Fingerprinting Computers – Part I – Your browser.

Authentication is about the only big open problem in the practice of internet security. The existing encryption and hashing algorithms as well as the key generation/management protocols offer a high degree of security, barring programming/implementation errors.
Authentication technologies face serious challenges mainly because identity is difficult to establish with a 100% certainty even using physical characteristics, i.e., signatures and credentials can be forged, the physical appearance of people can be manipulated, etc.
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It didn’t take very long… [UPDATED]

for my prediction to become a reality.
PC world reported on Feb 18 that a bunch of websites, only 84,000, were taken down “accidentally” by the ICE.
I have zero sympathy for people who uses the web to steal or commit morally reprehensible acts, however, if I can anticipate the heavy damage that a government agency with the power to shut down internet domains can unleash on hardworking and honest people,you cannot convince me that the legislators cannot figure this was bound to happen. Obviously they don’t care about the consequences of their grandstanding have for the rest of us mortals. And at the end of the day, shutting down websites doesn’t stop the traffic of child pornography or stolen intellectual property, it is just a nuisance for the bad guys that now need to go and setup another channel.
The danger for the rest of us is this, if we trust the government, any government, with the switch to the Internet, how long before the shutting down of domains is used as a way to silence dissent?
Oh wait! It did already happened? That was another prediction that turned to be right!

UPDATE

Check this Hall of Shame page at the EFF

Another bad idea become law

Look like the US Senate made the power to censor the web into a law. The music and movie industry successfully lobbied the US government into work for them as the enforcers of copyright. As I said long time ago, a new business model needs to fill the chasm created by the new technologies between the labels that want to conduct business as usual, the artists and the consumer.

 

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Tipping Point reached on DRM-free music content

In a previous post I speculated about the need for a business model shift on the distribution of digital content. It looks like the industry is recognizing the obvious, at least with respect to music content.
TopTech News reports that:

Warner Music Group, a major holdout on selling music online without copy protection, caved in to the growing trend Thursday and agreed to sell its tunes on Amazon.com Inc.’s digital music store.

Until now, Warner Music had resisted offering songs by its artists in the MP3 format, which can be copied to multiple computers and burned onto CDs without restriction and played on most PCs and digital media players, including Apple Inc.’s iPod and Microsoft Relevant Products/Services Corp.’s Zune.

The deal raises the total number of MP3s for sale through Amazon’s music download store to more than 2.9 million. Warner Music’s entire catalog, including work by artists Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin and Sean Paul, will be added to the site throughout the week. The Amazon store launched with nearly 2.3 million songs in September.

This is an interesting development because it seem to represent an attitude shift by the industry that spend billions on useless technologies and gave us the rootkit scandal in the process of trying to prevent the unavoidable.

The DRM saga continues

From Steve Jobs Manifesto:

The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.

As a wishful expression, it is nice.

Content producers reaction so far go from Warner’s total rejecton of Jobs’proposal to EMI  mild promise to give some consideration to its merits.

There is still a missing issue in the debate and that is to find a business model that works (i.e. makes enough money) for everybody, including authors, producers and  marketers of content.

Think about the book publishing industry. With the arrival of scanners and high quality printers available to almost everyone there is no problem to copy entire books. Why people is not doing that with the same enthusiasm they are sharing music? As Levitt and Dubner put it in their Freakonomics the question is not why people cheat, a more appropriate question is why people do not.

In the case of digital content there is no hope to achieve a technological magic bullet, all the schemes, no matter how convoluted they become, will fail because at some point, the user needs to access the content at full resolution and preferably over different devices.

Maybe the effort should be put in finding the extra incentive for people to willingly pay for content or the right price for it i such a way that sharing content is not worth the effort.