- “Eh … they’re just people.” Drug warriors and cancer patients. (H/T Anon.)
- Not a big threat at this point, but a new virus targets “the Internet of things.” Which also means it’s targeting Linux. (H/T H)
- Quick! Somebody appoint Jim Rogers to head the Fed! (H/T JB)
- Wealth and inequality. No matter what your politics (or lack thereof), these charts are alarming. This is not what a healthy country looks like. The comparisons of perception-ideal-reality are fascinating, though.
- Protecting us against depressed paraplegic Canadians. And doing it in the creepiest possible way.
- “The congregation was besides themselves.” Ungrammatical but quite pointed in this allegedly charitable season. Carl Bussjaeger, who pointed me to the article, adds a story of his own.
- Ah, but if you think churchfolk can be uncharitable, you ain’t seen nothin’ until you encounter a city ordinance.
Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category
- The warm, fuzzy (literally!) face of the police state. (H/T Jim Bovard)
- China finally going to stop stockpiling US dollars?
- You already know this, don’t you? Nevertheless, it never hurts to be reminded of the four magic statements to make to the police when you’re stopped and they want to poke around and see what they might be able to pin on you.
- Mostly for the nerds hereabouts: Rethinking cloud storage (and in particular, rethinking SpiderOak).
- “Security and privacy: Experts connect the dots as debate rages.” (Tip o’ hat to MJR)
- Via the Infamous Oregon Law Hobbit: The Skunk Party Manifesto.
- Solid scientific evidence for intelligent design! Erm, that is design by fish.
- Finally, Chaser — the famous border collie who can identify more than 1,000 objects by name and understands simple sentences is now the subject of her very own book. (Link is to an interview with Chaser’s owner/trainer, who’s pretty exceptional himself. Windsurfing and biking at 85!) You can of course get the book here. Video below and at the interview link.
- This has been making its way around the gunblogs. I wasn’t going to link it because I’ve never had reason to care what the head of Interpol thinks about anything. But reader L.A. tipped the balance. And really, it’s quite something when the honcho of a global police agency comes out in favor of a well-armed citizenry — and recognizes that the only alternative is making us all “safe” via a lock-down security state.
- 2016: Looking back on Obamacare.
- Seattle is using eminent domain to seize a valuable property from a 103-year-old lady. It’s currently a privately owned parking lot. The city feels they have a much better use for it: a government owned parking lot.
- Yep, in any other era, this would have had to be satire.
- Speaking of the Great(est) Obama Fiasco … the other day in comments blogfriend MJR, citizen of the Great Frozen North, compared Obamacare with the much-despised, horrendously over-costly, and now thoroughly defunct Canadian gun registry. What I didn’t realize was the same freakin’ company was the lead contractor for … guess what? Wow.
- Entertaining the NSA. (H/T Jim B. in comments)
- Yes, much, much better to lose privacy altogether than to sully your Pure Progressive Soul by joining forces with libertarians. Even standing beside them at a rally might give you cooties. J.D. Tuccille delivers a well-deserved takedown.
- Dogs. Shaking themselves. More entertaining than you’d imagine. (And here’s the book. Any dog lovers on your Christmas list?)
- You’ve heard of Bridezilla. And the Wedding Guest from Hell. Now meet The Mad Bomber Groom. Guess you gotta give him points for creativity. Not brains. Definitely not brains. But creativity.
- Experian, the worst and most pervasive of the big three credit bureaus sold data to an identity-theft “service”.
- Nooooo, really? And you say both parties are doing it?? Impossible! Quite impossible!
- Well, that’s one way to ensure that politicians actually get your message.
- Good idea. But I’d trust it a lot more if it didn’t come from Google.
- Death panels. Not a good thing. But yes, they’re real (Hellllooo, Canada!). And in the eyes of those who think we’re too stupid to make our own decisions, they are a good thing. (Terms like slippery slope and camel’s nose come to mind here.)
- Three mind-boggling optical illusions.
How the Bible and YouTube are making it easier to crack passwords.
(Tip o’ hat to H.)
You may have heard that John McAfee (of both anti-virus fame and possibly-shooting-his-neighbor-in-Belize infamy) claims to have plans for an inexpensive, portable device to foil NSA snooping. Says he just needs to get backers & such — that the device itself is already feasible.
It’s called “Decentral” or “Dcentral,” depending on which article you read.
When I expressed doubt that the half-mad McAfee could pull this off, an acquaintance we shall call “Boris Badenov” for his background, replied:
Well, I guarantee it will be a flawed individual who comes up with a “peaceful” solution to the Stasi… and shooting a neighbor on occasion may be necessary to maintain the balance of nature. Coming up with a solution from a flawed man who shoots the occasional neighbor will often times prevent “good” men from lining people up against the wall in haste.
My experience looking at US intelligence estimates from the cold war is that the Stasi and KGB used physical/human intel to much greater affect than we did with our so-called ELINT… and it didn’t matter. Our Stasi/NSA, even twenty years ago, relied primarily on electronic intrusion… and mostly we got it wrong… and it never seems to matter that it’s a huge waste.
If I was in a plot against the totalitarian thugs and their Stasi minions who our are current masters, I would not use the telephone or internet. It’s easy to spoof electronic surveillance, and even easier to “go dark”, which gives the snoopers nothing of value. The two methods were usually combined by the Soviets (The GRU were masters at this), giving us fake electronic traffic to monitor while running the real operation in the ELINT Dark. When they invaded Czecho in 68 they moved about 8 divisions from central Russia without us seeing or hearing a thing. Cut to 91, The less than astute Saddam does the same thing in Kuwait.
