zen.org Communal Weblog

October 26, 2005

Every stranger could know your birthday…

Filed under: — brendan @ 01:40 GMT

What’s to stop someone from creating a watch that beams a 3-foot radius looking for RFID goodies to tuck away for later?

From CNET’s news.com:

Passports to get RFID chip implants
October 25, 2005, 12:12 PM PDT

All U.S. passports will be implanted with remotely-readable computer chips starting in October 2006, the Bush administration has announced.

Sweeping new State Department regulations issued Tuesday say that passports issued after that time will have tiny radio frequency ID (RFID) chips that can transmit personal information including the name, nationality, sex, date of birth, place of birth and digitized photograph of the passport holder. Eventually, the government contemplates adding additional digitized data such as “fingerprints or iris scans.”

Over the last year, opposition to the idea of implanting RFID chips in passports has grown amidst worries that identity thieves could snatch personal information out of the air simply by aiming a high-powered antenna at a person or a vehicle carrying a passport. Out of the 2,335 comments on the plan that were received by the State Department this year, 98.5 percent were negative. The objections mostly focused on security and privacy concerns.

snipped

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October 1, 2005

You mean I could try to collect the whole set?

Filed under: — brendan @ 14:18 GMT

According to a newspaper out of Atlanta, a [cracker] broke into a computer database at the University of Georgia. They were able to get access to “the Social Security numbers of employees in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and people who are paid from that department. More than 2,400 numbers, belonging to roughly 1,600 people, may have been exposed, UGA spokesman Tom Jackson said Wednesday.”

Umm … does that mean up to 800 of those people had at least two social security numbers?

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May 20, 2005

ATMs are still sloppy with security

Filed under: — brendan @ 06:11 GMT

A local ATM in Ireland accepted a foreign credit card for getting some cash. The receipt included 14 of the 16 digits for the card. Why so many?

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April 29, 2005

Don't believe everything you hear

Filed under: — brendan @ 13:28 GMT

At the recent CFP in Seattle, a rep of the US State Department tried to explain why the RFID proposed to go into US passports was as safe as could be. Nobody can read a thing unless they’re about 10cm (about 4 inches) away. Really.

You worry too much.

Then Barry Steinhardt of the ACLU showed how you could be a good meter (about 3-1/2 feet) away and still read all of the details from it. It’s just as applicable to UK passports; the experiences of both sides ought to make people reasonably worried about not letting the government give your identity away with sloppy use of RFID.

The US seems to be backing off a bit. They’re considering a plan they had rejected before—require authentication before allowing anything to be read from the RFID chip, and even then require it to be transmitted in encrypted form. Sounds a lot better to me…

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April 25, 2005

Jumping back 13 years

Filed under: — brendan @ 15:42 GMT

It’s hard to believe, but I left Widener University 13 years ago. (Gasp.) The first edition of “Zen and the Art of the Internet” was created there (well, partly at the campus and a good portion at Sven’s house over Christmas break). It still has my brendan@cs.widener.edu address in it. However, realistically speaking, I don’t think I remember getting a Zen-related email to that address for at least 3 or 4 years, if not longer. Instead, I’ve just gotten a fair amount of spam for it—approaching 40-50% of all of the spam I get, in fact. It’s time I accept the loss of my Widener address, and save a lot of wasted bandwidth.

I asked the postmaster in the CS department there to please finally remove the alias. Big change for me, but one that needed to happen. At home tonight we’re enjoying some wine in tribute to the experiences of college and some life-long friends I made while I was there. (Well, all right, more the friends and getting to hack in the CS lab all night long, day after day. And we’re just having wine cuz we really like wine. But you get the idea.)

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March 12, 2005

AIM TOS is wacked

Filed under: — elana @ 03:05 GMT

Thank you Slashdot, for letting me know that AOL changed the TOS for AIM. And that they can read and use anything from your conversations. I need to change, methinks. At least I’m not using fully AIM software, which seems to change it. Adium is my poison. But are any of our friends interested in changing to Jabber with me?

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March 1, 2005

Grounded: Millionaire John Gilmore stays close to home while making a point about privacy

Filed under: — brendan @ 12:25 GMT

There’s a great article to help you learn about John Gilmore’s efforts to call the government’s bluff, insisting we shouldn’t be tracked like felons when we want to fly around the U.S.: Grounded: Millionaire John Gilmore stays close to home while making a point about privacy.

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December 22, 2004

Does any search or seizure qualify as illegal anymore?

Filed under: — brendan @ 16:25 GMT

A really cool read: John Perry Barlow’s description of a real Taste of the System: unacceptable searches of checked baggage on an airline, and his efforts to use the case to resuscitate the 4th Amendment.

And, the 200+ comments accompanying his post.

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December 13, 2004

Big Brother Creep

Filed under: — brendan @ 03:47 GMT

When VCRs hit the world, they gave you the ability to save your copy of MacGyver or Whiz Kids or Airwolf seemingly forever. You could take a break from cleaning your living room to watch that dusty tape with the General Hospital episode where Luke and Laura were married. TV executives didn’t seem too bothered by the idea.

With the aggressive eroding of privacy in all facets of our lives, the pull for power by some seems unstoppable. There are reports that at least one Time Warner exec wants to introduce a new rule: Transitional Fair Use. You may have recorded last night’s episode of Gilmore Girls on your MythTV box, but watch out: if this plan actually takes form, they’d effectively put a timer on the show. You’d have less than a week to watch what you recorded—when the next episode airs, you lose the right to watch the previous week’s recording. They wouldn’t make your box burst into flame or raid your home with a S.W.A.T. team, but they could still claim that you broke the rules.

You pirate, you.

There are folks who are noticing the effort and conversations abound. Hopefully this “possibility” won’t turn into a law buried in a bill about proper care of public grasslands or a quiet regulation from the FCC.

If we’re not careful the needs of the money may be fed by the needs of the few. Or the one.

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December 10, 2004

The funny result of calling from Ireland -> a US 800 # to identify the caller

Filed under: — brendan @ 14:58 GMT

Phone companies often offer customers the (barely documented) ability to identify the number you’re using. By calling an ANAC (Automatic Number Announcement Circuit), you can have the system tell you the phone number that is the origin of your call. I was reading stuff in the Blacklisted! 411 online forum and saw a post about one such ANAC that you can use all over the US: +1-800-444-4444. That number also appears with many others in The Tech FAQ‘s own explanation of ANACs.

If you use the “default” monopoly phone provider in Ireland, you have to pay a lot for calls to America. But there are alternatives, including one company called TeleStunt that charges the normal national call rate in Ireland for international calls to the US. (All calls in Ireland are charged by the minute—we don’t have any “local calls” like the US does.)

Through Telestunt I called the 800 number above, and was told by MCI that I was calling from “719 555 1212”; look it up, and you find that it’s directory assistance in Colorado. For kicks, I dialed the 800 number directly, and was told that I was calling from 212 918 0000; the prefix of 212-918-xxxx is in New York City. Call it, and you get a busy signal. A Google search of the number just finds a PDF with a weird phone bill.

Wonder why Telestunt shows me in Colorado, and via our regular phone company we’re in New York City?

Does that imply that a harassing or threatening call from here to the US wouldn’t be (easily) traceable?

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