[Nolug] Fwd: CRYPTO-GRAM, January 15, 2007

From: Joey Kelly <joey_at_joeykelly.net>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2007 09:01:33 -0600
Message-ID: <1c0063340701150701m2c6e486ag36b84ef452e401c8@mail.gmail.com>

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bruce Schneier <schneier@schneier.com>
Date: Jan 15, 2007 1:39 AM
Subject: CRYPTO-GRAM, January 15, 2007
To: CRYPTO-GRAM-LIST@listserv.modwest.com

                  CRYPTO-GRAM

               January 15, 2007

               by Bruce Schneier
                Founder and CTO
                 BT Counterpane
              schneier@schneier.com
             http://www.schneier.com
            http://www.counterpane.com

A free monthly newsletter providing summaries, analyses, insights, and
commentaries on security: computer and otherwise.

For back issues, or to subscribe, visit
<http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram.html>.

You can read this issue on the web at
<http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0701.html>. These same essays
appear in the "Schneier on Security" blog:
<http://www.schneier.com/blog>. An RSS feed is available.

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

In this issue:
      Automated Targeting System
      Surveillance Cameras Catch a Cold-Blooded Killer
      Crypto-Gram Reprints
      Auditory Eavesdropping
      Tracking Automobiles Through their Tires
      Licensing Boaters
      Wal-Mart Stays Open During Bomb Scare
      News
      NSA Helps Microsoft with Windows Vista
      Microsoft Anti-Phishing and Small Businesses
      Not Paying Attention at the Virginia DMV
      More on the Unabomber's Code
      BT Counterpane News
      Radio Transmitters in Canadian Coins
      Choosing Secure Passwords
      Comments from Readers

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      Automated Targeting System

If you've traveled abroad recently, you've been investigated. You've
been assigned a score indicating what kind of terrorist threat you pose.
That score is used by the government to determine the treatment you
receive when you return to the U.S. and for other purposes as well.

Curious about your score? You can't see it. Interested in what
information was used? You can't know that. Want to clear your name if
you've been wrongly categorized? You can't challenge it. Want to know
what kind of rules the computer is using to judge you? That's secret,
too. So is when and how the score will be used.

U.S. customs agencies have been quietly operating this system for
several years. Called Automated Targeting System, it assigns a "risk
assessment" score to people entering or leaving the country, or engaging
in import or export activity. This score, and the information used to
derive it, can be shared with federal, state, local and even foreign
governments. It can be used if you apply for a government job, grant,
license, contract or other benefit. It can be shared with
nongovernmental organizations and individuals in the course of an
investigation. In some circumstances private contractors can get it,
even those outside the country. And it will be saved for 40 years.

Little is known about this program. Its bare outlines were disclosed in
the Federal Register in October. We do know that the score is partially
based on details of your flight record--where you're from, how you
bought your ticket, where you're sitting, any special meal requests--or
on motor vehicle records, as well as on information from crime,
watch-list and other databases.

Civil liberties groups have called the program Kafkaesque. But I have an
even bigger problem with it. It's a waste of money.

The idea of feeding a limited set of characteristics into a computer,
which then somehow divines a person's terrorist leanings, is farcical.
Uncovering terrorist plots requires intelligence and investigation, not
large-scale processing of everyone.

Additionally, any system like this will generate so many false alarms as
to be completely unusable. In 2005 Customs & Border Protection processed
431 million people. Assuming an unrealistic model that identifies
terrorists (and innocents) with 99.9% accuracy, that's still 431,000
false alarms annually.

The number of false alarms will be much higher than that. The no-fly
list is filled with inaccuracies; we've all read about innocent people
named David Nelson who can't fly without hours-long harassment. Airline
data, too, are riddled with errors.

The odds of this program's being implemented securely, with adequate
privacy protections, are not good. Last year I participated in a
government working group to assess the security and privacy of a similar
program developed by the Transportation Security Administration, called
Secure Flight. After five years and $100 million spent, the program
still can't achieve the simple task of matching airline passengers
against terrorist watch lists.

In 2002 we learned about yet another program, called Total Information
Awareness, for which the government would collect information on every
American and assign him or her a terrorist risk score. Congress found
the idea so abhorrent that it halted funding for the program. Two years
ago, and again this year, Secure Flight was also banned by Congress
until it could pass a series of tests for accuracy and privacy protection.

In fact, the Automated Targeting System is arguably illegal as well (a
point several congressmen made recently); all recent Department of
Homeland Security appropriations bills specifically prohibit the
department from using profiling systems against persons not on a watch list.

There is something un-American about a government program that uses
secret criteria to collect dossiers on innocent people and shares that
information with various agencies, all without any oversight. It's the
sort of thing you'd expect from the former Soviet Union or East Germany
or China. And it doesn't make us any safer from terrorism.

