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Research group of Prof. Peter B. Ladkin, Ph.D.
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The Risks Digest

Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems

ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy, Peter G. Neumann, moderator

Volume 15, Issue 31

Friday 3 December 1993


o London Underground train departs driverless with 150 passengers
Martyn Thomas
o Voting by Fax
Bear Giles
o Computer Fax Problems
Andrew Blyth
o A study of National Cryptography Policy
Marjory Blumenthal
o "Using McAfee Associates Software for Safe Computing" by Jacobson
Rob Slade
o New Docs Reveal NSA Role in Digital Telephony Proposal
Dave Banisar
o Re: Computerized Pornography
Charlie Stross
o Re: Lufthansa Airbus Warsaw Crash 14 Sep 93
Udo Voges
o Re: Mercury passwords can be compromised
Peter Debenham
o Re: United Parcel Service signatures
Andrew Marc Greene
o CFP: 13th Symp. on Reliable Distributed Systems
Rick Schlichting

London Underground train departs driverless with 150 passengers

Martyn Thomas < >
Thu, 2 Dec 1993 17:29:24 +0000 (GMT)
     According to BBC Radio 4 news (17.00 Dec 2nd), a Picadilly Line underground
     train travelled 1.5 miles at 20-40 mph including going through Caledonian Road
     station, without a driver.
     The driver (and sole crew) had got out to close a door "without carrying out
     the proper procedure to shut down the drive systems" according to a spokesman
     for London transport.
     The train stopped automatically at a red light, and was boarded by LT staff
     who had commandeered the following train and given chase.
     No passenger pressed the emergency alarm - but it wouldn't have helped as it
     just rings a bell in the driver's cab.
     A colleague believes that there is a "dead-man's handle" which the driver must
     have disabled. My theory is that the train had decided to play Mornington
     Crescent and seized its opportunity.  --
     Martyn Thomas, Praxis plc, 20 Manvers Street, Bath BA1 1PX UK.
     Tel:	+44-225-444700.   Email: 	Fax: +44-225-465205
        [I presume this is a NEW incident.  RISKS-9.81 described a case contributed
        by Stephen Page:  On 10 Apr 1990, the driver of an Underground train had
        taped down the drive control, relying instead on the doors being closed to
        enable the train to move forward.  He then left the train to see why the
        doors had not closed.  The doors closed, and the train took off.  But 
        Martyn's report sounds like the same story!  Maybe it was just the same
        driver, 3.6 years later.  PGN]

Re: Mercury passwords can be compromised (Lockstone, RISKS-15.30)

< >
Thu, 02 Dec 1993 16:29:40 +0000 (GMT)
     Keith Lockstone noted the problem of call loggers catching his Mercury
     Telephone system password when using the system from work to access his
     personal Mercury account.
     The phone directory of numerous places where I have worked have in their
     user information the fact that using British Telecom charge cards should
     not be done because of call loggers picking up the card password.  The
     same applies to Mercury passwords clearly.
     The risk?  The standard one of sending passwords in the open through a
     system which is not secure.  Namely the fact that it is not possible to
     ensure the password is not intercepted.  Think of all the passwords
     being passed in clear form over tcp/ip links - then shudder!
     For Mercury, at least the phone number and time of every call is on the
     bill allowing you to check usage.  Of course for Mercury you could also
     use the non-passworded (132) system where Mercury picks up the number 
     you are calling from as the basis for charging.  There though you cannot
     do useful things like cost centres (yet!)
     Peter Debenham, Rm165, APR, Meteorological Office, London Rd.,
     Bracknell, Berks., UK. RG12 2SZ tel: +44 (0)344 856974(wk) 

Voting by Fax

Bear Giles < >
Tue, 30 Nov 93 14:02:16 -0700
     The 30 Nov 1993 edition of the _Rocky Mountain News_ (Denver) reports that
     Wyoming Secretary of State Kathy Karpan is considering legislation to allow
     overseas Wyoming residents *fax* in their ballots, to "improve" the
     absentee-voting process.
     Bear Giles

