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New research.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.

Tags: academic papers, squid

Posted on April 15, 2016 at 4:25 PM • 249 Comments

@Clive Robinson

The problem with neoliberalism is that it is based on one giant fallacy. That fallacy is that a free market ensures that everyone pays and is paid the correct value for goods, services, and labor. Basically, they learn Microeconomics 101, are shown the graph for supply and demand, and they say "Look, without government interference, the prices will be correct! And it applies to wages, too! Oh, and if you force this price then look! Unemployment!" It is likely that they are confusing market value with intrinsic value, which are very different concepts.

The Price of Goods and Services

The problem with basing your concepts off of supply and demand is that supply and demand simply tells you what the a given product will cost in the current market. The market is not static; if other prices change, then the supply and demand curves for your product changes as well. The same is true if wages change, competitors change, and so on and so forth. In order to understand where those prices come from, in order to understand what the meaning of value is, you have to look beyond that.

Now, in a highly competitive market, profit tends toward zero. This doesn't mean that they will reach zero, just that they will head in that direction. This is visible today; most types of businesses have profit margins of a few percent. Some go as high as 20%, maybe 50%, maybe 100%. It all depends on competition. So if we assume competitive markets, which most would agree is ideal, then the prices of goods and services are primarily determined by the cost of production. So while a business does look at supply and demand to determine how to price their product, in a competitive market the competition will lower prices to capture more market share as long as they are still making reasonable profits, and they can't price below cost.

So what is the cost of a production? The cost of production is the sum of the cost of labor and rent going all the way down the supply chain. The cost of labor is the compensation for the employees, and the rent is the money paid to the owners of capital that exceed the costs of maintaining that capital, whether as profits for business owners, payments for the use of land, interest on loans, etc. The other question is, well, what determines these prices? For the current market, supply and demand. But what determines supply and demand? The bargaining power of the actors involved.

The Cost of Labor

When an individual job seeker looks for a job, their pay will be determined by supply and demand. The alternatives that a job seeker has determines how much they can get paid. So the bargaining power of a worker is determined by their skills and their alternatives. Now, this isn't to say that as long as everyone is skilled, everyone will have high paying jobs because they will have a lot of alternatives. This is because of the other side: the more candidates an employer has to choose from, the more wages get pushed down.

There are certain jobs that have to be filled. There needs to be someone stocking shelves, there needs to be people manning cash registers. No matter how skilled your workforce is, some of those people will have to work those jobs. A problem then gets introduced. Instead of an individual choosing between a low paying job and a high paying job, often they will find their choice between only several different low paying jobs. They can't choose not to work, because they won't be able to meet their necessities. They are then trapped into taking a job that can barely fulfill their needs.

On top of that, there are systematic ways that wages can be pushed down. By outsourcing and improving technology, businesses can reduce labor costs and employment, increasing profits. Ideally, this would lead to higher domestic wages, so more people can consume more or work fewer hours, but because of supply and demand it tends to actually push wages down and rent on capital up, unless another force works to push wages up. This can even cause a feedback loop, where wages are pushed down, lowering demand for goods and services, lowering demand for labor, further pushing down wages. If a group of actors gets particularly powerful, they can conspire to crash the economy, pushing wages down over the entire economy for the sake of higher profits.

When an individual is forced to accept a job for less than it is worth to them, simply because they won't be able to meet their necessities, so that others can benefit financially from their labor (either through profits or lower prices for goods and services, or a combination thereof), then they are what are known as a wage slave.

The cost of Capital

The bargaining power of those that hold capital is also determined by supply and demand, which is also determined by alternatives. Take the owner of an iron ore mine. What he can charge is dependent on the cost of labor, refinement, and the alternatives. How much are others charging for mining their ore? What is the cost of recycled iron? Are there other materials a manufacturer can use instead of iron?

In some cases, there are no real alternative products, such as with petroleum. While there are alternatives to fossil fuels for producing gasoline, it just cannot scale to the same levels as petroleum. In this case, we see other problems introduced, such as price fixing, cartels, and oligopolies that result in lower competition and higher profit margins.

So what does it all mean?

If you are saying prices are ideal, you are basically saying that the distribution of bargaining power across all actors in the economy is ideal. Neoliberals have clung so strongly to individualism, that they have seemingly decided that the distribution of bargaining power doesn't matter. Collectivists, on the other hand, should see that outcomes for all of society are ideal when bargaining power is as even as possible.

Consumers have more bargaining power when they have more competition, and when they exercise democratic control over the economy, as they do when they pass product safety regulations or anti-trust laws, or (on a smaller scale) when they run consumer cooperatives. Consumer cooperatives are ideal for industries where there isn't a lot of competition, such as utilities. On top of all of that, instead of relying on the private sector, consumers can turn to the public sector to provide services when it will provide better outcomes.

Workers have more bargaining power when they have more alternatives, form unions, or exercise democratic controls themselves as they do with minimum wage laws, or (on a smaller scale) when they run workers cooperatives. Alternatively (or in addition to), a basic income can be implemented that ensures that not working is a viable alternative. This prevents the conditions for my definition of wage slavery to be satisfied in the first place.

If we take the summary of NSA capabilities from policestateusa.com:

The NSA can access personal email, chat, and web browsing history.

The NSA tracks the numbers of both parties on phone calls, their locations, as well as time and duration of the call.

The NSA can monitor text messages.

The NSA can monitor the data in smartphone applications.

The NSA can crack cellphone encryption codes.

The NSA can identify individuals’ friends, companions, and social networks.

The NSA monitors financial transactions.

The NSA monitors credit card purchases.

The NSA intercepts troves of personal webcam video from innocent people.

The NSA is working to crack all types of sophisticated computer encryption.

The NSA monitors communications between online gamers.

The NSA can set up fake Internet cafes to spy on unsuspecting users.

The NSA can remotely access computers by setting up a fake wireless connection.

The NSA can use radio waves to hack computers that aren’t connected to the internet.

The NSA can set up fake social networking profiles on LinkedIn for spying purposes.

The NSA undermines secure networks [Tor] by diverting users to non-secure channels.

The NSA can intercept phone calls by setting up fake mobile telephony base stations.

The NSA can install a fake SIM card in a cell phone to secretly control it.

The NSA can physically intercept packages, open them, and alter electronic devices.

The NSA makes a USB thumb drive that provides a wireless backdoor into the host computer.

The NSA can set up stations on rooftops to monitor local cell phone communications.

The NSA spies on text messages in China and can hack Chinese cell phones.

The NSA spies on foreign leaders’ cell phones.

The NSA intercepts meeting notes from foreign dignitaries.

The NSA has hacked into the United Nations’ video conferencing system.

The NSA can spy on ambassadors within embassies.

The NSA can track hotel reservations to monitor lodging arrangements.

The NSA can track communications within media organizations.

The NSA can tap transoceanic fiber-optic cables.

The NSA can intercept communications between aircraft and airports.

We can surmise that pretty well everything is broken that requires the Internet, electronic devices and communication of any kind, credit cards, financial transactions, public places where there are cameras including buses and trains. Plus, every other freak agency is attempting to do the same or worse.