News articles:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20061208/ap_tr_ge/travel_brief_traveler_screening
or http://tinyurl.com/yygbda
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/02/AR2006110201810.html
or http://tinyurl.com/yl92on
http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/mld/ledgerenquirer/news/local/16196947.htm
or http://tinyurl.com/y7lbnp

Federal Register posting:
http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2006/06-9026.htm

Comments from civil liberties groups:
http://www.epic.org/privacy/pdf/ats_comments.pdf
http://www.eff.org/Privacy/ats/ats_comments.pdf
http://www.aclu.org/privacy/gen/27593leg20061201.html
http://www.epic.org/privacy/travel/ats/default.html
http://www.epic.org/privacy/surveillance/spotlight/1006/default.html

Automated terror profiling:
http://www.schneier.com/essay-108.html
http://www.schneier.com/essay-115.html
http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060206fa_fact
http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6784

No-fly list:
http://alternet.org/story/42646/
http://www.aclu.org/safefree/resources/17468res20040406.html

Secure Flight:
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/07/secure_flight.html

Total Information Awareness:
http://www.epic.org/privacy/profiling/tia/

ATS may be illegal:
http://hasbrouck.org/IDP/IDP-ATS-comments.pdf
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/08/AR2006120801833.html
or http://tinyurl.com/u2j9s
http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,72250-0.html
http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/mld/ledgerenquirer/news/local/16196947.htm
http://leahy.senate.gov/press/200612/120606.html

This essay, without the links, was published in Forbes.
http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2007/0108/032_print.html
They also published a rebuttal by William Baldwin, although it doesn't
seen to rebut any of the actual points. "Here's an odd division of
labor: a corporate data consultant argues for more openness, while a
journalist favors more secrecy." It's only odd if you don't understand
security.
http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2007/0108/014.html

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      Surveillance Cameras Catch a Cold-Blooded Killer

I'm in the middle of writing a long essay on the psychology of security.
  One of the things I'm writing about is the "availability heuristic,"
which basically says that the human brain tends to assess the frequency
of a class of events based on how easy it is to bring an instance of
that class to mind. It explains why people tend to be afraid of the
risks that are discussed in the media, or why people are afraid to fly
but not afraid to drive.

One of the effects of this heuristic is that people are more persuaded
by a vivid example than they are by statistics. The latter might be
more useful, but the former is easier to remember.

That's the context in which I want you to read the very gripping story
about a cold-blooded killer caught by city-wide surveillance cameras.

"Federal agents showed Peterman the recordings from that morning. One
camera captured McDermott, 48, getting off the bus. A man wearing a
light jacket and dark pants got off the same bus, and followed a few
steps behind her.

"Another camera caught them as they rounded the corner. McDermott didn't
seem to notice the man following her. Halfway down the block, the man
suddenly raised his arm and shot her once in the back of the head.

"'I've seen shootings incidents on video before, ' Peterman said, 'but
the suddenness, and that he did it for no reason at all, was really scary.'"

I can write essay after essay about the inefficacy of security cameras.
  I can talk about trade-offs, and the better ways to spend the money.
I can cite statistics and experts and whatever I want. But -- used
correctly -- stories like this one will do more to move public opinion
than anything I can do.

http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=2755037

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      Crypto-Gram Reprints

Crypto-Gram is currently in its tenth year of publication. Back issues
cover a variety of security-related topics, and can all be found on
<http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-back.html>. These are a selection
of articles that appeared in this calendar month in other years.

Anonymity and Accountability:
http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0601.html#1

NSA and Bush's Illegal Eavesdropping:
http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0601.html#12

The Security Threat of Unchecked Presidential Power:
http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0601.html#13

Fingerprinting Students:
http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0501.html#1

Cyberwar:
http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0501.html#10

Diverting Aircraft and National Intelligence:
http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0401.html#11

Fingerprinting Foreigners:
http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0401.html#3

Color-coded Terrorist Threat Levels:
http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0401.html#1

Militaries and Cyber-War:
http://www.schneier.com./crypto-gram-0301.html#1

A cyber Underwriters Laboratories?
http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0101.html#1

Code signing:
http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0101.html#10

Block and stream ciphers:
http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0001.html#BlockandStreamCiphers

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      Auditory Eavesdropping

In the information age, surveillance isn't just for the police.
Marketers want to watch you, too: what you do, where you go, what you
buy. Integrated Media Measurement, Inc. wants to know what you watch
and what you listen to -- wherever you are.

They do this by turning traditional ratings collection on its head.
Instead of a Nielsen-like system, which monitors individual televisions
in an effort to figure out who's watching, IMMI measures individual
people and tries to figure out what they're watching (or listening to).
  They do this through specially designed cell phones that automatically
eavesdrop on what's going on in the room they're in:

"The IMMI phone randomly samples 10 seconds of room audio every 30
seconds. These samples are reduced to digital signatures, which are
uploaded continuously to the IMMI servers.

"IMMI also tracks all local media outlets actively broadcasting in any
given designated media area (DMA). To identify media, IMMI compares the
uploaded audio signatures computed by the phones with audio signatures
computed on the IMMI servers monitoring TV and radio broadcasts. IMMI
also maintains client-provided content files, such as commercials,
promos, movies, and songs.

