The meme of EMP attack.

For the last couple of years, the meme of an EMP attack against the United States has been an integral part of the thoughtbase of the prepper community.  So the idea goes, the next major attack by a foreign power will involve not the bombing of a major city but bombardment with an electromagnetic pulse (local mirror, snapshot taken 20170310 @ 2030 hours PST8PDT).  Due to the fact that "electromagnetic" is kind of a loose term, sometimes they mean an actual magnetic field, sometimes they speak of a microwave burst (which means that you've got bigger problems than your electronics getting …

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Neologism: Disk Paranoia

Disk paranoia - noun - That occasionally well-founded sense of creeping dread one feels when repartitioning, reformatting, or clearing a USB drive.  The dread stems from the fear that one is not, in fact, doing something terminal to the correct drive and you're actually zorching one of your internal drives (usually the one with all of your data on it).  This leads one to recheck the terminal window once every nine or ten seconds to make sure you're messing with the correct drive.  This may also include opening multiple other terminal windows to display the list of currently mounted devices, cross-checking the …

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A random USB port in my hotel room.

When I was in DC a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the lamps in my hotel room had USB ports in them, presumably for plugging in smart devices to recharge in the event that the traveler did not bring a power strip. Most hotels aren't known for offering a surplus of power outlets.

Seeing as how I was back in Washington, DC, called by some The City of Spies, I couldn't help but wonder how such a thing could be used offensively. Let's say I wanted to gig somebody's smartphone with some canned exploits and a malware package …

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Recovering.

Since v0.5b of Byzantium Linux hit the Net, all of us have been taking the opportunity to get a little R&R before proceeding to the fifth and final milestone, which is writing up everything that happened in the previous six months. That's going to be a lot of stuff, but we've got good notes, a bunch of blog posts, and no shortage of lessons learned through the development process. I think when we sit down and get to work, we'll get it knocked out, edited, and published in not a very much time. I'll also be in a …

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Secure deletion and sanitization of storage media.

EDITED: Added Creative Commons license block. Other content remains the same.

Long ago, in the days of DOS and OS/2, deleting a file meant that it was gone for good. How file systems worked was a mystery to just about everybody, and so we were told to back up our data often lest a mistake or drive crash wipe out something important, leaving us up a certain body of water sans propulsion. Years passed, as they are wont to do, and someone discovered that data didn't really evaporate when it was deleted, it was just renamed in such a …

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Privacy, anonymity, and security, part the first.

Longtime readers of my weblog are no doubt familiar with my preoccuptation with security, which lead to my working in that field of endeavour, and also my interest in personal privacy. A couple of weeks ago, some of my readers asked me what they, as computer users who aren't experts but aren't starting from square zero either could do on a personal level. I thought and thought for a couple of days and put together a list of things, and then realized that making all of it make sense would take much more than a single post because it's not …

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Is a cold net.war going on between the US and China?

Every once in a while a news article about attempts to crack US military and government systems coming out of China or the Middle East hits the 'wires; rumors of groups of systems crackers belonging to the Air Force/United Nations/Department of Homeland Security/Microsoft/the Illuminati regularly make their rounds at hacker conventions. Military data nets are increasingly becoming targets of crackers from abroad, safe from prosecution and extradition because it's so difficult to start legal proceedings against someone you don't even know, let alone can grab by the scruff of the neck (police dramas and MLATs to …

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Codes, ciphers, and Naruto grounds for suspension?

Near the city of Panama City, Florida, 14-year old high school student Dakota Gates has been incarcerated in juvenile detention for 21 days following his arrest because administrators of his school are afraid that he was planning to come to school one day and start shooting the place up. Their reason? A note he wrote in a cipher inspired by an anime series by himself and some of his friends. A 'school resource officer' (I guess that's what they're calling the armed guards these days) found the note, sounded the alarm, and picked out the weird kid of the school …

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Do engineers make good terrorists?

According to two sociologists at Oxford University, Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog, the mindset of a professional terrorist and the mindset of a professional engineer are so similar in makeup that there is a strong correlation between being an engineer and being a member of a terrorist group (paper downloadable from here). Their research states that members of the Islamist movement of Muslim culture show a disproportionately high number of doctors, engineers, and practitioners of other scientific fields. Their paper also makes the claim that engineers in particular tend to gravitate toward violent groups, but it isn't so much being …

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If you live in Texas and need to evacuate, I hope you kept your nose clean.

One Jack Colley of the state of Texas is starting up a program which will require criminal record checks of people attempting to evacuate in the event of a natural disaster; the idea is that they want to weed out convicted felons to ensure that they can't prey upon anyone else trying to get to safety. Everyone attempting to board the evacuation buses will be issued a wristband with information encoded on it that will be used to identify people getting onto and later off of the buses. The data would be transmitted to the University of Texas Space Research …

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