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Ask Slashdot: Convincing My Company To Stop Using Passwords?

robbo Re:Oblig. Xkcd (247 comments)

This got a lot of publicity but it doesn't really add all that much security. Supposing you choose 4 words from a dictionary of 200k (roughly the order of magnitude of the OED), you arrive at about 70 bits of entropy. Conversely, choosing a 10-character password from a 62 letter alphabet (a-zA-Z0-9) yields 59 bits of entropy- the difference is only a factor of 1024. Attackers aren't so dumb as to just try choosing random characters- they have very good priors on how common any particular character sequence is in the typical password and will mix and match entire words, with or without leetspeak substitutions, etc.

Of course no matter how rigorous your policy, it all goes out the window once your users type the same password into some other random site.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Convincing My Company To Stop Using Passwords?

robbo Complexity is a red herring (247 comments)

Complexity matters mainly if your attacker gains offline access to your hashes. Far and away the main source of password compromise is non-uniqueness (using the same password elsewhere). This is actually the main benefit of forcing a periodic password change. Graphical and gesture passwords are horribly insecure from shoulder surfers.
If you can, support as many factors as possible. Multiple factors gives your users flexibility- they may not always be able to receive an SMS or have a card reader handy. TPM-based virtual smart cards are super handy for remote auth from a domain-joined device- no cards or readers required.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?

robbo You're applying for the wrong jobs. (479 comments)

Don't apply for a dev job. Assuming there was sufficient math in your PhD apply for a data science or data analyst role, which will include a fair share of programming but also mentally engaging work. Hiring managers for these roles look for people that have strong analytical skills and the ability to learn new things (proof: you have a PhD). What languages you know is secondary in these roles to how well you dig in to a problem and deliver insights.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Strangest Features of Various Programming Languages?

robbo assert side-effects and gcc fp optimizations (729 comments)

Gotchas more than quirks:
- the day you realize you put a side effect in an assert() call.
- the day you realize GCC, maybe it was V2, not sure this is still an issue, exploits extra bits of precision in the Intel FPU, *only if* optimizations are enabled, which causes certain iterative floating point algorithms (eg SVD) to fail to converge.

In both cases everything works great in debug builds but goes to hell in release builds and it's incredibly painful to get to root cause.

about 4 months ago
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Hackers Behind Biggest-Ever Password Theft Begin Attacks

robbo If I had a billion credentials, (107 comments)

for sure the first site I'd attack is obscure registrar namecheap...

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Minimum Programming Competence In Order To Get a Job?

robbo Re:Key is non-programming skills (466 comments)

+1000. The OP has embedded hardware skills which is a relatively rare skill-set- the barrier to entry is for sure a lot higher than basic software programming. My advice would be to leverage the hardware skillset into some new embedded programming domain (learn new hardware-specific tricks). There's little-to-no value in reinventing yourself as a generic programmer.

about 7 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Life Organization With Free Software?

robbo Outlook + Onenote (133 comments)

If you're using Outlook I assume you've got Onenote too. Create a daily meeting in outlook titled diary or whatever, and when you want to take notes open the meeting for today and use the meeting notes feature to take notes. The only issue I see with this is that it might not organize the daily notes by date in Onenote, but there are decent features for moving pages around and reorganizing them. Plus everything is searchable and if you want you can save the whole notebook in skydrive and open them from your phone. Say what you will about MS, in my day-to-day work OneNote is the best thing since sliced bread.

about a year ago
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Why One Woman Says Sending Your Kid To Private School Is Evil

robbo Re:Oh, really? (1255 comments)

Mostly agree that geography/demographics matters a lot. The article is terrible but she has an important point to make, which is summed up much better here:
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/what-americans-keep-ignoring-about-finlands-school-success/250564/

Public school in America has declined as an institution because the wealthy have abandoned it and everyone thinks that's ok. But it's not. This is in part because the people who set public school policy happen to be wealthy, and therefore have no skin in the game. It's also because egalitarianism is all but dead as an American ethos. Level playing fields are for suckers.

If you're wealthy you look at the public system and decide you can do better for your kids. So you make a locally optimal choice which is perfectly reasonable in isolation. It's sort of an inverted tragedy of the commons.

about a year ago
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Obama Seeks New System For Rating Colleges

robbo Re:Forget ratings, measure ROI. (302 comments)

You are correct but at some point you must wonder whether it's worth it to go into debt, and by how much, to free your mind via Art History.

about a year ago
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Obama Seeks New System For Rating Colleges

robbo Forget ratings, measure ROI. (302 comments)

What is the median salary, divided by total cost of education, one year and five years after graduation? That is really the main thing a prospective student needs to know. Everything else is window dressing.

about a year ago
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Google Pressure Cookers and Backpacks: Get a Visit From the Feds

robbo Welll.... (923 comments)

She is a boingboing contributor which obviously explains why she is under surveillance. But honestly the medium.com piece seems like a nice bit of creative writing. Did her husband get any selfies with the feds?

about a year ago
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So What If Yahoo's New Dads Get Less Leave Than Moms?

robbo Re:Equal rights (832 comments)

It's not just that a human being comes out of you. A human being comes out of you which induces huge amounts of tissue and skeletal trauma (or best case you get sliced wide open across the midriff, mangling your abs and literally slicing apart a muscle- the uterine wall). Then, top it off you start leaking fluids from your chest.

[sarcasm] But just think of the poor dad who has to watch this happen! That will take at least 12 weeks of therapy!

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Convince a Company Their Subscriber List Is Compromised?

robbo Re:Write threatening letters (247 comments)

+1. You have no reason to expect an acknowledgement if you just pass it 'up the food chain'. Put it in clear legalese and look forward to a reply from their lawyer. Most likely someone on the inside sold the list for chump change.

btw did you consider that maybe it's you that's compromised? 8-)

about 2 years ago
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Rich Countries Suffer Less Malware, Says Microsoft Study

robbo Re:Backpackers would know this (84 comments)

Bring your own notebook doesn't protect you from pharming and other MITM attacks.

about 2 years ago

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