The city council of Riviera Beach, Florida has voted unanimously to pay $600,000 to criminals who seized control of the city's computers through a ransomware attack, after three weeks of being locked out of the city systems (the city has also voted to spend $1m replacing its computers). Read the rest
Private Join and Compute is a new free/open Google tool that implements the longstanding cryptographic concept of "commutative encryption," which allows untrusted parties to merge their datasets without revealing their contents to one another, do mathematical work on the data, and learn the outcome of that work without either of them seeing the underlying data. Read the rest
Karl Schroeder (previously) is literally the most visionary person I know (and I've known him since 1986!): he was the first person to every mention "fractals" to me, then "the internet" and then "the web" -- there is no one, no one in my circle more ahead of more curves, and it shows in his novels and none moreso than Stealing Worlds, his latest, which is a futuristic roadmap to how our present-day politics, economics, technology and society might evolve. Read the rest
Switzerland is about to have a national election with electronic voting, overseen by Swiss Post; e-voting is a terrible idea and the general consensus among security experts who don't work for e-voting vendors is that it shouldn't be attempted, but if you put out an RFP for magic beans, someone will always show up to sell you magic beans, whether or not magic beans exist. Read the rest
Legendary cryptographer and security researcher Matt Blaze (previously) somehow acquired a key engraver and now he's "using it to engrave entirely serious labels on my keys that are not in any way ironic or confusing." Read the rest
Remember when Malcolm Turnbull, the goddamned idiot who was briefly Prime Minister of Australia, was told that the laws of mathematics mean that there was no way to make a cryptography system that was weak enough that the cops could use to spy on bad guys, but strong enough that the bad guys couldn't use it to spy on cops, and he said: "Well the laws of Australia prevail in Australia, I can assure you of that. The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia." Read the rest
My latest Locus Magazine column is What the Internet Is For: it describes the revolutionary principle (end-to-end communications) and technologies (general purpose computers, strong cryptography) that undergird the net, but also cautions that these are, themselves, not sufficient to revolutionize the world. Read the rest
I was one of the keynote speakers at last week's Ethereum Devcon in Prague, where I gave a talk called "Decentralize, Democratize, or Die," about the way that bad tech policy (crypto backdoors, the DMCA's ban on security disclosures, etc) come from weak states where the super-rich get to call the shots, and how things like money-laundering creates these weak states. The core message: if you don't figure out how to make more pluralistic, less plutocratic states, you will never get the kind of information security you need for your blockchain systems to thrive. Read the rest
In Towards Construction Based Data Hiding: From Secrets to Fingerprint Images , published in IEEE Transactions on Image Processing (Sci-Hub Mirror), two Fudan University computer scientists propose a fascinating method for hiding encrypted messages in fake fingerprints that are both visually and computationally difficult to distinguish from real ones, which could theoretically allow the use of fingerprint databases to convey secret messages. Read the rest
As the price goes up and down, the generated audio tone changes in this interesting and insightful audio piece!
I'd been looking for a used video card over the last couple of weeks, but gave up despite the amazing prices being listed. The eBayers are unresponsive to questions and the Craigslist sellers talk like drug dealers. That $225 GTX 1070 you have your eye on is being pulled from a mining rig where it's spent months running 24/7, accumulating all the grease, fur and pain that will be its only friends in the bubble mailer it will be sent to you in.