Tor weaknesses
Dec 28th, 2010 by Ken Hagler

Flaws in Tor anonymi­ty net­work spot­light­ed. At the Chaos Com­put­er Club Con­gress in Berlin, Ger­many on Mon­day, researchers from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Regens­burg deliv­ered a new warn­ing about the Tor anonymiz­er net­work, a sys­tem aimed at hid­ing details of a com­put­er user’s online activ­i­ty from spy­ing eyes.

The attack doesn’t quite make a surfer’s activ­i­ty an open book, but offers the abil­i­ty for some­one on the same local network—a Wi-Fi net­work provider, or an ISP work­ing at law enforce­ment (or a régime’s) request, for example—to gain a poten­tial­ly good idea of sites an anony­mous surfer is view­ing. [Ars Tech­ni­ca]

There are things users can do to pro­tect them­selves. From the arti­cle:

Users them­selves can guard against this type of fingerprint-based eaves­drop­ping rel­a­tive­ly eas­i­ly, Her­rmann not­ed. Down­load­ing or request­ing more than one site at a time through the net­work will mud­dy the pat­tern enough that cer­tain­ty will be very dif­fi­cult for the eaves­drop­per to estab­lish.

And from one of the com­ments:

This attack should be sig­nif­i­cant­ly less effec­tive as well if the tar­get in ques­tion is a ful­ly func­tion­al and qual­i­ty relay­ing node. In that case oth­er peo­ple access­ing through the node would ran­dom­ize things sig­nif­i­cant­ly, and their access would be impos­si­ble to dif­fer­en­ti­ate from a local user with­out the kind of phys­i­cal access that makes the entire thing moot.

Stupid Hollywood Clichés
Dec 22nd, 2010 by Ken Hagler

You know you’re watch­ing a stu­pid Hol­ly­wood movie when a guy wakes up to find a baby polar bear lick­ing his face, and the guy doesn’t die a real­ly grue­some death the next minute when the baby’s giant angry car­niv­o­rous moth­er doesn’t show up to tear him to shreds. I real­ize they’re cute when seen from a dis­tance (prefer­ably a very large dis­tance), but the real­i­ty is that polar bears are incred­i­bly dan­ger­ous.

Journalism in action (or should that be “inaction?”)
Dec 17th, 2010 by Ken Hagler

For­eign Exchange Stu­dent Dies After Fight With Class­mate. A Kore­an for­eign exchange stu­dent has died fol­low­ing a fight with a class­mate at Sylmar’s First Luther­an High School. The Los Ange­les Police Depart­ment explain that the squab­ble began on Tues­day after­noon as a ver­bal dis­pute regard­ing cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences that turned into a phys­i­cal fight that proved fatal.

19-year-old Jin Su Lee sus­tained severe brain dam­age dur­ing the fight with his 17-year-old class­mate, also a Kore­an for­eign exchange stu­dent. [LAist]

I real­ize that jour­nal­ism is all about the mind­less regur­gi­ta­tion of press releas­es, and any­one who devi­ates from the pro­gram by ask­ing awk­ward ques­tions risks los­ing access to future press releas­es, but that leads to pret­ty ridicu­lous news sto­ries. For exam­ple, the obvi­ous (and appar­ent­ly imper­mis­si­ble) ques­tion here is: what “dis­pute regard­ing cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences” arose between these two peo­ple from the same cul­ture?

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