Computer Fax Problems

Andrew Blyth < >
Thu, 2 Dec 93 10:14:27 GMT
     The following is taken from the BBC television programme called WatchDog.
     This programme is screened on a Monday evenings at 7:30pm (GMT - UK). 
     I am recounting this story as best I can - however I am only human.
     Today (29th Nov 93) they described a man which had been driven to take pills
     to calm him down by an anonymous phone caller. This caller would ring him up
     in the middle of the night and wake him up. He contacted BT (British Telecom)
     and they tried to trace the call for him. However due various factors they
     could only tell him the area from which the phone call was originating. He did
     get to the phone one night and discovered that his caller was not human but a
     machine. So BT lent him a FAX machine with which to receive the call.
     From the faxed message it was possible to work out from where the fax
     communication originated. BT went to the company concerned and told them what
     was happening. It turned out that one of their FAX machines had been trying to
     send this one fax over and over again.
     All this took about two years and in the process the gentleman described was
     driven to pills - and all the company would say to him at the end of the day
     was sorry.
     Moral: don't put your phone number of your FAX transmissions.
     Andrew Blyth, Department of Computer Science, 20 Windsor Terrace, 
     University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England NE1 7RU 

A study of National Cryptography Policy

"Marjory Blumenthal" < >
Thu, 02 Dec 93 08:45:28 EST
     As part of the Defense Authorization Bill for FY 1994, the U.S. Congress has
     asked the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) of the National
     Research Council (NRC) to undertake a study of national policy with respect to
     the use and regulation of cryptography.  The report of the study committee is
     due two years after all necessary security clearances have been processed,
     probably sometime summer 1996, and is subject to NRC review procedures.  The
     legislation states that 120 days after the day on which the report is
     submitted to the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary shall submit the report
     to the Committees on Armed Services, Intelligence, Commerce, and the Judiciary
     of the Senate and House of Representatives in unclassified form, with
     classified annexes as necessary.
     This study is expected to address the appropriate balance in cryptography
     policy among various national interests (e.g., U.S. economic competitiveness
     (especially with respect to export controls), national security, law
     enforcement, and the protection of the privacy rights of individuals), and the
     strength of various cryptographic technologies known today and anticipated in
     the future that are relevant for commercial purposes.  The federal process
     through which national cryptography policy has been formulated is also
     expected to be a topic of consideration, and, if appropriate, the project will
     address recommendations for improving the formulation of national
     cryptographic policy in the future.
     This project, like other NRC projects, will depend heavily on input from
     industry, academia, and other communities in the concerned public.  Apart from
     the study committee (described below), briefings and consultations from
     interested parties will be arranged and others will be involved as anonymous
     peer reviewers.
     It is expected that the study committee will be a high-level group that will
     command credibility and respect across the range of government, academic,
     commercial, and private interests.  The committee will include members with
     expertise in areas such as:
       - relevant computer and communications technology;
       - cryptographic technologies and cryptanalysis;
       - foreign, national security, and intelligence affairs;
       - law enforcement;
       - commercial interests; and
       - privacy and consumer interests.
     All committee members (and associated staff) will have to be cleared at the
     "SI/TK" level; provisions have been made to expedite the processing of
     security clearances for those who do not currently have them.  Committee
     members will be chosen for their stature, expertise, and seniority in their
     fields; their willingness to listen and consider fairly other points of view;
     and their ability to contribute to the formulation of consensus positions.
     The committee as a whole will be chosen to reflect the range of judgment and
     opinion on the subject under consideration.
     The detailed composition of the committee has not yet been decided;
     suggestions for committee members are sought from the community at large.
     Note that NRC rules regarding conflict of interest forbid the selection as
     committee members of individuals that have substantial personal financial
     interests that might be significantly affected by the outcome of the study.
     Please forward suggestions for people to participate in this project to
     CSTB@NAS.EDU by DECEMBER 17, 1993; please include their institutional
     affiliations, their field(s) of expertise, a note describing how the criteria
     described above apply to them, and a way to contact them.  For our
     administrative convenience, please put in the "SUBJECT:" field of your message
     the words "crypto person".
     Finally, some people have expressed concern about the fact that the project
     will involve consideration of classified material.  Arguments can and have
     been made on both sides of this point, but in any event this particular ground
     rule was established by the U.S. Congress, not by the CSTB.  Whether one
     agrees or disagrees with the asserted need for classification, the task at
     hand is to do the best possible job given this constraint.
     On the National Research Council
     The National Research Council (NRC) is the operating arm of the Academy
     complex, which includes the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy
     of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.  The NRC is a source of
     impartial and independent advice to the federal government and other policy
     makers that is able to bring to bear the best scientific and technical talent
     in the nation to answer questions of national significance.  In addition, it
     often acts as a neutral party in convening meetings among multiple
     stakeholders on any given issue, thereby facilitating the generation of
     consensus on controversial issues.
     The Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) of the NRC considers
     technical and policy issues pertaining to computer science,
     telecommunications, and associated technologies.  CSTB monitors the health of
     the computer science, computing technology, and telecommunications fields,
     including attention as appropriate to the issues of human resources and
     information infrastructure and initiates studies involving computer science,
     computing technology, and telecommunications as critical resources and sources
     of national economic strength.  A list of CSTB publications is available on