"By matching the signatures, IMMI couples media broadcasts with the
individuals who are exposed to them. The process takes just a few seconds.

"Panel Members may sometimes delay watching or listening to a program by
using satellite radio, DVRs, VCRs, or TiVo. IMMI captures these viewings
with a 'look-back' feature that recognizes when a Panel Member is
exposed to a program outside of its normal broadcast hour, and then goes
back in time (roughly two weeks) to identify it."

These cell phones are given away to test subjects, who get free service
in exchange for giving up all their privacy.

The company maintains that it's technology cannot possibly be used to
eavesdrop on in-room conversations or cell phone conversations. But
their phone modifications demonstrate that cell phones can be modified
in other ways. Can other eavesdropping software be installed on
off-the-shelf phones? Can it be done without the owner's knowledge or
consent? The potential for abuse here is enormous -- maybe not by IMMI,
but by someone.

Remember, the threats to privacy in the information age are not solely
from government; they're from private industry as well. And the real
threat is the alliance between the two.

http://www.immi.com/
http://www.immi.com/dataClctn.html
http://www.immi.com/privacy.html

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      Tracking Automobiles Through their Tires

Automobile tires are now being outfitted with RFID transmitters:
I'll bet anything you can track cars with them, just as you can track
some joggers by their sneakers.

As I said before, the people who are designing these systems are putting
"zero thought into security and privacy issues. Unless we enact some
sort of broad law requiring companies to add security into these sorts
of systems, companies will continue to produce devices that erode our
privacy through new technologies. Not on purpose, not because they're
evil -- just because it's easier to ignore the externality than to worry
about it."

http://www.schrader-bridgeport.com/index.cfm?location_id=4816

Joggers and sneakers:
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/12/tracking_people.html

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      Licensing Boaters

The U.S. Coast Guard is talking about licensing boaters. It's being
talked about as an antiterrorism measure, in typical incoherent ways:

"The United States already has endured terrorism using small civilian
craft, albeit overseas: In 2000, suicide bombers in the port of Aden,
Yemen, used an inflatable boat to blow themselves up next to the U.S.
Navy destroyer USS Cole, killing 17 sailors and wounding 39 others.

"Terrorism experts point to other ways small boats potentially could
assist in attacks -- for example, a speedboat could deposit saboteurs at
the outlet pipes of a nuclear power plant, or hijackers aboard a cruise
ship. In a nightmare scenario, suicide bombers in a crowded harbor could
use small watercraft to detonate a tanker carrying ultra-volatile
liquefied natural gas, causing a powerful explosion that could kill
thousands."

And how exactly is licensing watercraft supposed to help?

There are lots of good reasons to license boats and boaters, just as
there are to license cars and drivers. But counterterrorism is not one
of them.

http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId=165344

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      Wal-Mart Stays Open During Bomb Scare

A Wal-Mart store in Mitchell, South Dakota receives a bomb threat. The
store managers decide not to evacuate while the police search for the
bomb. Presumably, they decided that the loss of revenue due to an
evacuation was not worth the additional security of an evacuation:

"During the nearly two-hour search Wal-Mart officials opted not to
evacuated the busy discount store even though police recomended [sic]
they do so. Wal-Mart officials said the call was a hoax and not a threat."

I think this is a good sign. It shows that people are thinking
rationally about security trade-offs, and not thoughtlessly being
terrorized.

Remember, though: security trade-offs are based on agenda. From the
perspective of the Wal-Mart managers, the store's revenues are the most
important; most of the risks of the bomb threat are externalities.

Of course, the store employees have a different agenda -- there is no
upside to staying open, and only a downside due to the additional risk
-- and they didn't like the decision:

Here's one employee, quoted in the article:

"It's right before Christmas. They were swamped with people," she said.
"To me, they endangerd [sic] the community, customers and associates.
They put making a buck ahead of public safety."

http://argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061227/NEWS/61227028/-1/UPDATES
or http://tinyurl.com/y337kz

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      News

Scary story of someone who was told by his bank that he's no longer
welcome as a customer, because the bank's computer noticed a deposit
that wasn't "normal." This is what happens when you use computer-based
profiling. Expect more of this kind of thing as computers continue to
decide who is normal and who is not.
http://www.lightbluetouchpaper.org/2006/09/26/closing-in-on-suspicious-transactions/
or http://tinyurl.com/jkf2n

Bill Maher's AccuTerror Forecast. Funny.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dmnpph86B8U

Good article on airport security and the TSA. Matt Blaze and I got some
really good quotes.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/17/business/yourmoney/17digi.html?ex=1324011600&en=db7ab439c0c47253&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss
or http://tinyurl.com/w24s2
By the way, people regularly chastise me for complaining about airline
security but not offering any solutions. I generally send those people
to the last two paragraphs of this article.
http://www.schneier.com/essay-096.html