What's a civil libertarian to do who has lost their fking patience? After all, clearly these systems will be in place for decades or potentially never dismantled:

1. Use cash for everything.
2. Abandon cellphones completely or only them used for totally innocuous purposes. Should be turned off in sitting in a Faraday cage (tinfoil will do) when not in use - never carried as the virtual trackers/recorders they are.
3. Never use the internet for anything other than anonymous browsing - preferably with open-source software, virtualized environments and multiple layers of encryption e.g. VPNs, Tor etc. TAILS would be best when possible from random computers.
4. No real name policy for anything in any virtual places.
5. No discussion of anything personal or nefarious over networks, ever.
6. Destroy anything with IoT capability in the home and refuse to partake in the madness.
7. Never attach webcams to computers. Cover over inbuilt cameras and physically disconnect mics where possible. Have computers completely shut down when not in use.
8. Abandon email, messaging platforms etc completely. Learn to talk to people again in person, without electronic gadgets of any kind in play. For those distant, briefly use comm tools to set up a rendezvous in person.
9. Be aware of likelihood of future biometric databases (like the illegal FBI one being put together) being used to track your ass everywhere there is cameras and tools carrying latest tech gadgets (the 99%).
10. Avoid highly populated areas if you care about point 9.
11. Avoid use of GPS in vehicles or GPS tracking systems with newer models. Be aware of license-plate scanning that is happening everywhere with mobile and fixed units.
12. Avoid talking about anything personal/nefarious on public transportation.
13. Assume anything the Orwellian freaks don't already have e.g. fingerprints, DNA and other things will be forced from the general populace over time with flimsier and flimsier pretexts. Resist all efforts to have your shit harvested.
14. Don't use libraries - buy books you are interested in with cash from second hand bookstores.
15. Don't be a chump. Don't ever trust a 3rd party with any of your data where possible - particularly co-conspirators like Facebook, Micro$shaft, Apple, Google, Twitter, Linked-In and the rest. They are surveillance capitalists and their basic business model is owning your personal data and selling it.
16. Understand that all physical letters are scanned for sender/receiver. Avoid where possible.
17. Don't store anything personal on home computers attached to hostile networks & encrypt everything of value on detached media with block level encryption.
18. Most importantly, stop trusting the government or their agencies or representatives in any shape or form. The financial and political systems are completely broken and corrupted. Don't support it in any fashion and learn to vote independent or for those truly progressive representatives e.g. social democrats. Smash the plutocracy.
19. Make your digital footprint as small as possible and keep the freaks in dark wherever possible. They want to own you and have power over you, so do something about it; or willingly be a bitch who lives under their thumb. Your choice.
20. Read widely - particularly censored materials - and understand a totalitarian police state is completely incompatible with the "life, liberty and pursuit of justice" propaganda fairytale you are told every day of your lives. Influence your circle of friends and family with unapproved messages since only when they wake up en masse can the fascist yoke be thrown off.

As Senator Church feared in '75, the tyranny has already arrived:

“If a dictator ever took over, the NSA could enable it to impose a total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.”

“That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.”

“I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge,” Senator Church said. “I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”

Surveillance State RE: what you wanna do (opsec essentially)
--Well first off, it's not just NSA, it's quite a lot of private individuals as well. Attacks could be coming from all angles all the time and get misattributed.

1) Yes do it, not possible always though. When you take a girl out to a nice dinner and pay cash, you look like mafia/sketchy a bit, just do...Also risk of physical robbery, so carry only what you need.
2) You can do something like just leave it outside your shielded personal office, based off a recent project I'm doing (visualizing audio, other stuff too like modifying your voice (voice changers, pretty cool stuff) and generating square/saw/sine waves from 0 -21000 Hz), something like an apple computer can pick up quite a bit of audio in a say, 30ft radius, and do further signal processing/filtering on it. Apple computers I haven't done (don't own one), but snipping the mic and speakers is straight forward if this is a concern (any PC's in your secure office need those snipped unless your livelihood depends on it).
3) Not possible anymore, you put yourself at a great disadvantage financially ignoring the internet. Have separate identities you use, for whatever freaky stuff you're into, and your professional image.
4) For professional image, you need to use your real name. Also is good practice to see how well you can authenticate yourself online.
5) Yeah, but people gonna people eh? Secrets leak out everywhere, people gotta tell someone...
6) You could have completely separate connections if you have the money (maybe 3-4 completely separate lines w/ all different providers (which are probably owned by what will eventually be 1 providers...))
7) Good OPSEC practices, also uses less power, so good for environment.
8) Lol, do you work at all? That's impossible. Email is pretty reliable if you look into it (protocols are disgusting, but somehow they work).
9) I wouldn't worry about biometrics, we're all screwed here. We leak bio evidence everywhere (do you wipe your fingerprints and pick up your hairs everywhere you go? You can't live like that.). They'll be in databases too, it's a 2-way street.
10) However it's good to blend in the noise on occasion too.
11) Yeah this is a trouble spot, as older cars free of all the surveillance and security breaking features (I discovered you could hold down the unlock button on a wireless key on quite a few makes/models and it rolls your windows down of a turned off car, some when you hold lock button it rolls them back up, sets up perfect crime for stealing w/o smashing windows or shimming the locks) continue to decay and break down. You can still ride a GPS-free bike pretty far, and much harder to spot via satellite.
13) These systems will all fail and be useless over time, just watch lol. I suppose maybe some useful medical research could be done but if databases get compromised and evidence swapped in and out, can no longer trust the data.
14) That's really sad, I suppose you could sign up for library card w/ fake ID or swap ID's w/ someone, just creepy library records are collected now, and surprised libraries don't resist it (or lose the records, "whoopsie").
15) Deleted my facebook (lost contact w/ a lot of my friends, forever...people should consider that). Only have linkedin for employment purposes, I get emails from real recruiters for jobs and I like that. All the info on my resume is in a million other places, so my residence, phone number, email address, etc.
16) People send drugs in the mail and get away w/ it all the time lol. They can't open/scan everything, or at least cover the letter w/ scribbles. It's another useful comms/authentication path.
17) Sounds nice in theory, lots of work is going to be unencrypted until you're done w/ it. Sometimes I do unplug ethernet on my university computers though when I'm working on school project. On some of them, they do VMware sessions so everyday it gets restored to a default image.
18) Everyone is self-interested, so of course it's bs when they talk about being a "public servant" lol, they just working for themselves on the public dime.
19) Yeah, some of them have severe mental issues/delusions of grandeur. Turns out a lot of these people are real cowards in real life though, so confront them in real life and they'll get knocked down a notch or 2. And thanks to so many attack tools able to blast thru defenses, they're vulnerable to the same thing (OPM incident being the big LOL, it is kinda embarrassing when your country gets owned like that though).

I'd say doing a lot of these things is a big OPSEC step forward, but OPSEC is in itself a major time-suck, you can get in situation where you're protecting nothing of value, instead of creating value (which can be stolen), choice is yours.

I'm on the next step (well, digital security, which is more fun I guess than OTP's on burnable paper) which is looking into customized embedded solutions and isolated systems. Flashing custom bootloaders via high voltage methods that only get overwritten w/ the key. Or not having a bootloader and writing to first spot of memory, either way you want to control the first code or nearly the first code that loads up on startup. These are still very usable and a pretty good step to securing things. You could basically build something like a small device w/ good amounts of ram/rom, a hex keypad and LCD screen (to prevent a lot of keylogging and screen capture); very unlikely it'll get hacked. Or it'd be way more effort than it's worth, which is a win.

Next step is getting deeper into electrical/computer design, like your own CPU's, protocols, etc. It gets rough real quick though, and what do you do if nasty hacks work but screw up your design?

Some life security tips.

Milk, not meat.


1) First, what is your objective? If you wish to be an invisible nobody, and you are not really a nobody, then whom should you learn from? What will this make you? Start from the roots, and carefully consider what seeds you are planting, because you will get what you plant.