"Using McAfee Associates Software for Safe Computing" by Jacobson

"Rob Slade, Ed. DECrypt & ComNet, VARUG rep." < >
26 Nov 93 9:58 -0600
     BKUMASSC.RVW   930817
     International Security Technology Inc.
     99 Park Avenue, 11th Floor, New York, NY   10016
     212-557-0900  fax: 212-808-5206
     "Using McAfee Associates Software for Safe Computing", Jacobsen, 1990
     There are many books which are aimed at helping you use specific commercial
     programs.  Usually, however, such books are either targeted at "dummies" or
     purpose to reveal secret or undocumented features.  The title here seems to
     suggest both a generic goal, safe computing, and a specific means.  Those "in
     the know" of course, realize that safety here is being limited to protection
     against viral programs.
     Certain other works have been associated with the company named here, and have
     resulted in rather unfortunate products.  In the Foreword and Preface we see
     the game "rah, rah" chauvinism.  It is, therefore, a rather pleasant surprise
     to find that chapter one, in defining viral programs, doesn't do a bad job.  A
     computer virus is said to execute with other programs, but that explanation is
     immediately extended with a lucid and factual account of the boot sequence on
     MS-DOS computers.  It even distinguishes between the boot sector and the
     master boot record (although Jacobson loses points for referring to the MBR as
     the partition table.)
     The rigorous will find errors in the first chapter.  Program infection is
     shown strictly in terms of an appending virus.  Although FAT or system viri
     (referred to as "cluster-point") are described, companion viri are not.  The
     statement is made that "viruses may include a Trojan Horse": the definition is
     that of a trojan, the examples are clearly logic bombs.
     Chapter two is entitled "Planning a Virus Control Program".  This would seem
     to be concerned with establishing the level of risk for a company and
     producing policy and procedures for virus protection.  Unfortunately, the
     detail included here is very sparse.  Some extremely broad guidelines are
     given, but the reader is literally left with more questions than answers after
     reading this chapter.  Eventually a companion volume by the same author is
     mentioned as dealing with the details.
     At the beginning of chapter two one is told that chapter three, "Virus
     Prevention Techniques" gives the answers for protecting a single computer.
     Rule one: write protect everything.  Rule two: Buy SCAN.  Rule three: buy
     *more* SCAN.  Rule four: have extra copies of SCAN around (be sure to buy
     extra licences.)
     Chapters four to seven are basically reworkings of the documentation for
     VSHIELD, SCAN, CLEAN and the network uses thereof.  One immediately asks, of
     course, which version was used.  One is not immediately answered: chapter
     eight indicates, and nine supports, the presumption that version 85 was used.
     In the mailing with my review copy I received a letter indicating that update
     files are produced.  The files, USINGxxx.ZIP, where xxx is the version number,
     are stated to be available on the McAfee BBS and the McAfee forum on
     Compuserve.  Apparently the updating is not constant: the "current" version of
     the McAfee products, as this was received, was 106, and had been for some
     time.  According to the letter, the "current" version was USING102 and
     USING106 was due out shortly.
     Chapters eight and nine tell you how to get technical support, first, and a
     copy of the program, second.  The answers are to call the McAfee BBS, the
     McAfee Compuserve forum, or call McAfee Associates and buy it.  An order form
     for the McAfee products is bound into the back of the book: it will surprise
     no one that the publisher of the book is a McAfee agent.
     Chapter ten is entitled "The Ten Most Common Viruses".  Those familiar with
     the sometimes unfortunate accuracy of the VSUM lists will recognize the
     entries.  In a listing at the end of the chapter, BRAIN and Stoned are
     included in a list of "stealth" viri which can cause "catastrophic damage" or
     "cause all files to become infected during the scanning process".
     Essentially, what you have here is printed (and dated) documentation for the
     McAfee programs.  Since the functions of the programs change less frequently
     than the scan strings, most of the material is still relevant.  Problems can
     be checked against the current McAfee documentation.  As such, this may be a
     useful book, fairly reasonably priced considering the cost of the programs
     themselves.  One shortcoming is that the network section still relies on the
     combination of stand-alone software: the NLM versions are not mentioned.  In
     contrast to most "third party" books, though, there is little here that will
     either change the performance or ease the use, of the product under
     copyright Robert M. Slade, 1993   BKUMASSC.RVW   930817
     Permission granted to distribute with unedited copies of the Digest
     DECUS Canada Communications, Desktop, Education and Security group newsletters
     Editor and/or reviewer,, Rob Slade at 1:153/733
     DECUS Symposium '94, Vancouver, BC, Mar 1-3, 1994, contact:

