CRYPTO-GRAM, June 15, 2000

From Bruce Schneier <>
Date Thu, 15 Jun 2000 21:41:35 -0500

[: hacktivism :]


                 June 15, 2000

               by Bruce Schneier
                Founder and CTO
       Counterpane Internet Security, Inc.

A free monthly newsletter providing summaries, analyses, insights, and 
commentaries on computer security and cryptography.

Back issues are available at  To subscribe or 
unsubscribe, see below.

Copyright (c) 2000 by Counterpane Internet Security, Inc.

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In this issue:
      Crypto-Gram Reprints
      Counterpane Internet Security News
      Java and Viruses
      The Doghouse: Infraworks
      The Data Encryption Standard (DES)
      Comments from Readers

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SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) is a proposed standard for linking 
Internet applications running on different platforms, using XML 
messages.  SOAP is designed to connect together programs running on 
different machines, without regard to what OS/CPU is on each.  It's 
basically remote procedure calls (RPC) implemented via HTTP with XML 
content.  Because no security is required in either HTTP, XML, or SOAP, 
it's a pretty simple bet that different people will bungle any embedded 
security in different ways, leading to different holes on different 
implementations.  SOAP is going to open up a whole new avenue for security 

SOAP has been developed by a bunch of companies, but it's instructive to 
read Microsoft's own words on security and SOAP:

"Currently, developers struggle to make their distributed applications work 
across the Internet when firewalls get in the way.  Since most firewalls 
block all but a few ports, such as the standard HTTP port 80, all of 
today's distributed object protocols like DCOM suffer because they rely on 
dynamically assigned ports for remote method invocations.  If you can 
persuade your system administrator to open a range of ports through the 
firewall, you may be able to get around this problem as long as the ports 
used by the distributed object protocol are included.

"To make matters worse, clients of your distributed application that lie 
behind another corporate firewall suffer the same problems.  If they don't 
configure their firewall to open the same port, they won't be able to use 
your application.  Making clients reconfigure their firewalls to 
accommodate your application is just not practical.

"Since SOAP relies on HTTP as the transport mechanism, and most firewalls 
allow HTTP to pass through, you'll have no problem invoking SOAP endpoints 
from either side of a firewall.  Don't forget that SOAP makes it possible 
for system administrators to configure firewalls to selectively block out 
SOAP requests using SOAP-specific HTTP headers."

That's right.  Those pesky firewalls prevent applications from sending 
commands to each other, so SOAP lets vendors hide those commands as HTTP so 
the firewall won't notice.

Let's continue the DCOM example.  So what if DCOM runs over a firewall?

DCOM is Microsoft's main protocol for inter-application 
communication.  It's not just used by programs that are intended to be 
servers; it's used for all sorts of desktop communication and remote 
access.  The result is that an average machine has dozens of programs using 
DCOM.  Mine shows 48, ranging from "Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation" to 
"logagent" and including the catchily named 
"{000C101C-0000-0000-C000-000000000046}"; you may be able to list yours by 
bringing up a Command Prompt and typing "dcomcnfg".

Now, there are lots and lots of ways to secure DCOM applications, so maybe 
all of those applications are happily responding only to authenticated 
requests from the local machine.  On the other hand, there are lots and 
lots of ways to make DCOM applications insecure, so maybe one of them is 
just waiting for somebody to send it an entirely unauthenticated request to 
overwrite selected files on my hard disk.

Firewalls have good reasons for blocking protocols like DCOM coming from 
untrusted sources.  Protocols that sneak them through are not what's wanted.

Information on SOAP:

Microsoft's document (which includes the quoted paragraphs):

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             Crypto-Gram Reprints

Those of you who have subscribed recently might have missed these essays 
from back issues.

Timing attacks, power analysis, and other "side-channel" attacks against 
smart cards:

The internationalization of cryptography, policy:
and products:

The new breeds of viruses, worms, and other malware:

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New kinds of network devices to attack:
(Note the invocation of "128-bit encryption," as if that just solves 

The UK advertising authority upholds a complaint that an RSA flyer was 
misleading when it implied that freeware encryption was somehow inadequate:

One project to reduce buffer overflow vulnerabilities:

Modern phone phreaking:

What if smart people wrote computer viruses?:

Excellent speech by Dan Geer on risk management and security:

Just because you configure Microsoft Windows 2000 to use triple-DES with 
IPsec, doesn't mean you get it:
In some circumstances the software only uses single DES.  And to make 
matters worse, it never bothers alerting the user.

