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TBTF for 1997-07-28: Disturbing Napier's bones

Keith Dawson (dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com)
Sun, 27 Jul 1997 11:23:55 -0400


NSI files suit against AlterNIC

Network Solutions, Inc. took Eugene Kashpureff to court last week for rerouting its traffic to his own site, an action Kashpureff freely admits he undertook on two occasions to protest NSI's claim to ownership of the top-level domains .com, .net, and .org. A judge in the Eastern Virginia U.S. District Court granted a restraining order [1] on Wednesday morning. Kashpureff was not present; an August 1 hearing date was set. Kashpureff has ceased to perform this particular antisocial act and says he will never redirect traffic from any site again. But it may be too late. NSI's civil suit requests confiscation of Kashpureff's computer equipment, and one press account claimed that the FBI is investigating for pos- sible criminal infractions as well. Many ISPs and others in the industry express sympathy with Kashpureff's view of the NSI monopoly, but no one has come forward to support his methods, which have been characterized in newsgroups and mailing lists in terms ranging from "crack" to "digital terrorism." However, my reading of expert opinion is that it would be extremely difficult to prove in court that Kashpureff had effected a DNS redirect, even if his upstream ISP could produce relevant packet-sniffer logs.

[1] http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,12734,00.html

Threads Domain name policy
See also TBTF for
2000-04-19, 03-31, 1999-12-16, 10-05, 08-30, 08-16, 07-26, 07-19, 07-08, 06-14, 05-22, more...

Applications are open under the IAHC plan

Last fall the International Ad Hoc Committee [2] began work to redefine and broaden the process by which domain names are granted. While questions and opposition have arisen, the IAHC process -- which goes now by the ungainly name "gTLD-MoU," for generic top-level domain memorandum of understanding -- continues to move forward. Last Friday the doors opened to applicants who wish to become grantors of domain names [3]. You have until 1997-10-16 to apply, and it will cost you $10,000.

[2] http://www.tbtf.com/threads.html#Tdnp
[3] http://www.gtld-mou.org/docs/application.htm

Threads Cryptography export policy
See also TBTF for
2000-02-06, 1999-10-05, 08-30, 08-23, 08-16, 07-26, 05-22, 05-08, 04-21, 03-01, 01-26, more...

The GAK worldview

"GAK" -- government access to keys -- is the shorthand term used in the cypherpunk community to signify the government push for key escrow / key recovery.

On 7/22 another House panel approved the Security and Freedom through Encryption bill, and not without drama. The International Relations committee, by a vote of 22 to 13, turned back an amendment proposed by committee chair Rep. Benjamin Gilman that would have disemboweled the crypto-friendly measure. Representatives at the voting session heard surprise testimony from a group of law-enforcement lobbyists, orchestrated by the pro-GAK Rep. Gilman. The testimony echoed a classified briefing held before this same IR committee on 6/26 with FBI director Louis Freeh, Commerce export official William Reinsch, NSA deputy director William Crowell.

These are all honorable men, but I won't trust them with my private key; I doubt most Americans since the founding of this country would, and ditto for most Europeans since at least the second world war. You can get some insight into the GAK-centered worldview from two documents made available by Declan McCullagh and John Young: a declassified transcript of the hearing [4] (99K), with portions blacked out, and a letter [5] the Attorney General sent to Congress on 7/18. McCullagh characterized the letter on his fight-censorship mailing list:

... signed by a bevy of Federal drug-cops, including the heads
of the Drug Enforcement Administration, BATF, Secret Service,
Customs, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. This
apparently is the administration's latest argument: key
recovery is needed to fight the war on drugs.

Since the latest House vote, Rep. Gilman has been circulating another proposed SAFE amendment [6]. This one would make it unlawful to "manufacture, distribute, sell, or import any product within the United States that can be used to encrypt communications or information if the product does not permit the real-time [within 24 hours] decryption of such encrypted communications or information."

[4] http://site108240.primehost.com/hir-hear.htm
[5] http://site108240.primehost.com/crypto-law8.htm
[6] http://www.wired.com/news/news/politics/story/5492.html


Alexa Internet opens the doors

This next-gen service [7] -- think Yahoo meets Firefly -- is now taking applications for beta testers. You need Win 95 or NT. Behind Alexa is Brewster Kahle, late of Thinking Machines and more recently responsible for the Internet Archive. Alexa promises to banish "404 not found" messages for its members by retrieving stale pages from the Archive. It will offer guidance on where to go next, based on the traffic patterns of its user community -- putting in sidewalks where the footpaths are. Alexa will also offer context for each site visited: to whom it's registered, how many pages it has, how many other sites point to it, and how frequently it's updated.

