Russians to hold Thomas C. Greene for two years

Plus: 70,000 alcoholics fear online fraud

Letters This Tuesday's quick peruse of the Vulture Central mail bag kicks off with a couple of comments about Thomas C. Greene's Windows Back door musings. Technically sound, was the consensus, but what about the comments regarding Steve Gibson?:

I've realized WHY I dont read your site more often.

The article slamming Steve Gibson and, by Thomas C Green, is just one example, but a glaring one.

The author obviously has a personal agenda, and little or no experience that would help him understand the exploit, and how dangerous it really is.

He should have stayed in areas (IF there are any) where he knows what he's talking about.

And yes, please feel free to forward this to him.

Bud Jamison

I almost never write letters to the media (and probably shouldn't have changed this policy!) but I am concerned by the article "Windows back door rumor is bunk" by Thomas Greene. The article appears technically sound but one cannot help feeling that Thomas overstepped the bounds of impartial journalism with his attacks on Steve Gibson. You get the distinct feeling on reading the article that there's some sort of personal vendetta between the two...

When I access the Register's pages, it is because you, to me, are the BBC of the technical world, with a healthy measure of humour thrown in. I expect impartial, incisive, bleeding-edge, technically-accurate news, not the sort of grafitti-type article that I would find written on neighbourhood walls. Obviously Thomas doesn't like Steve and his methods - that's fine, but perhaps it would be preferable if he kept his more personal comments for another forum. It's a shame as it spoilt what was otherwise a fine technical article.

And so, I will now retreat once more into my letter-writers' limbo for another 10 years and I wish all at Vulture Central "Bonne continuation!".

Pete Haddow

The UK's police are to hold vehicle licensing data for two years. Regarding the first 90 days, though, surely some mistake?:

Its nice to see that "In the period of 91 days to two years, the data will only be accessed for a justified policing need." Shouldn't the data only be accessed for a justified policing need in the first 90 days as well?

Whilst it may be that not being present at the interview I am not aware of the full statement, but to those of us with a grasp of English, perhaps Mr Goggins needs to understand the concerns of the lack of emphasis on this point.


The implication being that in the initial 90 days the data is held in a database with uncontrolled access, and accessed for unjustifiable needs?

Then: "...there could be grounds to justify retention of ANPR data beyond the standard two years."

The whole things just appears to boil down to something more like "We've got your data, we can do anything we want with it, and can keep it as long as we like. But we'll try to remember to jot down why we want to keep it."


Yup, that seems to sum it up. Business as usual, then.

People are apparently not warming to online banking because of fear of fraud. True, you say, but there are other, more concrete considerations:

The fear of fraud is not the main thing that stops me personally from doing internet banking. What stops me from doing my banking on the internet is a rather more serious limitation which appears fundamental to the medium.

At the present time there are exactly two reasons why I might visit a bank. Reason Number Two is to make a deposit using the hole-in-the-wall machine; and Reason Number One is to make a withdrawal using the hole-in-the-wall machine. At the same time, I might well check my balance on-screen, but such checks are largely unnecessary. I know when in the month my wages are paid into my account, my payslip tells me how much -- and apart from the regular, fixed mortgage payment once a month, not one penny of that money is going anywhere unless I stand and punch in my PIN at the HITW.

Unless and until my bank issue me with software that will allow me to take a photograph of a pile of coins and notes with my digital camera, upload it to their site and have it credited to my account; and likewise to print out pound notes from my own printer, the whole idea of "internet banking" utterly escapes me.

AJ Stiles

This siuation has long been obvious to anyone who takes the time to read and can understand the bank produced (SPAM) er, sorry literature. The conditions of Barclays Bank (clearly !) state where the responsiblity lies if you use their on-line facility. That is, in the event of your ID being abused, account getting emptied, whatever, you are going to have to prove to their legal deprtment, irrefutably, that the security breach didn't occur via your use of computing equipment. Well, excuse me ! I phoned them up with a bit of well intentioned customer feed back, but I doubt they're going to act on my wishes, or I'd be extremely wealthy by now. If you consider that roughly 3 phishing attempts per day, which contain the words "Barclays Bank" in the Subject line, pass through my eMail inboxes, it doesn't need much effort to see what the chances are for the recovery of your lost funds. Maybe the folks out there can understand these marvelous literary constructs, AKA "Banking Conditions", better than IT security advisories. Or perhaps the bank's marketing department assumes that we're all so busy working that we must also be illiterate and stupid. Mind you, this tactic could generate a pretty good rake off for the banks - if they do manage to switch responsibilty for on-line security, completely over to their temporally challenged customers. As opposed to a relatively small (£14.5m) loss, as in the first half of 2005. Thanks muchly.