The Canadian government intended to put all of its data on citizens in one 
big database, including tax return information (which, by law, Revenue 
Canada is forbidden to disclose to other arms of government).
But the plan was scrapped.

More on the dangers of relying on PKI:

Microsoft's Office Assistant -- that annoying paper-clip helper in Office 
-- has some nasty security vulnerabilities in Office 2000.  It seems that 
an attacker can write scripts for the assistant that can do all sorts of 
damaging things, and that these scripts can run automatically when the user 
clicks on a Web page or opens an HTML-enabled e-mail.  This is an amazing 
breach of security for Microsoft.  Because they chose to mark all Office 
Assistant scripts as "safe," these scripts can do anything they want.  This 
is exactly the sort of vulnerability that virus writers exploit.  This 
isn't a programming error; this is a deliberate design decision made at a 
very high level.  Even more evidence that Microsoft doesn't take security 
A Microsoft bulletin that really downplays the importance:
A patch from Microsoft:

Someone actually patented using a tattooed bar code to verify a person's 
identity.  Isn't Revelation 13:16-18 prior art?

Ph.D. dissertation on the incidence of serious Internet attacks.  According 
to this research, it happens less often than people claim:

Tired of all of these Microsoft Visual Basic viruses?  Turn off the 
Scripting Host entirely:

Real Networks demonstrates that they just don't learn:

Smart electronics that knows its location.  Want to bet that no one has 
thought about the security ramifications of this technology?

Not that I mind the U.S. government studying privacy, but in this case an 
18-month study means 18 months of no action:

According to a news report, the EU lifted all restrictions on encryption 
restrictions, despite the protests of the United States.
The truth wasn't nearly as good.  At a meeting on 22 May, the European 
Ministers of Foreign Affairs withdrew the proposal from their agenda at the 
last minute.  No reason for this change of heart by European ministers was 
given.  Officials from both France and the UK expressed reservations about 
the measure, and officials have confirmed that the U.S. pressured the
EU to block the decision.  As far as I know, no official statement has been 
made by anyone.

Good intro article on crypto from IEEE Spectrum:

XML and how to secure it:

The FTC finally gives up on Internet privacy self-regulation:
The FTC report:

Social engineering in the real world: using fake IDs to penetrate 
government buildings.
The best line is: "'I think any time you expose vulnerabilities it's a good 
thing,' said Attorney General Janet Reno...."  This, of course, means that 
she is in favor of full disclosure of network vulnerabilities.

Keystroke Surveillance Tool:  A small piece of hardware can covertly record 
and store half a million keystrokes of information.  The device can be 
hidden in a keyboard or a PS/2 plug, and requires no software to install.

The myth of open source security:  An essay by the author of the open 
source Mailman program explains why open source is not as secure as you 
might think -- using security holes in his own code as an example.
And Slashdot reactions to the essay:

The sorry state of the CIA and NSA:

NPR ran a story on the shortwave numbers stations.  Schneier was 
interviewed for the story.

EFF's testimony on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  Really good reading.

E-mail virus stolen from a researcher's computer:

Pennsylvania makes it crime to spread a computer virus.  I don't know how 
this affects Outlook viruses that spread on their own.

SANS releases the top ten critical Internet security threats.

Evidence from the CD Universe credit-card theft was tainted, so they can't 

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       Counterpane Internet Security News

Counterpane's Managed Security Monitoring service has been running smoothly 
for several months now.  We're monitoring customer networks across the 
U.S., and are starting to look at expanding to Europe and Asia.  If you're 
interested in learning how we can monitor your network, contact us at (888) 
710-8175 or

Interview with Bruce Schneier in Information Security Magazine:

Fast Company magazine profiled Counterpane:

Giga Research issues an opinion of Counterpane's monitoring service:

Computer Security Incident Handling Conference (First), June 26-30, 
Chicago: Bruce Schneier will be speaking on June 27 at 2:00 PM and giving 
the keynote address on June 28 at 9:15 AM.

