Using BitCoin as a Public Ledger

Using BitCoin as a Public Ledger

Interesting way to document “prior art”: create a one-way SHA256 hash of some work, then send the smallest Bitcoin amount possible to that address (use it as a wallet destination). Your hash is in the public blockchain, so you can give your document to someone else and tell them to hash it themselves, then compare to your record of the time and date.

Update: Not quite right; it’s actually a bit more more complex than that:

The document is certified via embedding its SHA256 digest in the Bitcoin blockchain. This is done by generating a valid bitcoin transaction to two specially crafted addresses which encode/contain the hash. The hash is cut in two fragments, each fragment contained in one of these addresses. The hash fragment is used as a replacement for the RIPEMD-160 hash of the public ECDSA key in the bitcoin address generation algorithm. This is why the bitcoins sent in this special transaction are unspendable, as the addresses are being generated from the document’s hash fragments instead of from a private ECDSA key.


U.S. cyber plan calls for private-sector scans of Net

U.S. cyber plan calls for private-sector scans of Net

The Department of Homeland Security will gather the secret data and pass it to a small group of telecommunication companies and cybersecurity providers that have employees holding security clearances, government and industry officials said. Those companies will then offer to process email and other Internet transmissions for critical infrastructure customers that choose to participate in the program.

By using DHS as the middleman, the Obama administration hopes to bring the formidable overseas intelligence-gathering of the NSA closer to ordinary U.S. residents without triggering an outcry from privacy advocates who have long been leery of the spy agency’s eavesdropping.


Chinese Elite Hacking Unit 61398

Chinese Elite Hacking Unit 61398

As Mandiant mapped the Internet protocol addresses and other bits of digital evidence, it all led back to the edges of Pudong district of Shanghai, right around the Unit 61398 headquarters. The group’s report, along with 3,000 addresses and other indicators that can be used to identify the source of attacks, concludes “the totality of the evidence” leads to the conclusion that “A.P.T. 1 is Unit 61398.”

Mandiant discovered that two sets of I.P. addresses used in the attacks were registered in the same neighborhood as Unit 61398’s building.

“It’s where more than 90 percent of the attacks we followed come from,” said Mr. Mandia.

The only other possibility, the report concludes with a touch of sarcasm, is that “a secret, resourced organization full of mainland Chinese speakers with direct access to Shanghai-based telecommunications infrastructure is engaged in a multiyear enterprise-scale computer espionage campaign right outside of Unit 61398’s gates.”


Drupal versus Proprietary Web Content Management Systems

With any Web content management system, you’ve got to budget for continued support, training and improvements. After more than ten years’ experience setting up sites, and moving content between straight HTML, to writing my own customized content management system, to migrating to custom enterprise systems, including proprietary systems, and now to Drupal, I’ve found that the smart money in Web content management goes to systems that are open source, and broadly supported by the community.
We used to suffer from being “locked-in” to proprietary systems, and our vendor would milk us for all they could, or nickle and dime us to death… but now, since Drupal’s software and security improvements are free for anyone to download, all we pay for is great service. That’s what Drupal vendors compete on; they can’t lock you in.
Proprietary Web content management systems are basically fighting for their lives right now, and are working hard to find a niche where they can survive — so they’ll say anything to get you stuck to their product. This is called “vendor lock-in.” Once you’re in those systems, how do you escape? Your choices are limited, since the number of “partners” is likely nowhere near as big as the number of shops supporting Drupal now, and in the years to come. How big is your proprietary system’s development team? Drupal 7 Core had nearly 1000 contributors, and the number of folks working on Drupal contributed modules is now up above 23,000.
By the way, almost 6000 modules are available for Drupal 7, the most current version. Drupal is widely supported by a huge, vibrant community and is currently installed on over a million Web sites (see http://www.drupalshowcase.com/ for some examples).

“Sloppy” mouse focus in Ubuntu Precise Pangolin 12.04

Here’s how you can get your window focus to follow the mouse. Run gconf-editor, and edit “/ apps / Metacity / general / focus_mode.”


Very perceptive mannequins

Wow. So… some mannequins spy on you.

In the lead-up to the holiday shopping season, BusinessWeek reported that “bionic mannequins are spying on shoppers to boost luxury sales” at five unnamed companies. The $5,130 EyeSee mannequins from Almax have cameras embedded in their eyes that use IBM Cognos software to record the number of shoppers checking out window displays and clothes, while also noting their age, gender and race. They don’t keep any images of the customers, just the aggregate data about who’s been considering blowing money on cashmere sweaters and $300 jeans. But it may not stop there.

“To give the EyeSee ears as well as eyes, Almax is testing technology that recognizes words to allow retailers to eavesdrop on what shoppers say about the mannequin’s attire,” reports BusinessWeek. This is the second time I’ve heard a business float the idea of recording customers’ conversation in order to better advertise to them. The desire for better marketing may just be the biggest threat out there to your privacy.


Yeah, we know, multi-tasking is bad

Constant multi-tasking makes us worse at everything — including multi-tasking.


Do Not Track in Google Chrome

Do Not Track

Shows the “Do Not Track” option in Google Chrome v.23 and up.

To turn this on, click Chrome’s Settings menu | Show advanced settings… | Privacy | “Send a ‘Do Not Track’ request with your browsing traffic.”


Facebook using Datalogix tracking

Datalogix has purchasing data from about 70m American households largely drawn from loyalty cards and programmes at more than 1,000 retailers, including grocers and drug stores. By matching email addresses or other identifying information associated with those cards against emails or information used to establish Facebook accounts, Datalogix can track whether people bought a product in a store after seeing an ad on Facebook.

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/09/23/business/facebook-datalogix/

Interesting.


Silent Circle’s privacy-enhancing service expected to launch later this year

The need for privacy-enhancing technologies continues. If all our communications are routinely intercepted and scrutinized, some of us will need the assurance that our good work is done without observance. Certain countries don’t like human rights workers “poking around,” for instance, or want to closely observe the movements of aid agency observers.

With that in mind, Phil Zimmermann, the original brain behind PGP, expects to launch Silent Circle later this year. The company’s main offering is a $20-a-month encryption service for voice, SMS, videoconference and e-mail traffic.


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