The trick for us is going to be able to go dark to their eyes and yet still communicate as we choose. It’s completely doable and I think McAfee is on to something. A bunch of fat, lazy, Cheetos eating Aspies are not liable to gather any usable or accurate information… but they can do a lot of damage for sure. OK, enough! …. I’m full of useless info… maybe I should have worked for the Staso?
One thing’s for sure. If McAfee doesn’t succeed at making and marketing this, somebody will produce something like it. In fact, what do you want to bet that, within five years, the NSA and its equally UnAmerican allies will be shut out of a LOT of online and telephone traffic by measures that, in retrospect, will seem to have been amazingly simple?
In any case, loved McAfee’s final comment.
Ever since Pamela Jones shut down Groklaw and announced she was not only abandoning the site but quitting the Internet entirely in light of the Edward Snowden revelations, I’ve been thinking about this.
At the time, though I found her reasons poignant and pertinent, I thought she was overreacting. Now, I don’t know.
Personally, I’m not on the verge of quitting. A big part of my life is here. And all of my career (such as it is) is here. That’s been true since 1986 when a client bought me my first 300-baud modem and set it up so I could electronically submit stories to him. It was certainly true in 1993 when I met my Significant Sweetie (now ex, but still friend) on a FIDOnet gun-rights bulletin board. It’s definitely true now when I’d likely starve to death and blow away without the ‘Net.
Still, I think most of us (and most notably a lot of tech types hereabouts) feel the temptation.
We’ve always been independent sorts around here. We avoid being messed with by power trippers. If we can’t avoid, we “mess back.” But right now, there’s nothing we can do to counter the electronic offenses being committed against us and against freedom by the UberGoverment whose all-probing eye peers out from Mordor on the Potomac.
Oh, sure, we can play the old “keyword” game with our emails. (There’s even a new Firefox/Chrome browser add-on to let us do the same thing with URLs and HTTP headers now.) That’s fun. And it’s always true that irritating and misdirecting the bastards is worthwile, even (or perhaps especially) as tyranny grows. We can also use GPG, dump Windows for Linux, use TOR, etc. etc. etc. And eventually heroic tech wizards may save us — and the Internet — from NSAuron.
But now …? Now …? Now we seem to be faced with using dodges that may or may not help or simply shrugging and going on because, realistically, there’s not much else to do. So …
Would you quit the Internet? If so, what would you do instead? If not, how do you adapt to knowing that everything you do online (or on the phone) is probably recorded and analyzed, even if it then disappears into the maw of a datacenter’s godzillabyte storage capacity, never to be seen again?
Now, that said, I’m “quitting the Internet” for the next three days. I may pop in to post some cute dog pictures tomorrow, and I’ll check in to moderate comments at least once a day. Otherwise, I’m away for a bit from the Bad News Net.
The non-surprising, horrendously shocking, news about the National “Security” Agency’s perfidy gets worse. Again, we’re dealing with something that’s been speculated about for years but whose real bogeyman shape has only now materialized thanks to Edward Snowden.
Wired has one take on it — and some doubts.
A friend whose profession is data center security has a more apocalyptic take (the second half of what he says is what we all need to be aware and beware of):
RSA has now admitted that they pushed a known flawed random number generator in most if not of all of their products …. I know a bit about the firm. It is chock full of serious crypto people.
The flawed code was known in 2006 and widely discussed in 2007 and since at crypto conferences, hacker cons, Schneier’s blog, etc. There is absolutely no way that RSA just made a mistake. They were coerced or willing accomplices in making a flawed PRNG the default in their products.
I’ve asked for an emergency session at the upcoming data center conference; I don’t know if I will get it. Here is the gist of what I think most people are missing.
Snowden was not the first to steal NSA data. He is only the first to publicize it.
The NSA’s massive database is essentially impossible to secure even with competent help and leadership. They have neither. Snowden was just a sysadmin, no special skills. Yet to this day the NSA has no idea what he took or when.
This means that other people can and will take information from the NSA and sell it to interested parties. You can think about that list as long as you would like.
Why did Willie Sutton rob banks? When the NSA leadership decides to “vacuum it all up,” and “collect everything” where do they go? Data centers. The banks of the information age.
Every data center of any size, every one of them, has been attacked. We must assume that, it is almost certainly true. Even if the NSA hasn’t the time or interest to break the crypto on the data streams, they are recorded.
This means there are huge sacks of digital treasures stored at the NSA. Pick your target. Credit cards? Stock info? Automate stock buy./sell strategies? Oil fields? Diplomatic cables? All of them are there, insecurely stored at the laughably misnamed NSA, waiting for thieves.
And we know that the thieves can get not only the data, they can get the keys to the weakened crypto protecting that data.
Every firm in the Fortune 500 must assume that they are compromised. No matter what they think about the NSA and the fedgov, they have to now think about what to do with the knowledge that their adversaries can almost certainly get access to every byte passed into or out of their data centers in the 21st century.
The Guardian, the outfit that’s broken most of the Snowden-related news, opened a story:
A major American computer security company has told thousands of customers to stop using an encryption system that relies on a mathematical formula developed by the National Security Agency (NSA)
I have to believe that one reason people aren’t reacting more strongly to this is that the problem is so huge that it’s hard to grasp the implications.
Again, this isn’t talking about the crypto we keep on our computers and use for email or document privacy. This is about the “security” that’s supposed to protect the Internet. Banking. Buying. Medical data. Credit cards. Everything.
If the news is true, then the NSA — and its accomplices in alleged private enterprise — have not only broken the Internet, but they have put the safety and security of every person who uses the Internet at dire risk. They have opened everyone’s “private” data to thieves and villains of every stripe — that is, thieves and villains even outside of the thieving, villainous NSA itself.
Oh, what a travesty to commit in the name of “security.”
(Wired story via Borepatch.)