Colossus is cracking again

I’ve seen the people working on the colossus a couple of years ago in Bletchley Park. It is a really remarkable endeavor, because it is, more or less, a complete rebuilt from memory. All documentation was lost after the war, because the British tried to hide the fact the colossus ever existed. Some documentation was recovered from the US national library (IIRC), because they were not as rigorous as GCHQ.

Anyway, you can read the rest on the BBC site.

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Stephen Fry on ‘Storm’

Boy, I wish I could handle language the same way Stephen Fry can. That is why I write programs and not too much literature. Anyway, he has written a piece for the Guardian on botnets and Storm in particular. Although it’s a bit too much on the sensational side, I must agree with him that new ways will be found to proliferate new virii to the general public and, basically, there’ll be nothing we’re going to do about it.

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Setting up debian with encrypted volumes

I’ve been busy getting debian to boot with only encrypted volumes from a USB stick. There is an article on debianhelp that is quite helpful in setting things up. But I’ve found some quirks.

  • Step 9:
    You cannot use sha512 with twofish (or AES). The keylength it creates is incompatible with the keysize (obviously), so change everything to sha256, which works.

  • Step 10: If you have a SATA disk, it will show up as /dev/sda*, instead of /dev/hda. But, the USB disk will also be reported as a scsi device, so for now I’ve changed the filter to read
    "r|/dev/cdrom|", "r|/dev/sda*|", "r|/dev/sdb*|"

    . We’ll see if that works as expected.

    After everything boots and you’ve copied the crypttest.img, a lot of commandlines are given to copy the contents of the original filesystem to the encrypted filesystems. This can be optimized by

    find / -xdev -print0 | cpio -p -d -m -u -a --null /mnt/tmp

So far so good. Getting everything on the USB stick is a whole different thing. It seems like Grub does not like the fact that my USB stick has 2k sectors instead of 512 bytes. So, I’m giving up for now. Tomorrow I’ll get some new USB sticks of various brands and we’ll see how we’re going to end up.

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