(DNS) Changes

March 28th, 2012

Paul Vixie has posted details of his work in dismantling a network of DNS servers being used to redirect internet traffic from computers infected with the DNS Changer malware. The problem is, even after all that work there are still hundreds of thousands of internet users with infected computers and/or routers, just waiting for someone to pick up where DNS Changer left off:

Internet users are endlessly bombarded with warnings about their security and with offers of services and software (some of it apparently "free") offering to make their computers healthier. The victims of DNS Changer are by this time jaded or overwhelmed or both. The Internet seems to be a very dangerous place, and most Internet users probably feel that they could spend more than half their waking hours just installing patches and responding to warnings – unless they just put their heads down, ignore all that noise, and try instead to get their work (or play) done. I am sympathetic to this mindset. The problem is, the Internet really is that dangerous, and people really do need to pay more attention to the dangers of unpatched or infected computers.

Short of jumping into a TARDIS and going back to 1982 to give various heads of computer companies a stern talking-to about the need to make designing secure systems a top priority I don't see a good way out of this problem beyond passing the problem to ISPs and having them cut off internet access for customers still using infected systems until they clean up their systems. Which isn't going to happen any time soon, and is a terrible idea anyway.

[Via rc3.org]

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May 30th, 2011

Quote of the day: Charlie Stross,1 quoting a character from his forthcoming novel, Rule 34

"The twenty-first century so far has been a really fucking awful couple of decades for paranoid schizophrenics".

  1. Prompted by a demo of NewsTweak.

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Quoted for truth…

October 11th, 2010

Tim Berners-Lee, quoted by Steve Bratt, quoted by Ethan Zuckerman:

The web is not technology, the web is humanity connected by technology.

[Via Memex 1.1]

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Data transfer

October 7th, 2010

Factoid of the Day:

A single sperm has 37.5MB of DNA information in it. That means a normal ejaculation represents a data transfer of 1,587.5TB.

A very respectable peak data transfer rate. It's a pity throughput is so bursty.

[Via LinkMachineGo!]

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April 10th, 2010

The Right Honourable Stephen Timms MP is getting some stick for writing a letter that suggests that he believes that the term 'IP address' means 'Intellectual Property' address. It really doesn't help that Stephen Timms is the Minister for Digital Britain…

I have some sympathy for Timms. I suspect that he probably does know what an 'IP address' is, given that the concept of an 'IP Address' is central to one of the key issues around the problem of identifying 'internet pirates.' The logging of an IP address by an ISP can – at best – allow online activities to be associated with a particular ISP customer's account but not a particular person. In the case of a commercial provider of internet connectivity, like a cafe or pub or hotel that offers free wireless internet access, they may not even be able to manage that much.1

Given that Timms and his civil servants have probably been using the term 'IP' as shorthand for 'Intellectual Property' for months now as they've exchanged goodness knows how many emails and memos and drafts of bits of the Digital Economy Bill, I can easily imagine whoever drafted the letter either having a brain-fart, misinterpreting the abbeviation when they typed up the letter, or simply falling foul of Microsoft Word's ever-helpful AutoCorrect feature.

It's a poor show that nobody spotted the slip before sending the response, but I'm deeply sceptical of the notion that it represents evidence that Stephen Timms believes that my computer's connection to the internet has been allocated an 'Intellectual Property address' by my ISP.

[Via Why, That's Delightful!]

  1. We can be pretty sure this will have come up during Timms' discussions with ISPs and the record companies over the Digital Economy Bill. The ISPs will have been pressing the point that an IP address doesn't identify any particular culprit, whereas the record companies will have been explaining that this is exactly why they need the ISPs to just downgrade/disconnect their customer's internet connection, rather than expect the record company to identify the individual engaged in 'piracy' and take them to court.

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