[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next] - [Date Index][Thread Index][Author Index]

Re: Question about AO-40 telemetry

>One of the first principles of security is to throw as many obstacles as
>possible in the path of the would-be attacker - this includes "obscurity".
>Its a lot harder to hit something when you can't "see" it.

Nonsense. Complete and utter nonsense.

One of the first principles of real computer security is that you
publish all your mechanisms. You don't just act *as if* your
mechanisms were public. You actually do it. Then, with any temptation
to rely on obscurity safely eliminated, you devote your full energies
to actually making your mechanisms intrinsically secure.  The *only*
secrets you can assume are small, easily changeable things like crypto

Here's the entry for "security through obscurity" from the Hacker's


security through obscurity

(alt. `security by obscurity') A term applied by hackers to most OS
vendors' favorite way of coping with security holes -- namely,
ignoring them, documenting neither any known holes nor the underlying
security algorithms, trusting that nobody will find out about them and
that people who do find out about them won't exploit them. This
"strategy" never works for long and occasionally sets the world up for
debacles like the RTM worm of 1988 (see Great Worm), but once the
brief moments of panic created by such events subside most vendors are
all too willing to turn over and go back to sleep. After all, actually
fixing the bugs would siphon off the resources needed to implement the
next user-interface frill on marketing's wish list -- and besides, if
they started fixing security bugs customers might begin to expect it
and imagine that their warranties of merchantability gave them some
sort of right to a system with fewer holes in it than a shotgunned
Swiss cheese, and then where would we be?

Historical note: There are conflicting stories about the origin of
this term. It has been claimed that it was first used in the Usenet
newsgroup comp.sys.apollo during a campaign to get HP/Apollo to fix
security problems in its Unix-clone Aegis/DomainOS (they didn't change
a thing). ITS fans, on the other hand, say it was coined years earlier
in opposition to the incredibly paranoid Multics people down the hall,
for whom security was everything. In the ITS culture it referred to
(1) the fact that by the time a tourist figured out how to make
trouble he'd generally gotten over the urge to make it, because he
felt part of the community; and (2) (self-mockingly) the poor coverage
of the documentation and obscurity of many commands. One instance of
deliberate security through obscurity is recorded; the command to
allow patching the running ITS system (escape escape control-R) echoed
as $$^D. If you actually typed alt alt ^D, that set a flag that would
prevent patching the system even if you later got it right.
Via the amsat-bb mailing list at AMSAT.ORG courtesy of AMSAT-NA.
To unsubscribe, send "unsubscribe amsat-bb" to Majordomo@amsat.org