I Know What You Did Last Session: Basic Applied Cryptography

While Janet was sitting in a cyber café sending emails to friends and surfing the web, there was a person sitting three tables away reading each email she sent before they ever got to the email server. During this period of time, the thief was able to get access to her bank account, passwords to several business websites, and her credit card number. Now imagine that you were the on sitting in the café. This scenario is not far from reality and is the main reason that using cryptography is so important in today’s technological world. Identity theft is a growing problem and there are ways you can help protect yourself frombecoming the victim.

Most people think that cryptography is an island in the magical land of make believe. However, cryptography is very real and not as complex as most would believe. If you use the Internet, you are likely to use applied cryptography in your day-to-day functions. This can be accessing you bank account to retrieve your monthly balance to purchasing automotive parts from a warehouse or manufacturer. Companies use cryptography to make sure sensitive data stays confidential between the intended parties and the data stays intact. Cryptography is the art of converting messages into a secret code or cipher. This process alters a plaintext message using an algorithm to create a ciphertext/encrypted message.

History of Ciphers

Cryptography has been in use for thousands of years. In fact, it was in use before 2000 B.C. Egypt in the form of hieroglyphs. The Greeks even used encryption referred to as the Scytale cipher and was worn as a belt by couriers. The Scytale was designed a combination of a long strip of leather with writing on it and a specific sized staff. This leather strip would be wrapped around the staff to decrypt the ciphertext. Julius Caesar also used a cryptographic algorithm referred to as ROT-3. This encryption shifts the alphabet three spaces to the right and was very effective at the time.

Applied Cryptography

Ok, but how does it affect you? The basic uses of cryptography are to provide confidentially (secrecy of the data), integrity (protection from intentional or unintentional alteration), and authentication (prove you are who you say you are). Some forms even allow for Nonrepudiation services that prove that the message was written, sent, or received. We will briefly discuss the most commonly used cryptographic schemes that you may use every day while leaving the trivial details out.

You will hear the terms X.509 and digital certificates (used in digital signatures) throughout this paper. Digital certificates are used in the same way a real signature is used as a verification of endorsement. The most well know companies that sell these certificates are:

o Verisign – http://www.verisign.com/

o Thwarte – http://www.thawte.com/

(Offers free personal email digital certificates)

Internet traffic (Securing website traffic and email)

HTTPS: Hypertext Transfer Protocol over Secured Socket Layer. Do not mistake HTTPS with SSL. This is a common misnomer that is spread by those that do not understand SSL. HTTPS uses SSL to create an encrypted tunnel between a client and a server. This tunnel lasts the entire connection and is the most common website security feature on the Internet. This form of encryption is established by the use of a server side X.509 certificate that digitally signs the message.

S/MIME: Secure Multipurpose Internet Mail Exchange. S/MIME uses two X.509 certificates (also called digital signature) and both signs and encrypts the email. The author digitally signs the email with their private key. Once this happens, the message is then encrypted with the recipient’s public key and sent. When the message reaches the recipient the message is decrypted with the recipient’s private key, and then verified using the author’s public key. This ensures that people using a packet sniffer (a program that allows a person to view traffic crossing the network) do not see your account information. Email clients like Netscape Communicator and Microsoft Outlook can use S/MIME with little setup required.

S-HTTP: Secured HTTP. The benefit of S-HTTP over HTTPS is the fact that each message is encrypted rather then using a tunnel that is vulnerable to both a man-in-the-middle and a session hijack attack. Another advantage of S-HTTP is that it allows for two-way client/server authentication

Tunneling encryption (Securing network traffic)

IPSec: IP Security Protocol is the most commonly used network encryption for the corporate world. When most people in the computer industry think about Virtual Private Networks (VPN)s, they immediately think of IPSec. Companies that use IPSec need an encrypted tunnel that allows all network traffic to flow through. Unlike SSL, IPSec is not limited to a port. Once the IPSec tunnel has been established, the system should have the same network access that it would have at the physical location. This offers far more power, but also requires far more overhead. Another issue is security. The more open the network, the more vulnerable it is. This is another reason why VPNs are usually on the outside of a firewall. Vulnerabilities to IPSec include session hijacking, and replay attacks.

