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2019-02-03 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 223 references
[Comments enabled]  

A few years ago I wrote an article on this....

Consumer group Which? found the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf, Nissan Qashqai and Ford Focus were all at risk.

Thieves are increasingly thought to be using technology to bypass entry systems on keyless cars.

But industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) said "new cars are more secure than ever".


Repeaters are easy and cheap to build.  Any vehicle with both "touchless" entry and keyless start can be stolen -- trivially.

"Touchless" entry is any system where mere proximity is enough to unlock a door.  You don't need to push a button on a fob, in other words -- the vehicle "sees" the fob nearby and allows access when the handle is actuated.

Keyless start is what the name implies; again, you need push only a button in the car which queries the fob to see if its there, and if it is, the car starts.

Any pair of jackwads with a radio repeater so that the vehicle thinks the fob is either next to the door or in the car when it isn't makes the car trivially easy to steal.  I need only get close enough to the fob with one end of the repeater and the car with the other to steal it, and the vehicle has no way to know the physical fob is not in the car.

Physical button actuation requirements on the fob for either or both thwart the thief because the fob doesn't send anything without a button being pressed.  If you have "buttonless" (on the fob) start I can rip off the car but I now have to physically break into it first; smashing a window, using an airbag to pry open the door frame or similar.

I refused to buy a "fully keyless/touchless" system vehicle last time around for this very reason.  I'm ok -- sort of -- with a keyless start, provided I have to press a button to unlock the doors, because then the thief has to do something that looks out of the ordinary (and maybe makes both a mess and a lot of noise) to gain entry first.

Of course the industry doesn't give a damn -- they don't pay the theft insurance premiums; you do.

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2019-02-02 10:14 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 245 references
[Comments enabled]  

It may be time to consider upgrading your desktop -- finally.

For a very long time Intel really hasn't had much to recommend an upgrade.  The advantages have been small and the price not-so-small, and thus unless you're on the bleeding edge (e.g. a hard-core gamer) there was little reason to do it.

That's changed now with Coffee Lake, and not just in the laptop sector, as I recently wrote about.

While performance levels aren't that much improved at maximum load what is improved -- massively -- is power consumption.

With all four of my LCD monitors up and a normal "desktop" load my UPS now reports that power consumption for everything is now 135 watts!  This includes my Nvidia 1060 card, four LCD monitors, a small Dayton audio amplifier for my speakers and of course the desktop machine itself with 1 SSD and 1 spinning rust device.  When doing ordinary browsing or "mostly idle" the fans, on temperature control from the motherboard, barely run and the air coming out of the power supply is almost indistinguishably above ambient -- the machine itself with its drives is only consuming 45 watts!

To put some perspective on this the motherboard I replaced, in the same chassis and with the same peripherals powered, which was a dual-CPU design, draws close to 200 watts when similarly idle!  That means the Coffee Lake board is drawing roughly one quarter of the power of the previous board and that includes the invariant components that are in both boxes -- an utterly insane difference and the new board has a greater performance potential when stressed.

The invariant devices in that box include the nVidia graphics card, one spinning rust drive, one SSD and two DVD drives plus a USB "multi-connector" adapter, all of which draw something.  Figure the HD and DVD drives each pull 3-5 watts when idle and the SSD 1 or 2, plus another watt or so for the USB multi-adapter, plus the nVidia card, and it gets even more impressive.  Best guess is the motherboard, CPU and RAM are pulling somewhere around 25 watts -- if not less!

One warning however -- you may run into serious trouble with certain software applications that will consider a motherboard replacement to be a "different computer" and invalidate your license.  This is a severe issue that needs to be dealt with legislatively; one computer means one computer and while I certainly understand doing things to prevent people from stealing and distributing packages all over the place (and it is a real problem) the fact remains that if I have one desktop computer and replace the motherboard I still have one desktop computer.

Don't ever get the idea that this sort of upgrade is cost-effective simply on the money when it comes to power consumption, however, because it probably isn't.  Even if you use the machine 10 hours a day we're talking about an incremental savings of ~1.3-1.5kWh, or perhaps 15-20 cents/day -- not much.  The comfort factor, especially if you live where A/C is a constant need and you pay twice in the summer, may tip the scales for you.