PC Week/DCI Security Summit, June 27-29, Boston: Bruce Schneier is 
co-chair, and will deliver the keynote address at 9:00 AM on June 29.

Black Hat Briefings, July 26-27, Las Vegas: Bruce Schneier will be speaking 
in the morning of July 26th.

The SecurityFocus Web site has an audio interview with Bruce Schneier:

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                Java and Viruses

At the JavaONE conference earlier this month, Scott McNealy made an 
erroneous comment about Java.  Here's how CNet reported it:

 >In his [JavaONE] keynote, [...] McNealy said that
 >Java is immune to viruses such as Melissa and "I
 >Love You" that have spread through Microsoft Outlook,
 >a statement that security experts generally back up.

My guess is that security experts don't back that statement up, because 
it's wrong.  McNealy is confusing an application (Microsoft Outlook) with a 
programming language (Java).  And he is confusing design flaws with 
implementation flaws.

The main problems with the security in Outlook is that it:
   a) defaults to effectively "no security" in many cases.
   b) hides essential risk-assessment information by default (e.g., file 
   c) is easily told to do things (scripted) by other programs.

All of these are design flaws.  That is, Microsoft Outlook was designed by 
Microsoft to have these problems,  They are not implementation flaws: 
errors made by the programmers during development.  The fundamental problem 
is that the security implications of the chosen design and feature-set were 
never examined in any meaningful way.

None of the above design flaws is a preventable or secured contingency 
covered by Java's "sandbox" model, nor its security policy mechanism, nor 
any other aspect of Java's security model.  In fact, I could easily write 
an e-mail application in Java that had design flaws identical to Outlook 
Express.  Nothing in Java nor in its security model can prevent or even 
hinder such a design.

What McNealy probably means to distinguish is the permissive nature of 
Microsoft Outlook when it comes to executing attachments, and the more 
secure nature of the Java sandbox.  Java contains specific provisions to 
deal with potentially dangerous applets, and tries to execute them in a 
protected mode that severely limits the effects they can have on other 
applications and the host computer.  The Java design team has spent a lot 
of time worrying about malicious executables and how they can be prevented 
from running amok.

The CNet story:

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           The Doghouse: Infraworks

Yet another company is claiming to have "revolutionary, patented new 
technology" to control the use of data on other people's computers.

I quote from their press release:  "It means that you can send digital 
files to anyone without fear of unauthorized redistribution.  For example, 
you could attach a Word or Excel document in an e-mail to anyone anywhere, 
and prohibit them from forwarding it, printing it, copying it or cutting 
and pasting any part of it.  You set the permissions, and the data is 
deleted when the permissions are exhausted.  You are in total control of 
your digital property."

"If hacking is attempted, the file self-destructs.  Just like Mission 
Impossible.  No other technology can do this."

Someone remind these nice people that Mission Impossible is fiction.


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       The Data Encryption Standard (DES)

The Data Encryption Standard (DES) has been the most popular encryption 
algorithm of the past twenty-five years.  Originally developed at IBM 
Corporation, it was chosen by the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) as the 
government-standard encryption algorithm in 1976.  Since then, it has 
become a domestic and international encryption standard, and has been used 
in thousands of applications.  Concerns about its short key length have 
dogged the algorithm since the beginning, and in 1998 a brute-force machine 
capable of breaking DES was built.  Today, modifications to DES, such as 
triple-DES, ensure that it will remain secure for the foreseeable future.

In 1972, the NBS (since renamed the National Institute of Standards and 
Technology, or NIST) initiated a program to protect computer and 
communications data.  As part of that program, they wanted to standardize 
on a single encryption algorithm.  After two public requests for 
algorithms, they received a candidate from IBM based on research being done 
in its Yorktown Heights and Kensington Laboratories.  Among the people 
working on this candidate were Roy Adler, Don Coppersmith, Horst Feistel, 
Edna Grossman, Alan Konheim, Carl Meyer, Bill Notz, Lynn Smith, Walt 
Tuchman, and Bryant Tuckerman.

