Friday, December 10, 1999
12/10/99 12:18:51 PM
Wednesday, December 08, 1999
12/8/99 5:33:29 PM
Patent issued for psychographic profiling of users.
TBTF Irregular Gary Stock sends word of a development that nicely blends
two longtime TBTF concerns: worrisome patents and vanishing consumer
The online marketer Be Free
has been awarded
a second business-method patent.
No. 5,991,735, titled Computer Program Apparatus for
Determining Behavioral Profiles of a Computer User. According to
the company it covers any method for the "passive creation of viewer
profiles." So watch out, all you spammers foisting
on the innocent and unwashed.
See also TBTF for
Funny, if you
the IBM database for patents issued in the name of Be Free's
co-founder, Tom Gerace, you find the company's patents mixed in with
5 others involving the processing of paint sludge. Do you suppose
this coincidence is meaningful?
Monday, December 06, 1999
12/6/99 3:24:25 PM
Credible claim of a GSM attack -- 100M cell-phone
users' privacy at risk.
Adi Shamir (the "S" in RSA) and a colleague have developed a
of decoding GSM cell-phone traffic, protected by the A5/1 encryption
algorithm, in real-time on a PC. Nearly 100 million European
cell-phone users rely on GSM A5/1 for their privacy, and about 130M
more worldwide use a weaker version, A5/2. Here is the Shamir/Biryukov
paper in Postscript form (292K) and in
HTML (text 44K, six images 163K).
A poster to the Cryptography list
whether the A5/1 algorithm has weaknesses built into it by design:
Other than better funding, the NSA has the advantage over us
"outsiders" in that the NSA or their European counterparts
designed A5/1 and A5/2. They didn't have to find a compromise.
They had the luxury of being able to engineer it in. Our 5
clock cycles attack against A5/2 only works because several
properties of the cipher come together just right. Chance?
Many doubt it. We can only wait and see if similar "fortunate
coincidences" play a role in the new attack against A5/1.
This story was picked up by the
on Tuesday, and I wrote about it that day for the Industry Standard's
12/6/99 9:53:49 AM
What is "in plain sight?"
In the US, the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution (against
unreasonable searches and seizures) restricts police executing a
search warrant in a person's home to looking for evidence of a
particular, narrowly defined crime. They can't go trolling for
evidence of unrelated offences; they can't even seize and attempt to
use such evidence unless it is discovered in plain sight.
So when law enforcement officials seize a computer under a search
warrent, what does in plain sight mean with regard to a hard
disk? This Washington Post
airs some recent cases in which the courts have grappled with this
issue. As in many other questions of cyberspace law, according to
law professor A. Michael Froomkin,
Our traditional Fourth Amendment thinking doesn't map well into
high-tech information gathering.
Sunday, December 05, 1999
12/5/99 2:39:48 PM
Fast. Free. False.
This is the tagline for the new FNwire
service, which looks to be setting up camp on
The Onion's territory. This
Future News wire brings you business and technology news that might
happen, but probably won't. Headlining the first issue is Death's filing
for an IPO, complete with
SEC form S-1
Seems somewhat derivitive of The Onion's earlier
on the IPO of Anabaena, "a photosynthesizing, nitrogen-fixing
algae with 1999 revenues estimated at $0 billion."