A Luxembourgian/Irish security research team have presented a paper on a technique for identifying words that have been blacked out of documents, as when government docs are published with big strikethroughs over the bits that are sensitive to national security. The technique doesn't work on monospace fonts like Courier, but the State Department's recent font guidelines require that all docs be published in Times New Roman, which decodes like a charm.
hey found the number of pixels that had been blacked out in the sentence: "An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told an xxxxxxxx service at the same time that Bin Ladin was planning to exploit the operative's access to the U.S. to mount a terrorist strike." They then used a computer to determine the pixel length of words in the dictionary when written in the Arial font.
The program rejected all of the words that were not within three pixels of the length of the word that was probably under the blacked-out area in the document.
The software then reduced the number of possible words to just seven from 1,530 by using semantic guidelines, including the grammatical context. The researchers selected the word "Egyptian" from the seven possible words...
Update: This page at Cryptome has more detail and illustrations (Thanks, Chris!)
David Robinson used the data from the 28,657 people who self-selected to take the Stack Overflow survey to investigate the relationship between programmer pay and the conventions of using either tabs or spaces to mark indents, and found a persistent, significant correlation between using spaces and bringing home higher pay.
It’s the end of an era, sort of: Fraunhofer IIS, the developers of the MP3 audio compression format, announced that they are ceasing their licensing program. In a blog post, spokesman Matthias Rose says that it’s had a good 20-year run and is obsolete. But it’s also true that the decoding patents expired last year, […]
Freddy deBoer writes that he’s been telling the same joke for years about Silicon Valley’s only product, which might be universalized as “At last, a way to verb with nouns on the internet!” But the social-media techopoly is stable, now, and so the venture capitalists have moved on to the three terrible trends that will […]
Although flagship smartphones are unlikely to adopt heavy-duty outer casing anytime soon, you can always prepare your device for the outdoors with a beefy case and and an external battery like this Nomad Tile Trackable PowerPack, available in the Boing Boing Store for $119.95.The Nomad Tile can fully recharge an iPhone 7 over three times […]
Even though credit cards now feature an EMV chip for securing transactions, they still have to include the magnetic strip for compatibility with older point of sale systems. Because of this, there’s no way for the chip’s new security capabilities to protect against card skimmers in the wild.How do you protect yourself from legacy-technology-induced fraud? […]
As the old saying goes, “You should sit in meditation for 30 minutes every day. Unless you are too busy, in which case you should meditate for an hour.” Since most of us have an endless list of things to do and people to see, carving out quiet time can feel impossible, especially when most […]