The algorithm, although complicated, was straightforward.  It used only 
simple logical operations on small groups of bits and could be implemented 
fairly efficiently in the mid-1970s hardware of the time.  DES is not very 
efficient in software, especially the 32-bit architectures that are common 

Its overall structure was something called a Feistel network, also used in 
another IBM design called Lucifer.  DES is a block cipher, meaning that it 
encrypts and decrypts data in blocks: 64-bit blocks.  DES is an iterated 
cipher, meaning that it contains 16 iterations (called rounds) of a simpler 
cipher.  The algorithm's primary strength came from something called an 
S-box, a non-linear table-lookup operation by which groups of six bits 
would be replaced by groups of four bits.  These table lookups were 
expressed as strings of constants.

NBS lacked the ability to evaluate the algorithm, so they turned to the 
National Security Agency (NSA) for help.  The NSA did two things: they 
changed the constants in the S-boxes, and they reduced the key size from 
its original 128 bits to 56 bits.

The revised algorithm, called DES, was published by NBS in March 
1975.  There was considerable public outcry, both regarding the "invisible 
hand" of the NSA -- the changes they made were not made public, and no 
rationale was given for the S-box constants -- and the short key 
length.  Originally the key length was supposed to be reduced to 64 bits, 
but when the standard was published, it turned out 8 of those bits were 
"parity bits" used to confirm the integrity of the other 56 bits, and not 
part of the key at all.

Despite criticism, the DES was adopted as a Federal Information Processing 
Standard in November 1976.  It was the first time an NSA-evaluated 
encryption algorithm was ever made public, and was one of the two most 
important developments that spurred the development of public cryptography 
research (the other was the invention of public-key cryptography).

After becoming a U.S. government standard, DES was adopted by other 
standards bodies worldwide, including ANSI and ISO.  It became the standard 
encryption algorithm in the banking industry, and was used in many 
different applications around the world.  The terms of the standard 
stipulated that it would be reviewed and recertified every five years.  NBS 
recertified DES for the first time in 1987.  NIST (NBS after the name 
change) recertified DES in 1993.  In 1997 they initiated a program to 
replace DES: the Advanced Encryption Standard.

The NSA's involvement in the S-box values became clear in the early 
1990s.  Two Israeli cryptographers, Eli Biham and Adi Shamir, invented a 
powerful cryptanalytic attack called "differential cryptanalysis," and 
showed that the DES S-boxes were optimized to resist this heretofore 
unknown attack.  It later became public that the IBM team had developed 
this attack themselves while creating Lucifer and DES, and that the NSA 
classified their research.

In the late 1990s, it became widely believed that the NSA was able to break 
DES by trying every possible key, something called "brute force" 
cryptanalysis.  This ability was graphically demonstrated by the Electronic 
Frontier Foundation in July 1998, when John Gilmore built a machine for 
$250,000 that could brute-force a DES key in a few days.

Years before this, more secure applications had already converted to an 
encryption algorithm called triple-DES (also referred to as 
3DES).  Triple-DES is the repeated application of three DES encryptions, 
using two or three different keys.  This algorithm leverages all the 
security of DES while effectively lengthening the key, and is in wide use 
today to protect all kinds of personal, business, and financial secrets.

DES is the most important algorithm ever made.  Because it had an NSA 
pedigree, it was widely believed to be secure.  It is also the most studied 
encryption algorithm ever invented, and many cryptographers "went to 
school" on DES.  Almost all of the newer encryption algorithms in use today 
can trace their roots back to DES, and papers analyzing different aspects 
of DES are still being published today.

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              Comments from Readers

From: "J. Christopher Williams" <>
Subject: Phil Agre on the Outlook Worms

Phil Agre wrote:
"I received about 60 copies of the latest Microsoft e-mail virus and its 
variants.  How many did you get?  Fortunately I manage my e-mail with 
Berkeley mailx and Emacs keyboard macros, so I wasn't at risk.  But if 
we're talking about billions of dollars in damage, which equates roughly to 
millions of lost work days, then I think that we and Microsoft need to have 
a little talk."

While many may find the author's above comments relevant to the issue at 
hand, branding products as a method of securing their computer strikes me 
as one-upmanship.  The fact is there are several ways to get around such 
Virii & Worms, some of which do not require additional 
products.  Admittedly it would be nice if these features were enabled by 
default.  The one item that could be used to prevent viral infection not 
mentioned by the above author is the human brain.  Odd, considering it is 
the weapon of choice.

"... This is by-design behavior, not a security vulnerability.

"More odd language.  It's like saying, 'This is a rock, not something that 
can fall to the ground'.  It's confusing to even think about it. ..."

