Commit Graph

414 Commits (master)

Author SHA1 Message Date
Mike Gerwitz 9be5ce28d5
Verizon router backdoors
A [very disturbing article][0] makes mention of a Verizon TOS update for its
Internet service customers:

  Section 10.4 was updated to clarify that Verizon may in limited instances
  modify administrative passwords for home routers in order to safeguard
  Internet security and our network, the security and privacy of subscriber
  information, to comply with the law, and/or to provide, upgrade and maintain

...what? This is deeply disturbing, deeply perverted idea of security. Not only
is this a severe privacy concern (all internet traffic passes through your
router), but it's a deep *security* concern---what if a cracker is able to
figure out Verizon's password scheme, intercept the communication with your
router or otherwise?

I recommend that you (a) use your own router, (b) change its default password if
you have not yet done so and (c) disallow remote access. Furthermore, I
recommend using a free (as in freedom) firmware such as [DD-WRT][1] if supported
by your hardware.

2012-10-16 23:18:27 -04:00
Mike Gerwitz 357c4470d8
Free Speech in the Western World
An interesting opinion piece on [free speech in the western world.][0]

2012-10-16 22:22:17 -04:00
Mike Gerwitz 1627f7e7e8
Branch Prediction
An enlightening discussion on branch prediction.[0]

2012-10-16 22:18:40 -04:00
Mike Gerwitz 91012750bb
NYC Master Keys
[Bruce Schneier summarizes in a blog post][0] a disturbing topic regarding a New
York City locksmith selling ``master keys'' on eBay, providing access to various
services such as elevators and subway entrances.

[A discussion about this blog post on Hacker News][1] yielded some interesting
conversation, including an [even more disturbing article describing how simple
it may be to create master keys][2] for a set of locks given only the lock, its
key and a number of attempts.

I'll let you ponder the implications of both of these topics. Here's something
to get you started: organized crime could use these keys to effectively evade
law enforcement or break into millions of ``locked'' homes. Crackers could gain
intimate access to various city systems whereby they may be able to further
obstruct or infect systems. A security system is only as strong as its weakest
link. Keeping citizens in the dark about these issues gives them a dangerous and
false sense of security.

2012-10-16 21:56:24 -04:00
Mike Gerwitz ea244631bc
``Day changed to S''
Whatever ``S'' may be (in this case, ``13 Oct 2012''), there is always a sense
of peace and gratification that comes with witnessing that line appear in any
type of log; it shows a dedication to an art, should your days contain daylight.
2012-10-13 00:38:06 -04:00
Mike Gerwitz 41754ae585
:Updated README with thoughts URL (HTML rendering) 2012-10-11 00:47:14 -04:00
Mike Gerwitz d371c5a1e5
Texas middle and high schools tracking student locations with RFID tags
[An article][0] describes how a school district in Texas is attempting to force
its students to wear RFID tags at all times in order to track their location to
``stem the rampant truancy devastating the school's funding''.


This is deeply concerning. Not only does this raise serious security and privacy
concerns (as mentioned near the end of the article), but it also costed the
schools over a half a million dollars to implement. In order words: Texas
taxpayer money has been wasted in an effort to track our children.

Good thing they don't have anything better to spend that money on.[1]

2012-10-10 22:37:37 -04:00
Mike Gerwitz a2fb569312
Why no kid (or kid at heart) should write an iPhone game
I saw [this post][0] appear on HackerNews, talking about how building a game for
iOS is ``fun'' and ``cool''. The poster lures the reader in with talk of making
money and talks of a ``unique sense of fulfillment'' that comes with development
of these games, and then goes on to invite kids to learn how to develop games
for the iPhone (and presumably other iOS devices).

This is a terrible idea.

Getting children involved with hacking is an excellent idea, but introducing
them to the evils of Apple and associating that with a feeling of pleasure does
a great disservice; all software developed for iOS must be ``purchased'' (even
if it's of zero cost) through a walled garden called the ``App Store''. The
problem with this is that [the App Store is hostile toward free
software][1]---its overly restrictive terms are incompatible with free software
licenses like the GPL. Teaching children to develop software for this crippled,
DRM-laden system is teaching them that it is good to prevent sharing, stifle
innovation and deny aid to your neighbor.

A better solution would be to suggest developing software for a completely free
mobile operating system instead of iOS, such as Replicant[2] (a fully free
Android distribution). Even if Replicant itself were not used, Android itself,
so long as proprietary implementations and ``stores'' are avoided[3], is much
more [compatible with education][4] than iOS, since the children are then able
to freely write and distribute the software without being controlled by
malicious entities like Apple. Furthermore, they would then be able to use a
fully free operating system such as GNU/Linux to *write* the software.

Do not let fun and wealth disguise this ugly issue. Even more importantly---do
not pass this practice and woeful acceptance down to our children. I receive a
``unique sense of fulfillment'' each and every day hacking free software far
away from Apple's grasp.

