[risks] Risks Digest 21.71

From: RISKS List Owner (riskoat_private)
Date: Wed Oct 24 2001 - 16:55:32 PDT

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    RISKS-LIST: Risks-Forum Digest  Weds 24 October 2001  Volume 21 : Issue 71
       ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy, Peter G. Neumann, moderator
    ***** See last item for further information, disclaimers, caveats, etc. *****
    This issue is archived at <URL:http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks/21.71.html>
    and by anonymous ftp at ftp.sri.com, cd risks .
    With Mars probe maneuver, NASA finally catches a brake (inthenews)
    DB and WWW on one machine in Australian election (Andrew Goodman-Jones)
    Web defacement and cyberattacks (Dave Stringer-Calvert)
    Hacker cracks Microsoft anti-piracy software (Monty Solomon)
    Are spammers getting sneakier? part 1 (Rob Slade)
    Are spammers getting sneakier? part 2 (Rob Slade)
    Redesi virus (Rob Slade)
    The British BSE crisis (Anthony W. Youngman)
    Pregnant chad revisited (Fred E. Ballard)
    Re: Stray bomb caused by typo (Dan Jacobson) 
    Non-risk, re: Jet engine starter motors (Ben Laurie)
    Re: Euro changeover (Otto Stolz)
    Re: Improper address-change validation (Chuck Falconer)
    Cutting through hype, spin, and propaganda - "Fact Squad Radio" 
      (Lauren Weinstein)
    Re: Ham radio and Morse Code (Scott K. Ellis, Skip La Fetra)
    Abridged info on RISKS (comp.risks)
    Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 11:11:44 -0400
    From: inthenews <inthenewsat_private>
    Subject: With Mars probe maneuver, NASA finally catches a brake
      [In RISKS, we try to include success stories, not just catastrophes.  Here
      is a NASA success (albeit after several Mars-related failures that have
      been reported here earlier).  This item is from *The Washington Post*, 
      23 Oct 2001, via Science In the News (Sigma Xi).  PGN]
    The Mars Odyssey, which left Earth seven months ago, braked into orbit
    around the red planet last night, giving NASA's Mars program a welcome boost
    after back-to-back failures in 1999.  While outwardly confident, engineers
    at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., were anxious about
    the make-or-break "Mars orbit insertion" -- MOI -- rocket firing, a
    19.7-minute maneuver one manager described as "the longest 20 minutes of our
    lives."  In reality, engineers had to wait a full half-hour to find out
    whether Odyssey's main engine had done its job.  After a brief scare caused
    by a momentary loss of data, flight controllers were able to confirm the
    rocket firing had started on time at 10:26 p.m. EDT based on analysis of
    radio transmissions from the spacecraft. But Odyssey disappeared behind Mars
    -- as expected -- halfway through the maneuver.
    Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 15:17:52 +1000
    From: "Andrew Goodman-Jones" <goodieat_private>
    Subject: DB and WWW on one machine in Australian election
    Technical hiccups hit ACT election counting
    By Sandra Rossi, 22 Oct 2001, Computerworld Australia
    It is ironic that counting in Australia's first election offering electronic
    voting stalled because of technical hiccups following the ACT poll [on 20
    Oct 2001].  Electronic voting is supposed to speed up the polling process
    and was used on Saturday during the ACT election offering voters a choice
    between traditional paper ballots and the Internet.  By the time voting
    closed, the ACT Electoral Commissioner Phil Green was claiming Internet
    users significantly slowed down the collating of electronic votes.
    More than 11,000 pre-poll electronic votes were supposed to have been
    counted just after the polls closed at 6pm but there were periods when
    counting was at a virtual standstill.  According to Green, disks were slower
    to load than expected and processing the disks for eight polling stations
    equipped for computer voting was drawn out because of competition from the
    Internet.  "We're getting lots of hits on our Internet site and that's
    actually slowing down our server because it's all being run off the one
    database," Green said during counting.
    Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 17:37:08 -0700
    From: Dave Stringer-Calvert <dave_scat_private>
    Subject: Web defacement and cyberattacks
    GForce Pakistan hackers defaced the U.S. Defense Test and Evaluation
    Processional Institute Web site www.dtepi.mil as well as
    enduringfreedom.dtepi.mil and nasa.dtepi.mil
    after which a rival group of Pakistani vigilante hackers (Yiyat) identified
    the purported culprit and retaliated.
