Data network connectivity developments, networking business news, and related computing items.
Ken Novak's Weblog
Monday, August 30, 2004
Axis Network Camera HTTP Authentication Bypass Vulnerability: Amazing securty hole: Axis makes widely used networked surveillance cameras. They have an onboard website for administration -- and that website is easily compromised. Furthermore, it's reported that many of these cameras are open on the public internet and can be found with google (not even a robots.txt file to prevent indexing). Incredible that a security products company would release such a buggy product. And it's also reported that the company didn't respond to hacker reports (normally companies issue info and an update before the hacker goes public.) "A vulnerability has been identified in several Axis Network Cameras, which can be exploited by a malicious person to bypass user authentication. Normally a user is required to input a username and password before access is granted to "http://[victim]/admin/admin.shtml". However, by sending a HTTP request with an extra "/" before the "admin" folder, it is possible to bypass the authentication completely." 10:10:56 AM
Friday, August 27, 2004
Cringely visits Englebart
: A short retelling of a classic innovation story. Interesting that Englebart says he envisioned his famous 1968 demo in 1950, and talked about it with very few people in fear of ridicule. 10:14:05 AM
Thursday, August 26, 2004
802.11b/g Signal Booster
: Interesting - $120 for a small replacement antenna that puts out 500 mw instead of the 30 - 200 mw typical. 10:12:23 AM
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
70% of virus activity due to one hacker: "A report published by Sophos, a world leader in protecting businesses against viruses and spam, has revealed that 70% of virus activity in the first half of 2004 can be linked to a German teenager.
Sven Jaschan, 18, is the self-confessed author of the Netsky and Sasser worms which hit internet users hard in the first six months of the year. Just two of Jaschan's viruses, the infamous Sasser worm and Netsky-P, account for almost 50% of all virus activity seen by Sophos up until the end of June. Counting Jaschan's other released variants of the Netsky worm, the total figure accounts for over 70%.
"For a single German teenager to have such an impact on computer security is simply staggering," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "If one of Jaschan's friends had not informed Microsoft about his identity then the situation may have been even worse." .. his viruses continue to infect computer users and have an impact. .. "However, because Jaschan was under 18 at the time he released the viruses it's possible he will escape a stiff sentence if found guilty."
The Sasser worm hit home computer users and companies worldwide, including the South African government, Taiwan's national post office, and the UK's coastguard service. " 9:13:16 AM
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Sophos 'Dirty Dozen' Spam Producing Countries: Sophos, a virus/spam filtering company, says its research shows the top twelve spam producing countries are:
1. United States 42.53%
2. South Korea 15.42%
3. China (& Hong Kong) 11.62%
4. Brazil 6.17%
5. Canada 2.91%
6. Japan 2.87%
7. Germany 1.28%
8. France 1.24%
9. Spain 1.16%
10. United Kingdom 1.15%
11. Mexico 0.98%
12. Taiwan 0.91%
And, "Zombie computers -- PCs that have been compromised by hackers or virus writers -- are sending out approximately 40% of the world's spam, and many users who fall victim are unaware." 2:25:27 PM
Thursday, August 19, 2004
: "The NIST Net
network emulator is a general-purpose tool for emulating performance dynamics in IP networks. The tool is designed to allow controlled, reproducible experiments with network performance sensitive/adaptive applications and control protocols in a simple laboratory setting. By operating at the IP level, NIST Net can emulate the critical end-to-end performance characteristics imposed by various wide area network situations (e.g., congestion loss) or by various underlying subnetwork technologies (e.g., asymmetric bandwidth situations of xDSL and cable modems).
