Ramblings & ephemera

Most PCs are rife with malware, & owners don’t know it

From Robert Lemos’s Plague carriers: Most users unaware of PC infections (CNET News.com: 25 October 2004): A study of home PCs released Monday found that about 80 percent had been infected with spyware almost entirely unbeknownst to their users. The study, funded by America Online and the National Cyber Security Alliance, found home users mostly […]

Cracking a wireless network in 3 minutes

From Feds Hack Wireless Network in 3 Minutes (Slashdot: 5 April 2005): At a recent ISSA (Information Systems Security Association) meeting in Los Angeles, a team of FBI agents demonstrated current WEP-cracking techniques and broke a 128 bit WEP key in about three minutes.

The math behind Flash Worms

From Stuart Staniford, David Moore, Vern Paxson, & Nicholas Weaver’s “The Top Speed of Flash Worms” [PDF] (29 October 2004): Flash worms follow a precomputed spread tree using prior knowledge of all systems vulnerable to the worm’s exploit. In previous work we suggested that a flash worm could saturate one million vulnerable hosts on the […]

Japan’s 99.8% criminal conviction rate

From Hiroshi Matsubara’s “Trial By Prosecutor” (Legal Affairs: March/April 2003): In 1990, a retired high-court judge gave an influential speech that indicted the criminal justice system [of Japan], citing the nation’s 99.8 percent conviction rate as evidence that prosecutors, not courts, decide the fate of criminals. Criminal trials, he declared, are merely “formal ceremonies” en […]

How to grade or judge water

From Gideon Lewis-Kraus’s “The Water Rush” (Oxford American): On the tables in front of us are pink “trial” judging sheets. Across the top run a series of boxes for water numbers, and down the side is the set of criteria we’ll be using. Arthur goes through the criteria one by one, and explains what to […]

Google’s number tricks

From “Fuzzy maths” (The Economist: 11 May 2006): MATHEMATICALLY confident drivers stuck in the usual jam on highway 101 through Silicon Valley were recently able to pass time contemplating a billboard that read: “{first 10-digit prime found in consecutive digits of e}.com.” The number in question, 7427466391, is a sequence that starts at the 101st […]

History & numbers on prison rape

From Daniel Brook’s “The Problem of Prison Rape” (Legal Affairs: March/April 2004): In his 18 months at [the maximum-security Allred Unit in Iowa Park, Tex.], [Roderick Johnson, a 35-year-old African-American who is suing the Texas Department of Criminal Justice] did time as the property of the Bloods, the Crips, the Mandingo Warriors, and the Mexican […]

Why courts don’t use legal-size documents any longer

From Suzanne Snider’s “Old Yeller” (Legal Affairs: May/June 2005): The legal-size legal pad has been under attack since as early as 1982, when then Chief Justice Warren Burger banished legal-size documents from federal courts. One informal survey estimated Burger’s move saved almost $16 million through more efficient use of storage space. Several states followed the […]

Newspaper readership declining

From Sasha Issenberg’s “On Notice” (Legal Affairs: July/August 2005): Just over 50 percent of Americans say they read the newspaper in an average week. That may seem like a formidable number, but it is in steady decline, down from 77 percent in 1970.

US SSN = Canadian SIN

From Michael Erard’s “The Strange Tale of Charlie Smoke” (Legal Affairs: November/December 2002): … Social Insurance Number – the Canadian equivalent of a Social Security Number …

The tyranny of HOAs

From Ross Guberman’s “Home Is Where the Heart Is” (Legal Affairs: November/December 2004): ABOUT 50 MILLION AMERICANS BELONG TO HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATIONS, also known as HOAs or common-interest developments, which are composed of single-family homes, condominiums, or co-ops. Four out of five new homes, ranging from starter homes to high-rise apartments to gated mansions, are in […]

The 80/20 rule

From F. John Reh’s “How the 80/20 rule can help you be more effective” (About.com): In 1906, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto created a mathematical formula to describe the unequal distribution of wealth in his country, observing that twenty percent of the people owned eighty percent of the wealth. In the late 1940s, Dr. Joseph M. […]

Number of 19c American medical schools

From Emily Bazelon’s “Grave Offense” (Legal Affairs: July/August 2002): In 1810, there were five medical schools in the United States, in 1860 there were 65, and by 1890 that number had doubled.

More movies made from Stephen King’s books than anyone else

From John Swansburg’s “The Shawshank Reputation” (Legal Affairs: March/April 2004): Fifty-eight movies have been adapted from his writing, not as many as from Dickens, but more than from any other living author.

60% of Fortune 500 incorporated in Delaware

From Len Costa “The Perfect Pill” (Legal Affairs: March/April 2005): … the Delaware courts, where about 60 percent of the Fortune 500 companies are incorporated …

IE unsafe 98% of the time

From Noam Eppel’s “Security Absurdity: The Complete, Unquestionable, And Total Failure of Information Security“: The security company Scanit recently conducted a survey which tracked three web browsers (MSIE, Firefox, Opera) in 2004 and counted which days they were “known unsafe.” Their definition of “known unsafe”: a remotely exploitable security vulnerability had been publicly announced and […]

CCTV in the UK deters crime

From Technology Review‘s “Big Brother Logs On“: In many ways, the drama of pervasive surveillance is being played out first in Orwell’s native land, the United Kingdom, which operates more closed-circuit cameras per capita than any other country in the world. This very public surveillance began in 1986 on an industrial estate near the town […]

Copyright stupidity: arguments & numbers

From Financial Times” “James Boyle: Deconstructing stupidity“: Thomas Macaulay told us copyright law is a tax on readers for the benefit of writers, a tax that shouldn’t last a day longer than necessary. … Since only about 4 per cent of copyrighted works more than 20 years old are commercially available, this locks up 96 […]

The Witty Worm was special

From CAIDA’s “The Spread of the Witty Worm“: On Friday March 19, 2004 at approximately 8:45pm PST, an Internet worm began to spread, targeting a buffer overflow vulnerability in several Internet Security Systems (ISS) products, including ISS RealSecure Network, RealSecure Server Sensor, RealSecure Desktop, and BlackICE. The worm takes advantage of a security flaw in […]

Malware focused on theft above all

From AFP’s “70 percent of malicious software aimed at theft: survey“: Seventy percent of malicious software being circulated is linked to various types of cybercrime, a study by security firms Panda Software showed. … The survey confirms a shift from several years ago, when malicious software was often aimed at garnering attention or exposing security […]