The walls are closing in.

Every couple of days - usually on the weekends - I force myself to go on a media fast. If I can get away with it, I don't watch television, I don't look at my RSS feed reader, and I don't let myself get wrapped up in the newswires. These days it's about the only thing that lets me get a good night's sleep on the weekends and makes my blood pressure managable. I'm pretty much a desk jockey these days so that's about the only exercise I get, but that's beside the point.

Many years ago, during the early time of …

Read more...

If they want to see any more, I want a nurse to be present.

It seems that the controversy over full body x-ray backscatter scanners hasn't died down yet. Since word got out that the TSA was, in fact, saving images from the machines (note: NSFW pictures) quite a few ears have perked up. Like those of a couple of US Senators. Senators Lieberman and Collins, who are the Chairman and a ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee along with a number of other senators have made an official inquiry of the US Marshals Service about the practice. They aim to determine whether or not they are intruding unnecessarily into …

Read more...

An interesting development in the Lower Marion School District surveillance case.

For a couple of months now I've been following the Lower Marion High School laptop surveillance case in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. If the story's been dropped from your cache for whatever reason, earlier this year it was discovered that a school district in the vicinity of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was using the laptops it issued to students to spy on them while they were off-campus. As it turned out some of the staff had been remotely activating the built-in webcams and using them to watch students. A cache of images taken through the webcams was found on some of their servers, some …

Read more...

TSA archives full-body scans at airports.

A couple of years back the Transportation Security Agency started deploying full body scanners at some airports around the country which use millimeter wave radar to scan travelers and show them as if they were nude (note: actual image, NSFW) to ensure that they weren't concealing anything under their clothes. Nevermind the fact that they utterly failed in the practicals, but never let it be said that a little thing like "it doesn't do what we want it to" stops a government project. Needless to say this has many people upset and has even resulted in no small amount of …

Read more...

Kindle highlights may be used by Amazon.

If you're anything like me, at some point you started to run out of room for your dead-tree editions and started downloading e-books. While you no longer have the tactile experience of reading e-books you have to admit that having a fixed-sized device with which you can store hundreds upon thousands of texts makes life a lot easier, plus, not everyone can read comfortably on a laptop or desktop display. Enter Amazon's Kindle, the darling of the e-book reader market which not only lets you buy e-books wirelessly (which can either tank your bank account or save your sanity while …

Read more...

DCLUG presentation: Tor

I'll be giving a presentation on Tor for the Washington DC Linux Users' Group the evening of 19 May 2010. The LUG meeting will start at 1900 EST5EDT (7:00pm) and run until 2100 EST5EDT (9:00pm) or thereabouts; afterward folks usually go to dinner nearby and hang out for a while. The meeting location is 2025 M Street NW; Washington, DC; 20036. From the street look for the big Tux the Linux Penguin poster or a sign for the LUG.

I hope to see everyone there!

NOVALUG presentation: Anonymity and Tor.

Confirmation's just hit the NOVALUG website - I will be presenting at the next meeting on 10 April 2010 on the topic of anonymity technologies in general and Tor in particular. Tor is the name of a free/open source utility which protects the user from traffic analysis and some content monitoring by passive attackers. I will discuss the origins of Tor as well as the threat model it was designed for, its capabilities, and potential attacks against the network as a whole and individual users thereof. I will also talk about operational security for users and Tor nodes. I will …

Read more...

MySpace selling user data on the open market.

MySpace, one of the biggest and best known social networking websites on the Net has announced that they'll be putting volumes of their users' data for sale on the open market. An outfit called Infochimps, which specializes in such bodies of data as stock market trading activity archives, political statistics, public service usage surveys, and social network data dumps will be handling the sales. The data will include such user generated content as playlists of music, posted photographs, blog posts, and users' stated locations. Some of the data dumps will even be organized by the (approximate) latitude and longitude of …

Read more...

More from the Lower Merion School District.

A couple of days ago word hit the newswires that a high school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had been using the laptops issued to its students to spy on them. Word's gotten around (no surprise there), and the BBC was the first to throw the 'potentially undressed minors' flag (and rightly so, in this case). The district has claimed that the spycam feature of the monitoring software was only for the purpose of recovering lost or stolen laptops and says that they deactivated the software remotely. If you've been paying attention to this story I don't have to tell you that …

Read more...