2) There are quite a number of types of people who do or who have lived their lives in disguise. Who are they? Well, you are talking about: "like a spy", especially the deep cover variety who lives in a foreign land; "like an deep cover undercover agent"; "like someone in the witness protection program"; "like someone who lives in a criminal conspiracy", ala, mafia, and so on; "like a superhero with an alternate identity"; "like an underground resistance leader"; "like a grifter, an confidence artist"; like a Pretender. Like someone who can be and is many people, but is really none of them.

3) Your worst enemy is your own self. Living in such a manner most surely is not easy, not whatsoever. You first must learn "how to learn". You must learn deep psychology which works, because you will be using psychology on your own self to master your own self. If you do not master your own self, you will fail. Human beings are always indirect, both in their external communications -- and worse, in their internal communications. Effectively, you certainly can say this does mean everything you think is true, is a lie.

4) Consider your predicament this way: if you need some serious internal surgery performed, who do you go to? Who would you trust to cut you open and, say, remove your bloated appendix wracking you with pain? Would you do this your own self without even so much as bothering to find well qualified books on the matter? Or, for that matter, finding as much video of such things as you could?

Would you just go in there, having read some crap on the internet with as much plausible sourcing as what you could get on ufo sites? Or would you be sincere and honest about your rigorous standards?

And if you were wise, would you choose someone in their first year of medical school to do this? Would you cross the border to save some bucks, and get this done? Or would you seek out someone with seasoned credentials of actually having done this? Time and time again. Without failure?

So, why do people attempt extremely sophisticated security goals with the worst of standards for their own selves?

Having zero practical experience, they read some badly sourced material from other dreamers who have zero real world experience, and poof! They consider themselves seasoned veterans with decades of extremely compressed training and experience.

Do not be that person.

Don't play out the hero in "Brazil", who ends up at the end on the torturing table. Have higher real world ambitions for your self, then taking a path sure to lead you to a truly dreadful end game.

So, the best way to explain the dual, daunting problem of the conspiracy survivalist [spies, undercover agents, amateur individualists concerned for their security], or the anti-conspiracy analyst [counter-terrorism or counter-intelligence] is indirectly.

Where the foremost rule is you are a very related species. And unless you are the head or near the head, you either are looking for a conspiracy to protect you, already belong to one, want to start one... and are concerned about preventing control from them.

So, conspiracies, like with the world of microbes, especially a very certain type... are groupings. They are invisible. They are not well understood.

There are many things in the world which we are just beginning to understand. One category of these types are of the microbe variety who operate invisibly, collectively, and with incredible control of the vast hosts they inhabit.

Some good reminders, or new information:
http://listverse.com/2009/07/29/10-fascinating-cases-of-mind-control/
http://listverse.com/2013/03/30/10-zombies-of-the-insect-world/

But, you may read such things and be deceived, that "this is all well known", and "Science [with a capital "S"], is all up and ahead of the curve". That there are no such microbes which do the same to actual human beings. Even though, we already have plenty of evidence that certainly is not true.

Think of it this way. What will the understanding be five hundred years from now, of what we know now? A thousand? Ten thousand?

Look back, and compare. What was human understanding five hundred years ago? A thousand? Ten thousand?

Or, consider it this way: there very well could be thousands of types of 'as yet not understood microbes' who control human beings in ways we have observed they may control insects and smaller animals, as noted on those lists.

Now, consider, individually, a person is one very easy to see giant, in comparison, with enormous consciousness. And our life, in comparison, to the life of a microbe, is incomparable, in terms of length.

However, we, while having a very easy to see form, are also effectively made up, ultimately of enormous numbers of smaller components. And, those smaller components, have smaller lifespans. We are not a blood cell, nor a brain cell. We are a vast conglomeration of countless forms of cells all working together, and likewise, our lifespan and consciousness vastly exceeds that of the very, very tiny "sum of our parts".

Summa? One must put together ingredients to bake a cake. It takes time and thought to work out clues. And not all "have wisdom". ;-)

@Signaling System Seven (SS7) Network Allows Hacking of Any Phone

None of the major details should be news to anyone:

- yes, your text and communication is in the plaintext to the isps
- yes, you not only have gps information, but you commmunicate with cell towers (this would be how they know your location)
- yes, this is legally open to governments and illegally open to governments, who have not only many vulnerability "farms" (defense contracting, light! No clearance needed, just sign some nda), but they will tend to have their own inhouse team. As well as more sophisticated hackers connections who have no affliations with more mainstream farms.

Take note, the Lookout team found this. Okay. And they state they "do this work at night". Computer security speak: their company is too shallow minded to have a full fledged research team focusing solely on finding security vulnerabilities. So, they ask them to do this kind of work "off hours".

Not that lookout is bad, not that they have bad researchers. But, their approach to forcing their workers to doing such work only on off hours shows poor management and vision.

That does not give them the time necessary to do such work. So, they won't have the tools and experience they need, because they are not doing that as their full time job.

Your typical high end researcher will work on a system extremely long hours, every day, and have months to do it.

Hopefully, the originators of that contract have other firms also employed to perform an analysis.

The larger messages in the article are also true, with some variance:

- yes, everything is hackable, bar none

When I browse through this site's comments, for instance, I often see some very sophisticated schemes for encryption and privacy employed. My take is always one that regardless of how well you defend your system, if a powerful adversary (nation state, usually) wants to get at you? They most certainly will.

There will always be some chink in the armor. Cracking encryption, never attempted. Bypassing encryption by finding security vulnerabilities in the library, yes.

Vulnerabilities in implementation -- always going to be some.

Fact is experienced resources are extremely hard to come by. So, most systems out there will never have been looked at by anyone with experience finding security vulnerabilities. It very often is not even in the game plan. This can especially be true with smaller outfits and plenty of open source projects.

(Larger organizations will have app sec teams. These are going to be invariably poorly resourced and underpersoned. Very often the team members will be largely tool monkeys with very poor experience in actually finding vulnerabilities.)


Intelligence and covert law enforcement intelligence, wise, the real danger is what is off the books. At least with even the secret courts, there have been some kind of hoops, some accountability, some lawyers signing off on. Some liability.

The idea that there is nothing completely off the books even ignoring that whole mess is entirely unrealistic and naive.


Which means that whole "secret court" morass ends up just being a really effective cover deepener for those manner of groups.

And that is just talking domestic.

Other nations targeting foreign nations (such as where the US is foreign to them), have no such gloves to wear.


Positive of all of this: cell phones have also provided individuals with a lot of security they did not have before. There are aspects such as 'now everyone is carrying a quick access camera they often use', which helps in many dangerous situations, including with astray law enforcement. And more direct matters, such as the incredible visibility this gives for serious criminal cases.

That both helps the real guilty party get caught, and can help the innocent not be wrongly interned.


What you do not see is something like the "Person of Interest"/Daemon model. Which is must watch and read for anyone interested in these issues. Fiction, but good ideas, and some realities behind those fiction. Further, of such quality, you can expect it to predict the future in some aspects, as good science fiction often does.

One current reality is, in sophisticated targeted attacks, absolutely your phone can be turned covertly against you to be as a bug and tracking device. Less sophisticated, someone buys malware trojan to do this and manually or by social engineering gets it on your phone.

More sophisticated, they code it custom and high quality. And they use a sophisticated zero day vulnerability to do it.

That door is surely open, both for proximity attacks (wifi, nfc, rfid, bluetooth, gsm/phone protocol/frequency), and remote.

Anywhere someone can get MITM, either between you and the tower, or upstream on the ISP, they can get executable code to run easily enough on your system. Even without extremely difficult to find security vulnerabilities.

Userland constraints? Very low hanging fruit, and will be for a long time. So, being able to get root will be easy done deal, widely accessible.

Too many processes at play, too complex, to have all potential root vulnerabilities discovered and patched.


