VnutZ's Articles, Page 5 of 71

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30 Jul 13
Newspaper

Manning Acquitted of Aiding the Enemy

Bradley Manning, the lowly Army PFC responsible for America’s largest leak of classified documents has been acquitted of the most serious charge against him – aiding and abetting the enemy. He was still found guilty of countless other charges regarding the leaks which will likely leave him imprisoned for the remainder of his life. Elizabeth Goitein, of the Liberty and National Security Program commented, “The judge rejected the government’s argument that Manning, by virtue of his training as an intelligence officer, must have known that the information he disclosed was likely to reach al Qaeda. But she also ruled that Manning had reason to believe his disclosures could harm the U.S., even if that was not his goal.”

10 Jul 13
Cup

DISA Rolls Out Corporate Denial of Service

Everyone used to bitch and moan about AKO (Army Knowledge On-line) as a horrible email solution for the Army – with its outdated interface and horrendously small storage capacity. But there were always workarounds for exemptions on storage, the BETA program for a modern OWA UI and bypassing the whole thing with IMAP. Oh, if we could only have that old system back.

Then DISA found it in the best interest of the Army to roll-out Enterprise Email. It’s kind of like a self-imposed denial of service. Login is only possible with a CAC because DISA seems to believe its impossible for an adversary to cache your credentials and replay them. Whether you have a CAC or not, the system continually blasts you with pop-up windows to re-enter your PIN … sometimes as often as every ten minutes. Even if you enter the PIN, it will still time you out in the middle of your work causing it to be lost. Somehow, they’ve taken a working Microsoft product (OWA) and mutilated it so the page doesn’t render properly in anything but Internet Explorer. If it happens to die, the page will NEVER come back unless you close your whole browser down and re-open it – the rest of your tabs and work be damned. I used to be accessible to my subordinates and unit nearly at all times with my IMAP access from home and work machines. But then I had to have CAC readers installed at work just to access the page and as I mentioned before, it continually times me out or fails the PIN re-entry because my screen locked. Needless to say, the inconvenience of it all means I only check once a day every couple of days now.

10 Jul 13
Newspaper

Congress Continues To Be Effective

It’s a good thing there’s nothing important for Congress to be doing, right? Democrat representatives from Maryland and Texas have proposed H.R. 2617 which is meant to establish a national park … on … the … moon. The best part describes how, well, let me just quote it directly:

The Secretary may accept donations from, and enter into cooperative agreements with, foreign governments and international bodies, organizations, or individuals to further the purpose of an interagency agreement entered into under paragraph (1) or to provide visitor services and administrative facilities within reasonable proximity to the Historical Park.

30 Jun 13
Cup

Technical Interviews ARE Necessary

A recent article in TechCrunch discussed the technical interview’s death … as a good thing. “The whole purpose of an interview was to serve as a proxy for actual performance, because we didn’t have the tools and infrastructure to easily observe and measure the latter,” which the author asserts as moot in the modern age such that employers should just hire its applicants and fire them if they fail. He talks about the existing methods by which companies have tried to weed out the can’ts from the cans – brain teasers, puzzles, FizzBuzz code snippets and hitting whiteboards to write code on the fly – as poor indicators of talent.

10 Jun 13
Newspaper

Government Eavesdropping

The US Government seems to have itself in a pickle with its citizens. First, there was an alleged leak regarding blanket acquisitions of metadata from Verizon on all phone calls. Shortly afterwards, the President responded to the public summarized simply as, “Nobody is listening to your telephone calls.” Even the DNI responded with a statement as well covering the legality of the surveillance. Of course, there was an additional story about the government having taps into all the major Internet sites for a huge data-mining operation. Over the weekend, the story broke even more with revelations about the source of the leaks, a disgruntled defense contractor that fled to Hong Kong for political asylum. Naturally the EFF is pounding its we told you so drums over the whole situation.

19 May 13
Question

Be A Plumber

Not everyone will be an astronaut when the grow up, jokes despair.com. Its pretty funny until your Mayor Bloomberg lays it flat on the students in New York City. In his weekly radio show, the mayor says, “The people who are going to have the biggest problem are college graduates who aren’t rocket scientists, if you will, not at the top of their class …. Compare a plumber to going to Harvard College — being a plumber, actually for the average person, probably would be a better deal.”

19 May 13
Newspaper

Registration of 3D Printers

The 3D printing craze continues to evolve, especially as prices have dropped making them more affordable and accessible. With printer accessibility and the incepted seed of 3D guns, more people continue to develop open source CAD designs for improved performance. While the first models were AR-15 lowers (the regulated component) and reliant on existing metal parts for the remainder of the weapon, complete handguns have been produced entirely from the 3D printer. This newer development has led California Senator Leland Yee to propose the mandatory registration of 3D printers since they can be used to produce untraceable firearms. “Terrorists can make these guns and do some horrible things to an individual and then walk away scott-free, and that is something that is really dangerous.” In a limited Reason-Rupe telephone poll of only 1003 subjects, Americans indicated they were in support of banning the production of firearms with 3D printers.

