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"The power of reversing" is an attempt to interpret and forecast some of the most intriguing "reality" developments. This new section will host essays made by +ORC's students of any orientation ("white", "red", "black") and power level. I'm opening the section myself with this essay. Comments, addenda and critics are, as usual, welcome.


Reverse engineering, information warfare and cots

by fravia+
25 November 1998
(courtesy of fravia's pages of reverse engineering, of course :-)

Reverse engineering, information warfare and cots

by fravia+
25 November 1998

It is happening right now under your noses, the momentum is already too strong to stop, its consequences will be devastating.
Yes my friends, all economical, military and political strategic centres all over the world are switching to Windows NT (or even worse windoze operating systems) right now and are more and more using cots (commercial software, "cots" for commercial off the shelf) instead of home-made software solutions... and guess whose cots they are using.! Micro$oft's appz, with megabytes of code they don't understand at all, full of concealed bugs (and backdoors). Now, it does not matter so much if your grocer gets the 'blue screen of death' when windows crashes on some device access or a divide by zero, but I wonder what will happen when a nuclear frigate will go astray during a manoeuvre, blind and impotent, completely without control because of a little bug in the updated version of some obscurely bugged and ill-coded graphic driver.

As anyone does know, among those of you that have perused a little my site (or another one of the "knowledge" ones), the overbloatedness intrinsic to windows as an operating system, and therefore also intrinsic to all sorts of applications software developed for this silly OS, does not only implies a huge quantity of bugs, it unfortunately also implies a huge quantity of trojans, backdoors, concealed routines that can be activated if needs be by whoever put them there, found them, knows how to trigger them. (All those among you that know what the USA "Echelon" project is will immediately understand how much more effective the 'software backdoors' attempts can be... The United States have already their 'Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection, yet I wonder if the European countries understand the importance of all this... :-(

Yes, those among you that know how to reverse software are already grasping the (very dangerous) implications of the developments I'm speaking of: if industrial, economic, military and government sectors ALL OVER THE WORLD are more and more switching to (getting dependent from) such an operating system... what are already -or will be soon- the possibilities for the very few that know what 'code' is? Scaring, isn't it? Rewarding too, may be: Wanna make as much money as you like with insider trading of all arts? Just study reverse engineering :-) Hey, you dig it already or you want me to be even more blunt?

OK, here you go, I spoke of strategically important sectors, and I mean it in all possible forms, even the more outspoken 'strategically oriented' ones :-)
If I were the head of a national spying agency (and Godzilla knows how repulsive I find such a thought), or the head of a big corporation (an even filthiest thought), or the head of a Ministry (though I doubt that those kind of political zombies, mostly cronies or puppets of some corporation, have heads at all)... I would IMMEDIATELY set up special groups of reverse engineers (dig it correctly: REVERSERS, not PROGRAMMERS, these two specialisation are NOT the same thing) in order to (among MANY other things):
Another interesting point is that the incredible amount of data gathered on all those "free" email services (like hotmail - most users don't even know that their supposedly anonymous address keeps and shows the real-IP sequence in the header) and "free" page hosting servers (like geocities, which among other things scans for content and uses an internal 'voluntary snooping and censoring' service) and "free" usenet listing services (like dejavue, that DOES NOT delete really the usenet postings you would like to delete -of course, since they are the most interesting :-) can be used not only for target advertisement operations (as it mostly is), but also for effective warfare operations... if clever students use already now in many cases Dejavue to discover if their teachers have something to hide (just for fun, or else in order to pass their exams), what kind of blackmails do you think will be able to perform, if needs be, those that own hotmail or Yahoo? It gives me the creeps to think how many members of the European Parlament (swap with the country of your choice) are making heavy use of their Internet access at work in order to browse -say- without the slightest clue about the most elementary anonymity techniques (btw, you can fetch them through their email addresses, all of them are F(irst_letter_of_first_name) Karl Marx, for instance, would have had as email address

So an Hiroshima or a Tchernobil of the information society is really possible. Anytime. And, as usual, those that will suffer will not be those that have decided it.
Such kind of warfare is incredibly easy... and I believe, unfortunately, that it is getting easier everyday... a couple of examples (among a zillion of possibilities): Anyone reading this with sensible data on their PC? Mate, do yourself a favour and turn your PC off right now :-)
There's a possible simple hardware solution btw :-)

I will add just a personal observation, please take the following cum grano salis: maybe I'm just paranoid, and anyway take account of the fact that I'm NOT a real expert in this field, just an autodidact... here we go:
Judging from my own bots trapping devices, triggered on the various "lure" pages I have setup (and checking with the statistical loggings gathered on my whole site for that matter), some of the information on the "lure" pages was already visited by "information warfarers" from the following countries (at least :-): States, Russia, India, Germany and China. Quite interesting (if my data and stalking work was correct) that this lot comprehends the two (ex-) superpowers, the two greatest 'poor' (but military obsessed) countries and only one European State (the biggest one, though). Either the other big countries' services have managed to avoid my lures (which wouldn't surprise me) or they (I think especially at the Japanese) don't yet work much on the web. BTW, from the States and Germany there seem to be DIFFERENT originating agencies at work, therefore I have concluded that some big American and German corporation are already now bypassing their 'information warfare' services on their own, which does not wonder me, since their budgets -and interests- are even bigger.
Unfortunately I'm not 100% sure about the above findings -I repeat- since it is not easy and it is quite time consuming to collect valid data when so many visitors (and so many "red herrings") come from all possible countries and institutions and IP of the planet... if anyone knows a better method than luring to stalk snoopers I would be interested to exchange -quite valuable- information with him...

Well, that was it... comments, addenda and critics are, as usual, welcome.
You are deep inside fravia's, choose your way out:
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