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<nettime> [RISKS] Risks Digest 29.03 [excerpted]
nettime's_risk_manager on Thu, 15 Oct 2015 19:13:43 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> [RISKS] Risks Digest 29.03 [excerpted]

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     RISKS-LIST: Risks-Forum Digest  Wednesday 14 October 2015  Volume 29 : Issue 03

     Peter G. Neumann, moderator, chmn ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy

     ***** See last item for further information, disclaimers, caveats, etc.  *****
     This issue is archived at <http://www.risks.org> as
     The current issue can be found at


     Voting Machines and the VW Emission Controversy 
          (Rebecca Mercuri)
     DMCA/TPP: How Do You Cross-Examine Proprietary Software? 
          (Rebecca Wexler via Henry Baker)
     Unintentional cheating by compilers 
          (Robert Wilson)
     Cyber Insecurity at Civil Nuclear Facilities 
          (Henry Baker)
     Buying a new laptop causes a massive increase in Chevy truck cellular data usage 
          (Steve Golson)
     Undercover New Hampshire police nab cellphone ban violators 
          (Monty Solomon)
     Re: EPA v VW cheatware, AI & "machine learning" 
          (Amos Shapir)
     Re: Your MRI machine has already been pwned 
          (Kevin Fu)
     Abridged info on RISKS 



     Date: Mon, 12 Oct 2015 18:43:44 -0400
     From: Rebecca Mercuri <notable {AT} mindspring.com>
     Subject: Voting Machines and the VW Emission Controversy

     Upon hearing the news reports about the VW emission controversy, I
     immediately thought of electronic voting machines and the warnings that
     I (and others) had made about the fallacy of automated testing. Looking
     back to my earlier writings on this subject I found that I had commented
     on the issue of assurances in testing correctness quite early and often.

     In the Common Criteria section of my Ph.D. dissertation (defended
     October 2000) I asked: "What tests are performed in order to ensure
     correctness?  When are these tests done? Who is responsible for
     conducting these tests?" In my 2001 testimony to the House Science
     Committee I stated the following:

     "...fully electronic systems do not allow the voter to independently 
     verify that the ballot cast corresponds to that one that was actually
     recorded, transmitted or tabulated. Any programmer can write code that
     displays one thing on the screen, records something else, and prints out
     something else as an entirely different result.  ...There is no known
     way to ensure that this is not happening inside of a voting system."

     My 2002 IEEE Spectrum article "A Better Ballot Box" referred to an
     actual instance where the automated pre-election testing of the new
     electronic voting machines (in Palm Beach County, Florida, heart of the
     chad fiasco) was intentionally never programmed to exercise all ballot
     positions and may also have failed to flag actual problems (or
     deliberately programmed omissions) affecting vote tabulation.

     My 2002 written testimony to the Central District of California also
     addresses flawed self-testing voting processes, as follows: "... the
     independent testing ... is done for the vendor, not the County or State,
     and is executed on sample machines. There is no real assurance that the
     machines provided ... are identical to those that were examined ..., nor
     that each machine operates correctly throughout election use. It is
     entirely possible that machines could pass both the pre- and
     post-election testing, yet they may still operate incorrectly during the
     actual voting session, this despite all preventative, detective and
     corrective controls applied to the system by the manufacturer."

     Now the current VW situation is a bit more sophisticated because the
     emission system was actually controlled differently to produce
     appropriate readings when the testing was detected. Otherwise, it is
     rather similar to the voting scenario, where the vendors (and election
     officials) want folks to believe that the pre- and post-election testing
     actually validates how the equipment is operating during the election
     and thus provides some assurance of correctness. It is also important to
     note that devices must be checked both individually and independently --
     a sample product provided to a testing entity may be contrived to
     produce proper results, but only validation of each actual unit to
     external data can be used to detect anomalies, and correctness may only
     be assured for the time of the testing (since system clock triggers can
     come into play as well, especially for elections). In the same way, only
     when the VW emissions testing was performed externally, and then
     compared to the automated results, was the disparity noted. One might
     even imagine a tie-in to the known locations of emission inspection
     stations, using the vehicle's GPS system, to enable a similar stealth
     "cheat" to occur!

     The bottom line is that we in the security field have long known that
     embedded testing mechanisms in electronic systems can be circumvented or
     designed to provide false validations of the presumed correctness of
     operations. Proper system design (such as to Common Criteria and other
     security-related standards) is intended to ferret out such problems and
     provide assurances that results are being accurately reported.
     Unfortunately, most systems (including automobiles and voting machines)
     are not required to be designed and evaluated against such stringent
     methodologies. Lacking the ability to independently examine (and
     recompile) source code, validate results, and perform spot-checks, such
     anomalies, whether deliberate or unintentional, will go on undetected.
     And without such assurances, the testing is nothing but a charade.