        [Above text PGN-ed from the URLs.  I tried to verify the 
        "processional", but dtepi.mil was apparently off the Net.  PGN]
    Also, an interesting CNN article on a DoE cyberattack scenario.  Best
      The important lesson is that Black Ice showed how interdependent are the
      various infrastructure systems -- including telecommunications, utilities
      and banking -- and how major might be the combined effects of cyber- and
      physical attacks, she says.
      The infrastructure system providers didn't understand the
      interdependencies among their systems," Scalingi says. "If you talk to
      state and local government and local utilities, they'll tell you they have
      great response plans. The problem is, they write them in isolation.
    Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 01:45:01 -0400
    From: Monty Solomon <montyat_private>
    Subject: Hacker cracks Microsoft anti-piracy software
    By John Borland, Staff Writer, CNET News.com, 19 Oct 2001
    A piece of software being distributed anonymously online has successfully
    cracked part of Microsoft's anti-piracy technology, the centerpiece of much
    of the giant's recent forays into the audio and video world.
    Microsoft confirmed Friday that the code, written by a programmer using the
    pseudonym "Beale Screamer," can strip off the protections that prevent a
    song from being copied an unlimited amount of times.
    The company's digital media division has spent much of the day talking to
    record labels and content partners in an effort to respond to Screamer's
    software, said Group Product Manager Jonathan Usher.
    Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 09:33:54 -0800
    From: Rob Slade <rsladeat_private>
    Subject: Are spammers getting sneakier? part 1
    As we are all well aware, spam has been around for a while.  As most of us
    are aware, replying to the "if you have received this message in error and
    want to be removed from our lists" message at the bottom of most spam simply
    allows the spammers to verify that they have a "live one"--e-mail address,
    that is.
    Recently I received a flood of spam, all simply offering to take my name off
    their list--if I replied to it.  I guess the clients of spam companies are
    starting to get pickier about the quality of the lists.
    However, I have also started to receive the odd message like one I got this
    morning.  The subject line stated that the sender saw my ad on Google.  Now,
    I don't advertise on Google.  But then again, Google is a Web search tool,
    and a lot of people are careless about differentiating between the vast
    quantities of sites out there consisting solely of masses of banners, and
    information sites like the ones I have up.  Reading the message was no more
    informative: it simply asked me to send more information.
    The headers were more interesting.  The message was ostensibly from someone
    at referralware.net, but the "Received" lines indicated an origin at
    rsladeat_private  rsladeat_private  sladeat_private p1at_private
    http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev    or    http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
    Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 22:01:45 -0800
    From: Rob Slade <rsladeat_private>
    Subject: Are spammers getting sneakier? part 2
    So I get this e-mail with no subject, but the "From" name is the same as my
    daughter.  Only, of course, it isn't her.  It's somethingtosell5678at_private
    Only it isn't that, either, when you look at the headers, it's:
    Received: from Azzarmaster (ppp-178.11.triton.net 
    [] (may be forged))
    Now isn't that clever!  triton.net has determined that the header
    information *it* received may be forged!  It is helpfully warning me that I
    may be receiving spam!  Really?  How would it know?  Is this, perhaps, an
    open relay?  And, if so, why is it open?  Why isn't triton.net closing off
    this type of abuse?
    Well, let's look at the IP address,  Good old Samspade.org
    can tell us that:
    Trying whois -h whois.arin.net
         Lucre, Inc. (NETBLK-LUCRE)
            4011 Plainfield Ave 
            Grand Rapids, MI 49525 
               Hale, Steve  (SH1448-ARIN)  steveat_private
               (616) 361-0128
    OK, lucre.net certainly sounds like a domain name that a spammer would pick.  
    However, the information goes on:
    Domain System inverse mapping provided by:
    So let's be guessing that the header isn't actually forged at all.  Perhaps
    we are just supposed to give up looking when we see an indication of a
    forged header, and not try to find out who actually sent this message.  Or,
    perhaps triton.net is simply going for plausible deniability: "Spam?  Gee,
    that's too bad.  Bummer that the headers are forged, otherwise we could tell
    who sent it."
    rsladeat_private  rsladeat_private  sladeat_private p1at_private
    http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev    or    http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
    Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 11:44:54 -0800
    From: Rob Slade <rsladeat_private>
    Subject: Redesi virus
    RISKS readers may have heard of one or both variants of Redesi, also known
    as Dark Machine or Ucon.  (In fact, it was PGN who first alerted me to the
    existence of the second.)  (If you haven't heard about them, don't open any
    e-mail attachments with filenames of Common.exe, Rede.exe, Si.exe,
    UserConf.exe, or Disk.exe.  These filenames seem to be consistent in both
    versions, in file attachments, and on infected machines.)
