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‘Cryptozoological Mandibles’ and Threat Model Solutions for ‘This World of Ours’ | #crypto #infosec

If you’re in need of a good laugh, or possibly even inspiration, and have an interest in crytographic tongue-in-cheek opinion pieces (it’s own sub-genre soon to launch on WSJ’s ‘tech’ blog), I highly recommend this article by then-Microsoft researcher now-Harvard associate professor James Mickens titled ‘This World of Ours‘. One of his classic Usenix articles this one went live in January 2014 and still gets routinely brought up during conversations in infosec circles. Here’s a sample:

Unfortunately, large swaths of the security community are fixated on avant garde horrors such as the fact that, during solar eclipses, pacemakers can be remotely controlled with a garage door opener and a Pringles can. It’s definitely unfortunate that Pringles cans are the gateway to an obscure set of Sith-like powers that can be used against the 0.002% of the population that has both a pacemaker and bitter enemies in the electronics hobbyist community. However, if someone is motivated enough to kill you by focusing electromagnetic energy through a Pringles can, you probably did something to deserve that. I am not saying that I want you dead, but I am saying that you may have to die so that researchers who study per-photon HMACs for pacemaker transmitters can instead work on making it easier for people to generate good passwords.

This one-liner also struck me:

People feel genuine anxiety when asked if they want large fries for just 50 cents more, so I doubt that unfathomable lattice-based calculus is going to be a hit with the youths.

Read more.


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