Tag Archives: Security

The Waiting Game

First of all let me apologise in advance for any weird spelling or punctuation in this post. I’m in a Japanese Internet cafe fighting against an alien keyboard layout and a laptop that wants to type everything in hiragana…

On days like this I wonder why I want to be a journalist when it seems that any story can be blown out of all proportion. As I’m sure you’re aware all British airports were in “chaos” because of the whole security threat thing so I was naturally all worried that all my plans would be disrupted. We got picked up by the airport car three hours early to account for any delays that the news was telling us were inevitable, and I had to leave my DS and PSP at home because I couldn’t carry them on and wasn’t risking them in the hold.

So…the two-hour drive to Heathrow ends up taking about 80 minutes because within a few miles of the airport there are hardly any cars on the road. Nothing. We wait for check-in to open and that goes smoothly and then queue for about 20 minutes longer than usual to go through security since everyone is being patted down.

Now what really had me fucked off is that I couldn’t carry on any games, my camera, my laptop, books, magazines, etc, but once I was through security as long as I wasn’t flying to the United States of Paranoia (they weren’t letting people carry on anything at all) I could have gone and bought any of the items in Dixons and carried them on. I wasn’t desperate enough to buy yet another DS so I just bought a couple of books from Borders (Roy Keane’s autobiography and the complete Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy) which I breezed through a good chunk of on the way to Tokyo.

The flight got off on time and went without a hitch (MI3 and Ice Age 2 were the films; I watched most of MI3) and 12 hours later I now find myself at Narita Airport with four more hours to kill until my connecting flight to Sydney. Thankfully it has a free Internet cafe that I’m using now which also sells Pocky, successfully combining two of my favourite things in the world, so that eases the pain. Amusingly, it also has a mini cinema where, for £400 a time, you can watch such hits as “Batman Bigins” (sic). I wish I had my camera.

Starforce Dumped

Following on from Starforce’s recent PR disaster, Ubisoft, one of the main proponents, have announced that they’re unceremoniously dumping the malware software from all future games after “investigating the complaints about alleged problems with Starforce’s software.” Good to see them taking the initiative, because if high profile users jump ship it’s likely that smaller publishers will follow suit.

Hard to crack though it may be, this goes to show that if people are vociferous enough with their complaints the consumer will always win out in the end. Even if most copy protection schemes don’t stop large-scale piracy, at least they don’t stop people using their computer in the way it was intended. I hope Starforce dies a painful death, and I hope they don’t sue me for saying that.

MPAA: The MP Means “Missing the Point”

BoingBoing are reporting on a new download service that will allow the legal downloading of Hollywood movies. The caveat is that not only can they only be played in Windows, but they cost twice the price of buying a DVD, and burnt copies can only be played on a PC. Somehow they justify calling them DVDs despite this.

I’m not a fan of digital distribution since I like having DVDs/games/CDs on my shelf which I can browse through but I see it as an inevitability, and I sincerely hope that they start to show the consumers some respect if they expect people to buy into this. iTunes has the right idea by making downloading a matter of clicking a button and bundling in fairly permissive DRM (if we must have DRM that’s the kind to have) while making the price reasonable, but nobody will pay double the price of the physical media for such a crippled copy.

The assertion that people will pay that for the convenience is just laughable as well. I hear people saying that they use iTunes to get new albums for the convenience, even though it’s usually cheaper than actually going to the shop and buying it. Double the price isn’t the cost of convenience – it’s extortionate. Not to mention that, like the comment on BoingBoing says, the files are going to be big (you need at least 700MB for a passable quality movie) and it’s never going to be more convenient to sit and download for a couple of hours than it is to go five minutes away and buy the shiny new DVD…for half the price.

Deliberate Windows Backdoors?

Not that you want any more than Microsoft will no doubt leave, but I’ve just seem it reported on Slashdot that the UK Home Office is working with Microsoft about the possibility of putting in backdoors to the encryption systems in Windows Vista so that they can bypass it during criminal investigations, getting around the fact that people can conveniently “forget” the password and render any incriminating data lost.

It’s an obvious concern with all the terrorism investigations and the stuff that certain people probably have filling their hard drives but it’s incredibly pointless to encrypt the data and build in a backdoor so that it can be bypassed easily. The vast majority of people who use it will only have the innocent aim of protecting themselves from things like identity theft. It’s yet another draconian anti-terrorism measure; a thing that’s getting worryingly common. Like the news story says, they can let refusal to give the passwords count against them just life the refusal to answer a question does at the moment.

Besides, it’s not like this will solve anything. Criminals who want to keep their data safe can still encrypt individual files and OS X still has support for AES-128 encryption built-in. I doubt a serious cyberterrorist would be stupid enough to rely on nothing but the protection included with Windows anyway, and this is just a major security issue in case a hacker finds out the backdoor.