@ Herman,

What is not mentioned in the article, and is possibly of more interest to readers on this blog, is the technological rat race.

The authorities get what they consider a "game changer" technology, you would then think that they have a choice on how much they use it... Only they don't.

The reason is the choice is not upto them but others who have the equipment as well. Thus though the RMCP might decide to use it sparingly and for important cases, across the border the Sherif of Ploddunk uses it in just about every case and his deputies chat about it in the "dunnie-king-doh-nut" which the local crime lowlifes also use. Thus the technology ceases to be secret very quickly, and as such info has value, it quickly makes it up the crime tree to the capo or whatever.

At which point the secret becomes a barganing chip, which is what we have seen here. A pushy lawyer gets his game on and ratchets it up bit by bit. Then somebody in government has to make a political choice on what to do, see the technology die the death of a thousand cuts, or let the perps plee out to lesser charges and be back on the street within a year or two at the most.

Either way the damage is done and the technology gets known about and thus people dig and dig, and reasonably quickly more and more information comes out, untill the very expensive technology becomes of low value... In much the same way as zero day exploits devalue as you use them.

The thing is these very simple stingrays actually do more damage than good, and I'm not talking about emergancy calls. The fact that they don't realy replace a cell tower only a small part of the air interface, means they will get known as well, which means that even if a donut munching deputy does not flap their gums, the use of such devices will get out.

The information thus will land in the hands of those with the technological skills to investigate and research... They will charecterise such devices and find ways they can be detected or worked around. And as such info has value it will end up with the criminals.

As is the way with such things a technological war starts, we have seen this with the military with ECM to ECCM to ECCCM etc at each step the technology becomes an order or two more expensive and ever closer to "the bleeding edge". Whilst the military can afford the cost escalation and can have kit sitting unused, the police can not.

At the end of the day certain criminals will always be able to outspend the police. The only limit is if the criminals can not buy the technology they need to build the anti/counter systems. The technology manufactures are also in a rat race amongst each other which means that the old Mil Only technology filtering down has been turned on it's head with comnercial technology taking the lead and at some point being repurposed into Mil Tech. Thus some criminals can afford beter tech than the police, what they need to get to turn it from a bucket of bits to working systems is appropriate brains. As the war with malware has shown there is no shortage of brains prepared to "walk on the dark side" where individual renumeration is going to be much much higher short term. Even on the "light side" we can see that with crowd source funding technology can be built and put into production by just a handful of smart twenty somethings who get to reap the rewards. This allied with the bubble bursting on Unicorns must be making some VC's and shareholders start to think.

The police however get to find that their expensive tech toys now only work against the stupid and those that did not get the memo...

Which means that the LEOs have to start thinking back to more passive traditional techniques and how to make them work for them more efficiently. Unfortunately this means that there will be what many politicos hate, "more manpower on the books" that they have to find the funds for.

Some smarter cops have realised this and they are now entering a new barganing game with a different bunch of crooks, the legislators who are also politicians. The police are pointing out that cutbacks don't deliver on "hard on crime" and if politicos want to make their promises to electors then both the police and judiciary need new legislation, which makes their job of racking up convictions easier...

Only as citizens we should be ultra concerned about "making convictions easier" as the process will be abused as much as possible due to the human failing, and "Justice will become a show not a reality". And those with money will buy their justice at the expense of those who can not meet the entry price (which is 99% of the population).

@ Wael, Nick P,

The TRNG source has to be a separate component from your device. It almost needs to be air gapped.

It's a little more complicated than that. It needs to be energy gapped except through one highly controled one way channel. For simplicities sake it needs to be a "black box" with only a single output and no inputs. The output being a logical signal of some type that contains the hard won entropy in a usable state.

The reality is a "box in a box" type design the outer box designed to reflect or ground out all energy from attempts to influence the inner workings. The inner box designed to constrain all energy generated by the TRNG. Between the two boxes broadband absorbing material and mediation of the entropy channel from inside the inner box to outside the outer box.

The reality is that you don't get energy out without putting energy in at some point in time. Whilst it might be desirable to do this by using internal storage that is charged when disconnected from the TRNG the practical realities of life say the TRNG is externaly powered and thus available for use at all times. Thus the second mediated channel is the power input.

The use of power also means there is a third channel that has to be mediated. All devices suffer the conctraints of the laws of nature, of which the most fundemental are those of thermodynamics, which means nothing is 100% efficient, and thus there is wasted energy that needs to be removed from the TRNG and the mediating and absorbing between the inner and outer boxes.

The trick is therefore to stop any other undesired channels and remove any information from the three required channels that might reveal any functioning of the TRNG or cause it to change it's functioning, whilst still getting the desired entropy signal out.

That is the minimum model by which you have to work to protect the TRNG. Turning it into a specification becomes a lot more interesting, but it follows a fairly logical series of steps as does the subsiquent design.

However you have to design the TRNG first. Obviously you need some source of entropy, however in most cases the signals are very small and contain very little real entropy and are very susceptable to all kinds of environmental and other issues including aging.

A real issue with this is that the source of energy to drive the entropy source can significantly effect it in many less than obvious ways, as can the circuit used to detect the output of the entropy source. This usually needs state of the art analogue design. Likewise the systems to control the sources environment.

Luckily TRNG's are not unique in these requirments thus a study of the design of instrumentation amps and XTAL frequency standards will give you much of what you need to know (but not all).

The next issue that arises is how to get the best from your entropy source. The first thing you need to know is that there are three forms of noise signal all mixed up as well as the bias issues. The three noise signals are,

1, Real entropy.
2, False entropy.
3, Determanistic noise.

What you are after is the real entropy, the question is not just how do you extract it from the other two but how do you get best advantage for it. Determanistic noise in theory is fairly easy to remove, you simply generate an in phase inverse signal and sum it out. Whilst this can be done it is a far from perfect operation in practice and tends to increase the false entropy signal.

The problem with false entropy is determining what percentage it is of the total entropy signal. If it's close to 100% then you don't have a TRNG just a noise generator that "may be predictable to others".

You can actually build and test a simple system that shows this. Take two frequency stable squarewave signals that have little or no harmonic relationship. Drive the clock input of a Dtype latch with one and the D input with the other and observe the Q output on an oscilloscope. When the scope timebase is set so that individual squarewaves can be seen the signal looks very random. It's actually not, if you dial the timebase of the scope down you will see that the widths of the square waves follow a sinusoidal pattern at the difference frequency between the two oscilators. You can actually see the same result using a piece of graphpaper and a pencil and drawing the waves in by hand.

The obvious conclusion is that though there is a lot of random looking switching at the output there is in fact little or no real entropy in the signal it's all fully determanistic. Which you can show by using a second Dtype latch and putting one of the squarewaves through an adjustable delay circuit and taking it's inverse output and putting it as well as the original output into an XOR gate. By adjusting the delay, you get the output of the XOR gate to give a continuous logic level...

Thus if an enemy can pickup the radiation from both oscilators they can sync up to them and reproduce your false entropy signal...

Now consider what you would see on the scope with the original Dtype latch if you phase modulated one of the two squarewaves with a signal unknown to you? The result will not show the same sinusoidal bunching of signals at low time base settings. Which might make you think you have got real entropy. The problem is you have not, but you don't know it. However if your enemy knows what that phase modulation signal is, it's game over and you do not even know it.

This is one of the issues with all "ring oscilator" RNGs built into CPU chips which appears to be the way everybody is going these days... It does not matter what you do afterwards in terms of hashing etc it remains fully determanistic to your attacker, because there is no "real entropy" just "false entropy"....

Which is why some of us think a carefully designed CS-DRNG might be a far better way to go.

