Clinton’s Email Server Isn’t Her Scandal

Hierarchical security levelsEarly last month, Edward Snowden criticized former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for obviously and intentionally mishandling classified information by using a private email server. A recent Huffington post argues that, if true, Snowden’s comments could cost Clinton the Democratic Presidential nomination.

This rests on technical questions of security and classified information. Based on the information I have seen, Clinton committed no crime. Her security mistakes are typical of politicians of her (my) generation. She was exercising the authority and discretion (or lack thereof) belonging to her role as Secretary of State. I will explain why.

DISCLAIMER: I personally neither support nor oppose Hillary Clinton’s bid for a Presidential nomination.

Continue reading Clinton’s Email Server Isn’t Her Scandal

Adieu, Online School

NSTISSI Training BadgeI have shut down my online school. It was an interesting experience, but not a cost-effective one. Aside from not getting rich from this, it was really boring to administer a testing program.

On the other hand, I now know an incredible amount about Moodle, the internationally-popular web service for education. I also know how to host an online testing program for much less that commercial vendors charge.

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Earlier-than-expected shutdown of NSTISSI 4011 Program

The service provider has informed us that the testing site must be shut down at the end of September. Students still interested in completing the program after that date should contact the Institute. We can make alternate arrangements for you to complete your requirements.

September 29, at 11:59 PM, GMT, is the cutoff time for taking and completing tests. In the continental US, that time falls in the evening of September 29: on the east coast, it falls at 6:59 PM.

Streamlined NSTISSI 4011 Training Certificate

NSTISSI 4011 training badgeCryptosmith Institute now offers a second option for earning an NSTISSI 4011 training certificate:

  1. The original option: Complete exams on the 17 chapters in Elementary Information Security plus a final exam covering all material in the textbook.
  2. Students who have already taken a college-level cybersecurity course may skip the separate chapter exams and earn the certificate by taking the final exam.

Students interested in the second “streamlined” option must upload a college transcript showing the relevant course before they take the exam.

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A Script to Generate Spam Comments

SpamThe text attached to this post was submitted as a web site comment. No doubt some spambot was supposed to select randomly from the text to produce a unique-looking spam message. I know I’ve received lots of spam comments that this script might have generated: personal-sounding messages that are content-free.

I’ve used similar scripts to show how one could generate several different texts that all mean the same thing but contain different digital content.

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Towards a practical digital library

Library bookcaseI started collecting digital content in the 1980s. Before that I was satisfied to print things out, bind them, and put them on a shelf. My graduate research produced about three linear feet of printed papers sorted by author. I wrote my first book mostly from printed references, though all the writing was online. When I started my second book, AuthenticationI decided to collect, catalog, and save my references digitally. I stored everything in a tree of folders, one per author, stored alphabetically.

My library now contains several thousand items, from Gutenberg ebooks to marketing brochures to technical papers. It uses over 8 GB of storage, including catalogs and metadata. I used to read classic fiction on Palm Pilots and early smartphones. Now I read everything from fiction to technical reports on a tablet, either Android or iOS. This environment poses a whole set of challenges. I’ve found some tools to make my library work, more or less: Calibre, OPDS, and DRM-free books.

My main objective is Get it Once, Organize it Once, and Read it Anywhere

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My invitated – a classic phishing attack

Your InvitatedPhishing emails can be tiresome. Sometimes, though, they are classically bad. Even better, this one uses an old-school strategy to get you to click on a suspicious link.

The domain name is “” which at first glance appears to go to a more-or-less legitimate news site. The extra “j” in “nytimes” is easy to overlook.

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Migration Round Trip

Wordpress migration roundtripA few weeks from now I’ll throw the switch and redirect Cryptosmith web traffic to its new home.

For now, still goes to the old site, though popular content and the RSS feed go to the new site at

It’s ironic that I’m moving to WordPress. My first site with a modern content management system was a self-hosted WordPress site several years ago. I migrated to Drupal a year or two later. I’ve had a terrific time with Drupal as a plaything, but I’m tired of maintaining it. My son Alex did web software for a few years and tried hard to move me back to WordPress.

Continue reading Migration Round Trip


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