not Hacked? (Score 1) 190

by mean pun (#47918999) Attached to: Tim Cook Says Apple Can't Read Users' Emails, That iCloud Wasn't Hacked

Right, it's not iCloud that was hacked, it was individual user accounts. It's the distinction between "the rotary club has been murdered" and "the members of the rotary club have been murdered".

No, some members of the rotary club have been murdered. (And also some members of the local droid knitting club.)

There is no indication that every iCloud account was hacked, or even that a disproportional number of iCloud accounts were hacked.

Comment: Re:Is this technically impossible - no. (Score 4, Informative) 190

by mean pun (#47918881) Attached to: Tim Cook Says Apple Can't Read Users' Emails, That iCloud Wasn't Hacked

For these people, with their resources, your "encryption", unless it's a one time pad, is no better than ROT13.

From the Snowdon leaks it looks like even the NSA cannot crack properly used strong encryption. That's why they try to harvest or weaken keys, try to get in before or after encryption, or use traffic (metadata) analysis.

Comment: Re:Free Alan Gross (Score 3, Insightful) 532

by mean pun (#47878715) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

I'm sure the United States would be more willing to consider ending the embargo if Alan Gross was freed from prison.

`more willing' in this case would mean saying 'No, no, no way' to ending the embargo, rather than 'No, no, no, no way'.

In other words, it is the political reality in the US that makes this impossible, not the imprisonment of a single guy.

Comment: Re:please (Score 1) 307

by mean pun (#47852455) Attached to: Responding to Celeb Photo Leaks, Reddit Scotches "Fappening" Subreddit

True, but as I said I was generous in my assumptions anyway. In reality the alphabet is larger, Apple must have a minimum password length of at least 8, and I really doubt that you can do 100 tries per second. I therefore am very sceptical that even with a dictionary attack you can get very far, at least not without choosing a specific dictionary for your victim. And if you do that it is no longer a brute-force attack.

As I wrote in an earlier discussion, I know very few websites that impose a limit on the number of login attempts, so it is not reasonable to suddenly declare this an epic fail of Apple. It is good they plugged the hole (although they could just block you for an hour after three failed login attempts), but guessable passwords must have contributed to this.

Oh, and does /. impose such a limit?

Comment: Re:please (Score 4, Interesting) 307

by mean pun (#47848111) Attached to: Responding to Celeb Photo Leaks, Reddit Scotches "Fappening" Subreddit

Yes, it was a brute force attack. Apples now trying to cover it up by claiming "If only you had a better password." Which may be true, if their passwords had been 50 characters long it would have taken the brute force attack a lot long to complete. But the fact of the matter is, Apple forgot to put in an X number of wrong attempts = account locked, procedure in... or it wasn't working properly and people exploited it.

In cryptography, a brute-force attack means that you don't know anything about the password, but just try all the billions of possibilities. Assuming that a password character can only be a-z, A-Z, 0-9, and 10 other characters, and assuming that a password has exactly 6 characters, you would have to try on average (72^6)/2=69657034752 passwords. Assuming you can do 100 tries per second, that would still take more than 8062 days, or more than 22 years on average. Note that I'm being very generous in my assumptions here.

In other words, unless there was another weakness, a brute-force attack was impractical, even without any limit on the number of attempts.

What probably happened was that the passwords were indeed weak. If you know your victim has a dog called 'fido', you can try if she used that name in her password, and in my example you only have to guess two more characters. That only takes seconds or minutes. The attackers may call this brute force, but that's misleading.

Comment: Re:STEM =! Convergent Thinking (Score 2) 58

by mean pun (#47833287) Attached to: Music Training's Cognitive Benefits Could Help "At-Risk" Students

Nobody forces you to listen to only the most recent one-hit wonders. There is now more than 50 years of good-quality recordings of popular music to choose from, and then there are the vast worlds of latin-american music, world music, and classical music. And with services like Spotify they are more accessible than ever.

I admit that seeing good visual art in person is a bit more difficult, especially in some cultural wastelands, but things are no worse than in earlier decades, and there are more good reproductions available online than ever before. Just one good example:

Art has always been like that: 90% of the output is garbage, 9% is pretty good, and perhaps 1% is beyond that. Don't obsess about that 99%, in a few years it will be forgotten. Enjoy the 1%.

Comment: Re:Ummmm (Score 2) 311

by mean pun (#47818487) Attached to: Apple Denies Systems Breach In Photo Leak

I thought Find My iPhone didn't lock accounts after too many failed logins? This was discussed in many twitter conversations yesterday and how the script used no longer works since apple updated the system. I call that a failure in Apple's security. Who the hell forgets to put in that kind of fail safe anymore?

As far as I know, the only website that I use that enforces such a limit is my bank, and even there I think it is heavy-handed. They could just block you for an hour after three failed attempts, or make the time exponential, or something.

Logging in to FMi will be a relatively slow process anyway. A full brute-force attempt is extremely unlikely to succeed, so scripting only makes sense if the attacker knows at least some of the password. That is, if you want to try if one of 'fido1' to 'fido9999' is the right password, you may succeed. Beyond that the search will quickly require too much time.

It is good they plugged the hole, but I hardly consider this an epic failure. Sometimes I think people are just searching for things to grumble at, and the big players, be they Apple, Google, Microsoft, or whatever, are held to impossibly strict standards.

Comment: Re:If the Grand Ayatollah's against it.... (Score 3, Insightful) 542

by mean pun (#47799435) Attached to: Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"

The ones fighting are a tiny percentage of muslims though.

Actively fighting? Probably. That's usual in war. Supporting the fight against the goons? A vast percentage. Like Joe Average, Ahmed Average just wants a quiet life, and only gets into heated disputes about the merits of the local football teams. And narrow-minded Koran thumpers are just as bad for such a quiet life as narrow-minded Bible thumpers.

The fact is a percentage of muslim inman are indirectly supporting the IS through sharing similar beliefs about sharia law.

Funny how you left out `tiny' before `percentage' here. You don't really belief that this percentage is large, do you?

Comment: Re:Eight Megabytes And Constantly Swapping. (Score 1) 635

by mean pun (#47790269) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

Once I tried using its vi emulation mode - only to discover that it (the version at the time) had TWO of them, in true emacs kitchen sink style, and each had different deltas from getting the vi commands right. With only one I might have gone on to use it, and learn the deltas, while edging into native commands. But with two, and no obvious selection, I didn't bother.

That's why wise people have said that emacs is a nice operating system, but they should write a decent editor for it.

Comment: Re:why the focus on gender balance? (Score 1) 579

by mean pun (#47783081) Attached to: Why Women Have No Time For Wikipedia

Wikimedia Foundation efforts to address this "gender gap" have so far remained fruitless.

Why must everything be gender balanced?

I don't know about everything, but perhaps the Wikimedia Foundation simply would like to have a larger pool of contributors? There are often pragmatic reasons to worry about a gender gap.

Asynchronous inputs are at the root of our race problems. -- D. Winker and F. Prosser