Cloning RFID passports in five minutes:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/6182207.stm

Airport security tip: don't put your baby through the X-ray machine:
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-baby20dec20,0,6460373.story

Here's someone who climbs a fence at the Raleigh-Durham Airport, boards
a Delta plane, and hangs out for a bunch of hours. Best line of the
article: "'It blows my mind that you can't get 3.5 ounces of toothpaste
on a plane,' he said, 'yet somebody can sneak on a plane and take a
nap.'" Exactly. We're spending millions enhancing passenger screening,
and we ignore the other, less secure, paths onto airplanes. It's
idiotic, that's what it is.
http://www.newsobserver.com/102/story/523482.html

The TSA website is a fascinating place to spend some time wandering
around. They have rules for handling monkeys: "TSOs have been trained
to not touch the monkey during the screening process."
http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/editorial_1056.shtm
And snow globes are prohibited in carry-on luggage:
"Snow globes regardless of size or amount of liquid inside, even with
documentation, are prohibited in your carry-on. Please ship these items
or pack them in your checked baggage."
http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm
or http://tinyurl.com/ptxdw

I get to make fun of airline security in "The New York Times."
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/02/business/02road.html?ex=1325394000&en=48df7bb5fe411ec9&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss
or http://tinyurl.com/ybc8aa

"The Family Guy" on airport security. Amazingly enough, this was aired
before 9/11. I think it makes much better satire now.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JireQ-si43Q

Good essay by Matt Blaze on architecture and airport security:
http://www.crypto.com/blog/airport_architecture/

The Department of Homeland Security's own Privacy Office released a
report on privacy issues with Secure Flight, the new airline passenger
matching program. It's not good, which is why the government tried to
bury it by releasing it to the public the Friday before Christmas.
http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/privacy/privacy-secure-flight-122006.pdf
or http://tinyurl.com/yx6g5o
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/01/secure_flight_p_1.html
I've written about Secure Flight many times.
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/07/secure_flight.html
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/09/secure_flight_n_1.html

The DHS Privacy Office also issued a report on MATRIX: The Multistate
Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange. MATRIX is a now-defunct data
mining and data sharing program among federal, state, and local law
enforcement agencies, one of the many data-mining programs going on in
government (TIA -- Total Information Awareness -- being the most famous,
and Tangram being the newest). The report is short, and very critical
of the program's inattention to privacy and lack of transparency.
That's probably why it too was released to the public just before
Christmas, burying it in the media.
http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/privacy/privacy-matrix-122006.pdf
More on MATRIX:
http://www.aclu.org/privacy/spying/15701res20050308.html
More on data mining:
http://www.epic.org/privacy/profiling/gao_dm_rpt.pdf
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/03/data_mining_for.html
http://www.epic.org/privacy/profiling/tia/
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/10/total_informati.html

OneDOJ is yet another massive U.S. government database, designed to
collect all federal law enforcement databases:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/25/AR2006122500483_pf.html
or http://tinyurl.com/v4jkq
Computerizing this stuff is a good idea, but any new systems need
privacy safeguards built in. We need to ensure that: 1) inaccurate data
can be corrected, 2) data is deleted when it is no longer needed,
especially investigative data on people who have turned out to be
innocent, and 3) protections are in place to prevent abuse of the data,
both by people in their official capacity and people acting unofficially
or fraudulently. In our rush to computerize these records, we're
ignoring these safeguards and building systems that will make us all
less secure.

US-VISIT, the program to keep better track of people coming in and out
of the U.S., is running into all sorts of problems. It's being
scrapped, definitely temporarily and possibly permanently. I like the
trade-off sentiment of this quote from one article: "There are a lot of
good ideas and things that would make the country safer. But when you
have to sit down and compare all the good ideas people have developed
against each other, with a limited budget, you have to make choices that
are much harder." My guess is that the program will be completely
killed by Congress in 2007.
http://www.navyseals.com/community/articles/article.cfm?id=10348
http://www.fcw.com/article97142-12-18-06-Web
http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/articleview/2915/1/1/
http://www.newsday.com/news/opinion/ny-vpvis265028876dec26,0,5078413.story?coll=ny-editorials-headlines
or http://tinyurl.com/y6kyyn
More on US-VISIT:
http://www.schneier.com/essay-072.html
http://www.epic.org/privacy/surveillance/spotlight/0705
http://www.dhs.gov/xtrvlsec/programs/content_multi_image_0006.shtm
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/01/the_failure_of_1.html

The new Congress is -- wisely, I should add also unlikely to fund the
700-mile fence along the Mexican border.
http://www.house.gov/hunter/news_prior_2006/fence.amendment.html

I hope Congress examines the Coast Guard's security failures and cost
overruns.
http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11761
Note that the article talks about serious infighting between the Coast
Guard and the FBI. It would be nice if Congress spent some time on this
(actually important) problem.

