The InfoSec Blog

Schneier on Security: Hacking Cars Through Wireless Tire-Pressure

Posted by Anton Aylward

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2010/08/hacking_cars_th.html

A few alarming things here.
More nanny State :

In other words, the nanny state is forcing upon us expensive and insecure systems that aren't as effective as a human being just doing what he's supposed to, but we should just think of the children we're "protecting" with this misguided effort.

Never mind the basic Orwellian aspects.

But the basic problem is the knee-jerk reaction of Congress combined with lack of understanding of science and technology and legislation that, by specifying method rather than objectives, plays, misguidedly, into the hands of one vendor.

They did this with emission control.
The Japanese could beat the original standard by engine design.
The did this with the old Honda CVXX.
GM wasn't worried, they said it was a technique only for small engine cars. The Honda did it for larger engines. At the time GM had cornered the market in platinum, so they got Congress to write the law specifying the HOW in their favour. Of course that advantage no longer exists, but we still have the expense of the platinum 'converters'.

Now we have more expense.

TPMS became mandatory because of public backlash after the Firestone/Ford Explorer debacle. The public saw cars flipping over on TV and called up Congress and demanded
that they "do something!"

 

The Decline of the Physical Desktop

Posted by Anton Aylward

http://www.eweek.com/c/a/IT-Management/As-Foretold-by-Desktop-Managment-Tools-588370/

What's interesting here is that this isn't preaching "The Cloud" and only mentions VDI in one paragraph (2 in the one-line expanded version).

Also interesting is the real message: "Microsoft has lost it".

Peter Drucker, the management guru, pointed out that the very last buggy-whip manufacturer in the age of automobiles was very efficient in its processes - it *HAD* to be to have survived that long. (One could say the same about sharks!)

"Keeping desktop systems in good working order is still a labour of Sysiphus .."

Indeed. But LinuxDesktop and Mac/OSX seem to be avoiding most of the problems that plague Microsoft.

A prediction, however.
The problem with DOS/Windows was that the end user was the admin and  could fiddle with everything, including download and install new code. We are moving that self-same problem onto smart-phones and tablets. Android may be based on Linux, but its the same 'end user in control' model that we had with Windows. Its going to be a malware circus.

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Would you buy a computer from a company like this?

Posted by Anton Aylward

http://consumerist.com/2011/05/security-expert-sony-knew-its-software-was-obsolete-months-before-psn-breach.html

  • Its not a camera, its computer that takes pictures
  • Its not a car, its a computer that gets you from place to place
  • Its not a watch, its a computer that tells you the time
  • Its not a radio, tv, hi-fi, phone .... its a computer

Would you buy a computer from a company like this?

http://news.consumerreports.org/electronics/2011/05/data-security-expert-sony-knew-it-was-using-obsolete-software-months-in-advance.html

 

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Fwd: How Quality Drives the Rise and fall of hi-tech products

Posted by Anton Aylward

http://sloanreview.mit.edu/the-magazine/2011-summer/52403/how-quality-drives-the-rise-and-fall-of-high-tech-products

I'm dubious.
On the one hand I recall a book titled "In Search of Stupidity", which I strongly recommends reading, its about the hi-tech years that this article covers and takes a different view of how "quality" addressed market share.

On the gripping hand, I also lived though the years that book describes and can add detail. One detail is this. MS-Word was crap. Most offices/secretaries preferred WordPerfect, but MS-Word outsold WP by aggressive marketing - nothing else. The quality of MS-Word was the pits and its still full of bugs. Each release formatted historic documents in a different way, which is no-no in the legal (and other) profession. Its handling of nested indents in style sheets is a mess, so much so that many industries such as MILSPEC contractors simply don't use style sheets.

I'm dubious about his claim that Linux has fewer add-on products.

Heinlein has a comment about democracy being like adding zeros.
If you look at those supposed products or Windows you'll find many of them are "me-too" duplicates. We haven't reached that stage yet with portable devices but we are getting there. When you get there, yes you do have one market leader; when people are spoilt for choice like that then a review or a friend's recommendation can trip the balance, and that too can propagate. This has little to do with 'quality' and a lot to do with a cross between humans 'herd instinct' and the way crystals form in a super-saturated medium.