    There are two variants.  One comes with a large variety of possible subject
    lines, all of which contain either a double hyphen or an ellipsis (three or
    six periods).  Many appear to be comments from Kev, Gaz, Will, Si, Jim,
    Arwel, or Michelle.  The body of the message of this A version reads "heh. I
    tell ya this is nuts ! You gotta check it out !" and file attachments with
    filenames as listed above.  Infected machines will have files with the
    filenames listed created in the root directory of the C: drive with the
    hidden attribute set.  However, this variant doesn't make any changes to the
    Registry, and doesn't do any apparent damage.
    The second variant comes with a subject line that may refer to Microsoft,
    security updates, alerts, terrorists, emergency response, and viruses.  The
    body contains what appears to be a message from Microsoft describing the
    attachment as a security patch, and a message of endorsement from the
    forwarder. (Since both variants are forwarded using Microsoft Outlook
    address books, the messages will appear to come from someone you know.)
    (Note that Microsoft is not in the habit of sending out security patches as
    e-mail attachments.)  The B variant adds entries to the Registry, and
    attempts to use an entry in the Autoexec.bat file to reformat the disk on or
    after November 11, 2001.  The filenames of the attachments, and the files
    created, are the same.
    Note that the close association and quick release of the two variants may
    have been a two stage piece of social engineering.  The first release would
    create some concern, and would promote a heightened sense of urgency about
    applying patches or fixes, possibly enough to prompt people to run suggested
    repair programs without getting confirmation.  The second virus would take
    advantage of this kind of panic.  And, in this case, the "cure" is
    definitely worse than the disease.
    (However, given some of the second set of subject lines, the second release
    may simply be trying to take advantage of the uncertainty over terrorist
    By the way, if you are trying to filter viruses at the e-mail gateway, scan
    e-mail for messages with attachments with filenames Common.exe, Rede.exe,
    Si.exe, UserConf.exe, or Disk.exe.  Also note the message text "heh. I tell
    ya this is nuts ! You gotta check it out !" and "Just recieved this in my
    email I have contacted Microsoft and they say it's real !"  Note that
    deleting messages on the basis of body text is not recommended, since it may
    eliminate warning messages.
    rsladeat_private  rsladeat_private  sladeat_private p1at_private
    http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev    or    http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
    Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 15:08:30 +0100
    From: "Anthony W. Youngman" <Anthony.Youngman@ECA-International.com>
    Subject: The British BSE crisis
      [This message is not particularly relevant to COMPUTERS, 
      but highly relevant to TRUSTING THIRD-PARTIES.  PGN]
    As you probably know, some scientists were asked to study whether BSE had
    jumped species into sheep, and were given a load of sheep-brains to study.
    It then turned out that these were not sheep, but cow brains, leading to
    newspaper headlines about how scientists couldn't tell the difference
    between sheep and cows.
    This morning, it took a turn for the worse. It appears that the scientists
    *had* suspected something was wrong, and asked for a sample of their
    material to be analysed to check the species. However, as their brief was to
    look for BSE, they could only *request* that somebody else check for
    species. It seems that when this check was done, it was done on a sample of
    material that the original scientists *should* have been given, not on the
    sample they had provided from what they *had* been given. So of course the
    species test "proved" they had sheep brains.
    The risk? The classic "need to know" principle meaning that people are
    forced to rely on others "doing the right thing" rather than being empowered
    to make sure themselves that things are okay. And the classic of basing your
    test on the assumption that things are okay, rather than assuming (and
    looking for) a cock-up.  [Heard on Radio 4]
    Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 11:32:18 -0500
    From: fred.e.ballardat_private
    Subject: Pregnant chad revisited (Re: Jones, RISKS-21.70)
    It is shocking that a risk so obvious was not mentioned or found.  I think it
    is a real insult to voters, and a disgrace to the manufacturer and voting
    Sheesh!  Like so many things in RISKS, an intelligent sixth grader wouldn't
    run things this way.
    Fred Ballard  fredbat_private  fred.ballardat_private
      [The really sad thing is that many of the same punch-card machines
      were apparently also implicated in the 1988 Florida Senate race.
      Buddy Mackay lost a close election to Connie Mack, in which there was
      a drop-off of 210,000 votes relative to the Presidential race in the 
      same four counties.  A lot of people must have been asleep at the wheel.
    Date: 20 Oct 2001 08:19:35 +0800
    From: Dan Jacobson <jidanniat_private>
    Subject: Re: Stray bomb caused by typo (Hollebeek, RISKS-21.70)
    > ... GPS coordinates could use a check digit that detects one digit errors
    > and transpositions, much like the one used in credit-card numbers.