2012-10-10 07:58:26 -04:00
Mike Gerwitz 756976077f
All these election attack ads are utterly useless
There have been a lot of elections going on lately---local, state and national.
The majority of those ads are attack ads: immature and disrespectful; if you
want my vote, give me something positive to vote for instead of spending all of
your time and money attacking your candidate. If my vote is to go to the "least
horrible" candidate, then there is no point in voting at all.

Even more frustrating is the deceptiveness of the ads---intentional
deceptiveness, nonetheless. And these are the ads that many in the United States
will be basing the majority of, if not all, of their vote on come election time
(how many will realistically research instead of sitting in front of the TV
absorbing all of the useless bullshit that they are spoonfed?).

2012-10-09 19:37:17 -04:00
Mike Gerwitz 0cce516f41
Always use -t with ssh-add (and always set passwords on your ssh keys)
Many people use SSH keys for the sole purpose of avoiding password entry when
logging into remote boxes. That is legtimate, especially if you frequently run
remote commands or wish to take advantage of remote tab complation, but creating
a key with an empty password is certainly the wrong approach---if an attacker
gets a hold of the key, then they have access to all of your boxes before you
have the chance to notice and revoke the key.

ssh-agent exists for this purpose. The problem is---creating an agent only to
place the key in memory indefinately is also a terrible idea. If your system
does become compromised and the attacker is either root access or access as your
user, then they can simply connect to the ssh-agent (unless it's password
protected) and start using your key. Also consider that, should you leave your
box unattended for even a moment without locking it (for whatever reason---shit
happens), an attacker could gain physical access to your PC (and an attacker may
just be a coworker looking to play a prank).

Every morning at work, I begin the day by typing ssh-add followed by an
appropriate lifetime (be it the duration of the work day, or the duration that I
think I will need the key). This way, your key is in memory when you are likely
to be physically present at the box and it is automatically removed from memory
after a given lifetime. Additionally, I like to add `ssh-add -D` to the script
that locks my PC when I walk away from my desk: that will immediately clear all
keys from memory, just in case.
2012-10-09 18:43:39 -04:00
Mike Gerwitz f6348502ba
The use of trademarks in free software has always been a curious and unclear
concept to me, primarily due to my ignorance on the topic.

Trademarks, unless abused, are intended to protect consumers' interests---are
they getting the brand that they think they're getting? If you download Firefox,
are you getting Firefox, or a derivative?

Firefox is precicely one of those things that has brought this issue to light
for me personally: the name is trademarked and derivatives must use their own
names, leading to IceCat, IceWeasel, Abrowser, etc. Even though FF is free
software, the trademark imposes additional restrictions that seem contrary to
the free software philosophy. As such, it was my opinion that trademarks should
be avoided or, if they exist, should not be exercised. (GNU, for example, is
trademarked[0], but the FSF certainly does not exercise it[1]; consider GNUplot,
a highly popular graphing program, which is not even part of the GNU project.)

[This article][2] provides some perspective on the topic and arrives at much the
same conclusions: trademark enforcement stifles adoption and hurts the project

I recommend that trademarks not be used for free software projects, though I am
not necessarily opposed to registering a trademark "just in case" (for example,
to prevent others from maliciously attempting to register a trademark for your

[0]; serial number 85380218; reg. number 4125065*

* From what I could find from the USPTO website, it was submitted by
  Aaron Williamson of the SFLC (
2012-10-06 17:01:42 -04:00
Mike Gerwitz 7c0fa042ac
Mathematics is absolute. 2012-10-06 07:45:53 -04:00
Mike Gerwitz 9eac0d894b
Getting too tired to hack? At 23:00?
This has been normal since becoming a father. I can't complain---I love being a
father. Of course, I also love hacking. I also love sleep. Knowing that my son
is going to wake me up a 6:00 in the morning has a slight influence in a
situation like this.

I'd like to just suffer through it, but being a fiancé also has another
obligation: going to bed when your significant other decides that it's bed time
(and by ``bed time'' I mean sleep). I still manage to fit it in somehow.
2012-10-05 23:04:53 -04:00
Mike Gerwitz d604805644
Who needs ``microblogging''?
I don't. This is just some place safe to store random thoughts that people
probably don't care about (like most comments on most social networking
services), with the added benefit of distributed backup, a simple system and no
character limit.

All the thoughts are commit messages; in particular, this means no versioning.
That's okay, because I'm not going to go back and modify them, but I do want
dates and I do want GPG signatures (to show that it's actually me thinking this

This isn't a journal.

This will mostly be a hacker's thought cesspool.

This isn't a blog.

Though, considering how much I ramble (look at this message), certain thoughts
could certainly seem like blog entries. Don't get the two confused---one
requires only thought defecation and the other endures the disturbing task of
arranging the thought matter into something coherent and useful to present to

Yeah. Enjoy. Or don't. You probably shouldn't, even if you do. If you don't,
you probably should just to see that you shouldn't.
2012-10-05 22:37:39 -04:00