But if and when you actually think about it "being time" this is certainly something to consider as it's extraordinarily significant in terms of power consumption reduction for comparable system load.

BTW, if you haven't played with nVME SSDs yet.... holy mother****.  However, beware -- all the consumer-grade ones (including in laptops) have zero power protection.  Lose power unexpectedly (that is, no UPS on a desktop, etc) and you must expect the device to be irrevocably and possibly without any notice corrupted.  Keep good backups and use a UPS!  On a laptop this is less of a concern because laptop power generally doesn't just "disappear" without warning -- but it most-certainly does on a desktop machine, especially one that is not UPS-protected.

Note that the same calculation does not, as near as I can tell, apply to server-class hardware yet.  Why?  Because the most-modern Xeon processors (E3-xxxx V6), which you must step up to in order to get ECC memory capability (utterly vital for a server), are 14nm Skylake and not the "14nm++" architecture of Coffee Lake.  The 14nm architecture is certainly a material improvement all on its own but the "++" is where the real tipping point came in terms of more cores-on-die and that was likely enabled by much stingier power draw, since the bane of any CPU's performance is heat dissipation.  It's easy to make a chip faster but the faster it goes the more heat it makes, and thus you run into a "corner" problem with it melting on you.  We'll see how long it takes before Intel gets off the dime with Skylake on the Xeon CPUs and brings the "++" improvements there, at which point the same calculation will likely wind up working for you in the server world as well.

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2018-12-03 09:43 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 229 references
[Comments enabled]  

Someone -- or more like a few someones -- have screwed the pooch.

IPv6, which is the "new" generation of Internet protocol, is an undeniable good thing.  Among other things it almost-certainly resolves any issues about address exhaustion, since it's a 128 bit space, with 64 bits being "local" and the other 64 bits (by convention, but not necessity) being "global."

This literally collapses the routing table for the Internet to "one entry per internet provider" in terms of address space, which is an undeniable good thing.

However, this presumes it all works as designed. And it's not.

About a month ago there began an intermittent issue where connections over IPv6, but not IPv4, to the same place would often wind up extremely slow or time out entirely.  My first-blush belief was that I had uncovered a bug somewhere in the routing stack of my gateway or local gear, and I spent quite a bit of time chasing that premise.  I got nowhere.

The issue was persistent with both Windows 10 and Unix clients -- and indeed, also with Android phones.  That's three operating systems of varying vintages and patch levels.  Hmmmm.....

Having more or less eliminated that I thought perhaps my ISP at home was responsible -- Cox.

But then, just today, I ran into the exact same connection lockup on ToS's "Trader TV" streaming video while on XFinity in Michigan.  Different provider, different brand cable modem, different brand and model of WiFi gateway.


Now I'm starting to think there's something else afoot -- maybe some intentional pollution in the ICMP space, along with inadequate (or no!) filtering in the provider space and inter-provider space to control malicious nonsense.

See, IPv6 requires a whole host of ICMP messages that flow between points in the normal course of operation.  Filter them all out at your gateway and bad things happen --- like terrible performance, or worse, no addressing at all.  But one has to wonder whether the ISP folks have appropriately filtered their networks at the edges to prevent malicious injection of these frames from hackers.

If not you could quite-easily "target" exchange points and routers inside an ISP infrastructure and severely constrict the pipes on an intermittent and damn hard to isolate basis.  

Which, incidentally, matches exactly the behavior I've been seeing.

I can't prove this is what's going on because I have no means to see "inside" a provider's network and the frames in question don't appear to be getting all the way to my end on either end.  But the lockups that it produces, specifically on ToS' "Trader TV", are nasty -- you not only lose the video but if you try to close and re-open the stream you lose the entire application streaming data feed too and are forced to go to the OS, kill the process and restart it.

The latter behavior may be a Windows 10 thing, as when I run into this on my Unix machines it tends to produce an aborted connection eventually, and my software retries that and recovers.  Slowly.

