UMBC ebiquity
2005 January

Archive for January, 2005

JHU cryptographers crack “thiefproof” car key

January 29th, 2005, by Tim Finin, posted in Pervasive Computing, Security

Anupam Joshi pointed out a good story

on recent work by Avi Rubin and his students on cracking TI’s cryptographically enabled RFID tag widely used in anti-theft car locks, the ExxonMobil SpeedPass system and other RFID enabled applications. A draft of the paper is available online. Apparently the TI chips use a relatively short key (40bit?).


Graduate Cryptographers Unlock Code of ‘Thiefproof’ Car Key

By JOHN SCHWARTZ, NYT, January 29, 2005

BALTIMORE – Matthew Green starts his 2005 Ford Escape with a duplicate key he had made at Lowe’s. Nothing unusual about that, except that the automobile industry has spent millions of dollars to keep him from being able to do it.

Mr. Green, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, is part of a team that plans to announce on Jan. 29 that it has cracked the security behind “immobilizer” systems from Texas Instruments Inc. The systems reduce car theft, because vehicles will not start unless the system recognizes a tiny chip in the authorized key. They are used in millions of Fords, Toyotas and Nissans.

All that would be required to steal a car, the researchers said, is a moment next to the car owner to extract data from the key, less than an hour of computing, and a few minutes to break in, feed the key code to the car and hot-wire it.

Cracking the system took the graduate students three months, Dr. Rubin said. “There was a lot of trial and error work with, every once in a while, a little ‘Aha!’ ”

Mr. Sabetti of Texas Instruments argues that grabbing the code from a key would be very difficult, because the chips have a very short broadcast range. The greatest distance that his company’s engineers have managed in the laboratory is 12 inches, and then only with large antennas that require a power source.

Dr. Rubin acknowledged that his team had been able to read the keys just a few inches from a reader, but said many situations could put an attacker and a target in close proximity, including crowded elevators.

Context aware clock/radio/alarm

January 28th, 2005, by Tim Finin, posted in Gadgets, Pervasive Computing

Gizmodo has the neatest things. “This Quattro prototype alarm is a solid translucent block that has no visible buttons or markings. As the Quattro is rotated, its function changes—on the side it’s a radio, tilted up it’s an alarm, and horizontally it’s a clock, each indicated by a contextual change in the display on the front. It gets better: the Quattro recognizes when you get close and lights up touch-sensitive buttons. Then it gets even betterer: a wirelessly connected teddy bear triggers the alarm’s snooze function when you give it a hug.” Too bad it’s just a prototype done by design students Didier Hilhorst and Nicholas Zambetti.

You might just be a hacker if …

January 28th, 2005, by Tim Finin, posted in Security

You might just be a hacker if …. you use Lynx under Solaris, like this poor fellow. We are probably all hackers now. Or worse.

Mobile Virus affects Cars

January 26th, 2005, by Anubhav, posted in Pervasive Computing, Security, Wearable Computing

This is another scary technology story

Lexus cars may be vulnerable to viruses that infect them via mobile phones. Landcruiser 100 models LX470 and LS430 have been discovered with infected operating systems that transfer within a range of 15 feet.

Interesting Blog on Search engines

January 26th, 2005, by Anubhav, posted in Web

There is a very interesting article on current search engines on Slashdot. It mentions a lot of new upcoming search engines which are trying different tecchniques of visualisation. Also it covers some of the new stuff in video and audio search domain.

Ambient Intelligence – Agents for Ubiquitous Environments

January 25th, 2005, by Tim Finin, posted in Agents, Conferences, Pervasive Computing, Wearable Computing

A one-day Workshop on Ambient Intelligence – Agents for Ubiquitous Environments will be held in 25 or 26 July 2005 in Ultrecht, The Netherlands in conjunction with the 2005 Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems. Submitted papers are due 14 March, 2005.

The merging of virtual environments, mobile communication and sensors, allows the emergence of a new vision: Ambient Intelligence, a pervasive and unobtrusive intelligence in the surrounding environment supporting the activities and interactions of the users. Ambient intelligence appears poised to cause remarkable changes in the way
people live. With digital information, the ease of interaction between humans and computers can be greatly increased by broadening the interface media available and allowing mobile and portable communication to become free of inhibiting wires and stationary units. The result of ambient intelligence is ultimately a more empowered computer with the benefits of added convenience, time and cost savings, and possibilities for increased safety, security, and entertainment. This technology has the potential to significantly impact business and government processes, as well as private life.

