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Almost Anything Can Be Shot...

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 4:17 pm    Post subject: Almost Anything Can Be Shot... way or the other. There's a scene from a Pink Panther movie that keeps popping up in my internal projection room everytime I see futile security of a particular kind being excercised. In this scene, the detective (Peter Sellers) comes into a room and is suddenly confronted with a raging Kung Fu fighter that flies from one end of the room to the other, swirling arms and legs all around, accompanying it all with HO!...HAH! YI!... and similar loud and intimidating noises. After a fairly long and very scary show of skill and power, the guy faces Peter Sellers, ready to pounce and make chopped liver out of him. Peter Sellers calmly lifts a pistol and fires a bullet through his head, while looking slightly mystified. This guy had spent a lifetime of intensive martial arts training, sacrificed the lord knows what to get to the pinnacle of his art only to be defeated by a cheap pistol fired at point-blank range. There's a moral in this story, especially for security professionals. Sometimes it's described as: don't put umpteen expensive locks on the doors if you leave your Windows™ open...[full article]
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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2005 5:03 pm    Post subject:

First, I should mention that it was a long and circuitous route from "comment on this article" to actually being allowed to enter text. It only worked after I found the post by coming down from the forum index. The links from the full text (and other seemingly legitimate directions) all prohibited replying.

On to comments...

I always enjoyed Cluseau's interactions with kung fu, especially, of course, Cato (who didn't get shot in the head much). The scene in Raiders of the Lost Arc is quite similar, when the scimitar-wielding ruffian is finally dispatched with a bored shot to the head. Would that we could all just pop annoyances in the head when we're tired or cranky...

A short-lived TV show this spring was based on arrranging a fake home burglary and then advising the owners. Part A involved scoping the house and identifying weak points. Part B showed the burglar whipping expertly through the place, carting everything personal or valuable into his van, while the owners watched in horror on CCTV. Part C showed the experts fixing up the home's security, and in Part D we watched the burglar being thwarted here and there and finally giving up.

What was interesting was that of course 50% of the time all the new security was useless because the owners forgot to lock the front door. Another issue, however, which is relevant to some of your points, was that the burglar (a former professional second-story man) swore that 90% of the time if breaking in isn't really easy he would go on to the next house. So there is a Principle of the Easiest First (PEF) at work in a lot of security scenarios.

One must surmise that the PEF is the prime rationale for the RIAA's copy protection nonsense (and also the broohaha surrounding HD-DVD encoding). We don't want Uncle Oskar accidentally making copies of his licensed movies, do we? He'll give it a quick try, get confused, and give up.

Unfortunately, as you point out in another context, the PEF only affects the common man, not the true professional. (And not the uncommon man, either.) If I'm a bootleg video operator in Taiwan, what the heck do I care if it's inconvenient? I hire my engineer for a day, build the defeat mechanism (or find the missing trace on the circuit board), and I'm back to mass production in a jiffy. Big deal, I (the bootlegger) say.

So one must again wonder what the RIAA (and MPAA) are really up to. Personally, I think they are devotees of Darwin, flaunting their obsolescence before they're off the list.

Of course the ultimate recourse for the RIAA problem is just to run the Audio Out back into the PC. This may not be as easy for digital video, but I'm sure someone will build the required gizmo once the demand is there. As always, the innocent are hassled, the professionals are not deterred, and the main benefit is to lawyers and security engineering firms.

Hey! That's you!

And of course the video capture can be done remotely if you're into van eck phreaking.

Another interesting element is purely semantic:

Some years back (when floppies were 8 inches square), Mary was helping one of our numerous lawyer clients over the telephone. He was having trouble getting the disks we sent him into his computer. Flying blind (the joy of telephone support), Mary introduced him to the disk drive, and explained which slot to use, and how to hold the floppy. But when the disk was inserted and she told him to close the door, she heard him get up, walk a few steps, and slam his office door. Returning to the phone, he commented, "I really appreciate your company's awareness of client confidentiality."

As for "uneditable" PDF files, I noted with interest that Adobe Acrobat Professional 7.0.1 (the very latest) mentions:

All Adobe products enforce the restrictions set by the Permissions Password. However, not all third-party products fully support and respect these settings. Recipients using such third-party products might be able to bypass some of the restrictions you have set.

This warning pops up when you set password security (not when you read about it in the online help). Probably there is a program on the web somewhere that was written with the Adobe API, and which is designed specifically to ignore passwords. If not, such "third party products" wouldn't be hard to create.

This probably doesn't apply to encrypted PDF files, of course, but the password is usually on a post-it stuck to the display.

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