NIST Net is implemented as a kernel module extension to Linux .. In use, the tool allows an inexpensive PC-based router to emulate numerous complex performance scenarios, including: tunable packet delay distributions, congestion and background loss, bandwidth limitation, and packet reordering / duplication. " Last modification 2002. 4:31:17 PM
The Network Simulator - ns-2
: "Ns is a discrete event simulator targeted at networking research. Ns provides substantial support for simulation of TCP, routing, and multicast protocols over wired and wireless (local and satellite) networks. " It supports Network Emulation
, "The simulator acts like a router allowing real-world traffic to be passed through without being manipulated. The ns packet contain a pointer to the network packet. Network packets may be dropped, delayed, re-ordered or duplicated by the simulator. Opaque mode is useful in evaluating the behavior of real-world implementations when subjected to adverse network conditions that are not protocol specific." Tutorial available
. 4:26:50 PM
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Bruce Sterling SIGGRAPH 2004 speech "When Blobjects Rule the Earth": Fastastic speech connecting memes from all over (open production, new media, sci fi, cluetrain, sustainability) into a new techno vision. An update of Bucky Fuller, maybe an "As We May Think" for this generation. Too much to summarize, I'll quote just a few bits that stuck out for me.
"We are facing a future world infested with digital programmability. A world where our structures and possessions include, as a matter of course, locaters, timers, identities, histories, origins, and destinations: sensing, logic, actuation, and displays. ..
[There were products, then gizmos, now spimes] A spime is a users group first, and a physical object second.. A Spime is today's entire industrial process, made explicit. That is the whole shebang, explicitly tied to the object itself. A Spime is an object that ate and internalized the previous industrial order. Some of this information might be contained inside the Spime, and some of it might be conjured up on the Web by, say, a barcode or an RFID chip -- but in practice, you wouldn't notice the difference ..
The natural world should be better for our efforts and our ingenuity. It's not too much to ask. You and I will never live to see a future world with those advanced characteristics. The people who will be living in it will pretty much take it for granted, anyway. But that is a worthy vision for today's technologists: because that is wise governance for a digitally conquered world. That is is not tyranny. That is legitimacy. ..
The question we must face is: what do we want? We should want to abandon that which has no future. We should blow right through mere sustainability. We should desire a world of enhancement. That is what should come next. We don't need more dead clutter to entomb in landfills. We should want to expand the options of those who will follow us." 7:40:06 AM
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Groove and other P2P hassles with XP SP2:
Service pack 2 limits bandwidth for users with multiple simutaneous outbound connections. When running a P2P package like Groove, all network applicaitons slow way down. No resolution is posted yet. 3:59:36 PM
: "m0n0wall is a project aimed at creating a complete, embedded firewall software package that, when used together with an embedded PC, provides all the important features of commercial firewall boxes (including ease of use) at a fraction of the price (free software). m0n0wall is based on a bare-bones version of FreeBSD, along with a web server, PHP and a few other utilities. The entire system configuration is stored in one single XML text file to keep things transparent. m0n0wall is probably the first UNIX system that has its boot-time configuration done with PHP, rather than the usual shell scripts, and that has the entire system configuration stored in XML format." 3:52:28 PM
What ist fli4l?
: "Fli4l is a single floppy Linux-based ISDN, DSL and Ethernet-Router. You can build it from an old 486 based pc with 16 megabyte memory, which is more than adequate for this purpose. The necessary boot-disk can be built under Unix, Linux or Windows." 3:49:54 PM
Monday, August 16, 2004
The Wisdom of Crowds
: A popular new book sheds light on the earlier post about Open Production. The publisher's notes provides an outline; the Amazon reader's comments are interesting, not least in noting examples (like intelligence failures -- reminding me of the movement to open source intelligence
). "While our culture generally trusts experts and distrusts the wisdom of the masses, Surowiecki argues that "under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent, and are often smarter than the smartest people in them." To support this almost counterintuitive proposition, Surowiecki explores problems involving cognition (we're all trying to identify a correct answer), coordination (we need to synchronize our individual activities with others) and cooperation (we have to act together despite our self-interest). His rubric, then, covers a range of problems, including driving in traffic, competing on TV game shows, maximizing stock market performance, voting for political candidates, navigating busy sidewalks, tracking SARS and designing Internet search engines like Google. If four basic conditions are met, a crowd's "collective intelligence" will produce better outcomes than a small group of experts, Surowiecki says, even if members of the crowd don't know all the facts or choose, individually, to act irrationally. "Wise crowds" need (1) diversity of opinion; (2) independence of members from one another; (3) decentralization; and (4) a good method for aggregating opinions. The diversity brings in different information; independence keeps people from being swayed by a single opinion leader; people's errors balance each other out; and including all opinions guarantees that the results are "smarter" than if a single expert had been in charge." 5:18:54 PM
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Open production: I talked with Brewster Kahle briefly in 2001, and got the idea that the degree of collaboration is a spectrum. At one end is the conventional commitment to play a role in a team; at the other is the incidental activity that leaves a trace that can be datamined in an implicit collaboration. At the implicit end, we see Google mining the links I make as though I were collaborating with all other web authors; and Amazon mines my purchases and makes recommendations on my behalf to similar buyers. Howard Rheingold sees this as part of a broader pattern, and ends up sounding like Buckminster Fuller:
Besides Google and Amazon, "there's open source [software]. Steve Weber, a political economist at UC Berkeley, sees open source as an economic means of production that turns the free-rider problem to its advantage. All the people who use the resource but don't contribute to it just build up a larger user base. And if a very tiny percentage of them do anything at all -- like report a bug -- then those free riders suddenly become an asset.