For instance consider AES256-CTR it's fully determanistic, but can an enemy actually attack it?

In the ordinary case they would need to know the AES key and the register Initial Value (IV). But due to the predictable incrementing of the counter an attacker may be able to get the key from a side channel attack and then get synchronised to the output. However what happens when the register is actually steped irregularly, say from adding the output of another crypto algorithm?

Take the BBS generator it has certain benificial attributes what if that was used to decide how much of an increment to add to the register used to drive the AES256 algorithm (say via another CTR mode algorithm)?

At some point even if an enemy does get the AES256-CTR key via a side channel, it does them little good because the register state can not be predicted.

CS-RNGs is an area which has not had as much work done on it as other areas, I personaly think it could do with more. Because analogue TRNGs are both flaky and fragile, which makes them difficult to design to work reliably. It's the same reason analogue filters have been largly replaced with digital filters. However unlike analogue filters, analogue TRNG's are almost impossible to test in anything aproaching a practical way. Thus detecting inuse failure is not realy an option unlike CS-RNGs.

@Wael @Nick P, @Clive Robinson,

"The real question is this: given a large sequence of purported random numbers..."

"The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) Lab was founded in 1979 by Robert G. Jahn, a professor of aerospace engineering and Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University. The lab's objective was to study the ability of consciousness to influence physical processes. The lab was managed by Brenda Dunne, a developmental psychologist trained at the University of Chicago, and had a full-time staff of half a dozen scientists as well as numerous interns and visiting researchers.

During its 28-year history, the lab worked to study and understand the anomalous impact that the mind seemed to have on physical devices, including electronic random event generators (REGs). Research was also conducted into remote perception, the ability of a person to perceive information that should be inaccessible through the standard senses."

See their books "Consciousness and the Source of Reality", "Quirks of the Quantum Mind" and "Margins of Reality: The Role of Consciousness in the Physical World". PEAR accumulated billions of bits of data from the REGs of many types and found the same outcomes over 28 years of study.

When PEAR was shutdown due to funding, International Consciousness Research Laboratories (ICRL) started up to continue the work.

Quantum based device may be open to unexpected influences (by the classical trained), such as those studied by the PEAR.

I spent a fascinating evening with Bob Jahn and Brenda Dunne. Bob Jahn is Emeritus Professor of Aerospace Sciences and Dean Emeritus of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences of Princeton University. He was founder and director of PEAR from its inception in 1979 until its closing in 2007, with Brenda serving as its laboratory manager. Bob is now Chairman of ICRL and Brenda serves as its President.

Bob and Brenda over 28 years investigated PSI from an engineering point of view. That is, the primary subject of their human/machine experiments was not the human, but the machine. This shift in emphasis required different experimental designs based on the accumulation of very large databases from a relatively small group of human operators, manipulation of physical variables rather than psychological ones, and data processing and statistical techniques drawn from engineering practice.

PEAR experiments involved many different types of Random Event Generators. For our discussion here I assume the REG is based on the decay of a radioactive element. It is impossible to know when a radioactive particle will be emitted from a mass. The unpredictably of this emission form a random event that is coupled into a logic system to record such events.

Lets assume we have a simple apparatus of three bins in which a collection of balls can accumulate. The bin on the left is called the 'low-side', middle bin the 'baseline' and the bin on the right is called the 'high-side'.

The Random Event Generator determines which of the three bins the balls will fall into. Over a long enough period of time, without any outside influences, the three bins will accumulate the same number of balls.

Now the fascinating part to me is that untrained operators (that is people that claim no special abilities of any kind) can influence which bin gets the most balls. It gets even more interesting that the device can be influenced remotely from the present, past or future; Dean Radin work on Presentiment and 'Entangled Minds' is a good starting place along that path... Time and distance are a construction of our current physical understanding of the world, however they are not a requirement of Nature. In their studies they did determine that this is a wave-based phenomenon and not particle based.

What I found strangest of all (as if this all isn't strange enough) is that the influence on the devices were gender specific. Males who could see the device had the best outcomes of getting the balls to fall into the bins of their choosing. Females regardless of their choice tended to have the balls fall into the 'high' bin. Bonded couples (that is dating or married heterosexual couples) had a seven fold increase in the balls falling into the bin of their choosing. Pairs of males or pairs of females had no better outcomes than an individual operator of the same gender.

Now what is a good TRNG/TREG free from any of those influences?

The Psyleron REG-1, a True Random Number/Event Generator, based on extrapolated quantum tunneling, has been around since 2005 and is the current Standard in Parapsychology. Any insights on it, or better yet design/schematics that improve on it?

@Justin

@ Edward "Brill" Lyle

Shut up already. You're out of your jurisdiction and your posts read like a roll of toilet paper. Let's not shit ourselves. It's just another civil matter. Throw in some charges of premeditated murder in the first degree, committed by poison for good measure, and call it a day. Maryland doesn't have a death penalty any more, but no problem. Get the U.S. Department of State involved and call it treason. Lawyers aplenty for that.

More to come, but you'll just have to wait for it.


Ouch!

Rawr! cat claws. U are sending at me.


Word of advice, your delusional incoherency and out of context hostility is symptomatic of a serious problem.

Okay, I will play.

So, your posts are implying, not stating upfront, and specifically, that someone or some group is assassinating government employees through things like ordinary, everyday problems?

Like, someone might go and assassinate someone by installing lead pipes, or putting in asbestos insulation? And that this is some kind of systematic assassination program happening in the US, even against government employees? Worse, not worried about innocent casualities? And doing it in government buildings?

I don't even see plausible plot material there for a good work of fiction.

Means may be there? Very theoretical and far fetched. Motive????

Means, you are talking about wild science fiction and fantasy level of plots. Where, in history, has anything ever like that been done before?

And who do you think is behind such dastardly, far fetched plots? China? Russia? Maybe Iran?

Closest to that I can think of is maybe the umbrella gun with the preferoated bb filled with sarin. Which is so incredibly famous, partly because it is so incredibly bizarre. Can barely compare with some poisonings Russia has performed. But, same class.

And that class of attacks does involve producing symptoms and leaving behind forensic clues that make a message. That point right to the government behind it. No proof. But clearly they meant to "send a message". In the way the Mafia does it.

Anyway, why do such a mass attack? For cover? When a government could do something like, an improved version of the umbrella gun that shot something that "makes it look like natural causes" and leaves no forensic evidence?

(For instance, a super thin and so sharp needle shot from a silent minituare device which was coated with certain poison from the animal world. Where the needles not only do not leave a hole, because it is made of such strong material and is so thin, but dissolve in the fatty tissue of the victim? One could have such a thing in something the size of a watch, and it could hold many such 'ammo', quite easily. And have quite a range of effective distance.)

But, yeah.

As for "my jurisdiction"?? I hope you do not mean that literally, putting me into your far fetched conspiracy theories. Hate to burst your bubble, but I am a simple science fiction writer who does have some level of success. Enough to live on, anyway.

I take your deep hostility as a compliment.

I want my work to be either loved or hated. Just 'meh meh', is never what I aim for.


@ Wael

"Refresh my memory with a link! "

Might have been this comment. I couldn't be sure what you were quipping about but you referenced a data diode in an analog conversation with a play on the analog term. So, I looked into it out of curiosity given non-ideal effects I recalled reading about.

"Need an example."

All data diodes work the same at the logical level. There's systems A and B (or network B if broadcast). There's one or more devices used to create a network link between A and B. That link is unidirectional by design, usually HW but SW in weaker versions. A can send data to B but can't so much as get acknowlegements back. Usually sent over a UDP-like protocol with ECC tech. B has no way to communicate with A. This implies that A doesn't know anything about the status of B except maybe whether the link is plugged in. Maybe not even that. B knows nothing about A except that it temporarily possessed specific pieces of data that B is receiving and that A has power since B is receiving data from it. Hence, they basically know nothing about each other with one just broadcasting data to the other one-way.