The U.S. government is holding an open competition to select a vendor to
implement full-disk encryption on all government laptops. Certainly,
encrypting everything is overkill, but it's much easier than figuring
out what to encrypt and what not to. And I really like that there is a
open competition to choose which encryption program to use. It's
certainly a high-stakes competition among the vendors, but one that is
likely to improve the security of all products. I've long said that one
of the best things the government can do to improve computer security is
to use its vast purchasing power to pressure vendors to improve their
security. I would expect the winner to make a lot of sales outside of
the contract, and for the losers to correct their deficiencies so
they'll do better next time.
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/01/us_government_t.html
I wonder if the NSA is involved in the evaluation at all, and if its
analysis will be made public.

War on Terror: the board game:
http://www.waronterrortheboardgame.com/thegame/

Peter Gutman's "A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection" is
fascinating reading.
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/12/a_cost_analysis.html
http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.txt
http://www.miraesoft.com/karel/2006/12/25/cost-analysis-of-windows-vista-content-protection/
or http://tinyurl.com/yxdqry

The Communications Director for Montana's Congressman Denny Rehberg
solicited hackers to break into the computer system at his university
and change his grades (so they would look better when he eventually ran
for office, I presume). The hackers posted the email exchange instead.
  Very funny.
http://www.attrition.org/postal/z/033/0871.html
http://www.networkworld.com/community/?q=node/9999

Everyone knows that writing your password on your monitor is bad
security. Is it really so hard to realize that attaching your SecurID
token to your computer is just as bad?
http://thedailywtf.com/forums/thread/107695.aspx

AACS (Advanced Access Content System), the copy protection used in both
Blu Ray and HD DVD, might have been cracked sort of.
http://forum.doom9.org/showthread.php?p=924730#post924730
http://www.edn.com/blog/400000040/post/1240006124.html
Excellent analysis:
http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/?p=1104
http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/?p=1106
http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/?p=1107
http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/?p=1108

A review of Rudyard Kipling's "Kim": "Kipling packed a great deal of
information and concept into his stories, and in "Kim" we find The Great
Game: espionage and spying. Within the first twenty pages we have
authentication by something you have, denial of service, impersonation,
stealth, masquerade, role- based authorization (with ad hoc
authentication by something you know), eavesdropping, and trust based on
data integrity. Later on we get contingency planning against theft and
cryptography with key changes."
http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks/24.49.html#subj12
The book is out of copyright. Read it here:
http://whitewolf.newcastle.edu.au/words/authors/K/KiplingRudyard/prose/Kim/index.html
or http://tinyurl.com/tpexg
http://kipling.thefreelibrary.com/Kim
http://www.readprint.com/work-935/Rudyard-Kipling

There's a proposal in Scotland to believe it or not issue ID cards
to children to stop bullying. Seems like bullies take other kids' meal
cards, and by stopping that with ID cards bullying will magically cease.
  I agree with MSP Patrick Harvie's quote at the end of the article.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/6210977.stm

A Florida judge ruled that the defeated candidate has no right to
examine the source code in the voting machines that determined the
winner in a disputed Congressional race.
http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061229/BREAKING/61229007
or http://tinyurl.com/ylydxx
http://electionlawblog.org/archives/ess-pdf.pdf

Meanwhile, Ciber Inc., the laboratory that tested most of the nation's
electronic voting machines, has been temporarily barred from approving
machines because it was found not to be following testing procedures and
was unable to document that it performed required tests.
http://www.libertypost.org/cgi-bin/readart.cgi?ArtNum=171610

This molecular keypad lock is impressive:
http://www.engadget.com/2006/12/29/chemists-craft-molecular-keypad-lock/
or http://tinyurl.com/y94uau

The "New York Times" has a blog post on how easy it is to eavesdrop on
an open Wi-Fi session. Nice to see this getting some popular attention.
http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/01/04/04pogue-email/

How to recover numbers from blurred images:
http://dheera.net/projects/blur.php
http://reddit.com/info/xaae/comments/cxbgy

Here's a dumb idea: MI5 terror alerts by e-mail:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6242883.stm
I've written about terror threat alerts in the UK before:
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/08/britain_adopts.html

1933 article on crooked gambling technology. In every generation,
criminals are near the leading edge in applying new technology to steal
things.
http://blog.modernmechanix.com/2007/01/09/strange-inventions-used-by-crooked-gamblers/
or http://tinyurl.com/yzzchz

They're stealing the identities of our children! Is this the kind of
thing that spurs legislators into action? After all, we have to protect
our children.
http://www.bankrate.com/nltrack/news/debt/20070103_child_identity_theft_a1.asp
or http://tinyurl.com/vagyq

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      NSA Helps Microsoft with Windows Vista

The NSA "helped" Microsoft with Windows Vista. They're not disclosing
what they did, of course, but Microsoft insiders have told me that it
was nothing more than assisting with assurance testing.

But I am suspicious.