     Rebecca Mercuri, Ph.D., Notable Software, Inc.


     Date: Thu, 08 Oct 2015 15:50:00 -0700
     From: Henry Baker <hbaker1 {AT} pipeline.com>
     Subject: DMCA/TPP: How Do You Cross-Examine Proprietary Software?

     FYI -- In addition to its own criminal penalties, the DMCA can also put
     you in prison by destroying your right to cross-examine software
     witnesses against you.

     And we're not even talking here about running afoul of "double secret"
     and secretly-interpreted legal "code" of the FISA Star Chamber.

     BTW, the Trans Pacific Partnership ("TPP") appears to cast DMCA-like
     restrictions into stone -- not only in the U.S., but around the globe.


     Rebecca Wexler, *Slate*, Convicted by Code, 6 Oct 2015

     Defendants don't always have the ability to inspect the code that could
     help convict them.  Secret code is everywhere --in elevators, airplanes,
     medical devices.  By refusing to publish the source code for software,
     companies make it impossible for third parties to inspect, even when
     that code has enormous effects on society and policy.  Secret code risks
     security flaws that leave us vulnerable to hacks and data leaks.  It can
     threaten privacy by gathering information about us without our
     knowledge.  It may interfere with equal treatment under law if the
     government relies on it to determine our eligibility for benefits or
     whether to put us on a no-fly list.  And secret code enables cheaters
     and hides mistakes, as with Volkswagen: The company admitted recently
     that it used covert software to cheat emissions tests for 11 million
     diesel cars spewing smog at 40 times the legal limit.

     But as shocking as Volkswagen's fraud may be, it only heralds more of
     its kind.  It's time to address one of the most urgent if overlooked
     tech transparency issues -- secret code in the criminal justice system.
     Today, closed, proprietary software can put you in prison or even on
     death row.  And in most U.S. jurisdictions you still wouldn't have the
     right to inspect it.  In short, prosecutors have a Volkswagen problem.

     Take California. Defendant Martell Chubbs currently faces murder charges
     for a 1977 cold case in which the only evidence against him is a DNA
     match by a proprietary computer program.  Chubbs, who ran a small
     home-repair business at the time of his arrest, asked to inspect the
     software's source code in order to challenge the accuracy of its
     results.  Chubbs sought to determine whether the code properly
     implements established scientific procedures for DNA matching and if it
     operates the way its manufacturer claims.  But the manufacturer argued
     that the defense attorney might steal or duplicate the code and cause
     the company to lose money.  The court denied Chubbs' request, leaving
     him free to examine the state's expert witness but not the tool that the
     witness relied on.  Courts in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, and
     elsewhere have made similar rulings.  [lots more...]




     Date: Wed, 7 Oct 2015 16:39:16 -0500
     From: Robert Wilson <wilson {AT} math.wisc.edu>
     Subject: Unintentional cheating by compilers

     In Risks 28.97 we were reminded of compilers that would recognize some
     standard benchmark source codes and produce object modules that
     artificially ran fast, e.g. skipping loops. For a while, long ago, I was
     benchmarking competitors equipment as well as our own (for data to be
     used in improving our systems, or for marketing), at a maker of small
     UNIX systems, and ran into something similar that was, however, intended
     as a positive feature. Many simple-minded benchmarks ran loops that
     repeated a calculation many times, but never pretended to use the
     results. So as soon as compilers included optimizers that ignored
     calculations whose results did not get used, the loops did not repeat
     and the benchmark results were improved amazingly, unfortunately for
     competitors systems as well as our own.  If there is a moral here it
     might be that what looks like cheating can be just a lack of


     Date: Thu, 08 Oct 2015 08:16:40 -0700
     From: Henry Baker <hbaker1 {AT} pipeline.com>
     Subject: Cyber Insecurity at Civil Nuclear Facilities

     FYI -- Let's see; how long ago was Stuxnet, again?  Mind the 'air gap'
     between the ears...

     Time for millennials to learn about the "Pepsi [aka China] Syndrome":

     [shows control room where Carl and Brian are working, a sign on the wall

     [Matt hands the Coke to Carl, but spills the soda on the control panel]
     Gee, what the- [sparks fly from the control panel, and alarms go off.]

     Brian: Hey Matt, the water level's dropping fast in the core.

     Carl: The pressure's rising in the core.