In any event on IPv4 it never happens, but then again IPv4 doesn't use ICMP for the sort of control functionality that IPv6 does.  One therefore has to wonder..... is there a little global game going on here and there that amounts to moderately low-level harassment in the ISP infrastructure -- but which has as its root a lack of appropriate edge-level -- and interchange level -- filtering to prevent it?

Years ago ports 138 and 139 were abused mightily to hack into people's Windows machines, since SMB and Netbios run on them and the original protocol -- which, incidentally, even modern Windows machines will answer to unless turned off -- were notoriously insecure.  Microsoft, for its part, dumped a deuce in the upper tank on this in that turning off V1 will also turn off the "network browse" functionality, which they never reimplemented "cleanly" on V2 and V3 (which are both more-secure.)  Thus many home users and more than a few business ones have it on because it's nice to be able to "see" resources like file storage in a "browser" format.

But in turn nearly all consumer ISPs block those ports from end users because if they're open it can be trivially easy to break into user's computers.

One has to wonder -- is something similar in the IPv6 space going on now, but instead of stealing things the outcome is basically harassment and severe degradation of performance?


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2018-06-06 16:23 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 101 references
[Comments enabled]  

Nope, nope and nope.

Quick demo of the lock support in the HomeDaemon-MCP app including immediate notification of all changes (and why/how) along with a demonstration of the 100% effective prevention of the so-called Z-Shave hack from working.

Simply put it is entirely under the controller's choice whether it permits high-power keying for S0 nodes.  For those controllers that have no batteries and no detachable RF stick, which is a design choice, there's not a lot of option.

But for those who follow best practice that has been in place since the very first Z-Wave networks you're 100% immune to this attack unless you insist and intentionally shut off the protection -- even in a world where S2 adoption becomes commonplace (which certainly isn't today but will become more-so over time.)

HomeDaemon-MCP is available for the entity that wishes to make a huge dent in the market with a highly-secure, very fast and fully-capable automation, security and monitoring appliance, whether for embedded sale (e.g. in the homebuilding industry) or as a stand-alone offering.  Look to the right and email me for more information.

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2018-05-31 13:27 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 143 references
[Comments enabled]  

There's a story making the rounds that appears to have some corroboration at this point, but my sourcing is too thin (and specific to people) to document.

Apparently if you bought an "Alexa" and activated it you can wind up with an un-asked for Prime subscription and it can wind up linked to some other card you have out there that Amazon managed to get their claws on.

Of course some people won't care because their entire point of buying one of these "Smart speaker" things is to link it with Prime for their "shopping" purposes.  Well, ok, but whatever happened to informed consent?

There might well be, somewhere, one of those "buying this will subscribe you to X at price Y" deals somewhere in the fine print on the startup or registration page.  In fact I wouldn't doubt it if it's there somewhere, maybe in the "click-through" terms and conditions that nobody actually clicks through and reads the entirety of.

My question is why is this sort of thing happening at all?

Let's be real here: These so-called "smart speakers" are anything but.  They aren't "smart", they're pattern-recognition devices and you're the pattern.  They're linked to "the cloud" because the CPU, RAM and similar requirement to run voice recognition is quite high but extremely bursty since you only give the unit a command once in a long while; the rest of the time it is either idle or (and you hope it's not!) simply recording what it hears.  Putting the capability for fast, decently-accurate response in the unit when it would be active 0.1% of the time at most is why these devices are all "cloud-powered"; they would be stupid-expensive if not.

But these things don't exist for your benefit, they exist for someone else's benefit.  If you want to know what sort of imagery gets conjured in my mind when I hear of people installing and using them it's from the first part of WALL-E..... you know, this one.


That looks appealing.


Heh, I get it.  You like convenience.  So do I.  I like being able to see what's going on in my house, even if I'm not there, especially if I get alerted to something sketchy going on.  After all that video evidence is useful for the cops to prosecute someone with if they try stealing my stereo.  I like sitting in the bar, pushing a button, and having the hottub ready for me when I get home a half-hour later.  That's convenient.  And I like knowing with hard confirmation that I really did remember to close the damned garage door on the way out.  Peace of mind and all that.

But all of this nonsense in today's world seems to be centered around not your convenience and security, but rather someone else mining your data for profit, not telling you what they're doing with it, or even lying about when they collect it, for what purpose they use it, and who gets access to it.