The author may be a security or computer expert, but his grasp of basic 
grammar is less than firm.  The more accurate grammar conversion would be 
"This is an object thrown to the ground, not a free-falling object."  The 
statement in and of itself merely assists in defining what can be called 
"thrown" and what can be called "free-falling" object.  It is not 
misleading unless the reader believes in the kind of misinformation 
campaign the author suggests.  To me the author is seemingly engaging in 
the same "blame shifting tactic" that he accuses Microsoft of.

"...This particular blame-shifting tactic is particularly disingenuous 
given that the virus spread rapidly through Microsoft itself, to the point 
that the company had to block all incoming e-mail (Wall Street Journal 
5/5/00). ..."

My company had fewer than 20 employees infected out of 1,600+ nation-wide 
employees, yet we closed down our Exchange Servers as well.  For 
statistical comparison, every employee at the office where I work is 
provided a computer, without exception.  We number 250+ employees with 
significant growth experienced during the last 90 days and a forecasted 
doubling of employee base over the next 90.  Other offices tend to be 
similarly equipped, although their growth varies.  The decision to do so 
was based more upon the potential to infect non-company computers (i.e., 
repercussions of infecting a customer and losing their good will) and the 
risk of receiving additional infectious material during the ILOVEYOU window 
of opportunity.

"Microsoft shouldn't be broken up.  It should be shut down."

I agree with the balance of the authors letter message, if not its 
presentation.  With the exception of the above statement.  The statement is 
very anti-individual (or in this case entity) which equates to prejudiced.

I think the author's message can be summed up in "Microsoft should protect 
a customer from his/her-self whether the customer understands that 
protection or not."

I personally believe in security.  I believe in encryption keys and 
signatures.  I believe in both the pure research & practical application of 
encryption theory.  I also believe that it is not "Big Brother's" place to 
decide what kind or how much encryption I use.  I'd much rather Microsoft 
provide a stable operating system with features into which encryption can 
be incorporated.  I'd much rather people like Counterpane provide 
encryption alternatives & research to allow me to choose the best solution.

Either way, I don't believe that a "perfect" or "flawless" product 
exists.  As Counterpane has said repeatedly:  Security is not a 
destination, it is a journey.  Microsoft cannot plug every flaw or security 
hole that exists in their operating system or their applications; what they 
can do is be responsive to revealed security flaws.  That is the standard 
we should hold them to.

To sum up my message:  I believe software development companies should be 
held accountable for their negligence.  A feature demonstrably flawed yet 
still implemented or not patched yet allowed to continue by the development 
company should allow suit for damages by the damaged party.  Phil's obvious 
(to me) anti-Microsoft bent leads me to question his objectivity and 
therefore the purpose to which he wrote his article.

From: Bob Smart <Bob.Smart@cmis.CSIRO.AU>
Subject: ILOVEYOU worm

I believe the message of the ILOVEYOU event has not been well 
understood.  John Carder gets it right in the specific case in a response 
to James Gleick's SLATE article:  "Windows Scripting Host gives a Visual 
Basic script the authority of the user executing the script, not the 
authority of the author of the script."

The problem of securely executing content that arrives across the network 
is not restricted to Windows.  Mobile code is a fact of life, whether it be 
software downloads or Java applets.  The Unix community have to pay 
attention to this issue because you can be sure Microsoft now will.

When our receptionist sent around a Christmas greeting executable which a 
friend had sent to her, I naturally didn't run it.  However if software is 
properly designed then it should be possible for people to send such things 
to their friends.  It should be possible to run them with no danger of 
harm: just like a Java applet in a secure JVM.

Subject: RTM vs. the "Love Bug"

Microsoft claims in its response to Jim Gleick's essay at Slate that the 
"Love Bug" situation is somehow akin to the RTM worm.

Errant nonsense.

It's quite simple: RTM devised a stack-smasher and dictionary password 
guesser with a clumsy forwarding mechanism and a rickety little 
back-propagation communications channel.  No user intervention was necessary.

The RTM worm was based on program bugs.  The "Love Bug" was based on 
Microsoft program *features*.  It makes all the difference.

