Two things about my computer use over the past decade: 1) I've been moving all of our family mementos (mementi?) to digital form, and 2) I've become a total klutz about mass storage. A disaster in the making? Almost, but not quite. I've spoken earlier about using RAID on my Mac Pro, and now I'm using RAID with my Time Machine storage. I use my drive swapping trick to create backups, and keep the backup off-site.
While performing the drive swap, I managed to smash my working OS X system partition. Thus, I got to experience first-hand the process of recovering my system from my Time Machine backup. Here's the report.
[UPDATE: Since the original posting, I've found more brittleness in the restored Aperture directory and I've been negotiating a truce between Paragon's NTFS and my NTFS-formatted portable USB drive. Sides are still not quite on speaking terms.]
Verizon's security blog has published a summary report of data breaches investigated by their security team. The report covers 500 security breaches they investigated between 2004 and 2007. There are a lot of graphs and tables summarizing threats and impacts.
The authors sensibly point out that this is based on a limited sample, but it's great to see this sort of report.
Here is a terrific (but depressing) article by Saul Hansell explaining how the Wall Street meltdown was fueled by feeding nonsense to the risk management systems in the big investment houses.
The systems did not have models of those weird derivative instruments being traded, so traders would say they were trading a generic (safe, well-understood) loan instrument. So the systems did not really model the risk.
I find this really heartbreaking. I have to believe some people behind the scenes knew what was going on, and I can imagine them losing the argument with their bosses when they tried to fix things.
Will Norris is working on a revision to OpenID for WordPress. This is good, and I have some observations and suggestions. At the moment the OpenID plugin works pretty well - I have separate logins delegated through domains I own. I routinely log in through OpenID for both routine and administrative activities.
This is more of a reminder to myself - you can enable SSL on WordPress, but it's essentially an undocumented feature. This afternoon all I could find was a forum posting on enabling SSL.
There doesn't seem to be genuine documentation on it in the Codex, at least, not documentation that pops out when you do a search.
It's no surprise that someone managed to reset Sarah Palin's password on a freebie e-mail account. She's a public figure and the answers to her so-called "security questions" are on the public record. It's one thing to do personal and political e-mail on a Yahoo account but it's DUMB to use such an account for government business when you have your very own support staff to keep that e-mail secure.
Large scale vendors like Yahoo and Google can't help but do a bad job at authentication. This is why OpenID poses such promise - it lets us choose our authentication provider. Yes, some people will choose bad vendors. Careful people, however, get to choose safe ones.
These are design patterns in the Christopher Alexander sense rather than the object oriented design sense: they address the physical and network environment rather than focusing on software abstractions. The patterns were introduced in my book Authentication.
There are four patterns: local, direct, indirect, and off-line.
In honor of the electoral season, I'm sharing an old photograph. The occasion was a visit by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to Secure Computing in June, 1999. We discussed possible revisions to cryptographic export controls, and he posed for photos, holding a copy of Internet Cryptography, which was 'recently published' back then.
I don't want to turn this into a political blog - this posting simply reports on the visit.