David Urmston

And speaking of security, albeit of the State kind, Brits from the UK's embassy in Moscow have apparently been rumbled transferring secrets through a James Bond rock. Pay attention, 007:

Sounds to me more like 4 British consul staff were selling secrets to the Russians by pushing data files via bluetooth to a receiver (probably an off-the-shelf pda or smartphone) hidden inside a fake rock, which was then later retrieved by a russian agent.

Nathan Hobbs

Fools, as anyone knows, before embarking on any spy operation you should first kit yourself out with the latest stuff - no wonder they got caught.

However has anyone considered that they might have accidentally been recruited as spys by the Americans? Surely they read all the appropriate warnings - before travelling abroad?

Andy Bright

They weren't spying, they were downloading music from P2P networks and this was the best way they could think of to avoid a RIAA law suit...

Mike Plunkett

In trying to track down further perpetrators, let's hope they leave no stone unturned...

Ian Tindale


Almost finally - the subject which world+dog really care about - Wally the whale. Or rather, our report that the rescue team got slapped with 300 quid in parking fines while they were out trying to save the planet:

>Neither nation gave up much news time to Wally's plight, as the Sunday Times reports<

This is quite true. No coverage at all in Japan that I saw, I am glad to say.

However, it is also true that last year, when a whale (I think - it may just possibly have been a seal) got lost in Tokyo bay, and Japanese TV and the nation generally went gaga over it in a manner entirely similar to what has just happened in the UK, I didn't read much about it in the British papers. The whale died, to much hysterical sadness and national mourning, after 3 days.

But after all - why should the UK newspapers care about it, in what was probably a busy news week in blighty. And by the same token, why should the Japanese media concern itself greatly with the London whale, in what has been an extraordinarily busy news week with wall-to-wall coverage of Livedoor?

Sauce for the goose, etc...

Although come to think of it "lost, beached adolescent whale being gawped at by millions" just about summed up Horie-mon (boss of Livedoor) last time footage of him was screened (about 5 minutes ago...)

BTW - the Japanese are generally appalled that we eat rabbits. Barbaric, apparently.

Nick May
Fukuoka, Japan.

Just to comment on the article. A quick google search shows that most of the Norwegian online media reported about the whale swimming around in the Thames. the Japan Times (which is the only news paper I read in Japan) also had a short notice about it.

Perhaps not as emotional as the Brits tend to be about things they don't know anything about...

Ole Troan, (Norwegian currently living in Japan)

PS: Let me know if you'd like me to send you some whale meat for your Sunday roast. :-)

Why sell the meat?

Just dump it on their doorsteps. This is one thing the Germans did right and I applaud their police for allowing it.

By the way, the more interesting question is what exactly drove a finwhale into the Baltic and a pilot whale up the Thames. I somehow have the gut feeling that noone will like the obvious answer which is a question in itself: "Where the f*** is the North Atlantic herring this winter?".

Anton Ivanov

Bugger giving the whale meat to the Japanese. Give it to me! Mmmm, tasty whale.

David Cantrell

And we conclude today's round-up with a heartfelt complaint from a chap in somewhere called the Isle of Man, wherever that is... Oh yes, it's all to do with our Reader Demographic Survey which gives you lots and lots of geographical location options in an exciting drop-down menu format:

Hi all.

Erm... it might be a bit petty, but if you can be bothered mentioning places like American Samoa, the Cooke Islands, the Falklands and some back-water like Gibraltar then can you put the Isle of Man on the list as a place to come from?

I know we are normally thought of as "70,000 alcoholics clinging to a rock", but we are also a separate nation to the U.K., have the oldest continuous parliament in the world and a reasonable sized tech. industry due to the tax breaks.

Give us a chance lads, you mention the Heard & McDonald Islands for God sake. I could bet a pretty safe tenner that there isn't one of you in the office who could find them, even with a map. (No cheating with Google Earth, now! :o)

Dave O'Connor

Fair enough. For the record, our list also failed to mention that liveliest of oceanic locations, St Kilda (.kmz here). As we speak, teams of highly-trained operatives are adding it and the Heard & McDonald Islands (.kmz. here) to the manifest. As yet, however, they have been unable to locate 70,000 alcoholics clinging to a rock, even with Google Earth. ®

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