From: Jeff <>
Subject: Social Engineering and the ILOVEYOU worm

The ILOVEYOU worm was social engineering at a kindergarten 
level.  Microsoft was lucky that it got handed a "slow pitch".  It could 
have been MUCH worse.

If I were the malicious coder I would have added a critical step.  After 
getting the address book entry, the script should have checked for the last 
message sent from that user and used THAT subject line.

1) Alice e-mails Bob with subject line "Picnic on Saturday?"

2) Carl e-mails Bob with the virus.

3) Virus sends copy of itself from Bob to Alice with subject line "Re: 
Picnic on Saturday?"

The damage would have been much worse, and have been harder to filter at 
the server level.  Add in a level of code morphing, and this could have 
completely shut down whole e-mail systems.

From: Peter Houppermans <>
Subject: Buffer Overflows

I'm not sure it's just a lack of interest in good quality, it strikes me 
that some software houses have decided to ACCEPT that 'kind of OK' is good 
enough for sale.  The article below makes some interesting observations 
that I can actually agree with, and might point at a slightly deeper cause: 
good design fundamentals.  Buffer overflows strike me as the result of not 
properly managed development processes -- and some would argue the 
consequence of using C ('providing enough rope to hang yourself' or, in my 
opinion, with flexibility and power comes responsibility).


On a more amusing note, MS has found itself exposed to the law, as in 
France (and, as far as I can tell, in Europe as a whole) the exclusion of 
warranty is not legal -- i.e., null and void.  So, some apparently 
enterprising users are taking MS to court of the wonderful virus whose name 
we can't mention because string filters will bounce the mail ;-), claiming 
negligence as they should have covered this exposure since the Melissa virus.

From: Joe Harrison <>
Subject: Vendor liability for bad software

I am puzzled by your frequent claims that software manufacturers can 
uniquely get away with releasing products that are of such poor quality 
that they would be considered unsaleably defective in other contexts.

Perhaps this is the case in the USA but I would have thought that many 
(most?) other countries treat software just like any other item in disputes 
about fitness for purpose.  Certainly here in the UK vendors have been 
successfully sued and precedent is set, your stuff legally has to work 
right for whatever it's supposed to do!

Have a look at:

From: Ray Jones <>
Subject: Trusted Clients and Computer Games

You paint a pretty dreary picture of the gaming communities.  Quake has 
been having serious problems of late, but Netrek dealt with trusted clients 
back in 1992 (they had a rudimentary system in place before that), and 
seems to have avoided serious problems since then.

The Netrek community seems to have adapted to Borgs [computer programs that 
assist play] via two methods:

1- binary blessing with a nontrivial scheme
2- providing some servers that welcome borgs

The blessing scheme is RSA-based, with the client's private key obscured in 
the binary.  This allows the open distribution of the blessed client key 
list, so anyone can run a server without having to be on some trusted list 
of server gods.  Having borg-friendly servers provides an approved forum 
for borg authors to show off their hacking skills.

The details of the verification aren't that important.  What's interesting 
is the attacks that people have used to get around them.  In particular, of 
the two hacks I've heard of, neither relied on extracting the key from the 
binary.  The first used a kernel modification to allow a client to reopen a 
socket after the blessed client had authenticated itself.  The second hack 
was on the key generation code (poor random number generation, mea culpa).

It's certainly possible to extract the key, and then embed it in a borg, 
but the payoff is low.  Someone is likely to notice and revoke the key, and 
borg authors are already able to use their clients in arenas where they can 
get some actual competition (borg vs borg).

Admittedly, Netrek has less mindshare than Quake, and is also more borgable 
(being more tactical and less strategic than Netrek, IMO).  The lack of 
attacks might be because fewer people care.  However, the combination of 
the two elements above (stick, carrot) seems to have worked pretty 
well.  As you write elsewhere in this month's Crypto-Gram, security is 
about risk reduction, not threat avoidance.

From: Ian Mason <>
Subject: Re: More on Microsoft Kerberos

If, as I did, you download the Microsoft Kerberos self-extracting .exe but 
use WinZip to extract it you don't get to be forced to agree to their 
so-called contract.  That leaves me free to operate within normal copyright 
laws with my copy of it.  Specifically that means that I can use the 
contents without any specious trade secret stuff.