New Docs Reveal NSA Role in Digital Telephony Proposal

Dave Banisar < >
Wed, 1 Dec 1993 14:54:51 EST
     From the CPSR Alert 2.06 (Dec. 1, 1993)
       A series of memoranda received by CPSR from the Department of Commerce last
     week indicate that the National Security Agency was actively involved in the
     1992 FBI Digital Telephony Proposal. Two weeks ago, documents received by CPSR
     indicated that the FBI proposal, code named "Operation Root Canal," was pushed
     forward even after reports from the field found no cases where electronic
     surveillance was hampered by new technologies. The documents also revealed
     that the Digital Signature Standard was viewed by the FBI as "[t]he first step
     in our plan to deal with the encryption issue."
       The earliest memo is dated July 5, 1991, just a few weeks after the Senate
     withdrew a Sense of Congress provision from S-266, the Omnibus Crime Bill of
     1991, that encouraged service and equipment providers to ensure that their
     equipment would "permit the government to obtain the plain text contents of
     voice, data and other communications...." The documents consist of a series of
     fax transmittal sheets and memos from the Office of Legal Counsel in the
     Department of Commerce to the National Security Agency. Many attachments and
     drafts, including more detailed descriptions of the NSA's proposals, were
     withheld or released with substantial deletions.
     Also included in the documents is a previously released public statement by
     the National Telecommunications and Information Administration entitled
     "Technological Competitiveness and Policy Concerns."  The document was
     requested by Rep. Jack Brooks and states that the proposal
       could obstruct or distort telecommunications technology development
       by limiting fiber optic transmission, ISDN, digital cellular services
       and other technologies until they are modified, ... could impair the
       security of business communications ... that could facilitate not
       only lawful government interception, but unlawful interception by
       others, [and] could impose industries ability to offer new services
       and technologies.
       CPSR is planning to appeal the Commerce Department's decision to withhold
     many of the documents.
     To subscribe to the Alert, send the message:
     "subscribe cpsr <your name>" (without quotes or brackets) to  Back issues of the Alert are available at the
     CPSR Internet Library FTP/WAIS/Gopher /cpsr/alert
     Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility is a national, non-partisan,
     public-interest organization dedicated to understanding and directing the
     impact of computers on society. Founded in 1981, CPSR has 2000 members from
     all over the world and 22 chapters across the country. Our National Advisory
     Board includes a Nobel laureate and three winners of the Turing Award, the
     highest honor in computer science. Membership is open to everyone.
     For more information, please contact: or visit the CPSR
     discussion conferences on The Well ( or Mindvox (

Re: Computerized Pornography (Randell, RISKS-15.30)

Charlie Stross < >
Thu, 2 Dec 1993 10:39:14 +0000 (GMT)
     The obvious RISK of this proposed law is that the evidence in question --
     on-line pornographic material -- is fungible.  It would be fairly easy for a
     police officer with a copy of PhotoShop to modify legal or quasi-legal images
     stored on a confiscated personal computer by adding, for example, a child's
     head to the image -- and thus "fit up" a victim for a jail sentence as a child
     pornographer.  Such tampering would be very difficult to prove.
     In case this sounds paranoid, several police officers in the UK have in the
     past couple of years, been found to have tampered with evidence in a number of
     cases. The classic instance was the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad, which
     was disbanded under intense public scrutiny. It was found that officers had
     consistently perverted the course of justice, and forged confessions and
     evidence against people who were imprisoned as a consequence of this.
     Charlie Stross is,  

