31 Years of the Digest ... founded August 21, 1981
The Telecom Digest for July 17, 2013
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Date: Mon, 15 Jul 2013 05:34:34 +0000 (UTC) From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Moroney) To: email@example.com. Subject: Re: Big disconnect: Telcos to abandon copper phone lines Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> John Levine <email@example.com> writes: >>Voice Link won't handle medical device checking, alarm systems and >>credit card payments. Verizon needs to come out with Voice Link II >>that will handle that stuff and charge a premium for it. >No, Verizon needs to spend the money to fix the fripping phone lines. >They're a public utility with a duty to provide universal service. >It's their job. It seems a reasonable solution would be to rewire the whole town with fiber & rip out the copper, as long as it could look like a copper phone line to anything that needs such, except for the availability of power (need the box with UPS/battery). Offer FIOS package and a basic phone line equivalent over it.
Date: Mon, 15 Jul 2013 02:26:13 -0700 From: Thad Floryan <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Evidence that the NSA Is Storing Voice Content Message-ID: <51E3C035.firstname.lastname@example.org> The 15-JULY-2013 Bruce Schneier CRYTO-GRAM email report is fascinating. For those who don't know who Bruce Schneier is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Schneier http://www.schneier.com Following is a copy'n'paste of just the "NSA is storing voice content" portion of this month's l-o-n-gnewsletter: - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Evidence that the NSA Is Storing Voice Content, Not Just Metadata There's been some interesting speculation that the NSA is storing everyone's phone calls, and not just metadata. The first link, below, is definitely worth reading. I expressed skepticism about this just a month ago. My assumption had always been that everyone's compressed voice calls are just too much data to move around and store. Now, I don't know. There's a bit of a conspiracy-theory air to all of this speculation, but underestimating what the NSA will do is a mistake. General Alexander has told members of Congress that they can record the contents of phone calls. And they have the technical capability. I believe that, to the extent that the NSA is analyzing and storing conversations, they're doing speech-to-text as close to the source as possible and working with that. Even if you have to store the audio for conversations in foreign languages, or for snippets of conversations the conversion software is unsure of, it's a lot fewer bits to move around and deal with. And, by the way, I hate the term "metadata." What's wrong with "traffic analysis," which is what we've always called that sort of thing? http://blog.rubbingalcoholic.com/post/52913031241/its-not-just-metadata-the-nsa-is-getting-everything or http://tinyurl.com/l4e92ex My previous skepticism: https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2013/05/is_the_us_gover.html More: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57589495-38/nsa-spying-flap-extends-to-contents-of-u.s-phone-calls/ or http://tinyurl.com/mpjlpb5 http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/all/ http://dailycaller.com/2013/06/10/what-do-they-know-about-you-an-interview-with-nsa-analyst-william-binney/?print=1 or http://tinyurl.com/ls5jp8m https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AuqlWHQKlooOdGJrSzhBVnh0WGlzWHpCZFNVcURkX0E#gid=0 or http://tinyurl.com/n62lojy Metadata: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/interactive/2013/jun/12/what-is-metadata-nsa-surveillance?CMP=twt_gu#meta=1111111 or http://tinyurl.com/kvtq6tj
Date: Mon, 15 Jul 2013 02:46:26 -0400 From: Monty Solomon <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Nations Buying as Hackers Sell Flaws in Computer Code Message-ID: <email@example.com> Nations Buying as Hackers Sell Flaws in Computer Code By NICOLE PERLROTH and DAVID E. SANGER July 13, 2013 On the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta, two Italian hackers have been searching for bugs - not the island's many beetle varieties, but secret flaws in computer code that governments pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn about and exploit. The hackers, Luigi Auriemma, 32, and Donato Ferrante, 28, sell technical details of such vulnerabilities to countries that want to break into the computer systems of foreign adversaries. The two will not reveal the clients of their company, ReVuln, but big buyers of services like theirs include the National Security Agency - which seeks the flaws for America's growing arsenal of cyberweapons - and American adversaries like the Revolutionary Guards of Iran. All over the world, from South Africa to South Korea, business is booming in what hackers call "zero days," the coding flaws in software like Microsoft Windows that can give a buyer unfettered access to a computer and any business, agency or individual dependent on one. Just a few years ago, hackers like Mr. Auriemma and Mr. Ferrante would have sold the knowledge of coding flaws to companies like Microsoft and Apple, which would fix them. Last month, Microsoft sharply increased the amount it was willing to pay for such flaws, raising its top offer to $150,000. But increasingly the businesses are being outbid by countries with the goal of exploiting the flaws in pursuit of the kind of success, albeit temporary, that the United States and Israel achieved three summers ago when they attacked Iran's nuclear enrichment program with a computer worm that became known as "Stuxnet." The flaws get their name from the fact that once discovered, "zero days" exist for the user of the computer system to fix them before hackers can take advantage of the vulnerability. A "zero-day exploit" occurs when hackers or governments strike by using the flaw before anyone else knows it exists, like a burglar who finds, after months of probing, that there is a previously undiscovered way to break into a house without sounding an alarm. ... http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/14/world/europe/nations-buying-as-hackers-sell-computer-flaws.html