It's called the "equities issue." Basically, the NSA has two roles:
eavesdrop on their stuff, and protect our stuff. When both sides use
the same stuff -- Windows Vista, for example -- the agency has to decide
whether to exploit vulnerabilities to eavesdrop on their stuff or close
the same vulnerabilities to protect our stuff. In its partnership with
Microsoft, it could have decided to go either way: to deliberately
introduce vulnerabilities that it could exploit, or deliberately harden
the OS to protect its own interests.

A few years ago I was ready to believe the NSA recognized we're all
safer with more secure general-purpose computers and networks, but in
the post-9/11 take-the-gloves-off eavesdrop-on-everybody environment, I
simply don't trust the NSA to do the right thing.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/08/AR2007010801352.html
or http://tinyurl.com/ycgv9f

Another opinion:
http://www.computerworld.com/blogs/node/4330

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      Microsoft Anti-Phishing and Small Businesses

Microsoft has a new anti-phishing service in Internet Explorer 7 that
will turn the address bar green and display the website owner's identity
when surfers visit online merchants previously approved as legitimate.
So far, so good. But the service is only available to corporations: not
to sole proprietorships, partnerships, or individuals.

Of course, if a merchant's bar doesn't turn green, it doesn't mean that
they're bad. It'll be white, which indicates "no information." There
are also yellow and red indications, corresponding to "suspicious" and
"known fraudulent site." But small businesses are worried that
customers will be afraid to buy from non-green sites.

That's possible, but it's more likely that users will learn that the
marker isn't reliable and start to ignore it.

Any whitelist system like this has two sources of error. False
positives, where phishers get the marker. And false negatives, where
legitimate honest merchants don't. Any system like this has to
effectively deal with both.

http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB116649577602354120-5U4Afb0JPeyiOy1H_j3fVTUmfG8_20071218.html?mod=rss_free
or http://tinyurl.com/y7ezyr

"Phinding Phish: An Evaluation of Anti-Phishing Toolbars", by L. Cranor,
S. Egleman, J. Hong, and Y. Zhang.
http://www.cylab.cmu.edu/files/cmucylab06018.pdf

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      Not Paying Attention at the Virginia DMV

Two men have been issued Virginia driver's licenses, even though they
were wearing outlandish disguises when they had their pictures taken at
the Department of Motor Vehicles. The videos are on-line.

The Virginia DMV is now demanding that the two come back and get real
pictures taken.

I never thought I would say this, but I agree with everything Michelle
Malkin says on this issue:

"These guys have done the Virginia DMV -- and the nation -- a big favor.
Many of us have tried to argue how much of a joke these agencies and our
homeland security remain after 9/11--particularly the issuance of
driver's licenses (it was the Virginia DMV that issued state photo ID to
several 9/11 hijackers who were aided by illegal aliens).

"But few dissertations and policy analyses drive the message home more
effectively than these two damning videos."

I honestly don't know if she realizes that REAL ID won't solve this kind
of problem, though. Nor will it solve the problem of people getting
legitimate IDs in the names of people whose identity they stole, or real
IDs in fake names by bribing DMV employees.

Videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jOFf_KB3lI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owvO640ODwA

Malkin:
http://michellemalkin.com/archives/006589.htm

REAL-ID:
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/05/real_id.html

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      More on the Unabomber's Code

Last month I wrote about Ted Kaczynski's pencil-and-paper cryptography.
  It seems that he invented his own cipher, which the police couldn't
crack until they found a description of the code amongst his personal
papers.

The link I found was from KPIX, a CBS affiliate in the San Francisco
area. Some time after writing it, I was contacted by the station and
asked to comment on some other pieces of the Unabomber's cryptography
for a future story (video online).

There were five new pages of Unabomber evidence that I talked about (all
available on the CBS5 website) All five pages were presented to me as
being pages written by the Unabomber, but it seems pretty obvious to me
that pages 4 and 5, rather than being Kaczynski's own key, are notes
written by a cryptanalyst trying to break the Unabomber's code.

In any case, it's all fascinating.

http://cbs5.com/investigates/local_story_363002905.html

Last month's entry:
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/12/unabombers_code.html

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      BT Counterpane News

Schneier is participating on a panel on economic issues and security at
an OECD Security Workshop in Washington, DC on January 31st.

Schneier is speaking on "The Psychology of Security" at the RSA
Conference in San Francisco on February 6:
http://www.rsaconference.com/2007/US/

Schneier is speaking at the Linux World Open Solutions Summit in New
York on February 14:
http://www.linuxworldsummit.com/live/14/

Schneier is speaking at the 8th Annual Privacy and Security Conference
in Victoria, BC on February 15th:
http://www.rebootconference.com/privacy2007/about.php

DarkReading profile of Schneier:
http://www.darkreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=114230&WT.svl=news1_1

Schneier had an op-ed published in the "Arizona Star" about wholesale
surveillance:
http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/164048.php
The news hook I used was an article about the police testing a
vehicle-mounted automatic license plate scanner. Unfortunately, I got
the police department wrong. It's the Arizona State Police, not the
Tucson Police.
http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/144548

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      Radio Transmitters in Canadian Coins

Bizarre:

"Canadian coins containing tiny transmitters have mysteriously turned up
in the pockets of at least three American contractors who visited
Canada, says a branch of the U.S. Defense Department.

