Fingerprint databases

The FBI, the Dutch Government and the EU are all considering the development of large fingerprint databases. As a private person I’m not altogether happy with this decision. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • Fingerprints are quite good for solving crimes. However, the art (yes, not science) of recognizing fingerprints is dodgy, to say the least. Only recently real scientists are starting to take an interest in fingerprints. Numerous cases are known where fingerprints were used as the final evidence only to be discovered later on that they were not identified correctly. When you get larger databases the chance of an accidental match increases and more innocent people are investigated.
  • To make up for the dodgy science of fingerprints, it’s a small step to also include DNA. Currently, at least in the Netherlands, if you are convicted of a crime (IIRC, no matter what crime) you have to hand in your DNA for inclusion in the criminals database. So far so good. It increases the database and because of that also the random match in the database chance. Include innocent individuals as well and things are starting to get hairy.
  • Combine the traces with the RFID patterns left when you take the train or bus or your travelpatterns on all the camera’s noting everyone going in or out any city or highway.
  • I want to roam free. But this is only the government. Who always have a larger need for currency. What if we could sell all this information as a second source of income?
  • The DNA database can, and utimately will, be used for finding out your life expectency and vulnerability for certain diseases thus increasing your insurance premium.
  • Silly?
  • Albert Heyn (a supermarket, like Sainsbury) and Agis (an insurance company) started a cooperation last year where AH sells Agis insurance and you get a ‘health food packaged’ for free. Hey, if AH and Agis now combine their sales information it becomes obvious that they can adjust their sales to these individuals who aren’t likely to die soon because of their food-sales pattern. Now AH can boost their sales if they can tell you that your health-pattern and DNA are not good for you and you should buy such and such stuff.
  • Ok, I know I’m paranoid.

Maybe I’m being silly on the sunny day, but somewhere I have this nagging feeling that we’re progressing quite rapidly in the area of Demolition Man where society is totally controlled. But I want to roam free, without the government or an insurance company or whoever that I can’t eat a ratburger. So, to end this posting, I’ll quote Edgar Friendly:

You see, according to Cocteau’s plan I’m the enemy, ’cause I like to think; I like to read. I’m into freedom of speech and freedom of choice. I’m the kind of guy likes to sit in a greasy spoon and wonder – “Gee, should I have the T-bone steak or the jumbo rack of barbecued ribs with the side order of gravy fries?” I WANT high cholesterol. I wanna eat bacon and butter and BUCKETS of cheese, okay? I want to smoke a Cuban cigar the size of Cincinnati in the non-smoking section. I want to run through the streets naked with green Jell-o all over my body reading Playboy magazine. Why? Because I suddenly might feel the need to, okay, pal?

Another Biometric: Vein Patterns

Bruce Schneier has an article on vein patterns for biometric uses.

The property I like best is that nature provides the ultimate dead-detection: dead tissue will transform rather rapidly to a form that will not let the light through. I think I’ve seen one of these devices and if it was a proper one at least it’s as easy to use as a fingerprint scanner. But it will be a lot more difficult to use it on your laptop.

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TCPDump packet parsing offsets

It’s always quite hard to get to the correct offset if you want to base your bpf filter on some obscure value somewhere in the IP, TCP or UDP header.

jquinby has compiled a nice list of all the ways in which you can get to each field.

One I use regularly is

tcpdump -i eth0 -n -l ‘ip[8]=61’

to capture some traffic behind our routers whose ip addresses are from too wide a range. This is quicker.

Apple Botched iTunes

It looks as though apple kinda botched iTunes to get it to support the iPhone. So far, iTunes refuses to start. Maybe it’s a ploy to get me to buy an iPhone. I’m in Europe, for crying out loud.
Sigh. Now I’ll just watch dvds…
[Update] apparently it was due to a bug in the shapeshifter theme. That took some time to figure out…

Belgium Biometric Passports…

… well, how does one say that, without going into rude language? They are very trivial to read. Even from a distance, even if someone still has his/her passport in the pocket. Yaiks. The report is quite detailed and a nice read.

[Update]
According to a very knowledgeable source (if he doesn’t mind, I’ll state his name, but unless I get permission I won’t) the method in the report is a rehash of the method demonstrated at What the Hack by the Rotterdam based Riscure.

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