And maybe this isn't just in software production. .. The dogma is that the two major means of organizing for economic production are the market and the firm. But [Yale law professor] Yochai Benkler uses open source as an example of peer-to-peer production, which he thinks may be pointing toward a third means of organizing for production.
There's also Wikipedia [the online encyclopedia written by volunteers]. It has 500,000 articles in 50 languages at virtually no cost, vs. Encyclopedia Britannica spending millions of dollars and they have 50,000 articles. .. [Rheingold also mentions unliscenced wireless "open" spectrum] ..
If I was a Nokia or a Hewlett-Packard, I would take a fraction of what I'm spending on those buildings full of expensive people and give out a whole bunch of prototypes to a whole bunch of 15-year-olds and have contracts with them where you can observe their behavior in an ethical way and enable them to suggest innovations, and give them some reasonable small reward for that. And once in a while, you're going to make a billion dollars off it." 11:44:56 PM
3D Holograms Detect Fake Signatures
: Scanning handwritten text with lasers can measure the 3D structure of the writing. From that it's possible to infer the pressure and direction of the writing. With those attributes, identification of the author is much better than 2D analysis, approaching 100%. Ancient manuscripts could be easier to identify; and maybe there's new life in the signature as a biometric ID? [Thanks again Roland
! I'm catching up on a whole summer's worth of your excellent work!] 10:08:12 PM
RFID in Japanese Restaurants
: Finally, RFID in the sushi bar -- I've been talking about this for 2 years, finally RFID has gotten practical: At a Tokyo restaurant, under each sushi plate "was a small square shaped bump, barely visible under blue lacquer. It was an RFID chip implanted in the plate. Different chips for different prices. Cool. The tallying up of over 18 plates literally took less than 5 seconds. " 9:49:54 PM
Bluetooth phones are hackable: Recent tests have expanded the list of issues. "Adam Laurie of A.L. Digital Ltd. discovered that there are serious flaws in the authentication and/or data transfer mechanisms on some bluetooth enabled devices. .. Confidential data can be obtained, anonymously, and without the owner's knowledge or consent, from some bluetooth enabled mobile phones. This data includes, at least, the entire phonebook and calendar, and the phone's IMEI. .. Access can be gained to the AT command set of the device, giving full access to the higher level commands and channels, such as data, voice and messaging. " Dozens of models are affected. Combined with new long range antennas, many demonstrations have been done with hundreds of phonebooks harvested, calls made remotely (allowing listening in conversations at a distance), and messages sent impersonating the owner of the phone. The likely fix will be to reduce the time the devices keep Bluetooth open. 9:49:13 AM
Goatse at Defcon:
Nasty wifi attack demonstration (with hilarious and disgusting images). A program running on a machine with 2 wifi nic's can inject responses to HTTP (browser) requests, thus impersonating web sites. New vector for phishing? Linked from Bruce Schneier
. 8:59:47 AM
: Nifty review of electronics in clothing, like wearable displays, fabrics that change color, and medical or other sensors. 7:51:16 AM
Saturday, August 14, 2004
"TimeTrax is an application for the XM Satellite Radio XM PCR
PC-based radio. This radio, available for under $50, plugs into a USB port on your PC and lets you tune into over 120 digital audio satellite channels, featuring music, talk, comedy and news. Using TimeTrax, you can now record directly from your XM PCR radio onto your PC's hard drive in WAV or MP3 format." Software automatically breaks songs into separate MP3 files and collects metadata (artist, title, etc). Can be scheduled to retain all songs by an artist, for example. Software free (registered for $20), hardware $50, service $7/mo. 8:31:09 AM
Habitat Chronicles: You can't tell people anything
: How do you explain what you can't demonstrate? "When people ask me about my life's ambitions, I often joke that my goal is to become independently wealthy so that I can afford to get some work done. Mainly that's about being able to do things without having to explain them first, so that the finished product can be the explanation. I think this will be a major labor saving improvement." 12:57:27 AM