Ambient Intelligence represents a vision of the future where we shall be surrounded by electronic environments, sensitive and responsive to people. Ambient intelligence technologies are expected to combine concepts of ubiquitous computing and intelligent systems putting humans in the centre of technological developments. Ambient
Intelligence emphasises greater user-friendliness, more efficient services support, user-empowerment, and support for human interactions. Software Agent (SA) technology is promising in this field and thus, should have a major role in Ambient Intelligence development due to SA characteristics such as autonomy and mobility. For instance, a user could launch an agent from his mobile phone and disconnect itself from the network. Its agent roams the net
of providers and afterwards submits its findings to user through SMS messages.

NASA/IEEE Workshop on Radical Agent Concepts

January 25th, 2005, by Tim Finin, posted in Agents, Conferences

The Second NASA Workshop on Radical Agent Concepts (WRAC) will be held 20-22 September, 2005 at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Visitor’s Center, Greenbelt MD, USA. To enable adequate discussion, attendance will be limited and will be limited based on the submission of an abstract or complete paper, which is due by 30 April 2005.. Student and non-US citizens are encouraged to participate. Proceedings of the workshop will be made available to attendees and are anticipated to be published after the workshop.

British Computer Society Grand Gallenges

January 25th, 2005, by Tim Finin, posted in Computing Research

The CRA’s computing research policy blog notes that the British Computer Society released a report identifying seven “Grand Challenges” in computing research that were identified through a series of workshops and discussions featuring the UK’s top computer academics. The areas are:

  • In Vivo–in Silico (iViS): the virtual worm, weed and bug
  • Sceince for global ubiquitous computing
  • Memories for life: managing information information over a human lifetime
  • Scalable ubiquitous computing systems
  • The architecture of brain and mind
  • Dependable systems evolution
  • Journeys in non-classical computation

AAAI Symposium: Agents and the Semantic Web

January 25th, 2005, by Tim Finin, posted in Agents, Conferences, Semantic Web

Agents and the Semantic Web, a three day symposium in the 2005 AAAI Fall Symposium Series, will be held in on 3rd-6th November, 2005. The symposium aims to promote and foster a greater understanding of the synergy between Multi-Agent Systems and the Semantic Web. Papers should be submitted by 25 April, 2005.

FOAF dataset available

January 25th, 2005, by Tim Finin, posted in Semantic Web, Swoogle

We’ve published a foaf dataset extracted from FOAF files collected during the Fall of 2004 from our work on Swoogle. The data represents 7118 foaf documents collected from 2044 sites (identified by their symbolic IP address). A total of 201,612 RDF triples with provenance information are included. The foaf files were selected from larger datasets described in several recent papers (1, 2) to represents a interesting and balanced selection of foaf documents. This dataset is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution (v2.0) license and packaged as a ZIP file of a SQL database export.

No place to hide…

January 25th, 2005, by Tim Finin, posted in Security

The NY Times has a short review (Nonstop Scrutiny, as Orwell Foresaw) of a new book on our collective privacy loss: No Place To Hide, Behind the Scenes of Our Emerging Surveillance Society, by Robert O’Harrow Jr., 348 pages. Free Press. $26. Sounds like a good book, if you’re in a mood to set your hair on fire over privacy.

As the book discusses, we’re voluntarily giving up much of our privacy for convenience:

Mr. O’Harrow also charts many consumers’ willingness to trade a measure of privacy for convenience (think of the personal information happily dispensed to TiVo machines and Amazon.com in exchange for efficient service and helpful suggestions), freedom for security. He reviews the gargantuan data-gathering and data-mining operations already carried out by companies like Acxiom, ChoicePoint and LexisNexis. And he shows how their methods are being co-opted by the government.

It’s a constant battle and, like most people, I don’t know if I have the energy and perseverance to constantly protect my privacy.

Lookout Monster

January 24th, 2005, by Anubhav, posted in Web

Check this out.. a novel way of looking for jobs..not very successful though…not yet

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