Date: Tue, 16 Jul 2013 10:51:27 -0400 From: Monty Solomon <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Attention, Shoppers: Store Is Tracking Your Cell Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Attention, Shoppers: Store Is Tracking Your Cell By STEPHANIE CLIFFORD and QUENTIN HARDY July 14, 2013 Like dozens of other brick-and-mortar retailers, Nordstrom wanted to learn more about its customers - how many came through the doors, how many were repeat visitors - the kind of information that e-commerce sites like Amazon have in spades. So last fall the company started testing new technology that allowed it to track customers' movements by following the Wi-Fi signals from their smartphones. But when Nordstrom posted a sign telling customers it was tracking them, shoppers were unnerved. "We did hear some complaints," said Tara Darrow, a spokeswoman for the store. Nordstrom ended the experiment in May, she said, in part because of the comments. Nordstrom's experiment is part of a movement by retailers to gather data about in-store shoppers' behavior and moods, using video surveillance and signals from their cellphones and apps to learn information as varied as their sex, how many minutes they spend in the candy aisle and how long they look at merchandise before buying it. All sorts of retailers - including national chains, like Family Dollar, Cabela's and Mothercare, a British company, and specialty stores like Benetton and Warby Parker - are testing these technologies and using them to decide on matters like changing store layouts and offering customized coupons. But while consumers seem to have no problem with cookies, profiles and other online tools that let e-commerce sites know who they are and how they shop, some bristle at the physical version, at a time when government surveillance - of telephone calls, Internet activity and Postal Service deliveries - is front and center because of the leaks by Edward J. Snowden. ... http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/15/business/attention-shopper-stores-are-tracking-your-cell.html
Date: Mon, 15 Jul 2013 02:46:35 -0400 From: Monty Solomon <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Amar G. Bose, Acoustic Engineer and Inventor, Dies at 83 Message-ID: <email@example.com> Amar G. Bose, Acoustic Engineer and Inventor, Dies at 83 By GLENN RIFKIN July 12, 2013 Amar G. Bose, the visionary engineer, inventor and billionaire entrepreneur whose namesake company, the Bose Corporation, became synonymous with high-quality audio systems and speakers for home users, auditoriums and automobiles, died on Friday at his home in Wayland, Mass. He was 83. His death was confirmed by his son, Dr. Vanu G. Bose. As founder and chairman of the privately held company, Dr. Bose focused relentlessly on acoustic engineering innovation. His speakers, though expensive, earned a reputation for bringing concert-hall-quality audio into the home. And by refusing to offer stock to the public, Dr. Bose was able to pursue risky long-term research, such as noise-canceling headphones and an innovative suspension system for cars, without the pressures of quarterly earnings announcements. In a 2004 interview in Popular Science magazine, he said: "I would have been fired a hundred times at a company run by M.B.A.'s. But I never went into business to make money. I went into business so that I could do interesting things that hadn't been done before." A perfectionist and a devotee of classical music, Dr. Bose was disappointed by the inferior sound of a high-priced stereo system he purchased when he was an M.I.T. engineering student in the 1950s. His interest in acoustic engineering piqued, he realized that 80 percent of the sound experienced in a concert hall was indirect, meaning that it bounced off walls and ceilings before reaching the audience. This realization, using basic concepts of physics, formed the basis of his research. In the early 1960s, Dr. Bose invented a new type of stereo speaker based on psychoacoustics, the study of sound perception. His design incorporated multiple small speakers aimed at the surrounding walls, rather than directly at the listener, to reflect the sound and, in essence, recreate the larger sound heard in concert halls. In 1964, at the urging of his mentor and adviser at M.I.T., Dr. Y. W. Lee, he founded his company to pursue long-term research in acoustics. The Bose Corporation initially pursued military contracts, but Dr. Bose's vision was to produce a new generation of stereo speakers. Though his first speakers fell short of expectations, Dr. Bose kept at it. In 1968, he introduced the Bose 901 Direct/Reflecting speaker system, which became a best seller for more than 25 years and firmly entrenched Bose, based in Framingham, Mass., as a leader in a highly competitive audio components marketplace. Unlike conventional loudspeakers, which radiated sound only forward, the 901s used a blend of direct and reflected sound. ... http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/13/business/amar-g-bose-acoustic-engineer-and-inventor-dies-at-83.html
