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Comment 6502 ASM was the tool of choice (Score 1) 515

In the UK in the early/mid 80's we had the BBC Micro which shared the market with the like of the C64 and Spectrum. Pretty standard kit; 6502 CPU with 32k RAM (later 128k on the BBC Master). BASIC was where I started, but it didn't take long to get into writing assembler - somewhat necessary in order to do anything cool like *ahem* copying games which relied on raw sector reads of deleted data on 5.25" floppies as copy protection. Our local radio station even had a computer show on a Wednesday evening where they would play programs out over the air for people to record on their handy tape deck.

When I started high school they had a whole Econet network built around BBC machines with an SJ Research file server. That sparked a whole new interest and, under the premise of writing a multi-user network game, I managed to persuade SJ to send me a load of very useful documentation. A matter of weeks later I was blowing my own PROMs at home and discreetly slotting them into the BBCs in one of the music classrooms. The docs from SJ were what today's coders would describe as "undocumented APIs", but you would essentially just load up the registers and JSR to a particular address to unleash teenage stupidity with gusto.

Instead of trying to steer me toward applying my skills in a more constructive manner, my school decided to ban me from using any computer in the school for a year. Being somewhat "on the spectrum" I went a little off-piste at that point and headed off down the road of rock n roll, girls and weed for a few years; until it became necessary to actually earn a living.

When I came back to computing things had changed a lot and the PC was taking over; it was late 486 and very early Pentium dominating the market which I found fairly easy to slip into. I became relatively capable with a lot of the common languages of the time and whilst I'm decent with x86 it's only on a handful of occasions I've ever needed to write it in the raw.

I don't work as a coder, but that early experience has been enormously valuable in terms of understanding how things actually work under the hood, being able to turn my hand to most common languages when the need arises, and in terms of the problem solving mentality I learned back in the 80's.

Comment Consumer Law (Score 1) 152

I'm guessing you live in the US? If so, erhaps you should petition your local person of power (senator? congressman? whatever) to address the pitiful consumer laws in your country. In Europe such things are legally bound, in terms of products being fit for purpose for their intended lifetime. In the UK this is implemented in (amongst other things) the Sale of Goods Act which gives you significant ammunition in terms of demanding it be fixed for a period of (I believe) up to 5 years.

Genuinely not trying to be a smart ass; you could be in Europe and be unaware of such laws - hopefully you are. Companies, as a matter of course, will conveniently forget to mention these rights until you beat them around the head with them. But then, that's business - deny deny deny, until you're banged to rights.

Comment That's not how it works (Score 1) 301

Certificate Authorities who operate on the scale absolutely do NOT keep private keys of the issuing intermediate available for harvest. That's what HSMs are for; devices which hold the private key material and perform signing operations on behalf of the CA. The CA can never retrieve the private key(s) so compromising the CA in that scenario should never result in private key disclosure.

Comment Re:Security (Score 1) 139

The main issue is that Oyster does do some level of cleverness. I only ever skimmed the paper so don't recall the details. The main issue in most use cases is that the spec says the token UID should be read-only. When you can buy tokens from China which completely disregard this and let you write sector 0 it's game over immediately for huge swathes of RFID installations which rely on UID alone.

My work ID does door access, printing, loads of stuff. Spoof the UID onto a blank token, remove the chip/antenna, place inside rear cover of watch. Super convenient, but alarmingly easy.

And you know that "tap and go" stuff your credit card has, distinct to the chip & pin functionality, for low-value purchases like a Double Whopper with cheese? Don't even get me started on that...

Comment Re:Inevitable... (Score 3, Insightful) 139

Well thanks Anonymous Coward (latin: buffoonus maximus), but that's a bit of a tenuous jump. I don't even use public transport, I'm just a guy who does a bit of NFC engineering for the day job and knows the difference between the wrong way to do it and the way I do it. The token security is weak, certainly, but it's easy to protect against with some very low-overhead crypto.

Comment Re:And how utterly pointless it is... (Score 1) 195

Well someone got out the pedantic side of the bed this morning. And no, it's an allocation of my ISP's /16. If I'd got the range from RIPE I wouldn't need PTR delegation would I?

I don't actually need the whole block any more, it was something I was doing for a PhD project a few years back. A /27 would do me these days, but they don't seem in a hurry to have them back.

Comment Re: And how utterly pointless it is... (Score 4, Informative) 195

Very well put. Getting a large ISP whose staff "follow the flowchart" to provide such things is not as easy as some make out. I have a number of non-catalogue products including bonded FTTC which has saved me a fortune on what I used to pay for dedicated hosting (I don't need 5 9's uptime). Instead of a call centre grunt giving a standard "We don't provide that service" response, I get a technically literate person on the end of the phone who understands what I'm asking for and says "Let me have a word, see what we can do". You pay for that kind of service, but for me it's worth it.

Comment And how utterly pointless it is... (Score 4, Informative) 195

Personally I'm not a big user of these kind of services, but it's only a handful of the "big" ISPs who are doing the blocking. I prefer a more personal service so I use a small ISP which offers special geeky extras (full class C, reverse NS delegation etc) and they perform no such blocking. But even if I didn't it's trivial to bypass such blunt instruments.

Comment Re:SSH? (Score 1) 607

The proper way to do it is to have a 100% offline CA with its key material split over a number of smart cards so the CA can only be brought up periodically for signing purposes when a certain number of cards are present (say 3 of 5) and even then you use an HSM which performs all activities hence the private key is never accessible even if you wanted it to be. You store the cards in fireproof safes in geographically dispersed secure physical locations, cardholders travel by different modes of transport, at different times of day, stay at different hotels etc. For day-to-day certificate issuance and signing you have a subordinate CA sat in a networked HSM. That way there can only ever be a minuscule (I'd never use the word impossible) risk that the root CA can be compromised and you maintain the ability to revoke the day-to-day CA.

90% of a good PKI is process and governance, not the technology itself.

I suspect what's going on here is that the NSA has the ability to cut certs for things like *, * etc from a trusted commercial CA whose root is already installed in everybody's browser, hence they can man-in-the-middle the traffic without raising alarm. A few sneaky BGP advertisements and this would be surprisingly easy to do.

It's pretty shocking to read most of the comments on here and realise that very few people actually know how PKI works even at the most basic level.

Comment To illustrate the technical idiocy... (Score 3, Funny) 227

I decided, having had a couple of stiff ones (drinks) this evening, to drop them a line via the website in an attempt to contribute a tiny amount of sanity and/or education.

Unfortunately I was told my email could not contain anything other then [0-9|a-z] IN THE BODY and due to my use of punctuation I was not allowed to email them. I was going to "correct" my correspondence, but the I thought "fuck it, I've got work tomorrow", and I have a glass of wine and 2/3 of a frankly very good cigar to do in.

Submission + - Great, Russia's Crops Just Failed (

Lasrick writes: "While everyone else was worrying about hurricanes, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization quietly published its own news of a disaster, the body’s November “Food Outlook” report." Good short post on the problems that are bound to cascade from Russia's crop failure

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