January 28, 2004

Reverse Turing Tests

Alan Turing proposed the Turing test, which proposed the challenge of a human being distinguishing between a person and a computer. Lately, many e-commerce sites have implemented a technology that has been dubbed a Reverse Turing Test (RTT), which requires a human to prove that they can perform some task that computers are not good at. This technology is being deployed to prevent automated scripts from performing tasks such as registering for free email or opening account on ebay or paypal.

In the latest twist on this technology (found on slashdot), it appears that pronography sites have set up a man in the middle attack on whereby other people solve the RTT for the automated scripts in extrange for free porn. This is a case of computers using humans as oracles to answer challenges. If this catches on, it is not clear that RTTs will be effective in the long run.

Posted by Avi Rubin at 09:52 AM | Comments (331)

January 21, 2004

Insecure Voting

A new report by a subset of the Security Peer Review Group for the Federal Voting Assistance Program's SERVE project for voting over the Internet, recommends shutting down the system. The system was designed to allow military personnel and their spouses, as well as civilians overseas to cast their votes from regular PCs, such as those found in cyber cafes, over the Internet. The votes would really count. The New York Times has this story about it. From the executive summary:

The SERVE system is planned for deployment in the 2004 primary and general elections, and will allow the eligible voters first to register to vote in their home districts, and then to vote, entirely electronically via the Internet, from anywhere in the world. Besides being restricted to overseas voters and military personnel, SERVE is currently limited to people who vote in one of 50 counties in the seven states (Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington) that are participating. The program is expected to handle up to 100,000 votes over the course of the year, including both the primaries and the general election. (By comparison, approximately 100 million votes were cast in the 2000 general election.) The eventual goal of SERVE is to support the entire population of eligible overseas citizens plus military and dependents. This population is estimated to number about 6 million, so the 2004 SERVE deployment must be judged as a prototype for a very large possible future system.

Posted by Avi Rubin at 09:49 PM | Comments (542)

January 15, 2004

Would you like fries with that?

This entertaining story shows some unexpected dangers of wireless technologies in fast food restaurants.

ANANOVA, UK - Police believe teenage pranksters are hacking into the wireless frequency of a US Burger King drive-through speaker to tell potential customers they are too fat for fast food. Policeman Gerry Scherlink said the pranksters told one customer who had just placed an order: "You don't need a couple of Whoppers. You are too fat. Pull ahead.". . .

Posted by Avi Rubin at 10:14 AM | Comments (537)