Blütenlese

12. Dezember 2008

Big Brother is Freezing You

Filed under: ecology — by M. M. @ 14:47:09
Tags: , ,

As reports the NYT:

Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Therminator
„Next year in California, state regulators are likely to have the emergency power to control individual thermostats, sending temperatures up or down through a radio-controlled device that will be required in new or substantially modified houses and buildings to manage electricity shortages.“

While Big Brother is being a bitch, Bruce Schneier, security maven of DoD and  AT&T Bell Labs repute, takes offense at he being a moron, too:

Mr. Somsel, in an interview Thursday, said he had done further research and was concerned that the radio signal — or the Internet instructions that would be sent, in an emergency, from utilities’ central control stations to the broadcasters sending the FM signal — could be hacked into.

That is not possible, said Nicole Tam, a spokeswoman for P.G.& E. who works with the pilot program in Stockton. Radio pages “are encrypted and encoded,” Ms. Tam said.

Says Schneier:

People just don’t understand security […] I wonder what she’ll think when someone hacks the system?

An explanation might be in order: as it is hard to crack encrypted signals, an intruder’s method of choice is to hack a system before it encrypts. While the fomer might verge on the impossible, if done well, the latter happens every day, both to government agencies and mom & pop corner stores, viruses and social engineering being the main vectors of attack. While Ms. Tam obviously did not get it, the NYT correspondent may deserve the benefit of the doubt. As befits a celebrity, Mr Schneier is not into nitpicking–this author is less forgiving: while encoded signals might not be encrypted, encrypted signals are encoded by definition.

image: Stefanie Broughton/U.S. Navy, public domain

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