01 May 13
Question

Future of BitCoins?

If you haven’t at least heard of BitCoins, you’re living under the proverbial rock. The Internet’s digital currency of anonymity based on encryption algorithms has had interesting ride over the past year. Approximately a year ago, they were valued at just over $4 each after a particularly scathing cyber theft. This lull was followed by a spectacular rise starting in early 2013 to over $260 each. Despite the rises and falls, it would seem BitCoins are going to stick around for awhile and their continued acceptance (Amazon, PayPal, etc.) has led economists to start paying legitimate attention to them.

28 Apr 13
Newspaper

Army Quarterback Signed by Ravens

What do you think the Army will do this time around? The last time an Army football player was drafted by the NFL, the Army opted to send him off to war instead. Recently, four year quarterback Trent Steelman was signed by the Baltimore Ravens. It would seem a broader target audience to have a professional football player advocating the US Army for public relations than hitting the American Southeasts for NASCAR (although that ends this year) and drag racing.

25 Apr 13
Newspaper

Twitter Hack Affects Stock Trading

Only days ago, hackers compromised the Associated Press’s Twitter account and posted a breaking news story about explosions at the White House injuring the President. The Tweet (I hate that term) went viral and actually caused a 1% drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average though the dip was later recovered in further trading. The hack is presently attributed to the Syrian Electronic Army claiming to be “a group of enthusiastic Syrian youths who could not stay passive towards the massive distortion of facts about the recent uprising in Syria.” While this is amongst the first hacks to truly pan out an effect on the free market, it was not sustained but reveals an ability for adversaries to take non-traditional avenues towards impacting real world operations beyond simple site defacements and denials of service.

21 Apr 13
Question

Due Process and Boston Bombers

Curious – was catching the bomber done appropriately?

First, it involved a voluntary lockdown of Boston which legal experts are saying was really a “shelter in place” typically used for keeping order in a disease outbreak. The governor requested everyone stay indoors during the manhunt due to the increased police activity, questioning, vehicle movements and the violence that ensued in their pursuit. What if it had been a true lock down? Should the governor have the authority to force everyone to stay indoors and possibly throw a blanket probable cause on across the board for search purposes?

15 Apr 13
Newspaper

Boston Marathon Bomb

So apparently a pair of bombs went off near the finish line of the annual Boston Marathon. At about 2:45pm EST, the bombs exploded along Boylston Street near Copley Square and allegedly within roughly 100 yards of each other. Reporting continues to vary with current deaths at two and nearly a hundred casualties evacuated to various medical facilities sporting injuries from burns and scratches to amputations. The explosions’ timing for an hour after the first finishers seemed timed to wait on a greater number of marathon runners to be within the vicinity.

15 Apr 13
Newspaper

Navy to Deploy Laser

“Pew Pew Pew”, said the USS Ponce. No seriously, by 2014, the United States Navy will be deploying a solid state laser to sea aboard the USS Ponce. Current testing has validated the weapon at destroying drones and small ships. Navy officials believe utilizing energy weapons will save the military money in the long run due to each shots estimated cost being less than $1 (after recouping the cost of installation of course).

15 Apr 13
Newspaper

Beretta Leaves Maryland

What happens when your host state passes a number of laws unfriendly to your business? You pack up and move elsewhere. As Maryland has passed a number of recent laws banning or severely regulating the products of Beretta, the nearly 500 year old company has opted to leave the state. With it, the company will take over 300 jobs, production for thousands of weapons for the US military and law enforcement and millions of dollars in annual tax revenue for the state. “Why expand in a place where the people who built the gun couldn’t buy it?” said Jeffrey Reh, general counsel for Beretta.

06 Apr 13
Newspaper

Manipulating Traffic Data

The first GPS navigation devices for cars were strictly “dumb” in the sense of picking optimal routes on speed or distance. The past few years have seen models incorporate traffic information to perform on-the-fly route optimization. That information used to come through inaudible frequencies through FM radio but the prevalence of smartphone GPS navigation applications is shifting that to a direct pull via the Internet. But how has that data been derived? Many of those smartphones in cars are transmitting speed and location information back to central servers that aggregate the data to determine flow rates on traffic routes. However, due to users demanding privacy, the traffic aggregators cannot guarantee authenticity of the originating source. What does this mean? Well, a BlackHat presentation shows a proof-of-concept for falsifying traffic data in order to “control” the information passed back to drivers. (pdf)

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