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Zonk from the find-out-by-knocking dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Bruce Schneier has a story on Wired about the new official standard for random-number generators the NIST released this year that will likely be followed by software and hardware developers around the world. There are four different approved techniques (pdf), called DRBGs, or 'Deterministic Random Bit Generators' based on existing cryptographic primitives. One is based on hash functions, one on HMAC, one on block ciphers and one on elliptic curves. The generator based on elliptic curves called Dual_EC_DRBG has been championed by the NSA and contains a weakness that can only be described as a backdoor. In a presentation at the CRYPTO 2007 conference (pdf) in August, Dan Shumow and Niels Ferguson showed that there are constants in the standard used to define the algorithm's elliptic curve that have a relationship with a second, secret set of numbers that can act as a kind of skeleton key. If you know the secret numbers, you can completely break any instantiation of Dual_EC_DRBG."
jcatcw writes "Microsoft has just turned on Reduced Functionality mode, worldwide, and sent a letter to OEMs explaining the consequences of Vista piracy. These include a black screen after 1 hour of browsing, no start menu or task bar, and no desktop. Using fear as a motivator, the email warns resellers to 'make sure your customers always get genuine Windows Vista preinstalled.'"
It may not be the case in your area, but many Wal-Marts are going to be selling Wii's at 12:01 on 11/19. So, you might want to give yours a call and see if they'll be open -- if you wait till 8 they could be long gone.
kdawson from the playing-air-keyboard dept.
avtchillsboro writes, "The NY Times has a rather fluffy article (registration required) about stuff you can buy to 'accessorize' your smart phone & or cell phone (so passé!). What caught my eye was the I-Tech Virtual Laser Keyboard. From the vendor's website: 'The Virtual Laser Keyboard (VKB) uses both infrared and laser technology to generate an invisible field and project a full-size virtual QWERTY keyboard on any surface... The I-Tech VKB reacts exactly like a real keyboard. Direction technology based on optical recognition enables the user to tap the images of the keys, complete with realistic tapping sounds(!), which feeds into the compatible PDA, Smartphone, laptop, or PC. Note: The VKB is both PC and Macintosh compatible!'"