Fingerprints as Security Token

I am still wondering how people can even think of using fingerprints as security tokens. You spread them all over. It’s like writing down your credit card PIN wherever you are.

Therefore, fingerprints a great for identifying you, however, not for authenticating yourself.

Think about it. These are two absolutely different things.

Time to Switch off SSLv3

You probably have heard of the SSL 3.0 vulnerability aka Poodle. So if you haven’t or if you have and haven’t done anything about it, it’s definitely time to switch it off.

I simply went though my browsers and turned it of, as nowadays it should not be used anymore. To check if your browser is vulnerable, just check out the Poddle Test. If it does look like below, follow the instructions to make it look different.

Poodle TestFirefox

In Firefox you simply type in


in the address bar of the browser. In the configurations settings you now need to set the value for security.tls.version.min to 1.

Firefox TLS 1Once done, you should be safe, I was told. However, using Firefox ESR 31.1.1, the Poodle Test above still indicates vulnerability.

However, with version 32.0.3 on Mac OS X, setting the minimum TLS version works as a charme.

Poodle TestInternet Explorer

For IE, you should check out Microsoft Security Advisory 3009008 giving a workaround how to turn SSL 3.0 off.

Tools / Internet Options / Advanced got ot the Security category and uncheck Use SSL 3.0 and check Use TLS 1.0, Use TLS 1.1, and Use TLS 1.2.

IE TLS SettingsAgain this should at least give you the feeling of security.

IEEE Data Breach

A few days ago, Radu Drăgușin discovered a data leak at the IEEE servers, enabling him to download about 100.000 plain text keywords (probably mine as well).

On the one hand it shows how critical it is to consider the security off your system, nevertheless if you are a small company or a worldwide organization such as the IEEE. On the other hand it showed that even large organizations you never thought of this might face such fatal security leaks.

However, Radu went ahead and (a) decided not to share the information he gained through this security leak with public (big kudos for this decision), (b) to prepare various statistics on based on the information (which are indeed interesting without revealing traceable information about individuals) and (c) to inform IEEE about the leak (also kudos for this). As a result you can say, he was quite responsible with the data he received and at least e followed some of the principles, provided by the IEEE Computer Society Code of Ethics.

One result of his analysis is the fact, that about almost 300 users are using the password 123456, reminding me Mel Brooks epic Star Wars parody Spaceballs, Dark Helmet saying

“So the combination is… one, two, three, four, five? That’s the stupidest combination I’ve ever heard in my life! That’s the kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage!”

As a result, I went straight to my IEEE account and changed the password. Luckily, it was a password not used for any other site beside the IEEE. Said that, if you have an IEEE account, it probably is a good thing to go there directly changing yours as well if not already done.

Most used IEEE passwords

And Radu, whenever you ever read this post, if have the chance please have a look into the log files and let me know if the user aheil is listed there as well.

DropBox with TrueCrypt on Lion and Windows

After receiving my new MacBook, I wanted to sync a whole set of files between both systems. For convenience, I decided to use DropBox instead of a thumb drive and for security reasons, I decided to use TrueCrypt to encrypt some of my confidential data within the DropBox folders.

Using a TrueCrypt container within DropBox is quite convenient as I am syncing my DropBox folders with various machines (e.g. at work). However, I do not want to access these file there nor do I want that an admin might check out my “oooh so secret” files (not saying they would, though).

DroppBox with TrueCrypt on Lion and Windows

With my rusty Mac OS kung-fu, I had to install TrueCrypt first. Of course, this failed and being the first app I did install on Lion, this was somewhat demotivating. Before you have install a version from MACFuse. It seems that the official version is not up to date, however, there are rumors you might use the latest version provided at

Once MACFuse and TrueCrypt are set up and the machine is rebooted, create a TrueCrypt container within DropBox. When creating on OS X Lion, you might want choose FAT for the containers file system so you can mount it on the Windows system as well. However, any change within this container will synchronize the container as a whole. Not being very efficient if this is a 256 MB file, it seems that one can turn of the timestamp of the TrueCrypt container to avoid syncing it. This will prevent that the container gets synced after files within the container are changes, however, the itself files are still updated. To turn it of, open TrueCrypt and select Settings / Preferences… chose the Security tab and uncheck the Preserve modifications timestamp of file container checkbox.

TrueCrypt Settings on OS X Lion

Of course, the same has to be done on your Windows system.

TrueCrypt Settings on Windows 7

Once both settings are applied, only the initial sync of the container will take some time. Thereafter, only the files within the container are updated. for me this seems to be a quite good solution to keep my boxes in sync and to avoid rubbernecks seeking through my private stuff. The setup is done quite easily, only the hassle with MACFuse was quite annoying.