"Security experts believe the miniature devices could be used to track
the movements of defence industry personnel dealing in sensitive
military technology."

Sounds implausible, really. There are far easier ways to track someone
than to give him something he's going to give away the next time he buys
a cup of coffee. Like, maybe, by his cell phone.

And soon after, we had an update:

"A report that some Canadian coins have been compromised by secretly
embedded spy transmitters is overblown, according to a U.S. official
familiar with the case.

"'There is no story there, ' the official, who asked not to be named,
told The Globe and Mail.

"He said that while some odd-looking Canadian coins briefly triggered
suspicions in the United States, he said that the fears proved
groundless: 'We have no evidence to indicate anything connected with
these coins poses a risk or danger.'"

Take your pick. Either the original story was overblown, or those
involved are trying to spin the news to cover their tracks. We
definitely don't have very many facts here.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/spy_money
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070110.wspycoin0110/BNStory/National/home
or http://tinyurl.com/ym7zpb

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      Choosing Secure Passwords

Ever since I wrote about the 34,000 MySpace passwords I analyzed, people
have been asking how to choose secure passwords. There's been a lot
written on this topic over the years, but most of it seems to be based
on anecdotal suggestions rather than actual analytic evidence. What
follows is some serious advice.

The attack I'm evaluating against is an offline password-guessing
attack. This attack assumes that the attacker either has a copy of your
encrypted document, or a server's encrypted password file, and can try
passwords as fast as he can. There are instances where this attack
doesn't make sense. ATM cards, for example, are secure even though they
only have a four-digit PIN, because you can't do offline password
guessing. And the police are more likely to get a warrant for your
Hotmail account than to bother trying to crack your e-mail password.
Your encryption program's key-escrow system is almost certainly more
vulnerable than your password, as is any "secret question" you've set up
in case you forget your password.

Offline password guessers have gotten both fast and smart. AccessData
sells Password Recovery Toolkit, or PRTK. Depending on the software it's
attacking, PRTK can test up to hundreds of thousands of passwords per
second, and it tests more common passwords sooner than obscure ones.

So the security of your password depends on two things: any details of
the software that slow down password guessing, and in what order
programs like PRTK guess different passwords.

Some software includes routines deliberately designed to slow down
password guessing. Good encryption software doesn't use your password as
the encryption key; there's a process that converts your password into
the encryption key. And the software can make this process as slow as it
wants.

The results are all over the map. Microsoft Office, for example, has a
simple password-to-key conversion, so PRTK can test 350,000 Microsoft
Word passwords per second on a 3-GHz Pentium 4, which is a reasonably
current benchmark computer. WinZip used to be even worse -- well over a
million guesses per second for version 7.0 -- but with version 9.0, the
cryptosystem's ramp-up function has been substantially increased: PRTK
can only test 900 passwords per second. PGP also makes things
deliberately hard for programs like PRTK, also only allowing about 900
guesses per second.

When attacking programs with deliberately slow ramp-ups, it's important
to make every guess count. A simple six-character lowercase exhaustive
character attack, "aaaaaa" through "zzzzzz," has more than 308 million
combinations. And it's generally unproductive, because the program
spends most of its time testing improbable passwords like "pqzrwj."

According to Eric Thompson of AccessData, a typical password consists of
a root plus an appendage. A root isn't necessarily a dictionary word,
but it's something pronounceable. An appendage is either a suffix (90
percent of the time) or a prefix (10 percent of the time).

So the first attack PRTK performs is to test a dictionary of about 1,000
common passwords, things like "letmein," "password," "123456" and so on.
Then it tests them each with about 100 common suffix appendages: "1,"
"4u," "69," "abc," "!" and so on. Believe it or not, it recovers about
24 percent of all passwords with these 100,000 combinations.

Then, PRTK goes through a series of increasingly complex root
dictionaries and appendage dictionaries. The root dictionaries include:

* Common word dictionary: 5,000 entries
* Names dictionary: 10,000 entries
* Comprehensive dictionary: 100,000 entries
* Phonetic pattern dictionary: 1/10,000 of an exhaustive character search

The phonetic pattern dictionary is interesting. It's not really a
dictionary; it's a Markov-chain routine that generates pronounceable
English-language strings of a given length. For example, PRTK can
generate and test a dictionary of very pronounceable six-character
strings, or just-barely pronounceable seven-character strings. They're
working on generation routines for other languages.

PRTK also runs a four-character-string exhaustive search. It runs the
dictionaries with lowercase (the most common), initial uppercase (the
second most common), all uppercase and final uppercase. It runs the
dictionaries with common substitutions: "$" for "s," "@" for "a," "1"
for "l" and so on. Anything that's "leet speak" is included here, like
"3" for "e."

