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Recently we received a notice from our one ISP that one of our machines might be infected, and please clean it up or we’d be shut down. Well, we explained the situation to them, and it’s good to know someone’s watching our traffic (It’s 1984?), but we’ve been doing this for nearly six years from this location. And they only just now noticed? We’ve run huge attacks against large customers, it’s our business after all, for six years, and they only just now noticed we “might” have an infected computer? Sort of makes you wonder. What about all the other domains we traverse, like Sprint and AT&T? Are they going to start sending us hate mail? What happens if they start dumping the packets? We’ll have to find another ISP, I suppose, but eventually, if things went that way, the core would be filtering as well, and nothing would work. We’d practically be out of business. Ironically, the bad guys wouldn’t. Because the bad guys would just invent new ways to circumvent the security. Which would let us stay in business as well; we’d just need a new toolset. So if nothing’s going to really change, can we establish right now that filtering anything is a really bad idea, except during attacks? Because all it’s going to do is raise the price tags on security. You have to pay for the filters, you have to pay for the new security to counter the new threats. While standing still doesn’t prevent new threats from becoming a reality, it does allow us lots of ways of tracking people. They may have a new attack, but they probed on high ports first, which might let us locate them. Or at least shut them off from here. But don’t restrict traffic in the middle. It’s like putting a stop sign in the middle of the Atlantic. All you do is make shipping more expensive and annoy some little fish. So keep it open. Please.

Recently, an article in Evidence Magazine discussed how hot and cold pixels in a camera can be used to fingerprint images from that camera, and thereby convict a suspect based on pictures and camera equipment, one or more of which is found in the suspects’ possession.

This is a clear indicator of why the defense needs quality representation and expert witnesses, and State appointed attorneys may miss crucial arguments without proper expert representation.

The article makes it seem quite easy to match camera to image, but it omits a couple of possibilities that drastically complicate the process and likelihood of conviction. Here are two additional complications that can ruin a case, and there are likely more; each situation is unique.

First, are the criminal images captured compressed or uncompressed? While uncompressed images are used for validating the hot and cold pixel fingerprint of the camera, they can only be matched to illegal images that are likewise uncompressed, or mathematically validated if compressed. Video cameras are likely to use compression to store the images, and photographs are frequently taken using image compression or scene magnification, any of which must be accounted for when eliminating possible errors in verification of the images and camera.

Worse, the author expresses probability of error in terms that appear astronomical, using math to paint a rosy picture of probability that fails to account for additional possibilities that must be taken into account before convicting based on pixel fingerprint evidence.

An example of such an assumption is that those pixels are unique to that camera, when in fact, hot or cold pixels can be endemic to the entire product line of cameras or image sensors. Two ways manufacturing can spoil the odds is by introducing defects to the image sensors when they are being mounted in the camera, or by damaging the sensors in manufacturing of the silicon wafers.

If a production line introduced hot or cold pixels, before going to trial we need to know what the manufacturers criteria is for acceptable bad pixels, and we need to know the production statistics. In the example given, any or all of the four hot pixels could have been present since the camera was made, which skews the probability projection. If all four were manufacturers defects, or cannot be shown to not be manufacturers defects, the fingerprinting process proves nothing, not even the camera family, as imaging chips could be used in multiple camera lines.

Other factors such as the number of cameras in the geographic area complicate or simplify fingerprinting pixels for matching. For instance, if the pictures and camera are found on the person in the Outback, miles from anyone else, the probability of responsibility rises to near positive assumption. But a common camera taken in New York may mean an uphill battle to reach a probability acceptable to a jury.

Improper representation of evidence leads to false convictions of innocent people. Make sure you do it 100% right, and any argument using statistics and probability needs to be examined closely to locate additional factors not taken into account.

Digital Trust
www.digitaltrustllc.com

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You want a strong password, but every time you change it to something like “2rIght4*deb8” you end up spending an extra five minutes every time you have to log in, and you manage to lock out your account at least once, while getting comfortable with the new password.

Your troubles are over.

With the new Digital Trust password management idea, you’ll have great passwords that are easy to remember AND help you improve yourself at the same time.

What a deal!

Instead of tired old password tricks, like “Blbackack” or “1der-tpactiv8!” you are going to use an affirmation. Unless you don’t like affirmations, in which case, try aphorisms instead.

Pick an affirmation, like “I will have rock-solid abs.” and set your password to that. Yes, you can use blank spaces. Most people end up with mediocre passwords just trying to get past 8 characters, but with this, you can routinely have 16+ characters with complex special characters, and it’s so easy!

So give it a try, and if you like it, pass on the advice.

“Today, I will make the Internet a safer place for users, everywhere.”

Digital Trust

ING Sharebuilder has elected to not allow customers to create passwords with special characters. Formerly, it was possible to use special characters, and if your password had special characters before they changed the policy, it would still work with the existing policy, but no new passwords are allowed to have special characters.

Curious, that a financial company that is exclusively web based would choose a standard lower than a previous choice. It’s not as if they ever required customers to use special characters, but they had the option. Now they don’t.

ING, step up to the security plate and bring back special characters. It just doesn’t feel as safe as it did before.

Update 8/4: A response to this question from ING simply spun the request back on its head, saying “We know our new password requirements may be an inconvenience, but we believe your personal data is safer as a result.” Well, it’s not safer, it’s less safe. Further, they pushed a software package called Trusteer, free, as an additional way of securing transactions. You can find out more about Trusteer here.

Brian@DT

The New York Times has an excellent article on cyberwarfare and US policy regarding same.

Digital Trust, LLC is an information security consulting and activities resource. We can assist with any facet of your security program. From corporate guidance and compliance efforts to system implementation and penetration testing. We can help make your security better.

Contact us at sales@digitaltrustllc.com