    Erm, but aren't any coordinates valid as long as you don't go beyond,
    e.g. 90 degrees north latitude, etc.  OK, yes, it would be wise to check
    that the coordinates are indeed within Afghanistan, unless oops, we want to
    create a random international incident, or maybe even blow ourselves up.
    Odd that with all that high tech, he still had to type them in instead of
    clicking on it...
    Or maybe he needs an Afghanistan Residential Zoning Map hooked into his GIS
    to lock out bad picks.
    http://www.geocities.com/jidanni/ Tel+886-4-25854780 n
      [Also commented on by Lou Schneider.  PGN]
    Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 21:28:46 +0100
    From: Ben Laurie <benat_private>
    Subject: Non-risk, re: Jet engine starter motors (RISKS-21.70)
    One of the rays of sunshine in the otherwise bleak cloudspace that is RISKS
    is that the occasional risk turns out not to be. I have been told by a
    significant number of people that the starter motor is not what goes on
    "continuous" after the jet has taken off. Instead the ignitors stay on and
    ensure that if the flame goes out, it is relit. It is, apparently, normally
    not necessary to respin the turbines once in flight.
    If I remember correctly, because the 777's engine start sequence is entirely
    automated (literally one switch for each engine), there's no distinction
    made between starter motors and ignitors on the control panel. There's a
    single switch that does, in effect, "off", "on" and "continuous".
    Thanks for all the corrections on this issue.
    Ben <http://www.apache-ssl.org/ben.html>
    Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 19:38:57 +0200
    From: Otto Stolz <Otto.Stolz@uni-konstanz.de>
    Subject: Re: Euro changeover (Long, RISKS-21.70)
    On Sun, 14 Oct 2001 21:50:48 +0200, Douglas Long wrote:
     > Converting all values to Euros and then calculating the
     > account balance [...] yields one answer.  Calculating a
     > partial balance in Francs, converting to Euros, and then
     > completing the remaining calculations using Euros [...]
     > yields a slightly different result.
    This is an intrinsic property of the two operations {conversion | addition}: 
    they are not commutative;  
    cf. <http://europa.eu.int/euro/html/dossiers/00121/00121-en.pdf>.
    Hence, there are rules the banks are legally bound to,
    cf. <http://europa.eu.int/euro/html/home5.html?lang=5>.
    However, according to the dossier cited above, the particular
    issue observed by Douglas Long is subject to national rules.  [...]
    (Note: EUR cash will only be introduced on 01 Jan 2002)
     > some ATM transactions are reported in Francs ... others ... in Euros
    This sort of happening is forbidden in Germany.  However, I do not know
    anything about national regulations in France.
    In Germany, customers currently can choose whether their accounts are
    handled in DM or in EUR. Banks are committed to carry the original amount
    and currency of every single transaction through to the final account (in
    addition to the EUR amount they use for their own balancing); hence, if a DM
    amount is transferred from one DM account to another DM account, the
    original DM amount will precisely be balanced in both customer accounts,
    notwithstanding the fact that the banks themselves calculate in EUR. The
    same scheme applies to cash deposits to, and withdrawals from, DM accounts.
    Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2001 03:18:24 GMT
    From: CBFalconer <cbfalconerat_private>
    Subject: Re: Improper address-change validation
    The US postoffice operates the same way.  I recently put in a change of
    address, and the advisory went to the new address, along with all the old
    Chuck F (cbfalconerat_private)
      [At SRI, we did a study for the USPS many years ago, and I complained 
      then about that stupid policy.  Evidently, they still have not learned. PGN]
    Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 10:42:25 -0700
    From: Lauren Weinstein <laurenat_private>
    Subject: Cutting through hype, spin, and propaganda - "Fact Squad Radio"
    	    	         Announcing "Fact Squad Radio"
                                  October 21, 2001
    	PFIR - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org
            [ To subscribe or unsubscribe to/from this list, please send the
              command "subscribe" or "unsubscribe" respectively (without the 
    	  quotes) in the body of an e-mail to "pfir-requestat_private". ]
    Greetings.  The main purpose of People For Internet Responsibility's
    recently-announced "Fact Squad" effort is to cut through hype, spin,
    misinformation, and propaganda regarding technological issues and their
    effects upon society.
    In furtherance of this goal, we're pleased to announce the launching of the
    "Fact Squad Radio" service.  Fact Squad Radio is providing very short (one
    minute), tightly-focused audio features, each concentrating on a single
    relevant topic of importance.  These vignettes are aimed at explaining the
    issues briefly in a non-technical manner suitable for general audiences.
