Privacy, Security Archive

Are Spy Chips Set to Go Commercial?

"Could we be constantly tracked through our clothes, shoes or even our cash in the future? I'm not talking about having a microchip surgically implanted beneath your skin, which is what Applied Digital Systems of Palm Beach, Fla., would like to do. Nor am I talking about John Poindexter's creepy Total Information Awareness spy-veillance system, which I wrote about last week. Instead, in the future, we could be tracked because we'll be wearing, eating and carrying objects that are carefully designed to do so." Read the interesting editorial at ZDNews.

2002 Year in Security

TechTV published a look at security issues in the past year, and they found that worms, viruses, spam, and other security scourges are on the rise, and are affecting common computer users as well as big data centers: If 2001 was the year of corporate headaches, 2002 saw average PC users under attack.

A Lesson in Cyber-Security

"Reid Ellison is a 15-year-old high school hacker who, for a time, had complete control over his school's computer system. A hack attack from a smart kid is just about any school's worst nightmare. But Ellison got a pat on the back for his exploits, rather than a slap on the wrist. This is actually a good news story about a kid who used his hacking talents for good rather than evil." Read the full story at ABC News.

NSA Backdoor Key Into All MS OSes Since WIN95 OSR1

This is old news, but still, everyone should be aware of it. And on a theoretical basis, the co-creator of UNIX, Ken Thompson wrote a paper on which he explains that it is possible to add a backdoor to a closed source compiler and when you first compile any other compiler (e.g. GCC), any concequent compiles from this new compiler, would include the backdoor by default. Pessimistic thought of the day: nothing is safe. Neither Windows or Unix. I wonder how "safe" the Security-Enhanced Linux from NSA is. It might secure you from others, but does it secure you from NSA itself? ;P Update: More info here (Ms reply on the issue) and here.

Microsoft Slammed for Palladium ‘Lies’

Critics have slated a Microsoft document on its upcoming Palladium digital rights software as containing several outright "lies". The 1,500-word frequently asked questions (FAQs) paper gives some details about how Palladium will work and how it relates to digital rights management and the Trusted Computing Platform Alliance. Read the rest at VNUnet. Update: Another article about Palladium, here.

Security Expert Gives OSes Poor Security Grade

Is open source software more secure? To most Linux enthusiasts, the answer is obvious: open source means more people can look for bugs and a faster dissemination of bug fixes. Obviously, yes. But noted security expert Gene Spafford says that this may not necessarily be true. According to the Purdue professor of computer science and co-author of Practical Unix & Internet Security, good security begins with good design and neither Windows nor Linux have much to brag about in that category.

Is Linux Really More Secure Than Windows?

Ramen, Slapper, Scalper and Mighty may sound like Santa's new team of reindeer, but they are creatures far lower down the evolutionary ladder -- and much less welcome. These are worms that have infiltrated Linux servers in recent months, commandeering the servers for use in distributed denial-of-service attacks. Linux enthusiasts who once believed they were less vulnerable to attack than Microsoft users have begun to wonder whether they were overly optimistic. Read the article at NewsFactor.

Intel Reveals Share Denial PC Scheme

"Intel is to embed certificates into the processor. Embedded certificates will be a feature of Banias processors next year. What are the downsides? You can count them. The business of ownership of a device suddenly becomes very important indeed - your PC is tagged at birth, and your choice of operating system or browser is contingent on the generosity of the certification authority." Read the report at TheRegister.

Exploiting Design Flaws in the Win32 API for Privilege Escalation

"This paper presents a new generation of attacks against Microsoft Windows, and possibly other message-based windowing systems. The flaws presented in this paper are, at the time of writing, unfixable. The only reliable solution to these attacks requires functionality that is not present in Windows, as well as efforts on the part of every single Windows software vendor." Read the paper over at In the meantime, another flaw affects Windows 2000, Linux and MacOSX.