Monthly Archives: June 2009

Design in Security; Don’t Wait to Defend

56+Northern+States+Barn+doors.JPG Gunnar recommends building in security instead of waiting to catch the horses after they’re out of the barn:
The way out of this is for security to get involved in building better systems, getting involved in the system development, Identity management, and coding. Come to the table with useful tools such as Threat Models and Misuse Cases, and make sure you are there early enough to have an impact. Three places to focus are application development, databases, and identity. Time for security to live in code and config not in Visio drawings.
As Gandhi supposedly said about western civilization: “That would be a good idea!”

Iranian Internet Disturbances

iran20090615.gif Here’s an example of some Internet routing in Iran, in this case on the way to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday 15 June 2009. Normally, routing and latency don’t change much. Starting Saturday 13 June, the day after the election, routing and latency have become increasingly disturbed. More here.

Twitter Reschedules

whereistheirvote.jpg Twitter recognizes that a network upgrade is important, but the role twitter is playing in Iran is more important, and reschedules for 1:30 AM Iranian time. Now that’s risk management!

Would that U.S. states had all rescheduled Diebold and the like to the junk heap after the 2000 U.S. election.

Also notice who twitter’s hosting service is: NTT America. I’ve been predicting for years that the U.S. duopoly’s intransigence would lead to NTT and other competent international ISPs eating their lunch, and I see it’s beginning to happen.


Windows Considered Not Ready for the Desktop

R. McDougall takes the high ground for open software:
0. Premise: free and open software will stay indefinitely. Full stop. You may argue eternally, but free software is the ultimate disruptive technology, moving up from the low ground, replacing complicated and ill-fitting proprietary alternatives at every turn, such as web-browsers, e-mail clients, video players, office software, etc., which at one point cost money, but now most people find that they can no longer justify spending money to buy an upgrade for more “Clippy the Happy Assistant”. Proprietary software will only be able to stay relevant by searching out ever more niche applications, or by massive expenditure on research in high-end applications for which it will take time for the ideas and algorithms to filter down to the greater community, and thus a brief window of profitability will remain. Software patents are nothing but a destructive force to retard innovation, and with more and more of the technology and legal communities realizing this basic fact, software patents are about to go away forever.
I think he’s being a bit optimistic about software patents, but no more so than Windows advocates claiming that open software is a flash in the pan. Then he gets into the undeniable stuff, chief of which is:
1.1 History’s greatest playground for malicious software. With unpatched machines on the internet taking only minutes to become infested with viruses, or become a slave bot for massive illegal spamming operations, Windows is a blight on the Internet’s infrastructure.
And it keeps getting better. He says he wrote it just as a game, but it pretty much spells out why I don’t use Windows, plus why Windows is a menace to the Internet.

Pirate Party Legitimized by Winning EU Parliament Seat

Support for Prohibition began to diminish as enforcement became increasingly expensive and it was becoming apparent that the ban was doing little to curb crime and drunkenness. There’s lots of academic and commercial effort put into stopping software and other intellectual property piracy, especially for videos. A form of risk management, I suppose, but one that ignores the much bigger risk to traditional intellectual property of causing political blowback such as what just happened in Sweden:
“Together, we have today changed the landscape of European politics. No matter how this night ends, we have changed it,” Falkvinge said. “This feels wonderful. The citizens have understood it’s time to make a difference. The older politicians have taken apart young peoples’ lifestyle, bit by bit. We do not accept that the authorities’ mass-surveillance,” he added.
Funny thing about what happens when the majority of the population participates in an illegal activity: eventually it’s not illegal anymore.
At least partially, The Pirate Party puts its increased popularity down to harsh copyright laws and the recent conviction of the people behind The Pirate Bay. After the Pirate Bay verdict, Pirate Party membership more than tripled and they now have over 48,000 registered members, more than the total number of votes they received in 2006.

With their presence in Brussels, the Pirate Party hopes to reduce the abuses of power and copyright at the hands of the entertainment industries, and make those activities illegal instead. On the other hand they hope to legalize file-sharing for personal use.

Many of those abuses of power probably already are illegal; the appropriate laws just aren’t being enforced. We saw this during alcohol prohibition in the U.S., and we see it now with marijuana prohibition in the U.S. The first prohibition ended, the second probably will, and meanwhile, online “piracy” is on its way to being redefined.