SSH: Secure Shell provides a terminal like tunnel that protects the data crossing the network and should replace clear text protocols like Telnet and FTP. This allows you to connect to a server over the Internet securely over the Internet and administer remote systems without allowing the rest of the world to see everything you are doing. One of the most popular windows SSH clients is Putty.

SSL: Secured Socket Layer can be used to create a single port/socket Virtual Private Network (VPN) using a server side X.509 certificate. The most common use of SSL is webpage traffic over HTTP or HTTPS. SSL is vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks. Anyone can create a CA to distribute certificates, but keep in mind that a digital certificate is only as trustworthy as the CA that controls the certificate.

WEP: Wired Equivalent Privacy. This algorithm uses either a 40-bit key or a 128-bit (24 of the bits is used for the initialization vector) key. Most devices also allow for a wireless access point to filter MAC addresses to increase access controls onto the device. WEP is vulnerable and has been exploited by criminal hackers (crackers) while wardriving since WEP has hit the market. Some of the more popular tools used for wardriving are: Airopeek – a WiFi packet sniffer Airsnort – a WEP encryption key recovery tool Kismet – an 802.11 layer2 wireless network detector Netstumbler – an 802.11 layer2 wireless network detector

WPA: Wi-Fi Protected Access is a new standard that will overtake the old WEP technology in the near future. WPA uses a Pre-Shared Key (PSK) for SOHO networks, and Extensible Authentication Protocol for other wired/wireless networks for authentication. Some cryptoanalysts claimPSK is a weakness due to the fact that a cracker can access the key and brute force the key until it is known. The encryption scheme that is used is Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP). TKIP ensures more confidentiality and integrity of the data by using a temporal key instead ofthe traditional static key. Most people welcome this technology over the less secure WEP.

File access (Securing individual files)

Stenography: Stenography is the art of concealing files or messages in other media such as a .JPG image or .MPG video. You can add this data in the unused bits of the file that can be seen by using a common hex editor. Stenography is the easiest way to hide a message, but is by far the least secure. Security by obscurity is like a lock on a car door. It is only intended to keep the honest people honest.

PGP: Pretty Good Privacy is a free program that was created by Philip Zimmerman in 1991 and was the first widely accepted public key system. PGP is suite of encryption tools used for encrypting various types of data and traffic. PGP can be used for S/MIME and digitally signing a message. PGP uses a web of trust that allows the community to trust a certificate rather than a hierarchy Certification Authority (CA) to verifythe user’s identification. More information can be found at http://web.mit.edu/network/pgp.html

Personal/Freeware: This can be downloaded from MIT for free.

o Diffie-Hellman key exchange

o CAST 128 bit encryption

o SHA-1 hashing function

Commercial: PGP® Software Developer Kit (SDK) 3.0.3 has received Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 Level 1 validation by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

o RSA key exchange

o IDEA encryption

o MD5 hashing function

CryptoAPI: Microsoft’s cryptography component that allows developers to encrypt data. Microsoft has also developed an ActiveX control called CAPICOM that will even allow script access to the CryptoAPI.

Each encryption model is vulnerable to one attack or another. Below is a list of attack techniques that are used by cryptoanalysts to break the keys used to protect the messages

Ciphertext-Only: This is the easiest to instigate, but hardest to succeed. The attacker retrieves the ciphertext data through listening to the network traffic. Once the key is has been salvaged, the cracker can attempt to brute force the message until it resembles something legible.

Known-Plaintext: This covers the scenario of the cracker having both the plaintext and corresponding ciphertext of one or more messages. In WWII, the Japanese relied on cryptography, but had a weakness of sending formal messages. These messages were able to be broken because the ciphertext started and ended with the same message. Part of the plaintext was known and cryptoanalysts were able to decipher the message using the known-plaintext method.

