Jailed hacker gained control over prison computer

The Mirror reports that a jailed hacker was allowed to gain control over the prison computer hard drive. [via]

Slashdot says prison computer network was in the control of this hacker but the Mirror states that he had control of the hard drive and managed to lock everyone else out by password protecting it.

That’s two quite different things, but regardless it sounds like he didn’t do much harm. I’d be more concerned about the inmate that at the same jail managed to get a key cut that opened every door.

Of Peanuts and Pedophiles – An analogy for stranger danger

Excellent post over at the Free Range Kids blog which draws a great analogy for stranger danger with a possible treatment for peanut allergies.

By administering first a dust-size speck of peanuts to an allergic child, and then a slightly larger speck and so on and so on, you can sometimes train the child’s immunological system to stop violently overreacting. It is wonderful to think that for some people, this may be a cure at last. But it’s also wonderful to think of the peanut story as an analogy to, of all things, stranger danger.

If a child is allowed to explore the world – a little at first, under loving surveillance, but more and more as the years go by — that child’s chances of overreacting to small, everyday risks diminishes. The child is gradually developing street smarts.

They go on to talk about the overreaction by a mother in a waiting room when her son approached an old lady to see what she was doing with her magnifying glass she had to help her read the paper. Swooping in to carry her child away from the old lady the mother said “He’s got to learn early NOT to talk to strangers.”

Security guru Bruce Schneier has a great essay along similar lines title The Kindness of Strangers

When I was growing up, children were commonly taught: “don’t talk to strangers.” Strangers might be bad, we were told, so it’s prudent to steer clear of them.

And yet most people are honest, kind, and generous, especially when someone asks them for help. If a small child is in trouble, the smartest thing he can do is find a nice-looking stranger and talk to him.

These two pieces of advice may seem to contradict each other, but they don’t. The difference is that in the second instance, the child is choosing which stranger to talk to. Given that the overwhelming majority of people will help, the child is likely to get help if he chooses a random stranger. But if a stranger comes up to a child and talks to him or her, it’s not a random choice. It’s more likely, although still unlikely, that the stranger is up to no good.

By exposing children to strangers in a safe way you can teach them to recognise the difference to put it simply between the behaviours of good strangers and bad strangers. Teaching them to fear everybody will only hinder them in the future and could lead them to worse danger should they ever get lost or separated from their parents.

Contracts for British National Identity Card System to be opened up.

Another grand IT project, another chance of fiasco

The technology needed for a national ID system may be hard to come by, says Michael Cross

The back end for the system will be divided into two contracts the larger of which is a GBP500m contract to supply basic passport systems and a separate GBP300m contract to supply the National Biometric Information Service, which will store fingerprints and facial images. The production of the card itself will be yet another contract to be contested at a later stage.

The division of the contracts this way is reportedly to reduce the likelihood of the ID card system being scrapped by a future government as the systems will be required even if only as part of the future passport service.

Taking Liberties with the British Library

The British Library are housing a new exhibition titled Taking Liberties, which examines current debates about vital rights and freedoms in society: detention without charge, the right to privacy, devolved government, free speech and so on.

One important feature of Taking Liberties is an interactive activity available both in the gallery, and online here. You are placed right in the centre of current debates about vital rights and freedoms in society: detention without charge, the right to privacy, devolved government, free speech and so on.

Taking Liberties Interactive is the online part of the exhibition.

Spy centre will track you on holiday

The Times reports that THE government is building a secret database to track and hold the international travel records of all 60m Britons.

The intelligence centre will store names, addresses, telephone numbers, seat reservations, travel itineraries and credit card details for all 250m passenger movements in and out of the UK each year.

The computerised pattern of every individual’s travel history will be stored for up to 10 years, the Home Office admits.

The government says the new database, to be housed in an industrial estate in Wythenshawe, near Manchester, is essential in the fight against crime, illegal immigration and terrorism. However, opposition MPs, privacy campaigners and some government officials fear it is a significant step towards a total surveillance society.

The Government have this mindset that damn the consequences that the more they know about its citizens then the safer we all will be even in the face of intelligent and reasoned opposition. [via]

Cryptonomicon data haven

The world’s most super-designed data center is described as being fit for a James Bond villain. [via]

Located in an old nuclear bunker deep below the bedrock of Stockholm city, sealed off from the world by entrance doors 40 cm thick, it can withstand a hydrogen bomb and has German submarine engines for backup power.

It reminds me however of the data haven that Epiphyte gets involved in building on the island of Kinakuta in Neal Stephenson’s novel Cryptonomicon.

Physical security maxims and sippy cups

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) managers admonished for ridiculous linking of sippy cup usage to terrorism.

Added Director Tom Radulovich, “If somebody wants to break the law and bring flammable liquids on, they can. It’s not like al Qaeda is waiting in their caves for us to have a sippy-cup rule.”

Directing his comments to BART administrators, he said, “You know, it’s just fearmongering and you should be ashamed.”


Perhaps they should have read these security maxims. [via]

Really excellent list and a must read for anyone interested in issues of security, most are applicable to IT security too.