Re: Lufthansa Airbus Warsaw Crash 14 Sep 93

Udo Voges < >
Wed, 1 Dec 93 09:26:48 +0100
     According to TV-news and dpa, the A320 crash had three causes:
     1. bad weather (heavy rain, wind from rear) on new runway without rain gutter
     2. wrong weather report from the tower (light rain and wind from ahead/side)
     3. control system enables thrust reverse etc only if both wheels carry at
        least 12 t weight.
     Due to 1+2, touch down was some 900 m late and only with one wheel on slippery
     runway.  Due to 3 (+above) no braking power by thrust reverse for some 8-10
     sec., it was not possible to override the control system.
     Airbus finally agreed to modify its control system to enable landing/braking
     actions already if the weight on the wheels is 2t. (Is this restriction due to
     e.g., the Lauda Air crash of a Boeing with thrust reverse enabled during
     flight?)  Airbus is not willing to allow overruling of this control system.
     Udo Voges, Kernforschungszentrum Karlsruhe GmbH, Institut fuer Angewandte 
     Informatik, Postfach 3640, D-76021 Karlsruhe, GERMANY   +49-7247-82-5725
        [This echoes what Peter Ladkin contributed to RISKS-15.30, and is
        included for those of you who did not go through Peter's account.  PGN]

Re: United Parcel Service signatures (Carroll, RISKS-15.29)

< >
Wed, 24 Nov 1993 10:22 -0400
     As the president of my company pointed out when I asked him why he kept the
     bitmap of his signature in a directory readable by anyone in the company,
     "Anyone who has my signature, a fax machine, and a fax modem can sign whatever
     he wants with my name anyway."  (That's how he got the bitmap in the first
     - Andrew Greene

CFP: 13th Symp. on Reliable Distributed Systems

Rick Schlichting < >
30 Nov 1993 22:38:29 -0700
                       CALL FOR PAPERS
                      13th Symposium on
                 Reliable Distributed Systems
           Oct. 25 (Tues), 1994 - Oct. 27 (Thurs), 1994
                     Dana Point, California
        IEEE Computer Society TC on Distributed Processing
        IEEE Computer Society TC on Fault-Tolerant Computing
        IFIP WG 10.4 on Dependable Computing
     The theme of the symposium is reliability of distributed and parallel
     systems, including distributed applications, distributed operating systems,
     and distributed databases.  Papers are sought that address the reliability,
     availability, security, and performance aspects of distributed and parallel
     systems.  Papers that deal with experimental results, testbeds, development,
     and data from operational systems are of particular interest.
     The following topics, as they relate to distributed and parallel systems,
     are of interest to the Symposium:
      - System-Level and Software Fault Tolerance
      - Fault-Tolerance Formalism
      - Database Systems
      - Operating Systems
      - Security
      - Experimental Systems with High Reliability Mechanisms
      - Object-Oriented Systems
      - Transaction Processing Systems
      - Performance and Reliability Modeling
      - Programming Language Support for Reliable Computing
      - Real-Time Fault-Tolerance
     Papers must be written in English and printed using at least 11-point type
     and 1-1/2 line spacing.  They should be no more than 20 pages in manuscript,
     including figures.  Authors are requested to submit five copies of
     their manuscript by March 15, 1994 to:
                         Prof. Richard D. Schlichting
                         Department of Computer Science
                         Gould-Simpson Building
                         The University of Arizona
                         Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
     Authors will be notified by June 1, 1994.
     Final camera-ready copies are due July 9, 1994.
     The Wing Toy Best Student Paper Award, carrying a monetary award,
     will be given to the best student paper accepted for the Symposium.
     A paper is eligible for the award only if (1) it will be presented
     at the Symposium by a student co-author, and (2) the research it presents
     is essentially the work of the student co-authors and the involvement
     of the non-student co-authors was restricted to advising the student
     co-authors.  The  detailed Award rules will be provided to the authors
     of the accepted papers.
     Persons interested in teaching a half-day or full-day tutorial on
     topics related to the theme of the symposium are encouraged to
     submit a proposal with a brief syllabus by March 15, 1994 to:
                         Dr. Devesh Bhatt
                         Honeywell Systems & Research Center
                         3660 Technology Drive  MN65-2100
                         Minneapolis, MN 55418, USA
          Kane Kim
          University of California, Irvine
          Algirdas Avizienis
          University of California, Los Angeles

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