Yesterday's keynote at the 28th Chaos Computer Congress (28C3) by Meredith Patterson on "The Science of Insecurity" was a tour-de-force explanation of the formal linguistics and computer science that explain why software becomes insecure, and an explanation of how security can be dramatically increased. What's more, Patterson's slides were outstanding Rageface-meets-Occupy memeshopping. Both the video and the slides are online already.
Hard-to-parse protocols require complex parsers. Complex, buggy parsers become weird machines for exploits to run on. Help stop weird machines today: Make your protocol context-free or regular!
Protocols and file formats that are Turing-complete input languages are the worst offenders, because for them, recognizing valid or expected inputs is UNDECIDABLE: no amount of programming or testing will get it right.
A Turing-complete input language destroys security for generations of users. Avoid Turing-complete input languages!
Patterson's co-authors on the paper were her late husband, Len Sassaman (eulogized here) and Sergey Bratus.
LANGSEC explained in a few slogans
Dip your dollar into liquid anhydrous ammonia, dry it, and repeat. The surface tension of the boiling and evaporating ammonia shrinks the bill. Caveat: It could prove difficult to use a mini-dollar and mutilating a bill may even be illegal. (Applied Science via Weird Universe)
In many states in America, legislatures have erected punitive, vindictive barriers for women seeking contraception, requiring them to get prescriptions for safe, widely taken medications.
Designer Art Donovan writes, “I’m always looking for new and unique inspiration for my lighting commissions and the latest, cutting edge scientific devices offer a boatload of great design inspiration. From the cool, new ‘James Webb Space Telescope’ to the myriad of complex details in the L.H.P.C. at Cern- it’s a cornucopia of rich imagery.”
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