    Topics to be covered will include both matters of long-standing importance
    and crucial issues of the moment.
    We encourage linking and redistribution of these features, and they are
    freely distributable without any further permission being needed for
    non-broadcast, non-commercial usage.  Requests for other kinds of usage will
    be considered on a case-by-case basis.  We'll be ramping up towards a five
    per week, M-F schedule.  All segments are in the standard MP3 format.
    The debut Fact Squad Radio feature concerns a topic of some significant
    interest right now -- National ID Cards.
    Fact Squad Radio is at:
    Thanks very much!
    Lauren Weinstein laurenat_private laurenat_private laurenat_private
    Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
    Co-Founder, PFIR - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org
    Co-Founder, Fact Squad - http://www.factsquad.org
    Moderator, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com
    Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
    Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 21:43:40 -0400
    From: "Scott K. Ellis" <stormat_private>
    Subject: Re: Ham radio and Morse Code (Decker, RISKS-21.70)
    With due respect to Mr. Decker, I believe he has slightly (perhaps
    unintentionally) distorted the most recent developments in amateur radio
    licensing.  While it may be true that the ham radio community has in the
    past considered Morse code a "favorable" barrier to entry to keep out
    "undesirables," current Morse code requirements have a more reasonable
    explanation.  The maximum required Morse code speed for a ham license is now
    5 WPM.  While there are several license grades with more "long distance"
    frequency bands available for use, they are now all accessible by passing
    the appropriate technical knowledge test.  The 5 WPM code requirement for
    the long-range frequency bands is a result of international treaty
    requirements.  There are currently efforts underway to have that portion of
    the international treaties changed, at which time the Morse code requirement
    will be removed from the amateur licensing requirements.
    Scott K. Ellis
    Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2001 10:35:12 -0700
    From: "Skip La Fetra" <Skipat_private>
    Subject: Re: Ham radio and Morse Code (Decker, RISKS-21.70)
    > ... And it's also something that could come back to bite you in the butt,
    > should those of the "excluded" class ever reach positions of power.
    No truer words have ever been spoken.  Mr Decker's points against the Morse
    code requirement are true and to-the-point (I speak as an Amateur Extra (20
    words-per-minute Morse) licensee who has *never* attempted a "real" Morse
    contact -- I learned the code (and it *IS* very hard!) simply to get the
    license.  Mr. Decker's points about exclusion ring true.
    However, there are other points which were omitted in his message which need
    to be made in balance -- and this is my reason for this message to RISKS.
    These are not "rebuttals" to his premise, but point to other reasons why
    Amateur ("ham") radio is justified in today's society.
    Ham Radio (and its FCC justification) is about COMMUNICATION.  We are a
    trained bunch of COMMUNICATORS (it does not really matter if we are using
    Ham, CB, or other frequencies) who are experienced at accurate
    COMMUNICATION.  We are equally skilled at picking up a police or fire
    hand-held radio as we are at using our "special" frequencies -- and getting
    a CLEAR message across.  In an emergency situation, communication needs far
    outstrip the installed capability -- Hams are PEOPLE who have frequencies
    (communication channels) and clear-communication skills who can use their
    resources (or those of the police/fire/Red Cross agency they are present to
    help) to keep information flowing.  (I do wish to point out that the ham
    "special" frequencies are necessary to augment the limited number of
    police/fire channels in a true communications emergency.)
    This is (one of) the core justification(s) of Ham radio by the FCC.  Active
    (hobby) use of the radio spectrum enables ham operators to be ready and able
    to help in times of communications emergency.  Morse Code is a useful
    method, but it is not the only method.
    Skip La Fetra, Amateur Extra, AA6WK, Skipat_private
      [I have omitted several other messages on this topic, but there
      seems to be lively disagreement.  PGN]
    Date: 12 Feb 2001 (LAST-MODIFIED)
    From: RISKS-requestat_private
    Subject: Abridged info on RISKS (comp.risks)
     The RISKS Forum is a MODERATED digest.  Its Usenet equivalent is comp.risks.
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    => The INFO file (submissions, default disclaimers, archive sites,
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       [back volumes have their own subdirectories, e.g., "cd 20" for volume 20]
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       Lindsay Marshall has also added to the Newcastle catless site a
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    ==> PGN's comprehensive historical Illustrative Risks summary of one liners:
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    End of RISKS-FORUM Digest 21.71

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Wed Oct 24 2001 - 17:42:27 PDT