Chosen-Plaintext: Similar to the know-plaintext attack, but the attacker can choose the plaintext to be encrypted. An attacker can assume someone else identity and send a message to target that needs to be encrypted. Since the plaintext is chosen and the target sends the encrypted message, the chosen-plaintext attack is successful.

Chosen-Ciphertext: The cryptoanalyst is chooses the ciphertext and has access to the decrypted plaintext.

Birthday Paradox: This attack is successful when a hash value of a plaintext matches the hash value of a completely different plaintext. This anomaly is proven mathematically among 23 people, there are 23*22/2 = 253 pairs, each of which being a potential candidate for a match.

Brute-Force: This form of attack is implemented by passing through every possible solution or combination until the answer is found. This is the most resource and time intensive method of attack

Dictionary: The attacker compares the target hash values with hash values of commonly used passwords. Dictionary files can be downloaded from hundreds of Internet sites.

Man-in-the-Middle: The attacker intercepts messages between two parties without either target knowing that the link between them has been compromised. This allows the attacker to modify the message at will.

Replay: Replay attacks are simply the replay of captured data in an attempt to trick the target into allowing the unauthorized access.

Back at the cyber café, if Janet connected to a secured web server using SSL to do her online banking and used S/MIME to send private email, the cyber thief would have never had a chance of seeing her unmentionables.

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What Causes Turbo Lag?

Many of the latest sporty cars have a turbocharger inserted into the car. It might be considered as a cheaper way of increasing the boost of your car as it is a once off expense. There are, however, disadvantages of having a turbo in your car.

Simply speaking, turbo lag is when the turbo has not spooled enough to produce compressed air. It is the delay in the response between the process of accelerating and the response of the engine or turbo.

When the turbo is not at maximum pressure or load, it will release pressure to reduce the amount of damage it could cause. When the accelerator is applied, the turbo needs to rebuild the pressure with gases from the exhaust to produce full boost.

Engine responsiveness is an important factor when driving. Some lag only lasts for a millisecond whilst others could be for a couple of seconds. The lag is noticed by how slowly the car is going without gaining acceleration as quickly as it is supposed to.

Sometimes the car has a turbocharger installed that is too large. A smaller device will require less pressure and will, therefore, produce more boost.

Friction could also influence the performance of the turbo. When less friction is present, less effort will be required to spool the turbo which means that lag may be reduced.

Installing the turbochargers closer to the exhaust outlets will also ensure that lag will be reduced. By placing the device closer to the exhaust outlets, the distance in which the exhaust gases need to travel has been shortened. This means that pressure has not been lost in the process of traveling from point A to point B.

Another factor that causes turbo-lag is the weight of the moving parts within the charger. The weight of these parts will need a greater force which could influence efficiency of the device. If efficiency is what you are looking for then it is necessary to have a turbo rotor made of lightweight alloys. Compact models with smaller rotor diameters of the turbocharger will also require a smaller centrifugal force that will allow the car to accelerate faster without producing any lag.

If you have the reputation of having the best wheels and fastest four cylinder vehicle, it is important to make sure that you always have proper working components so that you won’t run into embarrassing situations with your roads rivals. Make sure that you get the best mechanic and wheel supplier for your car.

Car Accessories Are Necessities

I don’t know if it was ever properly documented, but it is my bet that car accessories have been around since the very first car was in the hands of the first private car owner. The clich├ęs of rearview mirror dice, license plate frames, radio antenna balls or other car exterior accessories were likely not in use (mainly due to the lack of those items on the first cars), but I guarantee something was added to that first car. Maybe a seat cover, or leather wrap on the steering wheel. Any way you look at it, your car will not remain truly stock if you’re anything like all the other car owners in the world. Let’s look at the various modern options there are out there for making your car, your car.