Date: Mon, 15 Jul 2013 02:46:23 -0400 From: Monty Solomon <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Has Patent, Will Sue: An Alert to Corporate America Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Has Patent, Will Sue: An Alert to Corporate America By DAVID SEGAL July 13, 2013 If you're a corporate executive, this may be one of the last sentences you want to hear: "Erich Spangenberg is on the line." Invariably, Mr. Spangenberg, the 53-year-old owner of IPNav, is calling to discuss a patent held by one of his clients, which he says your company is infringing - and what are you going to do about it? Mr. Spangenberg is likely to open the conversation on a diplomatic note, but if you put up enough resistance, or try to shrug him off, he can also, as he put it, "go thug." He demonstrated what that sounds like in a brief bit of role-play recently, sitting in the apartment he is renting for the summer in Paris near the Arc de Triomphe. His voice dropped, the curse words flowed, and he spoke with carefully modulated menace. "Once you go thug, though, you can't unthug," he explained, returning to his warm and normal tone. "Actually, you can unthug, but if you do that, you can't rethug. Then you just seem crazy." Mr. Spangenberg's company, based in Dallas, helps "turn idle patents into cash cows," as it says on its Web site. A typical client is an inventor or corporation, with a batch of patents, demanding a license fee from what it contends is an infringer, usually a titan in the tech realm. His weapon of choice in this business - the brass knuckles of his trade, so to speak - is the lawsuit. In the last five years, IPNav has sued 1,638 companies, according to a recent report by RPX, a patent risk management provider, more than any other entity in the patent field. "To get companies to pay attention, in some percent of the market, you need to whack them over the head," Mr. Spangenberg said. "In our system, you can't duel, you can't offer to fight in the street, which would be fine with me." This combat readiness has made Mr. Spangenberg, a high-school dropout raised in Buffalo, very rich. He earns about $25 million a year, he says, which is at least a couple of million more than the country's top bank executives. Until recently, he lived in a 14,000-square-foot home in Dallas; it is now on the market for $19.5 million. He often flies on a company jet, and at one point he owned 16 cars, six of them Lamborghinis. His clients, who pay IPNav a percentage of any recovery, contend that he earns every dollar and praise him as a hero. ... http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/14/business/has-patent-will-sue-an-alert-to-corporate-america.html ***** Moderator's Note ***** This story is related to telcom, sad to say, because mobile data devices are often stung by patent trolls. Bill Horne Moderator
Date: Mon, 15 Jul 2013 03:24:34 -0700 From: Thad Floryan <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: New details on Skype eavesdropping Message-ID: <51E3CDE2.email@example.com> Background noting Microsoft now owns Skype: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skype The 15-JULY-2013 Bruce Schneier CRYPTO-GRAM email report is full of incredible new revelations of NSA (and other) spying and I've only focused on Skype in this posting. For those who don't know who Bruce Schneier is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Schneier http://www.schneier.com Following is a copy'n'paste of just the "New Details on Skype Eavesdropping" portion of this month's l-o-n-g newsletter which is available in its entirety at Bruce's website (above URL). You can also subscribe and receive the CryptoGram email on the 15th of every month [ever since 15-MAY-1998 as I have]. This article, on the cozy relationship between the commercial personal-data industry and the intelligence industry, has new information on the security of Skype. Skype, the Internet-based calling service, began its own secret program, Project Chess, to explore the legal and technical issues in making Skype calls readily available to intelligence agencies and law enforcement officials, according to people briefed on the program who asked not to be named to avoid trouble with the intelligence agencies. Project Chess, which has never been previously disclosed, was small, limited to fewer than a dozen people inside Skype, and was developed as the company had sometimes contentious talks with the government over legal issues, said one of the people briefed on the project. The project began about five years ago, before most of the company was sold by its parent, eBay, to outside investors in 2009. Microsoft acquired Skype in an $8.5 billion deal that was completed in October 2011. A Skype executive denied last year in a blog post that recent changes in the way Skype operated were made at the behest of Microsoft to make snooping easier for law enforcement. It appears, however, that Skype figured out how to cooperate with the intelligence community before Microsoft took