Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Some quotes from my first 200 posts

My 200th post was sent the No Tricks blog yesterday, and to celebrate here are 30 or so quotes I quickly selected out of those posts.

The No Tricks Blog Name
The American basically asked "Why are you guys doing so much better than us?". The Japanese businessman is shown extending his fingers and counting off as he says "Your managers are greedy, your workers are lazy, and ...". But before he can finish even just the most obvious reasons, the American interrupts impatiently and says "I know, I know! But what's the trick?"
Excel is your new best friend
We can also stop beating ourselves up on the point that the weakness of IT Risk is the absence of data - the real weakness is poor modelling, and the decisions based on the output of such models.
Mr. Egerstad has stated that there is no security flaw with Tor - the real threat comes from user expectations that their message contents are being protected end-to-end by Tor, when in fact encryption is only applied to internal Tor network communication.
Flaws related to encryption always make good copy, and on occasion, strike at the heart of our fundamental beliefs in security. When encryption falters the whole edifice of security seems shaken.
This may seem an odd question given that since the mid 70's discussions about cryptographic keys have been mainly concerned about their potential shortness.
The Princeton team asked Nature the simple question of whether DRAM is cleared on power loss, and the simple answer is no.
A5/1 has operated unchanged for the last 21 years but it has now reached its cryptographic end-of-life, engulfed by the march of Moore's Law.
Intel's leading chip line, the x86, has steadily progressed from 286, 386, 486, Pentium and so on, but quantum computers will not be "1000-86" devices - unimaginably faster versions of what we have today.
Kapersky has decided to make AV scanning more efficient not by making it faster but by doing less, as determined by risk-based criteria.
It is common that once the torch of enterprise risk management is kindled in the higher corporate echelons, it is passed down the ranks and settles with IT Security people to assume responsibility for the management of IT Risk. And these people are ill-equipped to do so.
Perhaps this reasoning prevailed at Adobe when they recently upgraded their document encryption scheme from AES-128 in v8 to AES-256 in v9. However Adobe later had to announce that v9 in fact offers less security against brute force attacks as compared to v8. What went wrong? They forgot about the spin.
Risk management is about making decisions today that will protect us from the uncertainty of the future. We are not looking for one in a million (the expert) but rather a million and one (the power of many).
We feel more informed, more empowered, and more enamoured with the promise of the omnipotent web. The web 2.0 narrative has worked its magic and we tacitly commit into a seemingly virtuous circle of information inflation.
Navigation and search are just for people who don't have any friends.
Disconnect from Twitter when you are receiving more than one tweet per second.
The AV blacklisting industry has reached a point of diminishing returns - the marginal value of producing additional signatures is minimal, but the underlying model can offer no more advice than to simply keep doing exactly that.
It could be said that PageRank is one part brilliance and two parts daring.
Often business has the “snappy intuitively appealing arguments without obvious problems” - plus Excel … Snappy and plausible usually wins out over lengthy, detailed and correct.
The observation here is that the security function is no longer called upon to critically underwrite the security risks of a project, with the option to reject.
Compound this disconnect between management and technical people over hundreds of thousands of projects at the corporate, national and international levels, spanning the last 3o years, and you have the disaster Ranum is describing (and lamenting).
The worst case scenario for Web 2.0 is that we are heading for a singularity, precipitated by dividing our attention into informational units effectively rated at zero content.
Imagine you posed the following question to a group of top physicists. You asked them to present you with ideas for new research projects where they could assume that the budget included all the money that we have, all the money that has ever been, and the total financial assets of the world for the next 10 million years. Would the resulting proposals be credible?

AES-256 puts cryptanalysts on the same research agenda.

So for complex decisions that potentially have the greatest impact in terms of costs and/or reputation, in exactly the circumstances where a thorough risk assessment is required, transparency rather than rigour is the order of the day.
Doctorow remarks that the surprising outcome of this process was the realisation that we are missing a well-known service for handling key escrow in an era of military grade encryption being available to home users.
I don’t really think that there is a cult in operation over Bruce Schneier, but rather a hero was found when security as an industry needed to believe in heroes.
When I look back at crypto now it seems of similar consequence to the proportions of the Sun and Antares - not merely because my professional interests have changed, but in the vast equation that constitutes ERM, crypto is a variable with minor weighting. Its gravitational force is largely exerted on specialists, and rapidly declines (much faster than the inverse square law) beyond that sphere. It's just a pixel on the football-field sized collage of ERM.
So that’s 1,000 years of computation by a cluster that would envelope the earth to a height of one metre.
There are many posts and news articles of late on the TLS Renegotiation Attack. I had hoped that just by skimming a large number of these that some process of web osmosis would magically transfer an understanding of this vulnerability to me.
In the short term (and maybe the longer term as well) Diffie sees the cloud as a matter of trust. He advises to pick your supplier like you pick your accountant.
For each of us the web is a noisy channel, which we express through the need to search, subscribe, aggregate, recommend, post, tweet – in short a great cull of what finds its way onto our screens.
And while the traits of detail, accuracy and correctness are necessary for IT activities, they are fundamentally at odds with the type of messages and opinions that senior managers are expecting.
Some articles and posts have focussed on verifying passwords in software as the culprit, which is partly true, but the real issue is not software but insecure programming of software.
Gentry has estimated that building a circuit to perform an encrypted Google search with encrypted keywords would multiply the current computing time by around 1 trillion.


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