For anyone who lives in areas of the world where it gets cold, and there are winters almost everywhere, a remote car starter is a great luxury that borders on being a necessity when the thermometer drops well below freezing. I live in Vancouver now so it is not quite as needed as when I lived in Toronto, but it can still be useful on those frigid winter mornings. When buying your remote car starter from a car accessories shop, look into practical things like how far a distance you will be away from your car when you start it (driveway/garage to doorway you’ll be standing in), who will install it, do you want a one way or two way starter (a 2 way requires a confirmation signal be sent), how will you deal with possible factory security features, and can you get replacement parts. After looking into all this, and researching the options, you’ll be ready to get yourself the right car starter, and you’ll be able to start your day in a warm car with that mug of coffee in your cup holder not going cold.

Bluetooth hands free communication devices can be great for those on the go. They can be integrated into your factory equipment over your speakers, and can even have features such as caller ID, a backup camera picture displayed on the screen, and a number of other audio and video input features. With more and more police departments enforcing laws about people talking while on cell phones, occupying their hands and driving ability, those on the go can’t really afford not to buy a Bluetooth hands free communication tool of some sort.

Another safety feature is upgrading your lighting. The usual lighting options for your next drive include fog lights, which produce a broad and close in light, to normal which are narrower but further out, to driving beam patterns which are as broad as normal headlights but extend twice as far in front of you. You can also look into High Intensity Discharge (HID) upgrades. This feature is in all the new high end cars and gives you substantially better lighting at less power consumption. Auxiliary lighting manufacturers include: Hella, PIAA, Pilot, KC Lights, and Optilux. When it comes to car accessories, upgraded lighting can be one of your best investments.

Different Types of Bespoke Engineering

Bespoke engineering can be employed by a wide range of different companies to solve different solutions or problems that they may be having within their industry. A company would consider a bespoke solution if they are constantly dealing with the same problem or issue that is causing their business to not be performing and operating at its most effective. A bespoke engineering solution will allow your company to perform a certain task more efficiently and effectively so that it is operating at maximum capacity. Obviously there is a cost in having this kind of service provided but the solution should pay for itself over a period of time. Here are some different examples of bespoke engineering.

Bespoke engineering can be used within warehouse facilities to improve the production lines in different industries. Whether it is food, cars or electronic items, a quality production line can help improve the manufacturing of all kinds of products. Heavy rollers or belt conveyors can be made to bespoke requirements and measurements to ensure that your production line operates at the best possible standard and this is a good example of employing bespoke engineering to improve a task.

Building structure is another area where bespoke engineering can be used to improve a structure and create a building exactly how you envisioned it. If you are looking to create a new office block from the ground up or enhance a building with an additional mezzanine floor, companies are available to design a bespoke solution that will work effectively for your requirements. A good example of employing a bespoke engineering solution to solve a problem is if you need to create an additional fire escape onto a building and you are unable to find a suitable one to fit the space available. A company can be employed to design and create a solution which will be safe, accessible and able to fit in the available space.

Specialist bespoke engineering is supplied by companies to produce and supply bespoke parts for even the smallest solutions. In the electronics or engineering industries there are companies that create parts such as DC motors and gearheads that are created specifically to your requirements. These kinds of parts are usual built in a bespoke workshop that has been built to create the best environment for developing and building the required parts. Employing a company to create a bespoke engineering solution will eliminate the need to deal with multiple subcontractors for different parts where a single bespoke solution will work better.

It’s not just businesses and companies that can benefit from bespoke solutions. If you are a fan of two or four wheels then you can get bespoke parts made for your motorbike or car. This can be anything from improving the performance of the engine or incorporating a personal design into the appearance of the vehicle. Bespoke exhausts, engines and even small nuts and bolts can all be designed to help improve vehicle performance and bespoke seating, handlebars and handles can be created to improve appearance. Having bespoke parts designed, created and incorporated onto your motorbike or car can be quite expensive but if money is no issue then there are even companies that can create a brand new bespoke vehicle from scratch. One such company is UK-based Bristol Cars that don’t have an assembly line and only create hand-built luxury cars. Because of this production method, they are believed to only create around 20 cars a year.

Bespoke engineering can be used in a wide variety of instances to help improve products or services and make sure that they are being produced or provided exactly how they are required by the client.