Sep 8, 2011
Browsers and security
As I said earlier in Nederlog, I am presently mostly using SeaMonkey as "my number one browser", because I like it the best, for several reasons, such as its including a good WYSIWYG-editor and a mail-program. Also, it looks well and it performs well.
Being Dutch, I have heard and read over the last few days about the DigiNotar scam, that struck the Dutch states' official websites, and possibly a lot more:
The brief of it is that DigiNotar is a
Dutch enterprise that sells so-called "security
certificates", that somehow are supposed to
"guarantee" (in some vague sense of that anyhow
slippery and ambiguous term) that people surfing
to sites with such a certificate, that include(d)
many of the sites of the Dutch government,
are somehow safe(r) than sites without such
certification - except that this is not so,
because DigiNotar has been hacked, it seems from
The two things that I could infer from what I heard with some rational certainty are that (1) the spokespersons for the government, including the minister, don't know at all what they are talking about, which doesn't keep them from extensive lying, flanelling, astro-turfing and bullshitting, and (2) the DigiNotar firm's certificates, like the firm itself, seem completely fraudulent: the certificates are hacked, and the firm was internally a mess for a long time, according to ex-employees quoted in the papers.
Happily, I got yesterday a SeaMonkey update to version 2.3.3 that is mostly about this DigiNotar scam, and that does explain some, and shows the folks at SeaMonkey (and indeed at Mozilla) have been doing their best to cope with it in a reasonable way:
Earlier this week we revoked our trust in the DigiNotar certificate authority from all Mozilla software. This is not a temporary suspension, it is a complete removal from our trusted root program. Complete revocation of trust is a decision we treat with careful consideration, and employ as a last resort.
Three central issues informed our decision:
1) Failure to notify. DigiNotar detected and revoked some of the fraudulent certificates 6 weeks ago without notifying Mozilla. This is particularly troubling since some of the certificates were issued for our own addons.mozilla.org domain.
2) The scope of the breach remains unknown. While we were initially informed by Google that a fraudulent *.google.com certificate had been issued, DigiNotar eventually confirmed that more than 200 certificates had been issued against more than 20 different domains. We now know that the attackers also issued certificates from another of DigiNotarís intermediate certificates without proper logging. It is therefore impossible for us to know how many fraudulent certificates exist, or which sites are targeted.
3) The attack is not theoretical. We have received multiple reports of these certificates being used in the wild.
Also, for those who care for such things (I do), there is a bug report and discussion by the SeaMonkey developers:
As far as I can see, this strongly testifies to the need and to the benefits of open source browsers, and indeed from my point of view, that includes some relevant knowledge about Holland, Dutch officials, and the ludicrously bad education and and all Dutch "intellectuals" and all Dutch received the past 40 years, Mozilla is the only participant in this security scam - next to: the Dutch state, the DigiNotar firm, and their (Iranian?) hackers - who write and speak sense and can be trusted (and who indeed put up the material - the open source code and the developers' discussions - to show this).
The others parties mentioned can't be trusted at all, and that certainly applies to the speakers for the Dutch state, the public relations folks for DigiNotar, and indeed also for much of the Dutch press, where very few journalists have any decent real knowledge of computer science. (If they had, they wouldn't be journalists, for the most part.)
I suppose the specific security leak the last link is about now has been fixed, and indeed was fixed by withdrawing the false DigiNotar security certificates that had ended up as part of the code of the Mozilla browsers, it seems because the Dutch State "guaranteed" they were "secure", because DigiNotar said they were. (Circular reasoning and begging the question, if ever there was!)
Meanwhile, it is not clear what this implies for those - like me - who have been the last months on sites certified to be safe by the Dutch state on the strength of the false assurances of DigiNotar.
As it happens, I don't worry much about my computer, because it is not interesting for the hackers of the DigiNotar security certificates - but then I would not be amazed at all if, meanwhile, all or most of the Dutch government's secret computer files are being studied in Iran, while I am quite confident that if this is so, it will be denied in the tones and terms mentioned by George Carlin in the above link by any and all of the intensively media-trained Dutch government officials - who in any case won't really know what they are talking about, and in the rare cases they might, talk Orwellian doublespeak anyway, for else they can't work for the Dutch government.
It is a safe bet that there will be major security problems involving states or banks, and it also wouldn't amaze me at all if much of e.g. the Dutch government's secret files are being read in China before they are read by Dutch ministers, for the Chinese did not stupefy the academic education of their academics in the name of universal equivalence for the last four decades, whereas the Dutch did, with pride and dedication, for four decades, in the hallowed names of Equality and Democracy. (**)
P.S. Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.
As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):
Short descriptions of the above:
1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:
A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at
See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources
The last has many files, all on my site to keep them accessible.
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