Strongest implementations are electromagnetically-sheilded devices that enforce one-way flow between two fiber-optic cables connected to it. These include Tenix and Fox data diodes. Homebrew included one-way Ethernet and serial cables (eg Tinfoil Chat). The analog effects mean they aren't really one-way. How important that is depends on implementation details.

"Correct, resistors are excluded. You are talking about drift and diffusion in a PN junction. BJTs and FETs operate using different principles. In a diode, for example, there is leakage current."

Exactly.

"That could be one meaning. Under this definition, both receive and transmit lines are 'data diodes' connected in opposite directions. "

A data diode is a physical link with receive disabled on one end and send on the other. Somehow. So, there should be no link coming from receiver to sender in terms of physical, transmission capability. It should cut off somewhere.

"When designing with an ideal model, one must ignore the physics details."

This is usually true. The physics details, esp EMSEC, just screw up diodes in practice enough that they're part of the security requirements. They usually just address it separately from logical design but the EE's still address it. That's why I thought you were poking fun at my seemingly-inaccurate model of data diodes with a bit of analog truth. Ok, so it was me coming up with that shit on my own using your book then. Damned, over-active brain haha.

"Can we do the same for security (C-v-P)?"

We can do it for the security systems, designs, models, and so on. I still don't think CvP metaphor is adequate given what I've learned in that time. The crux of my design is that, by default, it forces information to flow a certain way with built-in checks or compartmentalization. The crux of the prison model is a combination of crippling, resource-oriented POLA with constant inspections to see if something is evil. The lack of an evil bit has caused prior, inspection-based methods to fail due to creative attackers. A few decades of INFOSEC papers suggest one is easier to get right, efficient, and already prototyped w/ Linux/BSD support. What's left of the Prison concept is monitoring HW or SW for the known unknowns and unknown unknowns. Yet, most of the security comes from the other style of mechanisms.

@ Wael, Nick P,

Castle: Serves to protect objects on the inside from events on the outside, Prison: Serves to keep objects inside the prison from leaving without due process.

It's a bit more subtle and complex than that.

The fundemental point is that a General Purpose "Turing" Computer (GPC) can not demonstrate it is not as it should be. That is it can not reliably show it has been attacked and subverted in some way, and importantly nor can it. There is a fundemental mathmatical basis for this observation.

Also when you consider bubbling up attacks you can see that all code signing loading etc can be quite easily defeated, even memory tagging etc can be attacked. And the more esoteric defences based on a hidden secret such as "memory encryption" only work so far as bubbling up attacks by definition are below such hiding. It's only when care is taken to segregate the secret that some but not all bubbling up attacks can be stopped (in a nutshell the FBI wanted Apple to make a bubling up attack on the memory of the SB phone).

Thus the second point of note becomes clear enforced segregation is a requirment to protect secrets that other mechanisms are built on.

The third point of note is that for malware to work in most cases it needs extra resources both GPC cycles and memory. If you can deny it both then it can not get a toe hold let alone become established and functioning.

The idea behind the prison architecture was to address these points. The fundemental design point being segregation. The GPC is put in a minimal environment, and given only sufficient resources to carry out very simple tasks. Control of the memory resource was to be done via a simplified MMU. Control of GPC cycles by monitoring execution signitures of the simple tasks.

Which brings up the question of what controls the MMU and signiture checking?

Well it can not as in the ordinary "castle" approach be the GPC because it can lie to it's self, so it would serve no purpose. Thus control comes from outside the prison "cell" the CPU is in. Now it's important to note that although a Turing compleate computer is a state machine, not all state machines are Turing compleate computers. Simple state machines without memory in the control loop can have all states known and thus behave only in certain predefined ways and are thus incapable of having their basic function altered. Thus using simple state machines to control the resources of the cell the GPC is in. Importantly such state machines can also act as an issolation component, that is as a mediated choke point between two GPCs thus you can have a supervising GPC issolated from the GPC in the cell (think of it like the warden in Bentham's Panoptican). The human equivalent theses days would be a guard that is remote from the cell watching it via CCTV and giving orders to a trustee --the state machine-- through a pager or other one way message system. Or you could think of it as a Drone and Pilot.

The "castle" system is the old "porous security perimeter" security model, which we know does not work for networks, so why we think it should work for computers I do not know. You have just a GPC a very large amount of memory and the GPC controles access to it via an MMU it controls which means that the only security is the "CPU Ring" priveledge levels, that can in no way stop any bubbling up attack... Or any other attack once inside a sufficiently trusted priveledge level. Such attacks also have just about all the resources they want and home users have been found with many tens and sometimes hundreds of malware infections one their PCs, which tends to show how ineffective the castle model can be.

The prison model has other benifits, such that it alows effective division of labour, between those who can code securely and the vast bulk of coders who can not. Those who can get to write the tasklets that run in the cells, those who can not get to "script" the secure tasklets together.

Obviously as sofar described the prison system sounds slow and inefficient. Well if you only had one cell then yes it would be. The thing is castle GPCs are very inefficient as well they require vast amounts of silicon real estate that is organised in a quite inefficient way... Take task switching on one, not only do you waste hundreds of cycles in the GPC you also stall out the caching mechanisms used to get around the inefficient real estate issues.

The GPCs in the prison cells can be very very small RISC based CPUs and in many respects little more than 8bit CPU complexity you would find in the 8051 etc. You can get upwards of two thousand of these in the same area used in the CISC CPUs of some modern PCs. Further with small tasklets the small RISC CPUs can have the memory required on chip directly adjacent, thus neither caching or task switching is required. It's difficult to say without actually designing a chip just what the performance differences would be, but it's fairly certain less electrical power would be required thus overall systems would show considerable improvment (think about Current smart phones v business desktop PCs of a couple of years ago).

However the security of the basic prison system is not all it could be, and it can be improved fairly simply in a number of ways. One of which is that the statemachine halts the GPC and checks the contents of it's memory and registers. If the tasklets are written in a particular way this can be done very quickly and effectively and would only occupy a small percentage of the actual run time. This has a double advantage because the GPC in the cell has no notion of time outside the cell thus many time based side channels it could use for covert communications are broken by the search process.

Any way to reword your original statment,

Castle: Serves to protect objects on the inside from events on the outside but not in any effective way from each other.

Prison: Serves to keep objects inside the prison well segregated from each other, or from leaving or having contact with outside objects without due process. Further the objects are watched for aberrant behaviour and regularly searched for subversion etc.

@ especially Bruce, Clive, Wael, Dirk, and Thoth

I was expecting to loose an hour reading a 150 page interview. I didn't expect to even find one that good because I didn't know it existed. Yet, I just found this 2012 interview with Dr Schell to be truly mind-altering in what I think of history of our field, where successes were, and where blame came from. It was unbelievably insightful and worth the time you can carve out to read it.

I'll give just a few surprises to not spoil too many:

1. Schell was a radar guy with no interest in security, not really computers, never heard of Ware Report at time, didn't want to build stuff, and had no use for researchers. Did spot the fact that turning a key and inputing a target into a computer didn't mean his people were in control of where that nuke went.

2. Save a few, nobody in military including NSA could understand that there was a threat to computers via malicious insiders. Despite Cold War spy fervor, they couldn't comprehend it and wanted nothing to do with "COMPUSEC." This was all the Russians thought about but didn't care about hackers.