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
: Nokia's got the concept that's been around since the 80s Media Lab, of recording your life online -- using their all-singing all-dancing Nokia 7610
, of course (has 1 mpixel camera, video, real and mp3 player, voice recorder, triband, bluetooth, smtp and pop3, games, java, etc.) 10:23:30 PM
Saturday, August 07, 2004
EFF: Liberation Digital Television Front: EFF wants people to stock up on HDTV cards and computer systems now, before the broadcast flag takes effect: "Responding to pressure from Hollywood, the FCC has adopted a rule requiring future digital television (DTV) tuners to include "content protection" (aka DRM) technologies. Starting next year, all makers of HDTV receivers must build their devices to watch for a broadcast "flag" embedded in programs by copyright holders. When it comes to digital recording, it'll be Hollywood's DRM way or the highway. Want to burn that recording digitally to a DVD to save hard drive space? Sorry, the DRM lock-box won't allow it. How about sending it over your home network to another TV? Not unless you rip out your existing network and replace it with DRMd routers. Kind of defeats the purpose of getting a high definition digital signal, doesn't it?
The good news is this mandate doesn't take effect for another year. We have until July 1, 2005, to buy, build, and sell fully-capable, non-flag-compliant HDTV receivers. Any receivers built now will "remain functional under a flag regime, allowing consumers to continue their use without the need for new or additional equipment." [PDF] Any devices made this year can be re-sold in the future. .. Since machines you've already built will still work in high-def next year, we'd like to make HDTV tuner cards easy to use now, while they can still be manufactured." 12:06:14 AM
Friday, August 06, 2004
Zimbabwe prepares Internet controls: "The Zimbabwe government is planning to acquire high-tech equipment from China for the purpose of bugging the internet. This is to enable it to interfere with the flow of information it considers subversive as well as the operations of independent internet based media outlets. Authoritative sources within Posts and Telecommunications (PTC) and government circles revealed that the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) is already looking into ways of controlling internet communication as soon as the equipment arrives. 10:14:02 AM
The whole of Zimbabwe has during the past weeks been experiencing intermittent internet break-downs, which PTC management had failed to explain, according to sources at the PTC. 'They merely said that there was work being done in upgrading or some security measures being implemented. There are CIOs [agents] that seem to have been permanently stationed at Tel One (the state owned hub for internet providers) and were carrying out some surveys in the past weeks. We understand that there are some Internet Service Providers (ISP) who have agreed to cooperate with the CIOs and let them use their domains for the tests with samples of equipment brought from China,' a PTC source said.
Sources within the CIO said that the equipment from China is expected to be delivered next month. Government would push for the promulgation of a law allowing it to bug the internet for security reasons. President Robert Mugabe announced during the opening of parliament last week that government would introduce a bill in the house to give it powers to control communication systems for the sake of 'tightening state security'. .. Tel One recently asked ISPs to sign commercial contracts obliging them to take 'all necessary measures' to prevent the transmission of illegal material on line."
Movie-swapping up; Kazaa down:
"Over six months of surveying, [CacheLogic] found that Kazaa use had slipped far behind rival BitTorrent, which accounted for 53 percent of actual peer-to-peer network traffic. It found also that overall traffic has not been falling, as some have suggested. By June, an average of 8 million users were online at any given time, sharing a petabyte (10 million gigabytes) of data.
