August 12th, 2005


Two rooms down, three and a half to go

Closet and bedroom (except for my desktop) are clean and clutter free.

Please don't look at the bathroom or kitchen especially. I'll get to those later.

I'm seeing The Tricky Part tomorrow (er… tonight) with Deborah. I'm really looking forward to this. Partially because I've heard good things about the play. But mostly because I haven't gotten to hang out with Deborah for a while. The occasional dinner that always feels too short. I miss her.

  • Current Mood
    lonely sappy

Passport security

RFID Passport Security Revisited

This is a technology meets security meets privacy issue I've been following. (I always mean to write about these things as I follow them, but there's so many that I never really get around to it.) Anyway, the U.S. government has been proposing to add RFID chips to passports for a couple of years. The idea being that you could prevent forged passports from being used by encoding the information on the chip, as well as make country entry more speedy because they can be read faster. Only thing was, if you have unencrypted information on the chips, anyone can walk by and read all the personal information about you if they want. At least they can if they have an RFID reader. And these days people have been building systems that can read radio signals from quite some distance. It's not the same thing, but someone just built a system that could access an 802.11g wireless system from over 100 miles away. An unamplified wireless system. I can't connect to my system from more than a few tens of yards. In the original passport RFID proposal, the security was essentially keep snoopers more than a couple of feet away and they won't be able to read it.

The new proposal, though not officially adopted yet, is better.

The most important feature they've included is an access-control system for the RFID chip. The data on the chip is encrypted, and the key is printed on the passport. The officer swipes the passport through an optical reader to get the key, and then the RFID reader uses the key to communicate with the RFID chip. This means that the passport-holder can control who has access to the information on the chip; someone cannot skim information from the passport without first opening it up and reading the information inside. Good security.

End User License Agreements (E.U.L.A.s)

Game players say Blizzard invades privacy

Blizzard said that its own scanning of World of Warcraft players' computers is different from that of the Everquest situation, because Blizzard spells out in the game's end-user license agreement, or EULA, that the company maintains the right to perform such anti-hacking scans. Players like Dennis and others who have complained about the scanning on the game's official forums don't have much of a leg to stand on, Blizzard says.

People should read contracts, Lagrave said. Whenever we update our game, that EULA is always displayed so that people have to accept it every time. So it's been in their face many times.

Kramer agreed that players need to be more careful about reading what they agree to.

People should read the EULA, Kramer said. If they don't, that's like saying, I didn't read the contract before I signed it. Why does the devil own my soul now?

This kind of thinking irritates me to some degree. I can have a lot of sympathy for people who don't read E.U.L.A.s, because they are dense and require lawyers to understand. I'm a smart guy, and groking the myriad terms of a E.U.L.A. is tough for me. The guy quoted here provides the necessary context though it isn't emphasized. These companies intend to be the devil trying to put one past unsuspecting rubes. And then they turn around and try to argue that they aren't the evil because the rubes weren't bright enough to figure out they who was the devil.

Here's an analogy. I walk up to you and jokingly tell you I'm going to hit you hard in the face. You start laughing and then I hit you hard in the face. Would I skate on the assault charge on the defense of I told him I was gonna hit him in the face but he didn't put up his guard! He should have been a better boxer, especially since I told him my strategy in advance ? I think not.

To me, it's absolutely ludicrous that we expect otherwise in the case of E.U.L.A.s.