over the company, according to documents leaked by Edward J. Snowden, a former contractor for the N.S.A. One of the documents about the Prism program made public by Mr. Snowden says Skype joined Prism on Feb. 6, 2011. Reread that Skype denial from last July, knowing that at the time the company knew that they were giving the NSA access to customer communications. Notice how it is precisely worded to be technically accurate, yet leave the reader with the wrong conclusion. This is where we are with all the tech companies right now; we can't trust their denials, just as we can't trust the NSA -- or the FBI -- when it denies programs, capabilities, or practices. Back in January, we wondered whom Skype lets spy on their users. Now we know. The article quoted: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/20/technology/silicon-valley-and-spy-agency-bound-by-strengthening-web.html or http://tinyurl.com/qdl249l Skype's denial: http://blogs.skype.com/2012/07/26/what-does-skypes-architecture-do/ We can't trust the NSA: http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2013/06/details_of_nsa.html https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/06/director-national-intelligences-word-games-explained-how-government-deceived or http://tinyurl.com/ma7dk5j https://www.eff.org/nsa-spying/wordgames http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/06/nsa-numbers/ http://fabiusmaximus.com/2013/06/11/nsa-surveillance-51264/ My post from last January: https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2013/01/who_does_skype.html
Date: Tue, 16 Jul 2013 16:12:47 -0400 From: danny burstein <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Appeals Ct. won't take "Aereo" case, so lower ruling stands Message-ID: <Pine.NEB.firstname.lastname@example.org> [Crains NY] Appeals court said it won't review Aereo case The broadcast television networks lost a bid to have the case against the online TV service reheard. The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York had ruled that Aereo doesn't violate networks' copyrights for programs. ======= rest: http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20130716/MEDIA_ENTERTAINMENT/130719919 _____________________________________________________ Knowledge may be power, but communications is the key email@example.com [to foil spammers, my address has been double rot-13 encoded]
Date: Sat, 13 Jul 2013 13:38:24 -0400 From: Fred Goldstein <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Re: Big disconnect: Telcos to abandon copper phone lines Message-ID: <51E19090.firstname.lastname@example.org> On 7/11/2013 9:57 PM, John Levine wrote: >> Voice Link won't handle medical device checking, alarm systems and >> credit card payments. Verizon needs to come out with Voice Link II >> that will handle that stuff and charge a premium for it. > No, Verizon needs to spend the money to fix the fripping phone lines. > They're a public utility with a duty to provide universal service. > It's their job. > > Despite the smoke and mirrors, this is 100% about money and Verizon > once again failing to provide the service they have comitted to > provide. (Did you know they promised to wire the entire state of NJ > with 45 megabit fiber by now, and got a rate increase to fund it?) > Comcast managed to restring all their wires in Mantoloking, and > Verizon can, too. > > It's fine if they restring with fibre rather than copper, but as has > been widely reported a cellphone box on your wall is not equivalent to > a real phone line. There's some background here. Until the early 1990s, the Bell companies in every state were regulated like utilities, under Rate of Return. That regulated their profits; they were allowed to target earnings as a certain percentage of their rate base, which was the undepreciated value of plant in service. So if a telco had $1B of rate base and a 12% rate of return, they were entitled to $120M of annual earnings. How they made that didn't matter. They generally made high monopoly profits on urban business accounts and lost money on rural accounts. Residential basic rates didn't usually cover costs but optional features made up for it. *Since the profit was proportional to the rate base,* they had an incentive to pad the rate base with more investment. State regulators would thus decide which investments were prudent and allowable. In the early 1990s, they asked to be moved to "Alternative Form of Regulation" (AFOR), also known as "Price Caps". Instead of regulating profits, only their prices would be regulated. This applied in most states at the retail level, so their basic 1FR line rate would be capped, but they could raise some other rates, and cut their costs to increase profit margins. It also applied to wholesale FCC rates ("access"). All of the Bells and some of the Independents went this way, though some small independents remain on Rate of Return. Under AFOR, the incentive have shifted. Rather than have an incentive to invest too much, they have an incentive to be cheapskates. They've cut employment by more than half. Their capped prices were based on the average cost of serving high and low cost customers. It was assumed that they'd continue to do so, but that was foolish. If they could dump their high-cost customers, they'd raise their average profit margin even more. They only have incentive to invest where it will be directly profitable. That explains why FiOS only covers part of the Verizon footprint, and