In our world of today we don't jail executives for that sort of crap.  We should, but we don't.

I get the limitations as well. But what I don't get is the insane price ripoffs that come with it, never mind the privacy and data security implications, especially when you bring something like this into your house or, even worse, your bedroom.

For an example price out a "NEST" thermostat.  You'll blanch.  For half the price I can buy a Z-wave enabled thermostat from Trane.  You probably heard of them -- they make air conditioners and heating systems and have a decades-long history of building high-quality, reliable gear.  It doesn't need "connectivity" to work; it's a thermostat.  Indeed, the one on the left at that link is the one I have in my house.  Oh, and it monitors service intervals too (e.g. for your filters), which is nice -- and you can set them to suit the level of general dust and such in your environment.  But, you can talk to it over Z-Wave and both see what's going on and control it if you want to.

Like, for example, right here:


That's real-time, right now, and if I tap it I can change the temperature it's set for.  HomeDaemon-MCP has an outdoor temperature sensor and switches its mode automatically; there's no need to be in "auto" or "heat" mode around here for half the year or more; if it's 70+F outside you won't want heat!  But in the "middle seasons" it's nice to have it automatically switch between the two because there might actually be a reason for that, and in many other parts of the country (especially at higher elevations) where temperature swings of 30-40F are not uncommon during a single 24 hour period it's very useful.

Someone who buys HomeDaemon-MCP and stands up the business to retail it could easily sell the entire package including the controller, a software license and the thermostat for the same sort of money as one "Nest."  But what you'd get is not just a thermostat in that case -- it can run your entire house at the cost of simply adding more modules that are reasonably priced.

Want a camera too?  Nest wants $200 for them.  What?

Amcrest wants $81 for an indoor camera with double the resolution!  If you're happy with the same 1080p that Nest offers and shop around you can get 'em for about $60, or less than a third of the price.

Instead of demanding you use a "cloud" service which inherently means no security as the data is not yours and is being stored and transmitted to a big company that might use it for "whatever" (good luck proving it if they do and you'll need an act of God to hold them accountable if you catch them either doing so or someone hacks it and uses it to target your house for a break-inwith HomeDaemon-MCP only you ever have the data, your cameras can be 100% firewalled from the outside so they cannot speak in or out beyond the perimeter of your network directly and yet you can have access to both snapshots (which you can have it take when it sees movement, etc) and real-time, streaming video any time you'd like over a high-grade encrypted connection from anywhere.

Oh, and the second camera isn't another $200+ either -- or $300 if you want one in an outside-rated enclosure!

With a couple of motion sensors and a garage door sensor (magnetic) you can set it up so that the camera automatically points at the wall when you're home (for the paranoid), when you leave it "arms" itself and points at the room, and if there's motion seen without the "authorized" path being taken (e.g. opening your legitimate garage door with the button in your car) you get alerted immediately so you can grab a video or screen shot for the police. 

What the hell is wrong with people?  Do you really want a copy of video of your house to be in someone's cloud machine ever?  Think about it folks -- we're talking about data that if some malefactor gets ahold of it and pattern-matches it they can figure out if you're home, when you're home, when you go to work and when you're on vacation!

Why the hell would you want that data anywhere except on your premise and on your personal device on demand only and delivered only over a secure connection if it ever leaves your home at all?

Never mind that it's better, faster and cheaper to do it that way.

So who wants to make a billion dollars?  The ask for the entire package will never be lower than it is now; there is exactly one thing needed to deploy it commercially and that's a customer-facing web interface to automate the certificate keying the license system uses.  The code to actually use those certificates and enforce them is already in the package as is the server side which can hit a Postgres instance (in other words nearly-infinitely scaleable and easily extended as you may wish.)

Is there actually a desire to sell products and services to people any longer that are theirs, that deliver value to the customer, or has everything turned into a scheme to data-mine you, get you to pay two, three, five or ten times as much for less functionality and try to stick you with a recurring bill you can't opt out of without turning your investment into dust?  Adobe anyone?

If you want to be that guy or gal that disrupts this space, look to the right and email me.

The answer to the problem is ready to go -- right here, right now.

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