Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Tier 1 Information Source: Ross Anderson

Commentary::Sources
Audience::Intermediate
UUID: 34e6bddc-58a3-47a7-a1e2-7e83981bacc8

On 3/20/14 I published Congratulations to Leslie Lamport, winner of the 2013 Turing AwardCongratulations to Leslie Lamport, winner of the 2013 Turing Award, as announced to the public a bit later, in CACM volume 57, number 6 (June, 2014). That post is a bit dated now -- I don't host ACM logos now, the post contains a link to an Adobe Flash presentation, etc. But Lamport did so much work as the original developer of LaTeX, and that is very close to the heart of my documentation production pipeline.

Fine. Times change, sometimes for the better. Flash is finally becoming recognized as the security nightmare that it has always been. ACM still seems to have no concept of this (scientists often have absolutely no clue about security), as their webinars still require it. Another reason (there are several) that I no longer belong to the ACM.

In that issue, there is an article by Ross Anderson and Ross Murdoch. In CACM, it's behind the paywall, but it's also public, as EMV: Why Payment Systems Fail. An extract:

Now that US banks are deploying credit and debit cards with chips supporting the EMV protocol, our article explores what lessons the US should learn from the UK experience of having chip cards since 2006. We address questions like whether EMV would have prevented the Target data breach (it wouldn’t have), whether Chip and PIN is safer for customers than Chip and Signature (it isn’t), whether EMV cards can be cloned (in some cases, they can) and whether EMV will protect against online fraud (it won’t).

More generally, a summary of Cambridge Computer Laboratory research is available from Anderson, as well a more general overview from the Security Group. Once upon a time (actually twice upon a time) CLCAM used to emit "Three Paper Thursday". But it was dependent on the availability of grad students, current research priorities, etc. Back in July of 2014, I asked if he might bring it back, and it turned out to be impractical. That sucked, as I always had a block of calendar time that was devoted to reading it. Largely on the strength of reading the first edition of Security Engineering. There is a second edition out now, and it is even better. It's also available as chapter-by-chapter series of PDFs, for free. My Wiley first edition (2001) cost about what you would expect for a tech book, but that is available as well, so you can compare the two, and get a notion of how Anderson thinks the security landscape has changed. If you are any sort of security worker-bee, you have little excuse for not having read it.

Why post this now? Because UK banks were proven to not be capable of even recognizing the concepts of ethics or morality, as first widely widely published by Anderson. Does anyone think that the Oct 1 shift in liability to merchants, which will undoubtedly drive EMV adoption in the US, will be any different?

I could go on about this, and the ongoing legal battles between the retail and banking sectors. But the post is becoming very long, as is. I'm going to let it ride, at least for now. Suffice it to say that both sectors are worth trillions of dollars per year. When such enormous sums are involved, neither sector will have your best interests in mind, whether you are subject to PCI-DSS self-regulation, or are simply a consumer shopping on the Internet.

I don't do generic blogroll links, either by request or some weird notion. This is my second. The first was to Brian Krebs, largely because he is the best security blogger I know of, in the consumer space. I hate to go there (the consumer security space, not Krebs on Security), which is why my first (10/2/14) source was titled A Brief Foray Into the Horrible.

How I divide news sources into tiers (currently Vendor, then Tiers 1-3) lies somewhere in the area of proprietary, complex (as opposed to complicated), and just really hard to describe. I may post something about that in future (sorry, 'going forward' is the current corporate bullshit fashion) but no promises.

However, I do promise to talk about their take on mobile security. You can read up on it the new link to Light Blue Touchpaper, now appearing under "(Some) Blogs I Read".



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