even that investment was financially marginal compared to, say, more mobile crap. So now we're just watching it play out. They let their old network deteriorate, to raise short-term profits. They have replaced it in some places with FiOS. But in low-profit communities like summer resorts and rural areas, their goal is to cut and run. That's why they've gotten some states to remove their "carrier of last resort" obligations, which prohibited dropping low-profit customers. NY and NJ have not done so and so they're trying to meet the obligation with VoiceLink, a super-cheap (third world) substitute that provides barely-usable voice quality and no non-voice capabilities. Average down cost, average up profits. That's their plan. -- Fred R. Goldstein fred "at" interisle.net Interisle Consulting Group +1 617 795 2701
Date: Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:26:25 -0700 From: Thad Floryan <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Capability to examine all worldwide data in motion in realtime exists today Message-ID: <51E5E4B1.email@example.com> Over the years I've posted articles to comp.dcom.telecom about Carnivore, Echelon, and the Russian's SORM programs which includes using fiber optic splitters (aka "PRISMs") on all the Internet backbones. Several years ago at a tech meeting that I can't reveal I heard en passant the NSA had made a "breakthrough" in computing and decryption capabilities a few years earlier. My immediate thought was "quantum computing". Turns out now that I was correct per all available current evidence. Back when I worked at the GTE/Sylvania Electronic Defense Labs in Silicon Valley during the 1960s, we were doing "things" on diamond and sapphire substrates at frequencies which might seem unbelievable, but they weren't, and there still is nothing in the commercial marketplace today, 47 years later, that even pretends to approach what we did then for the 3-letter and other US government agencies. Today's "zinger" pertains to quantum computing. But before that I wish to introduce two important newsletters to which you may wish to subscribe so you can can keep an "ear to the ground" as to what's really and truly happening worldwide noting the FAS provides full access to the taxpayer-paid Congressional Research Reports which the US government denies to us: 1. Federation of American Scientists -- Secrecy News http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federation_of_American_Scientists The Secrecy News Blog is at: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/ To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, go to: http://blogs.fas.org/secrecy/subscribe/ Secrecy News is archived at: http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/secrecy/index.html 2. Bruce Schneier's CRYPTO-GRAM https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Schneier http://www.schneier.com http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram.html subscribe, back issues http://www.schneier.com/blog Following Slashdot and WIRED magazine is a good idea nowadays, too: http://slashdot.org/ subscribe for daily & weekly emails http://www.wired.com/ So, quantum computing. Here are some backgrounders and quick starters: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_computer Google's and Lockheed-Martin's quantum computers: http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2013/06/d-wave-quantum-computer-usc/ http://www.howstuffworks.com/quantum-computer.htm http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/19/a-quantum-computing-problem-solved/ http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-07/quantum-computer-gets-double-check http://www.calgaryherald.com/technology/Canadian+quantum+computers+better+than+humans+everything/8602142/story.html http://www.naturalnews.com/040859_skynet_quantum_computing_d-wave_systems.html Center for Quantum Computing: http://www.qubit.org/ http://scienceblog.com/64622/size-and-memory-both-matter-in-quantum-computing/ If you only have time to read one article, the NaturalNews article should be the one per this short extract: " [...] " Google acquires "Skynet" quantum computers from D-Wave " " According to an article published in Scientific American, Google " and NASA have now teamed up to purchase a 512-qubit quantum " computer from D-Wave. The computer is called "D-Wave Two" because " it's the second generation of the system. The first system was a " 128-qubit computer. Gen two is now a 512-qubit computer. " " This does not mean the gen two system is merely four times more " powerful than the gen one system. Thanks to the nature of qubits, " it's actually 2 to the power of 384 times more powerful (2^384) " than the gen one system. In other words, it out-computes the " first D-Wave computer by a factor so large that you can't even " imagine it in your human brain. " [...] The SciAM article is this one: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=google-nasa-snap-up-quantum-computer-dwave-two The above abstract from NaturalNews reveals what is now commercially available today with quantum computing. I now firmly believe the NSA did achieve the breakthrough circa 2010 and is capabable of easily and quickly decrypting anything in realtime from anywhere in the world and will be storing that data and everyone's email and cellphone/telephone calls in their new Utah data center with yottabytes of storage. Thad
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