It's fairly clear that Microsoft are operating in a fashion that is 
anti-competitive.  They claim adherence to a public Kerberos 'standard' but 
then 'extend' it in an incompatible fashion.  Then, with a dominant 
position in the desktop marketplace, make it difficult to make a compatible 
server product by restricting access to use of the details of the 
extensions.  Perhaps it's time for the IETF et al to get heavy with 
them.  Perhaps an action for 'passing-off' of the Kerberos name.

Here in the EU we have statutes that make it illegal to prevent reverse 
engineering for compatibility purposes.  Unfortunately we don't have a law 
that prevents a dominant player with a war chest for feeding lawyers from 
tying a small player up in court, but then where does?

From: Graystreak <>
Subject: Remotely Disabling Software

Vendors will not have to tunnel through firewalls to remotely disable 
software.  Today most, if not all, softwares auto-update themselves.  Look 
at Norton Anti-Virus' "LiveUpdate" feature for one prominent method.  Other 
softwares prompt you to go to a Web site and download an "update."

Even without advance planning, such auto-updates can be used to selectively 
disable users.  This is precisely how Napster effected the ban on the 
300,000+ users identified by Metallica.  If you connected to Napster with 
their version 2.5 client you were told to wait while the 2.6 version 
downloaded.  When 2.6 was run, suddenly you were blocked, if you were on 
the banned list.

Clearly this kind of event was not in Napster's original plans, yet they 
were able to implement it smoothly.  I expect Norton and Microsoft and 
other software makers to be equally smooth about programming in 
user-specific expirations.

From: Ian Mason <>
Subject: Cybercrime Treaty

The current wording does not prohibit research.  To fall foul of the 
proposed treaty one would have to have an intent to commit an offence 
["designed or adapted for the *purpose* of committing any offence"].  If 
one's purpose was to research vulnerabilities to prevent offenses then 
one's purpose is clearly not to commit the offenses.  If you don't believe 
me, ask any good lawyer about the concept of 'mens rea' [literally 
"criminal mind", usually read as 'criminal intent'] in the context of the 
words used.  It doesn't propose to create an absolute offense -- one where 
only an 'actus reas', criminal action, regardless of intention is necessary 
to prove guilt.  It is legal for me to make, own and use a crowbar.  It is 
illegal for me to own one with the intent to commit burglaries with 
it.  The treaty addresses only the latter type of case.

Sorry, but for once, this is a case of the technologists not understanding 
the lawyers instead of the other way around as is more common.

From: Johan Ovlinger <>
Subject: Lawyer Suing USWest for Insecure DSL Connection

Whilst I agree on principle about vendor liability, this is more a case of 
he got what he ordered, but didn't order what he wanted.  Pacific Bell 
connected his computer to the Internet constantly.  That's what he ordered 
and that's what he got.  That he failed to turn off file sharing is his 
fault.  If anyone is to blame, it would be Microsoft for making it so 
deplorably easy to shoot yourself in the foot like this (not that Red Hat 
ships with significantly saner defaults, but they at least make you enter a 
root password as part of the install).

I really don't see that Pacific Bell have anything to do with his 
file-sharing, unless they turned it on during installation.

I'd like to see this suit dismissed or settled out of court so as not to 
set a bad precedent ('cause I hope he'll lose).  Then I'd like to see some 
take some of the true offenders to task for the horrible state of their 
"security".  Unfortunately (as I'd like to come across as not to much of an 
MS basher), the current political climate makes Microsoft the only viable 
target.  If they get split up or significantly slapped, their EULAs will be 
seen as not worth the paper they're printed on, thus opening them up to 
these sorts of class action lawsuits.

Even if it would never succeed, it would be a grand sight to have a Fortune 
500 class action suit against them for the 10-odd gigabucks that went lost 
due to the latest Internet worm, wouldn't it?

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

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CRYPTO-GRAM is written by Bruce Schneier.  Schneier is founder and CTO of 
Counterpane Internet Security Inc., the author of "Applied Cryptography," 
and an inventor of the Blowfish, Twofish, and Yarrow algorithms.  He served 
on the board of the International Association for Cryptologic Research, 
EPIC, and VTW.  He is a frequent writer and lecturer on computer security 
and cryptography.

Counterpane Internet Security, Inc. is a venture-funded company bringing 
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Copyright (c) 2000 by Counterpane Internet Security, Inc.

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