3. Burroughs brilliant architecture and Schell's work didn't really develop in parallel. Burroughs architects were involved in his early work, inspired part of MULTICS security (maybe), and combined with Schell's subversive activity were reason Intel has protection mechanisms in x86. It wouldn't have otherwise. So, Burroughs lives on in better parts of x86. ;)

4. I thought Anderson of Anderson Report showed up out of thin air as an administrator with Schell and others inventing INFOSEC. Turns out, Anderson was a Burroughs guy who did the first pentests on government systems, worked against subversion, and architected INFOSEC for whole NSA. All before any of that was conceived or invented to any real degree. He then showed Schell how to do that stuff as a mentor and consulted on future activities. Mind blown.

5. SCOMP, the first secure system, wasn't actually commissioned by the government or funded. Schell, always fighting with them, actually played accounting tricks making them think he was buying computer parts, printer paper, and shit. Eventually was auditied. On the side, managed to produce something whose tech would end up in security kernels and x86 for a tenth of IBM's failed Future Systems project. Least they scavenged the AS/400 out of the pieces of that.

6. Black Forest organization shows industry outside of tech wasn't as stupid as I thought. Matter of fact, like Schell, they predicted exactly what would happen to the emerging high-assurance industry and why they'd be paying for shit instead. Stuff I never wrote because it seemed like conspiracy nut stuff was actually in their predictions and happened. Mind blown twice. Bruce might have some commentary on them as it wouldn't surprise me if they asked for his opinion at some point.

Just a few major revelations in that interview. Here's a follow up which is actually where I found the PDF. It cites Schneier on Security in one of its claims. All in all, one hell of a night with reading like this and feeling a bit more motivation seeing how Schell kicked all kinds of ass trying to force security out of government/military that wanted nothing to do with it. He was actually one of our first underdog stories in INFOSEC whose project (eg Orange Book & evaluations) became the big dog briefly. Good story!

@ Nick P,

... Schell kicked all kinds of ass trying to force security out of government/military that wanted nothing to do with it.

He was not the only one to find that the MIC had no interest in real security (their sole purpose appears to be to sell snake oil at the highest of prices, and deliberatly cripple/sabotage it such that lucrative "cost pluss" and "rework" makes the profit many times greater).

You might want to read up on Gordon Welchman. He was the one who organised Bletchly, from an ad hoc group of scientists and cryptographers into an almost industrial operation as well as independently thinking up the bombe system and arriving at it's major improvment the diagonal board.

Gordon ended up in the US post war and recognised that military comms was at best a joke, and more a serious liability, and realised much that needed changing. But found the MIC wanted none of it for various incestuous reasons. However he persevered and arguably was the father of secure military networks that are still very much in use and also some "failed experiment" we now call the Internet.

He desperatly wanted to correct the mistakes the MIC were making as he saw that lives very much depended on reliable communications. So decided that as part of the Bletchly story was out he would try and correct the mistaken beliefs[1] that many people had about Bletchley and Ultra. As well as make public the problems he saw with communications, which his then employer initialy encouraged.

Unfortunatly he was unaware of what had happened in the UK over the head of MI5 and the fact many concluded he was a Russian mole[2]. The fall out from this was Maggie Thatcher's "blood lust" over anything to do with leaking what she regarded as official secrets, past or present.

So when Gordon Welchman wrote his book, he was not expecting any real complaint from either the UK or US authorities. However he had several parts,to the original book, one of which was his thoughts on where the MIC was going wrong with communicatuons. Which involved revealing much about traffic analysis and his own thoughts on it and how it pertained to the way communications should be organised.

Although technical knowledge of traffic analysis prevention etc was effectively in the public domain, those at the top of GCHQ decided, that perhaps some IC's in other countries had not joined the dots together. Thus talking about the nontechnical or operational aspects of traffic analysis might have a remote posibility of making their job just a little bit harder... Thus Maggie Thatcher got another bee in her mad house of a brain and her blood lust was further heated.

The result was considerable push back via the NSA and "secret agreements" between the UK and US[3]. The veinal and dishonest behaviour from GCHQ's leadership and the resulting NSA/FBI actions gave rise to considerable stress which almost certainly shortened Gordon's life.

Whilst you can still get copies of his book, Gordon took out the section on the MIC's failings in communications technology and direction out of all later editions[4]. So it only appeared in the first edition, and it's a bit of a rarity as only something like four thousand were sold. Whilst some of the technological failings Gordon identified have subsequently been fixed over the interveening three decades, the underlying "inbred behaviour" of the MIC is still causing many of the failings we see today, and thus a major burden on the public purse.

In part the behaviour towards Gordon Welchman is the reason that traffic analysis only became a subject of academic interest in the 21st century. Likewise it might also be the reason why the likes of TOR don't use protection measures against it that have been known about for the better part of eight decades...

[1] Put simply, the alies never actually broke the basic Enigma Cipher, they broke the "indicator systems" that the Germans invented to communicate the individual message keys from station to station by exploiting the weaknesses / failings of the opperators and the "Prussian" formality of the communications. But this was only possible due to the real secret "traffic analysis" and all that went behind it.

[2] You can read one man's thoughts on the mole in the book "Spycatcher" and look up the fuss and extreames Maggie Thatcher went to, to stop it getting published.

[3] Most people were unaware of BRUSA which gave rise to the "Special Arrangement" that laid the foundations of what we call the Five Eyes. But it was the most public of the many secret agreements, some of which are still secret. The one Gordon got hit with was an agreement the US it's self broke many times, which was that the US would not reveal or alow to be revealed information the British still regarded as secret. As the arangment it's self was kept secret it's difficult to know how he could have been aware of it or it's consequences. A point not lost on quite a few these days over the Patriot Act, Executive Orders and their secret interpretations that never get challenged in secret courts...

[4] Gordon decided to replace the future of communications section with a historical technical description of the bombes and diagonal board, which is perhaps more inkeeping with the rest of the book.

[5] Whilst information about Gordon Welchman and the real successes of Bletchley are still slowley coming out, there is one recent book you can get with what much that is currently known in it, including a more uptodate technical description of the bombes,

Joel Greenberg's "Gordon Welchman : Blechly Park's Architect of Ultra Intelligence", Frontline Books London, ISBN 978-1-84832-752-8

Bob Paddock
--I like compiling w/ -O0 so long as I have the memory, there's good choices for more memory now. B/c I'm sure you guys and a lot of other people have experienced your code getting optimized out, w/ gcc-arm in my case it was critical delays. The compiler couldn't comprehend the problem I was fixing w/ a delay. I'm not quite sure where I would need 'volatile' then, (can't recall the 3 layers of delay code verbatim, but it's just you know, cpu_delay(# of cycles), the # cycles depending on clockspeed etc...timing calculations, fun...).

There's probably hardware design issues if you're told to compile no lower than -O1 or "thar be dragons".

Thoth
--Pretty good highlevel overviews, good reads. On attack page, being able to non-randomly modify PC is crazy scary. You basically completely own the chip at that point, and this is where you could direct the PC outside of your code completely, maybe even execute a little nugget of evil, where all the checks in the world don't matter anymore, then hop back.

The bit about nail polish on a pin reminded me of putting something called "conformal coating" all over a board. Just a slight irritant for attackers (and me when a board in testing dies), you have to scrap that off to start probing around. Then you're not sure if not getting a voltage means literally no voltage or some of that coating is still there. With surface mount parts and very delicate chips, this can get real annoying real quick.

Clive Robinson
--Tried for a couple hours to pseudocode just to take my mind off other things like finals/projects, unsure about a few things. First not sure how to do a circular buffer, I looked up an implementation. Can do (1), and (2) (I'm presetting length to whatever customer is willing to enter on a daily basis lol). (3) is where I get lost. What's a false base pointer? What's Wptr? Why 16 byte, is that 16 char pw max length? What's chksum initialized as? After that I'm good mostly.