"The overall level of file sharing has increased," said Andrew Parker, CacheLogic's founder and chief technology officer. "Users have migrated from Kazaa onto BitTorrent." The company's observations add to what have been growing indications of a generational shift under way in the peer-to-peer world, with computer users increasingly downloading big files such as movies and software, and reducing reliance on onetime file-sharing king Kazaa. " 12:24:09 AM
About IP Fabrics
: "IP Fabrics’ technology stems from the premise that future networks will demand three attributes that are often at odds with another: 1. True wire-speed performance; 2. Much more intelligence directly in the network; 3. Readily extensible to new protocols, new threats, and new silicon. We believe highly parallel NPUs (network processors) present the best opportunity for satisfying these objectives.. The radically different approach consists of a very-high-level packet processing language and a virtual machine environment for it. The language and environment are well suited for any application based on IP technology, including firewalls, VPNs, security gateways, intrusion detection, content switching, application-layer firewalling, SPAM filtering, traffic monitoring, and many more. " 12:08:32 AM
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
24HOURDOTCOM: "Our mission is to build a dotcom in 24 hours. We will then sell the company on eBay and get rich... " This was at the Wizards of OS conference in Berlin, as "a performance art/business project. The mission is to create a dotcom business from scratch in 24 hours. That means designing and programming a complete and useful web application, recruiting people, doing marketing, creating investment programs and much more. After 24 hours, the complete business will be sold on an eBay auction, and everyone involved will be rich!" Pretty funny - and they got $2026 on ebay. 6:03:45 PM
Quantum crypto network debuts:
"Quantum cryptography has the potential to guarantee perfectly secure communications, but until now all of the prototype systems have been point-to-point links rather than networks that share connections. BBN Technologies, Harvard University and Boston University researchers have built a six-node quantum cryptography network that operates continuously " 4:54:12 PM
Microsoft to implement SPF checking:
"The company is strongly urging e-mail providers and Internet service providers to publish, by mid-September, Sender Policy Framework records that identify their e-mail servers in the domain name system. Microsoft will begin matching the source of inbound e-mail to the Internet Protocol addresses of e-mail servers listed in that sending domain’s SPF record by October 1. Messages that fail the check will not be rejected but will be further scrutinized and filtered, says Craig Spiezle, director of Microsoft’s Safety Technology and Strategy Group." However, a comment says that MS has not yet published SPF records themselves for any of their domains. 12:00:38 PM
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
RSA Security - The Blocker Tag: Selective Blocking of RFID Tags for Consumer Privacy: Clever scheme for allowing consumers to block scanning of tags on items that they have purchased (eg, while in public places), and allowing scanning of those same items when desired (eg, in a medicine cabinet or refrigerator at home).
"One may think of a the RSA® Blocker Tag as "spamming" any reader that attempts to scan tags without the right authorization. (The RSA® Blocker Tag manipulates the reading protocol with the aim of making the reader think that RFID tags representing all possible serial numbers are present.) When a Blocker is in proximity to ordinary RFID tags, they benefit from its shielding behavior; when the Blocker tag is removed, the ordinary RFID tags may be used normally.
Thanks to their selective nature, RSA® Blocker Tags are designed not to interfere with the normal operation of RFID systems in retail environments. They help prevent unwanted scanning of purchased items, but do not affect the scanning of shop inventories. Thus RSA® Blocker Tags are designed not to be usable, for example, to circumvent theft-control systems or mount denial-of-service attacks -- only to protect the privacy of law-abiding consumers." 9:53:04 AM
Monday, August 02, 2004
Linux on the WRT54G
: "This is a mini Linux distribution for the Linksys wrt54g
. In about 20 seconds, you can install a small set of Linux tools to your access point's ramdisk. The distribution is geared towards those who are curious about casually exploring the internal workings of this device. The installation is strictly to the ram disk of the box. No permanent changes are made. If you mess something up, power-cycle the box.
Upon completion of the installation, you'll be able to telnet into the box and have a system with basic tools such as syslog, httpd (with cgi-bin support), vi, snort, mount, insmod, rmmod, top, grep, ls, ifconfig, iptables, ssh, iptraf etc. " The author also has tools for accessing the Linux running in the Linksys NSLU2
network storage/USB device. Like the WRT54G, it costs under $100. 3:31:32 PM