     Matt: Turn down that alarm, it's driving me nuts!  [Carl turns down the

     [explosion shakes control room]

     Carl: There's been an explosion in main housing.

     Brian: Listen, we've got to release the number three or that pump's
     gonna blow.

     Carl: If the pump blows that could mean a meltdown.

     Brian: What is happening?

     Matt: I'll tell you what's happening.  The Pepsi Syndrome.

     Matt: Well, the Pepsi Syndrome.  If someone spills a Pepsi on the
     control panel of a nuclear power reactor, the panel can short-circuit,
     and the whole core may melt down.

     Brian: But, you spilled a Coke.

     Matt: It doesn't matter.  Any cola does it.


     Ross Denton: Well Mr. President, this is Matt Crandall.  He was chief
     engineer when the "surprise" occurred.

     President Jimmy Carter: Okay, Matt.  Give it to me straight.

     Matt: [nervous] Well, the water level began dropping in the core, and
     the pressure neared critical in coolant pump #2, and a negative function
     in the control panel prevented us from preventing the, uh, minor
     explosion which occurred in the main housing.

     President Jimmy Carter: Hmm.  Sounds to me a lot like a Pepsi Syndrome.
     Were there any soft drinks in the control room?  ...

     Considering the consequences, the recommendations are remarkably

     "developing guidelines", "raise awareness", "engaging in dialogue",
     "encouraging anonymous information sharing"

     If someone were running a facility close to me that could render a
     significant fraction of my state uninhabitable for generations, I might
     want to "engage in a dialogue" with such a person and encourage them to 
     guidelines" to "raise awareness".

     Where do they get these consultants who talk like this, and more
     importantly, who pays the $$$$ for such drivel?




     Cyber Security at Civil Nuclear Facilities: Understanding the Risks 05
     October 2015

     Project: International Security Department, Cyber and Nuclear Security

     Caroline Baylon, Research Associate, Science, Technology, and Cyber
     Security, International Security Department

     David Livingstone MBE DSC, Associate Fellow, International Security

     Roger Brunt, Nuclear Security Consultant

     The risk of a serious cyber attack on civil nuclear infrastructure is
     growing, as facilities become ever more reliant on digital systems and
     make increasing use of commercial off-the-shelf software, according to a
     new Chatham House report.

     The report finds that the trend to digitization, when combined with a
     lack of executive-level awareness of the risks involved, means that
     nuclear plant personnel may not realize the full extent of their cyber
     vulnerability and are thus inadequately prepared to deal with potential

     Specific findings include:

     * The conventional belief that all nuclear facilities are air-gapped
     (isolated from the public Internet) is a myth.  The commercial benefits
     of Internet connectivity mean that a number of nuclear facilities now
     have VPN connections installed, which facility operators are sometimes
     unaware of.

     * Search engines can readily identify critical infrastructure components
     with such connections.

     * Even where facilities are air gapped, this safeguard can be breached
     with nothing more than a flash drive.

     * Supply chain vulnerabilities mean that equipment used at a nuclear
     facility risks compromise at any stage.

     * A lack of training, combined with communication breakdowns between
     engineers and security personnel, means that nuclear plant personnel
     often lack an understanding of key cyber security procedures.

     * Reactive rather than proactive approaches to cyber security contribute
     to the possibility that a nuclear facility might not know of a cyber
     attack until it is already substantially under way.

     In the light of these risks, the report outlines a blend of policy and
     technical measures that will be required to counter the threats and meet
     the challenges.

     Recommendations include:

     * Developing guidelines to measure cybersecurity risk in the nuclear
     industry, including an integrated risk assessment that takes both
     security and safety measures into account.

     * Engaging in robust dialogue with engineers and contractors to raise
     awareness of the cyber security risk, including the dangers of setting
     up unauthorized internet connections.

     * Implementing rules, where not already in place, to promote good IT
     hygiene in nuclear facilities (for example to forbid the use of personal
     devices) and enforcing rules where they do exist.

     * Improving disclosure by encouraging anonymous information sharing and
     the establishment of industrial CERTs (Computer Emergency Response

     * Encouraging universal adoption of regulatory standards.


     Date: Tue, 6 Oct 2015 23:10:52 -0400
     From: Steve Golson <sgolson {AT} trilobyte.com>
     Subject: Buying a new laptop causes a massive increase in Chevy truck cellular data usage

     A few weeks ago I got a "you have used 75% of your data plan" message
     from AT&T.

     My family has a Mobile Share Value Plan from AT&T, where we share one
     big pot of data amongst all our devices: four iPhones and one iPad. And
     a truck.