Nick P
--Cool, but yeah like Wael, I can work my way around electronics, but designing a chip in this day and age...Not yet. That's a group effort hands down, I'm CE not EE too. I helped design a product around a couple chips, not the chip itself, I programmed them but not huge amounts of code. Next project will be new territory and I'm nervous lol. I'm just unqualified and it's dangerous. I really suck at digital (hardware) design (karnaugh maps and the like), even more so at straight analog, and I find it boring besides RF stuff. Just cutting and pasting hardware designs sounds really dangerous, curious what kinds of bugs would crop up. Who knows, maybe you get lucky?

Did they have any chips taped out and made? Were they perfect (lol) on the first rev?

It's exciting maybe having more chip choices besides the same thing again and again, but I'll just stick to what I like best and can be most effective, which is firmware, and protocols. The background knowledge needed is extensive. And the people doing this are probably not going to explain what they're doing well for job security...

@Bob Paddock,

The Psyleron REG-1, a True Random Number/Event Generator, based on extrapolated quantum tunneling, has been around since 2005 and is the current Standard in Parapsychology. Any insights on it, or better yet design/schematics that improve on it?

Shielding is important. It doesn't seem from the pictures in the book that the device is adequately shielded. If the experiment is conducted in a shielded room, the results maybe more accurate. It has to be an energy gaped room. Shielded from electromagnetic radiation because the human body interacts with that diffracts, changes waves in amplitude and phase differently. Clothing has to be standard, too.

Temperature, pressure, phase of the moon, sun flares, etc... May have an effect
Weather conditions, cloud overcast vs. clear skies is a factor. Earth's seismic activity, time of day, earth's location with respect to other galactic bodies may be a factor, too

It's clear from measurements that some people had statistically significant deviations from others. These results were obtained from several hundred trials, so it eliminates some of the listed ambient effects -- but not conclusively.

Finding methods to reduce the effect of other 'human factors' such as skin resistance, Q resonance frequency of the skull, for instance, among other characteristics will add more accuracy to the measurements.

But: to attempt to map the 'unmeasurable' spiritual domain to the measurable physical domain, in my opinion, is fundamentally broken. Additionally, one can extrapolate all kinds of conclusions based on any set of 'random data'. I question the validity of the data they collected because of whats listed above. I have no problem with the analysis of the empirical data, given that the measurements purely represent what they intended to measure, and I'm not convinced thats the case.

My belief is the project was funded not only to prove that metaphysical abilities exist because that's the premise! The goal,is to harness these powers for other 'usages' and perhaps breed or genetically engineer humans with amplified abilities -- science fiction movies, in other words...

Finally, I'm not dismissing Parapsychological phenomena; I witnessed a few over the years, and some of my earlier colleagues claimed that everyone has these abilities. There were also minor incidents on this blog as @Buck, @Nick P ,@Clive Robinson can attest to... @Nick P (tell him about the "avocado story, Nick") thinks it's all 'interesting coincidences'' and it may very well be the case. Some things cannot be explained by the laws of 'nature' that we are familiar with.

@ Figureitout,

Ok, but what's the false base pointer?

That be one of dem darr men frum boys question's "us old timers" mutter curmudgeonly about (thanks @r for making me feel acient, you and @Wael appear to be doing a double act on me ;-)

Seriously though, it's an issue that arises from "abstraction" especially in Alogol descended languages like C...

Assembler language programers don't have a compiler getting in the way when it comes to memory and pointer arithmetic. In asm you have to know the size in bytes of your data type. In C they try --but fail-- to abstract it all away, and compilers can make it oh so much worse.

To an asm programer memory is just bytes with pointers to bytes, they are responsible for word aligning etc and dealing with structures with different sized data types within. C programers however get mollycoddled and it all gets abstracted away thus pointer arithmetic is out of sight, out of mind and can be slower than a three legged tourtoise.

The problem with pointer arithmetic is it can be fast and sleek, but waste heap space or it can squeeze out every last byte of heap and have a vastly increased and slow Arithmetic. An experienced asm programer writing for an embeded system will find a balance depending on the resources available.

The important thing to note is blocks of memory and their pointers are actually down below the CPU level in the computing stack. There is a whole bunch of stuff inbetween on larger microcontrolers (MMU, Segmentation etc). They are also below the OS with the applications sitting above (esspecialy stack oriented OS's that run on MMU less hardware).

So you have a block of linear memory of a number of bytes that might be word aligned or not, and depending on the CPU and data type the first byte of that memory may or may not actually be the logical start of the array as the high level language programer sees it.

It's this high level language pointer that is the "Base Poiter" in C it would be ary[] that is the base pointer and ary[0] is the calculated pointer to the first data element.

The important word to note is "calculated" and what it hides from you. It's usually fair to assume that ary[] is actually a pointer, where as ary[n] may well be ary[] + (n sizeof(type)) or worse. But n and the size of a type will be smallish integers in most cases not the normally larger size of pointers.

But where as ary[] and ary[0] might result in the same value with a linear buffer the same is not true for a circular/ring buffer. While ary[] as the "base pointer" makes sense for the block of memory and the linear buffer, it makes no sense for the use of the circular buffer.

A "false base pointer" is what is calculated from either the read pointer or the write pointer so that you can make sense of things with counters.

The pwd[] array is a null terminated string which if in RAM could be used as a linear buffer thus pwd[] makes sense for both reading and writing and calculating the length of the string or the distance from the start of the string or the distance to the end of the string. Thus pwd[] is the anchor point around which the calculations revolve.

Not so in the circular buffer usage, Cbuf[] is the start of the linear memory, and it will have a size Clen, thus be effectivly a Cbuf[] to Cbuf[Clen-1] block as far as the memory view goes. But... from the program view the read and write ptrs are calculated as Cbuf + (Wptr mod len) thus wrap around to turn the reality of the linear memory into a virtual ring that has neither begining or end just two pointers Rptr and Wptr for reading and writing respectivly. The usuall assumption is that the Wptr is in advance of the Rptr even though it's actual value may be less due to wrapping around. This makes discovering the lengths of the used and unused portions of the circular buffer harder. Obviously if the linear buffer length is len=2^m then the 'mod' function becomes a simple mask function of AND 0x0F etc where the bottom m bits are set. Unlike otherways of calculating the pointer "Cbuf[] + (Wptr AND 0x0F)" always executes in the same time as there is no comparison or branching.

The problem is then how do you compare the linear password buffer Pwd[] with the moving Cbuf Wptr. There are two ways, count backwards from Wptr and Pwd[possition of null] or calculate a false base pointer of Wptr - Pwd_len and increment up. In this case as decrementing only needs the compare to zero on the count it always runs in the same time.

Which brings us to the check sum and the way it likewise does not leak information. The XOR function only has a zero output when the inputs are the same. Thus if you first clear CkSm and in the loop do CkSm += (Wptr[cnt] XOR Pwb[cnt]) CkSm will only be zero if the full password and circular buffer values were the same. So providing the length of the password is always less than half the minimum integer max in length (ie 127 for byte addition) then the addition has no overflow implications and executes in constant time as does the decrement of ctr and the XOR function.

Hopefully that's covered the basics.

P.S. Although the algorithm executes in the same time, it can not avoid leaking the length of the password, because it will show a repeating pattern in the EM signiture and that can be counted. Though you can hide this, the extra code in a resource limited low secrecy application is probably not justified.


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Schneier on Security is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Resilient, an IBM Company.


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