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Category: Politik

The Cryptowars, twenty years ago

So there was this article in Motherboard, pointed out to me by a very young friend of mine. It’s an FBI memo written in 1995 during the Unabomber investigation, about a mysterious, close-knit group of gamers, playing D&D.

The article gives hardly any context at all, but that kind of memo during this time is not unusal or even remarkable, from a historical perspective.

So here is a bit of historic perspective, not quite in chronological order.

John Gilmore

A lot of this, from a US point of view, revolves around the person of John Gilmore. Gilmore was an early Sun Microsystems employee and hardware (VLSI chip) designer, and this part of his career made him financially independent. He’s also politically active, libertarian,  and coined the famous saying »The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.«

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Pitch Battle and the Eurovision

Britain and the Eurovision have a very reliable history, and it is not really a very successful one (“Still a better result than Germany!”). So, why not try something different?

Pitch Battle is an Acapella Casting Show on BBC One. That is, it’s a casting show for people who can actually sing, because nothing but singing is allowed. Using Pitch Battle to select the Eurovision Entry 2018, or the group – how about that?

Yeah, I thought you’d like that plan.

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Google: “Federated learning”, Apple: “Differential privacy”

Google is using a strategy called “Federated Learning” to keep privacy sensitive data being used for AI purposes private. They basically download a preliminary model to the phone, modify the data with the observed behavior on the phone and upload the diffs back to Google Cloud, where they merge it to the existing data.

Apple uses “Differential Privacy“, where they add noise to the data so that observed privacy sensitive data observed in the cloud for one user may or may not be actually true, but individual noise contributions even out statistically over the whole data set.

Meanwhile, #neuland talks about Datenkraken and does… nothing?

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Understanding Energiewende

Arne Jungjohann has been speaking about the German Energiewende at a Clean Energy Discussion in Ottawa last week.

Jungjohann offered “lessons” from the German clean energy story, also called the Energiewende. It’s the German word for the country’s clean energy transition, and Jungjohann co-wrote a book about it: Energy Democracy — Germany’s Energiewende to Renewables. […]

It’s a technical transition from fossil fuel-based energy to renewable energy, he explained, but it’s also a political and cultural transition; it’s a transition from centralized, corporation-dominated energy, to a smaller, decentralized power grid.

 

 

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WSJ on Government Backdoors, intentional and unintentional

The episode underscores the folly of the U.S. law enforcement demand that tech companies install backdoors into their devices and services.

the WSJ comments. This time the leak is an unintentional backdoor the NSA used to get onto devices. The NSA used the Vulnerabilities Equities Process to determine that ETERNALBLUE is burnt and informed Microsoft, which then promptly generated an urgent critical patch, which did not make it out to systems in the field fast enough.

There is little difference according to the WSJ between flaws being used as government backdoors, and intentional government backdoors, which may be detected and abused, or leaked. So this whole Wannacry(pt) thing is a very good example of what will happen with Government mandated backdoors in systems.

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Handling Wannacrypt – a few words about technical debt

So Microsoft had a bug in their systems. Many of their sytems. For many years. That happens. People write code. These people write bugs

Microsoft over the years has become decently good with fixing bugs and rolling out upgrades, quickly. That’s apparently important, because we all are not good enough at not writing bugs. So if we cannot prevent them, we need to be able to fix them and then bring these fixes to the people. All of them.

The NSA found a bug. They called it ETERNALBLUE and they have been using it for many years to compromise systems.

In order to be able to continue doing that they kept the bug secret. That did not work. The bug is now MS17-010 or a whole list of CVE-entries.

The NSA told MS about the bug when they learned that it had leaked, but not before. Microsoft patched the bug in March 2017, even for systems as old as Windows XP (which lost all support in 2014), but many people did not install the patch.

The result is “the largest cyberattack in the world”.

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Entering the US on Visa

The US of A have clarified what exactly they need from you to get a Visum: It’s approximately everything except your passwords. The Register has a list: »

  • Travel history during the past fifteen years, including source of funding for travel.
  • Address history during the past fifteen years.
  • Employment history during the past fifteen years.
  • All passport numbers and country of issuance held by the applicant.
  • Names and dates of birth for all siblings.
  • Name and dates of birth for all children.
  • Names and dates of birth for all current and former spouses, or civil or domestic partners.
  • Social media platforms and identifiers, also known as handles, used during the past five years.
  • Phone numbers and email addresses used during the past five years.«

People are already reacting to that in completely expected ways.

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