     My wife's Chevy Colorado has a 4G/LTE cellular connection. This is what
     the GM OnStar service uses. We don't ever use the phone, but we do use
     the cellular connection for data. The system provides WiFi hotspot
     service inside the vehicle, and we can add the truck to our AT&T plan
     just like any other device. Why not just let each phone use its own
     4G/LTE connection?  Well, theoretically we should get more reliable data
     service, because the truck has a better cellular antenna and more power
     to its radio. Sweet!

     So who's the culprit that's using the high bandwidth? I figure it's got
     to be one of us binging on Netflix, but no, it's the truck! Enormous
     bandwidth, peaking at 123Mbytes per minute. It used 15Gbytes in two
     weeks. Using the AT&T records I'm able to confirm that this data traffic
     only occurs when my wife is actually driving the truck, and that it all
     started on August 23.

     What's going on? Who to call, Apple, AT&T, Chevy? I'm stumped, until my
     wife recalls that August 21 we bought her a new Apple MacBook. But what
     could buying a laptop that's only used at home have to do with a truck
     that only uses data on the road?

     Buying the laptop prompted me to upgrade her desktop iMac, and I enabled
     sharing her photos using iCloud.

     Here's the final piece of the puzzle: my wife charges her phone only
     when she is driving her truck. And when the phone is in the truck, it's
     on WiFi!  The phone thinks it has lots of power *and* lots of *free*
     bandwidth. So inside the truck the iPhone starts syncing photos...

     The fix is to give my wife a phone charger on her bedside table. Now her
     phone charges at night, it gets synced up using our home WiFi, and
     therefore doesn't have lots of data to move when it gets in the truck.




     Date: Thu, 8 Oct 2015 22:17:11 -0400
     From: Monty Solomon <monty {AT} roscom.com>
     Subject: Undercover New Hampshire police nab cellphone ban violators

     CONCORD, NH. Michelle Tetreault's daughter didn't know what "repent"
     meant when she spotted a man with a sign around his neck warning
     "Repent!  The end is near!" But she's plenty sorry now that her mom is
     facing a $124 traffic ticket for using her cellphone to snap a picture
     of the man.

     The two were stopped at a red light in Somersworth last week when they
     saw the sign.  Moments after Tetreault gave in to her 14-year-old
     daughter's pleas to take a picture, she was pulled over and told the man
     with the sign was actually an undercover officer. She was ticketed for
     violating the state's new law against using cellphones or other
     electronic devices while driving.





     Date: Thu, 8 Oct 2015 17:35:25 +0300
     From: Amos Shapir <amos083 {AT} gmail.com>
     Subject: Re: EPA v VW cheatware, AI & "machine learning"

     The discussion of whether machine learning could lead systems to cheat
     as the best found path to pass tests, reminds me of a chapter of Isaac
     Asimov's "I, Robot" series.

     In that story, scientists try to teach a robot the Three Laws of
     Robotics, only to discover that the robot's solution to complying with
     the rule "a robot shall never harm a human being", is to bring humans to
     a state in which they could not be harmed any further -- that is, to
     kill them all...




     Date: Wed, 7 Oct 2015 12:11:34 -0400
     From: Kevin Fu <kevinfu {AT} umich.edu>
     Subject: Re: Your MRI machine has already been pwned

     The good news is that newer medical devices are beginning to include
     better engineered security mechanisms.  However, legacy medical devices
     frequently lack mechanisms to prevent security and privacy risks from
     causing hazardous situations or harm.  Worse, effective detection
     mechanisms are scarce, leading to a false sense of security based on
     deceptive numerators of zero.  I know of a clinical group with 150+
     offices that paradoxically lost their ability to inspect network traffic
     after installing a series of firewalls.  A common observation I hear
     from security researchers is that simply scanning one's own clinical
     network for vulnerabilities can cause a medical device to malfunction.
     It will take significant effort to shift from a culture of ``don't scan
     the network, the medical devices might break'' to ``actively look for
     security hazards so we know our risk exposure.''  Thus, folks like Scott
     Erven and Mark Collao will continue to find medical device security

     You can find a pithy write up on this topic at the NAE FOE website: On
     the Technical Debt of Medical Device Security

     Kevin Fu, Associate Professor, EECS Department, The University of 
     kevinfu {AT} umich.edu     http://web.eecs.umich.edu/~kevinfu/




     Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2014 11:11:11 -0800
     From: RISKS-request {AT} csl.sri.com
     Subject: Abridged info on RISKS (comp.risks)

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     End of RISKS-FORUM Digest 29.03

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