[7] http://www.alexa.com/

Threads Macro viruses
See also TBTF for
1997-07-28, 01-11, 1996-08-25, 08-08, 05-20


The Virus Test Center at the University of Hamburg, Germany, publishes monthly a list of known macro viruses affecting PC and Macintosh platforms. The most recent compendium, dated 1997-06-30, lists 1117 macro viruses. Download [8] for the short list (17K) and [9] for the detailed one (44K). The vast majority affect Microsoft Word. More than 20 Excel viruses are listed, with one each for Lotus 1-2-3, Ami Pro, and Windows Help. The material is Copyright (c) 1997 University of Hamburg, Germany.
The number of known macro viruses in June 1997 grew again
significantly: with 18 new strains and 132 new viruses, growth
was significantly reduced as compared to previous months
(e.g. 37 new strains with 246 new viruses in May). Only 22
months after Microsoft shipped the first Word macro virus
(Concept.A), the 1000th macro virus was reported around June
20, 1997.
            Word   +   Other  =  Total    (New)
Strains      214   +      15  =    229    ( 18)
Viruses     1051   +      14  =   1065    (132)
Trojans       21   +       7  =     28    (  0)
Generators    10   +       0  =     10    (  0)
Intendeds     22   +       1  =     23    (  0)
Jokes          0   +       1  =      1    (  0)

[8] ftp://agn-www.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/.../macrol_s.976
[9] ftp://agn-www.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/.../macrolst.976


Emendation: Trellix

The article on Trellix [10] in TBTF for 1997-07-21 [11] may have given the impression that the 1.0 product outlined is being made available for download. What is on offer is a Sneak Peek version 0.8. No schedule for 1.0 has been announced yet.

[10] http://www.trellix.com/
[11] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1997-07-21.html#s04


Cheeky news from the UK

If you crave a change from TBTF's dry, sober Netnews coverage, you could do worse than to look across the Atlantic at Need To Know [12]. NTK is perpetrated by Special Projects -- Danny O'Brien, Dave Green, and Ben Moore. The masthead calls it "the weekly high-tech sarcastic update for the UK." Special Projects claim to have written, performed, and hacked code with the BBC (radio and television), The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, and Wired Ventures, among others, and they know the UK new media scene. NTK is emailed weekly. See Sources below for subscription information.

[12] http://www.spesh.com/cgi-bin/now/


Analog computing in Java

Those of you who took an engineering or science course more than 25 years ago (I still have my slide rule from university, do you?) will want to visit this HP site [13]. Turn on Java first, and be patient: the page's footprint is 477K and it will take well over 2 minutes to load at 28.8 Kbaud. HP claims with reason to have put the slide rule out of business 25 years ago with the HP 35 pocket calculator, so as a matter of poetic justice they have brought it back. They've gone and implemented a Keuffel & Esser log-log duplex decitrig slipstick in Java. One side only, but fine enough resolution to calculate with. It's slick as a smelt, a breezy demonstration of digital technology powerful enough easily to mimic its analog forebears. If Napier [14] were alive today I fear he'd be turning over in his grave. Thanks to Ned Gulley and Valerie Lyons of The Mathworks for the forward.

[13] http://hpcc920.external.hp.com/abouthp/features/hp35calculator/sliderule/
[14] http://www.napier.ac.uk/jnapier.html


none A lighter issue than usual this week, due in part to a story that I ended up retracting the following day. No sense perpetuating it here.

none Did you know? The Details page [15] lists all manner of fascinating minutiae about TBTF, including the privacy policy, the tools I use to develop and maintain the site, and a modest contest offer to which no-one has responded since its posting two months ago.

[15] http://www.tbtf.com/details.html


none For a complete list of TBTF's (mostly email) sources, see http://www.tbtf.com/sources.html.

none fight-censorship -- mail fight-censorship-announce-request@vorlon.mit.edu without subject and with message: subscribe . Web home at http://www.eff.org/~declan/fc/.

none RISKS -- read the newsgroup comp.risks or mail risks-request@csl.sri.com without subject and with message: subscribe . Archive at http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks/.

none Need To Know -- mail majordomo@flirble.org without subject and with message: subscribe ntknow . Web home at http://www.spesh.com/cgi-bin/now/ .

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Keith Dawson    dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com
Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk.



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