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Comment Paper, SideKick... etc (Score 1) 286

For non-computer situations, good old mechanical pencil and paper, with a good supply of fresh lead and erasers.
For the MS-DOS days, good old SideKick by Borland
For later MS-DOS days, Edwin (the macros were very helpful)
For Windows, Notepad++
For Lots of notes, WikidPad
For quick notes on a windows machine I don't own.... Notepad
For notes on a linux machine - gedit / WikiPad
For notes on RSTS/E - VTedit, or Teco

Submission + - SPAM: Britain Votes To Leave The European Union

cold fjord writes: In a national referendum of enormous consequence the people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have voted to leave the European Union by a margin of 51.8% to 48.2% with 95% of the votes counted in a record turnout of 72.2% of the electorate. The consequences of the U.K. leaving the E.U. will unfold over a period of years and Europeans are left wondering if Britain will be the only country to leave the E.U., or only the first. With this decision comes reports that Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland and the SNP in Scotland will be calling for dissolving their union with the United Kingdom. The future of the current Prime Minister, David Cameron, is uncertain. The British Pound has taken a beating. But Britain is now moving into a very different future from the one it appeared to have just yesterday, able to make choices independent from Brussels.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - The future that doesn't have to be (nymag.com)

ka9dgx writes: New York Magazine has a ripping yarn about how NYC could be completely shut down by cybper-attacks, based on well researched links....

The thing that continues to drive me crazy about this is that while all this stuff is possible, becoming probable over time, it doesn't have to be this way. No amount of "cybersecurity" in the world can fix the actual root cause... our Operating Systems are stupid... they require you to trust any program you run, and don't offer any tools to limit the scope of what a program can do.

Imagine the power grid with no circuit breakers what so ever... this is what Windows, MacOS, Linux etc all do, as well as all the embedded Internet of Things devices we're buying by the millions. They blindly trust every line of code you tell them to run, or that they auto-run when you insert a USB stick, etc.

Operating Systems exist (but are not mainstream), like Genode (which I still don't have running on my laptop... any year now....grrrr), which offer a way do securely run things, the key to this magic non-stupid OS?.... it simply asks which files you want to let a program use, and never blindly trusts anything. The thing doesn't have to be any less user friendly either... Word could just use the file you chose, instead of asking you and doing it itself.

I figure about 10 more years until this type of OS goes mainstream... I keep mentioning it every chance I get... a low level PR campaign to fix cybersecurity for once and for all.

Comment Re:Is it too late? Have we lost the battle? (Score 2) 133

Doug, there are many non-technical networks in the world which are very complex, have threats against them, yet manage to persist in spite of those threats. For example, consider the world of banking prior to computing. Every branch was subject to attack, but at worst, the financial losses in any theft were limited to those on hand in the vault. There was no way to leverage an activity in one branch against the whole of the banking system.

However, in modern operating systems, there is no practical way to segregate activity of any program to a limited sphere of influence... any line of code can be used as a lever to attack the whole system. There are operating systems which require the user to specify which files and/or folders a process is allowed to use, in a user friendly way.... they are by no means common, nor mainstream... but they do exist, one such example is the Genode project.

This ability to actively and positively limit the scope of changes of any line of code means that complexity doesn't have to equate to insecurity, at least from my perspective. The power grid functions with millions of end points, but circuit breakers keep errant toasters from taking down the grid. The same can be done with computing, and it doesn't have to be user hostile.

The war is not lost, but we have to stop building our fortifications out of crates of C4 before we can turn things around.

Comment Cassandra statement #n+1 (Score 1) 33

Hi, I'm a modern day Cassandra... I've been shouting for years about a solution that can actually fix computer security, and render all this "cyberwar" crap obsolete...

Even the Wikipedia page is a mess, but you'll find the solution buried in it... it's called the Principle of least Privilege, and I figure it's 10 more years of hell before people catch on and actually start to fix things.

It is entirely possible to give users a modern GUI interface which transparently and intuitively allows them to decide which resources a program should be allowed to access, which doesn't add any cognitive load, and results in a system which can't be hacked, given a reasonably careful user. Also, by reasonably careful, I mean someone like your parents - someone who understands how cash and credit cards and social engineering work, and hasn't been scammed out of real money. You don't have to be the NSA to secure your PC, but you do have to have an OS that doesn't trust everything. (Good luck finding one!)

Comment Re:That's SELinux, which is now reasonably conveni (Score 1) 67

Having an admin set up a static set of privileges on each and every program isn't a sustainable approach... what's needed for general purpose use is called the "power box", in which the operating system directly asks the user about which files to open, etc... instead of trusting the application to do it.

Users can generally decide correctly what files to access, etc.. you don't have to have an admin do it.

Comment Re:Solution found, needs to be adopted... (Score 1) 67

You've got a lot of hard won experience, I'll give you that... but the problem is a whole new layer, deeper than you're used to thinking about. Imagine if you built a old style fort, moved your troops in, and generally felt secure.... only to find out the bricks it was built out of were actually blocks of C4, and any one of them could send the whole place up in a flash.

If you can imagine that scenario... you know what computer security is really like, no matter how careful you are. Because Windows, Mac-OS, Linux, and pretty much every non-mainframe OS out there runs every line of code with the full privileges of a user account at all times, there's no way for a user to limit the scope of what a program does at run time.

The solution is to use an operating system that is designed from the ground up to simply ask which files the user wishes to operate on, instead of blindly trusting the program to do the right thing. This makes it possible for the user to limit side effects by design, which then makes it possible to have end nodes that are reasonably secure... which makes it possible to have real security.

I still don't see the change to things like Genode happening for at least 10 more years.

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