The appendage dictionaries include things like:

* All two-digit combinations
* All dates from 1900 to 2006
* All three-digit combinations
* All single symbols
* All single digit, plus single symbol
* All two-symbol combinations

AccessData's secret sauce is the order in which it runs the various root
and appendage dictionary combinations. The company's research indicates
that the password sweet spot is a seven- to nine-character root plus a
common appendage, and that it's much more likely for someone to choose a
hard-to-guess root than an uncommon appendage.

Normally, PRTK runs on a network of computers. Password guessing is a
trivially distributable task, and it can easily run in the background. A
large organization like the Secret Service can easily have hundreds of
computers chugging away at someone's password. A company called Tableau
is building a specialized FPGA hardware add-on to speed up PRTK for slow
programs like PGP and WinZip: roughly a 150- to 300-times performance
increase.

How good is all of this? Eric Thompson estimates that with a couple of
weeks' to a month's worth of time, his software breaks 55 percent to 65
percent of all passwords. (This depends, of course, very heavily on the
application.) Those results are good, but not great.

But that assumes no biographical data. Whenever it can, AccessData
collects whatever personal information it can on the subject before
beginning. If it can see other passwords, it can make guesses about what
types of passwords the subject uses. How big a root is used? What kind
of root? Does he put appendages at the end or the beginning? Does he use
substitutions? ZIP codes are common appendages, so those go into the
file. So do addresses, names from the address book, other passwords and
any other personal information. This data ups PRTK's success rate a bit,
but more importantly it reduces the time from weeks to days or even hours.

So if you want your password to be hard to guess, you should choose
something not on any of the root or appendage lists. You should mix
upper and lowercase in the middle of your root. You should add numbers
and symbols in the middle of your root, not as common substitutions. Or
drop your appendage in the middle of your root. Or use two roots with an
appendage in the middle.

Even something lower down on PRTK's dictionary list -- the
seven-character phonetic pattern dictionary -- together with an uncommon
appendage, is not going to be guessed. Neither is a password made up of
the first letters of a sentence, especially if you throw numbers and
symbols in the mix. And yes, these passwords are going to be hard to
remember, which is why you should use a program like the free and
open-source Password Safe to store them all in. (PRTK can test only 900
Password Safe 3.0 passwords per second.)

Even so, none of this might actually matter. AccessData sells another
program, Forensic Toolkit, that, among other things, scans a hard drive
for every printable character string. It looks in documents, in the
Registry, in e-mail, in swap files, in deleted space on the hard drive
... everywhere. And it creates a dictionary from that, and feeds it into
PRTK.

And PRTK breaks more than 50 percent of passwords from this dictionary
alone.

What's happening is that the Windows operating system's memory
management leaves data all over the place in the normal course of
operations. You'll type your password into a program, and it gets stored
in memory somewhere. Windows swaps the page out to disk, and it becomes
the tail end of some file. It gets moved to some far out portion of your
hard drive, and there it'll sit forever. Linux and Mac OS aren't any
better in this regard.

I should point out that none of this has anything to do with the
encryption algorithm or the key length. A weak 40-bit algorithm doesn't
make this attack easier, and a strong 256-bit algorithm doesn't make it
harder. These attacks simulate the process of the user entering the
password into the computer, so the size of the resultant key is never an
issue.

For years, I have said that the easiest way to break a cryptographic
product is almost never by breaking the algorithm, that almost
invariably there is a programming error that allows you to bypass the
mathematics and break the product. A similar thing is going on here. The
easiest way to guess a password isn't to guess it at all, but to exploit
the inherent insecurity in the underlying operating system.

Analyzing 24,000 MySpace passwords:
http://www.wired.com/news/columns/0,72300-0.html

Choosing passwords:
http://psychology.wichita.edu/surl/usabilitynews/81/Passwords.htm
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/IE/community/columns/passwords.mspx
http://www.brunching.com/passwordguide.html

AccessData:
http://www.accessdata.com

Password Safe:
http://www.schneier.com/passsafe.html

This essay originally appeared on Wired.com.
http://www.wired.com/news/columns/1,72458-0.html

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      Comments from Readers

There are hundreds of comments -- many of them interesting -- on these
topics on my blog. Search for the story you want to comment on, and join
in.

http://www.schneier.com/blog

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

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CRYPTO-GRAM is written by Bruce Schneier. Schneier is the author of the
best sellers "Beyond Fear," "Secrets and Lies," and "Applied
Cryptography," and an inventor of the Blowfish and Twofish algorithms.
He is founder and CTO of BT Counterpane, and is a member of the Board of
Directors of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). He is a
frequent writer and lecturer on security topics. See
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BT Counterpane is the world's leading protector of networked information
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Crypto-Gram is a personal newsletter. Opinions expressed are not
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Copyright (c) 2007 by Bruce Schneier.

-- 
Joey Kelly
< Minister of the Gospel | Linux Consultant >
http://joeykelly.net
(sent via gmail.com, no GPG signature)
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