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Given that we now know that the National Security Agency (NSA) has the ability to compromise some, if not all of VPN, SSL, and TLS forms of data transmission hardening, it’s worth considering the various vectors of technical and legal data-gathering that high-level adversaries in America and Britain (and likely other countries, at least in the “Five Eyes” group of anglophone allies) are likely using in parallel to go after a given target. So far, the possibilities include:

  • A company volunteers to help (and gets paid for it)
  • Spies copy the traffic directly off the fiber
  • A company complies under legal duress
  • Spies infiltrate a company
  • Spies coerce upstream companies to weaken crypto in their products/install backdoors
  • Spies brute force the crypto
  • Spies compromise a digital certificate
  • Spies hack a target computer directly, stealing keys and/or data, sabotage.

Let’s take these one at a time.

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Flickr user: Andreas Poike

High-frequency trading is the practice where automated systems search for minor differences in price of stocks that can be exploited for small financial gains. Executed often enough and with a high enough investment, they can lead to serious profits for the investment firms that have the wherewithal to run these systems. The systems trade with minimal human supervision, however, and have been blamed for a number of unusually violent swings that have taken place in the stock market.

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Original author: 
Carl Franzen

Quantum-key-distribution-airplane_large

In a boost to future secret agents and a blow to their would-be eavesdroppers, German researchers report sending the first successful quantum communications from a moving source — an airplane traveling 180 miles-per-hour — to a stationary receiver on the ground. The study was first performed in 2012 but the results were just made public over the weekend in the journal Nature Photonics.

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mikko

Mikko Hyppönen is the Chief Research Officer at F-Secure, where he’s spent the last two decades tracking, dissecting, and disabling malware, from viruses to trojans to worms to botnets. His long time in the field gives him a sense of history: last year he documented his search for the minds behind Brain, released in 1986 and considered the first MS-DOS based computer virus. Via email he discussed how malware has changed over the last twenty years, the future of smartphone viruses, and just whether antivirus companies are outmatched in a world of government-sponsored malware such as Stuxnet and Flame.

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Yes, we’ve all laughed at Ted Steven’s “series of tubes” line—including Jon Stewart. But as Andrew Blum writes in his new book, Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet, the Internet may be more tube-like than most people realize.

Sure, if you’re an Ars reader, chances are that you have at least a basic understanding of how the Internet works. That is to say, of course, the computer you’re on right now talks to your ISP, which in turn talks to a central hub, which in turn connects to other networks, over fiber optic cables, and so forth. All in tiny fractions of seconds, all the way to its destination. You probably understand the basic principle of packet switching, that the route of data can change, and indeed, that this is its primary innovation.

But even the most geeky network engineers among us may not know that the very first original TCP/IP router, the “IMP,” was nearly tossed out of its original University of California, Los Angeles home. Or how oddly appropriate it was for an early porn site from the late 1990s, Danni.com [NSFW], to have a photo shoot at an important Internet exchange, called MAE-West. Or, who the current power couple of the North American Network Operators’ Group is.

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The Shor algorithm works perfectly (gives you a useful value of k) more than 40% of the time.  That may not sound great.  But if it doesn’t work the first time, why not try it a few thousand more times?  On a quantum computer, this algorithm is effectively instantaneous.

I left a couple of details out of the math here because, frankly, this post is a little over the top.  If you read all the way to here, buy yourself a drink and take a nap.  However, if you’re interested in exactly why you need N>M2, how execute the quantum Fourier transform, and why the algorithm works better than 40% of the time, then there are some rough notes in this pdf: Shor.

A commenter pointed out that the equations in this post may not be showing up for everyone.  In partial remedy, here’s a pdf of the above post: quantum_RSA_Shor.

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The Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition lets us see beyond the capabilities of our unaided eyes. Almost 2000 entries from 70 countries vied for recognition in the 37th annual contest, which celebrates photography through a microscope. Images two through 21 showcase the contest's winners in order, and are followed by a selection of other outstanding works. Scientists and photographers turned their attention on a wide range of subjects, both living and man-made, from lacewing larva to charged couple devices, sometimes magnifying them over 2000 times their original size. -- Lane Turner (38 photos total)
Wim van Egmond of the Micropolitan Museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands photographed a Leptodora kindtii (giant waterflea) eye from a living specimen using the differential interference contrast method. (Wim van Egmond)

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